HARTFORD – Notes, quotes and thoughts from UConn’s win over Fordham.
This game reminded me a little of the Fairfield game last December. UConn played really well, was on its way to an impressive win, then let Fairfield get back in and make it close. That was also the 11th game, and UConn won to go 10-1, but Jim Calhoun was as angry after that game as he was all year.
This was Fordham, though. UConn was up by 13 and let the lowly Rams get as close as 13. The game was not in doubt, as that Fairfield game actually was, but some of the vibes were the game. UConn got flat, perhaps was thinking of the holiday.
In any event, the Huskies won and are 9-2 and they showed how dominant their guards can be, and how much fun it can be to watch them play. The rebounding was still remarkably bad. When UConn was able to just stay close in that column, the Huskies were able to do whatever they wanted offensively and ran up the 32-point lead. When Fordham began dominating the boards, it became a different game.
Yes, when Big East play starts, that will be a problem. The Huskies will have to “mask” their rebounding flaws with pressure defense. They had 15 steals, created 21 turnovers and scored 35 points off those turnovers.
Here is the game story for the Saturday Courant.
… When UConn needed a big basket, seemed R.J. Evans, back out there for 15 minutes, provided it.
What’s the latest with Kevin Ollie’s contract? Here is Jeff Jacobs’ take.
Good news on Bob Valvano. His friend, Dick Vitale of ESPN, tweeted that he had a stent put in and could be home by Saturday. Valvano, who was scheduled to work this game for SNY, was replaced by Bristol’s Malcolm Huckaby.
Shabazz Napier said he “asked” to play more of the one-guard before the Harvard game. The change has sparked better offense – Napier getting 23 assists in the last three games and Ryan Boatright scoring 63 points. More on this in the UConn notebook, in the Saturday Courant.
Here is Kevin Ollie’s take on the game.
And some player reaction:
Omar Calhoun: We started a little flat and never really got it going. We started getting out of our offense. We were lacking in defense and rebounding.
Ryan Boatright: “I’ve been in the gym really focusing on my jump shot. It’s really paying off. [In the first half], we were all knocking down shots. We shared the ball. We just played UConn basketball in the first half. In the second half, we were just playing the scoreboard. We didn’t come out with the intensity [that we did] in the first half and it showed.”
And Shabazz Napier: “I think we played tremendous defense in the first half. We were kind of scrambling but we were playing defense where we were getting a lot of stops, a lot of steals. It kind of started with [Ryan] Boatright stealing from their guards at half court. That’s the way we should play to help our transition offense. [Fordham] played tremendous defense [in the second half] and also hit a lot of shots. … I think [Ryan Boatright] played tremendous defense. When you see a guy guarding the ball playing tough defense it’s kind of inevitable for you to do the same.”
And from Fordham coach Tom Pecora:
“It becomes a teaching moment for me to just try and see who can play and get some of these young guys minutes and try and let them develop. Right now we call mistakes experience. I’m getting tired of it. I’m not going to lie to you. We have three more games in the non-conference. We played a really tough schedule. We’ve still only played one home game out of our first eleven games.”