SEC Morning Five: 01.05.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on January 5th, 2012

  1. Florida coach Billy Donovan is pleased with the development of guard Erving Walker into more of a multi-faceted point guard. Walker is second in the SEC with 5.2 assists per game, which is an increase of almost two assists per contest over last season. “The thing I’m most pleased with tonight more than anything is that Erving Walker could take four shots last game and not be in the flow of the game and then he can come back in this game and score 23 points,” Donovan said. Walker and guard Kenny Boynton have improved their shot selection as evidenced by an increase in field goal and three point shooting percentages for both players. Now if Donovan can get them to simply feed center Patric Young in the post, the Gators could be even more efficient on the offensive end.
  2. South Carolina guard Bruce Ellington played in the Gamecocks’ Capital One bowl game for Steve Spurrier’s football team, and turned around and took to the hardwood for Darrin Horn the next night against South Carolina State. Although Ellington was 3-3 from beyond the arc, he played for a season-low 13 minutes. It has been difficult for him to play both sports in such a busy time of the season. “Sometimes I don’t want to shoot after practice, but our trainer does a good job of getting me in there and getting shots up,” Ellington said. “He gets me in there every day to work on my shot, and it’s getting better.” It will be interesting to see this Gamecocks squad at full strength once Ellington is able to fully concentrate on basketball.
  3. Red Cup Rebellion wonders if former McDonald’s All American Jelan Kendrick is worth the trouble that he causes. Kendrick did not play for Ole Miss on Tuesday night against SMU, the second time this season that Kendrick did not play due to a decision made by coach Andy Kennedy. According to a poll on the RCR website, 39% of Rebel fans don’t think Kendrick is worth the wait, while another 36% aren’t sure yet. He is averaging just 2.7 points in three games this season. Kendrick became eligible in early December. At 6’7″, he could be a huge mismatch for the Rebels if he can make his way into the lineup.
  4. Coach Kennedy is happy with Ole Miss’ win over SMU, but he is realistic with what kind of team he has this year. “It’s going to be a grind, so grab on with both hands,” Kennedy said. “It’s who we are.” The Rebels scored 50 points in each of their last two games, but got the victory this time around. Ole Miss had been on a three-game losing streak coming in to Tuesday night. The Rebs shot 34.1% from the field and are still figuring out who will be effective for them on offense. “We got some guys that are playing with the yips. They’re not playing with the confidence that we need,” Kennedy said. I’m not certain what the yips are, but it sounds bad. Real bad.
  5. The Kentucky General Assembly tackles some of the most pressing issues in the state. They must have taken notice when Kentucky coach John Calipari openly questioned which rivalries his Wildcats would continue in non-conference play (or they read Rush the Court’s post on the rivalry) because Senator Tim Shaughnessy is attempting to pass into LAW a bill that would REQUIRE UK and Louisville to play each other in both basketball and football each year. Seriously. In all fairness, Kentuckians take their basketball rather seriously. While Shaughnessy is at it, can he pass a law that requires college freshmen to return to school rather than opting to enter the NBA Draft? THAT would ensure the best interests of the Kentucky basketball program, if that is his true intent.
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Cousy Award Finalists Announced: Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor Still On the List

Posted by rtmsf on January 4th, 2012

The Bob Cousy Award list was whittled down from its original 60+ names in the preseason to a more manageable 20 on Wednesday afternoon. In case you’ve lost track of what the Cousy is specifically for, it is the award given to the nation’s top point guard/floor general in college basketball. Often that player will also be in the running for National Player of the Year honors, as in the recent cases of Jameer Nelson (2004), Ty Lawson (2009), and Kemba Walker (2011). Last year, you might recall that Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor was somewhat infamously left off the February list of 10 finalists, causing the Naismith Hall of Fame brass to reconsider and eventually reinstating the All-America Badger onto the list where he advanced to become one of the five finalists before Walker was selected for the award. To be clear, this version represents the preliminary finalists before the super-finalists before the super-duper-finalists list. The committee will make two more cuts over the next eight weeks before awarding the prize to the winner during Final Four weekend in New Orleans.

