Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Blogging through Maui Part 3

In this final chapter, two of the top teams in the country face each other. This clash of titans, Notre Dame and North Carolina, resulted in some interesting matchups- namely, that of two POY candidates Tyler Hansbrough and Luke Harangody. Both of these teams return the vast majority of their squad from a year ago- and, North Carolina added some depth with an excellent freshman class.

North Carolina:

Tyler Hansbrough- North Carolina's success begins and ends with Tyler Hansbrough. He played a tremendous game on both ends of the floor. He cleaned up his own misses and was dominant on the glass. Also, he demonstrated his rarely showcased talent- the three point shot- which he converted. His hustle plays and aggressive basket attacks set the precedent for his team on the offensive end of the floor. Defensively, he was able to block shots and corral lose balls. Moreover, he fought hard for position on the block and ran hard down the floor. He is the consummate workhorse who gives 110% every time he suits up. Hansbrough was surprisingly quick coming off of his ankle sprain and seems as though he is improving his NBA draft stock. He simply needs to display more consistent range on his jumper and demonstrate versatility in terms of potential perimeter defense. Although it seems unlikely that NBA scouts will fall in love with him over night- especially after all that he has accomplished already- he is doing what he can to prove everyone wrong.

Ty Lawson- He was the most impressive player on the floor tonight. He was able to blow by his defender at half court and take it the length of the floor for an easy layup. Lawson is the fastest player in the country and this trait makes him a viable NBA candidate. He displayed excellent court vision, finding his teammates for several easy inside baskets. ND did not have an answer for his slashing game. Also, he showed a nice touch from behind the arc. On the opposite end of the floor, Lawson played hard, working through screens and playing solid position defense. He has the lateral quickness to stay with his man, but his height will be a concern at the next level.

Deon Thompson- Thompson demonstrated why he could very well be college basketball's most improved player. He was able to knock down midrange jumpers. Thompson attacked the basket and was able to finish against ND's post defense. He established great position in the post and was able to exploit the tired and sick Harangody. He utilized a nice series of drop step post moves. Moreover, Thompson was extremely effective on the defensive end, where he blocked several shots. And, he was relentless on the glass.

Notre Dame:

Luke Harangody- This was not Luke's best performance: given, he was very sick coming into the game, so this is probably not wholly indicative of his capabilities. Harangody played some nice help defense, but had trouble against the length of Thompson and Ed Davis. He struggled preventing Thompson from achieving post position. This weakness is going to be difficult to overcome if he wants to succeed as a post presence in the NBA. On the offensive end, he was his usual efficient self down low on the block. His perimeter shot was off and on throughout the game, and this really hurt his team.

Kyle McAlarney- McAlarney was able to demonstrate a multidimensional skillset. He took his man off the dribble on occasion, and he was effective passing to his teammates when slashing to the basket. Obviously, McAlarney's greatest strength is his three point shot- which was on full display tonight. Defensively, McAlarney was not particularly effective stopping North Carolina's perimeter barrage. On several instances, he was forced to stop Ty Lawson advancing to the basket; this in turn, gave the man he was guarding enough space to hit the open shot. In terms of his NBA potential, he needs to foster his midrange pullup jumper. Also, he should probably hone his point guard abilities so that he can handle running a team at the NBA level. On the defensive end, he is not very quick laterally.

Luke Zeller- This senior will probably receive some looks at Portsmouth camp. First and foremost, this big man has height. He is able to shoot from the perimeter and clean up some shots inside. However, in this contest, he was not able to stop Hansbrough, nor Deon Thompson. He worked hard to establish defensive position, however- drawing some charges.

An Intermittent look at the Preseason NIT Semifinal Part 1

In the midst of the Maui Invitational final and consolation games, the Preseason NIT semifinal was held. An improving Boston College team faced one of the best young teams in the country- Purdue. These "baby Boilermakers" as they were termed last year are a top 10 team because of their tremendous chemistry. They return virtually everyone from a year ago. BC returns their major cogs, (namely Rice) and bring in UVM transfer Joe Trapani and talented freshman Reggie Jackson. This tightly contested contest yielded several noteworthy performances.


E'Twaun Moore-This combo guard was outstanding in this contest. At 6'3 and with nice court vision, Moore is an NBA point guard. He has a very complete all around game. He can shoot from distance or from the midrange. And, he controls the tempo and is able to run plays. Moore found Hummel on several occasions after beating his man off the dribble. He is the consummate slasher who is able to get inside virtually at will. E'Twaun accomplishes this by using stop and go moves to freeze his man, before he him off the dribble. Moore is also a solid rebounder for his size- he has a natural knack on the glass.

Robbie Hummel- Hummel is a tremendous shooter who can pull up from midrange, or step out and kill you from beyond the arc. He is a tremendous decision maker and rarely forces his shot. He is a team leader who is a hard worker on defense, even though his lateral footspeed needs improvement. He relies on his height to shoot over defenders and employs his length to block shots.

Boston College:

Tyrese Rice- Rice played poorly in the first half, being met with traps on virtually every attempt he made to attack the basket. He was able to distribute the ball to his teammates and showed some nice point guard instincts. Rice is a bit short and thus will have to overcome some hurdles in order to make it in the league. However, his ball handling ability is tremendous- he oftentimes splits defenders. He has NBA range on his three and is a capable shooter with a defender in his face. Defensively, Rice is a liability at the next level. He has the quickness to keep up with his man, but he is overmatched against bigger, stronger guards.

