Connecticut Huskies Remain Undefeated, Yet Flawed
He wasn’t quiet for long. Coming off of a mediocre-at-best performance against Indiana last Friday, in which he scored just seven points on 2-of-8 shooting, Connecticut Huskies junior forward DeAndre Daniels responded yesterday against Loyola (MD), leading the team with 21 points and eight rebounds. Daniels shot a very efficient 8-of-12 from the field, including 2-of-3 from three-point range. The No. 13 Huskies improved to 7-0 with the win.
Junior guard Ryan Boatright recorded 13 points, eight rebounds, and five assists. Wooden Award contender Shabazz Napier only recorded four points, but he kept up his all-around effort by putting up seven rebounds and seven assists as well.
However, Niels Giffey and Lasan Kromah were the guys that swung the game in the favor of the Huskies with their gritty play off the bench. Giffey continued his lights-out shooting numbers by going 4-of-5 from the field and infused the team with offense, scoring 11 points in 21 minutes. Kromah, in clearly his best effort of the season, scored 12 points off the bench on 5-of-8 shooting. Kromah’s eight field goal attempts were clearly a direct indication of Kevin Ollie and the UConn coaching staff putting trust in the redshirt senior who transferred from George Washington. He had just 15 points total in his previous four games.
While I sound like a broken record saying this after every game, the Huskies still need to substantially improve on the boards. They were outrebounded 40 to 39, which doesn’t seem like an awful number. However, giving up 20 offensive rebounds is atrocious, especially when it’s happened twice before this season. In three of UConn’s first seven games they have given up 20-plus offensive rebounds. That’s just unacceptable.
I previously explored Connecticut’s options for front court rotations and concluded that the front court of freshman 7-footer Amida Brimah and Daniels would be the best option for rebounding purposes. But Brimah only got in the game for eight minutes against Loyola. In those eight minutes, he had two rebounds, which is the same amount that starting center Phillip Nolan had in 18 minutes and one more than Tyler Olander had in 10 minutes.
In the coming weeks, Ollie will have to find a solution to this growing problem. Rebounding issues have been this team’s Achilles heel to this point and might be the one roadblock preventing it from greatness.
The Huskies square off against the No. 15 Florida Gators on Monday at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, CT. Tip off is at 7:00 p.m. ET and can be watched on ESPN2.