Thoughts on last night | The Boneyard

Thoughts on last night

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You're always in an awkward position as a fan after a game like that. This program isn't in the business of moral victories, and I certainly don't count last night as one. Ryan Boatright was at the line, with the game tied at 30 and 18 minutes left in the game, to shoot a free throw that would put us ahead for the first time in nearly 20 minutes. The crowd was into it, Duke looked a little bit rattled, and our team defense was bringing back memories of the 2014 tournament. Having the best player on the court didn't hurt. I genuinely thought during that moment that we were going to win.

Boatright missed the free throw, and UConn proceeded to surrender six straight layups. Down 42-32, Daniel Hamilton had the ball stolen by Tyus Jones, who was then fouled "intentionally" by Terrence Samuel. By the time UConn got the ball back it was 45-32 and the game was virtually over. They fought honorably to get back within striking distance, but 13 points is too steep a hill to climb with this offensively-challenged group against an opponent like Duke.

Stringing together a complete 40 minutes continues to be a goal that eludes this team, and against Duke, a brief five minute lapse was enough to doom them.

But we also have to be realistic. I've stated this before, but it bares repeating because people tend to forget: we lost four of our best five players from last years team. This was never going to be a smooth transition, regardless of how much people wanted to talk themselves into this being the year that we were going to buck the trend. Similarly, we're starting one freshman and three sophomores. There is a gap in familiarity and skill that needs to be closed, and it will take a while.

"How can we use youth as an excuse? Look at teams like Duke and Kentucky" We're not Duke or Kentucky. Those schools reload with top ten players every year. I'll let you in on a secret: this team would be a lot better with a player like Karl Anthony Towns or Jahil Okafor.

And for those screaming from the rooftops about our recruiting, relax. We may not be as consistent year in and year out as Duke; but typically, by the time our four and five star recruits are juniors and seniors, they're better than Duke and Kentucky's freshman. Not being able to recruit at the level of a Kansas or Duke has its benefits, even if they may not be realized for a year or two. Shabazz won twelve times as many tournament games as Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, and Austin Rivers combined.

This doesn't mean I have given up on this years team, not by any stretch. Those who question the talent level of this team are woefully off base. This team is just as talented as last years team, the pieces just don't fit quite as well. If a couple guys begin hitting shots (I hope Omar is this guy), this team becomes a contender.

I'm just miffed by anyone who comes away from watching this game with a negative long-term outlook. It was a disappointing result, sure, but the talent is apparent, and the execution is getting there. When you combine talent with great coaching, you're going to eventually get great results. And in case you weren't aware before, Kevin Ollie is a hell of a coach. His game plan - on both ends - was extremely good. It wasn't the double-teaming of Okafor that impressed me. Anybody can do that. It was the precision of the rotations out to shooters that was impressive at this point in the season.

Our team quickness gave Duke fits, but we weren't winning that game without contributions from Brimah. That Brimah was in foul trouble the whole game had to do with some combination of Jahil being better than him and a tough whistle, but if Ollie had to do it over again, I bet he shields Brimah from Okafor more than he did and tries to let him roam as a help defender. There is no sense in using Brimah as a primary defender if you're going to double on all post touches anyway. If that means conceding mid-range jump shots to Jefferson, so be it.

Offensively, Ollie introduced a spread look that I anticipated we might see more of before the season. Purvis and Hamilton were in constant motion, working to free themselves away from the ball off curls and looking to attack more than they had in prior games. It was an effective strategy, to a degree. Duke’s defense is much, much better than it was last season, and with Brimah on the bench for most of the game, Okafor had more freedom in helping off the ball than he would have had he been forced to guard against dives from Brimah. Ollie is going to find a way to construct a functional offense by the end of the season, just give it time.

I’m not going to talk about every player, but I feel the need to defend a couple guys who seem to be taking some flack here today:

Purvis – He needs to play better, yes, and I suspect that he’ll be an extremely maddening player for the better part of this season. He’s very turnover prone, not a great passer, not a great ball-handler, and an unreliable shooter (and worse yet, he doesn’t trust himself as a shooter).

