Updated: The day after: UConn struggles

John F. Silver

Winning ugly is a dangerous feeling for a basketball team.

It masks issues with performance and problems that aren’t getting fixed.

It’s something UConn has relied on too much recently.

The Huskies were out-rebounded by 31 against Providence, and won, and shot less than 30 percent from the floor against Rutgers, and won.  The wins gave an air of confidence to the Huskies that they may not have deserved. It came crashing down at MSG on Wednesday night.

The Huskies were ugly again in a 71-65 loss to St. John’s  as some of the same issues it had in recent wins could not be overcome.

There was no second half comeback on Wednesday. The Huskies trailed by double digits again, had a poor first half, again and the routine is already getting old for head coach Kevin Ollie.

“We were playing with fire, and got burnt last night,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie said on Thursday.  Hopefully we can have two halves on Sunday and get back to our winning ways.”

UConn (15-6, 5-4)  fell behind by 15 points to the Red Storm and trailed by as many as 15 points as it scored only 20 points in the first half. UConn showed its grit in the second half with Shabazz Napier scoring all 14 of his points in the second half, but this time it wasn’t enough.

UConn’s offense struggled for the second straight game shooting 30.8 percent from the floor in the loss.

The difference for UConn’s offense is quite simple — the team goes how the backcourt goes.

Napier was benched the first five minutes of the game and it set the tone for the Huskies. Napier and backcourt mate Ryan Boatright each went scoreless in the first half. While Napier regrouped, Boatright managed only 5 points on 1 of 8 shooting which is 11 points below his average.

That forced freshman Omar Calhoun to take on more of the load, which he did scoring 21 points on 21 shots including 5 of 12 from 3-point range.

“We are missing shots,” Ollie said. “I stayed up to 3  o clock (AM)  and looked at the tape.  We missed 17 layups, made six. We are missing shots, we got to make those shots,  convert our  layups and convert our free throws.”

The Huskies also struggled on the frontline. Starting center Tyler Olander had only three rebounds and did not take a single shot in 19 minutes while Enosch Wolf had two points and three rebounds in 13 minutes and was called for a flagrant foul. Luckily for the Huskies, forward Niels Giffey had a breakout game with nine points and 10 rebounds to help keep things competitive on the boards.

UConn will play at Seton Hall on Sunday.  After three ugly games, two of them wins, Ollie is looking for something a little more out of his team on Sunday.



UConn falls to St. John’s (Courant)

UConn can’t win all the tight games (CT Post)

Huskies rally falls short against St. John’s (NH Register)