Ugly Until the End
In the first game of the Jimmy V Classic, No. 20 Davidson defeated West Virginia 68-65 at the Madison Square Garden. All the publicity leading up to this game was on Stephen Curry and his ability to score. He did score 27 points but it took 27 shots to get there. Davidsons’ whole team played poorly, to put it nicely, and this game was West Virginia’s to win – but they did not.
Let me paint you a picture of the ugliness that was this game. Both teams shot 26% from three and 59% from the foul line. West Virginia shot 33% from the floor, while Davidson shot 43%. Ugliness all over.
Curry shoot 9 for 27, matching Texas’ A.J. Abrams for the most shots in a single game – I am not sure if that stat is true, but that is a lot of freakin’ shots.
And with all that mess, what puts Curry in a class by himself is that he is the most clutch player I have seen in my life time. West Virginia throw many different players at Curry, sometimes matching him up with forwards six inches taller and that seemed to make him rush.
Curry missed shots he usually makes and forced passes when there were easier options. Curry did finish with 10 assists, but he had did have eight turnovers. Still Curry finished the game scoring 13 of Davidson’s last 14 points, hitting his last three shots.
The injured Mountaineers were lacking guards and the offense struggles. But West Virginia did have two bright spots who each finished with double-doubles. 6’9″ freshmen Devin Ebanks had 13 points and 17 rebounds and was always around the rim. De’Sean Butler, a 6’7″ junior forward, scored 24 points and grabbed 14 rebounds and had to create the majority of his offense.
Davidson’s Andrew Lovedale and Ben Allison held the game close until Curry took over, scoring 15 and 10 respectively.
Every Batman needs a Robin – except when Batman is Christian Bale, then all he needs is Alfred and Morgan Freeman.
For the No. 8 Texas Longhorns two things had to happen against the No. 16 Villinova Wildcats: First, Texas’ “Caped Crusader” A.J. Abrams, needed scoring support and it would help if it was a post player to force defenses to sag into the lane. Second, someone had to step out and play point guard, not “lead guard”, but a pass-first point guard.
Texas did beat ‘Nova 67 – 58 and both problems were taken care of.
First off, Damion James broke out the “Boy Wonder” cape and stepped up with 16 points and six rebounds, which was solid. His efficiency is what was really impressive. James shoot 7 for 11 from the floor and 2 for 3 from behind the arc and lead the Longhorns frontcourt in a physical battle against ‘Nova’s frountcourt lead by Dante Cunningham.
Secondly, in last nights game, Justin Mason only scored three points. But that is not really important. What is important? Six assists and zero turnovers. Mason is a confident ball handler who does not hesitate to move the ball. Ultimately, having Mason on the ball allows Abrams to run off picks and get to open areas for good looks.
‘Nova’s Cunningham continues to improve this season and for much of Tuesday night’s game, he was the best player on the court. Like James, he made it look easy. Cunningham shot 9 for 14 and was 5 for 7 for the charity stripe for 23 points. He also had 12 rebounds and 3 blocks.
For Texas, this game was proof that Texas is very good. Having already beaten UCLA , and now Villinova, and losing a close game to Notre Dame, we may not have seen the best of the Longhorns yet. The defense is ready, the offense will get there. Then watch-out.
Shortly after the game at the Madison Square Garden, Villanova coach Jay Wright had the NYPD issue a restraining order that will not allow ESPN’s Dick Vitale to speak about how good looking he is or how well he dresses for more than a combined 5.7 minutes a game.
Seriously, it was a bit awkward – Sean McDonough was uncomfortable.
- In the match-up of teams from major conferences who will be playing in the NIT come March, A.D Vassallo scored 23 points shooting 4 for 6 from distance in Virginia Tech’s 66-67 lose to the balanced attack of Georgia.
-Following back-to-back loses to Oklahoma and Duke, The Purdue Boilermakers played the second game of the “Lick Our Wounds” tour by going to Ball State and winning 68-39 before they Davidson at home on Dec. 20th. Purdue will not play a road until Jan. 6th when they head to Penn State to start conference play.
-The four teams of Iowa played last night to gain the crown of the Corn Palace State. In the first game, Iowa beat out a less talented Northern Iowa team 65-46 lead by Jake Kelly’s 19 points and Jeff Peterson’s 18.
- Second game showcased Iowa State’s Lucca Staiger shooting 7 for 8 from distance, scoring 21 points in the first. He then made one more basket and finished with 24 points. Drake came back from 13 down to win 66-63. The Bulldogs made 17 out of 25 free throws and the Cyclones only shot six.
