Being at a game in Connecticut is sort of like being in the middle of Beatlemania. It’s intimidating, and not entirely pleasant. They don’t understand why you’d root for any team but UConn. (I’m from Queens, this is how I roll, deal with it.)
Maryland, I love you, but really, this obsession with the state coat of arms has to stop before it leads you into any more bad fashion choices. However, bringing a state flag is cool.
UConn up 35-26 at the half, and I think UConn smells blood in the water. The officials have been a bit strict about travels and VERY loose about everything else. Geno got his T for arguing for a call on what looked like a body slam by Hawkins. And the crowd had his back all the way. That was a truly deplorable and dangerous non-call. Maryland’s chucking a lot of shots. UConn’s had some bad luck with the rim, but that’ll change in the second half; that rim’s been messed up all game.
I think Elena Delle Donne accidentally set a screen for Stefanie Dolson; while Dolson was down and hurt, Delle Donne got up and drew the attention and cheers of the crowd in the endcourt section, so they weren’t staring at Dolson until she was up.
Malina Howard, if you’re going to call and flail for the ball as if your very life depended on receiving the pass right that second, you don’t immediately pass off the ball as if it grew spikes and stabbed you in the palms. It is very hard to take you seriously when you tend to disappear. Sequoia Austin got in at the very end of the game. Sparkly Brenda Frese mostly went with Howard and the starters.
Does Alicia DeVaughn always try to make with the three-pointers? I don’t expect a tall, long-armed rebounder to decide that she’s going to put up long shots when she doesn’t to my knowledge do it all that frequently. She had her hands in on a lot of plays, but I think she went over the line on her physical play. Katie Rutan is automatic from those corners, and while she’s not a great defender, she does work hard on defense. Tianna Hawkins consistently got on the boards, but also got beat to them by good Connecticut boxouts. She made her presence felt on defense, but not on offense. Chloe Pavlech looked like a freshman out there, though she got her long-range shot going in the second half. At times, it almost looked like Maryland was taking their cues from Delaware and making everything about Alyssa Thomas the way Delaware made everything about Delle Donne. Thomas has a decent handle for a woman of her build, and I understand the exigencies that led her to playing the point for the Terrapins, but I think Maryland would be better off with her not bringing the ball up as much and being able to get herself into position instead of having to bring the ball up, dish off, and then get in position. She played well, but she couldn’t do it all herself no matter how hard she tried.
Maryland just didn’t seem to know how to get out of the trouble they were in, but that might be because they were short-handed and because when UConn smells blood that’s the end of the game.
Hello, Moriah Jefferson! You are tiny, but you are fast and sneaky and slice through the lane like a hot dagger through butter! She had one beautiful steal and fast-break lay-up (I think Thomas was the victim) in the second half that set off the crowd. She actually got the start in the second half, because she was playing that well. Morgan Tuck looked a little slowed up by her knee brace, but she bulled her way into the lane and along the backdoor cuts with great efficiency. Geno probably wants to see her get more comfortable with her off hand, though. Kiah Stokes got time near the end of the game and got in on the boards. Bria Hartley was… well, I think I understand why Geno exiled her to the bench.
Which I’m pretty sure is also the only reason why Caroline Doty was getting the start. I really don’t remember her doing anything. Kelly Faris didn’t necessarily make much of an impression, but at the same time, always just seemed to be there. Her two-pointer in the second half came off a gorgeous look-away pass from Jefferson. Breanna Stewart actually looked comfortable for the first time that I can remember when seeing her. If she’s starting to settle into her height, it’s going to be a long three years in the Big Metro American However Many. She was blocking shots not just on the perimeter but on the inside. Stefanie Dolson had a quiet night offensively, but she was a monster on the boards and in the paint. The final rebounding numbers don’t reflect how hard Connecticut was working to seal off the glass. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was using that strong build of hers to create space in the first half, going closer to the basket before unleashing the jumpers in the second half. She was good.
There were flashes of that terrifying UConn tendency to immediately create offense from their defense- Stewart blocked a first-half shot, and two passes later she drained a three from the right side. Jefferson had a sweet steal and a lay-up. UConn basketball, in its purest form.
These officials were not particularly interested in calling fouls until the second half, and it did not make them popular with either team and either coach. A lot of bodies were hitting the floor with very few calls being made.
I’m impressed with the Maryland cheer squad’s strength. It takes a lot for an all-girl team to pull off some of those stunts. And you’ve gotta love a band that uses the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme as an alternate fight song. Their version of “All of the Lights” pales in comparison to DePaul’s, though.
Sitting low in the endcourt is a very bad combination, especially when coupled with barriers for the band sections. You see virtually nothing, between distance and the stanchion and the barriers. I have to remember that for next time.
If Kentucky is as lax as they were today, UConn will run all over them. If UConn takes their foot off the pedal as early as they did today, Kentucky will rip them to shreds.