Player of the Week

Johnathan Williams – F – Gonzaga

Gonzaga’s senior leader, Williams has been at the center of the team’s success early this season. Against Ohio State, he made 8 of 10 shots to score 21 points to go along with 5 boards.

His performance against Florida earned him player of the week honors. In the double OT loss, he shot 16-22 from the field and scored 39 points. He added 12 rebounds and 2 blocks in 44 minutes of play.

He tailed off a little bit against Texas, shooting 3-10 for 10 points, 4 rebounds and 2 blocks. Williams is averaging 17 and 7 on the year, and is the leader of the Gonzaga offense. If he and Josh Perkins can stay hot, this will be a team to look out for in March despite losing so many key players from last year’s run.

Who’s Hot

Jared Terrell – G – Rhode Island

The 6’3 senior has been relied on to carry the load following the injury of E.C. Matthews and has surpasses expectations.

In their biggest game of the season, a 75-74 win over ranked Seton Hall, Terrell dropped 32 on 9-17 shooting, 4-6 from three and a perfect 10-10 from the free throw line. He was less impressive against UVA, 11 points on 11 shots, but they are an elite defense and some regression is to be expected. On the season, he is averaging 19 3 and 3.

Brandon McCoy – C – UNLV

In their biggest game of the season to this point against Utah, the 7’1 Center scored 26 points on 9-14 shooting and 8-8 from the line. He also added 17 rebounds.

In the following game, against Southern Utah, he had 15 points, 14 rebounds and 6 blocks with only 2 fouls. He was 3-4 from the line in that game, and is shooting 60% from the field and 70% from the stripe on the year. Very encouraging numbers for NBA teams.

Who’s Not

Landry Shamet – G – Wichita State

Shamet has cooled off over his past two games. He scored 10 points on 11 shots against Notre Dame and went 0-4 from deep. He only had to play 16 minutes in their blowout against Savannah State, but was 2-6 for 6 points. He did have 11 assists in the two games, which is encouraging to see him start to distribute the ball more.

UConn (4-2, 0-0)

The Huskies beat Oregon 71-63, an impressive win. They followed that up with a 20-point loss to a good Michigan State team. They then followed that up with a 35-point loss to Arkansas in which they gave up 102 points. Jalen Adams and Terry Larrier have been playing well, but the rest of the team will need to pick up the slack if they want to play in March.

Top 10 Mid Major Power Rankings

1) Wichita State Shockers (5-1, 0-0)

Despite a one point loss to Notre Dame in the Maui Invitational, the Shockers remain atop the mid major power rankings. They had impressive wins against California and Marquette earlier in the tournament.

The Shockers will need to improve their offense against the press, something they struggled with against California in the first half of what turned out to be a 92-82 victory. Players other than Landry Shamet will need to be able to handle the ball if they want to have success against elite defenses in the tournament.

Conner Frankamp will hopefully improve his three-point shooting, which is currently below 30%. He was at 44% last year. Shaquille Morris was off to a hot start, but has fallen off over the past few games. He fouled out in 18 minutes in the loss to Notre Dame.

All that being said, the Shockers remain the class of the AAC. They have the most talent and skill to knock off top teams. They took their foot off the gas against Notre Dame, and it is better for a team to learn that lesson in November than in March.

2) Cincinnati Bearcats (7-0, 0-0)

Cincinnati has yet to truly test themselves this season, but they are off to a fantastic start nonetheless. Only Buffalo was able to keep their loss to Cincy under 20 in a 73-67 defeat earlier in the year.

Jacob Evans has continued to impress, shooting 45% from deep. The 6’6 guard has also been very impressive on defense, averaging 1.6 blocks and 0.9 steals a game. Gary Clark and Jarron Cumberland have played solid as well. This is not a team with star power. They have a number of good players who buy into the system, which generally leads to success at the college level.

The Bearcats have some big games coming up, three of their next four games are against Xavier, Florida, and UCLA. Against Florida is at a neutral site and the other two are away. We will know a lot more about this team after those games.

3) Gonzaga Bulldogs (5-1, 0-0)

Gonzaga was a part of the PK80, a fantastic tournament that took place during Thanksgiving week. They lost a double OT thriller to Florida 111-105 in a game that easily could have gone the other way. They followed that up with another great game, a 76-71 victory in overtime over Texas. The Bulldogs were able to hold Mohamed Bamba to only 9 points and 10 rebounds, an impressive task for a team that lost their frontcourt coming into this year.

Josh Perkins is on fire, shooting 53% from deep. He has showcased his deep range on multiple occasions. Jonathan Williams has seen increased minutes and shots, and it has paid off immensely. The 6’9 senior forward is averaging 17 points and 7 rebounds.

The top prospects on the team, Rui Hachimura and Killian Tillie have shown flashes, but have yet to make significant impacts on the team so far. Both forwards have NBA skills. Upcoming games against Creighton and Villanova will certainly test this young team.

4) Nevada Wolfpack (6-0, 0-0)

There is a significant drop off of teams after Gonzaga, with Nevada getting the fourth spot based on their undefeated record with quality wins. An 88-81 victory over Rhode Island and a 81-68 win against Davidson will reflect very positively for them when the selection committee looks at them in March.

