Archive - Jan 12, 2012 - Blog entry
Player of the Week
It's that wonderful time of year again. The time that basketball turns into a scrum of turnovers, fouls and ugly, UGLY play. Everything becomes twice as competitive and three times as exciting for basketball junkies like myself. It's ACC play and a whole new season (cliché ahead) where the real stars come out to shine. Early results are in (game one, at least), and things look promising for CJ Leslie. The freakishly athletic forward has been featured on this blog several times (as both hot and cold), but seems to be responding well to the higher intensity of conference play. He played with a much better effort than he was earlier in the season and it showed on the stat-sheet. He put up 20 points and 11 rebounds in his team's win against Maryland on Sunday. The improved rebounding is a good sign, as he only averaged 6.2 rebounds during non-conference play, and that's extremely disappointing for a player with his athletic ability. Though billed as a combo-forward, I'm convinced that his position both now and in the future is in the post. While thin for the position, he's a monster around the hoop and will be an easy alley-oop target if paired with a quality point guard at the next level. In the meantime, the Wolfpack is a much better team when Leslie is dominating, so they'll be hoping he can keep this up.
UNC's star center is also responding well to conference play. In the Tar Heels' two conference games (both wins), Zeller has averaged 18.0 points on 60.9% shooting from the floor, along with 9.0 rebounds per game. This kind of production is fairly typical from Zeller, and it will have to continue if the Tar Heels want to make a deep postseason run. Zeller's size is a very important asset for the team, especially when they’re playing ACC opponents. Bigs often seem to be what separates the upper-tier teams in the conference from the lower-tier teams. While I don’t think UNC is a lower-tier team with or without Zeller, a offensive big like that provides a huge advantage against teams like Boston College and Virginia Tech that don’t have an answer for him. This is a luxury only a few ACC teams possess.