Occasionally this season, we’ll take a brief spin around the conference and take a look at some players, teams and trends that have caught our eye over the course of recent games.
DeWayne Dedmon – I play in a pickup game with guys from my work every week or more often, and we’ve got this one guy who is a good athlete but has never really played much basketball before. And, what basketball he has played has been of the playground variety. As a result, we’ve been trying to teach him the difference between playing physical defense and fouling; the difference between pounding the boards and going over your opponent’s back. And, slowly but surely, with a few arguments mixed in, we’re making progress. My little anecdote is only there by way of reminding you all that Dedmon, USC‘s seven-foot junior center, hasn’t exactly played a lot of basketball. His first taste of organized basketball came when he was a senior in high school, when he earned limited minutes. He played a season at Antelope Valley Junior College, but had his season ended early due to injury. The next year he took the season off to keep some college eligibility, but practiced with USC in the second semester, then last year, he again saw his season end early due to injury. So, yeah, he hasn’t played a lot of meaningful basketball. And, there are times that it shows. Dude is a physical freak and he is certainly picking up the big parts of the game pretty darn quickly (he’s averaging 11 points and a 1.5 blocks per game thus far), but he is still somewhat foul-prone if only because he doesn’t quite get where the line is between legal play and foul. For instance, near the end of the first half of USC’s opener against Coppin State, just after Dedmon had made a couple smart plays in previous possessions, he threw down a great dunk on a follow of a missed shot. Only problem is, the play was waved off because Dedmon went over the opponent’s back (in reality, I thought the call was questionable, but I saw a couple other more blatant examples that weren’t called of Dedmon doing the same thing). However, there is progress. On that foul call, Dedmon ran back down the floor with a smile on his face, laughing off the call, when early last year he might have picked up a technical arguing with the ref. It is only a matter of time (specifically, playing time) until these types of things click for him, and when they do, watch out; not only is he that athletic freak, but he’s also quite a skilled player with a good looking jumper, a good eye for his teammates and a solid handle for a seven-footer. And, best yet, with loads more offensive threats around him this season, and far better passers as well, Dedmon is going to get free from time to time for thunderous alley-oop finishes in the halfcourt.
He May Be Still Learning Some Of The Intricacies of The Game, But Dedmon’s Got The Physical Tools To Shine (AP Photo/Bret Hartman)
Andy Brown – Prior to arriving in Palo Alto, Brown tore the ACL in his left knee as a senior in high school. In his first two years on the Stanford campus, Brown tragically repeated the feat twice, missing the entirety of both seasons. Now, academically a senior after earning limited minutes in just nine games last year, Brown is well on his way to earning himself some real live minutes this season. In the opener against San Francisco, he made all three of his field goal attempts, including a couple nice spinning numbers in the lane, on his way to eight points in 10 minutes of action. Against Cal State Fullerton on Monday night, Brown’s minutes more than doubled and his production kicked up a notch as well, as he added four boards and five steals to his now-standard eight points a game. He’s got a nice jumper, he can handle a little bit and he’s a hustle guy ready and willing to get his hands dirty. It’s not something that I expected prior to the season, but it looks like there is a good chance that Brown will chip in and provide head coach Johnny Dawkins some good help off the bench.
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