Get inside March Madness with SI.com's Luke Winn in the Tourney Blog, a daily journal of college basketball commentary, on-site reporting and reader-driven discussions.
3/28/2007 01:50:00 PM
Scout's Take: Whose Draft Stock is Up?
Chris Douglas-Roberts put together a standout performance vs. Texas A&M in the Regional Semifinals despite an ankle injury.
The Blog named its All-Second Weekend Team on Tuesday, and today turns to its most trusted NBA scout (Seth calls them "Finches," but we'll stick with standard nomenclature) for a different kind of starting five. Which players, our scout was asked, improved their draft stock the most over the course of the NCAA tournament?
Here were his picks, followed by commentary:
Greg Oden, C, Ohio State (Fr., projected for '07 draft)
Scout's Take: "I know we're talking about 'moving up,' and Oden can't really go much higher, but here's what's been reinforced: All the talk about taking [Kevin] Durant at No. 1 is ridiculous. If it was possible for Oden to have helped himself in that debate, he did. That blocked shot at the end of the Tennessee game -- that's why he's the No. 1 pick. He effortlessly rotated over and stuffed a potential game-winning shot, and there are about three guys on the planet who can do what he does defensively. I thought Joey Dorsey [of Memphis] would put up more of a fight in the Elite Eight, but Oden destroyed the guy. When you're framing this Durant-versus-Oden debate, it's not like you're talking about Michael Jordan versus Hakeem Olajuwon. You're talking about a higher-level Tracy McGrady versus Hakeem. And I know who wins that argument. Every single time. It's crazy that there even is an argument."
Jeff Green, F, Georgetown (Jr., projected for '07 draft)
Scout's Take: "There was a time when scouts worried about Green being able to make the positional transition from a 4 to a 3. That's historically the most difficult jump to make, because you're essentially switching from being an interior college player to a perimeter pro. Green has shown the ability to make that jump, flashing great ballhandling and spot-shooting skills. He's versatile enough that he'll still be able to defend some 4s, and play there in a smaller lineup, and there are probably some 2s that he could guard as well. He's one of those position-less college guys that facilitates winning with his passing, rebounding, and ability to play out facing the rim as a stationary passer in their Princeton offense."
Chris Douglas-Roberts, G, Memphis (Soph., projected for '08 draft)
Scout's Take: "Douglas-Roberts took a big step up in my mind. Even if he's not the most athletic guy in the room, he can really get to the cup. He's so smooth, and has such depth to his game -- he can handle, pass and penetrate. He's slippery around the basket. The other thing that I liked about Douglas-Roberts was the level of toughness with which he played; it was much higher than his body indicates he should be. He'll remain a 2-guard in the NBA, because he has the size and length for the position, but I don't think he's a threat to declare this year.
Roy Hibbert, C, Georgetown (Jr., projected for '08 draft)
Scout's Take: "This isn't necessarily my opinion; I still think he's a long way from being able to compete in the league, speed-wise. But a lot of scouts I talk to have really jumped on the Hibbert bandwagon during the tournament. He's really helped himself with what he's done starting from the semifinal round of the Big East tournament until now. Hibbert is the kind of center who's been forced to learn how to read defenses. The great passing ability that he's shown, plus the fact that he's played with a noticeable uptick in his passion and his energy, is great."
Malik Hairston, F, Oregon (Jr., projected for '08 draft)
Scout's Take: "This on is more under the radar. I watched Hairston his freshman year at Oregon -- when he came in with this huge rep, and was supposed to be Carmelo -- and he was bad. I almost wrote the guy off as being too un-athletic to be an NBA prospect at all. What I saw in the tournament this year, though, was a guy who had overcome that and learned to play with his limitations. Hairston was impressive. He has a very good way about him now, in terms of using his size, being able to score, pass the ball, and showing improvement with his shooting. To make the kind of steps that he's made, you have to have some desire to improve. I think if he continues to progress, and comes to Orlando [for the NBA's pre-draft camp] after next season he could be a solid second-rounder."
Taurean Green (left) led the Gators into a rematch of the 2006 title game.
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Mike Conley quietly took home the South Region's MOP honors.
We're going small for the Blog's All-Second Weekend Team: two point guards, two shooting guards, and one new-age Scottie Pippen.
That Pip'-styled power forward, Georgetown's Jeff Green, is the squad's captain, based on his game-winning bank shot to beat Vanderbilt and his 22-point effort in the comeback that stunned Carolina. He's also humble to the point of amusement: Standing against a wall outside the Hoyas' locker room on Sunday night, Green was asked about being named the East Region's Most Outstanding Player. He responded, in a completely genuine manner, "I was? Oh."
"I thought it would be [Georgetown freshman] DaJuan Summers, because he played his butt off. I'm surprised to get it."
You, Jeff, were the only one who was surprised. Now, for the rest of the team:
(A few criteria for selections: The first team was limited only to players who advanced to the Final Four, and the entire list was restricted to players who appeared in both the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight rounds.)