But holy hell guys, for all intents and purposes, yesterday was his fourth game (he was clearly not right against WVU and Yale). For all the yammering about how he is closer to a junior than a sophomore, I just don’t think that’s the case. There is no replicating the speed of an actual game, and Purvis is one of those guys who reacts to that speed by trying to play faster; that’s typically not the right approach. You can pick him apart all he wants – and make no mistake, he has plenty of flaws that he needs to eliminate before we can consider him a great player – but he is still an exceptional finisher in the open court, and his touch around the rim, and on those floaters, is better than you’d think.

Hamilton – Man, this is just one of those kids that is way more impressive in person than he is on TV (and that’s saying a lot). It’s just so rare to see a freshman who actually doesn’t panic when the defense converges. There is just so much to process: where is the help defense in relation to my teammates? How small is that passing window? Can I throw that pass across the court to Boatright or does it get picked off? Can I fit that lob over Okafor to Facey? It’s unquestionably – from the vantage point of somebody who never played at this level – the toughest thing about adapting to D-1 basketball. That Hamilton’s basketball IQ is this high, already, is extremely encouraging.

Of course, it’s a lot easier to be that proficient in traffic when you’re 6’8 with the passing instincts of a point guard. Hamilton’s ability to contort his body and get shots up over the defense is simultaneously amazing and infuriating, because I think he should be scoring 20 a game. Goodman might turn out to be right in a roundabout way, because if he continues to be this selfless it might spill over into selfishness. He’s an incredible player, and I’ll go out on a limb and say that if he returns to Storrs for his sophomore year, he will have the best sophomore season since Caron Butler.

Brimah/Nolan – These two need to get better at rebounding, there is just no way around it. Losing the rebounding war 40 to 29 was a big reason we lost that game.

Conversely, as I keep saying, Brimah is in year two of a three year project. There are going to be games where you’re frustrated by him. There are also going to be games where he looks like one of the best big men in the country. Achieving some level of consistency – especially against big time opponents – is the next step for him, but we shouldn’t let that dilute how far he’s come.

For all the grief Nolan takes on here, he’s just extremely valuable in games like last night. He moves his feet so well for a big man, and his added strength seemed to pay dividends against Okafor. He sets screens well and is obviously the best charge taker in the history of the sport. I’m fine with this kid playing 10-15 minutes per game, but we probably won’t win against great teams with him playing more than that.

We played the #2 team in the country – that is supposedly a step above the pack along with Kentucky – to the wire despite injuries (Purvis isn’t all the way back yet, and Calhoun is obviously going to need time), poor perimeter shooting, and an unfriendly whistle. We forced 19 turnovers and held the best offense in the country to below 38% from the floor. It was a phenomenal defensive performance, save for a five minute stretch in the second half. It always stings to lose, especially to Duke, but I couldn’t be more fired up to watch how the rest of this season plays out.

Thanks so much to Skinner for the ticket and an awesome experience. I can’t describe how invigorating it is to literally stand on the floor (I actually caught a stray ball during warmups and resisted the urge to keep it and annoy the Duke player who wanted it back). I was sort of star-struck for pretty much the entire game. It was awesome meeting @Penfield and @OkaForPrez . I admit to having a great time despite the loss and look forward to hopefully meeting more of you down the road.
 

whaler11

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I thought it was encouraging. Purvis does worry me though - but more from what I saw at NCSU than the handful of games here.

If the American didn't give them such a small margin for error I wouldn't be too worried but they need to get right pretty fast.
 
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I don't really have anything poignant to say in return, I guess I just think well thought out posts deserve responses. I love the D as much as you do and I think we will be an elite defensive team all year but I really am worried about the offense. I hate to say it, but I am concerned about Purvis. I remember watching him in HS back to his sophomore and he was an absolute freak athlete. He has attempted one dunk this year, which he missed, and ended up spraining his ankle. I think I am equally high on D Ham; this kid is going to be really good in the NBA. His skill set is rare, even at that level. Man, Amidah just has no balance and can't rebound for but he is going to win a lot of games for us with his help D. Its strange, he will dominate poor to good pretty good talent, but will got dominated by very good talent. Certainly a year away.
 
