First, the good news (and this won't take long): Niels Giffey scored a season-high 11 points against Seton Hall Tuesday. The sophomore from Berlin, Germany, had seen his minutes dwindle with the arrival of DeAndre Daniels and Ryan Boatright, but his patience paid off against the Pirates.
Unfortunately, other than Jeremy Lamb (19 points), Giffey was the only Husky to show up on the offensive end. No other UConn player scored in double figures, which isn't much of a leap when you see that the team shot 33 percent from the field in the first half and 36 percent in the second half.
The Huskies lost by 12 points, 75-63, but trailed by 13 at the break.
We talked Monday about interim coach George Blaney asking his team to play with energy. UConn couldn't have been less energetic in New Jersey if they slept through the game, which isn't much different than what actually transpired.
"We particularly worked hard offensively and shot 60 percent against a good St. John's team and then come down here and shoot 35 percent," Blaney said afterwards. "Obviously, we were disappointed with that and to get out-rebounded is the second thing we don't usually do. So all the credit goes to Seton Hall. I think they really outplayed us and I am not happy about that. The 13 turnovers in the first half is what changed the game. We had the lead and then turned it over four or five times in a row and it gave them tremendous confidence, got the crowd involved and made it a really difficult game."
We can hear Jim Calhoun yelling at his television, imploring his team to do something, from here. He'll get to tell them in person starting today; his three-game suspension for recruiting violations is over and he can return to the bench, which is where he'll be when UConn travels to Rutgers on Saturday night.
Seton Hall hadn't beaten the Huskies in almost 11 years. Poor shooting, scant rebounding and almost no defense changed that. The Pirates' Jordan Theodore scored all 19 of his points in the second half. Herb Pope -- famously described as "who's that?" by Andre Drummond earlier in the week, added 15 points. According to the Associated Press, the Pirates (13-2, 2-1 Big East) beat Connecticut (12-2, 2-1) for the first time since March 3, 2001 - a span of 11 games. The win also snapped the Huskies' current seven-game overall winning streak.
"They punched us in the mouth," Tyler Olander said via the Hartford Courant, "and we failed to punch back."
As for Drummond's comments (which, in fairness, couldn't have been more innocuous -- he really didn't know Pope), they made their way to Seton Hall's locker room before the game.
"Of course, I couldn't miss [them]," Pope said, according to the Courant. "I know how to read. At the end of the day, we got the 'W.' That's all I was concerned with."
And Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard fully understood where Drummond was coming from; players, in general, don't follow every other player in their conference. It happens.
"That was the stupidest thing," Willard said. "Why would he know? He probably knows who 'No. 15' is. That's how we do it."
Whatever, the Huskies are now 12-2 and 2-1 in the conference. Calhoun is back with his team and the schedule only gets tougher from here.