- And now for the “write-in candidate for Player of the Year” portion of the show - North Dakota State’s Ben Woodside is sitting fifth in the country averaging 7.2 assists a game. Woodside is also averaging 21 points a game and 53% from beyond the arc.
Latest – and third – addition of my season long All-American Watch. 12/7/08
Stephen Curry - Davidson, 6’2″ Jr. Guard – 31 ppg and 6.4 apg
What did Curry do after a game where he was “held” scoreless? He score 44 points in front of LeBron James to lead Davidson over North Carolina State.
Blake Griffin - Oklahoma, 6’10″ So. Forward – 25.6 ppg and 17.3 rpg
With Curry, he is at the top of the list for Player of the Year. He is a beast and I have not seen anyone who can match-up against Griffin one-on-one. Imagine if he had a consistent fifteen foot jumper. Nasty.
Manny Harris - Michigan, 6’5″ So. Guard – 20.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg and 3.9 apg
Against UCLA and Duke, Harris is averaging 19 ppg, 4 rpg, 3 apg and shooting 48% from the floor and 88% from the foul line. What I am not so subtly hinting at, Harris is capable of elevating his game to another in major games. Let’s hope he can maintain.
James Harden - Arizona State, 6’4″ So. Guard – 26.3 ppg, 7 rpg and 4 apg
To be honest, I think I have seen Harden play about 10 minutes of basketball this season. But everything I see is evidence that he is the most complete offensive player in the country.
Luke Harangody - Notre Dame, 6’8″ Jr. Forward – 23 ppg and 12 rpg
After sitting out two games, Harangody came back to for the for the game against Ohio State. He scored 25 and had 16 rebounds in a tough lose.
Chase Budinger - Arizona, Jr. Forward – 20.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 3.6 apg and 63% 3PT
Jonny Flynn – Syracuse, 6’0″ So. Guard – 19.8 ppg and 5.4 apg
DeJuan Blair - PITT, 6’7″ So. Forward – 14.9 ppg and 13.4 rpg
Jeff Teague - Wake Forrest, 6’2″ So. Guard – 20.6 ppg, 4.9 apg, 4 rpg and 57% 3PT
Tyler Smith – Tenn., 6’7″ Jr. Forward - 17.4 ppg, 6 rpg and 5 apg
Hasheem Thabeet – UConn, 7’3″ Jr. Center – 14.5 ppg, 12.5 rpg and 4 bpg
Kyle McCalarney – Notre Dame, 6’0″ Sr. Guard – 18.9 ppg, 3.8 apg, 2.4 apg and 48% 3PT
Tyler Hansbrough – UNC, 6’9″ Sr. Forward – 22 ppg and 6.8 rpg
Ty Lawson – UNC, 5’11″ Jr. Guard – 16.1 ppg, 6.9 apg, 2.4 prg, 3 steals and 55% 3PT
Kyle Singler - Duke, 6’8″ So. Forward – 16.9 ppg, 7.8 rpg and 3.3 apg
Patrick Patterson – Kentucky, 6’8″ So. Forward – 17.9 ppg, 9.1 rpg and 3 apg
A.J. Abrams – Texas, 5’11″ Sr. Guard – 18 ppg, 2.7 rpg and 44% 3PT
Curtis Jerrells - Baylor, 6’1″ Sr. Guard – 16.3 ppg, 5.5 apg, 3.6 apg and 1.8 steals per game.
Evan Turner – Ohio State, 6’7″ So. Guard – 16.6 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 3.4 apg and 3 spg
There have been many college basketball types complaining that the ACC/Big Ten Challenge is lopsided and pointless.
Some say that the Big Ten will never be able to play to the level of ACC and that the ACC will never lose. So why play?
And if you were to quickly glance at only a couple of games, you could easily find evidence to back up that claim.
I understand that North Carolina ran over Michigan State at Ford Field—a somewhat “neutral” site. Duke finally left Durham to play a road game in West Lafayette, IN and even though is was on the Boilermakers home court, Purdue didn’t even show up to play.
But many of the games were hard-fought and close in the final minutes. There were many showcased teams that focused on the team concept versus teams with a lot of individual talent. It paired four highly ranked teams against each other and featured at least six others who will hear their names on Selection Sunday.
While the ACC has never lost the challenge, to say that the Challenge is pointless is a little ridiculous.
A couple of weeks ago, I made a comment that I thought the Big Ten could win or at least earn a draw in this season’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge. I was almost right.
