Mid Major Blog

Player of the Week:

Damian Lillard, Weber State, PG, Junior, 6-3 195 lbs.

Damian LillardDamian LillardLillard is the nation’s leading scorer, averaging 25.8 PPG, and is one of the nation’s best shooters as well – 47.8 FG%, 46.7 3P% and 90.7 FT%. He has led Weber State to a 13-3 record, including a 7-game win streak as well. This past week Lillard and Weber State beat Portland State (8-9) and Montana State (7-8). Against Portland State, Lillard finished with 38 points (12-23 shooting), 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 steal. In Thursday night’s game against Montana State, he finished with 17 points (4-14 shooting), 6 rebounds and 3 steals. Lillard is widely considered to be a late first round to early second round NBA Draft prospect. His sharp shooting skills, ball-handling ability and relentless style of play make him the leading candidate for the Big Sky Player of the Year honor and also a candidate for All-American considerations.

Who’s Hot?

O.D. Anosike, Siena, PF, Junior, 6-8 232 lbs.

Anosike leads the nation in rebounding (12.5 RPG) and his performances during this past week of games furthered that standing. Siena (8-8) beat Rider (6-12) and Niagara (6-11) and in both games, Anosike finished with 14 rebounds. Against Rider he poured in 23 points and against Niagara he scored 27 points. For the season he’s averaging 14.7 PPG, 12.5 RPG, 0.6 APG, 1.1 SPG, 1.3 BPG and shooting 50.5 FG%. His free throw percentage could definitely use some work; currently it sits at 53.3 percent. Anosike is a bull in the paint and clears space by using excellent “box out” techniques.

Who’s Cold?

Saint Louis Billikens (13-4)

Saint Louis has posted a solid record this season, but it has lost three of its last four games. The three losses came against quality teams with respectable records: Temple (11-4), Dayton (12-5), and New Mexico (14-2). Saint Louis finished with 38.7 FG% against Dayton and 41.9 FG% against Temple (Temple shot 56.6 FG%). The season is not in jeopardy for Saint Louis as there are many games left to play. However, for the Billikens to be considered a legitimate NCAA Tournament at-large contender, they must beat teams that are also quality mid-majors. Losing to Temple, Dayton and New Mexico in three out of four games does not improve their claim for a spot in the “Big Dance” come March.

Top 25 Teams

12. UNLV (16-2)

UNLV was idle this week and faces #22 San Diego State (14-2) on Saturday in San Diego, CA.

14. Murray State (17-0)

The Racers keep on winning and winning some more. They beat Jacksonville State (6-13) and Austin Peay (4-13) this week and the team continues to be led by backcourt stud, Isaiah Canaan, who is scoring 18.2 PPG on 49.5 FG% and 49.0 3P%.

21. Gonzaga (13-3)

Saint Mary’s (16-2) whooped Gonzaga on Thursday night, 83-62, led by Matthew Dellavedova’s 26 points and 6 assists. Gonzaga shot 40.7 FG% compared to Saint Mary’s 50.8 FG%, and Gonzaga committed 12 turnovers compared to Saint Mary’s 5 turnovers. Junior forward, Elias Harris, played well in the game, finishing with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Gonzaga beat Santa Clara earlier in the week, 82-60.

22. San Diego State (14-2)

San Diego State did not look too far ahead in their schedule this week and beat an inferior Chicago State (0-16) team, 73-65. The Aztecs square off against #12 UNLV on Saturday in the mid-major Game of the Week. If the Aztecs can keep UNLV off of the boards, they could pull out a victory. Prediction: UNLV 75, San Diego State 70.

23. Creighton (13-2)

The Blue Jays beat Northern Iowa (12-5) on Tuesday, 63-60. In that game, Creighton shot 48.0 FG% compared to Northern Iowa’s 37.3 FG%. Doug McDermott continues to be one of the best mid-major players in the country, now averaging 24.5 PPG and 8.3 RPG. Creighton ranks 8th nationally in points per game (81.9), 2nd nationally in assists per game (19.9), and 2nd nationally for FG% (51.1).

