No. 17 UConn wants complete game vs. Grambling State
UConn coach Dan Hurley openly has voiced his displeasure about certain aspects of his team despite its fast start to the season.
Hurley would like to see a more complete effort on Saturday afternoon when the 17th-ranked Huskies (7-1) host Grambling State (3-5) in Storrs, Conn.
Sure, UConn received another sterling performance from R.J. Cole in its 72-63 win over Maryland-Eastern Shore on Tuesday. Cole followed up his season-high 26-point effort in the Huskies' 70-63 overtime win over Virginia Commonwealth last Friday with 25 points vs. the Hawks. But that alone didn't appease Hurley.
"Obviously, I did a horrible job preparing these guys to play this game and I will not allow us to look like that again or else you'll see a different group of people on the court," Hurley said.
UConn traditionally boasts an aggressive defense, but that appeared to be lacking with leading rebounder Tyrese Martin sidelined with a sprained wrist. Undersized Maryland-Eastern Shore nearly outrebounded the Huskies and made them pay by shooting 47.1 percent, including 38.9 percent from 3-point range.
"Their guards overall got to whatever spots they wanted to get to on the court," Hurley said. "R.J. was the only perimeter defender who played with any force."
Tyler Polley, who scored 14 points on Tuesday, also celebrated Cole's contributions.
"R.J. has been carrying us a lot these past few games on both ends of the court," Polley said. "We need to play with more confidence."
Cole wasn't interested in any verbal bouquets, however.
"We won the game; that's about it," he said.
UConn's growing injury list is starting to be an issue. In addition to Martin's absence, the Huskies saw reigning Big East Player of the Week Adama Sanogo leave midway through the second half with a lower abdominal strain.
Sanogo has struggled offensively by averaging 7.0 points over the last two games. He averaged 18.5 points over his previous six.
"I've talked about our program depth for a long time," Hurley said. "There's no excuses for this program in any of the games moving forward."
Freshman Jordan Hawkins scored just five points in 25 minutes while making his first collegiate start in Martin's place against Maryland-Eastern Shore.
"There have been a lot of freshmen who've struggled this year, a lot of high-profile freshmen," Hurley said. "A lot of these guys didn't have a real summer going into their senior year of high school that got hijacked by COVID. And their senior year, they didn't get a real chance to play."
Like UConn, Grambling State has been relatively top-heavy as well. Danya Kingsby, Cam Christon and A.J. Taylor essentially have run the show this season for the Tigers, although Tra'Michael Moton led the way with 17 points in a 71-44 victory over NAIA member Jarvis Christian on Thursday.
Moton answered three straight games with just three points by scoring nine and 12 before Thursday's outburst. He had a trio of 3-pointers and also had six assists against the Bulldogs.
Grambling State enjoyed a 42-31 edge in rebounds and took advantage of 21 turnovers against Jarvis Christian.
--Field Level Media