The Cousy Award Is Prestigious Because It Is Given By the Naismith HOF

Let’s take a look at the current list, and signify using (10) or (5) the players who we expect to advance further. A few notes follow after the jump:

  • Pierre Jackson, Baylor
  • Shabazz Napier, UConn (10)
  • Ray McCallum, Detroit
  • Seth Curry, Duke (10)
  • Erving Walker, Florida (10)
  • Scott Machado, Iona (5)
  • Casper Ware, Long Beach State
  • Peyton Siva, Louisville
  • Trey Burke, Michigan (10)
  • Dee Bost, Mississippi State (10)
  • Phil Pressey, Missouri
  • Kendall Marshall, North Carolina (5)
  • Aaron Craft, Ohio State
  • D.J. Cooper, Ohio
  • Zack Rosen, Pennsylvania 
  • Ashton Gibbs, Pittsburgh
  • Scoop Jardine, Syracuse
  • Damian Lillard, Weber State (5)
  • Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin (5)
  • Tu Holloway, Xavier (5)

A few notes:

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SEC Morning Five: 12.21.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on December 21st, 2011

  1. “The Breakfast Club” has started at the University of Kentucky, and this version has nothing to do with Molly Ringwald. Without class or other obligations to worry about over the holiday break, several players have taken it upon themselves to lift weights, eat breakfast together, and practice for the remainder of the morning. “Michael Jordan did that Breakfast Club,” head coach John Calipari said. “They met at 6 a.m., they trained, they stretched, they had a personal trainer and then they ate breakfast and then they went to practice. They did it every day, including game day. So we have four guys doing it right now. Hopefully, a couple more guys will step up and start doing the breakfast club.” While Calipari declined at first to say who the four were, he did say, “It is a good group of guys and the guys that you expect to be in it are in it. Hopefully, the other guys will join in and do it.” Kentucky beat Samford on Tuesday night and will play again on Thursday night against Loyola (Md). The Wildcats are hoping the hard work and extra effort will pay off before next week’s showdown against Louisville on New Year’s Eve.
  2. Florida freshman Bradley Beal is becoming more comfortable on the court, and that is a bad sign for opposing defenses that felt Beal has scored points at ease 11 games into his college career. “I’m not as nervous as I was,” Beal said. “Basically, it’s starting to come natural and I’m playing within the flow of the game, not really forcing anything. Just relaxing and enjoying the flow of the game.” Beal is averaging 15 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, but is only shooting 33.9% from beyond the arc. If Beal settles into the college game, and improves his shooting averages (45.8 FG% and 69.4 FT%), he could be a superstar in the Gators’ backcourt. Beal has plenty of competition for shots as guards Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker average 18.7 and 14.5 points per game respectively.
  3. After starting out as one of the hottest teams in the country, Alabama has lost three of its last four games. However, a tough non-conference schedule will benefit the Tide in the long run. “I don’t think it can do anything but help us,” head coach Anthony Grant said. “We’ve been faced with a lot of different styles of play, a lot of different challenges in terms of matchups and things that we’ve had to go against both offensively and defensively. Any time you play against quality competition, it can’t do anything but help you.” But the Tide’s three-point shooting won’t improve simply from playing better competition. The Tide are shooting a dismal 24.4% from beyond the arc, only making an average of three long distance shots per game. Its three-point shooting has to get better for Alabama to move past this losing streak.
  4. Florida may be a little under-manned in its game with Florida State on Thursday. Mike Rosario and Cody Larson, both of whom missed the Gators’ victory over Mississippi Valley State, are doubtful. “I would say that probably both those guys are doubtful. Could that change? Yes,” head coach Billy Donovan said. “I’m not ready to say that they’re not playing, but Mike’s back has flared up and Cody’s got strep throat so we’re probably not going to find anymore out, probably until see what happens in practice on Wednesday.” Rosario is averaging 9.4 points per game while Larson is scoring 1.3 per game. The Gators won last year’s match-up with FSU 55-51 in Tallahassee. Florida hasn’t lost a home game in the O’Connell Center since a 72-69 loss to South Carolina on January 15, 2011.
  5. Kentucky’s freshman walk-on Sam Malone suffered a torn ACL in the team’s win over UT Chattanooga on Saturday. Calipari tweeted Tuesday afternoon with his thoughts on the guard. “Losing Sam Malone to an ACL injury is heartbreaking,” Calipari said. “He has been a great teammate and an even better person. You never want to hear someone is injured, but for Sam to go through his fourth knee injury is especially tough because he’s worked so hard to get where he is. He has become a valuable member of our team and quickly became a fan favorite. We look forward to Sam making a full recovery.” Malone has quickly become a fan favorite in Lexington for his fearlessness in firing up shots late in blowout wins. There is no word yet on when or if Malone will be able to return.
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Big 12 Weekend Primer

