Tuesday, January 6, 2009

UConn 61, West Virginia 55

First of all, good for Connecticut for holding it together and pulling out a win in the midst of that disastrous West Virginia color scheme. I mean, what's with all the yellow? Looked they were playing in the middle of a lemon orchard...

AJ Price didn't hit a shot in the game -- was 0-for-9 from the field. Limped home with one measly point thanks to a free throw. And yet, UConn wins the game.

It is my contention that this is a very good thing for the Huskies.

Look, I love the Connecticut guards. Price is dazzling when he's on, and Dyson is great. I even like what Kemba Walker brings coming in off the bench. UConn is loaded, and they don't have guard problems.

But I contend that they're a lot better off if they don't need their guards to be scorers.

Look what happened Tuesday night. Stanley Robinson being back with Jeff Adrien and Hasheem Thabeet in the frontcourt -- that's something for which West Virginia just didn't have an answer. And it's something for which nobody in the Big East is going to have an answer. Nobody will be able to bang around with these guys down low. UConn needs to feed the ball in there and put up high-percentage shots that result in (a) points, (b) fouls or (c) offensive rebounds.

Thabeet is a monster just because of his size. I don't love the way he plays, and I think he's a bit of a thug for no good reason, but the man is 7-foot-3. He's going to have an impact. Robinson is feeling his way in, but he's obviously a major factor on the boards. And Adrien scares me more than any player they have. Have you seen him? He's no kid. He's built like a linebacker and just as fierce. It's no coincidence that 13 of his 17 came in the second half Tuesday. He's stronger than anybody on the court. A guy like that is always going to dominate while everybody else around him wears down and he doesn't.

Georgetown beat UConn by taking the inside guys (especially Thugbeet) out of their game early. They played a rope-a-dope, like Rocky fighting Apollo right-handed until Mickey said, "Anyway, switch over to southpaw now" right before the last round. They had Greg Monroe play outside on the perimeter in the first half, so Thugbeet had to come out and play him there. Thugbeet got lost and out of his game, and Adrien alone wasn't enough to bring the Huskies back from the big early deficit.

Georgetown actually outworked UConn on the boards in that game, which is inexcusable. Georgetown is a lousy rebounding team, and UConn should have owned them there. This game Tuesday, in which the Huskies pressed their size advantage and beat down the Mountaineers in the second half, is the way they're going to win games.

AJ Price? Jerome Dyson? Love you, guys, but a bit of advice if you want to go deep into March this year -- keep feeding the big guys down low, and get back on defense.

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