Morning Five: 02.04.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on February 4th, 2011

  1. As the season moves into the final month, players are starting to wear down.  There have been quite a few injuries lately, and yesterday was no different.  Northern Iowa’s heart and soul, Lucas O’Rear, an undersized senior “center” who was averaging a team-high 5.7 rebounds this season, will miss the remainder of the season with a broken ankle.  This comes at a tough time for UNI, as the Panthers are on an eight-game winning streak in the Missouri Valley and are only one game behind leader Wichita State.  O’Rear ends his college basketball career, but he has a promising professional baseball career ahead of him as a pitcher in the Cincinnati Reds organization, so we’re happy to see that he will be able to continue with that dream.
  2. As always, Luke Winn’s Power Rankings are chock full of goodies, from how Jared Sullinger receives the ball in the post to how Texas shuts down the opposing team’s best scorers to a new statistic created by HSAC to track free throw efficiency.  Get on over there.
  3. Everybody has an opinion on what’s wrong with the Michigan State Spartans after their horrendous 20-point loss to Iowa on Wednesday night.  Here are two of the better ones we’ve read:  Gary Parrish, who thinks that MSU simply can’t be fixed at this point; and Dave Dye’s piece that calls out Izzo’s two seniors, Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers, as having tuned him out this season.  Games coming up at Wisconsin and later at Ohio State are not a recipe for getting better, and at this point we’re not counting on it, but if there is anybody in this business who can turn this thing around, it’s certainly Izzo.  For a contrarian opinion on MSU hitting “rock bottom,” check out Mike Miller at Beyond the Arc.
  4. As Virginia head coach Tony Bennett can attest, it’s a strong incentive to play for your dad.  That’s why UVA freshman Billy Baron will transfer back to Rhode Island to play for his father, Jim Baron, next season.  Billy had a strong start to the season this year, scoring 19 against William & Mary and 14 against USC-Upstate, but he’s gone scoreless in ten of the last twelve games as his time has diminished.  Hopefully in a couple of years, we’ll be talking about the Barons in much the same way we do the Drews and Valpo.
  5. Much has been made about UConn guard Kemba Walker’s shooting slump, but the fortunes of the Huskies seem to rise and fall with the play of his peers, and the most important sidekick he has is Alex Oriakhi.  After a strong couple of weeks where the UConn big man averaged a double-double, he’s fallen off again in the last three.  In the two losses against Louisville and Syracuse, he’s contributed fifteen points and thirteen rebounds, solid enough numbers but well short of what UConn needs from him on a consistent basis to beat teams in the rugged Big East (and also less than what he’s capable of).
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