Keep an eye on these players during NCAA tournament
Posted: Monday March 13, 2006 1:09PM; Updated: Monday March 13, 2006 1:24PM
Watch J.J. Redick fire up shots from all over the court during the NCAA tournament.
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Before we get to the NCAA fun, I need to admit that I'm totally into the World Baseball Classic. The U.S.-Japan game Sunday had the intensity of an MLB playoff game, even after the Japanese got screwed out of a run by a bad call in the top of the eighth. I'm so engrossed by the tournament that I nearly wrote this entire column about how bad Buck Martinez is as a manager. (This is a guy with a career managerial record of 100-115. And we put him in charge of Team USA?)
Anyway, the games are really fun to watch, but ESPN is doing a miserable job of broadcasting them. Today's big U.S.-Korea second-round matchup with Dontrelle Willis on the hill? Being shown on tape-delay at 2 a.m. ET, on ESPN2. You'd think this is being played in Europe or something.
On to the NCAAs. I do not purport to be a college basketball expert. Because I cover the NBA, I only occasionally catch college games, and those are always the ones on at odd times -- I watched more Utah State games this season than Texas and Memphis games combined.
So I can't help you with your brackets. I can, however, help you with your viewing. Here are 10 players whom I enjoyed watching this season, who I promise will entertain you during the NCAA tournament.
1. J.J. Redick, Duke: You already know about this guy. He's easy to hate, but from a basketball standpoint, with my anti-Duke feelings sublimated, Redick is amazing to watch. For whatever it's worth, I e-mailed TNT's NBA analyst Steve Kerr and asked for a scouting report on Redick's much-debated pro future, particularly compared with Kerr's own career, because I thought at the very least Redick could have a career like Kerr or Craig Hodges, primarily as a spot-up shooter.
Kerr's take: "He'll have a long career in the NBA. He's a great shooter, obviously, and he's improved his ability to put the ball on the floor and create a shot. I wasn't nearly as advanced a shooter when I was in college -- I was almost strictly a spot-up guy. He can shoot fading away, leaning in on the run -- he's much more sophisticated as an offensive all-around player than I was. He won't be a star -- he's not nearly athletic enough, and he doesn't have point guard skills. He'll be undersized, but there are enough guys in the league he can guard, so he'll find his way into someone's lineup. And as hard as he works, he's going to improve every year, too."
2. David Pak, Utah State: The 29-year-old point guard isn't the fastest guy around, but savvy gets him through. A heady, fun player to watch, with a sneaky left-handed jumper he can get off in traffic.
3. Squeaky Johnson, UAB: Energetic point guard with the best name in the tourney. He averaged more assists per game than field goal attempts, so you know he loves distributing the rock.
4. Shagari Alleyne, Kentucky: He doesn't play in every game, mostly because he might be the most awkward player since Gheorghe Muresan. But he's 7-foot-3, and every once in a while he tomahawk-dunks in someone's face.