With the Game on the Line, Which ACC Players Get the Call?

Posted by Christopher Kehoe on February 1st, 2014

The ACC is chock full of great athletes and even greater coaches. In such a highly competitive environment, there is bound to be a plethora of close finishes. Even the elite coaches can’t physically will their teams to victory, but instead have to rely upon the players who have ice in their veins. Some coaches prefer a heady point guard who can wind the clock down, penetrate into the paint at the right moment, and then fire off a pinpoint pass to a shooter on the wing for the win. Other coaches prefer a more traditional route of isolation basketball, putting the ball in the hands of the best player, someone who can rise up over the defense or break down his defender one-on-one.

Michael Snaer breaks the heart of many Duke fans in CIS

Michael Snaer breaks the hearts of many Duke fans in CIS

The list of memorable ACC finishes could fill an entire book, provoking court rushes and jubilant celebrations for one team and a traumatic letdowns for another. The most recent that comes to mind from Tobacco Road was Duke’s Austin Rivers buzzer-beater in Chapel Hill two years ago. That same season, and only a month prior to Rivers’ game winner, Duke was shocked at home by Michael Snaer‘s three at the horn to snap a 45-game Duke home winning streak. Flash forward to the present and both Snaer and Rivers are long gone from their respective campuses as new faces and even a few teams litter the ACC landscape. With that in mind, who are the players that ACC coaches most want with the ball in their hands and the game on the line this season? Here are 10 players who have their coaches’ trust in those game-ending situations. 

  • Tyler Ennis, Syracuse: The freshman point guard from Canada has won Jim Boeheim as well as his teammates’ confidence and has solidified himself as the go-to presence for this year’s undefeated Syracuse team. Look no further than Ennis’ play in the final minutes of Syracuse’s home win over old rival Pittsburgh, as the Orange eked out a victory late, largely thanks to Ennis.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Award Tour: Doug McDermott Blowing Away the NPOY Competition

Posted by Jameson Fleming on January 31st, 2014

AwardTour

Jameson Fleming is an RTC columnist who also works for CBSSports.com as the site’s social media editor. You can follow him on Twitter @JamesonFleming.

Michigan State was so close to landing a player in this week’s Award Tour rankings, but Gary Harris struggled in a loss to Michigan. His day will come… eventually. Providence’s Bryce Cotton and Ed Cooley are also very close to making their debuts on the watch lists as well. Cotton is an ironman who has carried the Friars after taking over as the point guard, while Cooley has kept the team moving forward after a rough start to conference play. Andrew Wiggins is quickly turning into the player everyone expected before the season — he was never bad or mediocre, just not a stud – until now. After 27 points against TCU and 29 more against Iowa State, Maple Jordan is rounding into form as Kansas’ second Big 12 Player of the Year candidate. Pitt’s Lamar Patterson struggled against Duke, but he’ll have several more chances in the coming weeks to prove he’s an ACC Player of the Year candidate.

Player of the Year

Thanks to some outstanding play of late, Justin Jackson (left), Xavier Thames, and Nick Stauskas are all in the POY discussion.

Thanks to some outstanding play of late, Justin Jackson (left), Xavier Thames, and Nick Stauskas are all in the POY discussion.

10. Justin Jackson – Cincinnati. Last Week: Not Ranked
2013-14 stats: 11.1 PPG, 7 RPG, 3.3 BPG, 107.5 oRTG

Justin Jackson isn’t going to wow anyone offensively. He can score a few buckets here and there, be a playmaker occasionally, and draw a lot of fouls. So why did he make the Player of the Year rankings? He’s a dominant defender and rebounder. Jackson is arguably the best player on a Cincinnati team that is now 20-2 with wins at Louisville, at Memphis, Pittsburgh and SMU. He’s the only player in the top 50 in the country in block AND steal rate according to KenPom, and his late steal against Louisville helped seal an impressive victory in the KFCYum! Center against the Cardinals.

9. Xavier Thames – San Diego State. Last Week: Not Ranked
2013-14 stats: 17.5 PPG, 2.7 APG, 121.6 oRTG

Xavier Thames has emerged as San Diego State’s top player after spending three years toiling in mediocrity thanks to poor shooting and turnovers. But as a senior, Thames has become a much more efficient scorer and distributor. He’s the main reason why the Aztecs could overcome huge personnel losses and improve from last year’s NCAA round of 32 squad.

