Player of the Week
Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin
Time to hop on the Big Daddy Fupps Bandwagon. Kaminsky can have whatever nickname he’d like after Tuesday night’s performance against North Dakota. The 7-foot, 234-pound junior went 16-19 from the field, 5-5 from beyond the arc, 5-6 from the free throw line and broke Wisconsin’s school record for most points scored by an individual in one game.
What’s even more impressive is how Kaminsky accumulated all those points. Two things stuck out most — his above average athleticism and his efficiency.
How many 7-footers do you know that can put it on the floor like Kaminsky? He uses dribble handoffs and pump fakes from behind the arc extensively, and has a knack for finishing with both hands to punish defenders with a versatile offensive game. Kaminsky established his stroke early and used the pump fake to surpass hard close outs from defenders trying to fun him off the line.
When someone scores 43, usually he accounts for a vast majority of his team’s points and accrues easy buckets from rebounds and run-outs. The crazy thing about Tuesday night’s game was that Wisconsin was wildly efficient. As a team, the Badgers shot a shade under 60% from the field and were exactly 60% from the 3-point line.
Even more amazing is Kaminsky had 3 total rebounds. He wasn’t crashing the glass and compiling lots of high-percentage shots near the hoop. He truly earned every point he scored, and his teammates played just as efficient basketball. The even sharing of the basketball should have made it more difficult for Kaminsky to become a record holder. The ball wasn’t finding its way to the 7-footer because others were cold. Kaminsky got the ball within the flow of the offense and was amazingly more efficient than his already highly efficient teammates. Mind you, Kaminsky only played 28 minutes. It was a truly remarkable night in Madison. Bravo, Frank.
Aaron Craft, Ohio State
Shout-outs don’t usually go to defense, specifically on-ball defense. But when you go up to Milwaukee and hold the #17 team in the nation to 35 points on a floor they’d tallied 27-straight wins on (good for 2nd in the nation), it’s hard not to tip your cap. Major props, Aaron Craft. It’s no secret he’s arguably the best on-ball defender in the nation. By example, Craft showed his team the only way they could win on the road in the toughest of environments: lock down on defense. Further, in a game where just 87 total points were scored, Craft finished with 10 points, 10 assists, 7 rebounds, and 2 steals. That’s what you need from your senior guard to win at a place like Marquette.
Roy Devyn Marble, Iowa
His name is not difficult to pronounce, but it just doesn’t roll off the tongue easily. So we’re going to call him RDM from now on. Just think of him as the new MKG. If someone has already come up with this, well done and apologies for duplicating it.
RDM is as pure of a scorer as there is in the Big Ten. He went 9-13 in Sunday’s showdown against Abilene Christian en route to a season-high 27 points. He’s got an effortless game from the outside but is also strong enough to finish at the rim with strength (and sometimes some style), which is why he’s attempted 24 free throws in his last 3 games. Marble’s offensive game is also helped by his active defense, as he is second in the Big Ten with 2.5 steals per game. While his greatest attribute is his knack for scoring, RDM has shown early in this season that he has an above-average all-around game.
LaQuinton Ross Ohio State
There’s been a lot of buzz about me since I came out of high school, and the end of last year I gave them something to look forward to once again.”
That’s LaQuinton Ross talking about LaQuinton Ross from a Cleveland.com article on October 10, 2013. The way things are going, Ross may have to continue as his own hype man. He also may be the first person to put himself on the Put Up or Shut Up list after 4 games of a college basketball season.
Altogether, Ross just looks lost out there. There’s no purpose in his movement, no aggressiveness, and seemingly no sense of urgency. Thad Matta has taken notice, sitting Ross for long stretches. It became most apparent that this is a BIG issue when Ross went 0-6 from the field, played just 18 minutes and only had one foul at Marquette. In a game where literally every person in the Bradley Center was hoping to see a remote sense of offense, Ross’s scoring ability would have helped immensely. Ohio State needed its best offensive player to produce, and LaQuinton Ross’s head coach didn’t even have the confidence to let him play. Uh oh.
Mitch McGary, Michigan
There’s no issue with Coach John Beilein and team doctors being cautious with McGary’s return. Despite losing to Iowa State, McGary played 22 minutes and was relatively productive. What’s become a major concern is the lingering nature of his back injury. The injury can create spurts of some good days with minimal pain, and other days where it’s unbearable and difficult to contribute. The injury wouldn’t be such a big concern if McGary had a medical history with a clean bill of health. But with the calf and foot injuries last year, plus this nagging back injury, and on top of McGary’s style of play, health has become a major concern.
Even more so, McGary‘s game thrives on raw, personal emotion. For a guy like McGary, potentially sitting on the sidelines with warm-up gear and a brace on his back can be difficult to comprehend. Critics this year will continuously remind us that McGary had the chance to ride his enormous national momentum at the end of last year all the way to the Association. That rhetoric will build if McGary continues to be hampered by injury and is not producing at the levels many think he can. Last year, everything seemed to fall perfectly in place for him. Now, he’s faced with adversity. Can his mental makeup mirror his tenacious physical and emotional foundation?
5 Guys Doing Their Best Louis Bullock Impression
For reference, this is Louis Bullock:
During the 1997-1998 season, the Michigan guard went 123-135 from the free throw line; in other words, he made 91.1% of the free throws he made during conference play and holds the record for the highest free throw percentage in single Big Ten Conference season. So what guys during the 2013-2014 season must be on the stripe when the game is on the line?
1. Andre Hollins, Minnesota
He shot 90.4% from the line during the 2011-2012 season and followed it up with shooting 80.6% from the line in 2012-2013 while attempting 45 more free throws than the previous season. He’s also averaging about 2.5 more minutes so far this year, so expect Hollins to still be a phenomenal free throw shooter who should hover around 85% for the season.
2. Tim Frazier, Penn State
Frazier shot 79.1% in the 2011-2012 Big Ten season, good for 5th in the conference. As previously stated, he’s literally Penn State’s go-to guy in every late-game situation. His experience delivering in crunch time in the past will hopefully allow the Nittany Lions to squeak out some conference wins. The same arguments about Hollins can be made for Frazier in terms of increased minutes and an increase in free throw attempts. Frazier falls below Hollins because historically he just doesn’t shoot it as well.
3. Roy Devyn Marble, Iowa
His FT percentage has rise from 53%, to 72.3%, to 81% last year, and he’s around that same percentage so far this year. Marble is the guy for Iowa because he is the Hawkeyes’ veteran leader, their best player and still shoots considerably well from the line.
4. Keith Appling, Michigan State
Albeit early, there’s been a big increase in Appling’s shooting ability so far this year: he’s shooting 11% better from the field, roughly 20% better from the 3 point line and 5% better from the stripe. Gary Harris finished in the Top 10 in Free Throw Percentage each of the last two years in conference play. During that span, he’s attempted 170 free throws and converted on roughly 77% of them. Expect 200+ free throw attempts and an 80% clip at the line for Appling.
5. Aaron White, Iowa
I know, I know. How can you have two guys from the same team at the free throw line? You can’t, so think of White as an insurance policy if Marble is being doubled. He shot 74.8% from the line last year on a whopping 258 free throw attempts, good for 8th in the entire nation. He’s 17-20 so far this year, and the “bullpen by committee”-type attitude that is prevalent throughout this 2013 Iowa team also translates to the free throw line.