After last game’s 80-62 win over Yale, Connecticut Huskies head coach Kevin Ollie wasn’t happy. His team had just given up 22 offensive rebounds to an Ivy League opponent. The team must have had quite the experience at practice in the past few days because, boy, did they make their coach proud when the Huskies took on the Detroit Titans – not just at rebounding the ball, but in all phases of the game.
Connecticut out-rebounded Detroit 49-34 in this contest, with most of Detroit’s 14 offensive rebounds coming when the UConn starters had subbed out of the lopsided game. Most importantly, the team proved it could respond to its coach, which is the mark of any great team.
3-point shooting was a key to the win for the Huskies. As a team, UConn shot 11-19 from long range, or 57.9 percent. It’s hard to lose when a team collectively shoots like that.
Senior forward Niels Giffey came off the bench and continued his incredible shooting streak, scoring all of his 15 points in the first half for the second straight game. He went 5-of-6 from the field, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range. So far this season, he is shooting 15-of-18 from the field, 83.3 percent, and 11-of-13 from 3-point range, 84.6 percent. He is being underutilized in the second half, and Ollie mentioned that in his post-game press conference.
The trio of guards, Shabazz Napier, Ryan Boatright, and Omar Calhoun, all played very efficiently. In just 22 minutes, Napier had 10 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, Boatright had 12 points, three rebounds and seven assists in 24 minutes, and Calhoun had 17 points and two rebounds in 24 minutes. They were able to watch from the bench for the last 10-plus minutes of the game.
Finally, seeing this team interact is a sight to behold at UConn. It’s evident that the group of guys care about each other and genuinely want to win. Ollie is giving them the opportunity to express their camaraderie that more freely than Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun did. We will see what effect this has on the team. Calhoun won 17 Big East Titles and three National Championships with his style. Ollie has a style of his own, and will look to create his own legacy at his alma mater.