Shaq of the AAC
Player of the Week
Shaq Goodwin, Memphis
Goodwin didn’t put up huge scoring numbers this week, but he put in some quality minutes as his team got two big wins. He scored 13 points and grabbed 6 boards in a 32-point rout of Rutgers, then recorded 10 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 blocks against Gonzaga. Goodwin shot 8-15 in those two games.
1990s forward prospect from Ohio, Gary Trent, was known as the Shaq of the MAC. Say hello to the "Shaq of the AAC". Goodwin has been looking like perhaps the most consistent big man in the conference and has upped his draft prospects with his drastically more efficient play this season. He’s slimmed down this season and it shows with his more active play on both ends of the floor. He’s getting blocks, he’s getting steals, he’s grabbing offensive boards, and he’s a terror in transition. His 62% field goal percentage is hard to ignore and there’s simply a lot to like about the way Shaq Goodwin is taking care of business this season. His future may even hold the NBA, even as soon as next year.
Kadeem Jack, Rutgers
It hasn’t been an ideal season for Rutgers, but the Scarlet Knight players are continuing to bring energy to the floor every game. Leading the charge is Kadeem Jack, the senior forward. Interestingly enough, Jack has never had a single-game scoring total in the 20’s; however, after he went off on South Florida on Saturday, he now has a pair of 30+ point performances. His 31 were a career high and it led Rutgers to a rare conference road victory over South Florida. Jack is appearing to regain his beginning-of-season form as he now has an average of 19.2 PPG in his last five along with 7.4 RPG and 2 BPG in that span. He’s become a more effective post player, and between him and Wally Judge, Rutgers really has some good size down low.
Martino Brock, South Florida
And suddenly, the Bulls once again have a consistent second scoring option to Victor Rudd. Martino Brock is putting up numbers that he hasn’t seen his days at South Alabama prior to his transfer two years ago. He’s scored a season-high 17 points in three of his last five games, including both of his games this week. Prior to this five-game stretch, Brock had only broken the 11-point barrier twice this season. The wins are still hard to come by for the Bulls, but this tear of Brock’s takes the pressure off the starters if he can continue to score from the bench.
Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati
Sean Kilpatrick is the perfect player for demonstrating how one can go from player of the week to the “Who’s Not” section all in one week. Kilpatrick shoots a very high volume of shots and not all of them are smart. When Kilpatrick makes a lot of them, he looks good. When Cincinnati wins, he looks good. But when Kilpatrick misses a lot of shots and the Bearcats lose (which they rarely do), then Kilpatrick doesn’t look so good. In fact, he kind of looks like a chucker. So when Kilpatrick shot 5/18 (28%) in a loss to Southern Methodist, his fifth sub-30% shooting night of the year, it was an ugly stain on what has been an otherwise successful year for the senior shooting guard. Kilpatrick took 12 three’s against SMU and missed nine and that won’t fly. Fortunately, Cincinnati has an excellent defense, so they can win when their leading scorer isn’t the most efficient. It will be interesting to see if Kilpatrick’s high volume shot selection will hurt the Bearcats any more this year when they face elite offensive teams in the postseason.
Central Florida starters not named Isaiah Sykes
In an amazing turn of events, Central Florida starters not names Isaiah Sykes combined to make one(!) field goal against UConn on Sunday. It was a 2-point, 1/15 (7%) shooting performance for Calvin Newell, Tristan Spurlock, Staphon Blair, and Brandon Goodwin. The only reasons the Knights stayed within 20 on their home floor were Sykes’ 17 points and 36 bench points. The four non-Sykes starters combined for 27 points in 45 minutes of action against South Florida and a mere 22 points against Louisville. In fact, the Knights, who boasted a very balanced, high-scoring attack in non-conference play, have not had their four non-Sykes starters combine for 30 or more points since Jan. 15th. It’s put-up or shut-up time for UCF’s supporting cast.
Top 5 International Players
1.Niels Giffey, Connecticut
The German sharpshooter is one of the more efficient offensive players in the league, with a three-point shooting percentage of 53%. But he’s diversified his game this season and is logging significant minutes for the Huskies.
2.Yannick Moreira, Southern Methodist
Moreira has missed eight games due to injury, but he’s been a very solid big man for SMU this year. The Angolan JUCO transfer is shooting 56% and teams with Markus Kennedy to make a formidable Mustang frontcourt. He was a great find by coach Larry Brown.
3.Amida Brimah, Connecticut
The Ghanaian freshman is a shot-blocking beast. He leads the conference in block rate and swats an average of 2.6 shots per game. His 20-point outburst against UCF hints at his offensive potential as well, and he could play an extra-important role for the Huskies in the postseason.
4.Mangok Mathiang, Louisville
The line on Mathiang is similar to that of Brimah’s. He’s a raw, thin big man with great shot-blocking instincts and an encouragingly high shooting percentage on a low volume of shots. He’s logged some good minutes at the 4 for Louisville following the departure of Chane Behanan and showed signs of an offensive game with 13 against Western Kentucky.
5.Malick Kone, Rutgers
The junior wing player from Guinea doesn’t play quite as big of role as the previously mentioned four guys, but he’s a good defender for Rutgers and is averaging 3.1 PPG on the year.
Power Rankings (Last week in parentheses)
The Cardinals continue to take care of business and their consistency puts them back on top. They handled Houston on the road this week and are now looking to reclaim the top spot in the conference race. They’re getting good scoring production from several guys, which is always a staple of a good Rick Pitino team.
2.Southern Methodist (5)
The Mustangs have erased all memory of their embarrassing loss to South Florida by finally taking down Cincinnati, handing the Bearcats their first ever AAC loss. This, couple with their win over Memphis the week prior, jumps them three spots. The main concern with them is whether they can win on the road, as their best true road victory came over Wyoming, who stands at 104th in the RPI. On the road, SMU is susceptible to another bad loss to a team like South Florida, or perhaps Rutgers or Central Florida.
Memphis picked up a rare February non-conference victory over perennial mid-major power Gonzaga and has now won six of seven. They’re playing as cohesive as ever, and Joe Jackson and Shaq Goodwin could be the best inside-outside combo in the league.
Yes, the Bearcats only lost one game to a good SMU team on the road. But it was a 21-point defeat and, if we take a look at their most recent results, we see that none of Cincy’s last four wins (which include wins over Temple and USF) came by more than five points. They were looking very beatable and SMU exposed them this week.
Nothing too surprising occurred for the Huskies this week, with a loss to Cincinnati on the road and a win over UCF, so they get jumped by hot Memphis and SMU teams.
The Cougars have continues their inconsistency, but the talented Houston team showed up against Temple and they won handily.
With a win over South Florida, the Scarlet Knights now have wins in two of their last three, a rarity for bottom-half teams in this conference. Kadeem Jack is playing fantastically.
8.South Florida (6)
Home losses Rutgers hurt, especially when you’re coming off a thrilling road victory like the Bulls were after they beat UCF in overtime.
As Temple is only on a three-game losing streak, rather than an eight-game losing streak, they only drop to ninth this week.
10.Central Florida (10)
It’s been a disappointing year for UCF as the losses continue to mount. They almost got a W in front of their home crowd, but fell to USF in overtime by a point.