VegasInsider.com
VI Mobile Scores and Betting OddsVI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds Be Social
Home
NFL
NBA
NHL
MLB
NCAA FB
NCAA BK
Golf
Auto
Horses
Soccer
Fantasy Sports
More
Betting Tools

 
Boatright feeds off defensive disruption

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Ryan Boatright plays defense like a personal-space-invading bully, getting into his opponent's chest, bumping him around, chopping at his arms, tangling up his feet.

Advertisement
It can be uncomfortable, infuriating, definitely disruptive - and that's just the way the UConn junior guard likes it.

''I know going into the game if I can make him uncomfortable and irritate him, to any point, or get him fatigued, it's going to lead to mistakes,'' Boatright said.

Boatright has done plenty of that so far in the NCAA tournament, helping put the Huskies within one win of their fourth national championship.

At 6-foot, 168 pounds, the versatile guard is often one of the smallest players on the court. He makes up for it with tenacity and a strength well beyond his size, muscling opposing point guards out of position and their comfort zones.

Boatright was at his disruptive best in the national semifinals Saturday night in a 63-53 win over Florida, hounding Gators point guard Scottie Wilbekin into his worst offensive game of the season.

Fighting over screens like it meant his survival and practically gluing his chest to Wilbekin's, Boatright helped hold the SEC's player of the year to four points on 2-of-9 shooting while committing three turnovers. Wilbekin had to battle through cramps in the Final Four game, but Boatright's tenacity may have had something to do with that, too.

Overall, Florida had 11 turnovers and just three assists - just one coming after the opening two baskets of the game.

''That's crazy,'' Wilbekin said. ''That's not usually what we do. All credit goes to them and their guards and the way they were denying and putting pressure on us.''

The victory over the Gators put UConn in the national championship game Monday night against Kentucky, a chance to win the program's fourth title on the line.

Boatright has gone through some difficult times to get here.

Early in his career, he was talented but inconsistent and sometimes stubborn, not always willing to do what the coaches wanted without a fight.

In January, his cousin, 20-year-old Arin Williams, was shot to death in Boatright's hometown of Aurora, Ill. The cousins grew up in the same household and were like brothers, so the news hit Boatright hard and he went through a funk.

''As much as I love playing basketball, I just didn't care anymore,'' he said.

Eventually, Boatright got through it and went back to teaming with 6-1 Shabazz Napier in the nation's best small-guy backcourt.

Napier has been the unquestioned leader of this team, but Boatright's versatility has allowed the senior to do what he does.

Both guards can play either position and spend time in practice learning the demands of both. When Napier runs the point, Boatright easily slides into the shooting guard spot. If Napier is out of the game or playing the 2-guard, Boatright seamlessly runs the show.

Boatright averages 12 points, 3.3 assists and 3.2 rebounds, and has had some big games in the NCAA tournament, including 13-point, six-rebound performance against Florida.

''Ryan Boatright has done a 360,'' UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. ''If anybody had seen him his sophomore year to know, it's like night and day, him being a facilitator, making people better. That's what you do. That's how you mature as a basketball player, that's how you mature as a man.''

Next up for Boatright is a huge challenge: Stopping Kentucky's athletic twin guards, Aaron and Andrew Harrison.

They've been a handful for teams throughout the NCAA tournament, particularly Aaron, who has hit game-winning shots in three straight games, including a long 3-pointer with 5.7 seconds left to knock off Wisconsin in the national semifinals.

''I ain't going to reveal all my secrets, but I'm going to do my best to turn them up and down the floor, try to make them uncomfortable,'' Boatright said. ''(I'll) just try to get up in them and be a little physical with them.''

Boatright has been successful with the approach so far in the NCAA tournament. If he can do it again against Kentucky, the Huskies could be NCAA champions again.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

  
HEADLINES
Edwards: Grading Coaching Hires
Coppin State to hire Juan Dixon as coach
Martin, Staley extended at S. Carolina
Gonzaga's Williams gauges draft interest
NC State coach Keatts signs new deal
UCLA freshman Anigbogu hires agent
Tyus Edney to be assistant under Alford
Ole Miss adds grad transfer Crawford
G Jalen Brunson returning to Villanova
MORE HEADLINES
 
Why Buy Picks From VegasInsider.com
NCAA BK College Basketball Expert Handicapper Sports Picks Records
VegasInsider.com Gold Membership
2016 CBK SEASON PICK RECORDS
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Bruce Marshall + 6584
NeiltheGreek + 3892
Don Anthony + 2089
Last 7 Day Leaders
Handicapper Money
No Games Last 7 Days  
   
   
Percentage Leaders
Handicapper Pct
Michael Black 58 %
Don Anthony 57 %
Bruce Marshall 57 %
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Scott Rickenbach + 1160
Michael Black + 1073
The Gold Sheet + 1042
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
NeiltheGreek + 6151
Bruce Marshall + 1449
Antony Dinero + 1297
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Bruce Marshall + 2562
NeiltheGreek + 2081
Dave Cokin + 1548
MORE PICK RECORDS
  
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!
VI Gold Membership