All-Head Band Team

A couple years ago, the headband was everywhere in college basketball.  Along with high socks and sleeveless t-shirts,  in it’s time, the headband was a pretty big deal.

Carmelo Anthony and Hakeem Warrick lead the headband-ed Oragemen to the national championship in 2003 over Kansas.  The Florida Gators won back-to-back titles in 2006 and 2007 with a headband-ed Corey Brewer winning the 2007 Final Four MOP.

Sadly, the headband is not as popular with the kids these days and we are seeing fewer and fewer.  There is, however, a few dedicated top-tier players who sweat enough on the face and head-area to warrant a headband.  So I decided that the few that still rock the headband, need a little love.

I know the anticipation is almost to much to handle and you might be sweating just a little bit.  Grab yourself a headband, wipe off the forehead and meet the team of players just like you, expect they are much better at basketball.

Here is my All-Headband Team:

Starting Five

Jonny Flynn, Syracuse

Tyrese Rice, Boston College

Tyler Smith, Tennessee

Paul Harris, Syracuse

Wayne Chism, Tennessee

Off the Bench

Byron Eaton, Oklahoma State

Austin Johnson, Oklahoma

Robert Dozier, Memphis

Levance Fields, PITT

“Pure Shooter”: Don’t Read The Labels – The Ingredients Are Deadly

On any list describing almost everything connected to this season of mens college basketball, you are sure to find Stephen Curry’s name.  This 6’2″ junior who that led Davidson within a basket of reaching the 2008 Final Four, is a son of one of the best shooters in NBA history, Dell Curry.  And his son is widely recognized as the best shooter in the nation.  There is no question he deserves that label, but Curry is mostly known as “only” a pure shooter.  But Curry is much more talented than that label indicants.

Stephen Curry
Stephen Curry

Many sports types have used the label as ” pure shooter” as an extremely broad description for skinny players who or don’t – or can’t  – dunk on a regular basis.  Yet, their influence on the game is undeniable.

In recent years, those with the skills to be classified as “pure shooters” have been in high demand.  As teams looking for every advantage, the three point line has become more and more important, and teams are designing offenses around those skill players.

Duke alumni, and current Orlando Magic bench warmer, J.J. Redick wore the badge proudly like few others in recent history.  He wore it straight to the top of the All-Time ACC Scoring List and multiple Player of the Year Awards his senior season.  Yet, he did have an ability – be it a rather limited ability – to put the ball on the floor and then pull up from mid-range.  But his best weapon was the “catch and shoot” off of screens and drawing fouls and getting to the foul line.

J.J. Redick
J.J. Redick

Their ability to shoot the ball from nearly anywhere on the court is where the comparisons end for Redick and Curry.

After losing senior point guard Jason Richards, Curry was asked to handle the ball and initiate the offense.  In his first five games running the offense Curry is averaging 7.8 assists and 35 points per game.

Granted, this is only the beginning of the season, but it shows he is capable.  Remember, we have seen it before in very important games played in March against the best teams in the country.

Shot Fake

Since Bobby Knight has joined ESPN and does commentary on a regular basis, he has made a couple statements that I actually agree with – really.  In Mondays game with Syracuse and Florida, Knight made a comment about how the “pump-fake is the greatest offense weapon”.  Why would he say that and why does it matter in this article?

If you are a defender and your assignment is Curry, your suicide mission is to limit his looks from deep.  So every time Curry even looks in the general vicinity of the basket, you are off your feet and swatting like you are engulfed by killer bees.

Now Curry can do two things:  If he hasn’t used his dribble, he can dribble to an open shot or if he has picked-up his dribble he can: try to get the shot off or stay on the floor a split second, rise-up into the your flailing body and then go the foul line where he is shooting 91 percent.  Easy points.

Of Curry’s 175 points he has scored this season, 40 of them are free-throws.  His scoring average drops to a mortal-like 27 ppg if you take those 40 points away.  In Redick’s career at Duke he made a total of 652 free throws, only missing 64 combined.  If you take away those free throw, Redick’s career scoring averages goes from 19.9 to 15.1 per game.

Ultimately, each player is unique and both Redick and Curry are deadly from distance.  But they did find other ways to score and Curry is even more lethal because he has the ball in his hands and defenders become his personal puppet.

Other “Pure shooters”

Tyrese Rice, senior point guard from Boston College, is not afraid to pull the trigger from deep.  Yet last season, of the 462 shots he took only 32 percent were threes and he averaged 21 ppg , 5 apg and shot 85 percent from the foul line.  Even more impressive than his shot is Rice’s ability to get past defenders, get into the lane and make tough shots in traffic.

