Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Morning Shootaround

A lot of pre-season tournament action to get into. Let's start with the CvC semi's.

Duke 81, Southern Illinois 56: Southern Illinois looked terrible in the first half. Duke looked even worse. The Blue Devils managed to hold a 29-23 lead at halftime despite 15 turnovers in the half and Gerald Henderson and Kyle Singler going scoreless. But the second half was a different story, as Henderson and Singler combined for 33 points, Duke turned it over just four times, and the Devils outscored the Saluki's 54-35 en route to a 83-58 win. Henderson in particular looked like an all-american in the second half, scoring 20 points, hitting four three's, making plays defensively, and capping off the night with this dunk:

I'm on record here as saying that the in order for Duke to at least put up a fight against UNC in the ACC, they need Jon Scheyer to turn into a 15-17 ppg guy. I still believe that to be true and that Scheyer is not quite there yet (although seeing Singler and Henderson take over that game when Duke was struggling eased my doubts a little bit). But more importantly, Duke needs to solve their turnover issues. They had 15 in the first half. I know Southern Illinois is a tough team defensively, but they usually aren't the kind of team that will turn you over a lot. What I mean is that they aren't a pressing team, they are a team that will play fundamental, tough, helping defense that will force you to use a lot of clock and hopefully end up taking a rushed or bad shot. They aren't a Clemson or a Missouri that is going to press all over the floor. And Duke still had 15 turnovers in the half. Some were charges. Some were errant passes. There were travels, three-seconds, and I think I even remember a double dribble. I'm not sure what the answer is. Nolan Smith has struggled at times, but Paulus has his own turnovers issues. Maybe it is a focus thing. I don't know. What I do know is that they were up six at the half on a well-coached, possible (although they didn't look it last night) tourney-bound SIU team with those 15 turnovers. Without them, Duke might have won by 40.

There was one good sign for the Devils. Brian Zoubek looked good, especially in the first half (I believe his first half numbers were 9 points and 4 boards). He finished with 10 and 6, and if he can give the Devils that line every night, they won't have to worry all that much about the struggling Miles Plumlee.

Michigan 55, UCLA 52: The biggest upset of the year so far, at least by rankings. UCLA has been way overrated in the preseason by everyone (including myself, I had them at #3). They will be up there by the end of the year, but right now their freshman are just not ready. Outside of Jrue Holiday, the other four combined for a scoreless 15 minutes, and J'Mison Morgan didn't even play. Speaking of Holiday, last night was the first chance I got to see him play, and man is he good. He's not going to light up the scoreboard like the freshman of the past two seasons, but he is an efficient, smart, and fundamental player. He was 6-8 from the floor for 13 points, doing it in a variety of ways (I remember him hitting a three, making two pretty drives to the rim, and hitting a pull-up off the dribble from 15 feet). He attacks the boards very well for someone his size. He did a great job defensively on Manny Harris, maybe the best player in the Big Ten. I'm not sure if he is going to be a great pro yet, but if he stays at UCLA for three years, he will be an all-american.

Some last tidbits on the Bruins. They need a scoring presence in the paint - badly. Howland's system has always relied on being able to dump the ball on the block and know you can get points. Alfred Aboya, James Keefe, and Nikola Dragovic are all good players, but none of them are going to require a double-team - Keefe and Dragovic are more shooters than anything, and Aboya is known for his defense and rebounding. Collison and Shipp struggled badly last night, comibing for 18 points and 10 turnovers.

By talking about UCLA, I'm taking credit away from where it is due. The Wolverines played phenomenally last night. Beilien has this group of guys really buying into his system and playing above their potential. They've now beaten UCLA and Northeastern (who knocked off Providence). Their 1-3-1 zone is giving team's fits. Manny Harris has played great, and DeShawn Sims (who plays starters minutes but comes off the bench) is turning into an all-league caliber player. He led the Wolverines with 18 and 5 last night. And their role guys are, well, filling their roles. Case in point, Stu Douglass. The unheralded freshman had 10 points, 5 assists, and came up with two big three-pointers in the second half. Beilien has a bunch of cast-offs, but they look like they are ready to make some noise in the Big Ten. But it shouldn't surprise you that Beilien is winning with guys no one wanted - do you know where Mike Gansey and Kevin Pittsnoggle are now? Gansey is in Germany, and Pittsnoggle is a teacher.

Scores from the Puerto Rico Tip-Off :

  • Seton Hall 63, USC 61 - The Pac-10 may be giving the SEC a run for it's money as the most disappointing conference early in the season. Oregon State lost to Howard. Washington lost to Portland. Oregon lost to Oakland. Now two of the top three teams have been knocked off by middle-of-the-road power conference teams. Taj Gibson had 19, 18, and 3 blocks for the Trojans, but John Garcia had 11 and 18, Jeremy Hazell had 15, and Eugene Harvey had 18, 5, 5, and 3 steals as the Pirates came back from a 15 point half time deficit. It was their defense that led the comeback - USC had only 18 points in the second half and SHU got 27 points off of 19 USC turnovers.
  • Xavier 75, Missouri 71 -  The Musketeers got a balanced effort (8 guys between 6 and 16 points) as they overcame a late Missouri run.
  • Memphis 83, Chattanooga 71 - Doneal Mack scored 19, hit five three's, and keyed a 31-14 second half run that put the Tigers up 12 at the half. Shawn Taggart had 16 and 11 for Memphis.
  • Virginia Tech 74, Fairfield 57 - AD Vassallo had 24 points and Jeff Allen had 18, 8, 5 blocks, and 3 assists in a game that was never close.
  • Illinois 69, Vanderbilt 63 - Demetri McCamey had 23 and 6 assists to lead four players in double figures as the Illini held off Vandy.
  • Oklahoma State 91, Tulsa 73 - OK State forced 16 first half turnovers as they built 54-28 halftime lead. Byron Eaton led the way for the Cowboys with 26 and 7 dimes.
  • Texas Tech 167, East Central 116 - It doesn't matter who it was against. 167 points. The Red Raiders shot 67-113 from the floor, 13-25 from deep, had 10 guys in double figures, and scored 90 in the second half.
  • Florida State 79, Stetson 77 - Toney Douglas scored 20 of his 26 in the second half as the Seminoles barely hung on against Stetson. 
Best of the night:
  • Nick Stallings, Centenary - Stallings had 31, 7 boards, and 5 dimes in a win over Troy.
  • Courtney Pigrim, ETSU - Pigrim had a triple double with 21, 10, and 10 in a win over Wingate.
  • Marshon Brooks, Providence - Brooks had 30 off the bench to lead five players in double figures in a win over Sacred Heart.

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