CI NCINNATI – Some notes, quotes and thoughts from UConn’s loss here at Fifth Third Arena …
First blush, a little perspective is in order. UConn has 19 wins, nine in the Big East, more than last year, more than anyone expected. Did anyone expect them to sweep Cincinnati? Nope, a split would have been satisfactory even with Shabazz Napier playing both games. With no Napier? Today is not a terrible loss, but another disappointing one.
Having said all that, there is only one thing that would take the shine off what the Huskies have done this season, and that would be a four-game losing streak to end it. I’m going to call Wednesday night at South Florida a “must-win” for that reason.
There were terrible parts to the loss. R.J. Evans’ inbounds pass was a nightmare. Kevin Ollie didn’t blame Evans, but Evans took the blame. “I didn’t think [Titus] Rubles would jump that high, the onus is on me,” he said.
A few ill-advised threes, you’re always going to see that. With or without the wrap, Omar Calhoun’s wrist is injured and he can’t shoot like Omar Calhoun. “He didn’t have a good shooting night, that happens,” Ryan Boatright said, “his wrist is messed up.”
Shabazz Napier said he knew when he woke up he wouldn’t be able to go. He missed a game for the first time at UConn, after playing in 102 in a row. “It was so difficult,” he said. “I thought about getting dressed at halftime. One thing I don’t like to do, I don’t like to miss games.”
Napier hopes to play at South Florida, but if he missed this game the foot must be really bad.
Niels Giffey has a “dislocation fracture,” of his right index finger. It sounds bad, and probably is. We’ll know more in the next few days, but it sounds like an injury that will cost him these last two games.
Here is the UConn notebook for the Sunday Courant.
Really liked what Phil Nolan brought to the game. Eight points, seven rebounds in 26 minutes. I’d like to see him play a lot more these last two games, maybe even start. Just see what you have for next year.
Ollie was a little combative in his postgame remarks, held outside the UConn locker room.
Here is Ollie’s take on the game.
And here are some great pics from our John Woike, on the scene in Cincy.
And, of course, your box score. Jeff Jacobs take on the game will be up on our main website later on.
Tyler Olander went 0 for 6 from the floor, with four rebounds in 14 minutes.
DeAndre Daniels: “Another heart-breaker, right down to the end of the game.”
Ryan Boatright: “It’s very frustrating, we were right there. These last two games, we were right there to take the game.”
Mick Cronin on that last play: “I wasn’t going to let [Boatright] play it out. We were going to try to make him take his time and corral him. When it got under 10 we were going to foul, we weren’t going to let him shoot a three and tie it. What happens, a lot of times in my experience with that, is just that. You have smart players, you get the steal and you don’t even have to foul. I don’t believe in letting the team shoot the three to tie it with under 10 seconds, and the kids executed it perfectly.”
(Okay, cue references to the Marquette game on New Year’s Day.)