Archive - Feb 2011
Player of the Week
The pre-season consensus top overall NBA prospect in college basketball is finally producing, and he's doing it in a big way. We've already seen his clutch heroics propel North Carolina to the upper echelon of the ACC standings over the last few weeks. He made the late triple that put the Tar Heels in the lead against the Clemson Tigers, scored 8 points in the final few minutes in a victory against Virginia Tech and then hit the game-winning three against Miami with 6.6 seconds left. That's a handful of ACC magic. This week, there has been no need for his sweaty late-game touch, as he's putting the Tar Heels in the lead by comfortable margins. The Black Falcon (sick nickname, by the way) is averaging 25.5 points (61%) in only 26 minutes in his last two games, with 6 rebounds per, just to add to good measure. He's been utilizing skill (step-back jumpers and catch-and-shoot opportunities) with hustle (put-backs and fast-break points) to produce like many of us expected him to before the season started. His court demeanor is rock-solid, and he hasn't had to resort to selfishness to put points on the board. On top of all this, his defense has been superb. He shows great intensity and good fundamentals. He makes mistakes on this end of the floor, but the effort he puts into closing out and crashing the boards give him a lot of potential in this area. Confidence is obviously a factor for Barnes, and you could tell by seeing the huge smile on his face for the duration of last Saturday's game against North Carolina State. If he can keep his confidence up, then he turns into one of the most potent weapons in the ACC and North Carolina becomes a much better team.
The Other North Carolina Tar Heels
The Black Falcon has been putting in work, but he isn't the only one. After all, it takes a team effort to beat the North Carolina State Wolfpack and the Boston College Eagles by a combined 52 points. Let's start by looking at Kendall Marshall, who recently replaced the struggling Larry Drew II (Drew left the program on Friday, possibly due to playing time concerns) in the starting lineup. Marshall is second in the ACC in assist/turnover ratio at 2.4. UNC is undefeated since Marshall has been starting, and even though his statistics don't jump out at you, Marshall is a very talented playmaker who fits in well with the Tar Heel’s starting lineup. Then in the frontcourt, is Super Noodle Boy John Henson. Henson had a career game against North Carolina State with 16 points, 16 rebounds and 7 blocked shots. Henson's ridiculous length, agility and bounce help make him the top shot blocker in the ACC (3.0). He teams up with 7'0" center Tyler Zeller to make the Tar Heels the best rebounding team in the conference. The two are slight-of-frame but mobile enough to beat opposing frontcourts in transition and long enough to challenge shots around the rim. North Carolina's roster matches up well against the rest of the ACC, but this week they will be tested. They face Florida State at home on Sunday and then play at Duke on Wednesday. These two games should be very telling. Don't miss 'em.
Player of the Week
In what was generally a straight beatdown Sunday afternoon at the Garden, senior guard Dwight Hardy lead the Johnnies to a 93-78 win over Duke, scoring 26 points on 9-13 shooting from the floor. Hardy helped Steve Lavin earn his first true signature win at St. Johns, who hadn’t beaten Duke in their last seven meetings leading up to Sunday’s matinee. Hardy followed his 26 point performance with a 15 point game in a win over Rutgers on Wednesday.
Player of the Week
Dee Bost, Mississippi State
Prior to Bost's return on January 8th, the Bulldogs were thoroughly non-competitive. Controversy was their only path to headline news, and team chemistry was a distant memory. By no means is this MSU club suddenly tournament caliber, but as they proved this week, with their leader back in the fold they are now a dangerous foe. In a tough seven-point defeat vs. Vanderbilt (led by four at half) Bost scored 18 points, albeit on 5-16 FG and 3-10 from downtown, with 6 assists 5 rebounds, 5-5 FT and just two turnovers. He followed up that effort by guiding the way to a 71-64 upset win over red hot Florida, scoring 24 points on 8-14 FG, 4-8 treys and 4-5 FT, dishing out 5 assists against one turnover and grabbing 3 boards. Bost has quickly regained sophomore season form, and has nearly single-handedly transformed Mississippi State into a .500 team in the SEC.
The Razorbacks shot 57% from the field in a stunning 89-78 road victory at Vanderbilt (13-point underdogs). Rotnei Clarke, who had been producing reserved efforts for the better part of a month, finally put forth one of his trademark explosions. Clarke scored 36 points in 33 minutes, knocking down 12-16 field goals, 6-8 trifectas and 6-7 from the charity stripe. Given the quality of competition, this performance likely supersedes his 51-point outburst (15-21 FG, 13-17 3PT) to open the 2009-2010 season vs. Alcorn State. However, his teammate Michael Sanchez didn’t allow him to steal the show entirely. After missing well over a full season with chronic foot problems, Sanchez's 9th game back in the rotation was a momentous one. He scored a career-high 20 points on 8-12 shooting, adding 3 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal. His 33 minutes of action doubled his previous season-high court time of 14. Despite a 14-6 overall mark and 4-3 in conference play, Arkansas remains in a precarious position with an 82