ATB: Jimmy V, Jae Crowder, Mizzou & Washington’s Late Game Management Issues…Posted by rtmsf on December 7th, 2011
Tonight’s Lede. We Will Not Give Up. On this same night every year, we feel compelled to join Dick Vitale and the rest in our support of the V Foundation in its fight against cancer. And every year, we find that we as a society have come a little bit closer to defeating the scourge that takes so many of our friends’ and families’ loved ones away from them too soon. As a bitter contemporary reminder, one of our colleagues lost her father to the disease yesterday. Another friend’s daughter was diagnosed with leukemia last year. Yet another friend recently underwent surgery to remove a precancerous polyp. Medical research is painstakingly slow and expensive and there’s unlikely to be a one-hit wonder out there that can ‘cure’ cancer, but treatments are improving. The V Foundation has given over $100 million dollars to fund 92 cancer research grants nationwide in its nearly 20-year history, and the benefits that have resulted from those dollars are certainly immeasurable. No matter who you might feel about Vitale, or Jim Valvano, or even ESPN, this is a noble and just cause. The page to donate is located here — and remember, the V Foundation passes along 100% of its donations directly to research initiatives.
Your Watercooler Moment. Crowder Not Crowded On the Right Wing. The second half of the Jimmy V Classic was more entertaining than the first tonight, even though it appeared that only a few hundred fans were in attendance for Marquette vs. Washington. A back-and-forth game that rarely saw either team take a lead of more than three points came down to execution in the clutch. After Washington’s Terrence Ross (a future star who had 19/9/3 assts) knocked in a tough heave off glass from the lane to give his team a one-point advantage with 19 seconds left, Marquette immediately went into its offensive set, confused two UW defenders who ended up falling on each other, and found Jae Crowder standing all alone in the corner for three. His bucket from the right wing gave Marquette the win, and showed just how important coaching is in late-game situations. Marquette is now 8-0 and playing like one of the better offensive teams in America. We just love watching Buzz Williams’ guys perform in close games.
Dunkdafied. Washington’s Terrence Ross and Marquette’s Vander Blue one-upped each other with huge dunks in the second half of tonight’s Jimmy V Classic nightcap.
Tonight’s Quick Hits...
- Mizzou’s Hot Start. In the opener of the Jimmy V Classic, Missouri did what elite teams do in those situations. The Tigers ran out to a nice early working margin against Villanova and sustained its lead through sharing the ball to the tune of 23 assists on 28 field goals. Marcus Denmon is playing out of his mind, now averaging 21/6 while shooting a red-hot 55% from the field and 50% from three (28 on the season already). The Tigers are also getting great production from Kim English on the wing (15 points tonight, 16/4 on the season), and Ricardo Ratliffe inside, who went 8-8 from the field against Villanova and has only missed two of his last 32 shot attempts. It’s a little hard to believe that Frank Haith’s team could really be as good as they appear, but they’ve answered all tests thus far and will not see another one for a couple more weeks when the Tigers take on Illinois in the Braggin’ Rights game.
- Long Beach State and Marshall’s Pluckiness. Both of these teams faced near-impossible situations entering Allen Fieldhouse and the Carrier Dome, respectively, tonight, but the plucky mid-majors acquitted themselves well with performances that never quite let the home teams get too comfortable. The Thundering Herd only lost by six points, and were it not for a miserable 5-24 shooting performance from beyond the arc, they may have had a chance to steal one in Syracuse. Long Beach State had closed its large halftime deficit against Kansas to five points with three minutes to go, and again, a couple of stops here and there, and who knows? The key takeaway is that both teams play with a pluckiness and heart that will serve them well in C-USA and the Big West this year.
- UNI’s Weird Stat Line. It’s rare that a team will allow its opponent to shoot over 50% against it, lose the battle of the boards, and not convert as many assists… yet win the game by 20 points. That’s what happens when the winning team makes ten more threes and 26 more foul shots than its opponent, and that’s what Northern Iowa did to Iowa tonight. Combined with its 7-point win over Iowa State last week, the Panthers need only sweep conference rival Drake to make the claim of Hawkeye State champions this year. Chalk another victory up for the Valley over a power conference team too, its ninth (versus eight losses) on the season.
… and Misses.
- Washington’s Late Game Management. With about two minutes left in tonight’s game against Marquette, we were already certain of how the game would end — in a horrific and ugly way for the Huskies. Lorenzo Romar has more pure talent than all but a few teams in America, but his players do not value possessions and they don’t win close games. The latest exhibit in a long line of these kinds of losses was the clear contrast between Washington’s Terrence Ross taking and making a difficult and low-percentage shot in the lane, followed by Marquette’s well-executed play for Jae Crowder’s three that left UW players falling on top of each other trying to defend him. Then, with six seconds remaining, instead of calling timeout to reorganize the troops, Abdul Gaddy simply ran the ball up the sideline and took another crazy, contested shot that had little chance of actually dropping. This sort of chaotic play has been a persistent issue with Romar’s teams over the years, and represents the difference between an elite program and a very good one. Now, Washington is facing a must-win situation against Duke on Saturday in order to earn a quality non-conference win this season.
- Chris Otule’s Knee Injury. Of course, we hate all injuries to players, but Otule’s knee-buckling incident that had him writhing in pain on the floor of Madison Square Garden hit us a little harder. Maybe it’s because the 6’11″ big man has already been ravaged with injuries during his first few years at Marquette; or maybe it’s because he’s playing with monocular vision while everyone else on the floor has use of that rather important depth perception thing; or maybe it’s because he just seems like a nice kid in interviews. Regardless, we hope that his knee sprain turns out to only be that, and he’ll be back in the lineup again soon — Buzz Williams said after the game that he believes Otule will be alright, but he will meet with team doctors and may need an MRI.
- NPOY – Marcus Denmon Missouri. Denmon is playing like an All-American this season, and his dominance against Villanova tonight shows why — 28/5/3 assts on 10-16 shooting, including a blistering 6-10 from behind the arc. He already has 28 treys in eight games this season.
- Thomas Robinson, Kansas. T-Rob dominated the Long Beach State front line to the tune of 26/11/3 assts on 10-14 shooting, proving all the preseason prognosticators right about this kid. Tonight was his seventh dub-dub game of the year.
- Jae Crowder, Marquette. His numbers weren’t eye-popping — 18/6 on 8-15 shooting — but his game-winning corner three under the bright lights of MSG made him a worthy choice tonight.
- Herb Pope, Seton Hall. The burly Pirate went for 25/6/4 assts/2 stls in a blowout win over NJIT tonight — he’s playing great this season, leading the Big East in both scoring and rebounding.
- Will Barton, Memphis. The wiry Tiger turned into a lion tonight, as he dropped 27 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and found time to dish three dimes, steal the ball four times and make two blocks in an impressive win over Miami (FL). Wow.
- Nasir Robinson, Pittsburgh. In a game against VMI where Pitt grabbed 60 rebounds, a school record, Robinson retrieved 14 of them (along with 19 points and five assists).
- Jeff Withey, Kansas. We really like the development of Withey this season, and his near-trip-dub of 13/13/9 blks tonight doesn’t hurt our opinion of him at all.
Tweet of the Night. DraftExpress‘ Jonathan Givony nails it with his analysis of one of Washington’s key issues the team faces this season.