Even though they did not win, the Big Ten performed better than it has the last few years of this early season basketball extravaganza. (Now that is a great word.)
The difference this season was the scheduling committee decided to have teams face each other that will end up in the same relative position in their respective conferences. So the matchups were more even in nearly every game.
Since 2003 the ACC has won the challenge; 7-2, 7-2, 6-5, and 8-3 in both 2006 and 2007. This season the challenge ended up 6-5 in the ACC’s favor.
Each conference has had teams that were head and shoulders above the rest of the opposing conference in years past. Yet this season, the play of the teams in the middle of the pack in each conference has been fairly level and is what ultimately made this year’s challenge entertaining.
The matchup of Boston College and Iowa came down to a missed free throw in the final seconds. Maryland came back to beat Michigan. Northwestern took over the game with their style of play against Florida State. And Georgia Tech had a last-second heave at the buzzer to steal the game from Penn State, but could not.
In 2007, the three closest games were VT over Penn state by five, Clemson over Purdue by three, and Indiana over GT by four. The total was a combined point difference of 12.
In 2008 the three closest games were Wisconsin over VT by two, Clemson over Illinois by two, and Boston College over Iowa by two. The point difference of those three games was six. There were also four other games with a total point difference of 16.
As the Big Ten is reasserting itself as a power conference , I would like for the schools to consistently play each other. Have UNC host Michigan State next year. Next season Purdue goes to Cameron to face off with Duke. Send Minnesota to Virginia to continue with the Ralph Sampson story line.
Establishing rivalries would add another layer of significance to the games and prove that each individual game is as important to win as part of the rivalry, not just a part of the challenge. There are very few non-conference or non-border-sharing rivalries in college basketball and we could use some more.
Every season the ACC is involved in the same old debate about which conference is the best. The Big Ten has recently fallen very far from an “honorable mention” in that conversation. And I can not totally disagree.
Yet since the ACC/Big Ten started in 1999, each conference has had a total of eight teams in the ten Final Fours that have taken place in the same amount of time. With the ACC winning three national championships and the Big Ten only one.
Below is the break down for each season with the champions in bold…
1999 – Duke, Michigan State and Ohio State (because of violations they have forfeited this appearance) – UConn
2000 – Wisconsin, MSU and UNC,
2001 – Duke and MSU,
2002 – Indiana and Maryland
2003 – none – Syracuse
2004 – Duke and Georgia Tech – UConn,
2005 – UNC and MSU,
2006 – none – Florida
2007 – Ohio State – Florida
2008 – UNC – Kansas
So to claim that the ACC is a more dominant conference is false. They are definitely the most hyped conference and the choice favorites of some ESPN “experts.”
But here is the reality: there are always going to be conferences who have more high exposure players, more future NBA draft picks, more Hall of Fame coaches. Yet, that does not guarantee a championship, let alone a trip the Final Four.
We have also seen that players who were not draft-worthy when they were freshmen are now projected as a top-ten pick as a junior. We have seen juniors who were guaranteed first round picks come back to take one more shot at finally winning the last game of the season.
Now more than ever in college basketball, “the playing field is level,” and every team is a twist of fate away from making a run deep into March or losing in the first round to a mid-major.
Case in point: UNC is a Ty Lawson or Tyler Hansbrough twisted ankle away from booking flights to Detroit in the spring—even though Detroit will still have snow.
So to the the decision makers of the Big-Ten and ACC: You have a good product, it just needs a little tweaking to get the most out of it. Just get rid of the East Coast bias, promote rivalries when possible, and continue to make fair match-ups.
Even if the ACC continues to win, it will at least be entertaining.
Two minutes. Jon Scheyer made a three-pointer after two fast paced hard fought minutes. Two minutes later, Purdue finally scored when Chris Kramer final hit a jumper to make the game 7-2. It would seem that the Boilermakers were a little to hyped to play Duke Tuesday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
In the second half Purdue had another scoring draught of over four minutes and if JaJuan Johnson had not scored eight points in a row, Purdue would have not scored until 10:48 left in the game when E’Twaun Moore hit a jumper.
In the match-up of star 6’8” sophomore forwards, Duke’s Kyle Singler out-played Purdue’s preseason Big-Ten player of the Year candidate, Robbie Hummel. Even if the stat lines don’t look as such.
I must admit, even as a Dukie, I did not buy into Singler until a few games into the season. Working hard over the summer to add 10 pounds of muscle, Singler looks the part of a McDonalds All-American. And the game at Purdue furthered my belief that he can lead and make playes in big games when needed.
