Commentary

Perplexing Huskies going wrong way

Updated: February 2, 2012, 10:52 AM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

The word "perplexing" comes to mind when describing Connecticut's men's basketball team right now. The defending national champion Huskies have lost four games in a row and sit below .500 in the Big East (4-5). At 14-7 overall, could it be the VBDI (Vitale Bald Dome Index) is looking at a team heading to the dreaded bubble status?

In consecutive games, the talented Connecticut squad has been held below 50 points. This is a squad that had great expectations going into the season as it was ranked in the preseason upper echelon. Instead, there are more questions than answers for Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun.

The Huskies utilized a different starting lineup as Calhoun inserted Ryan Boatright, Niels Giffey and Roscoe Smith. The changes seemed to work early as Connecticut scored 13 points early. Then Boatright picked up his second foul and he became a lieutenant on the bench, playing just seven minutes in the first half of Wednesday's loss at Georgetown.

[+] EnlargeShabazz Napier
John Woike/Hartford Courant/MCTShabazz Napier has gone scoreless from the field in each of his last two games, both Connecticut losses.

Connecticut clearly struggled finding good shots against the zone. They did go inside to Andre Drummond effectively at times. The big man has shown signs of improvement as he is playing with more enthusiasm. The perimeter shooting was clearly a disaster.

For the second straight game, Shabazz Napier could not make a shot from the floor. After a while, his poor shooting played on his mind and snowballed.

Jeremy Lamb also lost some confidence in his shot and mentally the struggles affected him. Lamb is a much better player and shooter than he showed on Wednesday.

Connecticut often showed little energy and flat-out looked frustrated. You can see the players shaking their heads and the body language was not very good. When you miss a lot of shots, it becomes contagious.

For the Connecticut defense, there was too much from Hollis Thompson and Henry Sims.

The Huskies have not received the same production they got last season from Alex Oriakhi inside. They clearly expected more from him this season.

It is not easy to figure out everything that has gone wrong. There was a lot of talent on the floor against the Hoyas, but at times the team played like individuals, and out of sync.

Last season, when the Huskies needed a big play, they relied on Kemba Walker and he came through big-time. This season, Walker is in the NBA and far away from Storrs, baby!

There is some time to bounce back. Remember, Connecticut was 9-9 in the Big East and seeded ninth in the conference tournament. Then came one of the most amazing runs in all my years calling college basketball.

This season, Connecticut would like to get another victory before thinking about any streaks.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.