Posted by dnspewak on December 17th, 2011

GAME OF THE WEEK

  • Texas A&M (8-1) at Florida (7-2), Orange Bowl Classic, Saturday 1:30 p.m. CT
Starting next season, these two programs will battle each other annually in the SEC. Until then, Texas A&M and Florida will settle for playing each other in the Orange Bowl Classic, a neutral-site game set in Sunrise, Florida on Saturday afternoon. The Aggies are a wild card in the Big 12 right now, as they’ve built their 8-1 record against mostly inferior competition– and, more importantly, they have played all but two games without All-Big 12 wing Khris Middleton. The 6’7” junior has missed the majority of the season recovering from knee surgery, returning in time for A&M’s most recent victory over Louisiana-Monroe. Although Middleton hadn’t played since the season opener, he seemed perfectly healthy in torching the Warhawks for 24 points. His return gives Texas A&M an entirely different look on both ends of the floor, so much that it would be worthless to judge the seven games it played without Middleton. For instance, A&M fell flat against the best team on its schedule without him, falling behind by more than 20 points in the first half at Madison Square Garden. That’s why Florida will let Billy Kennedy truly gauge his team for the first time in 2011-12. Though forward Kourtney Roberson is still questionable for the contest, A&M could solidify itself as a Big 12 contender by knocking off the Gators in a quasi-road environment.

Texas A&M Will Play A "Neutral" Game in The State of Florida Against the Gators

The key individual match-up is… Dash Harris vs. Erving Walker. Although Texas A&M’s schedule has not been demanding, this team could have really slipped had Dash Harris not played so steadily. The senior point guard is known for his defense, but offensively, Harris has kept the Aggies afloat without Middleton by making good decisions and taking care of the basketball. He won’t score much, but he’s irreplaceable as a distributor in this offense. And as a defensive stopper, he has the skills to slow down Erving Walker. Harris has a few inches on Walker, and he’s as quick as any guard in the nation. No matter the defender, though, it’s up to Walker to rise to the challenge. He looks to score much more than Harris, and at times, he has looked terrific with the ball in his hands. When he has struggled, it has been his own fault: against Arizona, for example, he settled for quick threes and forced up 16 shots. If he doesn’t settle down against Harris, Walker could be in for a tough night.

Texas A&M will win if… it continues to dominate on the defensive end. This program’s attitude from former coaches Billy Gillispie and Mark Turgeon has carried over to Kennedy’s team. The Aggies are all about defense, rebounding and physicality, but they will have their hands full with the explosive Gator guards. Though Middleton’s blend of size and athleticism is a tough match-up for every team, Florida has excellent backcourt speed in Kenny Boynton, Brad Beal, Mike Rosario, and Walker. A&M has to find a way to lock down those guards and force them into tough shots. In that Arizona victory, Billy Donovan was not happy with the shot selection of his guards. Against a team like A&M, Florida will have to settle down and run its stuff efficiently to have a chance.
Florida will win if… it can control the paint. Texas A&M likes to think it’s tougher than you– David Loubeau and Ray Turner are intimidating physical specimens, and this team rebounds with authority around the basket. UF is no slouch in that category this year. Patric Young might be the best forward on the floor on Saturday, and sophomore Will Yeguete has done a nice job since entering the starting lineup in late November. Neither team is especially deep up front, but A&M could get a big lift if Kourtney Roberson is healthy.
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Set Your TiVo: 12.16.11 to 12.18.11

