Thursday, December 10, 2009

Full-Court Press, Dec. 10

We have done the "Full-Court Press" on a daily basis here at March Madness All Season in the past, and we will start to do it much more frequently as the season progresses. It is normally a collection of links and analysis from the previous night's games, and a look ahead to the top games of the day. Today, it will be mostly analysis from last night's jam-packed docket of games.

- First, we have to start with the battle between Kentucky and Connecticut. It lived up to all the hype, and it looks like Madison Square Garden was yearning for some competitive basketball -- we all know it doesn't get enough with the Knights. John Wall was sensational down the stretch, scoring 12 of the Wildcats' final 15 points. He was the biggest difference, while fellow freshman DeMarcus Cousins was also a huge factor in the second half, dominating the paint. For Connecticut, its inability to consistently get points in the half-court was the downfall.

- When Wall is out of the game, Kentucky's offense stagnates tremendously. He missed considerable minutes in the first half, and the Wildcats looked lost at the offensive end. Wall is the catalyst for everything the Wildcats do offensively, but they are going to need to find other ways to score if they want to make a deep run in March.

- I know that Patrick Patterson was somewhat hampered in the second half, but he needs to get more touches. He had good position a few times down low, but his teammates don't look to him often enough. Patterson has expanded his game, but he is not getting enough opportunities to demonstrate that.

- Going into the game, I thought that both teams would at least try some zone defense during the course of the contest. Neither team can shoot the three-pointer well at all -- they combined to shoot 4-for-18 from behind the arc -- and both teams struggle to create consistent offense in the half-court because of turnovers -- the two teams combined for 36 turnovers. Naturally, I figured that there would be plenty of zone defense being played. However, that was not the case. Throughout the season, I wouldn't be surprised if both of these teams were zoned on a near-nightly basis in conference play.

- There were plenty of upsets throughout the night: Harvard went into Conte Forum and knocked off Boston College; Oral Roberts nipped Missouri on a Michael Craion lay-up with 0.9 seconds left; and Wisconsin fell at Wisconsin-Green Bay in overtime (way to get some momentum from the Duke victory).

- What happened to Michigan? The Wolverines came into the season with high hopes and were thought to be a Big Ten contender. However, after their 68-52 loss to Utah on Wednesday, the Wolverines are now just 4-4 with losses to Marquette, Alabama, Boston College and Utah -- none of which are likely NCAA Tournament teams. Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims are doing their part, but they need help.

- Not surprisingly, California looks like its old self now that Theo Robertson is back from injury. Robertson didn't start and only scored eight points, but the Golden Bears beat Pacific 79-54, and looked completely differently than they have in the past few games without Robertson. 

- How about Rutgers senior center Hamady Ndiaye? He went into Wednesday averaging 7.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and 4.3 blocks per game, but finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds and eight blocks in a win over Monmouth. 

- Is there a better group of combo forwards in the country than what West Virginia has on its roster? Da'Sean Butler and Devin Ebanks are both versatile and talented, but Kevin Jones has been impressive this year as well, averaging 12.6 points and 7.0 rebounds per game -- he went for 16 and nine on Wednesday.

- You have to love what Jamine "Greedy" Peterson is doing at Providence. He sat out last season, but has been absolutely dominant this year. He was averaging 17.6 points and 10.2 rebounds heading into Wednesday, and increased those averages with 18 and 12 against George Washington. Peterson is a difficult match-up because he can score inside and also step out and hit the three consistently.

- Oklahoma has bounced back from its disastrous trip to the Great Alaska Shootout. Behind 33 points -- 29 in the first half -- from Tony Crocker, the Sooners won their third straight game, beating Centenary.

- Two of the best centers in the country went head-to-head on Wednesday, as Kansas' Cole Aldrich took on Radford's Art Parakhouski. It certainly did not disappoint, as Parakhouski finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds, while Aldrich went for 15 and nine -- but Kansas dominated Radford, 99-64.

- The two games involving teams from the CAA on Wednesday -- Delaware vs. Hampton and Manhattan vs. Hofstra -- combined for a total of 190 points. Just found that interesting, and likely terribly boring to watch.

- Missouri State improved to 8-0 with an easy victory over Tennessee-Martin, 79-51, while New Mexico had an impressive 82-78 victory at San Diego. Along with UTEP and Illinois State, the Bears and Lobos are two of four non-BCS teams still undefeated. 

- I watched the second half of the Washington State-Idaho game last night, and there might not be a smoother scorer in the country than WSU's Klay Thompson. Everything just looks so easy for Thompson. He can shoot it from deep, pull up in the mid-range and take it to the basket. Thompson struggled shooting the ball against Idaho, yet still looked like one of the best offensive players in the nation.

- The Pac-10 went 3-0 on Wednesday. Baby steps, people, baby steps.

- I think Georgia might be the worst BCS team in the country. Outside of Trey Thompkins, the Bulldogs are awful. The honor would probably be between Georgia, Iowa and probably whoever finishes last in the Pac-10 (right now, the worst record in the conference belongs to UCLA. But that won't last...right?)

- Gonzaga's starters got some much-needed rest in the Bulldogs' 79-40 victory over Augustana (Ill.) on Wednesday. Matt Bouldin, who normally plays 37.4 minutes, was in the game for just 11 minutes. If Gonzaga is going to be a threat come March, it needs to keep its starters healthy and fresh.

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