Archive - Blog entry
January 26th, 2012
Player of the Week
I'll do Barnes and the rest of Tar Heel nation a favor by not mentioning what happened in Florida State a week and a half ago (they lost by 33 points... whoops), but will say they recovered nicely by defeating the Hokies at Virginia Tech by a score of 82-68. Harrison Barnes was the biggest reason for the quick turnaround, as he scored a season-high of 27 points -- nine of which during a decisive 19-0 second-half scoring run by his team. The super sophomore is in the midst of a season that has seen his numbers improve across the board. He was criticized for his poor efficiency last season, as 42.3% shooting from the floor and 34.4% shooting from behind the arc were mediocre for somebody who would have been considered at the very top of last year's draft. This year he's shooting 48.4% from the floor and 43.6% from outside. These stark contrasts stem from several different factors, including his higher confidence, improved shot-selection and tighter handle. It's clear he put a lot of work in during the offseason and it's really playing off. This is scary to think about, but he still has a lot of room to get even better. It's no wonder he's considered a lock for the top-five during this year's draft.
While center Reggie Johnson was recovering from an ACL injury sustained over the summer, transfer student Kenny Kadji was breaking out for his team. The 6'11" junior left Florida for Miami, and is receiving enough minutes to show off the impressive ability that he has. He collects a lot of rebounds and blocks due to his size alone, and has a surprisingly refined offensive game. Kadji is averaging 12.4 points per game (54.9 FG%) and 5.6 rebounds on the season. He also has impressive range for a player his size, having made 12 of his 26 three-point attempts on the season (46.2%). Logic may have suggested that Kadji would become an after-thought with Johnson's recent return to the team, but Kadji is hotter than ever; averaging 20.5 points on 53.3% shooting from the field. His size, mobility and shooting ability seem to complement his teammates well, and if he continues to thrive, you could hear his name in draft conversations a year from now.
Player of the Week
Faisal Aden, Washington State Cougars
No team had a better week than the Cougars as they held court against the Conference's top 2 teams in Cal and Stanford. Senior SG Faisal Aden led the way offensively scoring 24 vs Cal on 9 of 12 shooting and then followed that up with 33 against Stanford on 10 of 17 shooting. The talented guard has shown flashes of offensive brilliance in the past but is prone to inconsistency with hot streaks intertwined with cold shooting streaks making him an unreliable player. It is for this reason that Aden comes off the bench in a spark plug type role while rarely seeing 30 minutes of action. But when he's on, like he was this past week, the Cougars are a tough team to beat.
Travis Wear, UCLA Bruins
Travis continues to improve and plays a very well rounded game showcasing both a decent outside shot and soft touch in the paint. He needs to improve his toughness and get stronger, but there is a very solid skill set in place for the sophomore big man to continue to develop. Over his past 5 games, Travis has averaged 17.6 points on over 69% shooting from the field. He and his brother David provide solid building blocks going forward for a disappointing Bruins squad.
Stanford was arguably the Pac 12's best squad in the Non Conference slate and looked like a team that would have a very good shot at winning the Pac 12 and being one of the few teams in the Conference to put together a solid enough resume to earn an at large bid if they came up short of the tournament title. However, even at a respectable 5-3 in conference record, they just haven't looked particularly impressive. All 3 of their losses have been by double digits and they have narrowly escaped some tough games vs UCLA, Oregon State and Utah that could have gone either way. The Cardinal need to continue to work the ball inside out and start knocking down open jumpers.
Player of the Week
Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee
It’s taken Stokes a whole three games to earn his keep amongst the Vols. The 18-year old freshman has acclimated remarkably well to the college game after graduating from high school a semester early, and he’s attacking college basketball’s biggest names without hesitation. In an upset victory of 13th ranked Connecticut, Stokes made his first start with 16 points (6/10 FG), 12 rebounds and 2 blocks in 29 minutes. He poured in 10 of his 16 in the second half, outplaying Andre Drummond who finished with 6 points, 9 boards and 3 turnovers. Earlier in the week he scored 11 points (5/9 FG) and grabbed 8 rebounds (plus a block and steal) in an overtime loss at Georgia. Not a bad early impression from the well-schooled 6’8 270 pounder. Stokes’ 6/14 from the free throw line won’t cut it, however, as he’s likely to get there with great frequency. A road matchup with Vanderbilt and Festus Ezeli is on deck.
Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State
Moultrie continued his machine-like season with another pair of double-doubles this week. He played the full 45 minutes in a 78-77 overtime victory at Vanderbilt, finishing with 21 points, 14 boards and 4 steals as the Bulldogs won in Memorial Gymnasium for the first time since 2004. Moultrie also went for 10 points, 12 rebounds and 3 steals in a road loss at in-state rival Mississippi.
Festus Ezeli, Vanderbilt
It took nearly two months to get healthy and shake the rust off, but Ezeli has finally found his form. He averaged 12 points on 55% shooting, 12 rebounds and 4 blocks against Alabama and Mississippi State. His importance to the Commodores cannot be understated. He forces double teams, opens up space for a loaded perimeter attack and cleans up mistakes on D.
Player of the Week
Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State, SG, Sophomore, 6-5 185 lbs.
Franklin led the Aztecs to a key victory over #14 UNLV (17-3) this past Saturday by scoring 24 points and gathering 10 rebounds. He shot the ball well (8-18 shooting, 8-8 free throws) and provided lots of energy and emotion. Franklin held UNLV guard, Oscar Bellfield, to 1-12 shooting and attacked the boards throughout the whole game. Following up his impressive performance against UNLV, Franklin finished with 12 points and 5 rebounds against New Mexico (15-3). San Diego State beat New Mexico, 75-70, and now ranks atop the Mountain West Conference. For the season, Franklin averages 15.5 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.4 SPG, 40.6 FG%, 29.6 3P%, and 74.1 FT%.
Dominique Morrison, Oral Roberts, SF, Senior, 6-6 210 lbs.
Oral Roberts is riding a 10-game winning streak into this weekend and much of the credit for that winning streak can be attributed to Dominique Morrison. He’s been dominant in nearly every game during the 10-game winning streak, including a 38 point-7 rebound performance against South Dakota State (15-5) and a 27 point-5 rebound outing against IPFW (9-9). Oral Roberts is currently 17-4 (9-0 in conference) and Morrison leads the team in scoring (20.1 PPG). Also of note, Morrison is shooting 49.3 FG%, 83.8 FT%, and 45.6 3P%. If he could become more active on the boards, Morrison could earn some NBA Draft prospect consideration. Currently, he’s averaging 4.7 RPG.
Player of the Week
Rodney McGruder, Kansas State
The Washington D.C. native is starting to play up to his ability, and that's a great sign for anyone who follows Wildcat basketball. The 6'4" shooting guard scored 19 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and handed out four assists in a surprising 82-73 loss to Oklahoma. He followed that steady performance with a huge outing against Texas. In an 84-80 win over the Longhorns, he dropped 33 points while shooting 65% from the field and 67% from behind the 3-point line. In addition, he also snatched eight rebounds and dished out two assists. This week has been a good sign of things to come for Kansas State.
Tyshawn Taylor, Kansas
The overwhelmingly inconsistent Tyshawn Taylor now put together a string of very good games for now Big 12 leading Kansas. While his turnover problems continue, he is negating them with his stellar performances of late. In a win over Iowa State, he pounded the Cyclones with 28 points, six assists, and four steals. Then, in an early conference showdown with the Baylor Bears, he was the unsung star of the game. In the 92-74 blowout, he again dropped 28 points. He also handed out six assists and grabbed two rebounds. In that game, he shot an amazing 71% from the field and 67% from behind the 3-point line.
Royce White, Iowa State - This week, posted averages of 17.5 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1 block per game.
Texas A&M Aggies
The Aggies came into the season with high expectations, hovering around preseason Top 25 rankings. They were returning future NBA draft selection Khris Middleton, as well as David Loubeau and Ray Turner. However, since conference play began, things have started to fall apart for A&M. It seems that none of their star players are playing as well as they should be, except for the Washington transfer Elston Turner. As it stands right now, they are an underwhelming 10-7 on the season. Even worse, they are 1-4 in conference play, good for ninth place in the Big 12. If they want to turn the season around, Khris Middleton and David Loubeau need to step their games up.
