UConn St. John’s Recap

I managed to make it to the St. John’s game on Thursday — first game I’ve been able to see in person in a few years.  What an awful game.

UConn looked liked like last year’s version — played poorly, made a run, played poorly, made a run, then were blown out.  Twice the Huskies came back from about 8 points down to take the lead, only to surrender a 3 pointer to St. John’s followed by a big run.  This was particularly evident at the end of the first half, when the Huskies hit a 3 to take a 2 point lead, only to give up a 3, followed by a turnover and a desperation 3 by the Red Storm that had the Huskies down by 4 at the half.  Then Jim Calhoun was hit with a technical after the half ended, and the two free throws and basket from the next possession put the Huskies down 8.

The Huskies never really looked good in this, even when they were making runs.  Everything was a struggle, with the Huskies shooting somewhere in the mid-twenties in the first half, and seeming to depend on 3-pointers.  Kemba Walker continued his struggles, not only shooting poorly from the field but also missing 3 consecutive free throws.  His problems seem to be as much mental as physical.

The Huskies really have no inside game to speak of.  It was sadly comical to see how many times they missed from point blank range — I mean, guys were missing dunks.  Alex Oriakhi has virtually no post moves — he can dunk, he follow missed shots, but he seems to have no ability to start a play with his back to the basket.  I’ve seen him use a baby hook before, but it was not in evidence in this game.

After the game, Jim Calhoun was pretty quick to criticize the play of his team, and rightly so — they were awful.  But I have to say, his technical foul after the first half really seemed to bury the Huskies.  The game went from a four point St. John’s lead to eight points right off the bat, and the Huskies never recovered.  I didn’t see the travel against St. John’s that Calhoun was railing about, but my view of the play was limited.

In my opinion, the Huskies, for whatever reason, are one of the worst teams at closing out the first half.  They just seem unable to finish the final 2-5 minutes strongly — they seem to relax at the end of the half.  Anyone who reads my blog knows that I’m no fan of Duke, but giving credit where credit is due, Duke always seems to close the first strongly.  You watch a game, and Duke is up by 1 with about a minute remaining in the half, and you’re thinking ‘This will be a game in the second half’, then suddenly Duke hits a 3, gets a basket at the buzzer and goes in up by 6.  UConn — not so much.

The ‘highlight’ of my evening was that I sat about 6 or 7 seats away from UConn Athletic Director Jeff Hathaway and Dee Rowe.  At least I think it was Dee Rowe.  I must have landed right next to the UConn section, despite buying my ticket online at the last minute.  I’m no big fan professionally of Jeff Hathaway, but tried to get over just after the end of the game to talk with Hathaway and Rowe — but didn’t want to wait for the line to clear.

Regarding Hathaway: As I said, I’m no big fan, and I didn’t particular care for the choice of Paul Pasqualoni as Head Football Coach.  Not that he isn’t a decent football coach, but I wanted to see someone younger, someone more up-and-coming, to take UConn to the next level.  I just can’t see Pasqualoni doing that.  Having said all that, Robert Burton was way out of line in his criticism of Hathaway, especially with the public diatribe.  And yes, as I write this, it’s supposedly been smoothed over.  The most outlandish comment that Burton made during this entire affair had to do with his football knowledge — having played college ball and been drafted in a late round into the NFL, he sees himself as something of an expert on all things football.  I have two words for him: Matt Millen.  If college and NFL experience were sure predictors of football knowledge, one would have thought that Millen would have been an outstanding GM.  Why would we expect that Burton would do any better?


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