If Canisius Goes Dancing, Billy Baron Could Become the Next March Star

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on February 19th, 2014

Ice Bath, and watch Stephen Curry highlights for an hour.

According to a “10 Questions With…” feature on the Canisius mens’ basketball page, that’s the sum of Billy Baron’s pregame routine. And it makes perfect sense, when you think about it. An ice bath for the ice water that runs through his veins — evident from the game-winning shots he so often takes, and hits — and the Curry highlights to remind him of just how captivating a player he can be, how rare it is to possess the kind of quick-release, out-of-the-gym range he has in his arsenal. Not to mention the crafty shot-fakes, gorgeous passes, sudden changes of direction and countless other moves put on display by the Davidson legend. Baron probably watches for those, too. And while the MAAC Player of the Year favorite certainly has elements of Curry in his game, it was BYU great Jimmer Fredette who Siena coach Jimmy Patsos compared him to earlier this season, an appropriate parallel in its own right. Whether he’s more like Curry, Fredette or some other former hoopster, though, doesn’t really matter. The larger point is this: Baron is a rare talent who demands your attention when he takes the court and who’s fully capable of becoming a mid-major star in March, depending on how far the Griffins can go.

Billy Baron vs. Notre Dame, December 29, 2013.

Jimmy Patsos thinks Baron is similar to Jimmer Fredette, which certainly makes sense. (ABOVE: Billy Baron vs. Notre Dame...BELOW: Jimmer Fredette vs. Gonzaga)

Jimmer Fredette vs. Gonzaga, March 19, 2011.

Perhaps the most electrifying aspect of Baron’s game is his ability to pull up and hit from just about anywhere inside the half-court line. And I mean anywhere. Though opposing teams try guarding him all the way up the floor, often using additional defenders to step out and help or even double-team when necessary, he is still able to exploit the tiniest amounts of open space and briefest moments of defensive relaxation. Like Jimmer (and his brother, Jimmy), Baron will simply hoist from four or five feet beyond the three-point line, catching unwitting defenders off-guard and leaving opposing coaches pulling out their hair. Last month, he hit a three from the ‘A’ in Iona’s mid-court decal late in the first half and another from the ‘I’ early in the second. In fact, he’s nailed shots from numerous giant logos this season, regularly enabling his team to cut into deficits or build on leads in the blink of an eye. And like Curry, Baron also has a tremendous feel for how the opposition will react to his movements. He will employ the slightest shot-fakes and hesitations to make defenders over-commit, then take a quick dribble left or right to find the open look. On the year, the 6’2’’ senior is shooting over 42 percent from behind the arc, which is incredibly impressive considering how closely opposing squads guard him and how difficult his attempts can be. When Baron gets the hot hand, it’s hard to look away.

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O26 Weekly Awards: Akron, Taylor Braun, Marvin Menzies & Texas Southern…

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on December 25th, 2013

While this past week may have been devoid of many huge upsets or season-defining wins, there was certainly no shortage of great basketball games and interesting storylines across the O26 landscape. Just take Saturday, for example: There were 11 players who scored 30+ points, seven games that went to overtime, a few big boys taken down at home, an example of HAVOC on steroids, a MAC squad that improved to 11-0, an 81-possession game, a coast-to-coast buzzer beater… and a partridge in a pear tree. And remember, that was all in one day. So as Christmas is here, let’s take a moment to pass out some weekly honors to a few top performers.

O26 Team of the Week

Demetrius Treadwell and the Akron Zips had a fine week. (Randy L. Rasmussen/The Oregonian)

Demetrius Treadwell and the Akron Zips had a fine week. (Randy L. Rasmussen/The Oregonian)

