Monday, January 08, 2007

A few observations from LSU, light reading

Aside from UConn's shooting weauxs against LSU, the Huskies left Baton Rouge with a few lessons learned before starting this week at No. 24 in the Associated Press poll.

PHYSICAL PLAY

There were a few no-calls, a few make-up calls, and a few perplexing calls, but officiating cannot be used as a crutch. The final score: 66-49. In terms of strength, only Glen Davis had the appearance of a stronger, much more refined player in the post. When play began, it was a different story.

The Huskies held a rebounding edge (42-40) but away from the ball, LSU’s strength lied within, well, its strength.

The Big East schedule is loaded with physical play. This won’t be the last time someone will push back.

SHOOTING

Enough has been made about this. It is an immediate problem in need of some fixing.

Doug Wiggins remains UConn’s most consistent shooter from the perimeter. He played only 12 minutes against LSU, and at times, saw very little opportunity to shoot or even drive against the Tigers. Jerome Dyson is getting his early-season touch back but head coach Jim Calhoun is looking for another shooter as well.

Foul shooting, though, is a very easy statistical category to change very quickly. Yes, Hasheem Thabeet is improving from the line every game. Jeff Adrien, who improved his foul shooting over the summer and is statistically a better free-throw shooter this season, struggled at LSU, going 1-for-6.

As much as the 3-pointer remains a great equalizer, so is the foul shot.

MINDSET

In his post-game press conference, Calhoun wondered if there are scientific studies on things such as effort and competitiveness. There are (still trying to dig up an applicable one to analyze).

You had a few things here. A national television audience. A good non-conference opponent. And a very good and competitive home crowd. They know their basketball at LSU. (By the way, the Maravich Assembly Center is a quality facility. The atmosphere for a college basketball game - at least three times better.)

The Huskies will not face a crowd like that until maybe Pitt on Jan. 16. Saturday’s road game against St. John’s at the Garden won’t carry the same clout.

Calhoun wants his team to adapt and improve in all three categories.

Marquette is Wednesday.

Now, some light reading.

If you want to read about futility, check out Division III Caltech.

One of the best features the New York Times runs every Sunday is its “Keeping Score” column in the sports section. During the baseball season, this space is loaded with statistical information broken down into clear English.

But even with college basketball, the reads are so thorough.

This is one writer’s take on the best player in college basketball.

Came across this notebook as well. It mentions Geary Claxton, RPI breakdowns and other nuggets. Give it some time.

Finally, No. 1 UCLA was upended this weekend. Bill Plaschke of the LA Times, one of the best in the business, captures the atmosphere on the road.

One last note: Here’s hoping New Orleans recovers.

Fast.

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