Player of the Week
Annihilated. Devastated. Obliterated. Adjectives used to describe Florida State's TV-MA massacre of the #3 ranked North Carolina Tar Heels. The Seminole's Saturday slaughter caught a few of us off-guard, as the team had been struggling through the season up to that point. Unlike many teams, FSU lacks a real go-to scoring option, instead relying on a balanced team effort to compete for wins. The victory over one of the top teams in the nation was not only made possible by the teamwork, physicality and defense of the Seminoles, but also Deividas Dulkys. The 6'5" senior guard erupted for a career-high 32 points (as many points as he scored in his previous nine games combined), leading his team to a 90-57 win at home against the Tar Heels. He made 12 of his 14 shots from the floor, 8 of 10 from behind the arc and had four assists with four steals to top off his brilliant performance. Also impressive was the fact that Dulkys made 28 three-pointers in a row during the shootaround prior to the game. Yeah, he was pretty hot and it will probably have been the biggest performance of his career when everything is said and done. I wouldn't count Florida State out of consideration from the ACC tournament this year if they stay hot (they've won three in a row). The team projects well in the ACC due to their excellent size and defense, and simply need more offense to play up to their potential.
What's that? Oh, he's a seven-foot freshman playing for Boston College. Yeah, they're still playing in the ACC. No, seriously. They've even won two games in a row. Pick your jaw up off the floor, reader; they had to win at some point. Clifford scored 15 points in each of the narrow victories over Clemson (final score of 59-57) and Virginia Tech (61-59). He's averaging 9.8 points on 59.2% shooting and 5.3 rebounds on the season; maybe not groundbreaking numbers, but solid for a freshman regardless. As an offensively-skilled center, he could be a key piece in the Eagles' rebuilding effort along with fellow frosh Partick Heckmann and Ryan Anderson. And they really are rebuilding, perhaps contrary to their current winning ACC record (2-1, tied for second in the standings).
Player of the Week
Evan Fournier, Poitiers, G, 1992, 6-5
The young French guard had two great week-ends: two weeks ago, in the defeat against Cholet, he played 24 minutes and scored 17 points, grabbed 4 rebounds and gave 3 assists. In his last game he played against Paris-Levallois and scored 25 points, (12-22) shot 10/16 from two points and 2/6 from the arc, in 33 minutes on the court. Fournier is having an amazing season, his third in the French top league, and is scoring over 13 points, with 3 rebounds and 2 assists per game; he has also been selected for the French All Star Game, in which he scored 14 points. Fournier is a complete player, he’s a good rebounder and can score in many ways; probably, his only defect is his outside shooing consistency, that appears too much inconsistent (he is shooting 11/54 from long range). With two more seasons at the highest level in Europe, he will be definitely ready for the NBA.
Nikola Mirotic, Real Madrid, PF, 1991, 6-10
Despite being chosen by the Minnesota Timberwolves (traded to Chicago) in the last draft with the 23rd pick, Mirotic has decided to stay another year in Europe to improve, and it appears that he made the right choice. After a great U20 European Championship, in which his team won the title and he won the MVP trophy, Mirotic is having a great season. In the last two games, he averaged 13.5 ppg, on 8/13 from two points and 2/4 from threes; but Mirotic showed his improvements in the Euroleague: against Maccabi and Partizan, he scored 26 points with 8 rebounds against Maccabi, and against Partizan he scored 21 points and grabbed 8 rebounds, and was named Euroleague Week-8 MVP.
Player of the Week
Anthony Davis, Kentucky
Davis takes down POW honors for the third time this season. His breakout 27 point (10-12 fg) 14 reb, 7 block effort against Arkansas looked effortless. His offensive efficiency and game-wrecking defense simply never take a night off, and along with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist he continues to carry his inconsistent teammates. In two road victories this week at Auburn and at Tennessee, he scored 16 PPG on 13/19 shooting, grabbed 7 RPG, blocked 8 more shots and swiped 5 steals (exceptional hands for a big, 1.6 SPG). In 72 minutes of composite court time he did not turn the ball over. Davis leads the country in blocked shots at 4.6 per contest, and is 7th in FG percentage at 64.3%. UK will face an upgrade in the talent of their opposition this week, as Arkansas and Alabama head to Rupp.
Murphy Holloway, Mississippi
After missing three games with a sprained ankle he suffered against MTSU, the Rebels energizer bunny returned with his trademark vengeance. Boasting a double-double on the year (10.6 & 10), Holloway added two more DD’s to his tally in a home win over Arkansas and 2OT road loss at Auburn. He averaged 15 points on 13/19 field goals, snatched 12.5 rebounds per game including 5.5 offensive boards, 2 steals and a block. Holloway logged 46 hard fought minutes against Auburn, five more than any other Ole Miss starter. The Rebels are still a jumbled mess, but seem to have improved cohesion since the dismissal of Dundrecous Nelson from the program.