Archive - Blog entry
Player of the Week
The Maryland Terrapins don't figure to be much of a threat in the ACC this season, but sophomore Terrell Stoglin will at least keep them relevant. The 6'1" guard has been absolutely dominating the scoreboard this season, and is leading all ACC players in points per game, averaging 22.4. Stoglin displayed his dominance again this week, scoring 31 points in Maryland's 78-71 victory over Notre Dame. Though Maryland didn't project to have a lot of other scoring options this season, the magnitude of Stoglin's breakout has been surprising to me. He's nearly doubled his scoring output from a year ago (11.4 points per game in 2010-2011) and established himself as one of the most electric scorers in the nation. If you discount his 0/9 performance against Alabama, Stoglin's scoring 25.2 points per game, which would be the second highest average in the nation. So if he can continue to perform like he has in the six games this season that he did make a field goal, he might keep the Terps out of the ACC cellar this season.
CJ Leslie has been impressing the nation since his return from a three-game suspension, and until recently, he's been doing it coming off the bench. NC State's 6'9" forward started his first game of the season on Sunday, and scored 14 points on 75% shooting. It was the fifth game consecutive game this season that Leslie has scored in double-figures, and the fourth time he's made at least half of his shots. This is a promising sign for the Wolfpack, as Leslie only managed to shoot 43.3% from the floor a season ago (which is quite poor for a big man). If he can continue to improve his shot-selection (he's shooting 58.7% this season), the sky is the limit for Leslie, who is more known for his freakish athleticism than his offensive prowess. He's clearly at his best around the rim, where he displays an uncanny ability to finish plays through contact. The more he operates down there, the better his team will be.
Dorian Finney Smith
There's no denying Seth Greenburg's prized recruit is a nice talent. In fact, he's having a great season. The versatile forward is averaging 7.1 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. That is pretty remarkable for a freshman, as he's already leading a respectable Virginia Tech team in both rebounds and assists. Lately, however, his scoring limitations have presented themselves, and the Hokies are suffering because of them. In his team's two losses this week, Finney-Smith averaged 4.5 points per game on 33% shooting. His game doesn't currently revolve around scoring, so this is forgivable, though certainly inconvenient. If he can use his athleticism to finish around the rim better and make open three-point baskets with his solid shooting ability, the Hokies will be a much-better team. If he can get hot by the time conference play starts up, it would give his squad a great third scoring option behind guards Erick Green and Dorenzo Hudson.
Player of the Week
Terrence Jones, Kentucky
While some of his key numbers may be on the decline, Jones' decision to return to Lexington is looking like an abundantly prudent one. He's no longer overdribbling and settling for rushed jumpshots (49% FG), and when he attacks the hoop he's finishing with bad intentions. He threw down four power slams in Kentucky's two victories over St. John's and UNC, including a beautiful pump fake/driving dunk in the grill of John Henson. His defensive disruption is reaching new heights as well. On the week Jones averaged 20 points on 50% shooting, 8 rebounds, 3 steals and 3.5 blocks. After getting to the free throw line 20 times in the season's first six games, Jones got to the stripe 16 times against SJU alone (11 makes). Jones has re-emerged in our mock lottery at the #11 spot.
Murphy Holloway, Mississippi
The southpaw deserves some major love after filling up the stat sheet for a second consecutive week. Holloway's performance led the way in thrilling road victories over DePaul and Penn State, as the Rebels improved to 7-1 on the season with an RPI of 11 (the computers are on their side for a change, at least momentarily). He picked up his third and fourth double-doubles of the season, putting up 13 points per game (55% FG), 11.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 4.5 steals. He's an absolute menace on the boards with thievery on his mind at all times on the defensive end of the floor. Holloway is undersized and lacking overall skill level, but he's strong, has great length and plays HARD. On a sour note, his 46% at the FT line has become all too familiar.
