25 January 2009

TANZANIA : Thabeet helps Connecticut shut down Notre Dame

Tanzanian Hasheem Thabeet put into another virtuoso performance to help Connecticut Huskies beat Notre Dame 67-61 in US College Basketball League match over the weekend. The Connecticut’s junior center scored 9 points, made 11 rebounds and 5 blocks.

Though on paper his stats don’t look particularly crucial, the numbers don’t come close to describing his contribution. The 7-foot-3 Thabeet and his 7-foot-9 wingspan altered at least as many shots as he blocked, leaving the Irish and their star forward Luke Harangody visibly frustrated at times with their inability to go inside.
“I think Hash’s presence may not show up in five blocked shots,” Connecticut Coach Jim Calhoun said. “It showed up in the fact that terrific players missed shots from point-blank range. They won’t miss those shots again. His presence does that to you. "Every time someone penetrated, they were looking for him.”

It could hardly be said that UConn stopped the nation’s fifth-leading scorer, Harangody, who finished with a game-high 24 points. But Thabeet came away satisfied with his performance. “We talked some after the game,” Thabeet said. “He was more experienced than me last year. “Playing against Roy Hibbert and all the other guys last year really helped me,”

Thabeet added about the former Georgetown center Hibbert. “I didn’t go out and say Luke is not going to score today.” If the inside presence of Thabeet and the senior forward Jeff Adrien (19 rebounds) wasn’t the difference between the teams, it was a large part of it, which was why Calhoun was also frustrated, as his team had 14 3-point attempts in the first half.
“Excitement kind of won over composure,” Calhoun said. “That’s not how we win games. Not when you have Hasheem and Jeff.” It was another marvellous performance by the young Tanzanian basketball player, after he had done it the week before when he managed 15 points and 17 rebounds as Connecticut defeated Seton Hall 76-61.

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