Here are some quick thoughts on tonight's game following my running through it on DVR tonight:
- This was a comfortable win and it felt exactly like a November UConn basketball game should. Exciting at times, but the ending was ultimately a foregone conclusion. It was remarkable how little I thought about this being "Kevin Ollie's UConn" .... it was just UConn.
- I was particularly impressed with the hot start -- I could get used to that -- and the clamp-down finish. UConn outscored Vermont 12-5 in the last six and a half minutes and strangled any hope out of the Catamounts.
- The three point shooting fell off a bit from last week. The Huskies only went 3-12 for tonight, and they'll have to do better than that as the schedule gets tougher.
- On the other hand it appears like this is going to be a very good team from the free throw line. The Huskies shot over 75 percent from the line, and got there a decent amount -- taking 18 freebies.
- The inside struggles are real though. UConn might have caught Michigan St. at the perfect time, when their freshman-heavy front line was playing its first game and doing it in a unique environment. The decidedly short Vermont front line handily beat UConn on the boards (36-28) and UConn again gave up way too many offensive rebounds (16). The Huskies also gave Vermont 21 free throw attempts, the surest sign that the interior defense needs work. This is going to be a recurring theme all year, and the fact that the numbers were this unbalanced against Vermont doesn't bode well.
- Olander almost had a double-double (nine points, nine boards) and threw in four blocks to boot. That's nice, but the Huskies need him and DeAndre Daniels to show up every game and Daniels was quiet tonight (seven points but only three rebounds).
- To reinforce that point: Phil Nolan had a nice underhand scoop for his first points as a Husky, but he also picked up three fouls in seven minutes. Don't expect him to provide any answers. Enosch Wolf only got in for one minute, so they basically flipped roles from last week. It'll be interesting to see how Ollie handles this going forward.
- To end on a high note: the guards are still awesome. The combo of Shabazz Napier, Omar Calhoun, RJ Evans and Ryan Boatright combined for 45 points. Boatright was the only one not to crack double digits and he had nine assists, including a show-stopping behind-the-back pass to set up a Daniels slam on the fast break.
- Still, a win is a win, and this is clearly still UConn basketball. The Huskies are 2-0 and the Paradise Jam and a date with Wake Forest are up next.