Monday 19 December 2011

2009 Hoop Summit Recap

For the first time since Dirk was raining J's on the Americans in '98, the international (or "World") team was victorious at the Nike Hoop Summit. The USA team lead after the first, second and third quarters but the World team used a 14-3 run to pull away for a 97-89 victory in front of a crowd of over 11,000 in Portland. The game showcased some of the States best young talent, including top point guard prospect John Wall. Wall was not allowed to participate in the McDonald's All-American game, so he was eager to impress last night. Despite scoring just 13 points, he looked like the best player in game yesterday. A lightning quick first step, incredible athleticism and a great court savvy made college coaches and NBA scouts drool. Wall had 11 assists and is complete in every aspect of the game. Xavier Henry another top recruit, scored 22 points, but on six threes, he didn't show any willingness to drive the ball to the basket. Avery Bradley (Texas), the #1 player by ESPN had 21, and displayed a much more balanced offensive arsenal. The big men for US team did not show much. John Henson (UNC) made some really athletic plays, but for all the size that US had, they where out rebounded 48-29. It was obvious that this class of High Schoolers had superior athletic ability, but they where missing some fundamental skills. The World team, played as a team, so despite being less talented they where able to come away with a victory.

Friday 16 December 2011

Should Steph Curry go pro?

There is not much more that Stephen Curry can prove by staying in college. He already averaged 28.6 points a game for an entire season, almost single handedly lead Davidson to the Elite Eight and still managed to lead the Wildcats in assists and steals. Curry is clearly the best player in his conference and one of the best in the country, and with very limited offensive weapons around him defenses key on him every game. If Curry returns, he will once again have to deal with being a giant bulls eye and he will lose Andrew Lovedale (12.5 points, 8.7 rebounds) the teams second leading scorer and leading rebounder, not to mention the only back to the basket post presence the Wildcats had. It will be hard for Curry to score as many points as he did last year, and there does not seem to be much more that he can do in college. I think that he should opt to go pro, he will get drafted and in the NBA he won't face the kind of hawking defenses he has had to face in college, because he will not be a primary scorer. Curry is currently 50-50 and has time to think before the April 26th deadline, but it is time for him to move on.

Monday 12 December 2011

North Carolina - Michigan State Preview

No one can stop talking about the last time these two met, in the same venue, earlier in the year. That was the game of course when the then number one UNC hammered the then number twelve Spartans 98-63, in a game that many will argue was not even that close. What everyone else knows is that result means nothing. For one Michigan St. was playing with out Goran Suton, a key senior, and the Spartans only true post presence. I'm not saying that UNC is going to lose, they are by all means the favorites to win. UNC is completely loaded, and no team has even come close to beating them in the tournament (they have won all of their games by double digits) and the excellent point guard play of Ty Lawson has made the Tar Heels offense look like a well oiled machine. Michigan St. does not have the star power that UNC has, their best player, Big 10 player of the year Kalin Lucas does not have the pedigree or the stat line that any of the other top point guard in the tournament have and hasn't appeared on anybody's NBA radar. UNC has five of the most well known players in college basketball starting for them, and four of them will have a good chance of getting drafted. UNC has unfinished business, Hansbrough, Lawson, Green and Ellington all passed up on the pro for a chance to win a championship, and I don't think they will disappoint. Michigan St. relies on a deep bench, great defense and rebounding to wear down opponents. Against UCONN, 11 different players played 6 or more minutes, 10 scored and the Spartans got 33 bench points. Unfortunately for Michigan St., wearing down UNC won't be easy. UNC has a deep bench as well, and as everyone knows they love to get out and run. Michigan St. excelled when they pushed the ball against UCONN, but that might be something that they want to refrain from when the play the Tar Heels. Michigan St. has been a great defensive team all year, but will they be able to stop the best offensive team in the country?

Friday 9 December 2011

Michigan St. - UCONN preview

Michigan St. is in the Final Four, for the fifth time under Tom Izzo, and has a huge advantage playing in Detroit. Michigan St. fans are turning out by the thousands and the Spartans should have the crowd advantage. Michigan St. has relied on it's defense so far in the tournament, the Spartans have not given up more than 70 points in any game so far, and held Louisville (which scored 101 against Arizona) to 52 points. Goran Suton is key for Michigan St. The 6' 10" senior had 20 against Kansas, and 19 (with three triples) against Louisville. Suton's versatility will be vital for Michigan St., when they try to bring Hasheem Thabeet away from the basket. The Spartans can also use their depth to their advantage. Michigan St. has 12 players that average 6 or more minutes a game and 10 players average 3 or more points a game. Will Michigan St. will have to contend with Thabeet, they might be giving up something that has helped them win games all year, rebounding. Yes, the Spartans averaged 35.6 rebounds a game, good enough for first in the Big 10 and 26th nationally. A more telling statistic however is Michigan St.'s rebound percentage (58.4%), which effectively makes them the best rebounding team in the country. All in all the Michigan St. is not a great shooting team, and will rely on rebounding, hustle plays and the leadership of young point guard Kalin Lucas. UCONN had a tough test with Missouri, but emerged victorious. All the rest of the Huskies games have hardly been tests. UCONN hammered Chattanooga in the first round (103-47), moved on to destroy Texas A&M (92-66) and finally after struggling a little, UCONN dismantled Purdue (72-60). Behind the long arms of Hasheem Thabeet UCONN is the best shot blocking team in county averaging nearly eight blocks a game, four of which Thabeet accounts for. Jerome Dyson, who has played only one minute in the entire tournament (against Purdue), is questionable for today's game, but if he does play he should give the Huskies a big lift. With Thabeet and Jeff Adrien manning the board, UCONN averages 40.7 rebounds a game, best in the country. This maybe one of Jim Calhoun's last runs in the tournament, as he has been battling some serious health issues recently. This could provide an added incentive for UCONN, to win one for coach, who has been at UCONN since 1986. For UCONN to win they should look to speed the game up, because Michigan St. can definitely stay with them in a half court game. As long as the Huskies dominate the glass, Michigan St. will have a hard time getting any easy baskets.

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Final Four Preview: Villanova vs UNC

Villanova is back in the final four for the first time since 1985 (when they won it all), and just like last time, they are significant underdogs to win it all. UNC has unfinished business, this group of Tar Heels has never won the title, and many of them passed up on the NBA to return at a shot at the title. UNC has breezed by all of its opponents so far, winning every game by double digits, and averaging 88.75 points a game. Ty Lawson has been the motor, as he has been all season, but he has been particularly outstanding in the tournament. Lawson's 15-1 assist to turnover ratio is insane, but might be more insane is that he is shooting 71.4 percent from three in the tournament. Ellington, Lawson and Hansbrough are all averaging over twenty points a game and UNC looks poised to take the title. Villanova is the lowest seeded team in the Final Four (3 seed), but is only a 7 1/2 point under dog to UNC. Scottie Reynolds is key for Villanova, when he plays well they play well. Reynolds of course hit the game winner against Pitt has averaged just 12.5 points a game in the tournament, but has deep range on his jumper and is capable of breaking out for huge scoring outputs (he scored 40 against UCONN as a freshman). Villanova relies on a small scrappy line-up to out hustle opponents. This small line-up can provide match-up problems for some bigger teams, but also leaves the Wildcats vulnerable on the glass. Villanova winning really would be a shocking upset, UNC is just better at everything the Wildcats to well.