Georgetown has learned from last year's debacle; more notes (cont.)
I'm guessing efficiency maven Ken Pomeroy is less surprised than the rest of us that Georgetown ran roughshod over Villanova. According to Ken Pom's site, the Wildcats are ranked 63rd in the nation in defensive efficiency. They really got exposed at that end of the floor as Georgetown shot 52.6 percent.
A lot of people assume that Kentucky is running a lot of dribble-drive motion this season, but John Calipari told me last week that the Cats only run that offense about 30 percent of the time. The reason? "Because DeMarcus [Cousins] is too good." Calipari also told me that Cousins "has come as far and as fast as any player I've coached."
When it's February and you're a bubble team and you have a good team on your home floor, you have to win the game. Dayton (which beat Xavier), Richmond (Temple), Illinois (Michigan State), UNLV (BYU) and Oklahoma (Texas) did that last weekend. Memphis (which lost to Gonzaga) did not.
Speaking of Memphis, sophomore swingman Wesley Witherspoon may have taken an important psychological step forward last week when he scored 29 and 26 points, respectively, against UAB and Gonzaga. If Witherspoon can maintain that dominating mentality, the Tigers could very well win that Conference USA tournament, which is being played this year in Tulsa.
Incidentally, I don't mean to detract from what Richmond pulled off, but it's worth noting that Temple played that game without second-leading scorer Juan Fernandez, who sat out because of lingering effects from a shot he took to his head during Temple's win over Fordham on Jan. 23.
I'm hoping against hope that Ernie Kent holds on at Oregon, but if he doesn't, I'm hearing that Mark Turgeon's name will be in the mix.
I agree with Luke Winn that the addition of Turkish native Deniz Kilicli will help West Virginia, but I still think the Mountaineers would be better off if he were a point guard instead of a 6-9 power forward.
I realize I've been paying a lot of attention (much of it unflattering) to Oklahoma guard Willie Warren this season, but I hope you all have had a chance to check out the Sooners' much-improved freshman point guard, Tommy Mason-Griffin. Mason-Griffin is only 5-11, but he's built like a truck and knows how to use his strength. He is also daring and sees the floor beautifully. While Warren was limited to playing 16 minutes off the bench because of an ankle injury on Saturday against Texas, Mason-Griffin had 24 points, five rebounds and four assists in the Sooners' biggest win of the season.
Speaking of Texas, do you realize the Longhorns were 10-for-27 from the foul line in that game? Damion James was 4-for-13 by himself. And is there any player in America who has had a more up-and-down season than Jordan Hamilton? Big trouble in Texas, my friends.
Did I miss the press release announcing the elimination of the coaches' box? Because as far as I can tell, there's not a single coach staying in it.
William & Mary is a scary team when it's making threes, but when it's not, the Tribe have no Plan B. They shot 5-for-25 from behind the arc in their loss at Old Dominion, and they got out-rebounded by 19.
If Georgia sophomore forward Trey Thompkins were on a better team, he'd be a household name. Thompson has been amazingly consistent during SEC play, and he dominated Vandy's frontcourt with 17 points and seven rebounds in Saturday's 14-point win over the Commodores.
Looks like Seton Hall's Jeremy Hazell didn't respond well to Bobby Gonzalez's tough love. In his first game since losing his starting spot, Hazell had two points in 32 minutes off the bench in the Hall's blowout loss at Pittsburgh.
You think Ohio State is hurting for depth? The Buckeyes cruised by Iowa at home by 10 points on Sunday, yet four of their five starters played all 40 minutes.
I haven't broken out my Erving Walker shot-o-meter in a while, so here goes: Florida's sophomore point guard was 1-for-8 from three-point range in the Gators' win over Mississippi State but only 1-for-2 from the foul line. On the season Walker has attempted 134 three-pointers (where he makes 37.3 percent) to 77 free throws (where he makes 80.5 percent). So much for playing to your strengths. (To Walker's credit, though, he is shooting 49.1 percent from three-point range in nine SEC games.)
Maybe Walker should watch some video of Texas Tech guard John Roberson. He's shooting a better three-point percentage than Walker (41.0), yet Roberson took 14 free throws (making 13) to just four three-pointers in the Red Raiders' win over Oklahoma State on Saturday.
For all of South Florida's success of late (the Bulls had won four in a row, including home against Pitt and at Georgetown, before falling by three points at Notre Dame on Sunday), keep in mind that their second-leading scorer and best big man, Gus Gilchrist, has been out of action since early December because of an ankle injury. Gilchrist has been practicing for several weeks now and the team hopes to have him back for Saturday's game at Marquette.
In case you missed it, check out New York Times columnist David Brooks' article last week on the virtues of college sports. Besides being a brilliant writer, Brooks is also a closet Villanova basketball fan.
I love that Purdue's walk-on guard John Hart has averaged 17.5 minutes in four games (all wins) since his surprising star turn in the win at Illinois. And yes, his name was correctly listed in the score book each time.
Anyone else out there noticing that Maryland guard Greivis Vasquez is the best player in the ACC?
Maybe Mike Brey should make his Notre Dame players practice at 8 every morning. Since he did that following the Irish's loss at Rutgers, they beat Cincinnati and South Florida at home to get a game over .500 in the Big East. Though I must say it's hard to watch this team play without thinking about how much better it would be if Scott Martin didn't get hurt.
It would be great to see Vermont make the NCAA tournament if only to give Marqus Blakely a chance to show off his dunking abilities for a national audience. Check him out on YouTube if you haven't already.
Marshall freshman center Hassan Whiteside is a promising prospect, but he still has a looooong way to go. Whiteside was badly outplayed in his big battle against Tulsa's Jerome Jordan last week, grabbing one lone rebound (and scoring 10 points) to Jordan's 24 points and 12 rebounds.
I keep hearing TV announcers referring to a team running a "three-guard offense" as if it's something worth mentioning. Does anyone have a two-guard offense anymore? The days of a lineup that reads guard-guard-forward-forward-center are long gone.
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