Will UConn have the legs to make another tournament run?
Kemba Walker played 190 minutes in five days.
They weren’t “easy” minutes either. The UConn point guard that stands all of six feet on a good day played those 190 minutes with his UConn team on his back.
But I’m not too worried about Kemba’s legs. As Jim Boeheim said after the Huskies put the finishing touches on his Syracuse Orange, “he can play eight nights in a row.”
The players you have to be concerned about are the rest of UConn’s team. You know, the ones that are mere mortals.
Alex Oriakhi, in some ways, is just as valuable to the Huskies as Kemba Walker is. He’s a force in the paint, a 6'9" oxen that eats up space in the paint and works his tail off on the offensive glass. Earning position down low is not an easy thing to do when fresh. When you’re doing it with tired legs, its just that much harder.
Its an issue for guys like Roscoe Smith, Jeremy Lamb, and Shabazz Napier as well. Those three are not just in the game for their length and athleticism, they play because they can defend and they can knock down threes, keeping the floor spread. Tired legs make both of those tasks just that much more difficult.
I don’t foresee legs being an issue against Bucknell. The Bison had a great season, winning both the regular season and conference tournament titles in the Patriot League. But that doesn’t mean that they are anything more than just a really good team from the Patriot League.
And UConn should be able to handle a really good team from the Patriot League, even with tired legs.
The problem will arise against either Cincinnati or Missouri should UConn handle their business against Bucknell.
Missouri loves to run. They love to press. They play a lot of guys, with their goal not just to turn their opponent over and get easy baskets, but to tire them out as well. The Bearcats press at times as well, but the bigger issue there is that Cincinnati is a big, physical team. Battling them in the paint will take a toll on the Huskies.
If UConn does get to that point, they will be playing their seventh game in 12 days.
And they will have had just three days that don’t involve traveling or playing in that span.
That is certainly not an easy thing to do.