Mid Major Blog

Player of the Week:

Mike Moser, UNLV, PF, Sophomore, 6-8 195 lbs.

Mike MoserMike MoserUNLV is off to a great start this season with a 5-0 record and two wins this past week against Cal Poly (75-52) and Morgan State (92-55). Moser has been the Rebels’ standout player early on this season, averaging 16.0 PPG, 13.0 RPG, 3.2 APG, 1.2 BPG and shooting 51.6 percent from the field. Against Cal Poly he contributed 14 points and 8 rebounds with four steals, and against Morgan State he had one of the best all-around performances of any player this year with 23 points, 17 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 steals and shot 52.6 percent from the field. Moser will get an opportunity to showcase his skills against USC tonight and again on November 30 when UNLV squares off against an undefeated UC Santa Barbara team. Moser sat out the 2010-11 season after deciding to transfer from UCLA where he was recruited by UCLA coach, Ben Howland.

Who’s Hot?

Doug McDermott, Creighton, SF, Sophomore, 6-7 210 lbs.

The young sophomore has played at an elite level in each of Creighton’s four wins this season. Creighton (4-0) won three games this past week: Iowa (82-59), UAB (70-60), and Chicago State (95-61). McDermott scored above 20 points in each of those games, including a standout performance against UAB where he scored 27 points (11-18 shooting) and collected 7 rebounds. Against Iowa, McDermott chipped in 25 points (10-15 shooting), 9 rebounds and 1 assist. For the season, McDermott has filled up the stat sheet, averaging 21.5 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 1.0 APG, 64.3 FG%, 58.3 3P% and 87.5 FT%. His shooting percentages are scorching.

Who’s Cold?

Wesley Witherspoon, Memphis, SF, 6-9 210 lbs.

After opening the season with a 22-point performance against Belmont, Witherspoon brought the ice cooler to the Maui Invitational and played well below his potential. In three games during the Maui Invitational Tournament, Witherspoon averaged 6.3 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 1.0 SPG and shot 33.3 percent from the field. He struggled to gain any sort of rhythm on offense and did not contribute very much on defense, aside from his 8 rebounds against Georgetown in Memphis’ last game of the tournament. He wears possibly the longest shorts of any player in the country and it may be hindering his movement, who knows. For Memphis to compete against upper level competition, Witherspoon has to play better and be a factor on the court.

Top 25 Teams

8. Memphis (2-2)

Played in the Maui Invitational Tournament this past week and played decently well, winning one game and losing two (both in overtime). In the first round of the tournament, Memphis lost to #15 Michigan, 73-61, and was out-rebounded by the Wolverines, 36-23. Memphis beat a feisty Tennessee team in their second game, 99-97, in double overtime. In that game, Will Barton had 25 points and his brother, Antonio Burton, had 21 points. Despite Will Barton’s 22 points, Memphis closed out the tournament with a 91-88 overtime loss to Georgetown. Memphis was more athletic and talented than Georgetown, but the Tigers’ young lineup forced shots and did not show much poise or late game management.

12. Xavier (3-0)

Beat Miami (OH), 66-60, on November 18 despite shooting 22.2 percent from 3-point land. Xavier out-hustled an overmatched Miami (OH) squad and caused 18 turnovers. Look for preseason All-American guard, Tu Holloway, to get back on-track this upcoming week after being held to 9 points (3-12 shooting) against Miami (OH), especially if Xavier intends to beat a 4-1 Georgia team tonight.

23. Gonzaga (3-0)

The Bulldogs were not challenged this week. They beat Hawaii handily, 73-54, that included a 16 point, 10 rebound performance by senior center, Robert Sacre. Gonzaga faces a tough upcoming schedule with games against Notre Dame, Illinois and Michigan State, all before December 10.

On the Rise

Cleveland State (4-0)

A victory over then #9 Vanderbilt placed Cleveland State in a viable position to “make some noise” among mid-major teams. They have not disappointed us. This past week, Cleveland State beat a Kent State team that went into Morgantown, WV and beat West Virginia of the Big East. On November 18, they beat St. Bonaventure (67-64) and star big-man, Andrew Nicholson. No legitimate challengers appear on the schedule until a December 3 matchup at Detroit and a December 19 matchup against USF.