8. Joel Embiid – Kansas. Last Week: 9
2013-14 stats: 11.3 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 2.7 BPG, 113.6 oRTG

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

London Perrantes Has the Virginia Offense Humming

Posted by Lathan Wells on January 31st, 2014

Virginia’s resurgence is well-known by now, with everyone from this site to Joe Lunardi taking notice — standing firm right behind Syracuse in the ACC standings will do that. But while Virginia’s defense is still as potent as ever (only allowing opponents to shoot 38.0 percent from the field on the year), it’s the Cavaliers’ suddenly white-hot offense that has them racing off to such a commanding ACC start. It would be a challenge to find anyone who projected Virginia would be fourth in the ACC in scoring (70.5 PPG) through eight games, but there’s one obvious catalyst for Tony Bennett’s best offensive team during his tenure at Virginia: freshman point man London Perrantes.

NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Notre Dame

London Perrantes has Virginia’s offense rolling and the team sitting near the top of the ACC (credit: usatodaysports)

While Tyler Ennis has garnered most of the freshman point guard accolades in the ACC this season, Perrantes can make an argument he’s just as vital to his team’s success as his Syracuse counterpart. He is averaging 4.8 assists per game in conference contests, but more impressively his assist-to-turnover ratio is an astounding 4.2 to 1. Like Ennis, Perrantes is lauded for his calm demeanor under fire and an innate ability to set and maintain his team’s preferred tempo regardless of opponent. Part of the reason the team is scoring at its current clip is because Perrantes is doing a tremendous job protecting the ball as well as knowing when to get the team out in transition (traditionally a rarity for Bennett’s squads). Virginia struggled while the young point guard was getting acclimated to the college game, but with him now firmly entrenched as the starter at the position, this team runs at a much more efficient pace.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Morning Five: 01.31.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on January 31st, 2014

morning5

  1. When we found out that Larry Brown was headed back to college basketball two years ago we never would have imagined that he would be toiling in such obscurity. Sure, Southern Methodist is not exactly a basketball hotbed, but he is still Larry Brown–possibly one of the ten best basketball coaches ever. While Brown might not be getting much attention at Southern Methodist it certainly is not due to a lack of success because it seems like he has turned the program around (not counting Tuesday’s surprising loss at USF). Southern Methodist may only being on the bubble at this point, but we would love to see Brown back in the NCAA Tournament if only for the idea of him getting to coach against another legend.
  2. Notre Dame forward Austin Burgett was released from the hospital yesterday after undergoing a procedure to treat an irregular heartbeat he noticed during the team’s game against Florida State on January 21. Burgett reportedly underwent an ablation for an undisclosed arrhythmia and although the school is calling this a “common, non-life threatening procedure” given all of the issues we have seen with arrhythmias in sports (in particular college basketball) we could not help but be worried for Burgett when we heard about his condition initially. According to the school, they will monitor Burgett’s recovery before making a decision on when he will return to the court.
  3. We have heard endless talk about the NBA potential of Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, and a few top prospects. What we have not heard much about is what NBA scouts think of the next tier of prospect. Jason King spoke to three NBA scouts about several of the more intriguing underclassmen and for the most part their comments were fairly critical. Of course, that doesn’t mean that several of these players would not be drafted in the first round (you need 30 players to fill the 30 spots), but it does show you where these guys fall short if you did not already know.
  4. In this week’s edition of his Power Rankings, Luke Winn has his usual treasure trove of statistics and advanced metrics, but the two things that jumped out at us were his breakdown of the play of T.J. McConnell and Tyler Ennis as the distributors for the top two teams in the nation and just how remarkable efficient Jabari Parker has been in the post. The numbers for McConnell and Ennis are not particularly surprising (we knew they were very good), but the McConnell’s equitable distribution and the way Ennis has stepped up against better competition was eye-opening. As for Parker, we were surprised at how efficient he is in the post, but that might be due to how diverse his game is.
  5. Speaking of Arizona and Syracuse (and Wichita State) we are reaching the point in the season where people are starting to talk about the possibility of a team going undefeated. We are also at the point where we are starting to get our annual barrage of articles talking about how a team would be better off losing a game. We have never bought into this theory and we doubt that any player or coach would admit to it. Certainly there is another degree of pressure later in the season when you are undefeated, but it seems hard to believe that there would be any additional pressure in the NCAA Tournament.
Share this story

Rushed Reactions: #2 Syracuse 59, #22 Pittsburgh 54

Posted by mpatton on January 18th, 2014

rushedreactions

Three Key Takeaways:

  1. Pittsburgh is worthy of a higher ranking. With no great non-conference wins and that horribly slow loss to Cincinnati, there was good reason to question whether the Panthers deserved their advanced statistical love. But they played Syracuse even on the road, even owning a lead in the final three minutes. But even more impressive was that the Panthers took the lead after trailing by double figures in the second half. It’s not a secret at this point: Lamar Patterson is a special player and may be frontrunner for ACC Player of the Year if he keeps up the pace.