Posted by Brian Otskey on December 16th, 2011

Brian Otskey is the Big East correspondent for RTC and a regular contributor. You can find him @botskey on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

With Dead Week mercifully over, we finally have some good games to enjoy this Saturday despite Sunday being a very slow day in the hoops world.

#6 Baylor @ BYU – 2:00 PM EST Saturday on BYU TV (****)

Perry Jones Leads Baylor into Provo Saturday (AP)

  • The Bears have had difficulty on the road in past seasons but they already passed one important test, demolishing Northwestern in Chicago a couple weeks ago. This game, however, will be an even better measure to see where the highly-rated Bears are really at. The Marriott Center is a notoriously difficult place to play but Baylor has a clear talent edge in this game. BU welcomes Gary Franklin, now eligible after the first semester, to an already highly skilled roster. Franklin didn’t play all that well at California last season but he was a four star recruit out of high school. He should help the Bears out at the point guard position, a place where turnovers are still an issue. Baylor averages 16 turnovers a game and that will be dangerous playing on the road against a team like BYU that likes to push the pace. 5.8 of those 16 turnovers come from the point guard position so Scott Drew is hoping that Franklin can help handle the ball. How Franklin will fit in alongside Pierre Jackson and A.J. Walton remains a question mark.
  • BYU’s top six scorers are all 6’5” or taller, an important factor against the length and athleticism of Baylor’s front line. Noah Hartsock, Brandon Davies and Charles Abouo do the bulk of the damage for Dave Rose, as those three are his top scorers and rebounders. Hartsock in particular has been outstanding, scoring in double figures in every game thus far. All three will have to play well in order for BYU to pull the upset because Baylor’s front court is strong, deep and talented. With Quincy Acy blocking 3.3 shots a game, BYU’s big men should find it more difficult to score inside on Saturday. The Cougars have to get their outside game going as well. Baylor’s defense is very average against the three and BYU has three big deep threats, Abouo, Stephen Rogers and Brock Zylstra. Going up against the top-ranked interior defense in the nation, BYU needs its outside shots to fall in order to win. However, the Cougars can’t afford to settle for threes if they aren’t falling. They must get something going in the paint, even against such a strong defense, in order to balance out their offense.
  • This is an important game for both clubs. Baylor has played only two teams of note so far while BYU’s best win is over a mediocre Oregon team. Baylor shoots well (49.1% FG) but the biggest difference this season has been its defense. The Bears allow only 33.3% shooting inside the arc and their defensive efficiency has been terrific. Both teams get most of their offense from their respective front courts but Baylor may have the ultimate edge with Cory Jefferson off the bench. He adds some scoring punch and, more importantly, rebounding and depth for the Bears. For the Cougars to win, they’ll have to force turnovers to get points in transition because it’ll be awfully tough to score inside in the half court. In addition to making its threes, BYU must rebound well and get to the line while putting the Baylor big men in foul trouble. However, BYU ranks #295 in free throw rate and Baylor doesn’t foul too often. Although BYU rarely loses at home, this is a game Baylor can win. There are some who still doubt the Bears but a win here would put them on their way towards legitimate national recognition.

