Player of the Game: Juwan Staten for West Virginia was the best player on the floor. Finishing with a game high 21 points, Staten was a beast. He went for 10 in the first half and 11 in the second half. He was the head of the Mountaineers destructive press defense and was the focal point of their offense. He did it all today and UConn had no answers. In the second half, Kevin Ollie made the adjustment to put Ryan Boatright on Staten, and that worked for a while. But Staten still made his impact. It was an impressive display from WVU's best player.
Turning Point of the Game: In the first half, UConn fell behind 20-13. They were able to cut that and brought the score to 22-20. West Virginia then went out on a 25-12 run to close the half. There wasn't one particular play that set things off, but a collection of miscues. UConn just struggled mightily and West Virginia did not let their foot off the gas.
Play of the Game: Ryan Boatright channeled his inner Amida Brimah and swatted a Daxter Miller lay up attempt. That's underselling the play. Miller was on a fast break with an easy layup over Boatright. He had other ideas. He rose up to meet the ball, jumping about 35 inches off the floor. Watching on the couch, I got up and cheered. Then I saw the score and sat back down to sulk. But wow, is Boatright an athlete.
Concern: Ummmm, lots. UConn shot 3-17 from three point range. Against a hard pressing team, you HAVE to be able to shoot to break the defense. Terrance Samuel simply can't shoot, Sam Cassell Jr. isn't reliable and Boat is streaky. Purvis was injured, but he's not a knockdown shooter. So far, Daniel Hamilton has emerged as the team's most confident outside shooter, but he's streaky too. The Huskies outside trouble will rear its head all year, as they miss Shabazz, Niels and DeAndre.
Let's look at the easier shots. Today, UConn finished 9-18 from the foul line. Last year's team prided themselves on their free throw shooting, riding it to a title. This is a fixable problem, but it was a poor display.
Take care of the ball. Don't make dumb mistakes. Play with more maturity and confidence.
Bury this game and never think about it again.