G: Taurean Green, Jr., Florida Stats: 5-of-8 shooting (all threes), 17 points, 1 assist, zero turnovers vs. Butler; 5-of-12 shooting, 21 points, 3 assists, 3 turnovers vs. Oregon
Green buried five treys to help the Gators fend off Butler's upset bid -- and then outscored Al Horford and Jo Noah combined (they had 20) in the Midwest Region final.
Kansas' vaunted backcourt got scorched by Afflalo in San Jose; can he now get revenge on Florida for the egg he laid in last year's title game?
G: Mike Conley, Fr., Ohio State Stats: 4-of-10 shooting, 17 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 turnover, 2 steals vs. Tennessee; 5-of-11 shooting (9-of-10 FTs), 19 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 5 turnovers, 2 steals vs. Memphis
Most of the talk in San Antonio surrounded Greg Oden (and Joey Dorsey's verbal antagonizing of the big man) while Conley was quietly named the region's MOP.
G/F: Ron Lewis, Sr., Ohio State Stats: 9-of-17 shooting, 25 points, 5 rebounds vs. Tennessee; 5-of-12 shooting (10-of-10 FTs), 22 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals vs. Memphis
Lewis, who toiled in obscurity for two years at Bowling Green, made a timely transfer, as he's now gunned the Buckeyes to within two wins of a national title. F: Jeff Green, Jr., Georgetown (CAPTAIN) Stats: 7-of-11 shooting, 15 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 turnover vs. Vanderbilt; 10-of-17 shooting, 22 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 turnover vs. North Carolina
Where will Green's East Region MOP trophy go? Anywhere but his place. "I don't keep my trophies," he said.
Sixth Man: Jonathan Wallace, Jr., Georgetown Stats: 3-of-8 shooting, 8 points, 4 assists, 0 turnovers vs. Vanderbilt; 7-of-11 shooting, 19 points, 7 assists, 1 turnover vs. North Carolina
Had Wallace made more noise against Vandy, he might trumped Green for team captain status. The guy whom Green called "our best player" committed just one turnover in 71 minutes played on Friday and Sunday, and hit the cold-blooded trey that sent the UNC game to overtime. Second Team:
Memphis' (from left to right) Kareem Cooper, Joey Dorsey and Willie Kemp felt the suspense in the final minute against Texas A&M on Thursday.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
NEW YORK -- What a crazy night. Thursday was my first opportunity to sit back and watch an entire day's worth of tournament games on TV rather than from press row, and I was blessed with five and a half riveting hours of basketball. Makes me worry that there won't be any magic left over for East Rutherford (where I'll be on Friday).
Memphis had a counter-punch for every aspect of Texas A&M's physical play, and the Tigers' relentless offensive glasswork in the last minute -- which resulted in Antonio Anderson's game-clinching trip to the foul line -- was a thing of beauty. With Joey Dorsey, who shed his jersey after fouling out, looking on in a white undershirt, and Anderson grabbing what Grant Wahl referred to as "nether regions" to punctuate the win, Memphis appeared to have the raw, ballsy edge it'll need to take down Ohio State on Saturday. The Buckeyes, meanwhile, pulled off an epic comeback with more long-distance wizardry from Ron Lewis. I question how long they can keep tempting fate, but I encourage them to continue trying. It makes for amazing drama.
I can't sign off for the night, however, without feeling slightly depressed. I'm confident the better team won each game in San Antonio, and both (Memphis 65-64 and Ohio State 85-84) were one-point thrillers. It's just that the losers' failed shot attempts at the buzzer left something to be desired. A lot to be desired, actually. Two of the tourney's clutchiest (that's my Stephen Colbert word for it) players, Texas A&M's Acie Law and Tennessee's Chris Lofton, were bounced from the dance as a result. And why is that depressing?
Because, despite their well-deserved big-shot reputations, neither guy was given the chance to take the last one on Thursday.
On the Aggies' final possession, an inbounds play from beyond halfcourt with 2.0 seconds left, Law was used as a decoy, streaking toward his basket with a couple of Memphis players tracking him. This was probably the smart chess move by Billy Gillispie, since it guaranteed a quick, open look for someone else. Law had also just missed a breakaway layup that he would later claim "cost us the game." That said, I'd still put money on Law taking a double-teamed three at the gun over Dominique Kirk taking one in single coverage. Every time.
The Vols' last play was a scramble situation, with the ball in the hands of freshman point guard Ramar Smith, who had no intention of passing it and drove the right side of the lane. He put up a floater that might have had a chance, had its flight pattern not been altered -- drastically and disastrously -- by Greg Oden's right hand. All the while, Lofton was camped on the left wing, well-covered, waiting for a kick-out that never happened.
I'm sitting here looking at the box scores, which say that Law took 17 shots and Lofton took 18. Both players hoisted more than any of their teammates, but those numbers are irrelevant when they don't include the two shots that mattered.
A parting thought for Texas A&M and Tennessee: You lived on Law and Lofton's cold-bloodedness all season. While it's possible you still would have died with the ball in their hands on Thursday, we'll never know if they were capable of heroics. They were owed, at the very least, a chance to find out.