Texas A&M vs. #10 Florida (at Sunrise, FL) – 2:30 PM EST Saturday on FSN (***)

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SEC Morning Five: 12.12.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on December 12th, 2011

  1. Kentucky played really well on Saturday considering it was without its best player playing in a hostile environment against Indiana. Ok, so technically Terrence Jones played for the Wildcats, but he performed quite a disappearing act. “These guys are not machines, guys,” John Calipari said. “They’re not computers. They have bad games. You move on. Hopefully he plays better from here on. Maybe five games from now he has another bad game. You try to win without him.” In the end, the Hoosiers were too much to handle for the Cats with Jones playing the worst game of his career. Jones was limited to 28 minutes, four points on only three shot attempts, one rebound, and six turnovers. He failed to hedge on pick-and-roll situations multiple times leaving his teammates out of position on penetration. Jones’ defensive deficiencies helped create a 10-point deficit mid-way through the second half. What was even more alarming was Jones’ attitude as he sulked his way through almost the entire second half.
  2. The sky isn’t completely falling in Lexington. There were some positives from the Indiana loss for the young Wildcats, mainly the emergence of Marquis Teague in the second half. Teague played about as badly as I have seen a point guard play in the first half. He missed several open layups, he turned the ball over, and he failed once again to lead his team. But the second half was a different story. During the second 20 minutes, Teague was 6-6 for 15 points and one assist in 16 solid minutes. Anyone can see that Teague’s development at point guard is key to Kentucky’s play this season.
  3. Florida coach Billy Donovan had a heart-to-heart with his starting guards Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton regarding ill-advised shot selection following a combined 5-27 shooting night against Arizona. Walker and Boynton received the message loud and clear as both responded with improved play on Friday night against Rider. “I think sometimes those two guys get misconstrued of what they are about,” Donovan said. “They want to win and they have a strong desire to win. I do think that’s what makes them both great players is there is a fearlessness there of wanting to go out there and do it.” Boynton finished with a season-high 26 points and Walker added 12 points and four assists. Florida’s guard play has been both a strength and a weakness at times this year. The Gators have the talent to be a team that could win the SEC, but their guards can be overly selfish and can rely too heavily on outside shooting.
  4. Andy Kennedy‘s Mississippi Rebels have been a surprise so far this season at 8-1 overall, but the Rebels still have to work on their offensive efficiency. Ole Miss is shooting 27% from three-point range and 59% from the free throw line. “We’ve really struggled,” Kennedy said about Ole Miss’ offensive struggles. The Rebels currently average 69.3 points per game which is 153rd in the country and an adjusted offensive efficiency of 99.7 for 171st in the country. 5’11” guard Dundrecous Nelson takes 31.4% of the Rebels shots, but he has an effective field goal percentage of just 43%. Look for Kennedy to work forward Murphy Holloway more into the Rebels offense as his efficiency is much higher than the remainder of his teammates, yet he is only averaging just over 11 points per game.
  5. Mississippi State enjoyed a 106-68 blowout win over Troy on Saturday. Despite their usual reliance on the inside game, the Bulldogs tied a school record with 16 three-pointers. Forward Arnett Moultrie still did plenty to establish himself on the low block with 20 points and 12 rebounds, but it was the outside shooters who helped MSU run away with this one. Senior Dee Bost was 7 for 13 from beyond the arc on his way to 28 points. Even Renardo Sidney got in on the action with a three of his own, his first of the season, mid-way through the first half. The 51.6% shooting clip was the first time Mississippi State has shot over 50% from three-point range this year. The Bulldogs are now 9-1 on the season. Not coincidentally, in their lone loss this year against Akron, the Dogs shot 2 of 13 (15.4%) from three.
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Pac-12 Game of the Week: Arizona at Florida

