Thursday, March 15, 2007

NCAA roundup (Afternoon session)

-Pretty uninspiring early session pack of games. Not surprised with how well Davidson competed, the same goes for Penn. Although, I thought Stanford would bring more to the table, but then again, they were given a tough draw by having to play L'Ville in Kentucky, and not to mention were given the 12:30 time slot which is not fun for a West Coast team.

-Wanted to mention them in my tourney preview musings (but I felt I already gave enough love to the PAC-10), but Wazzu is legit. I felt this way before the tourney after watching them in the Pac-10 tourney. I was probably much like the rest of the pundits in feeling dubious of Wash. State's success, but seeing how they performed in a playoff-type setting in the Staples Center, I became a believer. Tony Bennett totally deserves his Coach-o-Year accolades not for only having his squad overachieve, but for putting such a well-schooled team on the floor. This team just rarely makes mistakes on either end of the floor. Sounds cliche, but they are the epitome of playing within themselves & not trying to force things. Well-known that they are great defensively, but also don't turn the ball over much--only 10.3 TOs per. This has a lot to do with their heady guard tandem of Taylor Rochestie & Low. Low gets most of the pub, but Rochestie might be just as important with the way he shoots & just generally makes sound decisions with the ball. Another underrated player is Robbie Cowgill: nothing spectactular, but a tireless defender & ultimate role player. Don't forget about their all-everything player, Kyle Weaver. He's the one legit NBA prospect on the team, who's length makes him a terror on the defensive end.

-One more thing about Tony Bennett & Wazzu--I believe they are something like 9-2 this year after trailing at the half. That to me is a sign of a good coach. To me, it means he is either making good technical adjustments in the locker room or he is doing a good job motivating his troops, or it could be a combo of both.

-Even though Belmont eventually got blown out by GTown, I thought they did a solid job on defense. And their defense was mostly of the zone variety. No-brainer. If you visited this site before, you know I'm a huge proponent of throwing copious amounts of zone or sagging man vs. teams that run Princeton-type sets, also the same vs. flex sets. Make them prove they can hit their outside shots before you even consider playing a man2man. An even if they hit some jumpers, you have to be willing to stick with the zone because even if their hitting shots, a zone doesn't allow the offense to get much rhtyhm, which is key for Princeton-type teams. Prime example: last year's West Virginia team was loaded with great shooters and were a team that was a team you look at on paper and would not want to zone. But they were even deadlier vs. a man because of their flawless execution of their variation on Princeton. They would get so much rhtyhm & continuity from possession-to-possession vs. a man. But Syracuse was successful last year at home vs. West Virginia because their 2-3 totally stymied any rhythm from the Mountaineers. And even though WVa hit a fair amount of jumpers (I think Pittsnogle hit 5-6 3pts), they could not build any type of consistency possession-to-possession vs. the zone.

-Draft watch:
1) Acie Law is a definite 1st rounder, and possibly the best PG on the board. Some people worry about his quickness, but I think he's fine in that department. Instead, I worry a little if he is a true point. But the way the NBA is going with more shoot-first type points flourishing, Law might be ok; reminds me of Nick Van Exel. He's got a sick crossover.

2) Jeff Green is nice. Some mocks have Corey Brewer higher than Green, and I have to disagree with them. I'll take Green before Corey. Green is a better shooter than Brewer, and has a more proven mid-range game. While both guys are solid rebounders for SFs, Green averages 6 per to Brewer's 4.5. The only case you can make for Brewer is he might be a little bit better on the defensive end. Also, love Green's high b-ball IQ.

3) Roy Hibbert has improved his game over the course of the year, but still not that enamoured with him. Granted, he is 7-2 and has some decent moves on offense. He still doesn't have great movement and does not generate great momentum at the rim; had trouble finishing off easy shots today. Also, he is not much of a rebounder for a guy his size in college. Hey, he's still a definite 1st rounder, I am just not sure he will ever be a consistent starter in the NBA. So maybe I don't want to take him in the first 15 picks.

4) E. Ibekwe (Maryland) is a sleeper pick I've like since watching him in the Worlds this summer. Did a great job crashing the boards & finishing with authority for Nigeria. He's 6-9, a tremedous athlete who rebounds well and is a great shot-blocker. You're not talking about a starter at the next level, but hopefully someone who can be a nice hybrid forward off the bench in the vain of Stromile or Hakim Warrick. Needs some weight and has very little in the way of offensive skills, but could be a nice energy guy who can finish on the break & off of offensive boards in the half-court. Consider him in the early 2nd round, maybe even very late 1st.