Akron. Yes, the Zips were throttled over the final 13 minutes by Iowa State in Hawai’i on Monday, and no, they are not the aforementioned undefeated MAC team—that’s headline-generating Toledo. But over a three-game span last week, stretching from The JAR in Akron to the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu, Keith Dambrot’s group was nothing short of excellent. At home on Monday, Akron took an early lead on Southland favorite Oral Roberts and never relinquished control, as 6’7’’ forward Demetrius ‘Tree’ Treadwell recorded his first of three-straight double-doubles and the Zips forced 20 turnovers en route to a 10-point win. It was their best home win of the young season and a sign of good play to come. That is, until Wednesday, when things got off to extremely rocky start against Horizon League foe Detroit. At one point trailing 22-8 in the first half, the Zips saw their win probability dip below 30 percent and wound up taking a nine-point deficit into the locker room. To any clear-sighted onlooker it would have appeared that an upset was beginning to take hold… until the second half began. Seemingly at the drop of a hat, Akron took complete—and I mean complete—control of the basketball game, nailing three three-pointers in less than two minutes to tie it up and then proceeding to blitz the Titans out of the gym with a 58-point second half and a 19-point victory. It was an impressive run, and Treadwell finished with a superb 22-point, 13-rebound line. But it was by no means the team’s finest moment of the week.

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Handicapping Lillard’s NBA Chances: How Have Prospects From Mid-Majors Fared in the Pros?

Posted by EJacoby on June 28th, 2012

Looking at the upcoming NBA Draft’s projected lottery picks, most of the players represent the big boys around the nation – Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, Kansas, Florida, Connecticut. But smack in the middle between guys that played in a Final Four is a kid from Weber State. Anybody who follows college hoops or draft scouting surely knows about Damian Lillard, but it’s still surprising to see a player ranked so highly who most fans have never seen play a minute of college basketball. Will Lillard, who is projected to go in the top 10 as the draft’s top point guard, struggle to adapt to the massive increase in competition from the Big Sky Conference to the NBA? We researched lottery picks over the past 15 years from mid-major conferences to judge how successful they were in their transition to the league, grading success based on extended NBA productivity in the form of minutes played and value added. We considered all conferences outside of the top six power leagues as ‘mid-majors,’ so even the Atlantic 10, Conference USA and Mountain West qualify for our criteria.

Will Damian Lillard struggle in his transition from the Big Sky to the NBA? (US Presswire/K. Terada)

Taking a look at recent history, names like Jimmer Fredette and Stephen Curry came from smaller schools yet were still some of the most popular collegiate players in the nation. Just because a player hails from a mid-major school doesn’t necessarily mean he was an unheralded prospect. Nonetheless, the point of our analysis is to determine what, if any, crutch comes along with stepping up from such a wide gap in competition for lottery picks. Even though Fredette was a National Player of the Year winner, he still faced relatively weaker competition on a nightly basis at BYU. Is it more difficult to scout and project success for a mid-major prospect? Let’s take a look at how these players have fared historically. You’ll notice a trend that suggests Lillard should have a great chance at NBA success.

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The Next Jimmer? Creighton’s Doug McDermott Is Well On His Way to National Stardom…

Posted by rtmsf on December 21st, 2011

Charlie Parks is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after the Creighton vs. Tulsa game on Monday night.

If you don’t know about Doug McDermott yet, then get ready, because you are about to. I didn’t know much about McDermott myself before the game Monday night. I knew the 6’7″ sophomore from Ames, Iowa, was second in the nation in scoring with 25.2 points per game, and that his play has put Creighton in the Top 25 and positioned him as the early favorite for Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year. What I didn’t expect (but quickly found out) was that McDermott just might already be one of the best players in the country. He has a different type of game than last season’s mid-major darling from BYU but he’s equally effective, even more efficient, and still has two-and-a-half more seasons of eligibility in front of him.

Get to Know Him Now... (AP)

McDermott not only dropped a career high 35 points in 34 minutes on the road against Tulsa, but he put together one of the most complete and fundamentally sound basketball games I have ever seen.  He finished the night shooting 16-of-23 from the field (.695 FG%) with seven boards (four offensive), and he was automatic within ten feet of the hoop. But what was the most impressive about McDermott’s game was the way in which he put up those numbers.

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Life After Jimmer: How Has BYU Moved On This Season?

Posted by rtmsf on December 5th, 2011

Kraig Williams is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report from the Oregon vs. BYU game on Saturday.

