John F. Silver
Villanova forced 19 turnovers and grabbed 20 offensive rebounds.
It’s hard to win when teams have those numbers but UConn guard Shabazz Napier has another take on the problem that plagued the Huskies in a 69-61 loss to Villanova on Saturday — his and running mate Ryan Boatright’s play.
So much has been written and talked about the Huskies’ rebounding issues it would lead many to think that it’s a new problem.
Napier burst that bubble on Wednesday. The difference between UConn winning and losing against Villanova wasn’t the rebounding. It was the play of he and Boatright.
Napier had two points on 3 of 8 shooting while Boatright had four points – all in the final minute — with one assist and five turnovers.
“It had something to do with me and Boatright not scoring the ball well,” Napier said Wednesday. “When you lose games, your weaknesses during the game are seen as a bigger thing. If we would have won that game (the media) would not have been talking about turnovers and rebounds. Coach (Kevin Ollie) wouldn’t have been talking about turnovers and rebounds. It was because me and Boat didn’t play so well offensively that rebounding and turnovers became a big deal.”
The Huskies (17-7, 7-5 Big East) will host Cincinnati on Thursday at the XL Center and it’s a safe bet the message about taking care of the ball and boxing out was heard by the Huskies. What the Huskies need more than that against a talented Cincinnati team is for Napier and Boatright to have their normal games. Napier leads the Huskies with a 16.3 points per game while Boatright checks in at 15.5 a game.
It’s a good bet, regardless of the rebounding numbers, that if Napier and Boatright combine for six points again the Huskies are going to lose.
While the talk will be about whether UConn can rebound and take care of the ball, the true test will be whether Napier and Boatright can bounce back.
Boatright is coming off a nightmarish game against Villanova that may have been the worst of his basketball career. He couldn’t do anything right on the floor and was in the midst of an out of body experience air-balling wide open 3-pointers and making bad decision after bad decision.
“I wasn’t Ryan Boatright that game,” Boatright said. ” I just had a bad game. It happens to everyone. It’s basketball.”
Boatright sat down with head coach Kevin Ollie to breakdown his play against Saturday. He already watched it prior to sitting down with the head coach. He knew what was coming.
Wolf (non) update
Junior center Enosch Wolf remains suspended from the team pending a resolution of his court case for an arrest on Feb. 11 after an alleged domestic dispute with his girl where he was charged with burglary and disorderly conduct. Ollie said he “had no idea” if Wolf will play again this season.