    Tyler Ennis got to the rim to seal Syracuse's victory. (credit: Dick Blume / Syracuse Post-Standard)

    Tyler Ennis got to the rim to seal Syracuse’s victory. (credit: Dick Blume / Syracuse Post-Standard)

  2. Syracuse isn’t going undefeated in the ACC. The Orange might be perfect at home when it’s all said and done, but their late game rebounding is a huge concern. Pittsburgh missed a lot of foul shots and layups, and still almost won the game at the Carrier Dome. Someone will get hot from beyond the arc and torch Syracuse on the offensive glass. Even more importantly, the Orange only played seven players, and every starter logged more than 29 minutes. Jerami Grant, CJ Fair and Tyler Ennis each played the entire 40 minutes, which could cause problems if the Orange get in foul trouble.
  3. Syracuse’s interior length bothered Pittsburgh on offense. Part of the problem is that the Panthers’ front line doesn’t have a lot of height. But multiple times Pittsburgh ended up having to force a jumper late in the shot clock because a guard was met by Rakeem Christmas or Baye Keita in the paint. That said, Talib Zanna had a couple of really good offensive possessions operating near the elbow, and finished with an efficient double-double.

Star of the Game: Tyler Ennis, Syracuse. Ennis scored six of Syracuse’s last eight points to close the game, including the big shot to retake the lead. He finished with 16 points (a team high) on eight shots with three assists and one turnover in just shy of 40 minutes. Jim Boeheim made it clear after the game that they opened the floor (keeping CJ Fair and Trevor Cooney on the wing) to let Ennis work. That’s a lot of responsibility for a freshman, but you never felt like Ennis was rattled. Even when Pittsburgh deflected his pass late in the second half, he stayed calm and got it back.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Five Key Questions as Pittsburgh Heads to the Carrier Dome with Something to Prove

Posted by Matt Patton & Lathan Wells on January 18th, 2014

In anticipation of the new marquee ACC match-up this afternoon at 4:00 PM EST, microsite columnists Matt Patton and Lathan Wells ask each other the tough questions. Somehow, we only mention CJ Fair once.

Can anyone disrupt Syracuse's diaper dandy? (credit: Mark Konezny / USA TODAY Sports)

Can anyone disrupt Syracuse’s diaper dandy? (credit: Mark Konezny / USA TODAY Sports)

LathanTyler Ennis has proven to be a freshman beyond his years at the point, with a demeanor that belies his class. Can anyone disrupt him defensively and thus help stymie what Syracuse wants to do on offense?

Matt: Calling Ennis a surprise is disingenuous because everyone expected him to be really good. People just didn’t him to be this good this quickly. He’s made the offense more efficient by replacing Michael Carter-Williams, the current NBA Rookie of the Year front-runner. But Pittsburgh will likely try to make the freshman uncomfortable by sealing off the lane with face-guarding on the perimeter.

Pittsburgh has some of the best ball movement in the country (seventh nationally in assists per field goal made). How will Syracuse’s zone combat it?

Lathan: In short, the zone makes ball movement the key to staying in the game. Syracuse’s length across its lineup forces teams to keep throwing the ball around the perimeter and causing teams to hurry late in the shot clock to get a good shot. Establishing a solid high-low option is probably the key to having some sort of success on offense.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Award Tour: Doug McDermott Strengthens Grip on POY

Posted by Jameson Fleming on January 17th, 2014

AwardTour

Jameson Fleming is an RTC columnist who also works for CBSSports.com as the site’s social media editor. You can follow him on Twitter @JamesonFleming.

As usual, there are many candidates knocking on the door of the Player of the Year race. Florida’s Casey Prather dropped out temporarily after missing the last two games with an injury. He’ll likely be back in the rankings at some point as he’s Julius Randle’s top competition for SEC Player of the Year. After a few rough games, UMass’ Chaz Williams is back on track thanks to a 26-point, eight-assist performance in the Minutemen’s thrilling win against George Mason. Andrew Wiggins is inching closer to the rankings after a monster double-double game against Iowa State, with 17 points and 19 rebounds against the Cyclones. Michigan State’s Gary Harris and Keith Appling have also picked up the slack for the injured Adreian Payne as Sparty continues to roll on.

