There's no coherent thread running through this post, so I'll cop out and list the things I noticed during last night's game, the one and probably only time I'll get to see USF in person this season.
-- I don't necessarily buy that this loss is a positive sign for the Bulls. They played at around the same level they usually played, and their relative lack of talent was obvious. But UConn played an awful, listless game. If Jeremy Lamb (by far the best player on the floor) doesn't make a few NBA-caliber shots, the Huskies lose. Less talented teams will play better than UConn did and still be good enough to beat USF.
-- You saw what a difference it is between having bigs, and having aggressive bigs. Andre Drummond and Tyler Olander got the Huskies numerous second chances in the second half, when they created the small bit of separation they needed to get the victory. They got the position they needed, and then outreached and outfought Augustus Gilchrist and Ron Anderson Jr. and Toarlyn Fitzpatrick for the ball. Or they kept it alive for Shabazz Napier or Lamb to retrieve. The Huskies had 12 of their 14 offensive rebounds in the second half, including four in a row on one possession.
-- Gus is what he is and we're going to have to deal with that for a few more months. He's a ball stopper who isn't strong enough around the rim for whatever reason, and his effort comes and goes. He's going to end up in that B.B. Waldon category of "what could he have been if he had really applied himself" players. It seems like the Bulls play better when he isn't in the game, but with so few post players, they have to leave him in for 30 minutes a night. Especially last night, since Anderson wasn't 100%.
-- UConn "townie" fans are terrifying. I encourage you to review my #UConnFans hashtag from last night for some of the highlights. I didn't even get to the 40ish UConn fan wearing a jersey, matching T-shirt and gym shorts, and tennis shoes... who was there with his wife and kids.
-- Speaking of Twitter... there was way, way too much cheese in the grilled cheese sandwich Collin sent out a hideous Twitpic of me eating from the Sweetbay concession stand. The sandwich also lacked flavor -- it tasted like mild cheddar and mozzarella, which just mushed together into a cheesy blob. And it got cold too quickly. We're talking a C/C- grilled cheese, without factoring in the inflated arena price. (My personal favorite is combining sharp cheddar and pepperjack. Real out of bounds flavor, you guys.)
Sorry for veering into grilled cheese sandwich talk, but I thought that was important. More basketball after the jump.
-- Anthony Collins is incredibly fast. He probably got away with a foul or two (in general the refs let both teams play) but he has such quick hands and he gets up the court in a hurry. I'm looking forward to seeing him develop, while the level of competition in the Big East goes down a little bit at the same time.
-- Jawanza Poland is the evolutionary Marlyn Bryant. Jumps out of the gym, always goes hard to the basket and towards a loose ball, and also a better shooter. He's in the right role for him as a guy who comes off the bench, makes a few plays, and sparks the team. But he'd get more credit for it if this was a better team that won more games. Like Mike Mercer on the 2010 team.
-- Paging Victor Rudd... paging Victor Rudd... come in, Victor Rudd...
-- Does USF have set plays, or are they running something more generalized? They might do better with specific plays, because they look noticeably sharper right after a timeout when Stan Heath can dial something up for them. They aren't skilled enough don't have a high enough basketball IQ as a team to make something happen on their own on a regular basis. The spacing isn't very good, they don't set strong picks and screens for each other, and there's still way too much dribbling 30-40 feet from the rim while the shot clock runs. I don't think it's in Heath to be an Avery Johnson kind of coach, a micromanager who calls every play from the bench. I do wonder what would happen if he was, though.
-- Broken record, but USF just doesn't have enough overall talent. Once again they will need to shrink games and limit the possessions to have a chance to win, and teams will play man-to-man on them all season because they really struggle to get their own shots. Hopefully the tide is starting to turn with the commitments lined up already for the next couple of years. Although this isn't likely to be a good team, things don't feel as desperately bad as they did last season.