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Defense

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Rico444

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Something I've always thought, since I started watching Uconn games: It all starts with defense. Every great Uconn team played terrific defense. The ones that didn't, usually came up short of expectations (see '05-'06, '09-'10).

Last night, we got our defensive intensity back. We have struggled defending the 3 all season. At halftime last night, Calhoun made a great adjustment, and one that should seriously help us going forward. We've been getting killed off of screens all season. Either a shooter will come free off a screen and have an open 3, or another defender will have to hedge over until the original defender can get back to his man, which leaves someone else wide open. JC had our guys start switching on ball screens on the perimeter, something that really cut down on the number of open shots West Virginia got. IIRC, the Mountaineers didn't hit a 3 at all in the 2nd half. We defended just about every shot late in the game, and WVU only put up 24 points in the period. If we play defense like this all season, we're going to be very, very difficult to beat.
 
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This team is far from a finished product, but last night's game was huge step in the right direction. We actually played in a UConn way: the defense; intensity; fast breaking; and we were mentally tough, especially at crunch time. If this team achieves success in the post season, I think we'll look back at this game as a turning point.
 
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The ability to turn up the defensive heat on command had long been a trademark of UConn teams but not so much recently including this season. That seemed to change in the last 10 minutes against WVU. I don't think I can overstate how critical this would be if they could reproduce that effort when needed.

I would also add that turnovers were way down in the second half. They can't keep turning it over 15-20 times a game. At half time WVU had something like 37 shots to our 19 as a result of turnovers and offensive rebounds allowed (and an almost complete lack of offensive rebounds taken). If the other team gets twice as many shots as you, you're usually going to lose.
 
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