Kyle McAlarney, senior shooting guard from Notre Dame, get’s his feet set and his shot off quicker than anyone else outside of Curry.  Through the first five games of his senior season, McAlarney averages 17 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds per game and is shooting 50 percent from three point range and 100 percent from the foul line.  He has handles the ball more than most off-guards and has a 2.33:1 assist to turnover ratio.

Wayne Ellington, a junior shooting guard from UNC, is smooth.  Everything aspect of his game flows nicely to the next.  Ellington is a good athlete who is able to stop on a dime, pull up and drain his shot.  This season he is shooting 44 percent from distance and his scoring has dipped from 16.6 to 13.5.  The scoring average will go back up when he plays more minutes in meaningful games.

Curtis Jerrells, senior point guard from Baylor, took 387 shots last season and only 43 percent were from three point distance.  He is a solid ball handler, aggressive and with a quick first step.  He is currently averaging 17 points, 7 assists, 3 rebound and shooting 44 percent from distance.

Jon Scheyer, junior shooting guard from Duke, came to Durham right after Redick and was quickly compared to him, even became known as the “poor mans JJ”.  He averages 37 percent from distance and shoots 89 percent from the foul line.  In Scheyer’s freshmen year, three pointers made-up 59 percent of his total shot attempt.  This season they make up only 32 percent and his scoring average is up from 12.2 to 12.5.

Pure Shooters until Proven Otherwise

A.J. Abrams, senior guard from Texas, is a streaky shooter with a quick release.  Every season, his scoring average has increased while maintaining career averages of 88 percent from the foul line and 41 percent from distance.  Against Notre Dame Abrams shot 9 for 27 from the field and 5 for 17 from deep.  But managed to hit clutch shots to make the game close.

Robert Vadan, senior guard/forward from UAB, is another volume scorer who shot 355 three-pointers out of a total of 539 shot attempts.  He is stronger and bigger than most “pure shooters”, at 6’5″ and 205 pounds, and is not the most athletic player.  Vadon still pulls down 7 rebounds per game along with 19 ppg.

Blake Hoffarber, sophomore guard from Minnesota, is best known for hitting heroic shots in big games.  75 percent of his shot attempts as a freshmen were from three point distance.  He did manage to shot 44 percent from the field and 43 percent from the behind the arc.  He is a consistent shooter and who is also averaging 5 rebounds per game.

Tuesday Night Hoopla: College Basketball Recap

Basketball on the Beach with An Umbrella in Your Drink

When it comes to deciding what preseason tournament to play in, I wonder how difficult that choice must be.  You could play in locations you probably already know, scenery that is nothing too exciting, maybe even a little cold.  Or you can go to Hawaii.  Not much of a choice if you ask me.

Every year the Maui Invitational continues to gives us one really good match—if we are lucky, two.  Last night’s marquee matchup featured two highly ranked teams in No. 7 Texas losing to No. 8 Notre Dame 80-81.  Each team has its All-American players, but only one school played like a team.

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Luke Harangody

Luke Harangody is a beast on the block who finished with 29 points and 13 rebounds.  Texas did not have a player on their roster that could match him.  The Longhorns started with 6’10”, 299-pound center Dexter Pittman on Harangody.  Pittman’s sorry stat line for the game: five minutes, four points, three rebounds, and four fouls.

Now this is why Notre Dame is such a good team.  After getting run over by Harangody, you now have Kyle McAlarney and the rest of the Fighting Irish shooting 46 percent from distance.

From the tip-off, Notre Dame looked more comfortable in their offense.  When they needed a bucket, the team knew who needed the ball in what position on the court.  Meanwhile, Texas looked sloppy and very unorganized in their efforts.

Their defense has been top-notch, but the major problem spot for the Longhorns is their offense, more specifically at point guard.  A.J. Abrams is supposed to be the man for the job, but he finished with zero assists while Justin Mason led the team with seven. I think Mason is the single most important player in a Longhorn uniform.

Abrams shot 9-27 from the field.  27 shots, are you serious?  But with all the struggles Abrams and the Longhorns are going through, they were only six inches from winning the game when Abrams’ last-second shot hit the front of the iron.

OrangeMAN

Jonny Flynn has arrived.  Flynn endured a rough freshman year, when Syracuse asked a little too much of the 6’0″ point guard, but now he has led Syracuse to wins over two ranked teams in two days.

Jonny Flynn
Jonny Flynn

After beating No. 18 Florida on Monday, Syracuse needed overtime to drive the point home against the defending champion and 23rd-ranked Kansas Jayhawks 89-81 in the Championship game of the CBE Classic.