It's a safe bet that these three guys will be in the mix for POY honors.

It’s a safe bet that these three guys will be in the mix for POY honors.

Player of the Year

10. Russ Smith – Louisville. Last Week: 10
2013-14 stats: 18.1 PPG, 4.9 APG, 113.4 oRTG

Russ Smith hasn’t put together a complete game in a while and that trend continued Thursday night against Houston. He hasn’t scored fewer than 18 points since December 17, but his turnovers are out of control. He has committed 19 miscues in his last four games including five more against the Cougars. He’s logged at least four turnovers in seven of Louisville’s last eight games after doing so well with just three times in the Cardinals’ first 10 games. With Chane Behanan’s dismissal and Chris Jones’ recent struggles (10+ points in just one of Louisville’s last nine games), Smith’s production has to remain elite WITHOUT turnovers for Louisville to be considered a national title threat.

9. Lamar Patterson – Pittsburgh. Last Week: Not Ranked
2013-14 stats:  17.6 PPG, 4.6 APG, 123.4 oRTG

It’s a gamble to add Lamar Patterson to the Player of the Year rankings considering Pitt basically hasn’t played anyone all season. The Panthers’ first major challenge comes Saturday in the Carrier Dome against Syracuse. This weekend will be Patterson’s chance to show he has in fact emerged as one of the best players in the country. He’s currently tearing it up in Oakland to the tune of 58 percent from two, 43 percent from three, and a studly 123.4 offensive rating on a 27.5 percent usage rate. He’s the main reason Jamie Dixon’s squad is the second best team in the ACC.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ACC Teams Struggling to Adapt to Styles of New Programs

Posted by Christopher Kehoe on January 16th, 2014

Much was made of the three former Big East teams entering the league this season and having to adapt to the ACC’s style of play. This notion was supported by the simple fact of sheer numbers; the returning ACC teams would number 12 teams while the Big East was sending over only three units. What did not get enough preseason attention was how the ACC as a whole would adapt to the very different styles of play of the three incoming teams, all quite successful programs in their own rights. Notre Dame under head coach Mike Brey is known for its selfless team basketball, execution, cutting and the extra pass, while developing a litany of elite low post big men like Luke Harangody, Jack Cooley, and now Garrick Sherman. While the Irish lost its best player in Jerian Grant for the year, their style of play was on display and ultimately decided the outcome in a statement win against Duke.

Pitt's James Robinson is a large reason they are 16-1 (Photo: pittsburghpanthers.com)

Pitt’s James Robinson is a large reason the Panthers are 16-1 (Photo: pittsburghpanthers.com)

Syracuse’s famous 2-3 zone has helped in establishing itself as one of the best teams in the nation and has put the Orange among a group of three unbeaten teams remaining. Their defense has flummoxed ACC opponents to the tune of allowing only 50.0 PPG to ACC foes through their first four games. They clearly have taken charge and dominated the tempo in their outings, most recently holding UNC a full 30 points below its season average of 75.6 PPG. While it remains early in the ACC race, so far it seems obvious that both Syracuse and Pittsburgh have been forcing their own tempo and style of play on their opponents and not vice versa. Jamie Dixon’s Panthers are known for their toughness and gritty play, both of which were evident in their recent 12-point road victory over N.C. State. Famed ESPN analyst Dick Vitale confirmed this theory and perception when he noted: “There are certain programs that get certain labels that help them big-time psychologically… the mindset is where you’re at a negative before you ever start playing, and I think Pittsburgh has that, that label of being tough.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ACC M5: 01.16.14 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on January 16th, 2014