Both figuratively and literally, the shadow of Jimmer Fredette looms large over the BYU program.  Last year’s National Player of the Year has not missed a Cougar game yet this season. Fredette has taken up a permanent spot behind the BYU bench while waiting for his professional career to begin later this month with the Sacramento Kings. From the best seat in the house, Jimmer watched the new-look Cougars easily handle Oregon at Energy Solutions Arena on Saturday, 79-65.

The Looming Presence of Jimmer Hangs Over the BYU Program

It would be natural to assume that the Cougars would struggle to replace the offense of a guy who led the nation in 2010-11 with nearly 29 points a contest. Early into the new season, though, you wouldn’t even know the difference looking at the numbers. When looking at the tempo-free statistics, the BYU offense has hummed right along. The Fredette-led Cougars were the nation’s 16th most efficient offense last year, averaging 1.102 points per possession. In early results this year, BYU has slipped all the way down to 1.101 points per possession. That .001 loss moves them to 29th in the nation this year. Dave Rose’s team plays a little bit slower than last year’s run-and-gun model (down to 70 possessions from 72 last year), and consequently it doesn’t average quite as many points. However, that is more likely just the result of games against Utah State and Wisconsin early in the season, two of the slowest-paced schools in the country.

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After the Buzzer: Opening Weekend Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 14th, 2011

This Weekend’s Lede. All the Way Back. College basketball trickled out last week, but with a total of 232 games taking place between Friday and Sunday nights, it’s safe to say that the November fire hose of hoops has been turned on. Every Top 25 team except one (Memphis) played at least once over the weekend, and those schools went 30-2 playing mostly unranked teams that never had much of a chance. There were a couple of exceptions, of course, and we’ll be sure to get to those below. Regardless of the quality of the ball (and it mostly ranged from adequate to poor), how satisfying was it to see regular updates over the weekend bringing you scores, highlights and storylines from games that actually count? It was fantastic, and with all of the great events coming up in the next two weeks — Champions Classic, Coaches vs. Cancer, CBE, Legends, Maui, PNIT, the conference challenges — it’s a great time to be a college basketball fan.

Your Watercooler Moment.  This one is easy.

The Setting For Outdoor Basketball in San Diego Was Spectacular (credit: US Pacific Fleet)

It’s somewhat rare that a gimmicky game like the Carrier Classic could end up being so completely awesome, but you could tell when you heard the voices of the players, coaches, media and military personnel on Friday night that they all felt like they were in the midst of something special. Maybe it was the fact that it was Veterans Day, or that President Obama was there, or that the Coronado evening came through with a gorgeously orange sunset… we don’t care. What we do care about is that the setting and venue put college basketball on a pedestal (literally) for its unofficial opening night, and for a game that sometimes fails to promote itself in a manner commensurate with its passion, fanfare and excitement, the inaugural Carrier Classic was a big-time hit. Oh, and #1 North Carolina needs to work on its offensive rebounding…

Dunktastic. Is it possible that the best dunk of the entire season was on the opening weekend?  Goodness… Jeremy Lamb, who knew?

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Behind the Numbers: Considering Point Guard “Purity”

Posted by KCarpenter on November 10th, 2011

Kellen Carpenter is an ACC microsite staffer and an RTC columnist. Each week, BTN will take an in-depth look at some interesting aspect of college basketball’s statistical arcana.

The phrase “pure point guard” is loaded. It implies that there is a Platonic notion of point guard which all mortal players can only aspire to. We are just fools in a cave looking at a shadow on the wall, but that is all we have when the purest conception of the point guard is beyond our field of vision. I can only assume that this unknowable figure looks something like Bob Cousy. It also implies that outside of “pure point” play, there exists a realm of impure play where the division of basketball labor isn’t as orthodox as it is inside Plato’s basketball cave.