Joe Trapani- This UVM transfer is a versatile player. He can hit from the outside, but also bangs on the boards. He is able to attack the hoop, although he is not particularly explosive. He is capable of shooting over his defender, and is scrappy on the glass. Trapani is not a noteworthy defender and his lateral movement could use some work. He does not have a clear NBA position because he is not quick enough to man a guard position, and he does not have the girth to play inside. Thereby, he may have an uphill battle trying to make it in the league.

Rakim Sanders- Sanders is a bulky guard who can shoot from the outside. He is able to muscle is opponents in the post and finish around the hoop. He is explosive off the dribble, but his midrange game is a bit inconsistent. On the defensive end of the floor, Sanders has quick hands and is able to lockdown weaker opponents.

Reggie Jackson- This freshman is a capable slasher who demonstrated some quickness off the dribble. He can shoot the ball from distance as well, but did not really take many attempts. His defensive positioning could use some work, and Purdue's guards were a challenge for him.

Blogging through Maui Part 2

In this second addition, I look at the third place contest between Oregon and Texas. Texas is coming off of a tightly fought contest against Notre Dame in which they almost won on a half court buzzer beater. Oregon matched up against North Carolina and showed some positive signs. Abrams is proving that he can be effective at running the show and Oregon is looking to their young interior players for offensive output.


Damion James- The only word that can epitomize his efforts today is "beast". James was all over the court, demonstrating a quick first step which could translate at the next level, while getting all over the glass. He outrebounded taller players, utilizing tremendous positioning. His aggressive nature will make him a viable lottery pick in this coming draft. James has the potential to become a star at the next level because of his scrappy nature around the basket. Defensively, he is very aggressive and maintains positioning. It is questionable, though, whether or not he can transition completely from post to perimeter defense. He is able to slash very effectively, but he has yet to demonstrate a clear perimeter shooting touch, which is the only facet of his game limiting him at this point.

AJ Abrams- Abrams is a consummate shooter, with the ability to handle the ball and control tempo. He is electric attacking and then pulling up off the dribble. His decision making has improved because of his position change. He is one of the best three point shooters in the country and his quick release will allow him to be in NBA conversations as a second round pick. Because of his combo guard nature, NBA teams will want him to conform to the usual point guard mold. And, this year's experience running his Texas squad will do wonders for his basketball future.

Justin Mason- Mason is extremely explosive off the dribble and plays the faux-point in transition. He has nice vision and may receive some NBA looks at some point. His shooting is pretty impressive, but he is somewhat streaky in that regard. Defensively, he has nice hands and is aggressive going after the ball. His free throw shooting could use some improvement, seeing as he gets to the line a lot. It will be interesting to see how his game progresses in his starting role this year.


Tajuan Porter- At a diminutive 5'6, Porter's chances of making the NBA are doubtful. However, his role on this squad is undeniable. He is this team's leader, and he displayed a nice shooting touch this game. (although he has been pretty ineffective in that regard throughout the year) Porter made some nice passes and attempted to attack the hoop whenever he could. His post entry feeds gave Oregon big men a great shot at finishing around the basket. Defensively, he has quick hands, but is a liability because he faces a height mismatch against virtually all opponents.

Lekendric Longmire- Longmire continued his steady improvement and finished off of some nice post moves and fakes. He was able to shift his pivot on several occasions, and he finished on several of these post plays. His defense could use some improvement, but Longmire is still a work in progress. He could stand to add some girth in order to establish more position in the post, so that he is not consistently fading.

Michael Dunigan- This young big man is one of the most promising aspects of Oregon's future. He is a workhorse inside that rarely gives up on a play. He constantly has his hands on rebounds and is able to establish position. His post game could stand to add some go-to moves, but he relies on considerable bulk in order to attack the basket. Defensively, Dunigan is intimidating. He is a shot blocking presence even though he has a tendency to commit silly fouls. If he can extend his range in the next coming years, he will be a viable threat for Oregon and a serious NBA draft candidate.

Blogging through Maui Part 1

In the first installment of this analysis, I will examine the Consolation game of the Maui Invitation basketball tournament. This year's crop lives up to the usual prestige present in this historically competitive field. In the first contest of this triple header, Alabama and St. Joes matched up in a close game. Ahmad Nivins highlighted St. Joes talented group, still recovering from the collective losses of Pat Calathes and Rob Fergusen. Alabama, on the other hand, returns Ronald Steele- who has suffered through two injury plagued seasons following his tremendous debut and second year on the college basketball scene.


Alonzo Gee- This gifted physical specimen is a more-than-capable wing weapon for the Crimson Tide. While he did not showcase his perimeter shooting ability to a large extent, he was extremely effective attacking the basket. Gee's upper body strength allows him to muscle his way to the basket against virtually any college competition. He is a tremendous offensive rebounder for his size because he supplements his tremendous physicality with a knack for box-out fundamentals. Gee has a nice lift and solid fundamentals on his perimeter shot, but he is very inconsistent from the outside. He has recognized this trend and attacked the basket when his shot is not falling. Gee is one of the best putback guys in the country- and, relying on his unique ability was Alabama's best offensive strategy throughout the second half. Defensively, Gee has quick hands, but he has to be careful with reach in fouls. His positioning and quickness will allow him to succeed on this end at the next level though.

