By Gary Parrish
They were sloppy at times -- full of questionable decisions and questionable shots. That'll have to improve. And it will. And when it does, watch out. Because after watching Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright play together for the first time (that's Boatright jumping over Napier at UConn's First Night this year) in the fourth-ranked Connecticut's 78-76 overtime win over No. 22 Florida State on Saturday, I'm pretty sure I'm ready to call the tiny playmakers the nation's most entertaining backcourt. What they lacked in composure they made up for with excitement. What they lack in experience they'll gain soon enough.
Napier spent the afternoon bombing away.
He hit six of 13 3-point attempts.
Boatright was crossing anybody and everybody.
He slashed into the lane almost at will.
They took turns playing with the ball and off the ball.
Both seemed mostly comfortable in either role.
Napier finished with 26 points and Boatright got 14 -- none of which were bigger than the three that came via free throws with 7.3 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the score and force overtime. It was the freshman's Darius Washington-moment, and he passed it with ease. These stakes were different than those stakes, sure; a bid to the NCAA tournament wasn't in the balance. This is November, not March. But it was still a pressure-packed moment considering this was a game featuring two ranked schools on national television, and Boatright handled it well.
"I was just thinking about winning," Boatright told CBSSports.com by phone. "I knew I had to make them."
Which is precisely what he did.
That it came in his college debut only made it more impressive.
Boatright, as you know, was caught accepting extra benefits from his summer coach before enrolling in college. The NCAA suspended him for six games. That forced him to miss UConn's first five ... plus Friday's loss to unranked UCF.
"It was tough sitting out," Boatright said. "No way to describe the feeling. Watching made me sick to my stomach."
But he won't have to watch anymore.
And he's going to make the Huskies a bigger problem than they otherwise would be in the Big East, because now Jim Calhoun has two dynamic ball-handlers to go with an All-American wing (Jeremy Lamb) and a pro big (Andre Drummond). Sprinkle in the pieces that are Alex Oriakhi, Tyler Olander, DeAndre Daniels and Roscoe Smith, and forget about how the Huskies look now. Think ahead to March and how they could look then.
The pieces are in place to compete for another title.
"We just got that last piece," Lamb told CBSSports.com by phone. "Boatright was great today. He gives us another ball-handler. So I don't know how long it's gonna take, but I think we'll get there. I think we're gonna get there."