DALLAS – Some notes, quotes and thoughts from UConn’s 74-65 loss to SMU …
Let’s start here: You could have predicted long ago that this would be a tough game. SMU’s pretty good, and they’d be as pumped up as could be playing in the first game at their new arena. This would be a tough spot for any team.
But the loss wouldn’t be so bad for UConn is the Huskies had beaten Houston, about none of the above could be said, on New Year’s Eve. That’s the loss that will really sting the Huskies for a long time, and could be costly in March.
Hey, every team in every sport has moments when it looks like it will never win again, and moments when it looks like it will never lose again. UConn has had both now. With Harvard, which will be no easy game, coming to Gampel on Jan 8, and then all AAC games – suddenly two games against Cincinnati look daunting, along with Memphis and Louisville. They have SMU again at home.
Going 11-7 or 12-6 in this league now looks like it’s going to be difficult for UConn to do, and they are no tournament lock unless they can do that. A couple of wins will change the perspective, but that’s where it looks now. … Trouble- when a team is talking about intensity, effort and 50-50 balls after two games in a row, that’s very troubling …
Highlights of Kevin Ollie’s postgame remarks:
“In the first half we came out with the intensity I was looking for and we got up 18-13. And then they just took control of the game. Rebounding, ball pressure, taking us out of our sets.
They were tougher tonight, they made the plays. Every 50-50 ball they got. We gave up rebounds on free throw line, box outs. We’re not good enough to do that.
We’ve to hit, to box out. I’ve been saying that all year, it’s catching up with us now.
We’ve got nobody to look at besides ourselves, and that’s me included – first and foremost it’s me included. I’ve got to find a group of guys that want t play defense. It starts with our guards and it starts with our best players – they’ve got to set the tone.
That’s what Nic Moore did, he got whatever he wanted, did whatever he wanted.
They have to feel us, they never felt us tonight.
It was a disappointing trip. We’ll go home now and hopefully we’ll have our fans behind us and we’ll figure it out. We’ve got to decide real, real quick. We can’t keep doing the same things. It starts with me. I’m the first one looking myself in mirror.
[The crowd] nothing we’re not accustomed to. They’re to make this a special place. Starting off getting their first win, they’re on their way.”
On Shabazz Napier:
“I want him to be Shabazz. I want him to be an All-American. It’s not all about shooting. It’s the tough plays, offensive rebounds. I want him to play with pace and him being in attack mode all the time.
We didn’t make shots. He was making great passes, it was going though their hands. He’s got to understand we need him scoring basketball also. He got a little discouraged about some of guys missing shots, but he’s got to keep making plays.
I imagine we missed 12 layups right around the rim. We make half of them, it’s a different game. We’ve got to make sure our guys rebound. We gave up 48 percent [shooting] and we’re not good enough to do that.”
We’ve got to play tougher defense. Get out and challenge shots and we’ve got to control the point guard.”
On Larry Brown
“[Larry Brown] is a perfectionist. Those guys are going to be drilled the right way play hard, play with intensity.”
On Omar Calhoun, Lasan Kromah
“Omar, he’s got to play defense and he’ll play more minutes., He can’t stay on the court. It’s not just Omar Calhoun, a lot of guys are not playing defense. There will be some changes. If we can’t score we’re gong to play defense. That’s what I hang my hat on.
Lasan, I played him the whole second half because he was playing with effort. We’ve got to take some pressure off our guards, we need a third player making plays. We switched him off [Keith] Frazier, amnd when we switched him off Frazier, then Frazier got going. There’s only one Lasan, other guys have to step up and start playing defense like he does, with awareness. We’re very detail oriented on what we’re going over in practice and in the last two games, all our principals are going out the window.”
“We got out rebounded, no 50-50 balls. The tough things I talked about, those are two things right up at the top of the list. Getting 50-50 balls and boxing out, we didn’t do either, didn’t play bring ball pressure, didn’t play defense. So, NO.”
From Ryan Boatright
“I mean, all I can really say is once again a lack of intensity and a lack of effort. Man, we’re getting killed on the rebounds all the time. I think it’s a collective effort, I take some blame for it, I’m not hitting. If we put a lot of effort into rebounding, we’ll get some of those 50-50 balls.
[In the first half] we were executing our offensive, getting stops on the defensive end. … Then we gave up three offensive rebounds on the free throw line. That never happens, so it all comes down to rebounding once again.”
From Lasan Kromah
“We’ve just got to stay solid, stick to our principals. Make sure we translate it toward the game. We have to get back to our offense, get a lot of ball touches, then it’s hard for t eams ot really set defenses on us. It’s all related to rebounds. We’ve got fast guards, so if we get rebounds we can go on fast breaks, get the ball up to the wings.
They didn’t do anything special on Shabazz. He was just trying to get his teammates involved, get in the flow of the game, not rush shots.
Whether it’s AAC or not we have to come out with the same intensity. We played tough out-of-conference games. We know what we’re capable of, we just have to show it on a consistent basis.
The big crowd at Moody was chanting “Lar-ry Brown, Lar-ry Brown” as the game wound down. As long as he’s here, this program is going to be interesting. “We have everything now,” he said. “I don’t look at any program as having more [to offer] than we do.”
A lot of big names come out to see Brown. Knicks coach Mike Woodson and Dikembe Mutombo were in the house Saturday. No Allen Iverson, though.
Boatright and Kromah were the only UConn players available to reporters after the game. Don’t want to complain about this, because no one wants to hear sportswriters’ problems, but I will say this. Talking to reporters following bad games, as well as good, is part of the maturing process for young players and part of connecting with fans. The day is long gone when reporters could go in the UConn locker room after the game and talk to any player – including the guy who didn’t play well, the guy who missed a big shot or the guy who hasn’t been playing at all. … Just my opinion, but I think people other than reporters have lost something there.
Lots more coming, including the notebook, box score, pictures and Jeff Jacobs take on the game on our main website.