Saturday, November 11, 2006

Perspective from UConn/Quinny

Some things that didn’t make the print edition after Friday night’s UConn-Quinnipiac game.

First, from the Quinnipiac side.

Before UConn head coach Jim Calhoun questioned Joe DeSantis’ decision to talk about game plans with media outlets and then proceed to stray a bit and play zone instead of man-to-man, the Quinnipiac coach shared some praise for his program, which has struggled in recent years.

Even though freshman point guard Casey Cosgrove finished with just three points, two assists and four turnovers, he did play assertively against a stifling UConn backcourt with Jerome Dyson, Doug Wiggins and Craig Austrie. DeSantis said it could have been worse if Cosgrove folded. But he didn’t, giving DeSantis hope for the upcoming season.

DeSantis also talked about DeMario Anderson’s performance. The junior guard finished 5-for-20 from the floor and forced too many shots in the second half, but Anderson will be a key player for the Bobcats. After the death of his mother this week, Anderson returned for one practice before playing Friday. Anderson is another reason why DeSantis is optimistic.

Lastly, it appears DeSantis is somewhat pleased with the direction his program is heading. It hasn’t been a productive last few years in Hamden. He has noticed some progress not only in his team but in the program.

A few years ago, he counted maybe one or two assistants. With the new basketball arena in Hamden, his office will overlook the Long Island Sound on a clear day from its elevation.

After one game, DeSantis likes where he is heading.

He hopes his team follows.

Now, for UConn.

No one was pleased leaving Gampel Pavilion on Friday night. Not Calhoun. Not his players.

Let’s look at some surface numbers today and then delve into some deeper statistical issues over the next few days.

Free-throw shooting is a concern. With Hasheem Thabeet, Calhoun and his staff know improvement will come with time. The freshman center finished 3-for-7 from the line.

The team output was a different story.

The final stats say UConn finished 15-for-34. Jerome Dyson, who led all UConn scorers with 16 points thanks in large part to his three first-half 3-pointers, also was 5-for-12 from the foul line. Craig Austrie and Doug Wiggins each went 0-for-2.

On a team which expects to thrive on its backcourt productivity, they must focus on their performance at the free-throw line late in the game. If Jeff Adrien did not pick up three of his game-high seven rebounds off free-throw misses late in the game, momentum may have gone in a different direction.

Actually, if Adrien did not pull down a career-high 16 rebounds, momentum may have gone in a different direction.

Final backcourt free-throw numbers: 8-for-21.

Moving on to turnovers.

After committing 12 in the first half, UConn cut the number to nine in the second. Did conservative play or faulty shooting lead to just 18 first-half points? Only the game tape will show the answer and only the coaches will offer a subjective view.

With Thabeet and Adrien coupled with Quinnipiac’s Karl Anderson going to the bench early in the first half with three fouls, it gave UConn so many opportunities to capitalize on the differential.

Points in the paint: Quinnipiac 18, UConn 16.

Yes, the Bobcats switched to a zone and pushed Thabeet away from the basket while Adrien constantly dealt with three defenders collapsing on him. If anything, Quinnpiac played solid help defense. It could only happen with a zone, though. Athletically, playing man-to-man, this probably wouldn’t have happened.

Finally, Calhoun has mentioned inferior guard play. One last thing to think about before more evaluation tomorrow.

Fast break points: Quinnipiac 10, UConn 4.


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