ATB: John Wall is College BasketballPosted by rtmsf on December 10th, 2009
The Face of the 2009-10 Season. #4 Kentucky 64, #12 Connecticut 61. Ladies and gentlemen, if there was any doubt whatsoever about who the face of college basketball was, is, or will be this season, consider it no more. The buzz was already there. There have been sketchy highlights of Johnathan Hildred Wall from Raleigh, NC, dressed in a Kentucky uniform and easily floating game-winners over Miami and Stanford; there have been a couple of filthy dunks and drives against North Carolina that had you out of your seat shaking your head when you saw them on SportsCenter; but there wasn’t this. No, not this. This being a nationally-televised game with no other competition on the tube where the too-young-to-know-how-good-he-is Mr. Wall emphatically and with reckless abandon introduced himself to the sports world beyond the hoops diehards, shouting from the top of New York’s Empire State Building to the rest of the world… “I am College Basketball.” Dramatic? Possibly. Truthful? Absolutely.
John Wall (25/2/6 stls) scored twelve of the last fifteen points of the game for his team, and as our RTC Live correspondent Ballin is a Habit put it at the game, “Garden security should kidnap Wall and throw a Nate Robinson jersey on him. Who will know?” That’s the point. Wall is probably nearly as good as anyone on the Knicks (or Nets) roster, and the star-studded NYC crowd was electric tonight as they knew this was but a first glimpse of WonderWall and that they would be seeing this kid play for a very long time at the Garden. When it came down to the last five minutes of the game tonight, the scoring went back and forth, but as you were watching the action you already knew where the ball was going when Kentucky got it. You also knew what the result would be — several clutch jumpers followed by a strong and-one when Wall drove from the left side, absorbed contact, and still finished the play to put UK up two with a half-minute left. After a Kemba Walker (12/8/6 assts) miss and Ramon Harris FT for Kentucky, UConn took and missed a couple of threes to finish the game and push Calipari’s team to 9-0 and John Wall into hype overdrive.
We’re just as guilty as anyone of being awed by the guy, but the last time we saw a freshman player who was so spectacular (must-see tv) was when Kevin Durant was dominating everyone in his path at Texas. You tuned in because you sensed that anything could happen when Durant had the ball, and people are starting to sense that about John Wall as well. One key difference in their careers at this point – Wall has already won three games down the stretch by himself. We’re not sure that even Durant did that before Christmas of his freshman season! John Wall — the 2009-10 Face of College Basketball.
Upset of the Night. Green Bay 88, #23 Wisconsin 84. Students RTC’d after the Fighting Phoenix of Green Bay upset the flagship university of the state in overtime tonight (send pics or vids!) in a classic trap game for Bo Ryan’s Badgers. Bryquis Perine (22/3/3 stls) and Randy Berry (13/12) led the way for UWGB, who, despite having ten fewer boards than Wisconsin were able to force 18 turnovers from normally surehanded Badgers to grit out the win. For the Phoenix, this was the first win in their last fifteen games against Wisconsin, and the Badgers will now face home games against Marquette and UW-Milwaukee in the next two weeks to try to regain state supremacy.
Another Upset. Oral Roberts 60, Missouri 59. We had a feeling that this would have upset written all over it, and sure enough it did (complete with a mini-RTC at the end – see below video). Missouri fans have to be beating themselves up over this one, though, as the Tigers had a ten-point lead on the road with just over five minutes remaining and they couldn’t close out the game. Michael Craion’s layup with 0.9 seconds remaining (first video) capped a 15-4 closing run for ORU that gave the Golden Eagles their second win over a BCS team this season (although a considerably better one than Stanford). ORU got 21/7/4 assts from Dominique Morrison and 10/13 from Kevin Ford, and it was just enough for Scott Sutton’s program to pull off the upset tonight. One major concern for Mizzou has to be that they only attempted three FTs tonight (making one), which signals a lack of aggressiveness on the offensive end.
And a Third. Harvard 74, Boston College 67. Is this an upset after how well Harvard has been playing and especially after last year’s Harvard win at BC? Well, it is still Harvard, so we’ll say yes. Jeremy Lin continues to impress, dropping 25/3/4 assts just a few nights after ripping the Connecticut defense up for thirty, and BC is at some point going to have to realize that winning a single ACC game doesn’t mean they can take the next night off (as they did last year as well). The Crimson shot 50% from the field, held BC to 38%, and stood toe to toe with the bigger Eagles on the boards. Furthermore, when crunch time came around, Harvard, especially Lin, calmly walked up to the line and sealed the win, which is something winning programs tend to do. It’s been a foregone conclusion that Cornell would once again own the Ivy League this year, but could Harvard challenge the Big Red in the Ancient Eight?
