Friday, March 11, 2011

An MSG Classic - Walker & UCONN March On

It wasn't a question of who was getting the ball, only a question of what would he do with it. With the game tied and the clock under 20 seconds Kemba Walker in bounded the ball from the baseline of his own basket, knowing immediately he would get the ball right back and hold for the last shot against Pittsburgh. There would be either a win for UCONN or OT, as there was zero chance Pittsburgh would get the ball back. A high screen roll began to present itself with 10 seconds to go, and when Pittsburgh switched instead of trapping, Walker found himself with the ball, with the mismatch he wanted and the big east tournament fate of UCONN in his hands. With the MSG crowd on its feet, and Walker with exactly what he wanted he crossed over, hesitated and crossed over again before launching a step back dagger over the helpless Pittsburgh defense. It was pure from the release and as we alluded to earlier Kemba Walker has put UCONN on his back as they will be in the semi-finals tomorrow evening at MSG.

Trailing 30-20 in the first half, the huskies ended the half on a 20-11 surge. The building was rocking and loving UCONN from opening tip and this surge created some serious momentum. It was evident that Walker was taking the lead once again as his teammates were following him every step of the way.

As I sat just ten feet from the baseline the screens and box outs were real deal, as the physical nature and intensity of this game is as expected was at a very high level.

The battle continued in the 2nd half with Pittsburgh starting strong and UCONN surging back. UCONN had a serious issue keeping the Pitt offense out of the middle of the floor but Coach Calhoun was able to adjust the defense.

As Walker continued to wow the garden with his passion and energy, his teammates also raised their game with each possession.

With Coach Calhoun stoically standing with his arms crossed and Jaime Dixon in a defensive stance urging his panthers to stop Walker and the huskies, this was an epic big east battle, that both the coaches and players had a huge role in.

Back and forth this battle went, basket for basket, box out for box out and down the stretch stop for stop.

With the game tied at 69 with 3:26 on the clock Pitt switched to a 2-3 zone which slowed UCONN for a few possessions but the huskies hung tough and when Pitt switched back to man they seemed to take control before Gibbs tied the game with a three with eighteen seconds remaining.

With money time down to it's final moments in regulation Walker, Calhoun and UCONN made sure this classic would not reach OT. 

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