SEC Morning Five: 03.15.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on March 15th, 2012

  1. Alabama’s first round opponent will feature a clash in style from the Crimson Tide’s defensive philosophy. Creighton, the #9 seed matched up with Alabama in the round of 64, features a fast-paced offense ranked fifth in adjusted offensive efficiency and the third highest scorer in the nation in Doug McDermott. “Their defensive numbers are very impressive, holding teams to under 30 percent from the 3-point line and under 40 percent shooting for the year,” said Creighton coach Greg McDermott. “They are obviously are going to provide some difficulties for us as we try to get into our offense and try to score at the rim. Anthony Grant has done a great job wherever he’s been and, obviously, what he’s done with the Alabama program in a short period of time is no exception.” Alabama may be a well oiled machine on defense, but its offensive numbers are the largest concern. The Tide are shooting 45.2 percent from the field and an alarming 28.5 percent from beyond the arc. Alabama’s defense has to be good to overcome those abysmal statistics.
  2. After 14 seasons with the Bulldogs, Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury may be on the hot seat for his team’s performance over the last two years. After an infamous fight amongst teammates in the Diamondhead Classic last year in Hawaii, the conflict didn’t improve much this year for the disappointing Bulldogs. After starting out at 19-5 and climbing as high as #15 in the AP poll, Mississippi State imploded on its way to losing seven of its last nine games. In response to being on the hot seat, Stansbury said, “You know, I haven’t given it any thought and I think you know this: what we’ve done through 14 years speaks for itself. That’s all I can say about it.” Too often, unrealistic expectations fail to take into account a successful history and reputation. It is a shame to see long term success at one school go out the window in a ‘what have you done for me lately’ society that focuses on the immediate past.
  3. Vanderbilt enjoyed unprecedented success with its second SEC Tournament championship ever. After hitting an emotional high on Sunday with their win over the Kentucky Wildcats, many wonder if the Commodores will be able to regain their composure and focus for the NCAA Tournament. Kevin Stallings is feeling good with where his team is at mentally. “We had a long talk about the need to do just that, the need to refocus our energy and refocus our minds,” Stallings said. “We were off (Monday), so we just got finished practicing (Tuesday morning). They’ve had a good focus about them. They weren’t hung over from Sunday, I don’t think.” Vanderbilt opens tournament play with #12 seed Harvard. Harvard is a good defensive team, holding opponents to a 40.6 percent field goal percentage on the year, but the Commodores’ porous defense of year’s past is much improved as they held Kentucky to just 35.9 percent shooting from the field during Sunday’s victory.
  4. One doesn’t need to be a basketball expert to decipher that Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis is good at basketball, but analyst Jay Bilas saw Davis’ potential at a Nike skills camp and came away most impressed with his hands. Davis attributes his time playing as a guard before hitting a growth spurt as the key to his soft touch.  “When you’re a guard, you’re going to have great hands,” Davis said. “Most ‘bigs’ will not have great hands. That’s a great attribute I have. It really helps, especially when they throw lobs or quick passes. To be able to catch it and finish around the rim.” While Bilas is impressed with Davis’ hands, I am impressed with the development of his offensive game throughout the course of the season, in some part due to his soft touch around the rim. The freshman center went from scoring almost exclusively on lobs and offensive rebounds to where he establishes himself on the low block with a variety of post moves. Davis has scored in double digits in 12 of his past 13 games and 21 of the past 23, including a double double in six of the last seven games.
  5. Tennessee won its first NIT game against Savannah State even with forward Jeronne Maymon not playing. “You’re talking about an all-league player, a guy who rebounds, a guy who posts really strong, a guy who helps facilitate the offense,” Vols coach Cuonzo Martinsaid. “You’re talking about your team leader.” Maymon averages 12.6 points and 8.1 rebounds per game and is currently being evaluated on a day-to-day basis. The Vols face a tough Middle Tennessee State team in the next round in Knoxville, and will need Maymon’s rebounding ability after he grabbed 10 offensive rebounds in his last game against Ole Miss. Tennessee finished on Tuesday with an offensive rebounding percentage of 22.9 percent, which was its third lowest output on the season.
Brian Joyce (333 Posts)

Brian Joyce is an advanced metrics enthusiast, college hoops junkie, and writer for the SEC basketball microsite for Rush the Court.

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