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Glad yoi mentioned the sequence where Boat missed the free throw to put them ahead. Who knows how meaningful it would've been, but maybe seeing them go ahead for just a brief moment gives them that extra lift and they're able to avoid that game changing run that Duke put on em. Boat is the absolutely last player I want to knock considering how good he's been when healthy outside of the Yale game, how hard he plays all game and for even gutting out the Yale game, but man he has got to stop leaving so many points at the free throw line. I'd hate to be sitting around in March in a bad mood thinking "what if" about those end of game free throws missed against Texas and Yale that could've at worst ensured at least going to OT in one game and icing a win in another.
 
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Coach K knows UConn fans too well. Everytime the fans got out of their seats, an immediate timeout was called. Izod Center was ready to start rocking considering the ratio of UConn fans to Duke fans. Disappointing that this game was at a neutral site, although it was good preparation for March.

A little off topic, but I have to talk about Izod Center. How do you host a basketball game and not display field goal percentages, free throw percentages, etc? Also, the picture on the screen above the court looked like it was from 1980. You know that place is a joke when they have WWE banners hanging from the ceiling.
 
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"There are also going to be games where he looks like one of the best big men in the country. "

Umm, when, against Coppin State? I don't think so. Uncontested dunks against 6-6 guys doesn't ever rank as this. Has he scored 10 points against a top 25 team in 2 years? I don't know, I'd have to look up but it's not more than once-twice if at all.
 
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Coach K knows UConn fans too well. Everytime the fans got out of their seats, an immediate timeout was called. Izod Center was ready to start rocking considering the ratio of UConn fans to Duke fans. Disappointing that this game was at a neutral site, although it was good preparation for March.

A little off topic, but I have to talk about Izod Center. How do you host a basketball game and not display field goal percentages, free throw percentages, etc? Also, the picture on the screen above the court looked like it was from 1980. You know that place is a joke when they have WWE banners hanging from the ceiling.


Of when UConn gets a rally, Coach K gets the ref to call a technical foul (same exact play y UConn in the 1st half was called a straight foul), or another foul on Brimah, or to allow Duke to walk with the ball. That said, better perimeter shooting (or any shooting form some one besides Boat) and this game is a lot closer.

As for IZOD, it's a dump. I have been there with my kids for Monster Trucks and Sesame Street Live, which draws 1/4 of the crowd from last night. No pro team (Devils play at the Rock, Nets at Barclays) nor college team (Hall at the Rock) calls IZOD home anymore, so those scoreboards are not getting updated. Duke wanted the game in Jersey as they have strong basketball and alumni connections and as a Jersey game makes it a lot harder for UConn fans to show-up versus MSG. Why it was at IZOD instead of the Rock, I do not know. Maybe Seton Hall did not want them there? As for the crowd, I though in terms of headcount that it was about 50/50; but, the UConn fans were a lot louder (and younger).
 

Penfield

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Thanks so much to Skinner for the ticket and an awesome experience. I can’t describe how invigorating it is to literally stand on the floor (I actually caught a stray ball during warmups and resisted the urge to keep it and annoy the Duke player who wanted it back). I was sort of star-struck for pretty much the entire game. It was awesome meeting @Penfield and @OkaForPrez . I admit to having a great time despite the loss and look forward to hopefully meeting more of you down the road.

Great to meet you too @champs99and04, and once again excellent write up on the game. I had an awesome time despite the loss last night too. Please tell me you rewatched it today and this wasn't all stuff you picked up on last night haha. Took me a bit to get accustomed to watching the game from that angle but I think I could get used to it ;). Thanks again Skinner.

I think we have a similar outlook on the season at this point. I had high expectations going into the season, and it really didn't hit me until the Dayton game that this team had almost no carry over from last year. Even some of the guys that were around, like Facey and Calhoun, didn't get very much playing time towards the end of the season. We're basically playing with the dudes our starters would play against in practice last year.

Like I said to @OkaForPrez on our (very) long trip back to Manhattan after the game, if it were not for the other losses this year this game wouldn't have felt like such a must win. Most seasons I would probably have tossed it up to some missed chances and you can't win em all. This season hasn't been easy, but that being said there is no reason to give up yet. Yeah we lost, but we also hung with the #1b team in the country with a team that really hasn't had the chance to gel yet. We put it all on the line, delivered some punches, and never laid down. Fought right up until the end. Last night was really the first game it felt like we were playing with a full deck. This team was put into a tough situation. They were asked to prove themselves in the first 8 games of the year before they even really had a chance to get to know each other on the court in real game situations. The injuries didn't help. There is a lot of season left and if anyone can figure this out it's KO. They showed some guts last night and thats part of the puzzle. Might still be a couple games before all the other pieces start to fall into place, but I think they will.
 