Ronald Steele- This was certainly not a characteristic performance by Ron, so I will reserve judgment until later in the season. He has not played basketball consistently for a two year period- as such, he is not used to the game. Steele's decision making was extremely sound throughout this game, seeing as he is a very intelligent player. He never really forced the issue aside from a few curious shots. He could potentially play at the next level, assuming he can regain his first step at some point in time. Otherwise, he may have to spend a long time in the D League. In this contest in particular, Steele hit a few outside shots early on, but played within himself late in the game. He demonstrated quick hands defensively and positioned himself nicely. Hopefully, his game progresses as he grows accustomed to this high level of play.

Senario Hillman- Hillman demonstrated some tremendous explosiveness and athleticism when attacking the hoop. He got around his man with reckless abandon and finished in highlight-reele fashion. Even when he failed to complete the play, he opened up the window for Green and Gee tip ins. Defensively, he has some lateral quickness and is not afraid to sky in order to block shots. His help defense is particularly good at this stage. If Hillman can improve his outside shot, he could potentially play as a backup at the next level. Honing his three pointer will be pivotal in order to guarantee a future in the league.

JaMychal Green- Green was extremely impressive against Nivins, a chiseled veteran. Even with experience working against him, Green was able to keep several plays alive simply by relying on his length and athleticism. He cleaned up several missed shots and demonstrated very nice timing and leaping ability. Despite his raw talent, he did demonstrate some positive signs in terms of footwork. Green was able to maneuver close to the basket against some challenging post defense. Defensively, like many freshman, he has a tendency to reach and is not particularly great at preventing deep post position- as a result he is foul prone. Although he has a great deal of time to mature, Green's game will translate at the next level if he is able to establish more go-to post moves and improve his post defense.

Andrew Steele- The brother of Ronald Steele has a very quick first step and is a capable slasher. He is more physically imposing than his brother, but his outside game is extremely raw. Andrew Steele has quick hands and could become a serious threat over the course of this season.

St Joseph's:

Ahmad Nivins- Nivins was arguably the best player in this contest. He was extremely efficient from the floor, living up to his billing as one of the field goal percentage leaders in all of college basketball. Nivins displayed tremendous footwork and was able to establish deep post position. Ahmad demonstrated a nice baby hook, and was able to bank a few shots off the glass. He never really forced the action despite being the clear go-to scorer for this St. Joes team. Nivins put on a clinic inside- snatching boards left and right. Defensively, Ahmad could have some difficulty at the next level. He is a threat to block shots and is intelligent enough to draw charges. However, at 6'9, he is susceptible to tip ins and should have some difficulty against longer, more athletic NBA talents. His outside jumper looked like it could translate at the next level- thus he is pretty complete on the offensive end of the floor. If Ahmad can learn to create off the dribble, he is a surefire NBA talent.

Tasheed Carr- Carr displayed some nice jets- getting up the floor and dishing to his teammates. His outside shooting was a nice compliment to Nivins's post game. He has nice body control in transition and is a solid point guard. He helped limit Steele in the second half defensively and demonstrated some nice defensive fundamentals. Carr is a bit short to play shooting guard at the next level, but he could receive some looks at Portsmouth and maybe his vision and team leadership will afford him a role in the league.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Grizzlies pick number 28

When contemplating the Memphis Grizzlies's pick at number 28, one must consider the immense talent and potential that was surprisingly available low in the first round. With Chris Douglas Roberts, DeAndre Jordan, Joey Dorsey and others still available, the Grizzlies opted to move in a different direction- to select what they perceived to be the best talent available. Before one can remark on their selection, one must exercise all options. CDR was a hometown favorite who is highly underrated due to his largely average physical tools. Yet, this does not account for his penchant for in game heroics. (other than their tournament run) Dorsey, a fellow Tiger, is a monster in the paint who can gather rebounds. And, Jordan possesses considerable physical gifts and could emerge as one of the best steals in this draft. Ultimately, the Grizzlies went with Syracuse freshman Donte Greene.

Though he possesses a great deal of potential, this selection makes little sense from the Grizzlies' perpective. Greene is a 6'10 small forward who largely shoots from the outside. He is extremely raw at this stage in his development, and is going to need to add considerable bulk in order to be effective in the NBA. He is a streaky shooter from the perimeter who can detract from his team if his shots are not falling. Greene, at times, hoists shots up at inopportune times. When he decided to go inside, he was able to maneuver in the paint, though this was a rare occurrence. Furthermore, he was outmuscled by stronger interior defenders at the college level. Thus, a strength training program could do wonders for his game. Moreover, his below average ball handling does not make him ideal for an up tempo style. When Syracuse played in transition, Greene was prone to pulling up for three point shots; thus the Orange faced many empty possessions. As such, Donte's understanding of the game must mature for him to be a serious factor in the Grizzlies transition offense.

Secondly, from a personnel standpoint, this is not the most appropriate selection. Rudy Gay is the most coveted talent on our roster, and he will consume roughly forty minutes per game. And, Greene plays the same position as Rudy. Not only that, but both possess comparable flaws. Due to his considerable length, Rudy could stand to improve his handle; however, he has made strides since his rookie season. Similarly, Greene was incapable of driving to the hoops due to his lacksidasical dribbling. He utilized his notable height advantage to shoot over the top of opponents. With this option taken away, it is difficult to determine how he will respond. Greene is very raw at this stage in his development, especially if he is to be utilized in an up tempo offense. Why did the Grizzlies refrain from selecting an immediate rotation player who could provide consistent effort off the bench. With Juan Carlos Navarro gone, the Grizzlies could have used this pick to solidify their backup guard positions.

