Napier has praise for Chambers

January, 9, 2014
Jan 9
11:45
AM ET
We all have habits, often ones we don’t even think about.

Maybe you run a hand through your hair when you’re concentrating, nibble on a nail when you’re nervous or pat your pockets to make sure you have your keys before you close the car door.

When Siyani Chambers hits a big shot, or makes a pass to set up a teammate for a big shot, the slight, 6-foot, 170-pound point guard has a habit of pumping his fist. Sometimes accompanied by a shout.

That kind of emotional outburst, while easy to understand analytically and enjoyed by fans and teammates alike, has a way of getting under some opponents’ skin.

Just not Shabazz Napier.

After the UConn senior guard had one-upped the Crimson sophomore, nailing back-to-back 3-pointers after Chambers’ 3 had cut the Huskies’ lead to two at 49-47, and his team escaped with a 61-56 win, he was asked what he saw from his young opponent.

The Roxbury, Mass., native praised Chambers for his efforts, which had produced a game-high 21 points and kept the Crimson close without leading scorer Wesley Saunders.

“He’s a good point guard,” Napier said. “He’s been good since his freshman year, since he had to step into that role when the guys got in trouble [Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry missing 2012-13 after being implicated in an academic scandal]. He’s doing the best he can with the most he has. Today he played well, hitting open shots that he usually takes. I think he’s definitely gonna be a good player in the future.”

And then Napier, who leads the Huskies with 16.0 PPG this season and scored a team-high 18 on Wednesday, brought up the fist pump.

“He’s more competitive. Freshman year, he was kinda shy,” he said, asked the difference in Chambers from Year 1 to Year 2. “He kinda didn’t want to take the moment, and that’s understandable. But this year you can see a lot of enthusiasm in him. I think he knocked down a 3 and I thought I saw him punch the air or something.

“That’s definitely good, you want to see that kind of moxie in a lot of guys. That’s what brings out the best of them. Like I said, I think he’s definitely going to be a good point guard in the future and he’s just gotta continue to work. And as you can see, he does work real hard.”

Another habit that’s easy to notice, and one appreciated by teammates and opponents alike.

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.


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