For the second straight game the Huskies took on a team with a lesser-canine mascot. That Great Danes are literally smaller than Huskies, but rather that they’re significantly less cool. The most famous Great Dane in the world is in a comic strip, and is best known for thinking he’s a much smaller dog. Scary.
Also for the second straight game the Huskies let their much lesser-opponent stick around too long. In their game against Loyola-Maryland the Huskies led by only two at half time, and going into half time against Albany the Huskies trailed 31-27.
It sounds worse than it was, as the team lost Scott Suggs to a concussion within the first two minutes of the game. And of course, by “it sounds worse than it was” I actually mean “holy shit I’m scared.” Suggs is arguably the second best player on this Huskies team, and a welcome addition to a team that missed him dearly last year. So there was unplanned adversity in this game, sure, but that adversity may extend beyond the end of this game. I wasn’t panicked because the Huskies let Albany hang around too long, I was panicked because Suggs may miss some time, and the Huskies can’t afford to be without his services. Eventually, it’d bear out that panic needed no distinction or category.
The contact made with Suggs was obviously unintentional. He took an inadvertent elbow to the head, then when he dropped to the ground received a knee to the upper back and neck area, and that appeared to be what threw him for a loop.
Andrew Andrews came in and played quite admirably in Suggs place, showing awareness to put a ball up with the shot clock running down, and rotating to take a charge on defense. Andrews isn’t Suggs though. He’s a point guard, and he’s point-guard-sized.
C.J. Wilcox started the game of quite poorly, in stark contrast with his performance on Sunday, and seemed to be forcing shots early in the shot clock, both jumpers and in the paint. Wilcox ended the first half with only two points on one of eight shooting, including three missed three pointers.
Aziz N’Diaye picked had a great first half, shooting five of six from the field, two of four from the charity stripe, pulling down six boards, blocking a shot, and catching entry passes and making post moves with fluidity we haven’t seen so far. He led the Huskies with 12 points at half time.
Albany guard Jacob Iati led the Great Danes at half time in scoring, shooting four of seven, all from three point land. What isn’t included in that stat line though, is an eighth three pointer that he was fouled on, which he missed, and then proceeded to miss all three free throw attempts. I have no way of digging through box scores to find out how many great three point shooters have ever missed three consecutive free throws under those circumstances, but I bet it’s happened very few times.
The Huskies came out hot in the second half, going on a 14-4 run to start the period.
Even in the second half they had no answers for Iati, who ended the game with 20 points on 7-15 shooting, 6-12 from three point land. His teammate Mike Black had 20 points on 8-13 shooting, as the Huskies guard play was poor on both end of the court for most of the game. Abdul Gaddy attempted to take on a huge chunk of the scoring duties vacated by Suggs, and while his 7-14 shooting, including 2-5 from three may not seem like an inefficient way to score 16 points on its surface, his six turnovers were truly a killer.
In Suggs’ absence C.J. Wilcox played 37 mostly bad minutes. Wilcox bounced back from an ugly first half with 4-6 shooting, including a game tying three with 1:41 left, but missed a critical easy bucket, and was a part of the defense that allowed Iati and Black to shred the Huskies.
Still the Huskies had the lead with less than 20 seconds left following an ill-advised layup coming off an offensive rebound by Gaddy, but despite fouling with 7.6 seconds left on the clock, the Huskies allowed Black to penetrate and score what would become the game winning basket, as Gaddy’s last second 30-foot heave caught iron.
Today’s game was particularly discouraging, and while a lot of the Huskies deficiencies today may be traced back to the departure of Suggs, even a Huskies team without Suggs should be able to beat teams like Albany.
This loss is particularly disappointing for a Huskies team that missed the NCAA tournament last year in large part due to losses to St. Louis, Nevada, and South Dakota State in their non-conference schedule. This team has very little room for error. I’ve been beating the “greater than the sum of their parts” drum all offseason, and I assume they’ll be significantly better at the end of the year than they are right now with all the underclassmen they have in significant roles right now. They need to produce wins in the weakest part of their schedule to have any chance of receiving an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament.
Huskies 1-1 (0-0) vs. Seton Hall (2-0)
(Connecticut leg of the Tip-Off Hall of Fame Classic)
Radio: 950 KJR-AM and GoHuskies.com
Seton Hall is led by junior guard Fuquan Edwin and junior center Gene Teague, who have combined for 69 points in two games. The Pirates lost their two leading scorers Herb Pope and Jordan Theodore to graduation, and Teague is a transfer from Southern Illinois. The Pirates have beaten their only two opponents this year: University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC Kangaroos!) and Norfolk State.