Player of the Week
I don't know how many of you foresaw the Virginia Cavaliers cracking the top-25 AP rankings this season, but it actually happened last week. Point guard Jontel Evans, sophomore Joe Harris and sharp-shooter Sammy Zeglinski are all doing their part in this unexpectedly strong start to the season, and deserve their due credit. However, there is little doubt that the MVP of the 11-1 Cavaliers (currently the best record among ACC teams) is super-senior Mike Scott. The star power forward for Virginia has been particularly hot as of late, averaging 22.3 points per game over the last week, including a 33 point outburst against Seattle on Wednesday. In fact, he's scored a total of 50 points in his last two games, in a combined 52 minutes. More impressive than that, however, is his efficiency over his last five games. Scott is shooting 81.0% from the floor in the month of December. That is not a typo. He's made 34 of the 42 shots he's taken this month. He's also made both of his three-point attempts and 84.8% of his free-throws. With these kind of numbers, it's no wonder the Cavs are surging. While he can't play like this forever, Virginia seems like they could be just as competitive of a team in conference play this year. They have great size, good depth and a ridiculously efficient double-double machine in Mike Scott. They'll play at home against Miami on January 7th, and then get tested at Duke on the 12th.
Glen Rice Jr
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets won't be very intimidating to anybody in the ACC, but Glen Rice Jr. is quietly having season that teams should be taking note of. The 6'5" guard (and son of former NBA all-star, Glen Rice) is averaging 20.0 points on 56.5% shooting with 10.5 rebounds in his last two games. He's primarily been known as a defender during his career at Georgia Tech, but with Iman Shumpert having left for the NBA, we're getting to see Rice take on more scoring responsibility. What's really impressive is that this new role hasn't changed the way he approaches the game. He hustles, plays hard, attacks the glass and is a dynamic defender regardless of whether he's the first option on offense (like this season) or just a role-player off the bench (like in his freshman campaign). So regardless of how successful his team is over the next two seasons, you should expect to hear Rice's name in NBA draft discussions. There will always be room for players like him on a roster.
December 27, 2011
Welcome college basketball fans, hope you all had a fantastic Christmas! I know mine was filled with a lot of NBA action, which was just incredible to have back. There were not to many college basketball games that went on in the mean time, but I still have some solid news for you in this edition of NCAA Daily:
Player of the Week
Brad Beal, Florida
Beal has often been the best player on the court for the 11th ranked Gators, despite relatively unspectacular shooting for his standards. His versatility at 6'3, strength and defensive aptitude have been early season calling cards. He's now starting to heat up from the perimeter- a scary proposition for Florida's SEC opponents. Beal connected on 11/22 from the field and 7/12 three-pointers last week in wins over Mississippi Valley State and in-state rival Florida State for 17 PPG. He continues to rebound the rock at a fever pace, adding two more 6 board efforts to his 6.3 season clip. The thievery has not halted either with a 3-steal game versus FSU. His 36% from deep and 70% from the FT line will assuredly take an upwards spike as the year progresses. Thursday at Rutgers is the next test for Beal and the Gators.
Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State
The Bulldogs have reeled off 11-straight W's and stand atop the SEC at 12-1. Moultrie has been the catalyst. He notched his 4th consecutive double-double in impressive fashion during an 82-67 win over Northwestern State, scoring 24 points (8/11 FG & 8/8 FT), grabbing 14 rebounds (a ridiculous 11 offensive boards) and handing out 4 helpers. Other than block shots, the UTEP transfer has done EVERYTHING. He's no longer playing in a hurry, and as a result his athleticism and motor on the interior have been accompanied by efficiency: 18 PPG, 12 RPG, 58% FG, 88% FT and 1 SPG. Dee Bost is the Bulldogs engine, but Moultrie is the anchor.
Gerald Robinson, Georgia
Georgia's number one playmaker continues to play solid ball. In home triumphs over Mercer and Furman he averaged 16.5 points on 52% FG (11/21) and 9/10 FT makes. He dished out 9 assists against 4 turnovers, a ratio far superior to his 3.4:2.8 season mark. Robinson shoots 80% from the free throw stripe and is clearly at his best when attacking, yet for whatever reason phases in and out of aggression. The Bulldogs and their inept offense would greatly benefit from more opportunities at free points.
Player of the Week:
Kevin Jones 6'8 PF, West Virginia
What a turnaround for Jones, who underachieved as a junior despite having the table set for him with the departure of Devin Ebanks and Da’Sean Butler.
Averaging just a shade under 23 points and 13 rebounds over his last four games, Jones has been connecting on all cylinders, both as a scorer and on the glass. He’s settling for less jumpers, while simultaneously increasing his efficiency on the perimeter in the process.