This is What a Pure Point Looks Like

In a point guard, “purity” is code for being a pass-first lead guard. To the traditional school of thought, the roles on a basketball team are strictly regimented: The point guard passes, the shooting guard shoots, but not as much as either forward. The center, near-immobile but Mikan-like in his hunger for loose balls has a single task: rebound the basketball and get it to the point guard. Of course, this idea of the traditional division of labor in basketball hasn’t really held since the days of Mikan himself. Modern basketball, by which I mean basketball since the mid-sixties, has embraced the hybridization of positions. Basketball has for years acknowledged the idea that team roles are mutable and that positions are flexible.  While few have embraced the full-on positional revolution explicated by Bethlehem Shoals and the NBA-heads of the dearly-departed Free Darko, most of us have made peace with the idea that it’s okay for point guards to score occasionally. Kemba Walker and Jimmer Fredette were the break-out stars of the past college basketball season and both undoubtedly play point guard in a thoroughly impure way. If those guys aren’t pure then shouldn’t we all hope to be dirty?

In all seriousness, the concept of the purity of the lead guard is a silly concept to dwell on. Still, like all sports cliches, the idea persists because it’s a convenient way to sum up the play of pass-first point guards, who somehow pay homage to a golden era of basketball which is more than ancient history. Still the idea of the pass-first point guard is an intriguing one in this era of high-scoring combo guards. Like the crocodile, the pass-first guard is a relic of a by-gone epoch, a living fossil and a reminder of the dinosaurs who ruled the earth during that time. Is the crocodile a better predator than the tiger? This isn’t a debate that I’m interested in. The pass-first point guard, by mere value of their odd, antiquarian style is a unique species worth studying.

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20 Questions: Who is the Best Defensive Player in College Basketball?

Posted by dnspewak on November 1st, 2011

Danny Spewak is the RTC correspondent for the Sun Belt Conference and a Big 12 microsite staffer.  

Question: Who is the Best Defensive Player in College Basketball?

Measuring the top defender is a near-impossible task in almost every sport. Offensively, you’re golden once you take a few glances at the right statistics. The top quarterbacks in the NFL throw the most touchdowns and complete the most passes; the top players in college basketball score the most points and make the most shots; and the top hitters in baseball collect the most hits and drive in the most runs. It’s a a very simplistic way to look at the world, of course. But it’s true. Arguing who the best offensive players are in every sport, including college basketball, are easy, straightforward discussions.

But defense? That’s a whole other story. Do you measure the top defenders by blocks? Steals? Or is it deflections, opponent’s field goal percentage or some other hidden statistic only understood by sabermaticians?

The point is, selecting the nation’s top defender is a subjective task based on a variety of criteria. Most of all, it’s based on the individual impressions we form of players as we watch them compete, whether live or on television. For example, the statistics showed that Jimmer Fredette led the NCAA in scoring last season and shot 40 percent from behind the arc. But Old Dominion’s Kent Bazemore won the Defensive Player of the Year award but did not even finish in the top 15 nationally in steals per game.

Taylor Draws the Toughest Assignment Each and Every Night

ODU’s Bazemore is certainly a candidate for this honor again, but we’re going to go in a different direction here. Our choice for the best defensive player in the country is Vanderbilt’s Jeffery Taylor, a 6’7” forward with a multitude of assets on both ends of the floor. In his three years at Vandy, Taylor has gotten the opportunity to shut down players as varied as Kentucky’s Jodie Meeks, South Carolina’s Bruce Ellington, North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes, Missouri’s Kim English, and many others. He has proven that he won’t back down from any defensive challenge, and he’s got the strength and versatility to match up with any collegiate position Kevin Stallings needs covered.

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Where 2011-12 Happens: Reason #13 We Love College Basketball

Posted by rtmsf on October 24th, 2011

Another preseason preview gives us reason to roll out the 2011-12 edition of Thirty Reasons We Love College Basketball, our annual compendium of YouTube clips from the previous season 100% guaranteed to make you wish games were starting tonight. We’ve captured the most compelling moments from the 2010-11 season, many of which will bring back the goosebumps and some of which will leave you shaking your head in frustration. For the complete list of this year’s reasons, click here. Enjoy!

#13 – Where Fredetteaboutit Happens


We also encourage you to re-visit the entire archive of this feature from the 2008-09, 2009-10, and 2010-11 seasons.

