UConn Move On to MSG Despite Struggling To Find Its Identity

Chris SaxContributor INovember 18, 2009

DETROIT - APRIL 04:  Head coach Jim Calhoun of the Connecticut Huskies reacts from the sideline while taking on the Michigan State Spartans during the National Semifinal game of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship at Ford Field on April 4, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The UConn Huskies Men's basketball team will move on to the semi-finals in the NIT Season Tip-Off with a win last night against the Hofstra Pride, 76-67. But even with three wins in a row, this UConn squad is continuing to worry Husky fans.

For the past three games, the Huskies have struggled to get consistent play out of anyone on their team. They have some major issues that they need to address:

1. Rebounding - Last night, not only did Hofstra out-rebound Connecticut 39-35, but 16 of them were offensive rebounds. That's coming after a game against Colgate where they were also out-rebounded.

The big men need to step up their game. Oriakhi had another double digit rebounding night, but he cannot be the only one getting boards on this team. The guards seriously need to start boxing out. Pride guard, Nathaniel Lester had 11 rebounds all by himself, 5 of them offensively.

2. Perimeter Defense - UConn let William & Mary light it up in the second half from three last Friday. Then they let Colgate shoot 50 percent from three on Monday.

Last night Hofstra hit five three pointers in succession to pull ahead by nine with 9:10 left in the second half. UConn needs to close in on their men when they're puling up for three. They also need to get back on defense because many shot behind the arc have come in transition.

3. Post Offense - It was difficult to watch last night as the UConn big men hurled up shots in the paint only to get their own rebound until they scored or the other team got the rebound. The big men need to step up their game offensively and start playing smarter in the post.

When you get double teamed or can't find an opening to shoot, kick it back out to the guards. In return, UConn will be able to go to the post more and not rely so much on their guard play.


Now to look at the positives. During their first two games, UConn struggled from the free-throw line shooting only 54 percent. Last night they drastically improved by hitting 30-36 free-throws.

Although they struggle along the perimeter at times, they have been great in every other category on defense. At times their defense is stifling and they wither force the turnover or get the blocked shot. Hofstra only shot 32.9 percent from the field.

Certain players are also continuing to impress. Dyson has obviously been the best player over the past three games. Although he struggled to get it going last night, he came through down the stretch and drew a charge late in the second half that sealed the win for UConn.

Stanley Robinson also has played well although sometimes inconsistent. Against Colgate he went on a tear and scored 18 points. He followed that performance with a 15-point effort lat night and has filled up the stat sheet over the first three games.

Hopefully it will only be a matter of time before other players start coming into their own and this team can find its identity. They are going to need to get things figured out for their next match-up against LSU next week and a potential game against Duke in the NIT Tip-Off Championship.