Player of the Week
Darius Johnson Odom
He's simply been the man for one of most dangerous teams in the country. DJO scored a season low and a team high 17 points in a bold win at Wisconsin, knocking down big-time shots in baller fashion. Johnson-Odom showed off his pretty step back jumper, an attractive asset to have when it comes to evaluating prospects. His ability to score off the dribble and excel as a spot up shooter help offset some of the concerns over his size and lack of position. He's been a model of consistency, averaging 19.8 points on 57% shooting from the floor and 46% from downtown. With Marquette quietly playing some of the best ball in the country, DJO should see a rise in national press as one of the more gifted seniors in the game.
Mouphtaou Yarou F/C, Villanova
21 and 11 against Penn, 19 and 7 against Santa Clara. Key Stat: 19 free throw attempts between both games. Good sign of improvement.
Ryan Boatright PG, UConn
Boatright was the difference maker in Connecticut's win over Arkansas, finishing with 23 points, 6 assists and 5 boards. Boatright made plays as a facilitator in the half court and in transition, and proved effective splitting the D and shooting from outside.
Hollis Thompson SF, Georgetown
Thompson drilled a 3 off a dribble-handoff from 25 feet out to beat Alabama. He's averaging 17 a game over his last 3, shooting 10-17 (58%) from downtown. Thompson's range and stroke to go along with his ideal length for a 3 make him a compelling prospect.
Player of the Week:
Mike Moser, UNLV, PF, Sophomore, 6-8 195 lbs.
Moser has earned back-to-back Mid-Major “Player of the Week” honors after his performances against UC Santa Barbara, #1 North Carolina and USC over the past week. On Wednesday (Nov 30), UNLV beat UC Santa Barbara, 94-88, in double overtime, and Moser’s 34 points and 10 rebounds paved the way for the Rebels to reach an 8-0 record for the season. Last Saturday against #1 North Carolina, Moser was not intimidated by one of the top frontcourts in the country that included John Henson, Tyler Zeller and Harrison Barnes. Moser out-performed all of them, finishing with 16 points, 18 rebounds and 6 assists. He did foul out and have four turnovers, but he was one of the deciding factors in UNLV’s huge upset against the #1 ranked Tarheels. Against USC, Moser’s 10 points and 13 rebounds helped UNLV to an 11-point victory. For the season, Moser’s stat line is impressive: 17.5 PPG, 13.3 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.0 BPG and 2.5 SPG. He also leads the nation in rebounding.
Doug McDermott, Creighton, SF, Sophomore, 6-7 210 lbs.
McDermott is a repeat winner of the weekly “Who’s Hot?” award for Mid-Major players after guiding Creighton to a pair of impressive victories against San Diego State (7-1) and Campbell (5-1) this past week. In both games, McDermott had a double-double and shot “lights out” with 52.9 FG% against San Diego State and 68.4 FG% against Campbell. Against San Diego State, McDermott posted 25 points and 12 rebounds and eventually found his sharp-shooting efforts broadcasted on Wednesday (Nov 30) night’s edition of SportsCenter. Against Campbell, McDermott scored 31 points, gathered 11 rebounds and shot 66.7 percent from “trifecta” country. Creighton (5-0) will undoubtedly enter the Top 25 rankings released next week and McDermott is the main reason why the Blue Jays have been so successful.
Player of the Week
Aaron Craft, Ohio State
The Buckeyes sophomore certainly looked like the Big Ten’s top point guard in an 85-63 blowout win Tuesday against No. 3 Duke that sort of summed up the Big Ten’s dominance (8-4 record) over the ACC in the Conference's annual challenge. Craft totaled 17 points, eight assists, five rebounds and a steal for No. 2 Ohio State, but his contributions far outweighed his stat line. Craft was everywhere — setting up the offense, finding seams in the Duke defense to drive and dish down low for easy baskets, hitting key shots, diving for loose balls … you name it, Craft did it Tuesday. He was a big reason the Buckeyes had three other players (Jared Sullinger, 21; William Buford 20; Deshaun Thomas 18) score in double figures.