RTC Live. Utah 68, Michigan 52. Freshman Marshall Henderson had 22 points for Utah including 16 in the first half to lead the Utes over a struggling Michigan team tonight. Henderson was helped out by David Foster in the 2nd half who overcame some pretty sloppy play to start the game to score 10 points and was a force on the defensive end for Utah with 5 blocks. The entire Ute defense really stepped up their game in the 2nd half and held Michigan to just 28% shooting. Manny Harris was the man for the Wolverines, finishing with 25 points and 6 boards, but didn’t get much — only 27 more points — from the rest of his supporting cast. The Wolverines rarely looked like the team that was ranked in the top 25 earlier this season and struggled in their halfcourt offense all night. Utah will look for another big home win on Saturday when they face Oklahoma.
Other Games of National Interest.
- #1 Kansas 99, Radford 64. A 23-8 Jayhawk run comprised the last ten minutes of the first half, and this one was done. Cole Aldrich (15/9/2 blks) faced off with the nation’s leading rebounder and eventual NBA center Artsiom Parakhouski (21/13/2 blks), and Parakhouski was shut out in the first half. Joey Lynch-Flohr actually led Radford with 26 points but Kansas shot great percentages (51.4% FG, 56.3% 3pFG), put six guys in double figures, and were comfortable throughout.
- #3 Villanova 97, St. Joseph’s 89. It’s usually a tight game when these two Big Five powers tip it off, and tonight was no different. There was guard scoring aplenty on both sides in this game, but it may have been Taylor King’s 20/9 off the Nova bench that made the difference tonight. King drilled two threes down the stretch to give the Wildcats just enough breathing room to hold off the charging Hawks, but no rest for the weary in Philly basketball — VU will travel to Temple on Sunday for another difficult Big Five matchup.
- #5 Purdue 86, Valparaiso 62. When you have 20 assists on 29 field goals, you’re going to win a lot of games. Purdue achieved that level of unselfishness in its win over . Brandon Wood came off the bench with 21/9 for the Crusaders, but the Purdue trio of Robbie Hummel (15/4, including three threes), JaJuan Johnson (19/7), and E’Twaun Moore (19/3 asst) showed all the ways that Purdue can beat you.
- #7 West Virginia 68, 39. This isn’t a bad Duquesne team, but with Melquan Bolding (25.0 PPG) still nursing a broken wrist and Jason Duty shelved with a bum left ankle, there’s not much the Dukes could muster against this talented WVU squad. The Mountaineers were a tad sluggish, having not played in ten days, but mostly on the offensive end (36.4 FG%). The WVU defense was tough as usual, and especially brutal on the depleted Dukes. Kevin Jones led the ‘Neers with 16/9.
- #22 Gonzaga 79, Augustana, Illinois 40. Seriously, guys? Evidently this was supposed to be an exhibition between Division III Augustana and the Zags but they ended up making it for the record when Gonzaga had a schedule gap and needed a game. Augustana shot 4.8% from three. Enough said.
- California 79, Pacific 54. Cal drew a record crowd to the Stockton Showcase, but the home fans got a dollop of Patrick Christopher (22/9) and some hot shooting generally (53%) to dominate the cold Tigers. Cal’s next game — at Kansas — might be a bit different than this one.
- New Mexico 82, San Diego 78. New Mexico moved to 9-0 with another solid win against San Diego tonight (who continues to falter after a great showing in the Great Alaska Shootout two weeks ago). UNM got 26 points from Roman Martinez, who torched the nets for 8-9 shooting from deep, hitting the first seven treys that he took tonight. New Mexico will go for 10-0 at home versus Texas A&M over the weekend.
- St. John’s 66, Georgia 56. In the battle of bad and worse unbecoming of a floor that would later host UConn and Kentucky, the Johnnies held Georgia to 36% shooting from the field that allowed the Big East to get off to a 1-0 start in the SEC/Big East Invitational.
- Oklahoma 86, Centenary 62. The only thing notable about this game is that Tony Crocker went for a huge 33/13 night. OU plays a tough game at Utah over the weekend (ask Michigan about that).