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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Shabazz Napier: ‘I gotta question some of these guys’ heart.’

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Shabazz Napier (US Presswire)

For much of UConn's stunning nosedive from the preseason top five to the fringes of the at-large picture, the Huskies have been in denial about the downward trajectory of their season.

On Saturday, we moved on to the part of the process when the defending national champs begin blaming each other for what's gone wrong.

Following a 79-64 home loss to Marquette that dropped UConn to 16-10 overall and 6-8 in Big East play, point guard Shabazz Napier lashed out at his teammates for not caring as much as they should. Napier told Hearst Connecticut's Kevin Duffy, "I hate to say it, but I gotta question some of these guys' heart."

"It looked out there like we gave up at the end," Napier added. "It's tough for me to say that because we're a great team."

[ Related: Tom Gugliotta, Chris Corchiani ordered to leave N.C. State game by notoriously prickly referee ]

"Some guys get punched and want to throw a pillow at somebody. You're not supposed to throw pillows back, you're supposed to make a 3-pointer or lock up on defense, do the necessary things to get a win. Right now, we're not doing that."

Napier certainly is correct that UConn lacked the sense of urgency expected from a team fighting for its NCAA tournament lives. The Huskies fell behind double figures in the first half and never made much of a counter-punch, even getting out-rebounded by a Marquette team that was without its top two post players.

The problem with what Napier said, however, is he went to the media with his frustration. Napier has insisted he wants to be the leader UConn lacks with Kemba Walker in the NBA and Jim Calhoun on medical leave, but he has to know better than to publicly assign blame on his teammates.

Many have been reticent to give up on UConn because of how last year's team rebounded from a 9-9 Big East season to win five games in five days at Madison Square Garden and then six more in the NCAA tournament. This year's Huskies certainly have the talent to make a similar comeback, but between their lack of effort on the court and their frustration with each other off of it, it's hard to imagine it happening.

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