Trouble T.R.O.Y.

Player of the Week

Troy Williams, F, Indiana

Troy WilliamsTroy WilliamsTom Crean receives plenty of justified criticism from Hoosier fans and basketball enthusiasts. During Indiana's overtime loss to Georgetown, Crean failed to draw up a zone offense that consistently found high percentage shots. He was bailed out (again) by the heroics of Yogi Ferrell.

But I tip my hat for Crean putting Williams at the point guard position early in the second half. On that Saturday at the Garden, Williams attacked and converted towards the rim more than any other Indiana player.

Two things shocked me about Williams. First, his ball handling is fantastic for his size. Granted, there was not much ball pressure from Georgetown, who was packed in a tight 2-3 zone. Second, Williams was awesome at making decisions. On most possessions, Indiana started with a high ball screen to get Williams going to his right. He then made an array of moves and dishes from the mid-post. There were floaters, skip passes to the opposite wing hitting Yogi or James Blackmon, Jr., and drives the way to the basket and either converting or a dumpoff pass to the opposite block.

Williams stat line in the Georgetown game was impressive, finishing with 23 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists. NBA scouts will love seeing that type of versatility from Williams. It was a quick in-game adjustment and he executed beautifully. Troy Williams' tenacity and floor leadership kept Indiana within striking distance of Georgetown. Major props.

Who's Hot

Deandre Mathieu, G, Minnesota

Music to a coach's ear? When his point guard takes 8 shots, scores 13 points, had 11 assists, and commits ZERO turnovers. Mathieu ran the show during the Gophers' win against UNC Wilmington.

Last week I discussed how much better Mathieu has become at limiting turnovers while taking on more responsibility handling the rock for Minnesota. When I caught glimpses of that game, I was most impressed with Mathieu's ability to get all Minnesota players active and involved. To me, it sure looked like the Gophers kept running motion offense throughout the game which can easily get stagnant. But Mathieu did a great job controlling pace and spreading the love.

Don't forget - he's also a great on-ball defender and is near the top of the list for steals per game. That leads to even easier baskets for Minnesota. For opponents, it's becoming Pick Your Poison when Matheiu is playing this well.

Bishop Daniels, G, Rutgers

The transfer from Miami has finally found a role back in Rutgers rotation. After suffering an ankle injury against Vanderbilt on November 28th, the 6'3" sophomore did not play in the next four games. He provides another scoring option for the Scarlet Knights besides Myles Mack. This week, Daniels went 8-15 from the field for wins over Sacred Heart and Monmouth.

In all, Daniels is a very good athlete with fantastic leaping ability. Like "best in the B1G" leaping ability. It's really fun to watch. I see him more as an athlete that spends time on the basketball court as opposed to being a basketball player. He relies on his athleticism a lot, and his 38% field goal percentage illustrates that he's not the best shooter. Nonetheless, he had a successful week on a team that is desperate for any type of offensive production. He still commits way too many turnovers (20 so far this year), but averaging a shade over 19 minutes per game and 8 shot attempts over his last three games means Bishop Daniels is healthy again and ready to help Rutgers grind out some victories.

Who's Not

Terran Petteway, G, Nebraska

Suffering a loss to Hawaii, Nebraska shot themselves in the foot by going just 13-23 from the free throw line. I really liked their game plan to get to the hole and convert at the charity stripe, but they forget to do the latter part.

In all, the large coming out party that Petteway had last year seems like a very, very long time ago. In the Huskers' loss to Hawaii, he was just 4-12 from the field and 5-9 from the free throw line.

In their next contest that I'm not sure you can even call a basketball game, Nebraska trudged into overtime tied at 35 again Loyola Marymount. I'll give Petteway credit - he hit two big buckets in overtime. But for Nebraska to not put themselves in that situation again, more captaincy, leadership, communication, and intangibles need to be displayed by Petteway. I still think Shavon Shields is Nebraska's best offensive option and the player who should get the bulk of their shots.

Petteway needs to get back to the things that made him a household name last year - tough rebounding, ugly floaters dropping in, good cuts off the basketball, and busting his ass for 30+ minutes a game.

