That is the recipe to success! | The Boneyard

That is the recipe to success!

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At times during that game, UConn looked exactly as I envisioned them looking before the season started. The execution on offense was probably the best it's been all season, spare maybe the FSU game. I'd have to go back and watch the tape, but it seems like the offense was flowing much, much better, and that there was a concerted emphasis to get Oriakhi and Drummond the ball where they are comfortable. It clearly paid off, as Drummond had his best game to date, going for 20 and 11 on 9/11 from the field. I was shocked at how comfortable he looked with that baseline jumper, one that I really wish Roscoe would develop. Anyway, I was screaming for Alex and Andre to get more touches, and the guards really did a great job getting the ball inside.

I couldn't quite tell you exactly what they were running, but I noticed a lot of off ball screens for Lamb, with the difference this time being the big man rolling to the basket off of those screens, which kept the defenses honest. The big men were the most active I've seen them all year, setting double screens at the top of the key, posting hard down low, and screening for each other to free themselves up. The turnovers is what kept this team from putting up 75+ points, because otherwise, 55% is all you could ask for against a stout defense like WVU. 13 is a little high, but much better than the last two games, and a much better job in the second half especially.

Defensively, they played probably their best ball all season, holding WVU to 32% from the field. It would have been under 30% if they had managed to keep WVU off the offensive boards. Obviously this team still needs some work boxing out, because we got killed on the offensive glass 17 to 5. As I said last game, the key to defensive sucess for this team will be forcing teams to beat you at the rim. Part of the defensive success tonight may have been because WVU relies more on their inside game than the other teams we've faced, but also because the guards did a much better job fighting through screens, and closing out. WVU only shot 6 for 24 fom behind the arch, a huge improvement. The nine blocks also speaks to the way we forced WVU to drive into the strength of our defense. If we had rebounded better, it would have been a truly classic UConn defensive performance.

Some player notes:

Shabazz: How about that? Who would have thought UConn would win a game in which Shabazz doesn't score? More than anything, that speaks to how well the big men played. I received some heat in another thread for saying Shabazz needs to learn how to run a team, and this is exactly how you do it. He played in control, swung the ball, didn't over penetrate, and most of all, involved the big men, something I've been screaming at him to do all year. Obviously we need him to score some points to reach our potential, but I'd much rather have a 10 point, 8 assist, 2 turnover game than a 22 point, 4 assist, 6 turnover game.

Lamb: This was a very encouraging game for Lamb. One of the big questions people had about him coming into the season (and still do) is whether he could be "the guy". Tonight, he certainly was. He kept the turnovers down, created his own shot, and looked for his shot in the big moment. Vintage Lamb performance tonight, plus, his defense was much better I thought.

Boat: Boatright had a solid game tonight IMO. He gave us energy off the bench, added some much needed ball pressure, and hit some big shots. 7 points, 4 boards, and 4 assists is about as good as we can expect from the kid off the bench.

AO: AO had probably his best game since UCF. His box won't overwhelm you (8 points, 3 boards, 3 blocks, 4/5 shooting) but his energy was probably the best it's been all year. He did a hell of a job battling the big mountain man inside, and KJ when he had a chance with him. If AO plays with that type of energy he will play his 30 minutes a game.

AD: What more can you say about the kid? His potential is unlimited. Tonight he played as if he was the best big man in the country. Not only was his turn around jumper unstopable, but he played excellent defense on Jones, and really fought hard on the boards, limiting Jones (the leading rebounder in the country) to five rebounds. His line of 20 points, 11 boards, 3 blocks, and 2 steals on 9/11 from the field doesn't even tell the whole story. He throughly outplayed one of the best players in the country in Kevin Jones. I'm going to guess NBA scouts loved what they saw out of him tonight. It has to be either him or Davis a #1 pick IMO.

Overall, this is the perfect recipe for success. The big men imposed their will on another front court (isn't it interesting that our frontcourt plays their best against the best frountcourt they've played so far? they rise to the level of their competition, it seems), Lamb was unstopable, Shabazz dropped dimes all over the gym, and the defense was stellar. Minus some careless mistakes and a lack of boxing out, this was a hell of a win, and the most fun I've had all year.
 
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