-Killer instinct was on display tonight. However, the Pirates just happened to be on the receiving end of the kill. Again. The UConn Huskies showed what killer instinct is all about, as once again, the Pirates struggled down the stretch after taking a 3PT lead with 6 minutes to play.
Deja Vu anyone?
Failing to protect the brief lead, Kemba Walker found a wide open Jerome Dyson in the corner drilling a 3PT shot, tying the game at 57. Dyson's 3PT would spark a 17-4 UConn run, yup, killer instinct. Cliche, but true. Winning basketball teams possess it while exciting basketball teams may or may not. Seton Hall is an exciting basketball team for sure, however, at this point, how can one argue that they are anything more?
-What a game of differentials, both teams performed considerably better than their opponent in various categories. Very odd game, indeed.
FG% - UConn 51% Seton Hall 36% Ouch.
FG Attempts - UConn 53, Seton Hall 76, a differential of 23 shots? Seton Hall took 23 more shots than UConn!
3PT - UConn 2-of-6 (33%) Seton Hall 3-of-16 (19%) Well there's 10 of those extra shots, good for missed 3PT attempts.
Free Throws - UConn 15-of-19 while only committing 7PF, Seton Hall 6-of-8 while committing 18PF! Uconn got to the stripe more than twice as often as the Pirates. You can talk about officiating all you want, but UConn made a living out of penetrating to the bucket as Seton Hall relied more on attempting to find open jump shots, often resulting in bad shot attempts.
Rebounding - UConn 4 offensive, 30 total, Seton Hall 16 offensive, 38 total. A major area of concern heading into tonight's game was the presence of UConn's front court. Apparently it wasn't an issue as Pope and Robinson were absolute monsters on the glass, while a guard, Jerome Dyson, led the Huskies with 9 rebounds.
Turnovers - UConn 13, Seton Hall 6. Yet another stat Seton Hall dominated. Seriously, a +7 turnover ratio and a +8 rebounding ratio and the Pirates lose? That will happen when you shoot 36% from the floor.
Blocks - UConn 13, Seton Hall 4. No surprise here. The mark of Jim Calhoun basketball. Oriakhi and Majok are serious defenders down low, recording block after block while only picking up 3 fouls together.
-The starting lineup, glad to see Stix back, he deserves to be there, not quite sure why he received a serious demotion, but he deserves to play. Of course after my relentless lobbying for him, he puts in one of his worst games of the season with 7PTs/4REB/BLK/AST on 3-of-7 shooting. Besides looking solely at stats, I noticed a leadership quality out of Mitchell tonight that isn't always apparent while watching from television. He's the first Pirate to bring his teammates together for a huddle on the court, he's vocal on the floor, he plays with a sense of excitement and urgency, furiously clapping his hands together during dead ball situations. Pope spoke on leadership and the fact that someone needed to step up and take command of the team. Mitchell can fill that role, if he's not demoted, of course.
-That being said, the play tonight from Jeff Robinson (17PTS/9REB, 7-of-12) might be enough for him to find his way back into the starting lineup for another go-round. Gonzo's musical chairs will not be stopping anytime soon, trust me. I've said many times Mitchell is most effective starting, while Robinson and Keon need to come off the bench creating mismatches depending on who's on the floor for our opponent. Jeff Robinson was extremely effective tonight in a role off of the bench, albeit the "once a game terrible 3PT attempt and subsequent miss." He's now 0-for-6 from 3PT on the season, yet continues to hoist away. Paging Bobby Gonzalez, please put an end to this, there's no reason for it, Robinson's got too pretty of a game around the basket, make it stop! Is Robinson just not listening to his coach? Or are they allowing him to get away with wasting critical possessions with terrible shots? The mystery continues.
-Keon Lawrence. Keon! Making his 2nd start in as many games, wait, why exactly did he start again? What did he show in his 13 minutes, 2PTS/AST basketball against Virginia Tech that warranted him getting another start? I can't tell you, but Gonzo decided it was the right move. Lawrence, responded with an atrocious 2-of-11 night from the floor, finishing with 4PTS/4AST/3REB/2BLK/0TO. Making matters worse, he was left in the game for 24 minutes without being able to buy a bucket. To be fair, he protected the basketball at the point and played nice defense, however guard play continues to be an alarming issue with this squad, 4PTS on 18% shooting from the starting point guard is not going to contribute to many victories.
-Jordan Theodore also received 24 minutes, finishing with almost an identical stat line to Lawrence with: 4PTS/4AST/3REB/2STL/0TO, however JT only took 6 shot attempts. Again, guard play, a serious problem. Eugene Harvey? Non existent. Similar to his start against VT, Harvey committed 3 turnovers in the first half and sat in his warm ups on the bench for the majority of the night, only logging 7 minutes.
-Jeremy Hazell led all Pirates with 34 minutes played, yet essentially shot his team out of the ball game with an awful 5-of-20 night. He was also 2-of-8 from 3PT distance, finishing with 13PTS/3REB/2AST. Give credit to the Huskies, they had a game plan to take away his outside shot and force him to beat them by driving inside. He tried to penetrate inside but often had his shot altered and instead of dishing back out to his teammates, Hazell would try various circus shots in an attempt of either making the basket or drawing a foul, no dice.
-Herb Pope continues to shine. Despite picking up 2 fouls early in the first half and sitting for the remainder of the period, Pope still put together an excellent game. Against Connecticut's bigs, Pope recorded 10PTS/14REBS in 24 minutes played. Twice tonight, Pope pulled down a defensive rebound and dribbled coast-to-coast before finding his teammates in transition. Very Impressive.
...Much more to come in tomorrow's Morning After Post.