Pac-12 Burning Question: Who’s Your Guy In The Clutch?Posted by AMurawa on November 30th, 2012
As the level of competition starts to heat up, it becomes more important to be able to make plays come crunch time. Our Burning Question of the week addresses that issue, as we ask:
Eight ticks left, down a deuce, whose hand do you want the ball in?
Adam Butler: Get that ball to Solomon Hill. I’ve seen him do it before, making clutch plays at Florida and against Washington, and he’s not afraid of the moment. He’s been there and he’s done that and, as the eldest, most experienced statesman on a good team, he knows he’s good. Additionally, he’s smart. He can beat you from the outside if you give him that (39% from deep last year, 38% this year), and he can get you on the dribble – attacking the rim or getting to the line. Options, as it were, allow this dynamic talent to win a ball game. And I haven’t even mentioned his passing. He’ll find the open guy to put the game away if it isn’t an option for himself. And just who is that other guy? Well it could be Mark Lyons, Nick Johnson, Brandon Ashley, Kevin Parrom, or any of the other talented Wildcats. Among all those pieces, however, Hill brings the most broad set of talents and the experience and wisdom to put those skills to dagger-esque efficiency.
Parker Baruh: I want California’s Allen Crabbe with the ball. He’s a great shooter and already off to a scorching start this year by scoring 22.o points per game, good for 11th in the nation. He has experience being a junior and I want the ball in someone’s hands who can shoot from anywhere on the floor which Crabbe can do as he has shot 40% from behind the arc and 44% from the field for his college career. Yes, Crabbe has had stretches of inconsistency, but he’s also had games where he couldn’t stop making shots such as last year’s game against Oregon on the road. He had 14 points in three minutes last year against the Ducks in the second half which essentially ended the game. And if Crabbe were to get fouled shooting or going to the rim, he was 84% from the line last year, which would undoubtedly help. Crabbe’s start this year albeit in a small sample size has been full of scoring and what looks to be improved confidence and as long as the Cal guard has that lethal stroke, I want the ball in his hands at the end of the game.
Connor Pelton: This may sound super-cliché, but the way E.J. Singler has grown out of his brother’s shadow and become the leader at Oregon in the past two seasons has been incredible. And the maturity and poise he’s shown along the way makes him my pick to have the ball with fewer than 10 seconds to play. Singler’s ability to create space off the dribble makes him the perfect candidate to knock down some type of fadeaway, Kemba Walker-style, mid-range jumper if the Ducks need a two, and he is more than capable of hitting from outside. He’s shown this multiple times in the final minute or two of games, and he’s had one true buzzer-beater to win the CBI as a sophomore. The best passer on the squad, Singler is more than capable of finding teammates like Tony Woods or Arsalan Kazemi if defenses double down on him. Most importantly, there is no doubt that this is Singler’s team. You want that guy with the ball.
Andrew Murawa: One of our other correspondents took his teammate, but for my money if the game is on the line, I want Justin Cobbs with the rock in his possession, for a couple of different reasons. First, Cobbs is an excellent decision-maker with triple-threat ability while possessing the ball. He’s got a solid jumper with range to three, but he’s savvy enough to know to use that weapon sparingly. However, if his defender is respecting his range and playing him tight, Cobbs has the handle and the quick first step to go by him and put pressure on the rest of the defense to react; if nobody is quick enough, Cobbs can get all the way to the hoop and finish in a variety of ways, or he can pull up and use his deadly and ever-improving mid-range game. But, best of all, on a team with one of the best spot-up shooters in the country in the form of Allen Crabbe, if Cobbs does get by his defender and causes the defense to collapse, he is an adept passer with a quick eye for the open man. And, as likely, if it is not Crabbe whom the defense chooses to leave, he’s got teammates like David Kravish, Brandon Smith, Tyrone Wallace and Ricky Kreklow who are capable of knocking down open jumpers in addition to Richard Solomon who can finish at the rim in traffic. With the ball in Cobbs’ hands, a lot of very good things can happen in a short amount of time.