I promise I won't overreact. It was just one game. I promise I won't overreact. It was just one game. I promise I won't overreact. It was just one game. I promise I won't overreact. It was just one game. I promise I won't overreact. It was just one game. I promise I won't overreact. It was just one game. I promise I won't overreact. It was just one game.
So that game was not optimal. UConn won, yeah, and there were absolutely some positives, but the tragic flaws were out in full force on opening night:
- UConn looked excellent when they ran the floor and forced the tempo. The press worked pretty well when it was used, and it was big in getting UConn out to a 10-point lead in the first half.
- But for most of the game after that, it was the Tribe who controlled the flow. They slowed the game down to a glacial pace, forced UConn to take tough shots against the 2-3 zone and stayed in the game by shooting a million 3-pointers. A good gameplan, all in all, since UConn was ice cold from more than 10 feet away from the bucket. Expect to see the 2-3 until UConn proves it has someone who can consistently knock down jumpers. (By the way, this isn't something new. It's been a weakness of the last few UConn teams. Last year, the Huskies' superior interior play was enough to overcome this. Hopefully Majok is the real deal, then.)
- None of the freshman, save Oriakhi, showed much in the way of a scoring threat. Of course, all five starters played 30+ minutes, so it's tough to tell. UConn scored just five bench points. We'll get a better look with the two NIT games next week, I think.
- W&M shot 38 percent from 3 and angered Calhoun greatly by 1) getting a few backdoor layups and 2) getting easy (as in 2-on-0) buckets in transition. The defense was rather disappointing, to say the least.
Anyway, those are the negatives. As I said in the season preview, this almost certainly is not the #12 team in the country at this moment. We are probably due for some early growing pains, as in the 2006-07 season (with the difference that this time, UConn has the big three of Dyson/Walker/Robinson to hold the ship steady). I'm still confident that everything will work out as we get deeper into the season. As it is, there's a solid core of four players that will keep the Huskies in every game they play (and Gavin didn't play so bad tonight, either):
- Jerome Dyson (27 points, 8 assists) is going to score points in bunches this year, and when he gets in rhythm (as he was for a short time in the second half), UConn is going to look great. Dyson was the catalyst for the offense tonight.
- Stanley Robinson was everywhere tonight (17 points, 7 rebounds, a couple blocks). Looked very active and in the flow of the game. An encouraging opener.
- Alex Oriakhi (8 points, 4-for-4 shooting) will be a beast very soon. The kid looked great with his back to the basket, and showed his length on in getting his 10 rebounds. Had UConn worked on getting him some more touches, he would've easily had a double-double. In his first game. As a freshman. I'm giddy.
- Kemba remains awesome.
Anyway, I'm not going to take a whole lot out of tonight's game, and I don't expect this game to be a part of some large trend. On a bad night, a win is a win (and at least UConn didn't come down to the final seconds, like Pitt and Seton Hall did against Wofford and St. Peter's). My guess is that Calhoun will have a lot of fun molding this team into something good. And that's pretty much the only thing we'll take from Game #1. After all, I promised myself I wouldn't overreact. It was just one game.