Posted by AMurawa on December 7th, 2011

While Washington has a couple of big challenges this week in New York City, we’ve chosen Arizona’s trip to Florida as the Pac-12 game of the week, largely for the contrast in styles and the expectation that these Wildcats are getting close to turning it on. There were high expectations for the freshman backcourt duo of Josiah Turner and Nick Johnson coming into the season, with both players regarded as top 25 recruits. But, as is often the case, both players took some time adjusting to their new surroundings. Johnson has had some ups and down, but has been a pretty consistent scorer for the Wildcats, averaging 10.8 points per game and earning his first start of the season a week ago against New Mexico State. The odds are good that he may never leave the starting five again. Turner, meanwhile, started the opener against Valparaiso, but lost his job to sophomore Jordin Mayes. Just yesterday, however, Sean Miller was hinting that Turner could earn his way back into the starting lineup as early as tonight’s game. Of course, that was all before Turner missed the final practice before the team’s trip to Gainesville and was suspended. With Turner out, sophomore Mayes will retain his starting spot and be called upon to put in plenty of extra minutes against a talented Gator backcourt.

Kenny Boynton, Florida

Kenny Boynton Has Been Hot For Florida And Arizona Will Need To Cool Him Down To Stand A Chance (Credit: Kim Klement, US Presswire)

Even with Turner in the backcourt, the Wildcats were bound to have their hands full with Florida’s athletic and dymanic quartet of guards: Erving Walker, Kenny Boynton, Mike Rosario, and Bradley Beal. All four are capable of knocking down shots from increasingly improbable range, while sure to keep the defense honest with a quickness off the bounce that could earn them easy hoops in the lane or free throw opportunities. Boynton has been criticized at times for being a little too loose with his shot selection, but so far this year he has been knocking down shots at such a high rate (47.3% from three, with an effective shooting percentage of 65.9%) that his green light from Gator coach Billy Donovan has been justified. Walker, the senior point guard, is playing the best ball of his career thus far, handing out assists on over 30% of his team’s hoops while he’s in the game, and knocking down his own shots at a pretty good clip as well (56.6% eFG). Then there’s the freshman, Beal, who may be the best of all of them, despite struggling with his shot at Syracuse this past weekend. A major bonus out of the 6’3” Beal has been his ability to rebound with the big boys while often playing out of position at the three, grabbing double-digit rebounds three times in his seven games and averaging seven rebounds per game.

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SEC Set Yer TiVo: 12.5.2011 Edition

Posted by Gerald Smith on December 5th, 2011

SEC Set Your TiVo will take a look ahead at each week’s key games. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

Two days. The SEC has given us two whole days of no basketball action. Take Monday and Tuesday to spend time with your significant other and/or children. Tell them you love them and that you enjoy their company. Then on Wednesday night, you have a choice: Shall you spend an unprecedented third day with the people-that-you-love-the-most-after-March? Or is there a game that needs to be seen?

Arizona at Florida – Wednesday, December 7, 7 PM on ESPN3 (***)

Arizona is still trying to figure things out this season. Sean Miller has started eight different players, most recently removing center Kyryl Natyazhko from the starting lineup. In Saturday’s 53-39 win over Northern Arizona, the Wildcats featured a three-guard set featuring Kyle Fogg (11 PPG, 41.4% 3FG), Jordin Mayes (7.4 PPG) and Nick Johnson (10.8 PPG, 46.4% 3FG). That leaves 6’7″ Jesse Perry (10.5 PPG, 9.1 RPG) and 6’6″ Solomon Hill (12.4 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 3.1 assists per game) in the frontcourt.

Patric Young identifies aliens and subliminal advertising using the eyewear provided by Billy Donovan (Photo via John Raoux / AP)

In the paint, Arizona may find themselves outmatched. 6’9″ Patric Young and 6’7″ Will Yeguete played up to their size in a losing effort against Syracuse. If 6’10” forward Erik Murphy can contribute — he’s been cleared to play — Arizona will have a tough time covering all the locations from which Murphy can score. Arizona must not over-commit to interior defense or else Kenny Boynton, Bradley Beal and Erving Walker will bomb away. Arizona has one of the best three-point defenses in the country even though they allowed 8-12 3FG shooting in a 61-57 loss to San Diego State.