I suspect that this selection was an attempt to appease fellow Syracuse alum Hakim Warrick. However, this is an underwhelming proposition for most fans because his tweener status has really been a detriment to the Grizzlies team defense. Overall, Donte possesses a great deal of promise, but selecting him with more experienced players readily available and not taking into account his NBA position, could prove to be a costly error down the road.
Round 2
31. Minny- Semih Erden
He has the physical tools to be successful in the paint, but he is a bit raw in his post moves. However, he would be a nice fit alongside Jefferson.

32. Seattle- Mario Chalmers
Chalmers is another option at point guard who could help fill that void.

33. Portland- Ryan Anderson
Anderson is from the West coast, and the Blazers like him off the bench.

34. Minny- DeVon Hardin
Minny takes an athletic gem in Hardin, who could pan out as a huge steal in the second round. He has as much upside as some of the first rounders. The only factor preventing him is age.

35. LA Clips- Richard Hendrix
Hendrix is a fundamental player who could replace Brand if he is not back with the Clips or is not in full strength.

36. Portland- Omer Asik
The Blazers stash this big man overseas because of his long term contract. He is another talented big man with solid athleticism.

37. Milwaukee- Bill Walker
The Bucks continue to fill the small forward void even after Jefferson. With Simmons gone, Walker can replace his production.

38. Charlotte- Serge Ibaka
The Bobcats select this athletic monster in the second round with the hopes of bringing him over after his contract is completed.

39. Chicago- Nathan Jawai
Chicago goes for interior strength with Jawai. He is a beast inside who can dominate on the glass.

40. New Jersey- Gary Forbes
The Nets fill the void left by Jefferson. Forbes is a nice option who can attack the basket virtually at will.

41. Indiana- Joey Dorsey
Dorsey is a force on the boards and the Pacers could use his defensive presence to complement Daniels.

42. Sacramento- Jamont Gordon
The Kings select a guy who can man the point, but has a complete offensive game overall. He can hit shots from the midrange and attack the basket.

43. Sacramento- Malik Hairston
Malik is a complete offensive package who can fill up the scoring sheet. He has improved his all around game and thereby possesses considerable upside.

44. Utah- Ante Tomic
Tomic is a huge finesse player, who is a bit thin. But, with some bulk, he could be a nice project 7 footer.

45. San Antonio- Nikola Pekovic
He is a first round talent, but he held out with his European contract. It is unlikely that he will come to the NBA soon. Pekovic is extremely talented though.

46. Seattle- James Mays
Mays is an athletic post player who can defend inside or use his athleticism to maneuver around the basket.

47. Washington- George Hill
Hill is an excellent player who can play the point guard position. He could be the biggest steal in this draft. Hill can attack the basket with reckless abandon. Also, he can fill it up from the perimeter. He is one of the most complete players available in the second round.

48. Phoenix- JR Giddens
Giddens is an athletic wing who can fill it up from the outside, but is tremendous at attacking the basket. Moreover, he is an above average rebounding wing.

49. Golden St.- Sonny Weems
Weems is an athletic beast who is a good perimeter defender and a solid, albeit streaky shooter. He would be great in a transition offense.

50. Seattle- Mantas Kalnietis
This is a pick that Seattle could send overseas. Mantas is a big guard who could come over after a few seasons in Europe.

51. Dallas- Will Daniels
Daniels is a legitamite NBA small forward that can hit shots from the outside, or post up in the paint.

52. Miami- James Gist
Gist is a dominant shot blocker that uses his length to overwhelm big men in the post.

53. Utah- Richard Roby
Roby is a pretty complete player that can score in streaks from the perimeter. He emerged in the Big 12 tournament, but has been inconsistent during his career at Colorado. The Jazz would pick Roby based on his potential to fill it up from the perimeter.

54. Houston- David Padgett
Padgett is an excellent passing big man who helps his team in virtually every category. The Rockets could use him to complement Yao Ming. He could give Yao a lot of additional looks. Not only that, he is a decent wing shooter, despite his limited elevation.

55. Portland- Joe Crawford
Crawford impressed in the predraft camp with his ability to score against some of the top talents in the second round. Despite being undersized, he may attain a roster spot in Portland.

56. Seattle- Sean Singletary
Singletary fills a point guard void in Seattle and is a complete package at point guard. He is a bit undersized, but has the work ethic to make up for it.

57. San Antonio- Anton Ponkrashov
He is a streaky perimeter shooter who is crafty attacking the hoop. The dilemna is whether or not his handle and speed will translate against NBA defenders. The Spurs could stash him overseas.

58. LA Lakers- Bryce Taylor
Bryce has is a nice perimeter shooter who can do a little bit of everything. He is athletic on the dribble drive and he can pass. The Lakers could use him off the bench.

59. Detroit- Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
Mbah a Moute is one of the best perimeter defenders in the draft, and the Pistons would covet him this late in the draft.

60. Boston- Trent Plaisted
Plaisted is a steal this late in the draft. He is an athetic 7 footer with explosiveness at his size.

Round 1 Mock with Explanations

1. Chicago- Derrick Rose
Rose is a given for the number one pick. He played high school basketball in Chicago, so he has ties to the city.

2. Miami- Michael Beasley
Beasley is the obvious pick, having one of the best freshman seasons in college basketball history. He could fill a need as well.

