Archive - Blog entry
Player of the Week
Christian Watford, Indiana
The Hoosiers played only one game this past week, but that’s all junior forward Christian Watford needed to make Indiana history. Watford’s 3-pointer from the left wing Saturday off a brilliant pass by Verdell Jones III hit nothing but net at the buzzer, and Indiana basketball jettisoned back to prominence with a 73-72 win over No. 1 Kentucky. Relive the shot here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPXImXAMStc
Watford scored 17 of his 20 points in the second half as Indiana staved off the Wildcats after blowing a 10-point lead in the second hald. The 6-9 junior who has endured the Hoosiers’ painful rebuilding process under coach Tom Crean took it inside as well as hitting four 3-pointers.
It likely will end up being the game of the Big Ten non-conference season, and Watford displayed the conference’s depth and talent level. He’s the Hoosiers’ fourth-leading scorer after nine games, but one of five on the team averaging double figures. Watford is a well-rounded player and a team leader who could help the Hoosiers into the NCAA Tournament.
Evan Smotrycz and Trey Burke, Michigan
The Wolverines have won three straight games since their puzzling loss at Virginia, and mostly have been led by 6-9 sophomore Evan Smotrycz. He’s hit 7-of-9 from long range the past two games and 11-of-14 overall while averaging 18 points per game. He’s not the most physical player down low but presents match-up problems on the perimeter. He had 20 points and nine rebounds against a dangerous Oakland team on Saturday in Auburn Hills, then 16 and eight in a 63-50 home win against Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Tuesday. He’s also stepped up on the defensive end, totaling five steals in the two wins.
Burke simply has anchored the Wolverines’ backcourt. The freshman from Columbus, Ohio, has led the team in minutes the past two games, and has averaged 17.5 points and eight assists while playing a team-high 37.5 minutes. He’s been able to get into the lane while also stroking it from the 3-point line (6-of-11 in his past two games).
Draymond Green, Michigan State
Green’s 34-point performance in a 74-67 win at Gonzaga this past Saturday was the conference’s second-highest scoring output this season behind Northwestern forward John Shurna’s 37. Green shot 11-of-13, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range. He didn’t get his usual rebounding numbers but had three steals as the Spartans got an impressive road win to get the attention of AP voters.
Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State
Deshaun Thomas did his best to fill in for fellow sophomore Jared Sullinger on Saturday at Kansas. The 6-7 forward averaged 21 points in the past two games, in the Buckeyes’ loss against the Jayhawks and win against South Carolina Upstate. He’s shot a combined 17-of-29 from the field, including 5-for-12 from 3. He’s also turned it over just twice in that span while dishing out four assists and collecting seven rebounds. Thomas needs to get to the free-throw line more often, though. He went 3-of-3 in the past week.
Player of the Week
Donte Poole, Murray State, SG, Senior, 6-3 190 lbs.
This unsung hero for Murray State has been playing under the shadow of talented point guard, Isaiah Cannan, for much of the season. Cannan – largely considered to be a late second round prospect for the NBA Draft – leads the Racers in scoring and handles most of the ball-handling duties for the team. But this past Sunday, Poole stepped out from beneath Canaan’s shadow and drained six three-pointers in Murray State’s victory over the #20 Memphis Tigers (5-3). For the game, Poole finished with 20 points, 2 rebounds and 1 assist on 7-11 shooting and 6-8 on three-pointers. In Murray State’s next game against Lipscomb (6-6), Poole only scored 7 points (2-8 shooting), but had 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. Still, his game changing performance against Memphis earns Poole this spot as the Mid-Major Player of the Week.
Murray State Racers (11-0)
Through one-third of the 2011-12 season, Murray State sits atop the Ohio Valley Conference for overall win-loss records and has legitimized itself as one of the best mid-major schools in the country. Sunday’s impressive 76-72 victory on the road against #20 Memphis (5-3) shows that the Racers are ready to compete against very quality competition. Through 11 games, Murray State has beaten UAB (2-6) of Conference USA, Southern Miss (7-2) of Conference USA, Dayton (7-3) of the Atlantic 10, and now Memphis (5-3) of Conference USA. The backcourt tandem of Isaiah Canaan and Donte Poole poses a tough challenge for opponents, especially considering that both players are shooting over 45 percent from three-point land, and 6’7” post player, Ivan Aska, provides some tenacity in the frontcourt. Murray State’s only significant weaknesses are the team’s lack of height in the frontcourt and consequently its mediocre team rebounding averages (31.7 RPG as a team).
