Player of the Game- Ryan Boatright. Get used to this,folks, because Boat is a star. Boatright finished with 19 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists, leading the Huskies in each of those categories. It was an impressive display from the senior captain. He served as the lead attack guard on a destructive full court press that slowed down the C.o.C. offense at the start of each half. It was the way he played that really stood out. As a senior captain, Boat's really shown maturity and leadership to start the year. He's getting everyone involved, making sure guys get shots. The way he attacks the paint, as a way to score for himself or to set up someone else remains his best quality. Just another solid Boat show today.
Turning Point of the Game- This was probably a moment few people noticed but Amida Brimah's basket with 5:43 left in the first half. UConn was in the middle of an 0-12 shooting stretch that saw the Cougars cut the lead to 19-17. Kevin Ollie called a timeout and drew up a play for Brimah. Typical of most NBA teams struggling to score, the play was a simple post up for a big man with a mismatch. Brimah caught the pass, faced up with the basket and calmly splashed a short jumper. It was an easy play that brought the lead to 4. But it was exactly that ease that stood out. If Brimah is truly developing into a player that Ollie can trust to get a bucket when UConn needs one, it is a huge key for them going forward. The game wouldn't be that close until the end.
Play of the Game- This award was decided after the first Husky basket. Charleston was operating a 3/4 court press and playing tight on the UConn guards. Some quick passes between Boatright and Rodney Purvis opened up the floor. Kentan Facey found the key to the backdoor of the defense and made a strong cut to the rim. Boatright hit him mid-stride for an easy dunk by Facey. It was clever by both parties and indicative of the player Facey has developed into. He's not going to dominate games, but he makes winning plays.
Concern- Aside from Shabazz Napier being a demigod, the primary reason UConn took home the National Championship last season was elite free throw shooting. They sank 101 of 115 free throws, creating a late game advantage that carried them home.T hat reliability was not there today. In the first half today, they shot just 9/19 from the stripe. Giving away 10 free points like that, while struggling mightily to score, is something you cannot do against a good opponent. UConn finished 17-27 on the game. Against Bryant, UConn was 10/11 from the line, so the ability is there. It just needs to show up every night.