3. Minny- OJ Mayo
Minny likes Mayo and he can shoot from the perimeter for their squad.

4. LA Clips- Eric Gordon
After the Clips moved up in the draft, they decided to get their guy, Eric Gordon.

5. Memphis- Brook Lopez
The Grizzlies take the most impressive finesse big man to complement Marc Gasol.

6. NY- Kevin Love
Love falls to 6, and the NYK take the best talent available.

7. Seattle- Jerryd Bayless
The Sonics love Bayless, and they could use help at point guard.

8. Milwaukee- Joe Alexander
The Bucks need a small forward and Alexander seems to be their favorite player.

9. Charlotte- Russell Westbrook
Charlotte would like to acquire a player who can play some point in case Felton does not pan out next season.

10. New Jersey- Danilo Gallinari
The Nets trade Jefferson in order to select Gallinari to man their small forward slot.

11. Indiana- Roy Hibbert
Hibbert was dominant in predraft workouts, and this sleeper rises up the draft boards into the lottery.

12. Sacramento- DJ Augustin
The Kings select their favorite player and fill a huge void at point guard.

13. Portland- DeAndre Jordan
The Blazers will take Jordan and stash him as a backup next to Oden, or use him as trade bait.

14. Golden St.- Alexis Ajinca
Ajinca has been rising up the draft and seems to be perfect for their run and gun style. He also can shoot from the perimeter.

15. Phoenix- Brandon Rush
Rush is one of the most complete players in this draft and the Suns love his complete game.

16. Philadelphia- Anthony Randolph
He slipped and the Sixers bite for what they perceive to be the best talent available. They have a young team and Iggy could mentor him in the weightroom.

17. Toronto- Kosta Koufas
The Raps get one of the most underrated bigs in this draft. He is an excellent post presence who can stroke it from the perimeter. But, the bulk of his game will come inside.

18. Washington- Darrell Arthur
Arthur becomes the best purely inside player in this draft. Jamison can play some small forward now.

19. Cleveland- Marreese Speights
Speights offers a young athletic presence inside for an aging Cleveland front line.

20. Charlotte- Donte Greene
Greene is taken for potential and the Bobcats look to trade one of their small forwards in the offseason.

21. New Jersey- Robin Lopez
The Nets take a nice big man who slips a bit. Lopez provides a defensive and rebounding presence to add to an already talented lockdown frontcourt alongside Sean Williams.

22. Orlando- Courtney Lee
The Magic love Lee as a guy who can fill it up from the outside and put them over the top in the Eastern Conference.

23. Utah- JaVale McGee
McGee slips far in this draft, but the Jazz take him solely on potential. They could trade for the 30th to select Dragic as well.

24. Seattle- Chris Douglas Roberts
Douglas Roberts is a nice slashing weapon who can complement Durant through his dribble drive and kick.

25. Houston- DJ White
The Rockets look to take a backup PF to go alongside Scola. White is a beast inside and he may receive some starting time.

26. San Antonio- Nicolas Batum
The Spurs love Batum and would have a French connection with him and Tony Parker. He brings youth to their wing.

27. Portland- Jason Thompson
The Blazers select another big guy and trade him at some point. They are already loaded in their frontline, and Thompson is a nice tradable piece.

28. Memphis- JJ Hickson
Hickson is a beast inside and could be the biggest steal of the entire first round. His interior game is extremely advanced for his age. He would add a presence to the Grizzlies that has not yet been seen in Memphis.

29. Detroit- Kyle Weaver
Weaver is a defensive wing who the Pistons could utilize. He is a lock down defender, who could bring back the Pistons of old.

30. Boston- Goran Gragic
Boston goes with a point guard at 30 and possibly trades him to Utah. Or, they can stash him overseas until Cassell retires.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Rutgers vs. Georgetown

Hamady N’ Diaye- Hamady had an impressive showing against Roy Hibbert because he was able to attack the hoop and defend Georgetown’s primary weapon. His length bothered Hibbert and caused him to receive four fouls with five minutes left in the second half. With that said, his offensive game is severely limited at this point. He is only able to score on easy dunks or layups. However, he has shown a nice touch from the field and this is a sign of an improving midrange game.

Mike Coburn- Coburn was Rutgers’s most steady weapon who was able to penetrate in the lane and score consistently. This freshman showed some nice flashes and proved that he can compete against the most difficult opposition in the Big East. Coburn is extremely quick and athletic. He is able to drive past virtually any defender at this level. If he can learn to finish on the vast majority of the times he attacks the basket, Coburn could become a star for Rutgers. Not only can he score, but he also has nice court vision for a player at his age. On the defensive end, he kept Wallace in check throughout much of the second half.

Roy Hibbert- Hibbert looked a bit sluggish in this contest. He did not possess the same fluidity that he has displayed in some contests last year. He did have some difficulty with the length and physicality of N’Diaye. But, all in all, he displayed some nice post moves such as his improved hook shot, which is virtually unstoppable at the college level. Also, he demonstrated an excellent passing ability- finding his teammates cutting to the basket. On the defensive end, Hibbert contained his man and challenged Rutgers’s guards who were cutting to the basket.

Austin Freeman- Freeman has loads of potential for this Georgetown squad. His three point shooting ability helped his team maintain a sizable lead over Rutgers. He was extremely accurate from beyond the arc and was able to attack the basket as well. Freeman thrived off of basket cuts. Hibbert threw him the ball and he was able to cut to the rim and score. On the defensive end, Freeman stayed in front of his man and contested virtually every shot. He is a bit undersized for an NBA shooting guard at 6’4, but he may be able to make the adjustment to the next level if he continues his steady improvement.

