UConn's Napier struggling with consistency

Point guard Shabazz Napier failed to score on Monday, even though UConn rallied past West Virginia 64-57.
Point guard Shabazz Napier failed to score on Monday, even though UConn rallied past West Virginia 64-57. Sean D. Elliot/The Day Buy Photo

Storrs — UConn rallied for a big win Monday without its starting point guard scoring even one point.

Shabazz Napier went scoreless for the first time since last season, missing all six shots in a 64-57 win over West Virginia.

"Is that a good thing?" coach Jim Calhoun said Thursday of UConn winning despite Napier's offensive struggles. "It's not good for my blood pressure, I know that much."

It's doubtful that No. 17 UConn (13-3, 3-2) will be able to survive at Notre Dame (11-6, 3-1) Saturday without Napier being a factor on offense.

The Huskies need the sophomore, who's second on the team in scoring (13.8 ppg.), to produce points on a regular basis.

Check out Napier's rollercoaster scoring results in the last seven games: 3, 24, 4, 17, 6, 23, 0.

"Generally speaking, he's been pretty good," Calhoun said. "I can't rely upon a freshman to get 20 as we did with Andre (Drummond) the other night. I know Shabazz can do that. … We've just got to get him more consistent to go with everybody else."

Napier is content with filling the role as playmaker, ranking third in the Big East at 6.3 assists per game.

He didn't even realize that he failed to score Monday.

"I don't care, to be honest," Napier said. "I don't look at how much I score, I look at how much we score. Sometimes they go in, sometimes they don't. I'm not worried about my shots not going in."

Olander questionable

UConn sophomore forward Tyler Olander is questionable for Saturday's game. He missed the last two practices with a right heel contusion.

His injury occurred against West Virginia. He's considered day-to-day.

"Tyler's heel is really, really sore," Calhoun said.

After starting the first seven games, he's been the top frontcourt reserve in the last nine games, averaging 6.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.

If Olander sits out, sophomore Roscoe Smith will move into his spot in the rotation.

"Roscoe has looked very good in practice," Calhoun said.

Calhoun is making a change to the starting lineup, replacing Niels Giffey at small forward with freshman DeAndre Daniels.

Wake-up call

The morning start — Saturday's game tips off at 11 a.m. — just gives Calhoun another thing to complain about. "I'm not crazy about it," Calhoun said. "I'll continue to say it is a bad idea for everybody involved."

Notre Dame coach Mike Brey feels differently.

He figures they usually run practice in the morning during semester break so there isn't much of an adjustment.

"I don't think it should be a factor," Brey said.

News and notes

Former Farmington High School standout Tim Abromaitis, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in November, is making a contribution from the sidelines. "He's been great," Brey said. "The team and staff, we were more depressed than him. He picked us up. He's been very good about talking to the guys." … UConn leaves today for South Bend. A winter storm warning is in effect there into tonight.

g.keefe@theday.com

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