To further the theme of team, if you were to compare the Orange from last season to this season, you would see a bunch of individuals who turned into a team.  Granted, injuries and inexperience were a big part of the chaos that was the 2007-08 season.

Even losing freshman Donte Greene was a blessing in disguise.  Greene was never able to buy into the college game and was only looking to create a highlight reel for draft day.

Syracuse showed a handful of things in the CBE Classic.  First, the Big East is by far the deepest conference in the country.  Second, the Orange are a solid team with only a few weak spots that can be improved on.  Third, they will be in the top 25 come Monday.  Last, Flynn has taken over the leadership role for Jim Boeheim.

Flynn looked in control of the offense, and he affects every aspect of this team.  He is scoring 21 points per game, dishing out five assists, two rebounds, two steals, and shooting 46 percent from three-point range.  He has climbed my All-American list from not appearing on any team in the preseason to my second team.

And he still rocks the headband!

Quick Hits

Texas Tech pulled back the offense and only scored 74 in beating Southeastern Louisiana after scoring 167 against East Central.  Apparently they only play teams with two directions in the school name.

North Dakota State’s Ben Woodside scored 29 against Northern Arizona in a game where the Phoenix Suns had a scout drive two hours to look at Woodside.

Finally Sam Young decided to play and scored 33 points, shooting 12-17 and grabbing seven rebounds in No. 4 Pitt’s win over powerhouse Belmont.

Stephen Curry scored 0 points and Davidson beat Loyola (MD) 78-48!  Yes, you are not going insane—it actually happened.  Loyola ran the triangle and two, and Curry sat in the corner, letting the rest of his team play four against three.

All-American Watch V 1.0

Now that some teams have played 4 or 5 games, I feel that is time to update the All-American Watch.  These rankings are based off of how they have played thus far.

First Team

Stephen Curry – Davidson, 6’2″ Jr. Guard – 35 ppg and 7.8 apg

Blake Griffin - Oklahoma, 6’10” So. Forward – 26 ppg and 19.8 rpg

Luke Harangody – Notre Dame, 6’8″ Jr. Forward – 29 ppg and 16 rpg

Manny Harris – Michigan, 6’5″ So. Guard – 24 ppg and 5 apg

James Harden - Arizona State, 6’4″ So. Guard – 25 ppg, 7 rpg and 5 apg

Second Team

Chase Budinger- Arizona, 6’7″ Jr. Forward – 24 ppg, 5 rpg, 3 apg and 59% 3PT

Johnny Flynn – Syracuse, 6’0″ So. Guard – 20 ppg, 6 apg and 44% 3PT

Hasheem Thabeet – UConn, 7’3″ Jr. Center – 14 ppg, 11 rpg and 4 blocks pg

DeJuan Blair – PITT, 6’7″ So. Forward – 18 ppg and 13 rpg

A.J. Abrams – Texas, 5’11” Sr. Guard – 18 ppg, 2 apg and 50% 3PT

Third Team

Tyler Smith - Tenn., 6’7″ Jr. Forward – 19 ppg, 6 rpg and 4 apg

Robert Vaden - UAB, 6’5″ Sr. Forward – 19 ppg, 6, apg and 44% 3PT

Ty Lawson –  UNC, 5’11” Jr. Guard – 15 ppg and 6 apg

Jon Brockman - Washington, 6’7″ Jr. Forward – 17 ppg and 13 rpg

Kyle Singler - Duke, 6’7″ So. Forward – 17 ppg, 7 rpg and 3 apg

Climbing Up

Raymar Morgan - Michigan State, 6’8″ Jr. Forward – 21 ppg and 4 rpg

Samardo Samuels - Louisville, 6’8″ Fr. Forward – 21 ppg, 5 rpg and 2 bpg

Robbie Hummel - Purdue, 6’8″ So. Forward – 16 ppg, 6 rpg and 3 apg

E’Twaun Moore - Purdue, 6’4″ So. Guard – 15 ppg, 6 rpg amd 3 apg

Jerome Dyson - UConn, 6’4″ Jr. Guard – 18 ppg, 2 rpg and 3 apg

Falling Off

Tyler Hansbrough, UNC – He drops ONLY because of  his injury and he has played just one game.

Sam Young, PITT – Most of the light has been shinning on teammate Blair.

B.J. Mullens, OSU – Not sure if Thad Matta is saving him for big games or if he is not ready.

Patrick Patterson, Kentucky – He will be back soon, looks like he is picking it up.