Jonathan Wallace- Wallace was, as usual, a consistent weapon. He made several open perimeter shots off of screens in the first half. He dished to his teammates and found openings to get to the hoop. Wallace’s accuracy from long range is deadly. Despite his nice shooting in the first half, his assertiveness failed to carry over in the second. This is because he is the ultimate system player, who lets his offense come to him.

Patrick Ewing Jr.- Ewing Jr. played a very limited role coming off the bench in this game. However, he made some three point shots and proved that he is versatile- capable of playing inside or on the perimeter. On the defensive end, Ewing Jr. blocked a few shots and collapsed on Rutgers penetration. All in all, he had an impressive showing in his few minutes of action.
Xavier vs. Virginia

Stanley Burrell- He is a capable player from all ends of the floor. He is one of the top perimeter defenders in the country who can lock down virtually any player- including, in this game, Sean Singletary. He gave Sean some serious problems and ultimately shut down the Virginia offense. Although UVA simply could not shoot from the offensive end, Burrell contributions were noted because he never allowed them to get into any rhythm. On the offensive end, Burrell demonstrated his three point shooting ability by knocking down several shots. His passing ability has also developed over his four years. Initially, he was primarily a scorer who looked for his shot. But, he has developed into a second point guard for his Xavier squad- dishing to his teammates for dunks or easy layups. Because of this newfound pass-first mentality, Burrell has the potential to become a backup point guard in the NBA.

Andrew Lavender- Lavender is the heart and soul of his Xavier team. Although the entire team is selfless, Lavender is the epitome of this team spirit. He has become a pass first type of player that only looks for his offense when he is open or has exercised every other possible option. He is one of the best decision makers in the college game and utilizes this strength to help his team thrive. In this contest, this aspect of his game was particularly evident. He kicked the ball out to his teammates for open three point shots and was one of the reasons why Xavier shot such a high percentage from beyond the arc. Lavender is one of the quickest ball handlers in the game as well. He is able to drive past his defender and either score or pass to a teammate for an open shot. Despite his basketball ability, he may have some trouble playing at a higher level of basketball because of his lack of size (5’6). This is evident in his defensive ability, where, regardless of his quick hands, he has trouble guarding bigger players. Oftentimes, the opposition can shoot over the top of him. And, he does not possess the same athleticism of other historical small NBA guards such as Mugsy Bogues or Earl Boykins. Thereby, Lavender will probably have a successful career overseas.

Jason Love- Love has shown tremendous improvement over the course of the season. With Josh Duncan’s injury, Love received more game time experience and capitalized off of this experience by become a viable weapon. Love is the only true post player that Xavier has and his improvement has really added to the Xavier attack. He is able to employ a jump hook and oftentimes is on the finishing end of passes inside. Love’s post moves have shown marketed improvement over the course of the season. He is now able to maneuver around his defender and score inside. Also, he is capable of grabbing offensive rebounds by banging inside. Love could receive some looks as his inside game progresses later in his career.

Dante Jackson- Jackson was one of the most surprising options in this contest. He made several open three point shots and proved to be a capable ball handler. Jackson has an excellent stroke off the bench and should be a serious weapon in the next coming years. On the defensive end, Jackson is long enough to contain opposing teams and has the potential to be a stopper down the road.

Charles Bronson- Another surprising weapon displayed his post presence in garbage time. With a considerable lead, Xavier played reserves like Bronson. Yet, Charles showed an uncanny ability to muscle his way inside. Although he did not play in the critical periods of play, he was able to employ some nice turnaround moves and score close to the basket. He should receive some more playing time a year from now.

Sean Singletary- Sean was the only bright spot in the UVA offense. Despite tough team defense by Xavier, Singletary was able to penetrate virtually at will early in the game. He often drove and kicked it out to his teammates for open looks. However, Xavier was able to rotate and contest these nearly open shots. Therein, these complimentary players failed to capitalize off of Singletary’s slashing ability. Singletary was a bit cold from the perimeter, but he still made some key drives to the basket. On the defensive end, Singletary matched Lavender’s quickness and stopped his penetration towards the hole. All in all, this was not an impressive contest for Singletary, who was the only real threat for UVA. Xavier was able to concentrate on Sean and force him out to the perimeter.
Kansas vs. Boston College

Boston College
Tyrelle Blair
- Blair has developed into a serious threat on the defensive end. He blocked shots in this contest and really contested Kansas’s attacking offense. He has a nice midrange arsenal and is capable of scoring inside against anyone in the country due to his knack for post positioning. With an improved mid range game, Blair has become a serious threat from the offensive end. He should receive some looks from scouts at the end of the season despite being undersized for a big man.

Rakim Sanders- This freshman had an impressive showing in this game. He never really forced his shot throughout the game. But, he was able to nail open three point shots and attack the basket relentlessly. His body is extremely developed for a freshman and allows him to create space against virtually any defender. Sanders’s natural athleticism allows him to get off the floor quickly and dribble around players for the finish. In this contest specifically, Sanders was the most steady weapon from the perimeter and most athletic attacking the hoop. On defense, Sanders is able to contain offensive weapons due to his strong upper body and nice size for a perimeter player. Sanders will have a nice future in this BC system and should develop into a serious prospect.

Tyrese Rice- Rice looked good early in this contest, shooting a high percentage from the floor and strongly attacking the basket. Despite his world class quickness, he was unable to stay in front of his man on defense and picked up four fouls early in the second half. He still needs to improve this element of his game. On the offensive end, Rice was able to shoot from the outside, but made poor decisions in the second half, earning him a spot on the bench. He attacked the basket relentlessly, but was bothered by the longer Chalmers.