Hans Sprungfeld

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"There are also going to be games where he looks like one of the best big men in the country. "

Umm, when, against Coppin State? I don't think so. Uncontested dunks against 6-6 guys doesn't ever rank as this. Has he scored 10 points against a top 25 team in 2 years? I don't know, I'd have to look up but it's not more than once-twice if at all.

And now a road show w/this worthless gripe?
 
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And then Ahab perished in the frothing ocean, and the White Whale disappeared beneath the diminishing waves, like the sun into the horizon.
 

Penfield

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Also screw Karl Hess. Can't stand that guy. Watching him yapping with the fans told me all I need to know about him
 
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Boat is the absolutely last player I want to knock considering how good he's been when healthy outside of the Yale game, how hard he plays all game and for even gutting out the Yale game, but man he has got to stop leaving so many points at the free throw line. I'd hate to be sitting around in March in a bad mood thinking "what if" about those end of game free throws missed against Texas and Yale that could've at worst ensured at least going to OT in one game and icing a win in another.

Boat is shooting 80 percent from the line. He is only missing the free throws when they matter the most. Frustrating to say the least.
 

Waquoit

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"There are also going to be games where he looks like one of the best big men in the country. "

Umm, when, against Coppin State?

I guess you missed the big dance last year.
 
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You're always in an awkward position as a fan after a game like that. This program isn't in the business of moral victories, and I certainly don't count last night as one. Ryan Boatright was at the line, with the game tied at 30 and 18 minutes left in the game, to shoot a free throw that would put us ahead for the first time in nearly 20 minutes. The crowd was into it, Duke looked a little bit rattled, and our team defense was bringing back memories of the 2014 tournament. Having the best player on the court didn't hurt. I genuinely thought during that moment that we were going to win.

Boatright missed the free throw, and UConn proceeded to surrender six straight layups. Down 42-32, Daniel Hamilton had the ball stolen by Tyus Jones, who was then fouled "intentionally" by Terrence Samuel. By the time UConn got the ball back it was 45-32 and the game was virtually over. They fought honorably to get back within striking distance, but 13 points is too steep a hill to climb with this offensively-challenged group against an opponent like Duke.

Stringing together a complete 40 minutes continues to be a goal that eludes this team, and against Duke, a brief five minute lapse was enough to doom them.

But we also have to be realistic. I've stated this before, but it bares repeating because people tend to forget: we lost four of our best five players from last years team. This was never going to be a smooth transition, regardless of how much people wanted to talk themselves into this being the year that we were going to buck the trend. Similarly, we're starting one freshman and three sophomores. There is a gap in familiarity and skill that needs to be closed, and it will take a while.

"How can we use youth as an excuse? Look at teams like Duke and Kentucky" We're not Duke or Kentucky. Those schools reload with top ten players every year. I'll let you in on a secret: this team would be a lot better with a player like Karl Anthony Towns or Jahil Okafor.

And for those screaming from the rooftops about our recruiting, relax. We may not be as consistent year in and year out as Duke; but typically, by the time our four and five star recruits are juniors and seniors, they're better than Duke and Kentucky's freshman. Not being able to recruit at the level of a Kansas or Duke has its benefits, even if they may not be realized for a year or two. Shabazz won twelve times as many tournament games as Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, and Austin Rivers combined.

This doesn't mean I have given up on this years team, not by any stretch. Those who question the talent level of this team are woefully off base. This team is just as talented as last years team, the pieces just don't fit quite as well. If a couple guys begin hitting shots (I hope Omar is this guy), this team becomes a contender.

I'm just miffed by anyone who comes away from watching this game with a negative long-term outlook. It was a disappointing result, sure, but the talent is apparent, and the execution is getting there. When you combine talent with great coaching, you're going to eventually get great results. And in case you weren't aware before, Kevin Ollie is a hell of a coach. His game plan - on both ends - was extremely good. It wasn't the double-teaming of Okafor that impressed me. Anybody can do that. It was the precision of the rotations out to shooters that was impressive at this point in the season.

