Archive - 2011 - Blog entry
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
Pac-10 “Player of the Week”
The week long war of words between Washington point guard Isaiah Thomas and Klay Thompson added even more fuel to the fire for this mid-season rivalry game. In front of a frenzied crowd Thompson and the Washington State Cougars ended their drought against the Washington Huskies with a convincing 87-80 victory. Thompson scored 25 points on 9 of 18 shooting from the floor and 3 of 6 from behind the three point line. He also contributed 2 rebounds, 4 assists, a block and 5 steals while breaking out of a personal slump against the Huskies. This was a must have game for the Cougars within the Pac-10 Conference and as a resume builder for NCAA Tournament consideration.
Player of the Week
For the second time in two weeks, a Big Ten player recorded a triple-double. Josh Gasser finished with 10 point, 10 assists, and 12 rebounds against Northwestern. Darius Morris had a similar 12 points, 10 assists, and 10 rebound stat line on Sunday against Iowa. As impressive as that game is for Morris, it might not have been his best game of the week. Michigan went into East Lansing having not beaten Michigan State there since 1997, and Darius Morris led the Wolverines to victory over the Spartans. He finished with 17 points on 7-10 shooting, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals. While the stat line itself might not appear to be greater than his game against Iowa, his points and assists Morris directly contributed to 39 of the team’s 61 points on the night. The one assist he recorded per create does not do his performance justice when so many of his assists went from three points. Morris has had a number of big games this year, but none were bigger than his game on Thursday night.
The week started for Morris with a team meeting where the players acknowledged that they had not been playing as hard as they could have been. The team had lost six games in a row, and the team appeared to be regressing. Those two games showed how good Michigan can play. Next week’s road games at Ohio State and Penn State take the challenge of the team to the next level.
Talor Battle’s big second half
Ed DeChellis was 0-12 against Wisconsin since taking the Penn State job, and when down 29-20 to the Badgers appeared headed towards 0-13. Then, Talor Battle dropped in 20 of his 22 points in the second half while also adding 4 rebounds and an assist to lift the Nittany Lions to 5-4 in conference play. After struggling to a 1-5 shooting half, he finished 7-16 shooting. The win over Wisconsin capped off a big week for Penn State and Battle. Earlier in the week, Battle put in 23 points on 8-13 shooting in a 65-51 win over Iowa. At 4-1 at home in league play, Penn State is keeping itself in the mix for an NCAA bid. They have put together three good wins against Michigan State, Illinois, and Wisconsin to go with a solid non-conference win over now 15-5 Duquesne. They are probably still a long shot to make the real run for a tournament bid with the schedule they have remaining, but with 68 teams they have a better chance than two years ago.
Player of the Week
Player of the Week
Less than a week after crowning Iman Shumpert my ACC Co-Player of the Week, he goes and gives statisticians everywhere hand cramps with a triple-double explosion in last Tuesdays victory over Virginia Tech. On Tuesday, Georgia Tech was hosting a game against a very good Virginia Tech opponent. They were coming off a loss at Virginia, but had won their two previous home games against North Carolina and Wake Forest in an impressive fashion. I'll let the 6'5" junior tell the rest of his story with his unreal stat line of 22 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists and 7 steals. Shumpert also took control of one of the best scorers in the ACC, Malcolm Delaney, holding him to a season low 8 points on 3 of 11 shooting. Shumpert also forced Delaney into 8 turnovers. With Delaney getting eaten alive, the Hokies didn't stand a chance, falling 72-57 to the suddenly respectable Yellow Jackets. Shumpert still has his weaknesses. His efficiency/shot selection is questionable, and his attitude has been considered a red flag by some. The potential is there though. He has good size with long arms. He's quick, explosive and powerful enough to be effective on both ends of the floor. If he can put it all together then he'll be a great NBA prospect.
Whether you choose to include Kyrie Irving or not, there is no denying that Duke's backcourt is one of the strongest in the nation. Nolan Smith, Seth Curry and Andre Dawkins along with hybrid forward Kyle Singler give Duke a great chance to repeat as national champions this season. However, they have a weakness and it's the overall depth of their frontcourt. The Plumlees are athletic and doing some things well, but alone they can't make up for the departures of flop-wizard Lance Thomas and lumberjack Brian Zoubek. Where, oh where will they find a little depth? Enter 6'11" Ryan Kelly, the skinny sophomore sharpshooter who's suddenly becoming a very helpful role player for Coach K and the Blue Devils. His averages on the season are very modest (18.7 mpg, 7.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg) but recently he's seen a great improvement, averaging 28.3 minutes, 15 points and 6 rebounds a game in his last three games. He's been very efficient during this period, shooting 84% from the floor and 80% (8/10) from behind the arc. What Kelly does on the offensive end is open up the court. A big man with such a potent shooting stroke requires attention, which gives Dawkins, Smith and Singler more space to penetrate. Defensively, Kelly's length provides a good shot-blocking presence (1.6 blocks in 18.7 minutes a game). Overall, Kelly is becoming more important than we thought he would be earlier in the season. He's been a pleasant surprise for Duke, and they surely hope he can continue to make a significant impact.
