Player of the Week
Murphy Holloway – Ole Miss
The Rebel’s out of conference schedule won’t impress anyone. That’s why their win against an above average Rutgers team last week will go along way towards their chances of making the tournament come March. Holloway was the player of the game as he notched his third double-double of the season scoring 17 points and hauling in 15 rebounds in the win. The only knock on him through the first six games is his free throw shooting (45.9 percent). His wide 6’7 frame is a tough guard for a lot of guys and it shows as he is getting to the line just over six times per game. He is the main reason why this Rebel team is undefeated to start the season.
Florida Gator Defense
Billy Donovan’s teams have always been tough defensively and this year’s squad is no different. The Gators have played smothering defense through the first six games of the season holding opponents to just under 50 points per game (48.5). Led by Patrick Young, the Gators are one of the country’s best defensive teams. They have held 4 of their first 6 oppenents to under 35% shooting including a Wisconsin squad that has historically been very efficient on offense. Scottie Wilbekin is one of the better on ball defenders in the SEC and his return after being suspended for the first couple of games only strengthens Florida’s defense. Two road games against Arizona and in-state rival Florida State will tell us a lot about this team and how good they can be away from Gainesville.
The Wildcats only lost two games all of last season. After the loss to Baylor on Saturday, Calipari’s first in Rupp as UK’s coach, the team has three losses through the first seven games of this season. Granted those losses have all come to quality competition but it is apparent early in this young season that this Kentucky team is nowhere near as talented or as disciplined as the teams Kentucky has had over the last three years. The talent and potential is there but they lack two things. The "glue" guys that do the little things and an effective point guard to run the show.
In a Calipari offense, the point guard is the most important player. This season has been marked by inconsistent play at that vital position. Archie Goodwin is a talented player and he has a bright future ahead of him but he isn’t a point guard. He is a slasher and a scorer. He excels when trying to score but struggles at times when trying to create for others. Ryan Harrow was supposed to be this team’s point guard but has been a huge disappointment and has lost time to Jarrod Polson, a former walk on. Coach Cal has his work cut out for him with this team as he tries to find some consistency at point. This team can and should turn it around as they become more familiar with one another but at the moment they are struggling to find their way.
Michael Dixon – Missouri
It was announced last week that Dixon would transfer and leave Missouri after three years in the program. Multiple reports surfaced last week related to off the court issues that have prohibited him of playing in any games so far this season. The loss of Dixon leaves a big hole in the Tigers’ roster and it also tempers the expectations that this Missouri team had coming into the season. There have been no reports on where Dixon will transfer but his career in Columbia is over. Dixon is a talented player and it is sad to see talent go to waste. Hopefully he works through his issues and lands on his feet at another program where he can once again be successful.
Top 5 Guards
Archie Goodwin – Kentucky
Goodwin had his worst game of the season last week against Notre Dame. He looked lost for much of the game and finished with only three points on 1-7 shooting. Goodwin and fellow freshman Alex Poythress and Nerlens Noel have all played exceptionally well this season but they have had little help from their supporting cast. Goodwin is being asked to play point guard for long stretches during the game and you can tell that he is uncomfortable with it at times. The point guard spot is all about setting up the offense, getting guys going and making the right pass. While Goodwin possesses each of these abilities, he hasn’t been asked to do them in a long time. He struggles with his decision making and shot selection at times but he has a knack for getting to the basket. He is a pure scorer that is still growing and maturing. He is arguably the most talented guard in the SEC and has looked impressive so far for the Wildcats. If teammate Ryan Harrow can ever get it going and allow Goodwin to slide back to the wing, this Kentucky team just gets that much better.
Phil Pressey – Missouri
If it wasn’t Pressey’s team before, it sure is now with the news that guard Michael Dixon won’t be returning. Pressey has looked good so far this season but there is still room for growth. He has shot the ball well from distance at over 42% but he has struggled inside the arc and at the rim. He has increased his scoring to over 13 points per game from a season ago but his assist and rebound numbers are identical even though he is playing more minutes. He gets careless with the ball at times and tries to do to much off the dribble. Picking his spots a little more and utilizing his speed will help him become more consistent as this team will need to lean on him even more without Dixon. Pressey hasn’t disappointed fans thus far as he has this Missouri team playing well and looking like every bit the contender they are supposed to be.
BJ Young – Arkansas
Young is one of the best scoring guards in the SEC. He is averaging over 21 points per game for an Arkansas squad that some had as a dark horse to contend in the conference this season. At 2-3 his team isn’t playing well even though he is. The biggest concern for Young is that he lacks the size to play shooting guard at the next level but hasn’t yet developed the point guard skills necessary to be a lead guard. He doesn’t get his teammates involved enough and looks to score the ball when he gets it in his hands. Young, like Pressey, is extremely quick and get to the rim whenever he wants. He has struggled this season from long range at 15.8% after shooting over 40% a season ago. He needs to get his shot going or teams will start to play off of him and take away his ability to drive to the basket. There aren’t any questions regarding his ability to score the ball but as the season progresses, Young will have to show that he can be more of a distributor. That should go along way with his own development as well as the development of the rest of his team.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – Georgia
This Georgia team just isn’t that good. They lost a lot from last year’s squad and the returning players just haven’t stepped up the way Mark Fox and Bulldog fans have hoped. The same can’t be said for Pope who has been the lone bright spot for this team early on. He is being asked to shoulder virtually the entire scoring load for this team. While he has put up big numbers, his efficiency has taken a dip this season as he has shot below 39% which has been his Achilles heel early on during his career. That could be because he has no help and feels the need to do it all on his own or it could just be that he still needs to mature as a player. Probably a little of both. Georgia would be horrible without him and needs someone else to step up to take some of the load off of Pope.
Kenny Boynton – Florida
Boynton has quietly become one of the best players the University of Florida has ever had. His numbers have dipped this season with the emergence of Scottie Wilbekin, Eric Murphy and Michael Frazier. He has a bit of an unorthodox shot but he is still the engine that makes this Florida team go. He is Florida’s go-to player in close games and possesses the ability to play lock down defense for stretches. Boynton has some of the same question marks that Young has in that he lacks the size to be an off guard in the NBA but lacks the skill set to play the point. He has never averaged three assists during his college career despite being a starter for the majority of his time in Gainesville. He isn’t looked at as much of a pro prospect but he is one of the most talented guards in the conference and coaches will be smart to not allow him to get hot because he can take over games quickly from beyond the arc.