STORRS, Conn. – Every college basketball game is a learning experience. So, after Connecticut's 70-61 loss to Villanova last Saturday, we have learned what happens when Ryan Boatright and Shabazz Napier combine for six points and 10 turnovers.
The Huskies would prefer not repeating that lesson ever again.
"I wasn't Ryan Boatright that game," Boatright said Wednesday after the Huskies practiced at Gampel Pavilion. "I just had a bad game. That happens to everybody in basketball. You've got to bounce back and move on."
So what does Boatright have to do Thursday night (7 p.m., ESPN) when Cincinnati comes to the XL Center to play UConn?
"I've got to be myself," he said. "That wasn't me."
Boatright, who was 2-for-7 from the floor and finished with four points and five turnovers, said he was "sick" about his performance, especially since UConn had played so well while upsetting Syracuse in its previous game. UConn coach Kevin Ollie said the coaching staff brought Boatright in for a video review session.
"Everybody's going to have tough games like that," Ollie said. "He learned from it. We brought him in and watched tape. I thought he performed very well in practice. That kid has been through some adversity in his life, so that's not the first time. I believe he's going to respond very positively."
What was Boatright's reaction to the film study?
"I knew what I did," he said. "I'm the biggest critic of myself. I knew what I was doing."
Napier got into early foul trouble, a predicament that altered Ollie's substitution pattern. Napier was 1-for-8 from the field and finished with two points. He had a season-high 10 assists but also had five turnovers.
Against Cincinnati (19-7, 7-6 Big East), the Huskies (17-7, 7-5) will be going against another top guard combination. Sean Kilpatrick (18.0 ppg) and Cashmere Wright (13.3 ppg) get most of the attention but senior Jaquon Parker (10.9 ppg) certainly makes a big contribution as well.
"The Big East is just like," Ollie said. Every team has got great guards, from Louisville on, you can go down the list. We've got to make sure we contain the dribble, play hard, play with effort and the attitude that allows us to come out on top.
"[Wright is] a spot up shooter but he can also take it off the dribble. Kilpatrick is very, very good. Parker is one of the keys too. He's a gritty, tough defender, can knock down threes and penetrate. Dribble penetration is going to be a key. We've got to keep them out of our lane. Hopefully we can stop the ball. Then it all comes down to rebounding. Hopefully we can rebound better than we did against Villanova."
It's no secret Boatright and Napier form the focal point of everything the Huskies do. Ollie pointed out that Villanova wasn't the "first team that homed in on our guards." He said better effort and attitude would correct the problems.
"I just think, because me and Boat didn't play so well, rebounding and turnovers became a big deal," Napier said. "But that's going to happen. I think our biggest problem against Villanova was that we weren't scoring.
"I put myself in a bad situation getting two quick fouls. Then I came off the bench and I wasn't aggressive. I was being passive and timid on defense. I didn't want to pick up that third foul. It takes away from my game."
Freshman guard Omar Calhoun sprained his right wrist against Villanova and was packing ice after practice Tuesday. Calhoun said the wrist remains sore and he's trying to get as much therapy and ice treatment as possible before the game against Cincinnati. Calhoun said the injury happened late in the game as Villanova's James Bell tried to step in and take a charge. "He moved underneath me and when I hit the ground my weight came down [on the wrist]," he said. "It's still bothering me. I'm just going day by day. I'm doing as much [treatment] as I can and trying not to think about it." Calhoun was named Big East Rookie of the Week after averaging 15.5 points against Syracuse and Villanova. . . . Asked if is possible center Enosch Wolf will return this season, Ollie said, "I have no idea. He's suspended indefinitely. I've made my comments and I'm sticking by them."