STORRS – Some notes, quotes, thoughts from UConn’s post-practice interviews Tuesday …
One question that has come up quite bit lately, on various platforms, is why Niels Giffey, who is shooting 67.8 percent from the floor, 61.8 percent from three-point range, does not shoot more. Giffey took four shots against Stanford, two against Washington, five against Eastern Washington, three at Houston and two at SMU.
“I ‘d like him to shoot 10 shots wide open,” Kevin Ollie said. “If I could diagram a play to get that, I’d definitely like to get that. But you’ve got scouting reports, too. Scouting reports are saying, ‘we’re not leaving Niels. … if penetration comes, we’re not leaving Niels.’ He’s shooting highest in the NCAA, you got scouting reports. Niels is not a big guy to put it on the floor, do two crossovers and get to the lane, that’ s not his game. His game is spotting up. A lot of teams are switching on the pick-and-rolls, our pick-and-pops. We put in some different sets that can move the basketball, hopefully that will get us more spacing.”
This is about it. Giffey is a spot-up shooter, doesn’t really create his own shot, and, as long as he is hot, teams won’t leave him open like they were early in the season. More fast break action would help.
“I’ve got to use screens better,” Giffey said. “It’s also a team effort. Guys like me, Lasan [Kromah], Omar [Calhoun], are never going to be guys who just break a guy down from the top of the key. We can’t play a slow-paced game where a couple of guys do one-on-one moves. We’ve got to play as a team. It’s the middle of the season, we’re not going to get our first option, not going to get our first shot, so we have to keep going through our plays.”
Conversely, Calhoun remains in a funk and is down to 35.1 percent from the floor, 28.8 percent on threes. That’s what defenses are giving the Huskies, naturally.
Calhoun had surgery on both hips after last season, and there are times when it looks as though the game is still moving too fast for him.
“When you ask him, he just says ‘I’m good, I’m ready to play,’” Ollie said. “I think it’s more of a mental thing with Omar. He’s gotten some wide-open looks, I don’t think it’s his hips that are making him miss those shots. They’re going to keep giving him those shots until he starts knocking them down.”
Practice was closed, so if Ollie was working out a different “first team,” we couldn’t tell. He has used four different lineups lately, and since Harvard’s two frontcourt players are 6-7, he could start Giffey and Kromah together, a smaller team.
Ollie had some praise for Amida Brimah, who continued to be a shot-blocking factor, if nothing else. Brimah had five blocks in 13 minutes at SMU, but often the Huskies could not recover the ball after his blocks. “We need more guys playing that level-five intensity that he plays with,” Ollie said. “He’s a tireless worker, and if he keeps going that, he will develop.”
UConn expects a lot of classic Ivy League back-door cuts from Harvard, except the Crimson execute that with big-time talent.
“It comes down to how competitive you can be without losing discipline,” Ollie said. “Harvard is going to test that. They’re going to move the ball from side-to-side. They want you to chase. They want you to be undisciplined, and then here comes Wesley Saunders with a back-door cut. Here he comes wioth a drive. Here comes Siyani Chambers at the end of the shot clock with a pick-and-roll.”
Here are some RPI rankings from Yahoo! As you see, UConn has dropped to 43, Harvard is 30th.