Our team quickness gave Duke fits, but we weren't winning that game without contributions from Brimah. That Brimah was in foul trouble the whole game had to do with some combination of Jahil being better than him and a tough whistle, but if Ollie had to do it over again, I bet he shields Brimah from Okafor more than he did and tries to let him roam as a help defender. There is no sense in using Brimah as a primary defender if you're going to double on all post touches anyway. If that means conceding mid-range jump shots to Jefferson, so be it.

Offensively, Ollie introduced a spread look that I anticipated we might see more of before the season. Purvis and Hamilton were in constant motion, working to free themselves away from the ball off curls and looking to attack more than they had in prior games. It was an effective strategy, to a degree. Duke’s defense is much, much better than it was last season, and with Brimah on the bench for most of the game, Okafor had more freedom in helping off the ball than he would have had he been forced to guard against dives from Brimah. Ollie is going to find a way to construct a functional offense by the end of the season, just give it time.

I’m not going to talk about every player, but I feel the need to defend a couple guys who seem to be taking some flack here today:

Purvis – He needs to play better, yes, and I suspect that he’ll be an extremely maddening player for the better part of this season. He’s very turnover prone, not a great passer, not a great ball-handler, and an unreliable shooter (and worse yet, he doesn’t trust himself as a shooter).

But holy hell guys, for all intents and purposes, yesterday was his fourth game (he was clearly not right against WVU and Yale). For all the yammering about how he is closer to a junior than a sophomore, I just don’t think that’s the case. There is no replicating the speed of an actual game, and Purvis is one of those guys who reacts to that speed by trying to play faster; that’s typically not the right approach. You can pick him apart all he wants – and make no mistake, he has plenty of flaws that he needs to eliminate before we can consider him a great player – but he is still an exceptional finisher in the open court, and his touch around the rim, and on those floaters, is better than you’d think.

Hamilton – Man, this is just one of those kids that is way more impressive in person than he is on TV (and that’s saying a lot). It’s just so rare to see a freshman who actually doesn’t panic when the defense converges. There is just so much to process: where is the help defense in relation to my teammates? How small is that passing window? Can I throw that pass across the court to Boatright or does it get picked off? Can I fit that lob over Okafor to Facey? It’s unquestionably – from the vantage point of somebody who never played at this level – the toughest thing about adapting to D-1 basketball. That Hamilton’s basketball IQ is this high, already, is extremely encouraging.

Of course, it’s a lot easier to be that proficient in traffic when you’re 6’8 with the passing instincts of a point guard. Hamilton’s ability to contort his body and get shots up over the defense is simultaneously amazing and infuriating, because I think he should be scoring 20 a game. Goodman might turn out to be right in a roundabout way, because if he continues to be this selfless it might spill over into selfishness. He’s an incredible player, and I’ll go out on a limb and say that if he returns to Storrs for his sophomore year, he will have the best sophomore season since Caron Butler.

Brimah/Nolan – These two need to get better at rebounding, there is just no way around it. Losing the rebounding war 40 to 29 was a big reason we lost that game.

Conversely, as I keep saying, Brimah is in year two of a three year project. There are going to be games where you’re frustrated by him. There are also going to be games where he looks like one of the best big men in the country. Achieving some level of consistency – especially against big time opponents – is the next step for him, but we shouldn’t let that dilute how far he’s come.

For all the grief Nolan takes on here, he’s just extremely valuable in games like last night. He moves his feet so well for a big man, and his added strength seemed to pay dividends against Okafor. He sets screens well and is obviously the best charge taker in the history of the sport. I’m fine with this kid playing 10-15 minutes per game, but we probably won’t win against great teams with him playing more than that.

We played the #2 team in the country – that is supposedly a step above the pack along with Kentucky – to the wire despite injuries (Purvis isn’t all the way back yet, and Calhoun is obviously going to need time), poor perimeter shooting, and an unfriendly whistle. We forced 19 turnovers and held the best offense in the country to below 38% from the floor. It was a phenomenal defensive performance, save for a five minute stretch in the second half. It always stings to lose, especially to Duke, but I couldn’t be more fired up to watch how the rest of this season plays out.