morning5_ACC

  1. Baltimore Sun: Initially Mark Turgeon and Brenda Frese (Maryland’s women’s basketball coach) didn’t support the school’s move to the Big Ten. Turgeon went so far as to say that all the coaches he has talked to, except [football coach] Randy [Edsall], “are upset and opposed” to the move. It means Turgeon will have to redecorate his office, which currently has ACC team logos strewn about, and it will also potentially impact recruiting. Another fascinating tidbit from Jeff Barker’s piece is this excerpt from James Shea: “For some time, I have been bothered that these ‘traditional rivalries’ have provoked toxic reactions from abusive language at the games to riots and car burnings after victories.” Clearly Maryland’s ulterior motive was taking Duke off its schedule for good so the College Park fire department can get some rest.
  2. ESPN: Tyler Ennis has had a remarkable freshman season so far. Based on win shares, he’s the most valuable freshman in the country and it’s not even close. His gaudy total probably comes from his elite assist-to-turnover ratio (4.2:1) or his knack for racking up steals. Whatever the case, I’m not sure anyone predicted Ennis would immediately prove to be one of the best point guards in the ACC. But he’s only got one challenger for rookie of the year, and Jabari Parker has not had a good start to conference play.
  3. Duke Basketball Report: Guess how many halves of basketball in the last four years played by an ACC team finished with the team scoring fewer than 18 points? 26! And we’ve already had five of those this season. Clemson has two of the three with two 10-point halves over that time. As you might expect this recent low-scoring trend coincided with the ACC’s new group of coaches who have successfully stolen the slowest major conference title from the Big Ten even if they can’t win the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
  4. One Foot Down: Notre Dame is reeling. The Fighting Irish have looked just awful in conference play — the win against Duke excluded. Their most recent loss came to Maryland in a game where Mike Brey’s squad led by nine before going ice cold to start the second half. The good news is that Notre Dame can try and right the ship this weekend with a home game against Virginia Tech. The bad news is that three early losses won’t help come March, in ACC Tournament seeding, or Selection Sunday.
  5. Tar Heel Blog: Good take here on the North Carolina scandal and how it’s starting to get ugly. There’s a lot of miscommunication going on right now as the university claims it hasn’t seen the data, but whistleblower Mary Willingham claims the school can get the data themselves. CNN went way above and beyond her actual findings — making claims about the athletic department in general up to the present — in its initial reports (including claiming to have the data in a second article while linking to her four-year-old thesis). We may get some sort of resolution soon, or at least a comment from the administration, as the student newspaper has reported that Willingham sat down with the Chancellor.
Share this story

ACC M5: 01.07.14 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on January 7th, 2014

morning5_ACC

  1. Associated Press and ESPN: The new AP Top 25 poll isn’t kind to the ACC. Only Syracuse (#2) and Duke (#16) remain in the poll after North Carolina tumbled into the land of “others receiving votes” following its road loss to Wake Forest. That loss puts the Tar Heels at 7-4 against unranked opponents and an unbelievable 3-0 against ranked foes. Duke’s drop was historic, ending the Blue Devils’ ludicrous 122-week stint in the top 10. That’s the second longest streak ever (to UCLA, who managed to stick around for nearly a decade). The last time Duke wasn’t in the top 10 was November 2007. The new longest-tenured team? Michigan State at 16 weeks.
  2. Streaking the Lawn: Virginia has three players battling injury following a win that finally seemed to live up to the team’s lofty expectations to open ACC play. The damage? Joe Harris is day-to-day with concussion symptoms and is still awaiting clearance to practice; Evan Nolte dislocated his finger; and Mike Tobey rolled his ankle. The last two are the kind of injuries that could become nagging snowballs as the conference season wears on, but Harris is obviously the player to watch. He can’t miss significant time, as the team has already dug itself a really deep hole in terms of its at-large resume.
  3. Syracuse Post-Standard: We’re witnessing history this season! Tyler Ennis and Olivier Hanlan are already two of the top five Canadian ACC scorers of all-time. Hanlan will almost certainly pass Duke’s Greg Newton in Boston College’s next game (he only needs six points), and he should do it in fewer than half the games it took Newton. Ennis still has a ways to go to start climbing up that list, but he should get to fourth before the end of the season. He’ll have to stick around three years to make a run at the top spot though.
  4. Winston-Salem Journal: Everyone — especially Ron Wellman and any relatives of Jeff Bzdelik – bookmark this article immediately. Dan Collins thinks Bzdelik’s game plan and play-calling played a significant role in the Demon Deacons’ Sunday upset over North Carolina. Joking aside, Wake Forest executed most of the game incredibly well. The Deacs didn’t fade down the stretch (apart from a bizarre couple of minutes where they let the Tar Heels cut the lead to a single possession), and they kept their heads cool in the face of pressure. I personally would credit Codi Miller-McIntyre as the reason Wake Forest looks like a new team this season, but Bzdelik may actually deserve some credit too.
  5. Real GM: Cool look from Dan Hanner on how the top 100 RSCI freshmen are faring this season. Obviously Jabari Parker is fine (outside of South Bend). There’s a pretty significant drop after the top 10 (all of whom are scoring in double figures except for Kentucky’s Dakari Johnson). But there are some serious diamonds in the rough (if you can call “not top-20″ rough). Tyler Ennis and Cat Barber stick out from the ACC, while Duke’s Semi Ojeleye and Matt Jones along with North Carolina’s Isaiah Hicks are seeing low production so far.
Share this story

