Maybe it's the countless hours spending analyzing data sets lately that has my brain fried, but I'm just not feeling awful about yesterday. So this is not going to be a 'the sky is falling' post - if you want those, head over to VUSports. In fact, I'm going in the opposite direction. I don't know what all you 'Nova fans expected yesterday, but I'm not upset over yesterday's loss, because we outperformed my expectation.
Am I disappointed? Absolutely. Who wouldn't be? We were leading late in the game before we got Kemba'd (which probably put his victim total into double-digits on the year), and to lose on a last-second shot never leaves a good taste in your mouth.
Let's take a step back though. We went to Gampel Pavilion, one of the toughest places IN THE COUNTRY to play, for a Top-10 matchup (aka the crowd was jacked up beyond belief), played against the best player in the country in Kemba Walker (sorry Jimmer Fredette), and lost on a last-second shot. Oh yeah, and we didn't have Dominic Cheek, who happens to be our 6th man. Who also happens to be one of our only outside threats, a great rebounder, and an above-average defender.
Against those odds, I thought it was more likely that we got smoked by double-digits than battle to the final possession. As we've said before, this team has guts, it has heart. That was missing last year. It's not anymore.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly after The Jump.
Kemba - You'll kill me for being a former UConn-lover (true) - but you have to give it to the guy. He's incredible. Watching him and Corey Fisher going up against each other was so fun to watch. Speaking of Corey...
Corey Fisher - He brought his A-game yesterday. He knew the lights were on, and he did what stars do - shine. He saw the entire 'Nova offense struggling in a defensive battle and took the team on his shoulders and nearly won the game. What a pleasure to watch.
The officials - Yes, I'm serious. That was the most well-officiated BIG EAST game that I've seen in years. Somebody get me their names. When was the last time you saw two rugged teams beat the crap out of each other, and WEREN'T complaining. Kudos to a job well-done.
James Bell - Alright, the kid can play. Which is very reassuring considering we have no idea when Cheek will be back. He wasn't phased at all yesterday. Still waiting for the offense, but he's fearless in his defense and isn't afraid to mix it up on the boards.
Defense on Kemba - I thought we did about as good a job as we could. The last possession I think having Cheek helps as he's quicker than Stokes but just as long. Kemba went 6-18 from the field though. We blocked him several times. He was clearly frustrated. Well done, team.
Mouphtaou Yarou - Classifying him overall as bad is not fair, because overall he was okay, but what the heck happened in the early going? He can't miss those shots. And it continued in the 2nd half. The 10 boards (about the only guy who could handle UConn's size) were great, but those missed shots hurt.
Maalik Wayns - This one I'm more sure about. I think that may have been his worst game in a 'Nova uniform. He couldn't stay with Walker when he was on him, finished with 9 points, 2 assists, and 4 turnovers, and was a frightening 0-4 from 3. He isn't the best outside shooter in the world. That's fine. Stick to what you are good at. Because when you did yesterday, UConn couldn't stay with you.
Maurice Sutton - Alex Oriakhi owned him. Which isn't terrible I guess considering he's very good. But Sutton needs to concentrate more on his positioning and not rely on his height. Oriakhi pushed him around too easily for rebounds.
Shooting - Both teams were terrible. I hope to never witness that again.
Time to head to the Carrier Dome and break some Orange hearts. See you Saturday. Make sure to check out The UConn Blog for more coverage on the game.