Tuesday Night Hoopla: Review of Last Night’s College Basketball Action

There was enough college basketball played last night, and shown on television, to last a solid month.  There were great matchups, and there were complete lopsided affairs.  Here are my highlights of all things that matter from a night of true college basketball bliss.

bg1
Blake Griffin

Stephen Curry is sick.  Blake Griffin is also sick.  The flu, it’s going around.  Curry went for 44 points and Griffin went for 25 points and 21 rebounds, and the game was exciting. In typical Davidson fashion, they pulled closer in the last couple of minutes.

But here is the truly sick part: Curry and Davidson could have played much better.  Look out.  And those of you who say Curry is only a shooter are dead wrong.  He is primarily a shooter, but the guy can handle and get to the basket.

Two sets of brothers played yesterday.  Three brothers all played in the game featuring No. 14 Oklahoma against No. 21 Davidson: Blake and Taylor Griffin for Oklahoma and Stephen Curry for Davidson—in case you forgot from three sentences ago.

Early in the day, Stephen’s younger brother Seth Curry started for Liberty and scored 18 points.  Stephen had 17 points with six minutes left in the first half.  Both of the Curry kids wear number 30.

Worst Jersey on Television?

Kentucky.  Sorry, but it is one step away from going back to the mid-’90s—and just the thought of anything “mid-’90s” makes me throw up a little in my mouth.

Apparently Tyler Hansbrough should have gone to the NBA, or he should just sit out the whole year.  Sorry, the Blue Devil on my shoulder told me to say that.  Deon Thompson played 29 minutes, scored 20 points, and had nine rebounds—seven offensive.  His matchup with Kentucky’s Patrick Patterson was a

Pikeville Kentucky Basketball

wash—he scored 20 and grabbed 11 rebounds.

The interesting stat for me is that Danny Green started and played 28 minutes and only scored six points.  Maybe he danced too much before the game and wore himself out, because it definitely could not have been Kentucky’s defense—they let VMI score 111 points.

After further review and a closer examination, the jerseys were not that bad.  The defense, however, still made me throw up in my mouth.

Four Inches and 28 points

Four inches is the amount of Boston College’s Tyrese Rice’s leg you can see between the bottom of his shorts and his socks.  I might be over estimating—it was probably less.  Rice dropped 28 points on St. John’s, shooting 8 for 12 from the floor and 10 for 13 from the foul line.  BC also had two others in double figures, Joe Trapani with 19 and Rakim Sanders with 12.

The hardest hitting play of the game came in the second half when St. John’s guard Malik Boothe dove into press row and gave a solid forearm to ESPN’s Sean McDonough’s forehead and then flew into Bill Raftery.  The announcers milked it for the rest of the game.

Balancing Act

No. 10 Purdue beat Loyola (IL) 78-46 with five different players scoring in double figures—three starters and two off the bench.  E’Twaun Moore lead the team with 14 points and had seven rebounds.  Robbie Hummel added 13, going 5 for 5 from the foul line and shooting 2 for 3 from distance.

This team Purdue team is more athletic and more complete then I remember—and their crowd looked tough in all black.

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Curtis Jerrells

Even with guard Tweety Carter out for the game, Baylor still had three guards score at least 14 points.  The team shot 64 percent from the floor and 47 percent from three.  The team was led by Curtis Jerrells with 20 points and eight assists.  He is my new favorite player named Curtis.

There is a strong feeling that many people are not buying into the Bears and their style of play.  The supposed fault is that they do not commit to defense, but Baylor held the Gentlemen to only 20 points in the first half and then completely stopped playing defense and allowed 35 in the second.

Waterboy

Baylor also has the most talented, wealthiest, and best-known student manager in the country.  Former NBA player David Wesley attended Baylor but came up short of his degree.  He recently went back to fulfill his promise to his mother and is now getting towels and water for Baylor.

Tulane Wrangled by Longhorns

The Texas Longhorns beat the Tulane Green Wave 76-51.  Texas had five players scoring in double figures while holding the Green Wave to 31 percent shooting. Here is a great stat about the team’s defense from www.texassports.com:

“Texas is 153-14 in the Coach Barnes era when holding its opponent under 40 percent FG shooting.”

Quick Hits

Most Hyped Team

Connecticut Huskies—and they did not even play.  I have them ranked in my top five, and I am starting to wonder why.

Offensive Juggernaut

Wisconsin scored 88 points, so you know SIU Edwardsville must be horrible.

Best Basketball Name

Richmond Center Josh Duinker—pronounced Dunker.

Highest Scoring Team

North Dakota State Bison—scored 128 points against Mayville State.  NDSU beat Wisconsin a couple seasons ago.  Had to say it.

Most Improved Team After Last Night

Memphis Tigers.  Overall No. 1 recruit Xavier Henry committed to Memphis.  Upgrade!