Without Napier, an L in Cincy

Sean Kilpatrick, R.J. Evans, Ryan Boatright

Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick goes for a rebound against UConn guards R.J. Evans and Ryan Boatright during the second half Saturday in Cincinnati.. (Associated Press/David Kohl)

A few quick reactions from UConn’s 61-56 loss to Cincinnati on Saturday.

Without Shabazz Napier (foot) the Huskies played OK at times but faltered down the stretch.

UConn coach Kevin Ollie was pretty frustrated after the loss. And he didn’t really want to discuss his star point guard’s absence.

“I don’t really want to talk about Shabazz. These guys played hard,” Ollie said. “Shabazz is going to get back, he’s going to get back healthy. But we played hard.”

– NAPIER SAID HE woke up Saturday morning and knew he would be out of action.

“I just woke up today and I didn’t feel like it was possible for me to play basketball,” Napier said.

He said he did his usual “treatments” in the locker room before the game but never really tried to play.

“Hopefully I can play next game. I’m looking forward to the next game,” Napier said.

Napier had a rough day on the bench, it seems.

“So difficult. I was thinking about getting dressed during halftime,” Napier said.

– OLLIE STILL CALLED Napier’s absence a “game time decision.” R.J. Evans said he didn’t know he’d be starting until a few minutes before the opening tip.

“We were already prepared for it anyway in our last practice,” Ollie said. “I think the guys did real well, the guys that played in the game.”

Ollie was also asked how or who picked up the slack for Napier.

“You can’t fill in the slack for Shabazz. Shabazz is one of the best players in the Big East,” Ollie said. “You have to play your game. Nobody filled in the slack we just played with heart.”

– IF YOU’RE COUNTING, that’s two straight games in which late-game execution cost the Huskies a chance at victory.

“It’s very frustrating because you’re right there. These last two games we’ve been right there to take the game and we fell short,” Ryan Boatright said. “Sometimes it’s due to turnovers or we didn’t even get a shot up at the basket. That’s most frustrating.”

On the backcourt violation with 5.2 seconds to go and UConn down three?

Cashmere (Wright) definitely hit it. He touched it before it went backcourt,” Boatright said. “But I shouldn’t have even been in that situation. I’m not blaming it on that. I should have made a better play or we should have ran a better play.”

Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said his team was going to commit a foul (up three, so the Huskies couldn’t make a 3) before the backcourt violation.

“When it got under 10, we were going to foul,” Cronin said. “We weren’t going to let him shoot a three and tie.”

But the Bearcats’ 2-2-1 press trapped Boatright instead and didn’t have to foul.

– AS FOR WHAT looked like an and-1 play that could have changed momentum with 2:59 to go, Ollie and Boatright were frustrated.

Ollie seemed to think the officials called a shooting foul but did not count the basket, though that wasn’t the case. They ruled the shot (after a huddle, official Pat Driscoll counted the shot at first) came after the foul and called it “on the floor.” The fact that it was the 10th foul of the half on the Bearcats made it a two-shot foul.

“It was a shooting foul. He got two free throws,” Ollie said. “I thought it was goaltending but they thought it was different.”

Boatright said he was in the act of shooting.

“Ah, definitely. What was I going to do, run out of bounds?” Boatright said. “Obviously I was going up for the layup.”

“Once I went up, he obviously hit the ball out of the rim. He was there laughing at me ‘Yeah, I got away with one,’ ” Boatright said.

“It is what it is. Refs can’t get every call, I guess,” Boatright added.

– ADDING TO UCONN’S injury issues, forward Niels Giffey hurt a finger on his right hand with nine minutes left in the game and did not return.

Giffey had X-Rays taken at the arena after the game but it appears he suffered only a dislocation.

A UConn official said later that Giffey has been diagnosed with a “dislocation fracture” on his right index finger.

His status for Wednesday’s game at USF is in doubt, however.

Doing just a quick internet search, it appears dislocation fractures are more complex than dislocations or even fractures.

– AFTER PLAYING FOR a few games and most of Saturday’s with his injured right wrist heavily taped, UConn guard Omar Calhoun ripped the tape off at one point and finished the game without it.

Calhoun made just 1-of-7 shots in the game.

– THE HUSKIES SHOT A woeful 34.6 percent from the field. Only one player (DeAndre Daniels was 8-for-17) was very good in that department.

In fact, if you take Daniels out, UConn was 10-for-35 (28.6 percent).

– CRONIN DIDN’t WANT any credit for his technical foul firing up his team. He said it wasn’t intentional.

He says his slip and fall before the T wasn’t intentional, either.

“I was just happy I didn’t blow out my knee,” Cronin said. “I have a knee with no cartilage. I’m just biding time until knee replacement.”

- Neill

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About Neill

Neill Ostrout covers the UConn men's basketball team for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester. He has been a member of the "Horde" for more than 16 years.
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