STORRS, Conn. (WTNH)–Well, that was ugly.
Even before Yale’s Jack Montague knocked down the biggest shot in program history, UConn had been exposed by the Elis at Gampel Pavilion on Friday night. Whether it ended 45-44 Yale, or 44-42 UConn, the Huskies’ problem remains the same.
They can’t score.
UConn doesn’t have a legitimate No. 2 option behind Ryan Boatright, who was clearly struggling and playing on a bum ankle on Friday. He started the game off 0-for-9 and didn’t score in the first half. And without Boatright at full capacity, the Huskies were lost on offense. The team shot 44 percent overall, and 2-of-11 from three-point range. It missed a remarkable amount of open jumpers.
UConn tried going to freshman Daniel Hamilton, but he took–and missed–three straight contested jumpers down the stretch. Terrence Samuel wasn’t aggressive enough, attempting just two field goals in 22 minutes. Kentan Facey missed a late free-throw line jumper. And it’s not like UConn can just throw the ball inside to Amida Brimah and get an easy bucket. Sure, Brimah scored a team-high 14, but they were mostly off of lobs. His offensive game needs a lot of work.
Sophomore Rodney Purvis could be the answer, but he hasn’t been on the floor long enough for us to find out. He’s a physical, bruising guard who can get to the basket at will, but he’s been banged up, dealing with ankle issues of his own. Purvis could also be seen getting his back worked on during a second half timeout. He played just eight minutes.
The lone bright spot in this brave new Huskies world has been Sam Cassell Jr., who scored 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting in 26 minutes Friday. He needs to play more. Cassell met with the media afterwards and said all the right things, and he spoke with the cadence and care of a team leader–much like his father did when he led many successful teams in the NBA. He’s been fairly consistent with his jumper this season, unlike most of the Huskies, and probably should have been more of an offensive focal point down the stretch against Yale.
UConn fans shouldn’t panic–this team is still extremely young and talented. There’s a little bit of everything on the roster–a senior point guard with a championship pedigree, a protect-the-rim big man, a budding star freshman at shooting guard, depth inside and a 22-year old sophomore with a sweet shooting stroke and a leadership vibe.
It’s just–they haven’t figured out how to play together. Injuries have been a factor, and inexperience a major factor.
This team will get it together. It will become a legitimate Top 25 squad with the potential to make an NCAA Tournament run. But at 3-3 and with zero signature wins, it needs to figure things out quickly.
There aren’t many resume-building opportunities on the AAC schedule.