Archive - Mar 2012 - Blog entry
It has been, for the most part, a largely forgettable 2011-12 college basketball season for the Pac 12 Conference. But the NCAA tournament selection committee's decision to include just 2 teams (Colorado and California) and leave out the regular season champion Washington Huskies (14-4) was a huge slap in the face to the Conference (especially with a team like BYU getting in).
Player of the Week
From an NBA draft standpoint, Zeller has greatly raised his stock by becoming a better rebounder, a more polished defender and a smarter passer. It's refreshing to see a prospect that understands his weaknesses and uses his time at school to actually make himself a better player. The fact that Zeller has raised his field-goal shooting percentage and his point, rebound, assist, block and steal averages every single season of his college career is a great testament to his strong work ethic and willingness to improve. He capped off the regular season by scoring 19 points (9/11 from the floor) and pulling down 10 rebounds in an 88-70 blowout win at Duke. Not bad. Maybe it doesn't live up to the 30-point, 20-made free-throw standard that he set in his previous game (win against Maryland on Wednesday), but it did help his team win the regular-season title over their rivals. Anyway, Zeller was recently named the ACC Player of the Year, and it's hard to make a case for anybody else with the way he's been producing lately. If he can carry his recent play into the postseason, then UNC has at least a good chance of winning a national championship.
I remember writing about Ian Miller last summer. Florida State wasn't a good offensive team the previous season, and after losing Chris Singleton to the NBA, they needed a new go-to scorer. Miller was a freak athlete and a quality shooter with a year under his belt. It appeared that he would have every opportunity to break out this season. While he didn't become a go-to scorer (not yet, anyway), he is averaging a respectable 10.8 points per game this year and did perform like a hero in last week's FSU/Virginia matchup. Miller scored 15 points in the second half, including the last second tie-breaking triple, to help FSU come back from a double-digit deficit to defeat the Cavaliers and clinch a first-round bye in the ACC tournament. This was only the latest in a series of clutch performances from FSU players. Forward Michael Snaer hit a buzzer-beating three in January to give the Seminoles a victory at Duke. He did it again a few weeks later, making a three with 2.6 seconds left to give his team a 48-47 win against Virginia Tech. Florida State is consistently a great defensive team, and there's little doubt they'll be taking that ability into the tournament with them. If Miller and Snaer are providing offense to go along with that, then FSU becomes a sleeper team.
Player of the Week
Maalik Wayns, Villanova
Wayns played well this week, going for 18 and 8 assists in a win over DePaul, and 26 and 5 in a tough loss to Cincy. He shot a combined 8-13 from downtown during the stretch, and if the Wildcats could stop anybody from scoring, they might have gotten two wins this week instead of one.
Jae Crowder, Marquette
Big 12 Player of the Year:
Thomas Robinson, Kansas
Absolutely dominated college basketball this season. His 18.0 and 11.9 rebounds per game brought Kansas yet another Big 12 regular season crown, and have him in the running for 2012 National Player of the Year.
Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year:
Jeff Withey, Kansas
Player of the Week
Robbie Hummel, Purdue
The Boilermakers have played themselves into the NCAA tournament despite some big-time adversity, and Hummel is the reason why. Purdue handed Michigan its only home loss of the season Saturday, then demolished Penn State 8-56 on Wednesday. Over the past four games, Hummel’s averaging 23.7 points and 9.8 rebounds as Purdue has gone 4-1. He’s shot 47.8 percent in that span. Despite that mark, he’s still only shooting 40.9 percent from the field this season, the lowest mark of his career. His rebounding is at 7.0 per game, matching his career high.
Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State
Averaged 21 points and 8.5 rebounds in two games this past week, a home loss against Wisconsin and a road win at Northwestern when teammate Jared Sullinger hit a game-winning shot. Thomas shot 17-of-30 from the field this past week, continuing his torrid percentage that now is at 53.0 percent, which ranks eighth in the Big Ten.
Meyers Leonard, Illinois
The 7-1 sophomore continues to be one of the lone bright spots for the Illini, who have collapsed down the stretch. He’s averaged 17 points and 9.3 rebounds in his past three games, two losses and a win. He’s getting quality looks, shooting 20 of 36 (55.5 percent) in the same span. For the season, he’s at 13.4 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, 11.3 points and 6.9 rebounds per game better than last season.
Player of the Week
Ryan Kelly hasn't been the top performer in the ACC this week, but he's been a nice contributor for Duke throughout the year and I wanted the chance to talk about him before the season came to an end. I figured this would be the best chance I had to do so, as he's coming off a career-high 23 points scored in a win against Wake Forest. For the past three and a half months, Kelly's been more of a luxury than anything else. He's maybe the third or fourth scoring option on the team. He provides the roster with a little more size and doesn't hurt the team by making a lot of mistakes. My point is that he's a good player, but not exactly the biggest cog in Duke's system. However, his usefulness could skyrocket this weekend if the stars align. Let me explain: Duke has the top record in the ACC (13-2). North Carolina is right behind them (12-2) and could tie that record with a win against Maryland on Wednesday. Should UNC win, the regular season title would come down to the UNC/Duke matchup on Saturday. If there's one thing that makes Duke a better team than UNC, it's their perimeter shooting. In their previous matchup (which Duke won), the Blue Devils made 14 three pointers (including one at the buzzer). The Tar Heels just made one. Ryan Kelly gives Duke another big man that can shoot it. But he’s not only giving the team shooting from a unique position, but Ryan is also forcing one of the UNC bigs to defend away from the hoop. Scoring in the paint can only be easier without a John Henson or Tyler Zeller there to bother you. Ryan’s shooting reputation could become a huge factor in this potentially title-deciding game.