SEC Morning Five: 11.30.11 EditionPosted by Brian Joyce on November 30th, 2011
- There are many extremely talented freshmen in the nation this season, several of which are in the SEC. Mike Miller of Beyond the Arc says that Florida guard Bradley Beal might just be the best of them all. Miller cites Beal’s consistency, his shooting efficiency (58.8 eFG%), and his significance in the Gator offense despite the glut of talented guards in the Florida backcourt. Beal is averaging 17.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1 block per game. He was named SEC Freshman of the Week for this past week for his performances against Jacksonville and Wright State. The Freshman of the Week award has become a difficult honor to win within the SEC. A different freshman has won the award in each of the three weeks of the season thus far with Kentucky’s Anthony Davis and Mississippi State’s Rodney Hood as the other two winners. Davis might be Beal’s biggest competition for the title of the top freshman in the country. While Davis is still developing a consistent offensive game, he has been an absolute beast on defense. He is averaging 12.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.2 steals and is fourth in the country in blocked shots with 4.3 blocks per game.
- Vanderbilt suffered a heartbreaking loss to Xavier on Monday night, but the Commodores had to be satisfied with at least a couple aspects of their game. CBS Sports RapidReports points out one positive from the loss was the continued improvement from the charity stripe. The Commodores rank 216th in the nation in free throw percentage (68.5%) yet they shot 75% from the free throw line on Monday making nine of 12 attempts. Jeffery Taylor was 5-6 for 83% despite averaging 60.5% from the line thus far this year. Although 75% is an improvement Vanderbilt has to get to the line more often than the 12 shots they attempted on Monday. For comparisons sake, Xavier went to the line 27 times. Vanderbilt must attack the rim off the dribble rather than settle for jump shots in order to improve this number, and this has not been an aspect of Vanderbilt’s game that they have displayed thus far this season.
- The guys at Anchor of Gold are not exactly sure why Vanderbilt lost, but they offer up a couple of suggestions. The stat I found most interesting is that Xavier walked away with a 51% offensive rebounding percentage against the Commodores’ depleted frontline. The Musketeers grabbed 25 offensive rebounds explaining how they were able to shoot just 37.2% from two-point field goal range and come away with the win on the road. Festus Ezeli‘s return has to significantly affect this deficiency. Ezeli won’t erase all of Vanderbilt’s struggles, but he will be a difference maker on both ends of the court. I’m not hopping off the Vanderbilt bandwagon just yet as I think it is important to see how this team plays with the big man in the middle before casting judgement on the quality of this team. Vanderbilt has another huge test on Friday as they face Louisville in the KFC Yum Center.
- CoachCal.com editor Eric Lindsey gave us a full report from John Calipari‘s Tuesday practice with the Wildcats as they prepare for St. John’s on Thursday and UNC on Saturday. Similar to two recent posts about UK on the SEC microsite, Calipari spent some time focusing on their low post game. Cal has worked with big man Anthony Davis to stay lower to the ground to avoid getting pushed around by stronger defenders. By bending his knees, Davis can create a lower center of gravity. Calipari also worked on having low post players seal off their defender and make quick, one bounce moves to the basket. By establishing a low post presence, Kentucky opens up a number of options within their offense, which was covered in our most recent Breaking Down the Play post. Expect to see the Cats go down low early and often this week.
- Rupp Arena will be on display on Saturday afternoon via CBS for the Wildcat’s showdown with North Carolina. The Lexington Herald Leader reports that the University of Kentucky could renovate Rupp rather than build a new arena as previously discussed and better meet the needs of the school. Kentucky is looking to upgrade spaces for the media room, interview room, and training room; add premium seating for the University president and others; and add a new center-hung scoreboard that displays the score, player stats, instant replays, and close-ups of players and coaches. Kentucky has led the nation in average attendance for 15 of the last 16 years, but seemed to be motivated by a brand new arena 85 miles to the west in Louisville. Now the plan appears to be to renovate Rupp Arena to make the improvements needed without building a new arena. In the long run, it would be a mistake to neglect the history that Rupp Arena brings to Kentucky and to college basketball as a whole.