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Column: Putting pandemonium in perspective

Associate Sports Editor

Published: Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, December 3, 2013 23:12

By now, we all know what happened inside Gampel Pavilion Monday night. Really, there’s only one way to describe it: pandemonium.

We’ve all seen the plethora of storylines that have come out of that game, too.

Shabazz the buzzer-beating hero.

DeAndre Daniels, the rebound tip-out hero.

Billy Donovan, the whining coach on the wrong end of a miracle.

Gampel Pavilion, infinitely more awesome than the XL Center.

Yes, by now, all of those things that bring a smile to the face of every Husky roaming campus have been heard, read and seen. Unfortunately, while they may tell the story of the last 33.5 seconds, they fail to paint the full picture.

Take a step back and look at the box score.

Shabazz Napier may have gotten his chance to play Superman – again – but that was in large part due to a lack of help around him. Only one other player, Daniels, scored in double-digits.

Even more striking is the fact that, aside from Daniels’ seven boards, not a single Husky grabbed more than four rebounds. Florida won the glass battle 34-26 – not an overwhelming margin, but certainly a substantial edge. And one point, that advantage was even more pronounced; with 2:04 remaining, the Gators held a 34-22 lead.

Rebounding has been this team’s issue for the past year and a half, so by now it’s no surprise, but if those numbers don’t put a little fear into the heart of UConn Country, they certainly should. It’s tough enough to win a game when you only have one man that can reliably score. It only makes it harder when no one can grab a miss.

In large part, that burden falls on the big guys inside. The Huskies’ three posts – Tyler Olander, Philip Nolan and Amida Brimah – were scarily ineffectively in just about every category.

The trio logged 37 minutes, yet managed just five points. Worse yet, they only got their hands on two rebounds.

Olander, aside from his five fouls, pitched a shutout. He failed to record a single piece of production in 11 minutes on the floor; zero points, zero boards, zero blocks, zero assists.

Defensively, the threesome was no better. Patric Young, the 6-foot-9, 240-pound Gator who Kevin Ollie described as having “muscles on top of muscles,” used that physical frame to boss his defender around throughout the night.

Every time he touched the ball in the post, it was one quick move and a bucket, it seemed. His 17 points came easy.

Make no mistake: a win is a win. Every single fan – myself included – inside Gampel Pavilion was euphoric for good reason after the Shabuzzer-beater.

This team is legit. They can play with anyone. And having a guard like Napier, who’s doing his best to become Kemba 2.0 – or is it Rip Hamilton? The shots were eerily similar – makes this team infinitely dangerous.

But sometimes, winning has a funny way of covering up gaping holes and obvious deficiencies. And frankly, the Huskies have plenty of both.

Creating more balance, finding ways to rebound, defending in the post – it all needs tweaking, fixing and improvement.

Sorry if this rained on anyone’s parade. That wasn’t the intent. It’s just that there’s still work to be done if UConn wants to host another parade – this time, come April.

Imagine the pandemonium then.


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