Jan. 9, 2013
By Scott Waggoner
After playing just 17 minutes in last week’s loss to Marquette, Connecticut sophomore forward DeAndre Daniels knew what he needed to do to find more time on the court entering Tuesday’s BIG EAST home opener against DePaul.
“If you rebound you’re going to play a lot of minutes so that was the main thing I was focusing on doing,” Daniels said. “I’m just giving the team whatever they need me to do and that’s rebounding.”
Daniels made the most of his 30 playing time Tuesday at Gampel Pavilion scoring a career-high 26 points to go along with eight rebounds, as Connecticut cruised to a 99-78 victory over the Blue Demons.
Rebounding better was a point of emphasis for the Huskies all week in practice and last night it was the difference. Connecticut outrebounded DePaul 46 to 26 and UConn played perhaps its most complete game of the season, scoring the most points against a BIG EAST team in regulation since 1999 when they scored 100 against Notre Dame.
"They all did the dirty work,” Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie said. “We put it on the boards. The offensive rebounding was there and it was just a great effort.”
While UConn’s defensive rebounding allowed the Huskies to push the pace and get out in transition, their effort on the boards while on offense led to many second chance scoring points. The Huskies had 18 offensive rebounds, four of which came from Daniels, who has shown flashes of brilliance scoring the basketball this season for Connecticut.
“It gives us that third scorer we need,” Ollie said. “DeAndre gives us an extra dimension and tonight he wanted to score. Hopefully it’s not just a moment and it’s something we can get over a consistent period of time.”
Connecticut’s excellent effort on the boards didn’t just come from the frontcourt. UConn guard Shabazz Napier managed eight rebounds Tuesday, marking the fourth straight game in which the junior had a least seven boards.
“He loves rebounds and we need to have more guys like him,” Ollie said. “It allows us to push when we don’t have to throw an outlet pass and it makes us even more explosive on the fast break.”
When the Blue Demons did score, Napier and sophomore guard Ryan Boatright had little trouble dealing with the full-court pressure DePaul applied for most of the game, which led to a number of easy buckets for the Huskies.
“If a team puts three people in the frontcourt that should be a layup every time if you execute your press break right,” Boatright said.
UConn’s big men, juniors Tyler Olander and Enosch Wolf, combined for 18 points and 12 rebounds and played with great energy for much of the game. Consistent production from their frontcourt will be a key for the Huskies, who will look to continue to create a more balanced offensive attack moving forward.
“It gives me more confidence to get them the ball,” Napier said. “When the frontcourt scores like they did today it’s going to make it easier for everybody.”
The Huskies will look to get their first road conference win of the season this Saturday afternoon when take on No. 17 Notre Dame. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. and the game can be seen on SNY and heard on the UConn IMG Sports Radio Network.