John F. Silver
Outside of Syracuse, which recruits specifically for playing an extended zone defense, zone is something that coaches either like to play exclusively, or don’t at all.
At least until this year against the Huskies.
The zone defense is something that the Huskies are encountering much more including for long stretches against Providence.
Against South Florida today at 2 p.m., the Huskies will face a team that wants to slow it down and make it a defensive slog. The Bulls are 1-7 in Big East play, but remain difficult to play against with a slow and deliberate style. The Bulls are averaging only 53.1 points per game in Big East play, and are allowing 62 per game.
South Florida has resorted to playing a lot of zone defense and that’s something the Huskies have worked on extensively the last couple of weeks. For all of the talk of zone slowing down UConn, the Huskies did shoot 50 percent from the floor and 50 percent from 3-point range in an 82-79 overtime win over the Friars on Thursday.
“A lot of teams are playing zone; a lot of them are going toward that,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. “There a not a lot of big guys, not a lot of guys blocking shots and the zone can cover some of that.
“You’ve got to be able to rebound off that. A lot of teams are playing smaller and the zone allows you to do that. But at the end of the day, we shot 50 percent (against Providence) so we must be doing some good things. We’re seeing some positive things in film we’re going to be able to exploit.”
The Bulls (10-10) have had a disappointing season coming off an NCAA berth last year. Victor Rudd leads the Bulls in scoring at 10.8 points with Toarlyn Fitzpatrick averaging 10.1 points and Jawanza Poland also at 10.1 per game.
The Huskies (14-5, 4-3) will play at St. John’s on Wednesday.