Player of the Week
Ben Hansbrough, G, Notre Dame
Hansbrough put up 28 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists in a win over Marquette, and followed with a 19 point, 7 assist 4 rebound performance in a win at Pittsburgh. He put the Panthers away with a spin move in the lane and a finish at the rim, showing the national television audience that he's more than just an underappreciated little brother who can only shoot from the outside.
Player of the Week
Lance Goulbourne, Vanderbilt
The 6'8 junior from Brooklyn, NY has been invaluable to the Commodores 14-4 mark. Since entering the starting lineup on December 8th he's scored nearly 10 points and grabbed nearly 10 boards a night. In Vanderbilt's two wins this week over Mississippi and St. Mary's CA he averaged 14.5 points, 13 rebounds and 3.5 assists (3 turnovers), draining two threes and 11 of 13 free throw attempts. He notched a pair of double-doubles this week, the first two of his collegiate career. A solid athlete with tremendous versatility, length and quick leaping ability, Goulbourne is finally playing a role that suits his strengths. His reputation as a three-pointer marksman is quickly fading as he continues to make massive forward strides in his all-around game. On a negative note, while he's making plays, his ball handling woes are peaking. Goulbourne has committed 14 turnovers in his last four outings.
Tony Mitchell, Alabama
Mitchell has quietly produced a big time season and deserves more national recognition. The Tide's frontcourt, spearheaded by Mitchell and JaMychal Green, has turned the fortunes of Alabama's season. They've won 7 of 8 contests including a home victory over Kentucky and road win at Auburn this week. In the two triumphs Mitchell scored 15 points per game on 12/20 shooting (60%) from the field and 3/7 from behind the arc, tallying 6.5 boards, 2.5 steals and a block. The 6'6 small forward is all over the court and his athleticism never fails to wreck at least a segment of the game. His defensive prowess leads to fast break offense, where he and his teammates excel. The Tide has an excellent chance to reach 6-1 in conference play with home bouts versus LSU and Mississippi State upcoming.
Honorable Mention: Sam Muldrow, South Carolina- 21.5 points (61% FG), 10.5 rebounds, 4.5 blocks and 3 three-pointers.
Player of the Week
Co-Players of the Week
Glen Rice Jr/Iman Shumpert
No, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are not a good team. In fact, they rank among the Mike Scott-less Virginia Cavaliers and the ACC-bomination Wake Forest Demon Deacons at the bottom of the barrel. That's why I'm so impressed they managed to win their last two games against North Carolina and Wake Forest by 20 and 35 points respectively. Now for a team that came into the week with a 7-8 overall record, that's not too bad. Hardly bad at all, I would say. All (and I mean ALL) credit goes to the scrappy duo of Glen Rice Jr and Iman Shumpert. Glen Rice Jr. has always been a favorite of mine. At this point in his collegiate career, he's a radical role player (hey, I just watched Brink!, alright?). His shooting ability isn't off the charts, but he's adequate enough to be the best shooter on his team. He's also a talented defender, an unselfish passer, he runs the floor well, and rebounds at a high rate for a 6'5" guard. He's a jack of all trades. His partner, junior Iman Shumpert, is playing just as well. This season, he leads his team in points per game (16.4), rebounds (5.5), assists (3.4) and steals (2.6). Though his stats on the season are good, both he and Rice turned it up a notch. Bam! (I'm watching too much TV.) In their two wins this week, Rice and Shumpert have combined for, get this, 47.5 points a game on 63% shooting. It's hard to lose when your two best players put up those kind of numbers. Provided neither player declares for the draft this season (and they would be wise not to), the future of the Yellow Jackets isn't all too bleak.
Malcolm Delaney and Jeff Allen get a lot of credit for the success of the Virginia Tech Hokies, and rightfully so. However, there's another player on the team who should also be getting recognition for his play this season, and that's sophomore Erick Green. At the beginning of the season many people pegged Virginia Tech as the second best team in the ACC and a top 25 team in the nation, but things were looking down after a 4-4 start in a tough non-conference schedule. Due to injuries, Erick Green was named the starting point guard against Penn State, despite only scoring 2 points in his previous game. Since he's been named a starter, Green has scored double digits in all nine games and the Hokies have a 8-1 record during his tenure as a starter. On the season, the 6'4" guard offers another solid scorer (10.4 points per game), another ball-handler to pair with Delaney (2.2 assists) and a great in-zone defender (2.1 steals). He's coming off a career high 24 points on 12 of 16 shooting in a 17 point win at Maryland. Green is a fantastic role player, and he's helping the Hokies play at the high level that we all knew they were capable of.