Somebody has to initiate the offense for coach Thad Matta, and Craft seems to make all the right decisions. Only a sophomore, every once in a while he does throw a bad pass, but more often than not it’s a quality look. His 2.7 (41-15) assist-to-turnover ratio ranks fourth in the Big Ten, as it did last year at 2.24. The first-year starter (he backed up Jon Diebler last season) averaged 6.9 points per game last season but is up to 10.3 this year.
His defense is also a key reason the Buckeyes are the favorite to basically run away with the Big Ten. Craft marginalized Duke junior Seth Curry to just seven points (his lowest output of the season), five of which came when Craft was trailing another guard. Curry finished just 3-of-8 (37.5 percent) from the field and 1-of-6 from long range. Curry came in shooting 51.6 percent, but had a tough time even being able to call for a pass with Craft shadowing him.
Craft also had 15 points, eight assists, four steals and three rebounds last Friday, Nov. 25 in an 80-47 win against Valparaiso, making his average stat line for the week: 16 points, eight assists, 2.5 steals, four rebounds per game.
William Buford and Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
Buford, a senior guard, and Sullinger, a sophomore forward, continue to score mostly at will for the Buckeyes. Sure, against Duke, Sullinger didn’t collect double-digit rebounds for the first time since Nov. 15 against Florida, but no worries. He just grabbed eight, plus put up 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting. His defense still needs some work (Duke’s Mason Plumlee and brother Miles combined for 22 points Tuesday), but he stayed out of foul trouble in the process. The 6-9 NBA prospect played smart for a team that needed him to remain on the court to keep the Blue Devils at bay. Last Friday, Nov. 25, Sullinger put up his fourth double-double of the season against Valparaiso by scoring 14 points and tallying 14 rebounds.
Meanwhile, William Buford played a team-high 39 minutes while scoring 20 points and dishing out four assists. This came four days after he put up 25 while hitting four threes against Valparaiso.
Why not just include the entire Buckeyes team after a dominating performance? You could throw sophomore forward Deshaun Thomas in here too for his performance against Duke (18 points, five rebounds, 8-of-12 shooting) but he hasn’t shown that type of flair consistently. Buford and Sullinger are offensive weapons that just don’t come around very often on the same collegiate team. Simply put, it’ll be entertaining to watch how teams go about defending the Buckeyes.
Player of the Week
Jorge Gutierrez, California Bears
Over the past week, Jorge Gutierrez averaged 15.5 ppg and 4.5 rpg and has once again established himself as the heart and soul of the #23 ranked Bears as well as a strong candidate for conference player of the year. Despite a respectable 4-1 record, it was a down week overall for Mike Montgomery's team as they were embarrassed by Missouri in a match up that really stung for the Pac 12 as a whole, looking to get a quality win. But don't blame Gutierrez for the disappointing outcome as he has been rock solid as expected and will look to lead the team back into the good graces of hoops analysts around the nation.
Team of the week
The Cardinal were expected to be a solid but unspectacular squad this season. However, they have jumped out of the gate and looked as impressive as any team in the Pac 12 with a 7-1 start to the year. They had an opportunity to send a message that they were a team to look out for with their NIT championship game match up versus the 5th ranked Syracuse Orangemen. The boys from Palo Alto California hung right with their Big East foes, leading.for the majority of the game before wilting over the final minutes getting outscored 15-3 to finish the game and eventually losing by a score of 69-63. But it wasn't the type of loss to hang your head about, and they earned a lot of respect along the way.
Keala King, Arizona State Sun Devils
After a slow start to the season, 6-4 combo guard Keala King has come on strong in his last 2 games vs Wake Forest and Depaul averaging 23.5ppg and 6.5rpg while connecting on 14-22 field goal attempts. Keala is an intriguing player with his versatility and willingness to create off the dribble either for himself or his teammates. If he continues his play of late, he and junior SF Trent Lockett will combine to make of the more dangerous duos out West.