Award Tour: Four New Players Enter the NPOY Discussion

Posted by Jameson Fleming on January 3rd, 2014

AwardTour

Jameson Fleming is an RTC columnist who also works for CBSSports.com as the site’s social media editor. You can follow him on Twitter @JamesonFleming.

College basketball is chock-full of star players on the verge of making these Player of the Year rankings. Wichita State’s Ron Baker and North Carolina’s Marcus Paige dropped out, but not by their own faults. Michigan State’s Keith Appling and Florida’s Casey Prather have simply had better seasons to this point. Massachusetts point guard Chaz Williams was once as high as No. 4 in the rankings, but several poor performances have dropped him straight out of the top 10. Meanwhile, Kansas has two players, Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, who could go No. 1 in the NBA Draft, but neither has yet to crack the list. The Pac-12 may have only one elite team this season, but it is loaded with top players like Arizona’s Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon, Arizona State’s Jahii Carson, and UCLA’s duo of Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams – none of whom are on this week’s list either. So who made it? Let’s get to this week’s post-holiday list.

Player of the Year

10. Keith Appling – Michigan State. Last Week: Not Ranked
2013-14 stats: 15.8 PPG, 4.8 APG, 121.9 oRTG

Keith Appling Breaks Into the NPOY Discussion This Week.

Keith Appling Breaks Into the NPOY Discussion This Week.

NBCSports.com‘s Rob Dauster put together a handy little chart comparing all of the nation’s elite point guards. What did he find? Under these parameters, Keith Appling is the No. 1 high-profile point guard in the country.

via NBCSports.com

You can see the rest of the chart here. When you factor in the points Appling scores per possession and the points he creates per assist, he ranks better than Tyler Ennis, Shabazz Napier, Chaz Williams, Marcus Smart and Russ Smith. The biggest knock against Appling remains his inconsistency in Michigan State’s biggest games.

9. Casey Prather – Florida. Last Week: Not Ranked
2013-14 stats: 17.8 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 121.9 oRTG

After three seasons without much of a role at Florida, Casey Prather has developed into one of the best players in the SEC. He’s nearly tripled his point production (6.2 PPG to 17.8 PPG) thanks to an increase in minutes (33 percent to 74 percent of Florida’s game time) and usage (19.5 percent to 28.1 percent).

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Tyler Ennis, the Underappreciated Phenom

Posted by Chris Kehoe on January 2nd, 2014

What’s that, you say — a heady, patient, point guard on an undefeated team, sporting a 4.67:1 assist-to-turnover ratio, isn’t getting enough attention? Someone who happens to be a freshman valiantly filling the shoes of a lottery pick who has already notched an NBA triple-double? By now, you have probably figured out that we’re referring to none other than Syracuse’s Tyler Ennis, an extremely talented and poised freshman playing arguably the most demanding position in all of basketball. The precocious rookie is averaging 11.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game for a second-ranked Orange team that looks as dangerous as ever and ready for another deep run in March. He contributes 32 minutes per game on a team that lacks any real alternative at the position, but as Ennis has shown thus far, Jim Boeheim doesn’t need much of a substitute as the Canadian rarely gets in foul trouble or gets fatigued playing at the top of the vaunted 2-3 zone.

Ennis splits an Indiana double team (Rich Barnes/Getty)

Ennis splits an Indiana double team. (Rich Barnes/Getty)

Ennis has proved himself a potent long-range shooter, launching three-pointers at a 40 percent clip, and is no slouch defensively either, averaging 2.7 steals per contest  (10th in the nation). Speaking of national statistical rankings, Ennis also comes in second nationally behind ACC counterpart and Pittsburgh point guard James Robinson in assist-to-turnover ratio, a strong indicator of how effectively he runs the team. Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Eisenberg said it best: “He’s just a savvy point guard who changes pace masterfully, uses ball screens to his advantage, and has a knack for knowing when the Orange need a bucket.” Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story