Player of the Week
Allen Crabbe, California Bears
Crabbe has been steadily becoming more efficient from the field after a somewhat slow start to the year. Over his past 5 games, he has averaged 20 ppg, hitting over 50% fg along with 6 rebounds while only turning it over once per contest. He seems to be getting into his groove shooting from the outside where he has looked really comfortable squaring up and getting his shot off in the blink of an eye before the defender has a chance to contest. The next step towards becoming an all around scoring threat will be attacking the paint with more frequency and getting to the FT line more often.
Garrett Sim, Oregon Ducks
Sim has been getting the job done and has been a major bright spot for the Ducks who have rebounded from their opening game loss to Vanderbilt by taking 5 of their last 6 games. Sim has averaged 15 points over that 6 game stretch and shot over 50% from the field in the process. He does a lot of the little things that don't show in the boxscores, and also has a solid assist to turnover ratio while hitting a total of 24-26 from the ft line. Sim has been a very efficient pg and has the Ducks looking like one of the more competitive Pac 12 squads in the early going.
Player of the Week
Jones put up 30 points and 12 rebounds in a win over Kansas State, including the game-tying three-pointer in the closing seconds to send the game into overtime.
Jones looks lighter on his feet this year, doing a much better job under the boards and elevating on his jumper. Even his three with 12 tics left showed improvement, where he used a jab step to create separation before rising and firing over his defender.
He's made huge strides as a senior, improving his scoring and rebounding numbers by an incredible margin despite playing similar minutes (13ppg and 7rpg previous 2 seasons, 20 and 11.4 this season). Still, he could really improve on his efficiency by resisting the urge to drift out to the perimeter, where the 6'8 260 pounder shoots 23% on 4.3 three-point attempts her game. If he could establish himself as a legitimate pick and pop option and an active body in the paint, Jones can provide desirable services off an NBA bench.
Herb Pope 6'8 PF, Seton Hal
Pope has emerged as a scoring machine, averaging 24 points per game over his last 3. He's become more of a threat offensively, expanding his game out to almost 20 feet from the rim. He currently leads the Big East in scoring while averaging a double double.
Cleveland Melvin 6'7 DePaul, SF
He went for 30 against Chicago State. Melvin has a tendency to explode, going for at least 25 points three times already this season.
Nasir Robinson 6'9 PF, Pitt
Nas is averaging 16 and 10 over his last 3. He'd get more recognition if he showed up on a more consistent basis. He's really solid player when he's on.
Player of the Week
Patric Young, Florida
After struggling for the better part of two weeks, Young re-emerged as a paint force in Gator victories over Arizona and Rider. He produded his best statistical line of the season, and his career, in an overtime battle against UA with 25 points on 12/15 shooting (1/6 FT), 10 rebounds (6 offensive), 2 blocks and a steal in 38 minutes. It was a pleasure to see Young get aggressive in a big game and punish the Wildcats undersized front line. Head Coach Billy Donovan claimed Young could have went off for 45 points if he received more touches in established position. Perhaps we can expect less backcourt chucking and more post entries from Florida in the near future. He followed up that effort with a 12 & 10 double-double against Rider, converting 5/7 field goal attempts and snatching 5 more offensive boards. The bruising frontcourt of Texas A&M will test his tenacity on the 17th.
Jeffery Taylor, Vanderbilt
Taylor scored a career-high 30 points in the Commodores impressive road victory at Davidson. He cashed in on 12/17 field goal attempts and drained 3 three-pointers for the second consecutive game. For the season he's upped his shooting accuracy to 51% from the floor and nearly 37% from distance. The athletic 6'7 wing added 4 rebounds, 2 blocks, a steal and his typical three turnovers. Taylor has six games of 3+ TO's on the year, as ball handling (or lack thereof) continues to haunt his draft stock.
BJ Young, Arkansas
The electric freshman has taken the burden of Arkansas' offensive woes on his shoulders, scoring in double figures for the seventh straight contest in a 24-point effort (back to back 20+) at Oklahoma on Saturday. Young has become the go-to-guy in short order, making 9/16 shots and 3/7 treys, while also dishing out 3 helpers and swiping 3 steals. His efficiency has been remarkable (51% FG, 39% 3PT) given his lack of clean looks and dearth of teammates to occupy defensive attention.
Player of the Week
Jeff Withey, Kansas
Lost amid all the praise being thrown at Kansas power forward Thomas Robinson, is the 7'0 center. In an important 88-80 win over a tough and talented Long Beach State team, the senior recorded a monster stat-line, registering 13 points, 13 rebounds, and an incredible nine blocked shots. He has been playing a bit inconsistent this season, but when he plays well, the Jayhawks are a dangerous team capable of beating just about anyone. On the season, he is now averaging 8.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks per game. The former McDonald's All-American is putting together a very solid season season so far, and has the opportunity to be a game-changer for Kansas as the season goes on.
