What can you say about last night? Well, here's one man's view from section 221:
- Unfortunately, it was a great road win for Louisville. In a conference where the top teams are finding ways to win on the road, it seems to be very difficult to protect home court advantage. Louisville lost at home to Memphis, while Cincinnati and UConn won at Memphis. The Huskies find themselves three games out in the loss column for the top spot in the AAC race.
- Louisville got their first signature win of the season. They lost to North Carolina, Kentucky and Memphis earlier this season. I saw the Cards play Carolina in November at Mohegan Sun. They looked awful - settling for threes and not playing defense. It is hard to repeat and defend a national championship, but this Louisville team played with a renewed purpose last night. UConn did not match the intensity or aggressiveness the Cardinals played with. They dominated the glass by outrebounding the Huskies by 15 and they had 40 points in the paint.
- I have to give Rick Pitino a lot of credit. He knew his team could not run with UConn. Memphis tried to run with the Huskies last Thursday and failed. Pitino wanted no part of that and Kevin Ollie did not adjust. Very early in the game, UConn looked like deer in the headlights and could not capture the energy of the crowd. They played like the team that lost games to Stanford, Houston and SMU.
- The Huskies have struggled with a zone all season. UConn settles for a lot of threes - something you live and die by. Just like the Stanford game, they do not look for second or third or fourth options. The frontcourt does not flash to the high post and look to take a shot. They did not try to open up the low post. The Louisville zone was a mix between a 2-3 and a 3-2. It was often extended and extremely aggressive. It was the junk defense you tend to see the low to mid-majors use during the first couple of rounds of the NCAA tournament.
- Again, DeAndre Daniels decided to follow-up a great performance with another horrible game. Daniels scored the first basket for the Huskies on a corner three, but then quickly got into foul trouble. He only had three points for the game on one for eight shooting. The talented junior could have been that frontcourt player to go to the top of the free throw line and take jumpers but decided to settle for threes. This says to me that Daniels wants no part of the physical nature of the game.
- Rise and repeat: the Huskies had to rely way far too much on Shabazz Napier. Napier scored a career high 30 points. Late in the game, he went into to the lane for lay-ups and got fouled. He carried UConn on Saturday night and proved that he needs to be considered an All-American. Without Napier, this team will be in trouble.
- I am not going to mention much about the officiating. There were a lot of questionable calls throughout the game against both teams. The crowd was great with riding the refs again and again throughout the second half. You know you will get a ton a fouls against the home team whenever Ted Valentine is on the court. Remember, he was involved with an infamous Bobby Knight ejection. However, he was actually the best official on the court last night. The American Athletic Conference needs to review the game film and decide what to do with these officials. You can't make marquee games into free throw shooting contests.
- Slightly off topic - new football head coach Bob Diaco spoke to the crowd during the under-12 timeout in the first half. What enthusiasm this guy has! He is going to make UConn football special and we will be lucky to have him as a coach for the length of his entire contract. However, he should never speak at another UConn basketball game again. He is bad luck and is now 0-2!
- One last thought - Gampel Pavilion is in bad shape. The ceiling tiles are cracked and falling apart. The problem is getting worse. What does the university and the state of Connecticut have in planned to fix this problem? I don't want to hear build a new arena. Gampel is the best college arena in the Northeast. The building is only 23 years old. A restoration project may need to be done, but keep Gampel where it is.
The Huskies get back into action on Tuesday night when they return to the XL Center against Temple at 7pm.