AJ Hammons & Kendall Stephens, Purdue

Did you hear that? It's the sound of Purdue's basketball program hitting rock bottom. They trailed by 17 at home to 7-5 Gardner-Webb, a team that played a tough non conference schedule. Still: it's Gardner-Webb.

The Boilermakers could not and cannot shoot the ball from the outside nor lock down opposing shooters from deep. While Gardner-Webb did have one player drop 31 points, they still went 14-25 from deep (56%) which is a combination of hot shooting and some really bad perimeter defense.

Speaking of defense, Purdue isn't playing much of it anywhere. I point the finger a bit at Hammons. If you're projected to be a quality NBA big man, take some pride and start protecting the rim better. It's well chronicled, but his lack of a motor and effort is more visible in many games this year.

As for Stephens, he is Purdue's best athlete with the ball in his hands. I'm ok with some turnovers happening so long as he's getting to the hole and trying to take high percentage shots. For him to be held scoreless in the Gardner-Webb game AND only have five shot attempts is frustrating. It's time for a players only meeting at Purdue. If not, it will get ugly quick on New Year's Eve with Minnesota.

5 New Years Resolutions

1. Watch more Penn State basketball

You heard me. DJ Newbill and Brandon Taylor are fun as hell to watch. And I don't care who you have played - being 12-1 going into conference play means that I have to at least respect that team enough to get them in my viewing schedule more frequently. They've got a great win over George Washington, who just beat #11 Wichita State in the championship game out in Hawaii.

No other wins are really going to be eye-opening, but I don't usually expect Penn State basketball to pull out a close win against Bucknell on the road, beat Southern Cal and Cornell at a tournament in South Carolina, and be victorious in their B1G/ACC matchup (even though it was against an atrocious Viriginia Tech team). What I love most about this year's team is from the minimal amount of games and plays I've seen, these players are buying into Pat Chambers' system and exude the personality of their coach. That's illustrated best by the Nittany Lions' being 15th in the nation in defensive rebounding and 25th in the nation in total rebounding. They are physical and nasty on the defensive boards. That will translate to continued success and conference wins for Penn State basketball.

2. Be prepared for a conference game where less than 80 total points are scored

Rutgers scored 25 points against Virginia. While the Cavaliers are likely the best defensive team in the nation statistically and via the eye-ball test, scoring 8 points in the second half should not happen. As previously mentioned, Nebraska had 35 points at the end of regulation against Loyola Marymount. Northwestern is 223rd in the nation in points per game. Coupled with good defensive guards in the conference, and they may have major problems getting to 40 points in a conference game. Hell, it may happen before 2015 - Northwestern and Rutgers square off on December 30th. Other date: January 8th pits Rutgers at Nebraska.

3. Figure out who my favorite B1G 3-point shooter is

I've always been a sucker for Yogi Ferrell. Maybe it's all the big shots he has already hit in his career, along with his unconsciousness when it comes to range. DAngelo Russell is also a fantastic guy to see sling it, but I'm a righty so lefties don't do it for me. Travis Trice has that nice low release where he uses lots of his legs to elevate and score. Denzel Valentine is great too, but I think of him more as a great all-around player rather than a bomber from deep. I'm probably going to end up choosing between two Hoosiers - either Yogi or James Blackmon Jr, who may have the shortest memory in the conference and just keeps firing.

4. Welcome Maryland and Rutgers with open arms

17,950-seat Xfinity Stadium in College Park, Maryland is a place I remember vividly. Those Duke-North Carolina battles over the last ten years always were the best college basketball teams with some of the best players in the nation battling for a victory. Duke-Maryland? That was sheer hatred for one another. Sunday Night. Fox Sports Net. Tim Brando and Mike Gminksi. My most vivid memory is when a Maryland student held up a sign with J.J. Redick's phone number on it. That arena looks like an amazing atmosphere from my couch. I can't wait for big, B1G conference games there. Key dates: January 27th, Michigan States comes to College Park; February 24th, it's Bo & the Badgers.

For Rutgers? It'll be like the apprehensive hug you give that third cousin you see once a year during the holidays - "The only reason I am talking and associating with you is because we are relatives."

5. Don't lose it when you see Ted Valentine's face on the TV before a game starts

It's always going to be the Ted Valentine show. There's nothing you and I can do about it - besides pour another one.

Happy New Year!

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