Weber State (3-0)

Junior guard, Damian Lillard, has helped Weber State kickoff the season with a 3-0 record, including a win against Utah State (who beat BYU). Weber State’s most recent win came against UC-Irvine, 80-72. The Wildcats rank among the top 20 teams in the nation for scoring (87.3 PPG) and rebounding (44.0 RPG). The season is young and Weber State has only played three games, but they could be interesting to watch as the season continues.

Creighton (4-0)

Creighton pasted Iowa, 82-59, on November 20, and they haven’t been involved in any “nail biters” at all so far this season. They are the best team in the Missouri Valley Conference and that’s how they are playing. Doug McDermott’s excellent start (21.5 PPG, 7.0 RPG) has accelerated Creighton’s offense and has given Creighton a standout scoring threat.

Getting Back On-Track

Memphis (2-2)

See “Top 25 Teams.”

Utah State (2-2)

The Aggies’ early season win against BYU at “The Spectrum” in Logan, UT has not led to continuing success thus far. Texas A&M – Corpus Christi’s first win of the season came against Utah State on November 22, 58-55, in overtime after Utah State turned the ball over 16 times and shot 33.3 percent from the field. The Aggies barely beat Southern Utah, 65-62, on November 19, and they lost to Weber State, 73-63, on November 15. Don’t expect this squad to turn any heads for a while. They are cold.

Top 5 Under-the-Radar Players

1. Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure, PF, Senior, 6-9 250 lbs.

The Canadian finished 15th nationally in scoring by the end of the 2010-11 season (20.8 PPG) and scored over 30 points five times. Through three games for St. Bonaventure in 2011-12, Nicholson is averaging 19.0 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.7 APG and 3.3 BPG. Nicholson is currently slated as a borderline first round to second round draft prospect, but his stock could rise significantly if he can continue scoring around 20 PPG and producing at a high level on defense.

2. Michael Glover, Iona, PF, Senior, 6-7 215 lbs.

Iona is 3-1 and just beat St. Joseph’s, 104-99, in double overtime this past Wednesday night. Thanks to Glover, Iona has a serious shot at being one of the best mid-major college basketball teams in the country. Against St. Joseph’s, Glover posted 34 points, 15 rebounds, 1 steal and 57.7 FG%. For the season, he’s averaging 19.5 PPG, 10.3 RPG and 59.6 FG%. Although he’s undersized to play the power forward position in the NBA, look for Glover to creep into NBA Mock Drafts throughout the season with scouts viewing him as a Brian Grant type of player with more offensive ability.

3. Kyle O’Quinn, Norfolk State, C, Junior, 6-10 240 lbs.

The MEAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2010-11 has played very well so far this season. His contributions on offense could be greater as far as points are concerned, but he is a force inside for Norfolk State and easily the best big man in the MEAC conference. Through five games, Norfolk State sits at 3-2, and O’Quinn is averaging 10.8 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.0 SPG, and 3.0 BPG. Norfolk State beat Drexel – one of the top mid-major schools – and TCU this past week, and lost to Marquette by two points prior to playing Drexel and TCU. O’Quinn’s game is much like Samuel Dalembert without as much athleticism. Should he boost his offensive production and score between 14 to 16 PPG, O’Quinn could play his way into the second round of the 2012 NBA Draft.

4. Casper Ware, Long Beach State, PG, Senior, 5-10 170 lbs.

A quick, jitter-bug type of player led Long Beach State to a victory over then #9 Pittsburgh and has led the team in scoring through four games (19.8 PPG). He’s fast, he’s not afraid to shoot the ball (or even force shots), and he can find open teammates for assists. Excluding a four-point loss to San Diego State a few days ago, Long Beach State has played excellent basketball and Ware is the motor behind the team (19.8 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 4.5 APG, 41.7 FG%, 31.0 3P%).

5. Markeith Cummings, Kennesaw State, SG/SF, Junior, 6-7 230 lbs.

About 20 miles north of Atlanta sits one of the best kept secrets among mid-major schools. Cummings has posted an impressive stat line of 19.5 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.5 SPG and 44.8 3P% so far this season, even though he plays for a subpar Kennesaw State team that lacks quality players that would improve the Owls’ ability to move towards an NCAA Tournament bid. Cummings led the Atlantic Sun in scoring in 2010-11 and should be near the top again in 2011-12. His strong first step and playmaking ability make him an intriguing wing player that could eventually earn his way into NBA Draft consideration.