Jordan Caroline, Caleb Martin and Cody Martin are leading the pack. They are all averaging 15+ points and 5+ rebounds on at least 45% shooting. The Martin twins shoot 55% and 53% respectively. They are a talented team that seems to be gelling very well early in the season.

5) UNLV Running Rebels (6-0, 0-0)

Another undefeated team, UNLV had a quality win against Utah with the final score being a blowout, 85-58. They have games coming up against UNI and now-unranked Arizona, so we will see how they respond.

Brandon McCoy, the best prospect among the mid major conferences, is averaging 20 and 13 on 60% shooting. Few teams have an answer for the 7’1 freshman. Give him the ball and let him go to work, it has worked very well so far.

6) Saint Mary’s Gaels (5-2, 0-0)

Saint Mary’s had to drop after two losses, but they were close games against good teams. An 84-79 loss to Washington State followed by an overtime loss against Georgia dropped them out of the top 25.

The issue with the Gaels is that they basically have three players that they heavily rely on to wins games. Jock Landale has been fantastic, averaging 20 points and over 8 rebounds a game. Calvin Hermanson is shooting 64% from the field and 48% from deep, contributing 14 points a game. Emmett Naar runs the show averaging 14 points and 9 assists. If they hope to make a run this year, they will need more production from the bench, or anyone outside of those three. If one or two them goes down with an injury, their season is over.

7) SMU Mustangs (6-2, 0-0)

SMU’s two losses are by a combined 5 points. 61-58 to UNI and 63-61 to WKU. Other than that, the team has been fantastic. A 66-60 win over Arizona, the number two team in the country at the time, is big for morale in the early going.

Shake Milton has been producing despite low shooting percentages. He averages 18/4/3 on 37% shooting. Jarrey Foster has been playing well along with 6’9 freshman Ethan Chargois. The forward is averaging 12 and 5 on 59% shooting. The Mustangs surely are glad to see the heralded recruit off to a good start.

SMU has already had some good tests, and should continue playing well. If they had won those two close losses, this is a ranked team.

8) Valparaiso Crusaders (8-0, 0-0)

This team is off to a good start beating up on some bad teams. Senior guard Tevonn Walker is having a good season, averaging 17 points, 5 rebounds and over 2 steals a game.

Their next game is Thursday against Purdue, which will be their first real test of the season. I am very interested to see how that game goes.

9) Rhode Island Rams (4-2, 0-0)

The Rams got a huge win over Seton Hall, which will hopefully offset two out-of-conference losses to UVA and Nevada. The team has been playing well despite the absence of E.C. Matthews.

Jared Terrell has been carrying the load offensively for a team that has suddenly found itself struggling to keep up with some of the more high-octane offenses in the country.

They are still the class of the A-10, however, and should be good moving forward.

10) UT Arlington Mavericks (5-1, 0-0)

With their one loss being by one point to ranked Alabama, the Mavericks are off to an impressive start. Senior Kevin Hervey has been playing very well. The 6’9 forward has NBA potential as a stretch forward three and D type player. He is shooting exactly 50/40/90 on the season and is putting up 22 points and 8 rebounds a game. They are the favorites to win their conference, the Sun Belt, at the moment.

Freshman Spotlight

Jordan Goodwin – G – Saint Louis

Goodwin is one of the more interesting prospects in the nation right now. The 6’3 guard has demonstrated elite skill both rebounding and passing the ball. He averages 7.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 2.7 steals and just 2.2 turnovers a game.

With that said, He cannot score the ball. He is 29% from the field and 9% from three (not a typo) on just under 4 attempts a game. If he can start to put the ball in the basket, this is a very talented player who can give you a little bit of everything. His jumper is not egregiously ugly or anything, so I believe that with time he will develop into a better scorer.

Top 5 Mid Major Games of the Past Week

1) Gonzaga v Florida

An amazing game that took 2 overtimes to declare a winner, Florida eked out the win by a score of 111-105. We were able to learn a lot about both teams, and it had the feel of an elite eight game. I would love to see a rematch of these two teams down the road.

2)    Wichita State v Notre Dame

Up 37-23 at half, the Shockers took their foot off the gas and paid the price. A great comeback in the second half by Notre Dame was topped off by a late turnover and free throws. The fighting Irish won by a score of 67-66. Another great game with two elite teams playing, we will be seeing both of them in March.

3)    Gonzaga v Texas

Gonzaga played three games in four nights, but they made it even more exhausting for themselves with another OT game, this time against Texas. Rui Hachimura came off the bench and added 20 points, which proved to be the difference in the 76-71 victory for the zags.

4)    Rhode Island v Seton Hall

A massive win for Rhode Island, the Rams were able to win 75-74 in a nail biter that was neck and neck the entire game. Jared Terrell scored 32 points in 38 minutes, and they needed every single one of them.

5) Saint Mary’s v Georgia

A big win for Georgia in the Wooden Legacy event, this was another game that needed OT for a winner. The game was very close the entire time, with Georgia hitting some clutch shots late to get the win.