Jordan Tolbert, Texas Tech
In what is shaping up to be a tough season for the Texas Tech Red Raiders, they have found a bright spot in the freshman forward. In a 75-69 loss to TCU this week, he erupted for a career high 27 points and 5 rebounds on 12-16 shooting from the floor. On the season, he is averaging 13.0 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. The Red Raiders desperately need a go-to-scorer, and Jordan Tolbert looks like he is going to be that guy.
[Player: Phil "Flip" Pressey], Missouri - In a hard fought 81-71 win over Villanova, he led Mizzou's charge with eight points, 12 assists, and 3 steals, while shooting 6-6 from the free-throw line.
Sheldon McCellan, Texas - 23 points and six rebounds in a Longhorn win over UT-Arlington. He shot 8-11 from the field, 4-6 from 3-point land, and 3-5 from the foul-line.
Player of the Week:
Will Barton, Memphis, SG, Sophomore, 6-6 175 lbs.
Barton takes home his second Mid-Major Player of the Week for the season after two impressive performances – one on the road against Miami (5-3) and the other at home against Austin Peay (1-9). Memphis thumped Miami, 71-54, and was led by Barton’s 27 points (60.0 FG%). Barton showed his ability to contribute in several facets of the game by using his long arms, quick “hops” and overall athleticism to pull down 14 rebounds and collect 4 steals together with 2 blocks. Earlier in the week, Barton posted 22 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal and 1 block in Memphis’ decisive win over Austin Peay, 91-60. For the season, Barton is averaging 19.4 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.6 SPG and 1.3 BPG, while shooting 52.7 FG%, 33.3 3P% and 66.0 FT%. Through the first quarter of the season, Barton looks like a legitimate first round NBA Draft prospect.
Darryl Partin, Boston University, SG, Senior, 6-6 190 lbs.
Unknown to most of the college basketball world, Partin has played very well early on this season, averaging 23.9 PPG and 4.4 RPG, and he has scored over 20 points in every game. In Boston U.’s two games this past week, Partin led the team in scoring and proved to be a mismatch for opponents. On the road against Saint Joseph’s (6-3), Partin finished with 24 points and 4 rebounds, and Boston U. won the game, 75-68. Against Boston College (2-7, also on the road), he scored 27 points and shot very well from the field and from 3-point land. Partin’s offensive ability has improved significantly from last season, mainly because of his assertiveness this year. Watch for Partin to continue to turn some heads as the season progresses and as Boston U. positions itself for an America East Conference title run.
Through eight games in 2011-12, Towson has lost by an average of 24.2 points per game. Granted, Towson has played some difficult opponents, including Kansas (6-2), Michigan (6-2), Belmont (6-2) and a decent La Salle team (6-3), but it has not shown the ability to score or pass the ball on offense too effectively. Currently, Towson ranks 343rd in team points per game (51.0), 344th in team assists per game (7.5), and 333rd in team field goal percentage (37.1%). Towson and UMBC will square off on Saturday in a matchup of two winless teams. Watch for sparks to fly.
Player of the Week
Rodney Williams, Minnesota
If the Golden Gophers go anywhere this season, it will be behind 6-foot-7 forward Rodney Williams and his unparalleled athleticism.
Williams is embracing the challenge. The junior has led the Gophers (9-1) to three wins since double-double machine and team leader Trevor Mbakwe tore his ACL Nov. 27 against Dayton to likely end his Gophers career. Williams took his spot at the No. 4 position and went to work — he’s averaged 14.7 points and 7.7 rebounds since Mbakwe was lost. Williams put up just 6.3 and 2.7, respectively, in the Gophers’ first seven. The move down low also helps him use his ‘hops’ to block more shots — he’s had 10 in the past three games after getting just seven to start the year.
“Right now I’m feeling really comfortable at the four position,” Williams told reporters after a 55-40 win against USC on Saturday. “I feel like I’ve got a lot of mismatches because I can use my speed to get around the bigger guys.”
Williams was a consensus four-star recruit out of Robbinsdale Cooper High School in Minneapolis. He came in raw but made strides each season and could be starting to figure things out. He’s shooting 63.5 percent from the field this season (third in the Big Ten) and ranks third in blocks (1.7 per game) and sixth in steals (1.8 per game).
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.