Wednesday, November 21, 2007

November 21 Rewind

First, I'd like to apologize for not putting up my daily predictions yesterday. I was driving home from Delaware to New York for Thanksgiving break, and I forgot to get them up before I left. By the time I got to NY, it was too late to put picks up. I'll put today's picks later on.

Anyway, onto some observations I have for yesterday's games.

- I knew there was a reason I had both UCLA and Michigan State in the Final Four. Their match-up in the final of the CBE Classic was a great game and it showed how good the two teams will be once they are healthy and complete. MSU's Drew Neitzel was battling a stomach virus, and they had to use three freshmen on the perimeter at the same times during various points during the game. Once those young players develop, this team is going to very tough. For UCLA, they managed to gut out a comeback victory without star point guard Darren Collison, as well as role players Michael Roll and James Keefe.

- Russell Westbrook is going to be an outstanding player for UCLA at some point in his career. Right now he has to play the point for Collison and he has struggled somewhat with turnovers and making smart plays. On the other hand, though, he is quick and extremely athletic and can get to the basket for acrobatic finishes. If he keeps up the same aggressiveness when he moves off the ball, he'll add another dimension to UCLA's attack.

- I received an e-mail in October from a St. Mary's fan who was upset I didn't have the Gaels in the NCAA Tournament. He said they were a lock for a 6 seed and that Patrick Mills was going to be a star. Well, after the Gaels' 99-87 victory over Oregon, it's hard to argue with his Mills statement. I don't think St. Mary's is a lock for a 6 seed yet (or any seed for that matter), but they are going to be a very tough team in the WCC. Mills had 37 points and 5 assists, and the inside duo of Diamon Simpson and Omar Samhan combined for 34 points and 17 rebounds. Oregon was without Bryce Taylor, but it doesn't matter -- St. Mary's is a team to watch.

- Sure, it was against Gardner-Webb (again), but Connecticut's frontline finally dominated the way it should. 7-3 Hasheem Thabeet had 22 points and 14 rebounds; Jeff Adrien had 24 and 14; and Stanley Robinson had 9 and 10. UConn needs more performances like that as the season goes on.

- Despite that, UConn still only shot 18% from three-point range. The Huskies are shooting only 29.4% from behind the arc this season.

- Duke was outrebounded; gave up 19 offensive rebounds; and Kyle Singler had only eight points, one rebound, and five fouls. And they still beat Illinois -- by thirteen. This team is going to be scary once all the young players develop, but they still need to find an inside presence. Gerald Henderson and DeMarcus Nelson combined for 39 points and 11 rebounds on the wing.

- Florida needs to play some real competition, but the Gators are absolutely obliterating opponents. They doubled up North Florida last night, 102-51, with six guys scoring in double-figures.

- Indiana freshman guard Eric Gordon is averaging 28 points per game, shooting 61% from the field, 58% from three-point range and is also pitching in with 4.3 assists and 2.7 steals per game. Just thought I'd throw that out there.

- If Marquette shoots 64.7% from three-point range like they did against Oklahoma State, expect more thirty-point wins like last night. The problem is, that hasn't happened. Prior to that game, the Golden Eagles had shot only 23.7% from behind the arc.

- This is what the Missouri "40 Minutes of Hell" press will do to you: 23 turnovers and 1-15 three-point shooting. That's what Maryland "accomplished" against the Tigers in a 14-point less. Even when Missouri shoots 17% from three-point range and gets outrebounded by 10, it is still a tough team to beat because of its defense. Leo Lyons put up 23 and 11.

- Memphis freshman point guard Derrick Rose finally looked remotely human against Arkansas State: four points and three turnovers, though he did have six boards and five assists. Did it matter, though? No, since backup guard Willie Kemp had 22 points on 6-of-8 three-point shooting. The Tigers are ridiculously talented.

- North Carolina might have to find some minutes for Will Graves. He had seven points and two rebounds in only six minutes last night, and five rebounds and one assist in ten minutes against Iona over the weekend.

- I forgot to mention this (and the North Carolina State loss to Louisiana-Monroe) in my Week Two Thoughts and Observations, but take me off the Seton Hall bandwagon for now. I was on it in the preseason, thinking it was a definite NIT and Big East Tournament team. Now, I'm not so sure. The Pirates simply can't play defense. They played back-to-back overtime games against Northeast Conference teams Monmouth and Robert Morris, giving up a combined 188 points in the two games. They also beat Loyola (Md.) last night, but still managed to give up 80 points. That has to change if the Pirates are going to make any noise.

- All-American guard Chris Lofton hasn't led Tennessee in scoring once this season, but the Vols are still 4-0 and have outscored opponents by an average of 39.3 points per game. That has to scare SEC -- and potential NCAA Tournament -- opponents.

- Virginia's Sean Singletary is one of the best guards in the country, but he really needs to cut down on his turnovers. He's averaging 6.0 turnovers per game, including eight last night against Drexel. He can average 22.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 6.8 assists all he wants, but if he doesn't cut down on the turnovers, this team isn't going anywhere in March.

- Vanderbilt's Andrew Ogilvy came into school with a good amount of hype due to his domination over in Australia, and he certainly hasn't let anyone down. The 6-10 Aussie freshman is averaging 19.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game, all while shooting an astounding 70% from the field. This kid is for real.


  1. Seton Hall's defense is a team chemistry problem. They played much better defense last night against Loyola, the stats don't dictate how well they played. The game was not that close and Loyola got a lot of baskets in garbage time.

    It's too early to judge a team based on three games. They have a lot of new players that need to get used to each other. They'll definetly be in the Big East Tournament (5 teams in the league are DEFINETLY worse than them) and probably the NIT as well.

  2. those five teams are USF, Rutgers, St. John's, Cincinnati, and DePaul.