Player of the Week
Virginia's super-senior Mike Scott isn't a high-level NBA prospect, but he's very much the difference between a bad Cavalier team and a good Cavalier team. The double-double machiene has returned from his red-shirt senior season with a vengence, and is averaging 15.3 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. He claims to have lost about 20 pounds over the summer by cutting junk-food out of his diet and this is evident when you watch him move on the court. He is just as tough and strong as he ever was, but is significantly more agile and explosive. As the team's centerpiece, Scott has led Virginia to an excellent 6-1 start to the season, including a vicory over #15 Michigan on Tuesday. Not a lot of people had the Cavaliers as significant players in the ACC this season, but they've proven to be a strong defensive squad with great size and several different offensive options. With the slimmed-down Scott performing like one of the top players in the ACC, Virginia could be a very competitive team come conference play.
If you followed the Hokies last season, you know that they were struggling to win games until Erick Green took control of the point guard position. Once he became a starter, Virginia Tech went on a tear and won nine out of their following ten games. This season, Seth Greenburg did not waste any time and made Green the starting point guard as soon as he could. Unsurprisingly, this has worked out in favor of both Green and the team's record so far. Scoring in double-figures in every game he's played in this season, Green is averaging 14.8 points on an efficient 52.2% shooting from the floor. Perhaps most impressive is the improvement the junior guard has made from the perimeter; shooting 61.1% on 2.2 made threes per game, up from 24.8% on 0.8 makes a year ago. The Hokies will be counting on the much-improved Green to lead them to that oh-so elusive NCAA Tournament bid, but it's way too early to be considering such things.
Ehhh... Somebody from UNC was bound to inherit the "Cold" distinction following the former top-ranked team in the nation's shocking loss to UNLV. It wouldn't be very fair to blame Zeller for the loss, but the skilled 7-footer was really unable to contribute anything that may have altered the embarrasing final outcome. Zeller finished the game with a line of 5 points on 1/6 shooting, 7 rebounds and 4 fouls. But what the game on Saturday exposed really didn't have anything to do with Zeller; rather it highlighted the questionable depth of UNC's frontcourt. John Henson and James McAdoo each had 4 fouls of their own, and without their star bigs, the Tar Heels (one of the best rebounding teams in the country last season) were outrebounded 46-37 to an unranked team. Zeller will surely bounce back from his poor performance quickly, but if UNC wants to make it to the Final Four, they're going to have to keep their post players out of foul trouble.
Top 5 Starting Point Guards
Player of the Week
Maalik Wayns PG, Villanova
Man does he look quick. Wayns has been impossible to keep out of the paint, using that quick first step off the dribble and rock solid strength at the rim. It's amazing to think that a 6'1 guard can score 29 points on only 1 three point make, but that's what Wayns did in a loss to St. Louis (thanks to his team's inability to defend the 3). His ability to change direction on the dime with speed in the open floor will allow him to succeed as a change of pace guard at the next level. If he raises his percentage from downtown and increases his range, Wayns would be a threat to crack the lottery.
He's averaging 22 points, 5 assists and 4.5 rebounds as a junior, and should be considered a viable candidate for Big East Player of the Year.
Jason Clark, G, Georgetown
26 and 28 points back to back. 10 for his last 14 from downtown. The rim must look like a hula hoop to Clark.
Gerard Coleman SG, Providence
He scored 20 in consecutive games. I'd say that's noteworthy considering he's coming off the bench. He also attempted 18 free throws against Southern U. Pretty impressive.
Herb Pope PF Seton Hall
Pope's been on a tear this year, going for 32 and 9, (2-2 from 3), and 17 and 10 this week. He looks lighter on his feet around the rim, and has shown he's capable of scoring outside the paint. He's averaging 21 points and 11 rebounds, all-star numbers for the big fella.
Kevin Jones PF West Virginia
29 and 13, followed by 23 and 10. Again, when those 3s and midrange jumpers are falling, Jones looks the part of an NBA player. The rebounding numbers are even more promising.
The sophomore duo has been lighting it up. 24 and 23 points respectively this week for Young, 25 and 20 for Melvin. If he keeps putting up numbers, Melvin could generate some buzz based off his ideal length and athleticism for a 3.