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SEC Morning Five: 12.05.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on December 5th, 2011

  1. Kentucky and North Carolina played in one of the best regular season college games in quite some time. For a game with an extreme amount of hype coming in, this one lived up to all of the hype and more. It seemed from my Twitter timeline, that most fans, analysts and writers wished for five more minutes of these two heavyweights going at it. We may get forty more minutes in March or April. Here’s the roundup of everyone’s reactions to this instant classic: Jeff Goodman wrote that this one sure felt like March. CBS Sports graded each player based on their NBA prospects. Seth Davis wrote that he hopes UNC and Kentucky meet again. The Lexington Herald Leader talked about Anthony Davis’ signature moment. More on Davis’ incredible block from The Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy. More from DeCourcy on how proud Calipari is of his freshmen. Rob Dauster of Beyond the Arc wrote that the game lived up to its hype. Jason King of ESPN wrote about how special this game really was. The guys at a Sea of Blue look at the good and the bad for the Cats. And finally, our national overlords at Rush the Court say that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was a star among stars.
  2. In its 62-60 loss to Louisville on Friday night, Vanderbilt made only eight two-point field goals in the entire game. Half of its points came from threes, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal, outscoring Louisville 30-15 from beyond the arc. John Jenkins is one of the most exciting players in the country to watch coming off screens for a three point shot, especially when he is hot. However, the Commodores have become too reliant on the outside shot, even considering that their biggest inside threat, Festus Ezeli, continues to be sidelined by an injury.  The fewest three-point shots that Vandy has hoisted up so far this season is 17, in a loss to Cleveland State. Despite throwing up more than 20 three-point shots in six of their eight games, the Commodores have only shot over 40 percent once, an 11-25 (44%) effort against Monmouth.
  3. Speaking of three-point shots sinking a team, Alabama lost a thriller on Thursday night to Georgetown on a last second three by Hollis Thompson. With the 57-55 victory, Georgetown snapped a 24-game home winning streak for the Tide in Coleman Coliseum. Potentially more detrimental, the Hoyas might have laid the blueprint to beating Alabama with an aggressive sagging 2-3 zone. It was Alabama’s inability to convert from three that caused its offense to stall. The Tide shot 3-16 from beyond the arc beginning with missing their first 11 three-% on 23 attempts on the season.
  4. Mike Rosario, the Florida’s fourth leading scorer this season, played a season-low six minutes in a loss to Syracuse on Friday night. Rosario came in averaging over 10 points per game, but coach Billy Donovan made the decision to sit him on the bench throughout the entire second half. “The last couple days, I think emotionally, he just hasn’t been there,” said Donovan. “I tried to use him a little bit and he just did not seem himself. It was more my decision not to play him. I actually felt like we needed defense because I knew we were going to have a hard time scoring with Patric (Young) off the floor.” Guards Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker stepped up in his place with a combined 9-19 from three-point land. Boynton finished with 22 points, while Walker added 17 points and five assists. Rosario disappeared in Florida’s last top five match-up in Columbus against Ohio State. Rosario played 19 minutes, but only added five points. Rosario’s play in marquee games should be something to keep an eye on for the Gators.
  5. If I had to choose a team that could ill afford an injury to a frontcourt player at this point, I would probably choose Vanderbilt. With starting center Festus Ezeli still out, the Commodores received more bad news as they have lost 6’11” center Josh Henderson with a stress fracture in his left foot. He will be sidelined for eight to 12 weeks. Henderson was averaging three points and three rebounds in limited minutes, however, was beginning to gain confidence with a 10-point, five-rebound performance against Monmouth. Henderson played a season-high 18 minutes against Xavier. Henderson’s injury should not be much of an issue once Ezeli returns to action in a couple of weeks, but will further hamper the Commodores until that time.
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A Quick Fake Summary: Florida Heard the Sound of Inevitablity

Posted by Gerald Smith on December 2nd, 2011

In order to beat the Syracuse system, Florida needed to come out guns blazing. Specifically they needed their big forward Patric Young to be enough of a post threat to score and draw collapsing Orange defenders. They also needed their collection of long-range snipers — both old (junior Kenny Boynton, senior Erving Walker) and new (junior Mike Rosario, freshman Brad Beal) — to exploit the seams in Agent Orange’s zone defense.

