Saturday, February 7, 2015

UConn @ Memphis Post Game Report

UConn-Memphis Post game report 
(pictures from the Hartford Courant,

I don't know if Geno will forgive them for their performance. There were lots of reasons for a lack of focus in this game. It had all the makings of a game the players would overlook. All they have heard all week is about the South Carolina game. Everyone is asking them about it. I'm sure they saw the results of Memphis's last game, a poor performance against Temple. They were in an NBA building where the men's team lost a game at the buzzer. Most of the fans left as the teams quickly warmed up. It was not the atmosphere for a great performance. But Geno is not interested in reasons. They are only excuses.
After a few minutes of uninspired basketball, Geno pulled Stewart and Tuck. He eventually had on the floor Williams, Ekmark, Chong, KML and Jefferson. He subbed in Nurse but he always had Ekmark Chong and Williams on the court. Crazy.
The hero of the first half was Chong, who hit 3-4 three pointers and 3-4 foul shots for 12 points. The rest of the team? Not so good.
They had a 28-16 lead, but it felt like UConn was losing.
The second half started with Stewart and Tuck on the bench. More WOW. UConn started Jefferson, KML and Nurse along with Chong and Williams. Geno was just PISSED and from my perspective, this was a lot of fun!! Without this, I'd have nothing to write about. Just another UConn blowout.
The small lineup dominated the second half, running out to a 9-0 start before Memphis called a time out. UConn went on several runs, the largest a 19-0 run over a six minute period starting around the nine minute mark. And all of this was done without Stewart, Tuck or Stokes. UConn outscored Memphis 52-18 in the second half.

It was a marvelous performance by the UConn bench, specifically Williams and Chong. They led UConn to their usual margin of victory and in some ways it was much more satisfying for me to watch.   
Game Quotes

 KML - "He wasn't happy with the way we were playing in the first half, and I think everyone knows that if he's unhappy with what he sees, he's not afraid to take whatever measures are necessary,"

Geno - "Judging by the way they approached the game, obviously, they are tired. So, I wanted them to be ready for Monday night and the biggest game in the history of basketball. I didn't want to wear them out. Hopefully, they will be ready. That's the best I can tell you."

Geno again - "Look, there's an expectation level we as coaches have for the upperclassmen that's a little bit more [stringent] than what I've seen lately. I thought the other group was great. They played above their heads. They played hard, helped each other and competed. I thought we had the team out there that could best help us win."

More Geno - "This isn't some subliminal message I'm sending to them where I expect them to read between the lines. This is very flat out. I don't care if you're the national player of the year or the greatest thing that's ever walked the face of the Earth playing basketball. There's a certain level of play that I've been accustomed to at Connecticut. If you're not there, then you're not playing."

Chong - "I am really excited to be playing so well. I've been working hard in practice on my shot to make sure I can knock down open threes."
"Williams - "I knew I was going to be expected to step up, produce more, since Morgan and Kiah weren't getting the minutes they usually get,".
Here are the coach and player evaluations

Coach Geno Auriemma
Geno. Is he a genius? Is he insane? Both?
We don't get to see the practices. We don't really understand his exact expectations other than he wants them to play a certain way. Sure we can see when they don't play well. They did have spurts against Temple and Cincinnati where they played poorly. We all saw it. And we all saw how bad the first few minutes of the game Saturday was. Lazy passes. Not running the flow. Even Megan mentioned it several times, so you know it was obvious.  
Now, pulling players for poor performance is not new. Even pulling stars is not new. He has pulled Dolson, Hartley, Charles, and others. He does it for a reason. To get the players attention that he can't get all the time by just yelling at them. To get the teams attention. If he would do this to Stewart and Tuck, he certainly would do it with Williams and Chong if warranted.
No, Geno is not crazy. I'm not sure he is a genius. But he is great at what he does. He knew he had to do something to get the most out of Stewart, Tuck and Stokes. He wasn't worried about losing Saturday. He's not worried about losing Monday either. He just wants them ready to win the last 6 games of the season and he believes what he did will help them do that.  
Player of the Game
Saniya Chong

Gabby Williams
She got off to a slow start when she first came in, but boy did she finish strong. She had 16 points and 14 rebounds for her second straight double-double. I don't think there is any doubt she will see meaningful minutes against South Carolina. I believe she has earned the right to get minutes even if she has a slow start. In the Duke game, she seemed lost, but that was so long ago. She is a different player. What a great athlete. Combine that with her great will and willingness to learn and you have a superstar in the making.       


Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis
KML. The Rock. And she was the Rock again in this game. She also started slow, but her effort was supreme and noticeable to Geno. For much of the game, she was the biggest player for UConn, even though Ekmark is an inch taller. And her nine rebounds helped UConn control the board (along with Williams). She had a tough start on three point shooting, but she ended the game strong.    

Moriah Jefferson
She did a great job leading the bench during what must have been a little surreal for the newer players. She controlled the ball when she was in, which was a lot considering she played 32 minutes. She is struggling from the outside, but her leadership was noticeable. Hopefully some home cooking will get her hot shooting back. If you have a chance to watch the game again, just take a look at that one between the leg crossover dribble that totally lost the defender. What was amazing about it was that it was in the lane and not in the open court or at the top of the key. In traffic. It was stunning.      
Kia Nurse
This was a terrific game for Nurse. Her defense was outstanding and it was great to see her make all her foul shots going 9-9. It raised her percentage to a season high 70.7%.
18 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists is a great line. This was a huge game for Nurse and one to get her ready for the South Carolina game.  

Courtney Ekmark

Gotta love her effort. There are still plenty of things for her to work on, but she plays hard and seem to be fearless.

Breanna Stewart, Morgan Tuck, Kiah Stokes
 Nothing more to say. I hope they bring it Monday!

Next game is....gee...who is it against?? I believe Geno sarcastically called it the biggest game in history....
South Carolina in Storrs, Monday at 8:00. ESPN2.

1 comment:

  1. That was a fabulous move by Jefferson. It reminded of Michael Jordan when he was at NC in a way. Playing in Dean Smith's system, we would get only an occasional glimpse of Jordan's full arsenal of moves. Same with Jefferson. You get the feeling that she could that more often if she wanted too.