HARTFORD – Notes, quotes, thoughts from UConn’s blowout win over the hapless Hawks of Maryland-Eastern Shore. And the road map to our coverage.
First is obvious. Don’t draw much in the way of conclusions from this one. UConn hit a lot of shots from the perimeter, and scored 19 fast-break points. UMES was over-matched, and couldn’t get back and cover them.
UConn was out-rebounded and, against an opponent like this, that remains troubling. But the Huskies did shoot 66 percent, so there weren’t many offensive rebounds. UConn out-rebounded the Hawks 23-19 on the other end.
“When we play the better teams we’re not going to be able rely on shots,” Shabazz Napier said, “We’re going to have to rebound, do the little things.”
Said Ryan Boatright, “You can win games getting out-rebounded, but rebounding gives you a much better chance.”
Here is Kevin Ollie’s take on the game.
From the sound of it, Tyler Olander is a little on the outs. Enosch Wolf started again, and Kevin Ollie was a little tougher than usual in his post-game remarks. More on UConn rebounding in the Tuesday Courant.
Players were allowed to express their sympathy for Newtown victims in any way they chose. Boatright chose to write S-H under his left eye. “I wanted to write it on my face where everyone could see it,” he said.
Ollie envisions taking UConn to Newtown to hold an practice, perhaps an autograph session or clinic. “Hopefully, we can put some smiles on some faces,” he said.
At times like these, visits like that do help. I can remember covering the Yankees after 9/11, when the players went to the Armory in New York to visit victims’ families. At first, they didn’t want to go in. “It was awkward,” Derek Jeter said, “what can we say? How can we help?”
But the Yankees were re-assured that the families wanted them to come in. It provided a respite, an escape for the victims. If it can be arranged, the Huskies should do it.
R.J. Evans shoulder still seems to be bothering him a little. Ollie gave him the game off, but if he was needed, he would have been available.
Boatright’s five three points (5 for 6) are a career high. Omar Calhoun, who’d had two rough games in a row, found his stroke and hit 8 of 11 from the floor.
Some of his thoughts: “I was getting [in the gym] morning and night and after practice, getting a lot shots up, working on different things.
I was unhappy with the way I was playing [in the last two games]. I was happy the [finals] break came when it came.
I do different things on the court offensively; hit the three, get mid-range and get to the rim. I’ve been able to feel my game out a little better.
Our offense is looking better. [We’re] getting the ball up, making the extra pass.”
More player reaction:
Ryan Boatright: “We didn’t complete one of our tasks which was rebounding. We shouldn’t have been outrebounded by that team. We have to nip that in the bud and get better at that because when we get into the Big East we’ll face better competition. … When Omar’s aggressive and he’s scoring it automatically makes our job, mine and Shabazz’s, a lot easier because they can’t just focus on two people.”
Shabazz Napier: “I think we were moving the ball a lot quicker than we usually do. And at the same time the defense was giving us so much. Everyone was so hot we kept on shooting, kept on shooting and we made a lot of shots.”
From UMES Coach Frankie Allen:
“I thought we competed a lot better in the first half, and then in the second half it was all UConn. They shot the 3-pointer a lot better than we had anticipated, but I thought that some of that was that we didn’t get back in transition, we didn’t close out, and we didn’t do the things you have to do to be successful. I wanted to try to make this a better game than what it was because from my standpoint you play these games you want to try to get better. You know you’re coming in overmatched. Not having our point guard, Kyree Jones, it takes it’s toll. It’s kind of like you guys playing without Shabazz for any length of time. At our level, it really shows. UConn came out in the second half and they just took it to us and we really didn’t have any answers. It got pretty ugly out there after a while.
They do such a nice job. Their kids play hard all the time. You have to respect that from their coaching staff. We kind of hung in there for a little longer than probably they anticipated. But like I said, in the second half they turned it up. They have that second gear. And we just didn’t have that second gear. We really didn’t come out and compete in the second half like I hoped we would.”
UConn players and coaches will join former coach Jim Calhoun at his holiday food drive at St. Monica’s Church and the Pope Park Rec Center in Hartford today. Here are details.