John Oates- Oates has been a surprise for his BC squad. Although early in the season he looked hesitant on the offensive end, Oates was hampered by a stress fracture. Yet, he picked up his offensive production in this contest. His offensive game is reminiscent of a Kevin Pittsnogle type of player. He thrives with the flex cut, yet is able to step out and hit his long range shot in rhythm. His defensive game is still coming along, but he has not been a total liability.

Darnell Jackson
- Jackson has improved tremendously over his four years in college. He now employs his muscular upper body to create space when attacking in the lane. Jackson has excellent athleticism and is able to get up for an alley oop. He also has bought into the Kansas team defense and is beginning to block shots. Jackson, though a bit undersized, is able to run the floor with the best of the Kansas offense. Of late, he has become a serious threat, leading his team in scoring. He can be a bull in a China shop, attacking the defender directly. Or, Jackson can use his developed post moves to maneuver around the opposition- which is noteworthy for a player at his size.

Sasha Kaun- Kaun has improved his free throw shooting recently, but has never really sustained a consistent stroke from the line. Kaun has the length and post moves to be a successful player at the next level. His numbers have not been all that impressive this year, but he is able to block shots and draw charges. Kaun is fundamentally sound, able to employ virtually any post move- ranging from the jump hook to the drop step. Overall, his post offense is a complete arsenal. His size at 6’11 should help him make an NBA roster. On the defensive end, besides blocking shots, Kaun is able to pressure his offensive man in the post and hold his ground.

Rodrick Stewart- Stewart has not received as much playing time since the return of Brandon Rush. However, Stewart has performed well in the rather limited minutes he has received. Stewart is extremely unselfish and has bought into Bill Self’s philosophy. He has made some impressive alley oops to his teammates and is able to score in his own right. Besides his selfless nature on the offensive end, Stewart is still an impressive shooter from the perimeter. He can slash to the basket as well and has become a considerable offensive threat. On the defensive end, he is not as impressive as some of his teammates. Still, he works hard to get in front of screens and fits into the Kansas defensive scheme.

Mario Chalmers- Chalmers is one of the best defensive players in the country. His length bothers virtually every player at this level of the game. He has extremely quick feet to compliment his physical gifts. Chalmers is capable of playing the point guard position at the next level because he has excellent court vision on the offensive end and considerable size. He has a steady ball handling ability and is able to attack the basket.

Cole Aldrich- This freshman demonstrated why he is an intriguing prospect. This 7 footer is a defensive presence, who blocks shots virtually at will. He sticks with his man and is able to alter the opponents’ shots. On the offensive end, his scoring is virtually nonexistent at this point. But, he has plenty of time to become a threat at this end.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Here is the personnel coverage of the Middle Tennessee St./Western Kentucky contest:
Middle Tennessee St. vs. Western Kentucky

Middle Tennessee St.
Desmond Yates- Yates was the key prospect in focus and he failed to disappoint. As of the previous insight a year ago, Yates has developed offensively, yet still has considerable holes to fill before he can become a serious NBA prospect. The toughest aspect to evaluate in this contest has to do with his possible conversion to the NBA small forward slot. In the Middle Tennessee St. defensive scheme, Yates is utilized as a power forward, defending the post play of WKU’s Jeremy Evans. However, this post defense offers no considerable indication of how he would fair against quicker small forwards. Yates’s man to man defense inside was nothing to speak highly of- with that said, he was undersized compared to some of his bigger WKU counterparts. Still, Yates was able to assist his teammates in guarding Courtney Lee. One spectacular rejection off the weak side comes to mind. Still, this element of his game is somewhat of a mystery at this point. On the offensive end, Yates was never given enough opportunities to shoot from the perimeter, although he has a good looking stroke. (known from his form on the free throw line and from the outside shooting in the previous contest) Still, interestingly enough, he failed to put the ball on the floor and attack the basket. This could be because of his new role on this squad. This facet of the game is essential for the conversion to the NBA small forward slot. Yates’s ball handling remains in question. He seemed hesitant to put the ball on the floor. Regardless, there are some favorable aspects which could point to an easier transition at the next level. Yates displayed an improved face up game- hitting mid range shots with considerable proficiency. He also attacked his defender in the post, which could point to an ability to take his man off the dribble. Yates also has a knack for finding holes in the defense and plays with considerable poise. Down the stretch, he proved to be the unquestionable leader of his squad. If Yates can demonstrate a newfound face up game comparable to that of Courtney Lee, he could have a future in the NBA.

Demetrius Green- Although he was pictured as the centerpiece of this squad, Green did not live up to the hype. His offensive decision making was haphazard: he was unable to finish on his penetration in the lane and he turned the ball over on countless instances. Green made occasional shots from the perimeter, but was unable to put forth consistent production at pivotal points in the game. While this contest was not a favorable showing for Green, his ball handling was rather impressive and he displayed a quick first step. If he can hone his basketball IQ, he should receive looks from scouts a year from now. But, as of now, he does not stay in front of his man on defense, and is unable to impact the game on both ends of the floor.

