Hoop Thoughts (Cont.)
The biggest question I have about Syracuse right now -- really the only question -- is to what degree this team's biggest strength (balance) becomes its primary weakness (lack of a go-to guy). Think of it this way: If it's a regional final, and it's late in the game and late in the shot clock, who gets the ball? It should be Kris Joseph, but he doesn't have a takeover personality. It might be Scoop Jardine, but he's not a great shooter and tends to be careless. Brandon Triche? He's solid but not spectacular. It will probably end up being Dion Waiters, but given that he's a sophomore who comes off the bench, is that really ideal? This is a good problem to have, but it is a problem.
It's nice that Kentucky's Terrence Jones scored 20 points on 8 for 9 shooting against South Carolina, his highest output in over a month. However, that also reinforces the suspicion that Jones only puts up numbers when they don't matter very much.
The Seth Curry-as-point-guard experiment appears to be over at Duke. The reason the Blue Devils' opponents' field goal percentages are so high is because Duke's offense has been so bad. With freshman Quinn Cook stepping into that role as a starter, junior Andre Dawkins' role is being reduced. Coach K will continue to mix and match, and his record indicates he'll figure it out eventually. But right now this is a team very much in search of itself.
Speaking of Duke, don't you just love that Temple coach Fran Dunphy had his players ride the subway to that game? Maybe he should keep doing it. Remember, the St. John's coaching staff's policy of wearing sneakers and open collars started when they did it for its win over Duke at Madison Square Garden.
Frankly, I've never understood why all coaches don't wear more comfortable garb. They're at a basketball game, not a GQ shoot.
North Carolina is still not getting much production from freshmen James Michael McAdoo and P.J. Hairston. Some people might see that as a concern, but to me it underscores how much upside the Tar Heels still have.
I love that Indiana's Cody Zeller is a skinny, tall freshman who does all his work near the basket. Most guys with his frame try to prove they're shooting guards. They usually end up proving they're not shooting guards.
No team ranked in the top 15 has more room to get better than Michigan State. Sophomore Keith Appling is playing the point for the first time. Senior guard Brandon Wood is a graduate transfer who played at Valparaiso last year. And two of the Spartans' top seven players, Branden Dawson and Travis Trice, are freshmen. That means that four of the Spartans' top seven are doing what they're doing for the first time, and yet the team is 14-2 and ranked sixth in this week's AP poll.
I'm not hearing people wonder too much anymore about whether Baylor's guards are good enough. We'll find out just how good during the Bears' upcoming road games at Kansas State and Kansas.
Missouri got exposed at Kansas State on Saturday as a one-trick pony. Yes, it's a pretty good trick, but when you go on the road, it's hard to shoot 24 threes and beat a good team unless you're absolutely on fire. Missouri made seven of those attempts, but they only got five offensive rebounds to make up for it.
I realize it came in a 29-point blowout, but Thad Matta played nine guys double-digit minutes in the Buckeyes' win at Iowa. Think he secretly agrees with fans who are concerned about the team's lack of depth?
Ohio State nugget number two: Anyone else notice the Buckeyes are committing more fouls this year? Playing tight D without fouling has been a staple of Matta's throughout his career. Right now, however, according to Kenpom.com, OSU is ranked 28th nationally in defensive free throw rate (FTA/FGA). Here's where they ranked nationally in that category over the last six years: second, second, first, fourth, eighth, first.
I don't mean to sound harsh, but right now UConn's biggest problem is Shabazz Napier. In the Huskies' losses at Seton Hall and Rutgers, Napier shot a combined 7 for 26 from the field and had nine turnovers to just eight assists. The kid has a lot of talent, but he doesn't have much feel for how to run a team as the point guard.
I think Henry Sims is the best passing big man John Thompson III has ever had, even better than Greg Monroe. Sims is a point center and that offense is tailor made for his skills. If Draymond Green played for Georgetown, he might lead the country in assists.
An opposing coach on Florida center Patric Young: "He's got a great physique but he never throws his weight around." And did you see that Mike Rosario only played two minutes against Tennessee? You think he's wishing he was back at Rutgers right about now?
Kansas is not far from being a really good team, so if Travis Releford keeps playing like this it could be a game-changer. The 6-foot-5 junior guard, a heralded recruit who has had a nondescript and injury-plagued career thus far, followed up his first-ever double-double by scoring a career-high 28 points in Saturday's win over Oklahoma.
Anyone doubt that Mike Anderson is gonna get it rolling at Arkansas?
Miami couldn't quite pull off the upset at Virginia, but I'm telling you, folks, the Hurricanes are coming. They just got back two of their top players, junior center Reggie Johnson (injury) and senior guard DeQuan Jones (suspension). And you may have heard this somewhere, but the ACC is pretty weak this season.
You all know I'm a big Meyers Leonard fan, and I think Bruce Weber is a good coach. But every time I see Leonard set a high ball screen behind the three-point line I want to put them both in time out. The kid is 7-1. Get. Under. The. Basket.
Missouri State senior forward Kyle Weems has a reputation for being a little lazy, but he definitely knows how to rise to the occasion. When I remarked to his former coach, Cuonzo Martin (now at Tennessee), that Weems seems to like the big stage, Martin laughed and said, "He can't live without it."
Colorado might be the only undefeated team in the Pac 12, but all three of the Buffaloes' wins came at home (Utah, Washington, Washington State). We'll find out a lot more about CU this weekend when it plays at Cal and Stanford.
Duke lost to Temple who lost to Dayton who lost to Buffalo at home by 27 points. Got it?