Boynton (22 points) and Walker (17 points, five assists) did their part. Young (six points, five rebounds) was pinned down, controlled by Syracuse’s interior defenders and played just 25 minutes. Rosario (six points) and Beal (seven points on 2-9 FG, 0-5 3FG) just didn’t bring enough bullets. The Syracuse defense bent and contorted, wasting Florida possessions (20 turnovers) and forcing the Gators to withdraw in defeat.

Syracuse wins 72-68. Tell me, Mr. Donovan, what good is good defensive pressure when you are unable to three?

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Big East/SEC Challenge Face-Off: Florida @ Syracuse

Posted by Gerald Smith on December 2nd, 2011

To preview the match-ups in the Big East/SEC Challenge, the Big East & SEC Microsites are facing off in conversational analysis. Gerald Smith and Patrick Prendergast are going one-on-one to break down Florida facing Syracuse at the Carrier Dome.

Patrick Prendergast: In the battle for the right to wear bright orange where ever one goes and, oh yeah, to solidify a position near the top of the national rankings, #10 Florida (5-1) will take on #3 Syracuse (7-0) in a heavyweight battle at the Carrier Dome tonight. Syracuse has proven as tough and focused as they are deep, remaining undefeated despite the significant distractions created by the ongoing Bernie Fine controversy. The schedule for the Orange has not been all soft and doughy either. They took home the NIT Season Tip-Off title with victories over two good squads in Virginia Tech and Stanford. The Orange are lauded as one of the deepest teams in the country led by reigning Big East Player of the Week, 6’7” senior forward Kris Joseph (14.7 PPG, 5.7 RPG). The Gators have lost some experience and depth due to an injury to junior forward Erik Murphy.

How does Florida cope with Syracuse’s depth?

The Gators might bite off more than they can chew with Syracuse's Kris Joseph. (Photo via Bill Kostroun/AP))

Gerald Smith: One of Florida’s coping mechanisms will be stretching and distorting Syracuse’s zone. Florida has a collection of guards that can shoot from deep: junior Kenny Boynton (18.5 PPG, 48.9% 3FG), senior Erving Walker (13.7 PPG, 33% 3FG), freshman Bradley Beal (17 PPG, 35.3% 3FG) and junior Mike Rosario (12 PPG, 48.6% 3FG). The Orange have way too much length and athleticism, though; Florida can’t settle for just shooting over the 2-3 zone. The Gators will have to attack the zone with drives and make jumpers in the few open areas. That might compact the Orangemen’s defense just enough to get a few open three-pointers — and just a few might be enough for Florida’s sharpshooters.

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Breaking Down the Play: Florida’s Guards Against Ohio State

Posted by Brian Joyce on November 16th, 2011

Breaking Down the Play will be a regular feature during the season to provide in-depth analysis on the Xs and Os of an SEC team.

Florida has some of the most talented guards in the country. But last night in an 81-74 loss to the #3 Ohio State Buckeyes, the guards reverted back to their old ways and forced the Gator offense into too many one-on-one scenarios. UF held the ball entirely too long and displayed extremely poor shot selection. They only worked the ball inside once in the first half to center Patric Young. Erving Walker, Kenny Boynton and company failed to take advantage of the pick-and-pop scenario that they created with Erik Murphy. Murphy was 4-4 from beyond the arc, but the Gator guards didn’t exploit the Buckeyes’ failure to rotate and close out on the 6’10” shooter.

Here are three consecutive Gator possessions displaying what I think went wrong with Florida’s offensive execution:

Play 1 (11:16 remaining in second half)

In the first play, Boynton runs a pick and roll with Young at the top of the key.

Boynton and Young in a pick and roll scenario

Young does exactly what he is supposed to do, as he rolls off of William Buford and heads straight towards the basket.

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