Thanks so much to Skinner for the ticket and an awesome experience. I can’t describe how invigorating it is to literally stand on the floor (I actually caught a stray ball during warmups and resisted the urge to keep it and annoy the Duke player who wanted it back). I was sort of star-struck for pretty much the entire game. It was awesome meeting @Penfield and @OkaForPrez . I admit to having a great time despite the loss and look forward to hopefully meeting more of you down the road.
Great post! I believe.
 

Edward Sargent

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You're always in an awkward position as a fan after a game like that. This program isn't in the business of moral victories, and I certainly don't count last night as one. Ryan Boatright was at the line, with the game tied at 30 and 18 minutes left in the game, to shoot a free throw that would put us ahead for the first time in nearly 20 minutes. The crowd was into it, Duke looked a little bit rattled, and our team defense was bringing back memories of the 2014 tournament. Having the best player on the court didn't hurt. I genuinely thought during that moment that we were going to win.

Boatright missed the free throw, and UConn proceeded to surrender six straight layups. Down 42-32, Daniel Hamilton had the ball stolen by Tyus Jones, who was then fouled "intentionally" by Terrence Samuel. By the time UConn got the ball back it was 45-32 and the game was virtually over. They fought honorably to get back within striking distance, but 13 points is too steep a hill to climb with this offensively-challenged group against an opponent like Duke.

Stringing together a complete 40 minutes continues to be a goal that eludes this team, and against Duke, a brief five minute lapse was enough to doom them.

But we also have to be realistic. I've stated this before, but it bares repeating because people tend to forget: we lost four of our best five players from last years team. This was never going to be a smooth transition, regardless of how much people wanted to talk themselves into this being the year that we were going to buck the trend. Similarly, we're starting one freshman and three sophomores. There is a gap in familiarity and skill that needs to be closed, and it will take a while.

"How can we use youth as an excuse? Look at teams like Duke and Kentucky" We're not Duke or Kentucky. Those schools reload with top ten players every year. I'll let you in on a secret: this team would be a lot better with a player like Karl Anthony Towns or Jahil Okafor.

And for those screaming from the rooftops about our recruiting, relax. We may not be as consistent year in and year out as Duke; but typically, by the time our four and five star recruits are juniors and seniors, they're better than Duke and Kentucky's freshman. Not being able to recruit at the level of a Kansas or Duke has its benefits, even if they may not be realized for a year or two. Shabazz won twelve times as many tournament games as Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, and Austin Rivers combined.

This doesn't mean I have given up on this years team, not by any stretch. Those who question the talent level of this team are woefully off base. This team is just as talented as last years team, the pieces just don't fit quite as well. If a couple guys begin hitting shots (I hope Omar is this guy), this team becomes a contender.

I'm just miffed by anyone who comes away from watching this game with a negative long-term outlook. It was a disappointing result, sure, but the talent is apparent, and the execution is getting there. When you combine talent with great coaching, you're going to eventually get great results. And in case you weren't aware before, Kevin Ollie is a hell of a coach. His game plan - on both ends - was extremely good. It wasn't the double-teaming of Okafor that impressed me. Anybody can do that. It was the precision of the rotations out to shooters that was impressive at this point in the season.

Our team quickness gave Duke fits, but we weren't winning that game without contributions from Brimah. That Brimah was in foul trouble the whole game had to do with some combination of Jahil being better than him and a tough whistle, but if Ollie had to do it over again, I bet he shields Brimah from Okafor more than he did and tries to let him roam as a help defender. There is no sense in using Brimah as a primary defender if you're going to double on all post touches anyway. If that means conceding mid-range jump shots to Jefferson, so be it.

Offensively, Ollie introduced a spread look that I anticipated we might see more of before the season. Purvis and Hamilton were in constant motion, working to free themselves away from the ball off curls and looking to attack more than they had in prior games. It was an effective strategy, to a degree. Duke’s defense is much, much better than it was last season, and with Brimah on the bench for most of the game, Okafor had more freedom in helping off the ball than he would have had he been forced to guard against dives from Brimah. Ollie is going to find a way to construct a functional offense by the end of the season, just give it time.

I’m not going to talk about every player, but I feel the need to defend a couple guys who seem to be taking some flack here today:

Purvis – He needs to play better, yes, and I suspect that he’ll be an extremely maddening player for the better part of this season. He’s very turnover prone, not a great passer, not a great ball-handler, and an unreliable shooter (and worse yet, he doesn’t trust himself as a shooter).

