Wichita State’s first trip to Hartford was memorable, and successful. But the Shockers didn’t get to see much of the city.
“We were going to practice [in Hartford Friday] night,” coach Gregg Marshall said. “We had a time scheduled. As soon as a we got to the airport to take our charter, they let us know that the plane [had mechanical problems] and had departed and was going back to Dallas. For some reason, it could get to Dallas with the crew, but couldn’t get to Hartford with the team.
“So they had to find us a new airplane. We went back and practiced, unscheduled, at Wichita State and left about 6 p.m. We got in about 9:30 p.m. and had a meal. I told them, ‘Don’t leave the hotel, get some rest, we’re going to wake you up at 7:20 in the morning for more scouting report video.’”
Wichita State, after beating UConn in its first game in the American Athletic Conference, will have more long-range flights than it did in the Missouri Valley Conference, but having won 44 of its last 50 road games, the program has overcome just about everything the road has thrown its way.
“You have to deal with adversity on the road,” Marshall said, “that’s why they’re called road games and we understand that. We just got a good road win against a great team.”
The Huskies have had a lot of problems with man-to-man defense, which has been a UConn trademark. Coach Kevin Ollie has used much more zone in recent years, and went to it for most of the game against Wichita State. The Shockers shot 31 percent in the first half, but started hitting 3-pointers in the second and finished at 41.8 percent.
“Just knowing what we have to do,” Ollie said, “we have different lineups in there a lot. Guys were active in the zone. I thought it shrunk the game a little bit. I figured we could shrink the game down, make them make a couple of passes and then we’ve just got to come up with the rebound. We didn’t come up with enough rebounds to win this game.”
UConn had a 22-20 edge in rebounds in the first half, but WSU had a 27-12 edge in the second, getting 17 offensive rebounds.
“[Assistant coach] Kyle Linstead had a a great game plan, and he showed us the 2-3 zone,” Marshall said, “They’re so long, it’s hard to get it into the middle against their zone, especially when they have [Terry] Larrier up at the top. He’s so long, it makes it difficult. We were getting some passes deflected, so we went to a different ball-screen offense against the zone. We got some pretty good looks. I know they also have the 1-3-1, where they put [Antwoine] Anderson at the foul line where he faces toward the baseline, which is unusual, but it’s been effective for them.”
Gilbert Holding Up
Alterique Gilbert, who will not play again this season and probably will have a third surgery on his left shoulder, “has been holding up great,” Ollie said. “It’s going to be a tough couple of weeks for him, rehabbing off away from the team a little bit. It’s just tough. I know God’s got him. I keep telling him that. I don’t know why God does certain things, but we’ve got to trust His plan. I think [Gilbert] is going to trust that and come back and have a phenomenal year next year.”
… UConn was expecting to get a final decision from the NCAA on Sidney Wilson’s eligibility appeal just after Christmas, but did not. The NCAA returns to the offices on Jan. 3, Ollie said, so the hope is a decision will come shortly after that. … UConn men’s basketball did not have a sellout all last season at either venue. The 15,564 at the XL Center Saturday was the program’s first sellout since February 2016 against SMU. … Former Husky Jonathan Mandeldove was at the game. … The Huskies, after having 31 turnovers in two games at Arizona and Auburn, cut it down to 11 against Wichita State, but still had more TOs than assists (nine). Jalen Adams had six assists.
Subscribe and listen to the UConn Insider Podcast