Coaches will say that no game is more important than any other. That’s crap. And you get see the evidence all over the court Tuesday night. Players were diving for loose balls, attempting to take charges, giving hard fouls. Even Singler seemed to be amped up for Duke’s first real test of the season.
Singler finished the evening with 20 points and 12 rebounds – six offense – and hit shots when his team needed them. Singler was all over the place with hustle plays and guarded Hummel and did not allow any east shots.
Hummel was completely invisible until halfway through the second half and then he ended with 15 points and 8 rebounds. But his play did not affect the game nearly as much as Singler. For that matter, all Purdue players games did not affected the out come as much as Singler as Purdue looked rushed in their offense and over-matched by Duke’s talent.
I have never been on to beleieve that stats alone can tell the whole story of a game. Well, Tuesday night it certainly did. Two key stats showed how lopsided this game truly was; Duke out rebounded Purdue 43 to 26. And the Boilermakers shoot 2 for 13 from the three point line and Duke shoot 8 for 22. Schyer also finished with 20 points.
Colt – 45
Ralph Sampson’s kid is coming to Minnesota. Tubby Smith had instantly proved his importance to the Gopher Nation as Sampson highlighted the 23rd best recruiting class in the country, but there was another tall post player who was a part of the recruiting class. And that player has started all seven games and Tuesday night in the Gophers toughest game this season, he had the best game of his short career.
The 6’10” 235-pound Colton Iverson came in to his senior his under the radar in Yankton, South Dakota. Not many people knew who he was and even fewer knew less about his game.
Iverson stock rose to be ranked among Top 150 recruits after a strong senior season when he averaged 17.5 ppg, 12.9 rpg and 2.7 blocks and a summer where his AAU team won the Hoosier Shootout and he won the tourney’s MVP. His stock so much that even Billy Donavan and the Florida Gators were interested.
In the Minnesota’s win against Virginia, the Gophers looked for Iverson on offense and he responding finishing 5 for 6 from the floor, 4 for 6 from the foul line for 14 points. He also grabbed seven rebounds and four of which were offensive.
Iverson altered more shots than he blocked (2) but along with Ralph Sampson and Damian Johnson, the Gophers frontcourt finished with seven blocks, 14 rebounds and 20 points. Compared to the four best Cavalier post players who had 11 points, 16 rebounds and two blocks.
Miami’s Jack McClinton’s best shot of the night? After starting off the game 4-4 from distance, McClinton took a shot at Ohio States guard Anthony Carter and slapped Carter in the face. After a quick conference with the refs, McClinton was ejected. Ohio State won 73-68.
The Memphis Tigers blew out the Marist Red Foxes 100-61. Here is the stat-line for Memphis guard Tyreke Evans: 10 for 13 from the floor, 2 for 4 from behind the arc, 2 for 6 from the chariot stripe – weak, six rebounds, four assists, three steals, and 24 points. Marist was tough.
In the same “why the hell are you playing each other” vein, Notre Dame beat South Dakota 102-76. Notre Dame’s Randy Ayers finished with 35 points, 6 rebounds, shot 9 for 14 from distance and 12 for 20 from the field.
New Jersey Institute of Technology lost again. Stony Brook outscored the Highlanders, 60-39.
By the end of the Tuesday the ACC/Big Ten Challenge was all tied-up at 3-3.
The first full night of games in featuring my two favorite conferences and here are my picks.
Tuesday, Dec. 2
Duke at Purdue – Duke wins 85-79
Clemson at Illinois – Clemson wins 68 – 58
Ohio State at Miami – OSU wins 75 – 70
Virginia at Minnesota – Minn wins 70 – 64
Iowa at Boston College – BC wins 80 – 62
Wisconsin beat Virginia Tech on a last second shot by Trevon Hughes to give the Big Ten a “commanding” 1-0 lead over the ACC. Check here for a ESPN’s recap and highlights.
Tonight is No. 4 Duke at No. 10 Purdue in a game I will watch with anticipation. I will recap that game and the Ohio State at Miami game or Virginia at Minnesota for Fox tomorrow.
Here is the complete schedule and not all games out on TV.
Monday, Dec. 1
Wisconsin at Virginia Tech
Tuesday, Dec. 2
Duke at Purdue
Clemson at Illinois
Ohio State at Miami
Virginia at Minnesota
Iowa at Boston College
Wednesday, Dec. 3
North Carolina vs. Michigan State (from Ford Field)
Indiana at Wake Forest
Michigan at Maryland
Florida State at Northwestern
Penn State at Georgia Tech