Archive - Dec 21, 2011
Player of the Week
Perhaps feeling a little overshadowed by his younger brother (who's making a lot of noise in Indiana); Tyler Zeller took it upon himself to explode Saturday against Appalachian State for 31 points. Granted, that's not exactly the best competition, but this performance is noteworthy nonetheless, and I've been meaning to give Zeller his due on this blog for a while now. The mobile 7-footer has a number of well-known weaknesses, but lately, there appears to have been a little progression. When describing Zeller, most of his critics will tell you that he lacks the toughness and aggressiveness to be a good defensive rebounder, and... this is still true. But Zeller has upped his rebounding average per 40 minutes from 10.3 a year ago to 11.7 this season. This is partially due to the added weight he's put on over the summer. Another improvement of Zeller’s has been his passing ability. I've always felt that Tyler was too skilled to not be at least an average passer, and it looks like he's finally becoming a bit more comfortable kicking the ball out when he gets double-teamed. In the 318 minutes he’s played this season, Zeller has recorded 15 assists. That's already half of the 30 assists he dished out in his previous 1,511 minutes of playing time (his entire junior and sophomore seasons combined). Oddly enough, 13 of his 15 assists this season have been in his last five games. He only had two assists in the previous seven. Hm. I don't know what caused this sudden bout of generosity (might be Christmas related), but I'm sure his teammates appreciate it. Regardless, it's nice to see Zeller starting to round out his game. Passing is a very underrated skill for offensive-minded bigs, and hopefully he can keep it up.
Though he's been a bit more erratic than Duke fans may be comfortable with, Austin Rivers has shown off an incredible amount of talent for the Blue Devils in his first (and possibly only) season. Rivers combines a lightning-quick first step with a super-sweet jump shot to annihilate defenders in one-on-one situations. In his last three games, Rivers has averaged 17.8 points on 47.1% shooting from the field and 47.3% shooting from behind the arc. The star freshman should only continue to improve offensively as the season progresses. But as with any freshman, there are several weaknesses in Rivers' game. His defense could stand to improve, as he was visibly overmatched when trying to guard Tony Wroten Jr. last Saturday. Experience and strength will be the key components to Rivers developing into a better defender, but I guess there's plenty of time for that. In the short-term he'll be more focused on scoring points to help his team win, a skill he’s already quite gifted at.
Player of the Week
Michael Kidd Gilchrist, Kentucky
The St. Patrick's product is beginning to erupt with conference play on the horizon. In his last three games Kidd-Gilchrist went for 17 and 11 versus North Carolina, 18 and 9 at Indiana and produced his best all around effort in a thrashing of Tennessee Chattanooga. He scored 17 points, pulled down 8 boards, assisted on 6 baskets, nailed 2 treys, converted on 7/8 at the charity stripe and added a block and a steal. Few players at the collegiate level, if any, possess the offensive and defensive versatility that MKG brings to the floor. Despite a raw offensive canvas, his overwhelming physical advantage over opposing SF's had led to 13 PPG on stellar 52% FG. As he continues to add strength and polish his ball handling, Kidd-Gilchrist is all but assured a spot in the 2012 lottery (currently projected at #10). Fellow freshman teammate Anthony Davis also deserves serious love for his seemingly"routine" 14 point, 18 rebound and 5 block effort versus UTC.
Dundrecous Nelson, Mississippi
With Jarvis Summers inheriting the starting point guard reigns, Dundrecous Nelson has assumed the role of lightning rod off the bench. The 5'11 gunner scored 40 points in 48 minutes this week (W vs ULL & L at USM), hitting 12/25 shots, 9/15 threes and 7/9 from the FT line. He's averaged 15 points and 2.6 three-point makes per game in seven games since exiting the starting lineup. The results are hit and miss, but when on his game Nelson is a prolific point compiler.
Malik Cooke, South Carolina
Cooke has been the most consistent performer for the youthful Gamecocks. He had a tremendously efficient two-game week, making 11/17 field goals and 12/13 free throws en route to 17.5 PPG. Thanks in large measure to Cooke, SC held a 4-point halftime edge over 2nd ranked Ohio State before relenquishing in the final twenty minutes. While his overall statistics aren't scintilating, he makes contributions in all phases: 47% FG, 78% FT, 2 offensive rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and a block per game. The 6'6 senior is a box score stuffer.
Hello readers, hope your Channukah was happy, your holidays are jolly and your basketball is FANTASTIC! Right now, college basketball is at a point where amazing happens until we get a nice NBA gift on Christmas, so let's break down the latest on NCAA Daily:
Syracuse Stays #1, Bucks Bucknell
(Donna Ditota/The Post-Standard The Post-Standard)