Quick Take on UConn-Syracuse
Posted by Andrew Zercie on March 13, 2009
I stayed up late last night/early this morning, taking in the thrilling 6 OT game between the UConn Huskies and Syracuse Orange in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament. I couldn’t take my bleery eyes off the TV.
I came away from the game with three thoughts:
1) I knew the moment Hasheem Thabeet fouled out that the Huskies would lose. It’s not that he’s the most valuable player on the UConn team, but he’s the most indispensable. His presence in the paint and his shot-blocking ability around the rim steers a lot of the action outside, causing lower percentange shots for the opponents. With Thabeet out, it opened the paint for the Orange to pretty much get to the rim whenever they wanted, which resulted in better shots, as well as occasional fouls and subsequent foul shots.
2) I became a big fan of Jonny Flynn, the point guard for the Orange, last night. He took charge of the Syracuse team late in the second half and willed them to victory (eventually). He fearlessly attacked the rim, especially once Thabeet had 4 fouls. He had the presence of mind to drive and dump off a pass to a teammate in the lane with 5 seconds left in the first overtime, leading to a game-tying dunk. On defense, Flynn did a great job shadowing UConn’s senior standout point guard AJ Price. He seemed to be everywhere. And like most great talents in the college game, he’s a freshman. He’s a guy I’ll be keeping an eye on once the Tournament starts next week, mainly because he’ll probably go pro after that.
3) A lot of contact was allowed by the referees in the game last night, yet 8 players fouled out (4 from both sides). I know “Big East Basketball” is supposed to be a “tougher” brand of the game, but some of the contact that was allowed last night, and all season long for that matter, may not fly come next week, when referees unfamiliar to “Big East Basketball” are assigned to games with Big East teams in them.
While it’s widely known that the Big East has some of the best teams in America, they will have to adjust to the refs once the Tournament begins. I would not be surprised if at least one or more high profile Big East teams (Pitt immediately comes to mind, because they seem to enjoy contact more than anyone else) are upset in the first weekend of the NCAA tournament.