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Morning Five: 09.02.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on September 2nd, 2011

  1. Yesterday we mentioned the piece by SI.com’s Andy Glockner listing five teams that finished near the bottom of Ken Pomeroy’s luck statistic and why they should be in for some better fortune in the upcoming. Who, you may ask, finished dead last in that stat? Who was the unluckiest team in college hoops in 2010-11? The answer: the same team that finished last in luck in 2009-10! In fact, they did it under two different coaches. On Tuesday (not sure how it got by us), Mr. Glockner examined what exactly the luck statistic is and how this squad can avoid a three-peat of ill fate.
  2. Whatever happens, DeQuan Jones at least knows that his family and friends have his back. The mother, high school coach and AAU coach of the Miami (FL) senior swingman released an understandably spiky response to “friend of the program” Nevin Shapiro’s allegation that a family member of Jones’ asked for $10,000 to insure Jones’ commital to the Hurricanes from high school. The most compelling part of their story is the timeline; Jones had already verballed and signed his letter of intent to attend Miami a full seven months prior to the time Shapiro says the payola request was made. Certainly not the end of the matter, but the linked article by the Miami Herald‘s Michelle Kaufman will bring you up to speed.
  3. If you’re reading a college basketball blog, you’re likely aware that there are many players who are not just student-athletes but also innocents abroad from their foreign homes. There’s a pretty big international competition called the Summer Olympics in about a year, and a couple of fellows recently learned that they may find themselves in London playing for their respective national teams. Saint Louis’ Rob Loe was called up to New Zealand’s national side for a best-of-three series against Australia next week for the right to go to the Olympics, and College of Charleston’s Andrew Lawrence — a native Londoner – made the final cut for the national team from Great Britain, meaning he’ll get to play in the Olympics in his hometown. This seems like as good a time as any to remind you that, because of their uniforms, the formidable NZ national rugby team is called the All Blacks. Playing off that, New Zealanders call their basketball team…the Tall Blacks.
  4. College basketball fans have seen the occasional boon resulting from this whole NBA lockout nonsense, and another one just came to fruition. We didn’t get to see a Jimmer Fredette vs. Kemba Walker matchup last season, but the two have agreed to participate in a pair of games in Utah featuring two teams comprised of NBA rookies, presumably a bunch of guys trying to understandably stay in playing shape. BYU head coach Dave Rose will lead Fredette’s team, while San Diego State boss Steve Fisher will coach the Walker side. We don’t know who else will be involved, but we wouldn’t mind if Kemba and The Jimmer just ended up playing what would amount to a full-court 1-on-1 game while the others rebounded for them.
  5. The people who run Kelley Farms in Lexington, Kentucky undoubtedly love two things: John Calipari, and — evidently less so — corn. As basketball fans, it would be difficult for them to go all Ray Kinsella and clear out crop space for a court, since that wouldn’t make quite the economic impact as Kevin Costner’s character’s baseball field, and basketballs don’t bounce well on uneven dirt. Instead, they decided on a John Calipari corn maze, open for the public to get lost in on September 23. We’ll be waiting to hear if any ghosts from Kentucky’s glorious past emerge from the stalks. Perhaps farm owner John Kelley heard a voice telling him, “If he comes, you will build it.” Yeah, we know — enough with the Field Of Dreams references.
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Morning Five: 08.29.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on August 29th, 2011