Jones finished with 28 points, 17 rebounds and 1 turnover in a hard fought overtime loss to a much more talented Baylor team last week. He’s put his name in the running for conference player of the year as we approach league play, currently leading the Big East in scoring at 21 per game.
Last four games: 26 points, 6 assists… 14 points, 8 assists and 4 rebounds… 16 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds… 14 points, 4 assists… 11 points, 11 assists. Theo has increased his assist average by 3 as a senior, and currently leads the Big East in dishing at over 7 a game.
Shadily a great year for Young, who’s averaging 18 points and 5.7 assists over his last four. Young gets to dominate the ball for DePaul, and has put up impressive numbers as a result.
Jones leapfrogged Harrison Barnes on our board, after his 28 point masterpiece against BYU last week.
Jones was all over the place, using his athleticism and size to cause massive matchup problems for the defense. He knocked down both of his three point attempts, looking more and more like viable option on the pick and pop game.
December 23, 2011
It has been a busy holiday season for NCAA Basketball. While most students are home for the holidays, basketball season keeps right on moving with the end of most team's non-conference schedules and a few late pre-conference tournaments. Here is the latest NCAA Daily to break down the latest news and action:
Player of the Week
Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State
Thomas, a 6-foot-7 small forward, has made huge strides so far during his second year in Columbus. A lot can be said about the way he’s already stepped up in Jared Sullinger’s absence multiple times, but it’s the way he plays with Sullinger in the lineup that might be even more impressive. It’s not likely Thomas will post many 30-point performances like he did at South Carolina last Saturday, but the Buckeyes don’t need that with all their weapons.
Thomas, who averaged 20.3 points in three wins this week, is an ideal complement to Sullinger. He’s always available on the win for a three or can swoop in and keep a possession alive with a tip or rebound for an easy bucket. He’s shooting an impressive 54.7 percent this season, including 37.8 percent from beyond the arc and has made at least one 3-pointer in five straight games.
Thomas has a definite scorer’s mentality, and has only 13 assists in the Buckeyes’ 13 games after totaling just 17 all of last season. He sometimes takes it upon himself to score on the break rather than look for a teammate, but hey, but if it works for coach Thad Motta and No. 2 Ohio State, he must be doing something right. And you can’t argue with the results most of the time.
Evan Smotrycz, Michigan
A week and two games later, nothing much has changed for the Wolverines’ 6-9 sophomore forward, who averaged 18.5 points in two wins this past week. Smotrycz continues to light it up from everywhere, but he’s also upped his rebounding, posting double-doubles in both games. He didn’t grab more than seven in a game his entire freshman season. He’s not a real physical guy at 235 pounds but looks to be heading into the scrums down low a bit more this year. He needs to stay out of foul trouble, though. He’s fouled out of three games and leads the conference in fouls per game at more than three per game.
The Reading, Mass., native nailed 8-of-10 3-pointers and 11-of-16 shots overall this week. He’s now 15-of-19 in the past four games. 78.9 percent. That’s almost unheard of, but it did come against four opponents that came into last week ranking Nos. 163 (Bradley), 217 (Alabama A&M), 220 (Oakland) and 327 (Ark.-Pine Bluff) in 3-point percentage defense.
Smotrycz ranked just outside the Big Ten’s top 10 in 3-point field goal percentage at 38.1 last season. He’s hit 17-of-31 this season for 54.8 percent, nearly matching his overall field goal percentage of 56.2. More than 40 percent of his shots come from behind the arc.
Meyers Leonard, Illinois
The 7-1 sophomore is starting to get in a groove despite being double- and triple-teamed nearly every game. He’s posted double-doubles in three of his past four games, including a 14-point, 13-rebound performance Thursday as the Illini nearly knocked off No. 9 Missouri after trailing by 13 in the second half.
Devyn Marble, Iowa
The Hawkeyes quietly closed their non-conference slate with three straight wins this past week, and Marble was a big reason why. The 6-5 sophomore guard and son of Roy Marble, Iowa’s all-time leading scorer, has started the past five games for Iowa. He might stay there after a largely ineffective Bryce Cartwright was briefly sidelined with a hamstring injury. Marble’s reent play prompted coach Fran McCaffery to comment, “he’s becoming the complete player he can be.”
Marble has a knack for getting to the free-throw line. He went 21-of-25 from the line and averaged 15.7 points and 5.3 assists in this week’s trio of games. He’s not a long-range shooter, making just 3-of-12 3s this year, but is good off the dribble and a solid distributor for a team that desperately needs one.