Hoop Thoughts (Cont.)
Anthony Davis is my choice right now for National Player of the Year -- he's the best freshman interior defender since Patrick Ewing -- but when I watch Kentucky play, I focus mostly on freshman point guard Marquis Teague. His 13-point, 8-assist, 1-turnover performance in the win at Vanderbilt was his best of the season, and over his last eight games Teague had 46 assists to just 17 turnovers. Looks to me like young Marquis is all grown-up.
My primary take-away from Ohio State's loss to Michigan State: The Buckeyes are much less effective if their opponent doesn't have to double-team Jared Sullinger. Big Sully fought hard against Michigan State, but he was clearly frustrated (and too worried about the refs). In the meantime, William Buford shot 2-for-12 and scored four points because he was denied open looks that would normally come from passes out of a double team.
As for Michigan State, what in the world got into Adreian Payne? That was the best game he has ever played in a Spartan uniform. It was great to see him play with so much energy and swagger.
One more Sparty Hoop Thought: Keith Appling's shooting has to be a major concern. It has been a very difficult adjustment for him to move from shooting guard to the point. Just as Appling was starting to look comfortable running the show, his outside shooting suffered. On the season he is converting just 27.1 percent from three-point range, down from 41.4 as a freshman.
Speaking of shooting (or non-shooting) point guards, I don't know why North Carolina's Kendall Marshall doesn't take more threes. He's only making 30.4 percent, but I'll bet he's a better shooter than that. If nothing else, he has to keep defenses honest.
Tough call between UConn's Alex Oriakhi and UCLA's Josh Smith as the most disappointing big man in America.
Just for fun, here are Perry Jones' averages in the two games against Missouri plus the one at home against Kansas: 5.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 25.9 percent shooting. Don't think NBA scouts haven't noticed.
What's really remarkable about Duke senior center Miles Plumlee's 22 rebounds against Maryland is that he did it in just 28 minutes. I'd call that a fine day's work.
I thought I might go an entire season without having to revive my Erving Walker free-and-three meter, but the Florida senior point guard has left me no choice. On the season, Walker has taken 132 three-pointers and just 90 free throws. He was especially unaggressive last week in the Gators' losses to Kentucky and Tennessee, shooting just one total free throw while going 1-for-10 from behind the arc. That's not how you get Capone.
Turns out Jeff Withey's bagel against Missouri was an aberration, not the start of something. He followed up his 25-point performance against Baylor by grabbing 20 rebounds to go along with 18 points and seven blocks in Saturday's win over Oklahoma State. When Withey is playing like that, Kansas is darn near impossible to beat.
Creighton's problem is simple: This team only wants to play one end of the floor.
It has been a long season at Georgia, but I see that Bulldogs freshman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is enjoying a nice little stretch. This kid has been the epitome of a "volume shooter" but over his last three games Caldwell-Pope averaged 18 points on 47.4 percent shooting (including 11-for-25 from three-point range). He also had a big step-back three in overtime on Saturday to lead the Bulldogs to an upset road win at Mississippi State.
Just when you thought things couldn't get worse for Maryland, sophomore guard Pe'shon Howard, who missed the season's first nine games with a broken foot, tears his ACL last Thursday and is done for the year.
I'm almost afraid to say it out loud, but here goes: I think Northwestern is gonna play in the NCAA tournament.
I honestly don't believe anyone outside Milwaukee realizes how good of a job Buzz Williams is doing at Marquette.
I wish mid-majors could keep their coaches forever, but I'd be, well, shocked if Gregg Marshall is back at Wichita State next year. Remember, in his previous stint Marshall took Winthrop to seven NCAA tournaments in nine years.
How about VCU going into Old Dominion and winning by four? That is not easy to do. The Rams have now won 11 straight. Could it be that VCU is this year's VCU?
The Big Ten getting nine is this year's Big East getting 11.
If Draymond Green and Royce White played on the same team, you wouldn't even need a point guard.
Indiana State shot 12-for-12 from three-point range during its win over Southern Illinois on Saturday. That's an NCAA record for most three-point attempts without a miss. Just making sure you knew.
If a team doesn't make threes, it might as well play four-on-five. You put yourself at a disadvantage if you don't utilize all the available tools.
West Virginia sure is in some kind of tailspin. The Mountaineers have now lost five of their last six games, and their next two are on the road at Pittsburgh and Notre Dame. Truck Bryant really killed 'em against Louisville by shooting 3-for-17 from the floor (including 2-for-10 from three-point range). Unreal that he took that many shots.
One more West Virginia thought: I'm very disappointed the school settled its dispute with the Big East, which now clears the way for the Mountaineers to play in the Big 12 next season. I was hoping this thing would drag out and cost everyone a whole lot of embarrassment (and money). I just can't stand this conference expansion stuff.
As for Louisville, I'm frankly stunned that Wayne Blackshear, the Cardinals' heralded 6-5 freshman forward from Chicago, managed to have 13 points and four rebounds in 20 minutes in his first game of the season. Blackshear has been out all season because of a shoulder injury, but if he's going to keep producing like that, Louisville is going to have a very exciting next few weeks. Imagine: Good injury news about Louisville.
This might be the most incredible stat I've seen in a long time: Over their last 76 meetings, Duke has scored 5,943 points to North Carolina's 5,941.
Let me tell you, Tennessee State's win at Murray State was no fluke. The Tigers have won seven in a row and nine of their last 10. I had never seen their 6-8 junior forward, Robert Covington, before, but he is an impressive, versatile player. Covington is averaging 17.7 points and 8.0 rebounds while shooting 44.4 percent from three-point range. I'll bet he's on the radar of more than a few NBA scouts.
Speaking of Tennessee State, here's something else I had never seen before: When the Tigers were inbounding the ball, the four players on the court were in constant motion until the ball was inbounded. Terrific idea, when you think about it.
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