STORRS, Conn. – The true measure of a player’s success is not based solely upon the performance from any one given night, but also on that player’s ability bounce back from a poor performance. In the Big East opener against Marquette on Jan. 1, Connecticut’s DeAndre Daniels may have had his worst game this season, warranting only 17 minutes of playing time for the starting power forward.
However, in Tuesday’s 99-78 lopsided victory over DePaul, Daniels proved that he was better than his last game, scoring a career-high 26 points and grabbing eight rebounds. Against Marquette, he only had one rebound and that’s why he spent so much time on the bench with coach Kevin Ollie.
“He blamed nobody, he put it on himself that I was right and if I’m right or wrong, so be it, he went out and played today,” Ollie said Tuesday. “And that’s how you get over bad situations… you keep moving on. He did a hell of a job today and I’m very proud of him.”
Daniels was active on both sides of the floor against DePaul with four of his eight rebounds being offensive. There was a lot of talk during the week about the situation with Daniels losing playing time to Niels Giffey during the Marquette game, but an extra focus on rebounding in practice seemed to do him a lot of good.
“I wasn’t angry,” said Daniels about his performance at Marquette. “I just came back working even harder, boxing out and just trying to rebound because obviously if you rebound, you’re going to play a lot of minutes.”
His hard work paid off as he tied Shabazz Napier with a game-high eight rebounds. His point production is always a plus when he is giving the Huskies a much needed third scoring option.
“DeAndre came back and played the way I expect him to play,” Ollie said. “I know I’m going to get points from Shabazz, I know I’m going to get points from [Ryan] Boatright. I can pretty much mark that down that they’re going to get double figures on most nights. It just gives us an extra dimension to have him score like he wanted to score. Not just out there playing, he wanted to score. Hopefully it’s not just a moment. Hopefully we can get this over a consistent period of time.”
Another highlight for Daniels was his matchup against DePaul’s Cleveland Melvin. One of the leading scorers in the Big East, Melvin averages just over 16 points per game Tuesday, Melvin scored 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting, had five rebounds, five blocks and three turnovers. A majority of his scoring came in the second half however, as Daniels held him to seven points on 3-of-6 shooting in the first. Melvin had his hands full guarding Daniels.
“We wanted him to stop Melvin as much as possible,” Napier said of Daniels. “But we also told him, ‘Melvin has to stop you.’ ”
DePaul had little success with that.
“I just wanted to be more aggressive, stop shooting so many threes and take it to the rack and get easy layups and dunks,” Daniels said.
And that turned out to be a good formula for the Huskies.