I don't really know what else to write. I don't want to be one of those people who watches a game and calls a team "heartless," or whatever. The team plays hard. Just not well. The expectations of a 25-win season faded about two weeks ago, when UConn lost to Michigan. Now, the expectations of simply making the NCAA Tournament are ever so close to being cast aside.
Marquette beat UConn today at the XL Center, 70-68, on Jimmy Butler's fadeaway jumper over Gavin Edwards with 2.8 seconds left. UConn blew a three-point lead in the final minute after coming back from 13 down. It was yet another uneven effort by UConn but, yet again, the Huskies had a chance to take the win, and they came up short yet again.
After 21 games, there can be only one conclusion: UConn is a collection of individual players with some talent, and absolutely no basketball IQ.
- That explains why UConn came back from down 13 in the first half to take the lead; it also explains why they were minus-14 in turnover margin.
- That explains why UConn outrebounded Marquette by 23; it also explains why, despite winning the battle of the boards by 23 and shooting better, Marquette led most of the way.
- That explains why Jerome Dyson hit an enormous 3-pointer to put UConn up three, at home, with under a minute to play; it also explains why, not 10 seconds later, Dyson gave it back by leaving his feet on a 3-pointer, sending Darius Johnson-Odom to the line to tie the game.
- That explains why Kemba Walker took the game over in the second half (finishing with 15 and 6 assists); it also explains why, with 25 seconds left in the game and 20 on the shot clock in a tie game, he drove to the rim for a difficult floater which didn't even hit the rim.
- By the end of the season, that will explain why UConn can put together wonderful halves of basketball (1st, Georgetown; 2nd, Texas); and then it will explain why UConn is hosting the SWAC regular-season champion in the first round of the NIT six weeks from now.
And so today was another unbelievable loss for UConn in a season of them. (The football team was the same way...the win over Texas = the win over Notre Dame: both were magnificent wins in a season of heartbreaking losses and a barely-above .500 record.) In the end, even had UConn converted the last-second play and improved its record to 14-7, they would've been teetering on the bubble.
Now, the path to the NCAA Tournament becomes almost unnavigable. At 13-8, UConn probably needs to win seven of its final 10 games, or reach the Big East tournament semifinals and finish with 20 wins. Keep in mind, the schedule includes trips to Syracuse, Villanova, Louisville and Notre Dame, and home games with West Virginia and Louisville. Every one of those games is winnable, I suppose. But - and this is more important and potentially destructive - every one of UConn's games, including Rutgers, DePaul and South Florida, are loseable.
The season is teetering on the brink of being an NCAA-less fiasco, and things aren't looking that much better, unless Roscoe Smith can step in and play Rip Hamilton. These are scary times, indeed.