Assessing Texas, Pitt and other struggling teams; more notes (cont.)
Other Hoops Thoughts
If Wisconsin can get Jon Leuer (wrist injury) back relatively soon, this team might be even better than it was before Leuer got hurt. As often happens with an injury, other players who wouldn't otherwise get a lot of playing time have been making strides. Sophomore guard Jordan Taylor has scored 20 and 13 points in his last two games, and junior forward Keaton Nankivil almost singlehandedly shot the Badgers past Purdue. He finished with a career-high 25 points on 7-for-8 three-point shooting.
Speaking of Purdue, the Boilermakers got a huge lift last week when sophomore point guard Lewis Jackson, who hadn't played all season because of a broken foot, made his return earlier than expected in the win over Wisconsin. Jackson played 12 minutes against Wisconsin and 17 against Penn State, scoring two points in each contest. He should have plenty of time to get his conditioning and timing back for March, and I believe that would restore Purdue as a legitimate Final Four threat.
I guess it's time to reassess the argument that Duke is a good defensive team. The Blue Devils allowed Georgetown to shoot a stunning 71.7 percent from the field on Saturday. You can attribute that to Georgetown being a great team (which they are), but remember, N.C. State shot 58.2 percent when it beat Duke on Jan. 20. I'd say that is major cause for concern, no?
It surprised me that New Mexico was able to knock off BYU without a big game from Darington Hobson. The 6-7 junior forward shot 1-for-11 from the floor and finished with just five points. Hobson's shooting percentages have noticeably dropped since conference play began. I wonder whether his slight frame is starting to wear down.
I know it was a "big upset" when San Francisco, which came in with a 7-14 record, knocked off mighty Gonzaga and snapped the Bulldogs' 27-game West Coast Conference winning streak. But to me, the bigger surprise was that something like this hadn't happened sooner. Every game Gonzaga plays in that league is the Super Bowl for its opponent. It is very, very difficult to get emotionally amped each time out, yet for a long time the Zags have managed to do it.
The worst thing that could have happened for Ernie Kent was for Oregon to prepare to open a new arena next season. When a school spends a lot of money on a new arena, it likes to see fannies in the seats. That does not bode well for a coach whose team is 4-5 in the worst Pac-10 in years.
This week's Willie Warren head-scratcher: He took five shots and had four points in Oklahoma's 17-point loss at Nebraska. I honestly can't remember the last time a player this good had a season this bad.
The Big East has the most teams ranked in the top 16 of the RPI with four. The Big Ten is tied for second with three. You know who it's tied with? The Atlantic 10, that's who.
In the first half of Sunday's game at Tennessee, Florida attempted 20 two-point shots and six three-point shots, and they led by six at the half. In the second half, they shot 12 two-point shots and 10 three-point shots (making one), and they ended up losing the game by one. I don't think that's a coincidence.
So let me get this straight: Illinois starts losing a bunch of games, and Bruce Weber bans his players from talking to the media. Was he trying to punish them or reward them?
At a time when very few teams have genuine depth, Missouri continues to get more production from its bench than just about anyone. The Tigers actually had more reserves score in double figures than starters during their home win over Oklahoma State on Saturday.
I don't know what is more befuddling, the fact that Renardo Sidney's attorney, Don Jackson, continues to send e-mail blasts to the media ripping the NCAA, or that people are still printing what he writes. I mean, has anything he has said about this case turned out to be credible?
Would I be too much of a killjoy if I pointed out that South Carolina point guard Devan Downey needed 29 shots to score his 30 points in that big win over Kentucky?
Cole Aldrich has his best game of the season against Kansas State (18 points, 11 rebounds). But the main reason the Jayhawks need to keep going to Aldrich is that it makes Marcus Morris a much better player. Morris, who had 13 points and 10 rebounds in the win, benefits from the attention Aldrich commands because it creates open shots and opportunities on the offensive glass.
By the way, how great was it to see Sherron Collins and Jacob Pullen, two Chicago natives who have been close friends since high school, embrace like brothers after that game was over. That's what it's all about, folks.
Michigan State is going to be a major factor in the hunt for a No. 1 seed. If the Spartans win the Big Ten by three games and then win the tournament, it's going to be hard to keep them off the top line.
Siena scores a respectable-but-not-sensational 76.3 points per game, and they are ranked 280th in the country in three-point shooting. Yet their point guard, Ronald Moore, leads the nation in assists at 8.3 per game. Just making sure you know.
I gotta tell ya, I think it was a very smart piece of scheduling on the part of Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt to have his Yellow Jackets play Kentucky State on Saturday. Nothing wrong with giving your guys a little breather to get them through the dog days of January.
As DeMarcus Cousins blossoms into the best center in the country, it's worth remembering he would have been playing for UAB if the school had backed up Mike Davis and given Cousins a written promise to let him out of his letter of intent if Davis took another job. Pretty foolish move on UAB's part.
I guess I'm the last one to say this, but I'm starting to believe North Carolina might really miss out on the NCAA tournament. Losing at home by 15 to Virginia? This is not a good start towards being named the program of the decade.
Safe to say Washington State guard Klay Thompson, who is ranked sixth in the nation in scoring (22.3 ppg), would just as soon forget the Cougars' game at Washington last Saturday. Thompson was removed from the starting lineup by coach Ken Bone for missing the team bus, and then he scored a season-low seven points in a 28-point loss.
I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the difference between emotion and intensity. Nobody exemplifies that balance better than Kansas State, which leads the nation in free throw attempts (intensity) but is ranked fifth nationally in personal fouls (emotion). But my goodness can those guys pursue the ball.
Now do you understand why I've had such a man-crush all season on Baylor? If you'll recall, I rated them a BUY-PLUS in my stock report.
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