Mid-Major Power Rankings

1. UNLV (16-2)
2. San Diego State (14-2)
3. Saint Mary’s (16-2)
4. Murray State (17-0)
5. Gonzaga (13-3)
6. Memphis (11-5)
7. Creighton (14-2)
8. Harvard (14-2)
9. New Mexico (14-2)
10. Temple (11-4)

Top 5 East Coasters

1. Scott Machado, Iona, PG, Senior, 6-1 180 lbs.

Machado is the top NBA Draft prospect among players from mid-major conferences. He leads the nation in assists per game (10.4) and is considered to be a first round selection in the 2012 NBA Draft. For the season Machado has finished with over 10 assists in 10 out of 17 games, including four games with over 15 assists. He has led Iona to a 13-4 record and a current first place ranking in the MAAC. His ability to handle the ball using either hand with ease and his ability to pass the ball through small windows are the type of point guard characteristics that NBA scouts crave.

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

Glover has benefitted from playing with standout point guard, Scott Machado, but Glover’s skills cannot be questioned. He has blossomed into a probable second round draft selection for the 2012 NBA Draft and he will likely be named to the MAAC’s all-conference team at season’s end. In 2011-12, he’s averaging 18.9 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.3 BPG while shooting 67.5 FG% and 71.9 FT%. He’s scored 10 or more points in 16 of 17 games and he’s finished with six double-doubles on the season. His most impressive performance came in Iona’s victory over St. Joseph’s (12-5) when he posted 34 points and 15 rebounds. Glover is a Ryan Gomes or Craig Smith type of player and should find himself on an NBA roster next year.

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

Nicholson has struggled to live up to all the hype that surrounded him at the beginning of the season, but he has played well recently and he should still find himself in the late first or early second round of the 2012 NBA Draft. On Wednesday this week, Nicholson finished with 30 points and 13 rebounds in St. Bonaventure’s (9-6) win over Dayton (12-5). Nicholson has three double-doubles on the season and that number should rise if he can manage to show more intensity on the glass. Nicholson is nimble for his size and he can score in the post when he puts his mind to it. His play is similar to Nene of the Denver Nuggets, minus the size and strength. For the season, Nicholson’s averages are 15.2 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 1.6 BPG and 51.8 FG%.

4. O.D. Anosike, Siena, PF, Junior, 6-8 232 lbs.

The nation’s rebounding leader (12.5 RPG) is a tireless competitor and relentless around the basket. His strength and rebounding athleticism have helped develop him into an NBA Draft prospect in either the 2012 NBA Draft or 2013 NBA Draft. Although he’s still developing interior post moves, he’s come a long way since the end of last season. For the season Anosike has finished with 10 rebounds or more in 15 out of 16 games, and he has 12 double-double performances. His most impressive games have been against Albany (11-7) – finishing with 21 points and 18 rebounds – and UMASS (13-4) – finishing with 27 points and 14 rebounds.

5. Ken Horton, Central Connecticut State, SG, Senior, 6-6 195 lbs.

If there were an All-Connecticut team, Horton would find his name on that squad, along with Andre Drummond, Jeremy Lamb, Shabazz Napier and Andre Oriakhi. Horton has developed himself into a second round NBA Draft prospect through his shooting ability (49.5 FG%) and his knack for scoring. His impressive rebounding numbers (9.6 RPG) for a wing player further legitimize his standing as one of the best mid-major players in the country. For the year Horton is averaging 21.0 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 1.9 APG, 2.1 SPG, and 1.5 BPG while shooting 49.5 FG%. His three-point shooting ability could use some improvement and he could avoid forcing three-point shots.

Honorable Mention:

Ramone Moore, Temple, SG, Senior, 6-4 180 lbs.

Gerardo Suero, Albany, SG, Junior, 6-4 205 lbs.

CJ Aiken, St. Jospeh’s, PF, Sophomore, 6-9 180 lbs.

Khalif Wyatt, Temple, SG, Junior, 6-4 205 lbs.

Chaz Williams, UMASS, PG, Sophomore, 5-9 175 lbs.