  1. Jimmer Fredette will be moving up to the next level soon, and what we’re talking about there has nothing to do with basketball. The Jimmer announced his engagement to his girlfriend (and BYU cheerleader) Whitney via Twitter over the weekend with a photo and statement summarizing his excitement. Subsequently, jokes — most of them well-meaning, it seemed — began to fly throughout the tweetosphere regarding how Whitney is a senior at BYU and therefore still under the school’s honor code, so she’d have to play, er, a sort of defense a little longer, a subject on which she could educate him. Ah, those clever Twitter kids. In all seriousness, we extend our congratulations to the pair.
  2. What do you have when you take a Marquette guy who loves advanced statistics and wants to apply them to college basketball, a possible brand new and downright compelling new statistic developed by that fellow that could help determine the most valuable players in college hoops (and finds that Jordan Taylor of his rival Wisconsin is atop the list!), a college basketball blog we love, and combine all that into a Luke Winn article? You have what we call a good time, friends. Ever heard of Ken Horton from Central Connecticut State? Familiarize yourself. Is Taylor more valuable than Jared Sullinger or Tu Holloway? Hmmm. See for yourself. All we can say is God bless you, John Pudner.
  3. What’s Oklahoma State boss Travis Ford got up his sleeve? Via Twitter last week he made a cryptic reference to some “exciting non-conference schedule information” as well as “a possible roster addition early next week.” Well, now that’s this week, and there’s some speculation that the surprise may come in the rather large form of 7’0”, 235-pound Marek Soucek from the Czech Republic, a highly sought-after recruit whose name happens to now appear in the OSU student directory. Actually, Soucek hasn’t left the Czech Republic yet. What’s going on here? John Helsley of The Oklahoman wonders, too.
  4. Everyone obviously knows about the Georgetown vs Bayi fight during the Hoyas’ trip to China from a couple of weeks ago. While the fiasco itself is likely ever to be pointed to by historians as a high-impact moment in the arc of Sino-American relations, it is interesting to examine reasons that might have led to such an event. Tom Gold is a sociology professor from UC Berkeley and is something of an expert on events in the (so-called) Far East; in a recent interview with Asian American Press, Dr. Gold discussed the thinking that may have been behind this from the Chinese viewpoint. A short piece, but it contains some interesting takes.
  5. Retirement, schmetirement, let’s play ball. That’s evidently the mindset of San Diego State’s Steve Fisher, who just signed a four-year extension with the Aztecs, according to a late-night report from ESPN’s Andy Katz. As Katz points out, leading the school to its first-ever Sweet 16 could have served as an appropriate exiting point for Fisher, and then you throw in that the coach was treated for prostate cancer just over three years ago and his star from last season is gone…well, such an extension might come to some as a surprise. We doubt anyone in San Diego’s complaining, though, and if we’re talking about good health and normal blood tests (look at Katz, dropping some PSA knowledge!), we’re glad to see this happen.
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Jimmer Tries Life as a Duffer, Finds Basketball Easier

Posted by rtmsf on July 18th, 2011

We now know one thing that 2010-11 National Player of the Year Jimmer Fredette won’t be doing to supplement his income while locked out by his Sacramento employers this coming year: Hitting the links.  The phrase Jimmer for three took on a whole new meaning over the weekend in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, as the tenth pick in the NBA Draft spent more time hacking around in the rough and serpentining around the greens of the American Century Championship than finding the sweet spot at the bottom of the cup.  How bad was the nation’s best college basketball player?  Gulp… even worse than Barkley.  From the Salt Lake Tribune:

Make Sure to Duck if You See These Two Behind You

Fredette finished dead last (83rd place) at the American Century Championship golf tournament on Sunday afternoon, ending up with minus-88 points. Fredette had minus-30 on Friday, minus-28 on Saturday and minus-30 on Sunday. The worst he could have gotten each day was minus-36. Jay DeMarcus of the country music group Rascal Flatts finished second-to-last at minus-83, and Charles Barkley was third-to-last at minus-68.

Basketball players with their lanky frames and inability to stand still as a general rule didn’t perform well in this tournament, with Shane Battier (#77), Digger Phelps (#72), Jason Kidd (#56), Deron Williams (#46) and Penny Hardaway (#41) joining Chuck and Jimmer in lighting up the Edgewood Golf Club with high degree of difficulty shots from every nook and cranny in the Tahoe basin.  The highest placing hoopster was former NC State star and current LA Clippers head coach, Vinny del Negro (#11), with His Airness and Jesus Shuttlesworth also placing modestly (tied at #23).

In typical good-natured Jimmer fashion, he tweeted out after his final round that he’ll be “much improved” next year.  Given the look and feel of an NBA work stoppage that will likely leak well into next calendar year, The Jimmer will certainly have plenty of time to work on his golf game.  Whether anyone will remember who he is depends on a bunch of other factors, but for at least this one year, he gave Sir Charles a reason to feel good about himself.   

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