UConn improving, beats UMass-Lowell 100-62

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UConn guard Ryan Boatright talks with reporters after Sunday’s win over UMass-Lowell. (Neill Ostrout photo)

In case you haven’t noticed, and judging by the attendance figures you haven’t, the UConn basketball team is playing pretty well and is threatening to break out of the cellar they’re supposedly dwelling in.

OK, sorry. Just love channeling my inner Harry Doyle whenever I can.

In all seriousness, the Huskies are feeling a little better about themselves after Sunday’s 100-62 exhibition victory over UMass-Lowell. They made 53 percent of their shots, got to the free throw line a ton, played pretty solid defensively throughout and ran well most of the afternoon.

— THE HUSKIES CERTAINLY played better than in their first exhibition of the season.

“I just thought we played better,” coach Kevin Ollie said. “We were more relaxed out there, guys played with intensity and effort. And it wasn’t 12 minutes like last game, AIC. I thought we sustained our effort a lot more.”

UConn won the rebound battle 52-34. The Huskies were tough. Well, sort of.

“Our physicality comes from our effort,” Ollie said. “Because we’re not going to get into any arm wrestling with anybody because we don’t have the bigs like that.”

— HE KNOWS UCONN assistant George Blaney very well and is pretty familiar with the Husky program as a whole, so I believe UMass-Lowell coach Greg Herenda when he says he had a feeling the Huskies would play well Sunday.

UConn’s players knew they didn’t play very well against AIC the other day. And they knew Lowell was a likely one of the top teams in the Northeast-10 (and in all of Division II maybe) while AIC was picked to finish near the bottom of the N-10.

“Not that they were going to fear us, but we weren’t going to sneak up on them,” Herenda said. “So I knew their product tonight was going to be sharp. I just knew it. All of our fans thought ‘Hey, maybe we can get them!’ God bless us, we tried, but they were just a step quicker and made shots.

“The other night (against AIC) I think they were a little tentative. It was the first time Kevin was a head coach and the first time they played. It didn’t affect Omar Calhoun but the rest of the team was just a little bit slowed down. Tonight they were going on all cylinders.”

Lowell has played Big East teams tough before. It lost to Providence by a point (76-75) last season at the Dunk.

“We came into the game knowing that we were going to play a tough team,” UConn’s DeAndre Daniels said. “They’re almost like a D-I school to us. We took it like that and played much harder.”

— IT LOOKED RATHER easy but freshman Omar Calhoun had another big offensive game. He scored 20 points thanks to making 5-of-6 three-pointers.

“He don’t care. If he makes or misses, he’s going to shoot the next one,” Ollie said. “The wonderful thing about him is you don’t have to run any plays for him. He’s getting it off of just being a basketball player, relocating and getting in the gaps. He is smooth.”

— OLLIE WAS OBVIOUSLY impressed by DeAndre Daniels’ numbers (15 points, 14 rebounds, 4 blocks, 3 assists) but wants more.

“I’m looking for him to rebound like that,” Ollie said. “He had nine in the first game and had 10 in the first half of this game. We need him to be all over the glass. We still need to box out a little bit more.”

— THE COACH WASN’T too worried about the fact that his team missed 16 free throws (in 45 attempts).

“That will come. I think we have a good free throw shooting team,” Ollie said.

— UMASS-LOWELL USED a great deal of pressure, which UConn seemed to handle pretty well. The Huskies turned the ball over just 10 times.

“I thought our guys handled the pressure pretty well,” Ollie said, “especially our guards with Boatright getting just two turnovers. That’s what we need. We need him to have a 3-to-1 (assist-to-turnover) ratio. We need him to take care of the ball if we’re going to be efficient on the offensive end.”

“We steal the ball no matter who we play. We gave Providence a hard time last year with our press and we lost by one point there,” Herenda said.

— UCONN’S LAST THREE halves of basketball (the second half against AIC and the two Sunday) have produced 50, 49 and 51 points.

It was a pretty balanced scoring effort in all three, too.

“Everybody can score on this team, particularly the three guards. Me, Shabazz and Omar can all really score,” Boatright said. “So when the big men, a four or five, pitches in with points also we can be unstoppable.”

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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