RTC Instant Analysis: Noon Games (12.04.10)Posted by nvr1983 on December 4th, 2010
As part of our on-going attempt to bring you the best college basketball coverage on-line, we are introducing a new feature where we give your our thoughts after each set of games over the weekend. You can expect posts around the following times:
- 3 PM for the Noon and 1 PM games
- 5 PM for the 2 PM and 3 PM games
- 10 PM for the 7 PM and 8 PM games
If you have any thoughts (agreeing or disagreeing) about what we say, leave a comment and we will respond.
- Tyler Zeller was phenomenal (27 points including 8/13 FG and 11/12 FT, 11 rebounds, and 5 blocks) today admittedly against a weak Kentucky interior defense (we will get to that in a bit), but he has shown that when healthy, which has been pretty rarely while he has been in Chapel Hill, he is one of the premier interior players in the ACC. The combination of Zeller and John Henson, who has developed nicely as well as he added a few low-post moves during the off-season even if he didn’t add on any pounds, could make the Tar Heels competitive for 2nd place in the ACC (read: everybody in the ACC except Duke). If Zeller keeps playing this way and can avoid injuring himself (again), he should be a lottery pick after this season.
- Neither Kentucky nor UNC is ready for prime-time yet. Both teams have serious deficiencies–Kentucky on the inside and UNC at point guard–that will limit them to being Sweet 16 teams at best. Kentucky’s problem can be solved, or at least mitigated, by the possibility that Enes Kanter could regain his eligibility especially in light of the NCAA’s decision on Cam Newton. If the NCAA does not rule in favor of the Wildcat, they will need some of their athletic, but less physical interior players to pick up the slack, which I don’t think they can do on a consistent basis. On the other sideline, Roy Williams has to figure out what to do at point guard. Larry Drew II isn’t going to cut it in March and while Kendall Marshall had stretches where he looked like he could be their starting point guard today he also had stretches where he looked like a lost intramural team point guard. As for Reggie Bullock, he could be a very good point guard some day, but that day is not in the near future. The Tar Heels showed that they could be a dangerous team especially if Barnes ever gets on track, but their lack of reliable point guard play will hold them back from being a 1st- or even 2nd-tier team.
- Having already commented on the UNC guards I would be remiss not to comment on Brandon Knight. The Wildcats will have to address their inside issues, which may be alleviated by Kanter, but they will also need Brandon Knight to continue to mature. He puts up solid numbers (15 points, 2 rebounds, and 3 assists) today and looked much better than he did in Maui, but he need to work on his decision-making (6 turnover today against those 3 assists) and he was playing was against shaky opposing guards today. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, the SEC is weak this year (again) so Knight will not be playing against quality guards that often so we won’t have a good barometer of how Knight has progressed until the NCAA Tournament. Advancing deep in March with a freshman point guard is incredibly difficult particularly without experienced players around him, but John Calipari and Big Blue Nation will be counting on Knight to deliver in March.
- Harrison Barnes is still a work-in-progress. Although he showed flashed of brilliance like the 7 points in a row capped by an emphatic put-back dunk in the first half, his play is too inconsistent (5 points the rest of the game) for Tar Heel fans to rely on. As we mentioned on Twitter earlier, there is no question that he has all the physical basketball skills you could ask for, but I still get the feeling that he is missing “it” (the ability to translate those skills into production on the court). It’s quite possible that he could develop into a dynamic player this season and will still be a top 5 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft because of his athleticism, but I don’t think he will become a 1st team All-ACC player this season much less a 1st team All-American.
- Despite their lack of star power on the inside don’t forget to put Georgetown on the short list of title contenders. Their inside players might not put up big numbers and they might be at a significant disadvantage when they play against a team with excellent interior players, but they do just enough to let their guards, who are fantastic, win the games. I’m not saying they are going to duplicate what Duke did last season, but John Thompson III can point to what the Blue Devils did last year with excellent play from their perimeter players and their inside players (particularly Brian Zoubek) doing what they need to do (rebound and play solid defense) as an example of what his team can aim for.