But holy hell guys, for all intents and purposes, yesterday was his fourth game (he was clearly not right against WVU and Yale). For all the yammering about how he is closer to a junior than a sophomore, I just don’t think that’s the case. There is no replicating the speed of an actual game, and Purvis is one of those guys who reacts to that speed by trying to play faster; that’s typically not the right approach. You can pick him apart all he wants – and make no mistake, he has plenty of flaws that he needs to eliminate before we can consider him a great player – but he is still an exceptional finisher in the open court, and his touch around the rim, and on those floaters, is better than you’d think.

Hamilton – Man, this is just one of those kids that is way more impressive in person than he is on TV (and that’s saying a lot). It’s just so rare to see a freshman who actually doesn’t panic when the defense converges. There is just so much to process: where is the help defense in relation to my teammates? How small is that passing window? Can I throw that pass across the court to Boatright or does it get picked off? Can I fit that lob over Okafor to Facey? It’s unquestionably – from the vantage point of somebody who never played at this level – the toughest thing about adapting to D-1 basketball. That Hamilton’s basketball IQ is this high, already, is extremely encouraging.

Of course, it’s a lot easier to be that proficient in traffic when you’re 6’8 with the passing instincts of a point guard. Hamilton’s ability to contort his body and get shots up over the defense is simultaneously amazing and infuriating, because I think he should be scoring 20 a game. Goodman might turn out to be right in a roundabout way, because if he continues to be this selfless it might spill over into selfishness. He’s an incredible player, and I’ll go out on a limb and say that if he returns to Storrs for his sophomore year, he will have the best sophomore season since Caron Butler.

Brimah/Nolan – These two need to get better at rebounding, there is just no way around it. Losing the rebounding war 40 to 29 was a big reason we lost that game.

Conversely, as I keep saying, Brimah is in year two of a three year project. There are going to be games where you’re frustrated by him. There are also going to be games where he looks like one of the best big men in the country. Achieving some level of consistency – especially against big time opponents – is the next step for him, but we shouldn’t let that dilute how far he’s come.

For all the grief Nolan takes on here, he’s just extremely valuable in games like last night. He moves his feet so well for a big man, and his added strength seemed to pay dividends against Okafor. He sets screens well and is obviously the best charge taker in the history of the sport. I’m fine with this kid playing 10-15 minutes per game, but we probably won’t win against great teams with him playing more than that.

We played the #2 team in the country – that is supposedly a step above the pack along with Kentucky – to the wire despite injuries (Purvis isn’t all the way back yet, and Calhoun is obviously going to need time), poor perimeter shooting, and an unfriendly whistle. We forced 19 turnovers and held the best offense in the country to below 38% from the floor. It was a phenomenal defensive performance, save for a five minute stretch in the second half. It always stings to lose, especially to Duke, but I couldn’t be more fired up to watch how the rest of this season plays out.

Thanks so much to Skinner for the ticket and an awesome experience. I can’t describe how invigorating it is to literally stand on the floor (I actually caught a stray ball during warmups and resisted the urge to keep it and annoy the Duke player who wanted it back). I was sort of star-struck for pretty much the entire game. It was awesome meeting @Penfield and @OkaForPrez . I admit to having a great time despite the loss and look forward to hopefully meeting more of you down the road.
Great write up thanks as always!! One comment about Rodney I think many of us felt that having practiced a year with last years team would make him a 20+ scorer from the get go this year as we (many of us - me included) had him picking up the scoring for two of three os last years top scorers.
 

Edward Sargent

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Coach K knows UConn fans too well. Everytime the fans got out of their seats, an immediate timeout was called. Izod Center was ready to start rocking considering the ratio of UConn fans to Duke fans. Disappointing that this game was at a neutral site, although it was good preparation for March.

A little off topic, but I have to talk about Izod Center. How do you host a basketball game and not display field goal percentages, free throw percentages, etc? Also, the picture on the screen above the court looked like it was from 1980. You know that place is a joke when they have WWE banners hanging from the ceiling.
That place needs to be torn down. No one plays there now except Dook once a year
 
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