Sunday, February 22, 2009

CHN Player of the Week, Feb. 22

Player of the Week: DeJuan Blair, Pittsburgh

Although there are plenty of critics, Bracket Busters weekend is one of the most exciting two days of college basketball all season if you’re someone that likes mid-major basketball. Bubble teams that are trying to make a move so they can get one of the last spots in the NCAA Tournament attempt to catch the committee’s eyes with a big win, while conference leaders need to grab solid victories to boost their resumes in case they don’t win the conference tournament. However, despite all the hoopla surrounding the non-BCS teams this weekend, the performances that caught everyone’s eyes came out of the power conferences – and we might have had our closest race yet for the weekly honor.

Any talk of the top single-game performances of the week has to include Maryland’s Greivis Vasquez. The fiery junior had one of the more memorable games of the season, finishing with a triple-double – 35 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists – as well as two steals and three blocks in an overtime win against North Carolina. However, the Terps were destroyed earlier in the week by Clemson, so it was tough to justify giving him the award. One of the best team performances of the week came from Florida State, mainly on the shoulders of Toney Douglas, who averaged 23 points and four assists in wins over Miami (Fl.) and Virginia Tech. Unlike last week, there was not a multitude of phenomenal performances, but Marquette’s Wesley Matthews (23.5 points per game in two wins) and Kansas’ Cole Aldrich (20.0 ppg, 11.5 rpg) were very solid. In the world of the Bracket Busters, Omar Samhan of Saint Mary’s had 17 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks in a must-win over Utah State (as well as 20 and 10 earlier in the week against San Diego), while Butler’s Gordon Heyward finished with 27 points and nine rebounds at Davidson. The best performance of the week, though, had to go to Pittsburgh’s DeJuan Blair, the Player of the Week.

Heading into Pittsburgh’s showdown with Connecticut on Monday, all the talk was of UConn’s Hasheem Thabeet and his rise into the Player of the Year discussion. Apparently Blair was tired of it. He had 22 points and 23 rebounds – six offensive – against Thabeet, thoroughly dominating the 7-3 center all night long. He followed that up with a 20-point, 18-rebound – ten of them offensive – performance in just 23 minutes of playing time against DePaul. On the week, Blair averaged 21 points, 20.5 rebounds (8.0 offensive rebounds) and 1.5 blocks per game, shooting 56 percent from the field. On the season, Blair is averaging 15.8 points and 13.0 rebounds per game, shooting nearly 60 percent from the floor. Furthermore, according to Ken Pomeroy’s statistics, Blair is by far the best offensive rebounder in the country. He could lead Pitt to the Final Four.

- Greivis Vasquez, Maryland
- Toney Douglas, Florida State
- Omar Samhan, Saint Mary’s

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