Kevin Kanaskie- Kanaskie was a bright spot on the offensive end for Middle Tennessee St. His unselfish play really helped develop team chemistry and keep this team within striking distance of WKU. Kanaskie made the occasional three point shot and was able to score from the mid range. For the most part, his decision making was excellent- playing selfless basketball by dishing to Yates and Hudson for easy layups. But, he occasionally threw up quick perimeter shots which missed. Overall, Kevin does not have the superior quickness to blow past defenders at the next level, but he could retain a role in the CBA or other minor league basketball association. His defensive presence was limited and he was unable to stop WKU penetration.

Nigel Johnson- Although Johnson disappeared late in the game, he was the sole offensive weapon early in the contest. Johnson was a capable decision maker who was able to slash past his defender. Moreover, he displayed a nice perimeter show which kept the Western Kentucky defense honest. On the defensive end, Johnson is a bit undersized, but has quick enough hands to compensate for his small stature.

Western Kentucky
Tyrone Brazelton
- Brazelton is the most improved player in the Sun Belt conference. He is one of the quickest guards in the NCAA, and is beginning to look more and more like Antonio Burks- my previous comparison. While he did produce on the offensive end a year ago, Brazelton was often out of control: charging and turning the ball over on numerous occasions. Currently, Tyrone has come into his own. He seems to have more control over his blazing quickness. He attacked the basket in this contest and then pulled up for an impressive midrange jumper. Brazelton has added this jump shot to his arsenal and is now a more complete player. Also, he made some excellent passes- making his teammates better whenever he can and proving to be the consummate point guard. On the defensive end of the floor, Brazelton pressured his opponents and came up with a few steals. His quickness bewildered Middle Tennessee St. and wreaked havoc on their weak man to man sets. Brazelton is also an excellent long range shooter who is able to dominate his opposition from the outside. His deadly shot is probably the most consistent weapon in the Western Kentucky offense. While Brazelton is a bit undersized, he should be given an opportunity to prove his talent in an NBA draft camp.

Courtney Lee- This contest was another unimpressive showing for this NBA prospect who happens to be the Sun Belt’s top player. Despite his impressive numbers coming in, Lee exited the game early due to foul trouble. While he was in this contest, he attacked the basket relentlessly, opening up the perimeter for his teammates. Lee has world class athleticism and can virtually get past any defender at the college level. On the defensive end, Lee shut down his opponents and blocked several shots. Lee is a complete player on both ends of the floor. He also is able to draw his defender with realistic shot fakes. Still, he is a bit hesitant from the three point line unless he is wide open. His long range shot is a bit shaky when defenders step out and contest his shot. Lee should be a late first round to early second round prospect because of his world class athleticism and complete all around game.

Orlando Mendes-Valdez- Valdez was the most pleasant surprise for this Western Kentucky squad. He occasionally drove to the basket and often made some tough shots. Valdez hustled to loose balls and did everything that did not show up on the score sheet. His defense was relentless and stifled several Middle Tennessee players. He was able to steal the ball and break away for open layups. Orlando should receive some looks overseas after he graduates.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Here is the personnel coverage of the Virginia Tech/Richmond contest:
Virginia Tech vs. Richmond

Virginia Tech
Deron Washington- Washington is an NBA prospect who has the improved considerably over his extensive four year career. Washington’s free throw shooting has improved and he is now capable of making the transition to NBA small forward. He now takes his defender off the dribble. He is one of the top athletes in college basketball. Deron can handle the ball and possesses the hops to jump over smaller guards. He has added long range shooting to his extensive arsenal and now is capable of beating his defender off the dribble or pulling up and nailing the jumper. On the defensive end, Washington has quick hands and a motor to take the ball coast to coast off of steals. He possesses the long arms and athleticism to block virtually any shot; thereby, his help defense is excellent. Washington is one of the most complete forwards in the country who has a shot at the first round in this year’s NBA draft.

Jeff Allen- This freshman has tremendous potential inside. While he is a bit undersized, he has considerable bulk up front and utilizes this to power over his defender. Allen is able to run the floor despite his massive exterior. His ball handling is ability is surprising for a forward who predominantly resides inside. On the block, Allen possesses a vast array of post moves in which he utilizes all conceivable angles to get a shot off. Allen has quick hands and is able to steal the basketball. He defends far taller players on the block and is fairly successful. Jeff appears to be in somewhat of a Charles Barkley- mold. Allen was- far and away- the most impressive freshman on the court. He could make a transition to a forward spot because of his ball handling. As with most freshmen, his decision making is not on par with some of the more experienced players in this contest though.

David Gonzalvez- He is Richmond’s best offensive weapon who is capable on both ends of the floor. David is an excellent three point shooter that thrives in the Princeton style offense. He understands his offensive system and utilizes screens and backdoor cuts to score close to the basket. Still, he can create his own offense through dribble penetration and is able to shoot the three. If he improved his slashing ability and worked on his consistency, Gonzalvez would be nationally recognized. David is a clutch shooter who can work inside and out. On the other end of the floor, David has good hands and is a heady defender. But, he displays no unique ability on this end of the floor. He may want to utilize his foot speed and become a lock down defender.

Kevin Smith- He has not put up productive numbers throughout the season, but he really came into his own in this contest. Smith is a high caliber wing athlete who works hard inside. He is a capable rebounder who boxes out and employs considerable fundamentals to get past his defender. While Smith is still a freshman, he demonstrated noticeable poise in this contest. Whether he ran past his defender for an alley oop or snatched a rebound on the other end of the floor from Deron Washington, Smith had an impressive showing. In order to truly excel, however, Smith will need to add a midrange jumper and possibly a more consistent three point shot to his arsenal. Smith hustles on the defensive end of the floor and is able to scrap for the basketball.