First things first...a win is a win is a win.
You don't argue with wins.
Sometimes you run into a game where nothing seems to be going right. The good teams find a way to pull it out. The bad teams find a way to lose. UConn found a way to pull this one out.
You can look at it two ways. The glass half empty looks at it and says that every time UConn was about to put the game away, they let Boston College come right back. The glass half full says every time Boston College was making a run, UConn answered to put some distance between themselves and the Eagles.
Whichever way you want to slice it, UConn did BARELY enough to win the game and fight another day against either Indiana or Washington.
Okay, now that that's out of the way...let me just say I hated everyt effing thing about that game.
Seriously...that was a really hard game to watch.
First, the atmosphere in MSG was dead for most of the game, especially the first half. I saw that Aman mentioned a bus full of UConn fans might have gotten stranded on their way to NYC and thus arrived late. That would make sense as the crowd picked up in the second half. But in the first...dead. It sounded like the XL Center on downers.
What's worse is UConn played like the crowd sounded. You almost got the sense right off the bat that things weren't going to be pretty. On the first couple of possessions, Shabazz Napier missed a few ill-advised shots, Boston College got some easy baskets inside, and Husky players looked to almost be playing in quick sand.
That only got marginally better as the game went on.
UConn's offense seemed to be out of sorts almost all night long. The only time it seemed to flow was when DeAndre Daniels had the ball.
If you're looking for your star of the game, it was Daniels, no question. He had 23 points, 5 rebounds and three steals. More importantly, he was by far the most consistent player on the court tonight. He was able to take the ball inside and score while also making two of the three three-point baskets UConn had all night long.
In the second half Daniels went long stretches without getting the ball, which was a product of him not being aggressive enough in demanding the ball, and the guards doing a bad job of finding him...but when he had the ball, he was a force.
Napier had, to me, an old school Napier game. That is, I left feeling both happy and frustrated.
He scored 20 points, made some circus layup shots, and had a HUGE basket after Boston College had gone on a 6-0 run with about 3:10 to go in the second half. It was a huge play that stopped the bleeding. Then UConn got a steal from Ryan Boatright, which led to a fast break layup from Daniels, and with a little over 2:00 to go, UConn had what appeared to be a safe seven point lead. But, like I said, Napier was channeling old-school Shabazz, meaning he promptly came down, took a horrible fade away shot (something he did WAYYY too much of in this game) with almost 30 seconds on the shot clock, missed, came back down the court, and got lost on defense against BC's uber-guard Olivier Hanlan, who had a rather unremarkable night overall for the Eagles (19 points, 6 rebounds). That was pretty much Napier all night long...two parts good, one part REALLY bad. Throw in a few uncharacteristic free throw misses at the end of the game for Shabazz, and UConn's leader won't be hanging that performance on the wall any time soon.
But while Napier's night was inconsistent, Ryan Boatright was downright terrible. He managed to score 9 points and grab 7 rebounds, but his play was all over the place. The one play to me that signified the night for Boatright was right after the first and only three by Niels Giffey in the second half, putting UConn up eight. Hanlan came back down, got separation on Shabazz (by blatantly pushing off, which he did all night long) and took a long two pointer, which he missed. The rebound came out long to Boatright, who raced down the court. Instead of going up with it himself or passing to the trailing Giffey, Boatright tried to pass the ball to Daniels who was trailing on the right. It was a horrible pass, one Daniels was barely able to handle. His shot was forced and clanged off the backboard, leading to a Giffey over-the-back call. On what should have been an easy two, Boatright turned it into a bad forced shot and a foul on his teammate.
Now, we give Ryan a bit of a pass because he did come up with a GREAT blocked shot at the end of the game to ensure BC couldn't pull out a victory, but that chance was made possible in part by Boatright's shoddy play.
Anyway, everyone else was kind of blah. Giffey only had the one three, Amida Brimah had two blocks but didn't really impact the game, Omar Calhoun was okay when driving to the basket but couldn't hit the broadside of a barn with his shot, and everyone else was sorta just along for the ride, it seemed.
The defense was really disappointing at times tonight. I lost count of how many easy, near-uncontested layups UConn gave up to Boston College. As a matter of fact, Hanlan should have hit another easy layup at the end of the game to tie it if he didn't choke the chance away. On top of that, Boston College seemed to get a three whenever they wanted. It was a simple formula-drive to the basket, have the ENTIRE UConn defense collapse to one player, then pick one of the four guys standing at the three point line and pass it to them. Had Boston College been able to make more than 8-26 from three, this would have been a very different game.
Again, like I said in the beginning, a win is a win is a win. Oh, and did I mention it was against Boston College? I'm sure our friends from up north are thrilled their team only lost by a few points because, hey, when you can't win, you have to celebrate losses, right? I mean, up there in Eagle country, being within 5 points of a good team is cause for a parade. Jokes aside, this is a plucky team that we beat today, and we can look forward to a good game if we happen to meet again next year.
There's definitely a lot to work on for this Husky group. The most disturbing trend is the fact that UConn has shown a tendency early on here to really go through lulls. They will get up on a team and then sleepwalk through a few minutes of play. Last year, this team was all grit and hustle. No matter what, they kept battling. This group needs to find a little bit of that, and right quick. Much better opponents lie ahead and UConn won't win many of those contests playing the way they did tonight.