The Week That Was
Debunking the Big East, a new coaching king and Spiderman!
“The Week That Was” returns just a day after three well-written college basketball-centric columns ran in this space. As someone who truly loves both the college and pro games (in similar, but also in different ways) I think it is great that this wonderful site is now able to offer “the best of both worlds.”
With that in mind, another week went rushing by. This has caused me to implement a slight tweak to the Scouting Corner. I have omitted the player’s name and have made it into a “guess who”-type of situation. Please submit your ideas about who you believe the prospect is.
I also need to thank the powers that be for giving us two great nights in a row from Sunday evening’s Wake/Carolina (and USC/UCLA) to last night’s Big East OT action and the hoops’ version of the Red River Shootout.
With out further ado…
Headline: Is the ACC actually better than the Big East?
This train of thought would be considered media heresy this year, but I am not so sure there isn’t some truth to the above inquiry. For starters, the ACC is a smaller conference (12) as compared to the Big East (16) so all statistical analysis will be done considering this numerical difference.
Up front, in what matters most, the ACC has an advantage in the “Contenders” department—teams that can realistically win a national championship. I see Wake Forest, Duke, and North Carolina as all viable candidates, while Pittsburgh and Connecticut are the only two that I think legitimately classify from the Big East. This means a quarter of the ACC could contend for a title, while only an eighth from the Big East has potential for a title run.
If you go to the bottom of the barrels, I have five teams (South Florida, Rutgers, St. John’s—they’re almost out, Seton Hall, and DePaul) from the Big East to just three from the ACC (NC State, Virginia Tech, and Virginia.) That’s a larger percentage of “bad” teams from the Big East as apposed to those of the same vain from the ACC.
What is left is what truly distinguishes this year’s Big East from any before. The middle group (teams that are more like Sweet 16/Elite 8 teams) is vast and impressive. Syracuse, Villanova, West Virginia, Marquette, Georgetown, Notre Dame, and Louisville are all solid teams and each could contend for the Big East Tournament title and play into the NCAA Tournament’s second week. Cincinnati and Providence are kind of in that “forbidden zone” of not quite in one grouping or another, and one of these teams getting a bid will put the league at that elusive 10-bid plateau.
The ACC’s middle group is strong, but a trip to the Sweet 16 or Elite 8 for any of them would have to be considered huge achievements. Clemson, Florida State, Miami, Maryland, Georgia Tech (I know, maybe they aren’t here, yet) and Boston College all have quality wins this year but represent the actual difference between these two power conferences. The Big East is still king, but when the dust settles and only one team remains standing, they just might come from the ACC.
Upsets of the Week: The General Has Been Beaten!
Without any major upsets to discuss, this week’s “long shot done good” must go to a 66-year-old gentleman who lives in the far-off basketball outpost of Aderdeen, S.D. Don Meyer is the head coach there for D-II Northern State and this past weekend, he surpassed Bobby Knight as the all-time winningest men’s basketball coach in NCAA history. Now coaching from a wheelchair following a near fatal car crash, Meyer’s 903 wins are unmatched, but still leave him 76 short of NAIA’s top boss, Harry Statham who has amassed 979 at McKendree University.
Scouting Corner: Guess Who!?!?!
1. This junior guard brings the ideal package for a college two-guard. At 6-4 and 215 pounds, he is more than able to blow by his defenders with a deceivingly quick first step that is long and tough to defend. He becomes even more dangerous as he can glides through the lane with his “big time” hops where he can finish with authority or stop on a dime to hit a 10-footer.
2. His shooting range has improved greatly in his third season of big-time college ball. While he can now be considered effective from distance, his release is still a bit slow and deliberate. Luckily for him, he gets such elevation on his jumper that it hasn’t been proven to be a problem at his current level of competition. Against bigger opponents at the next level, however, he might struggle to get his pull-up jumper off. In addition, this guy is not a combo-prospect and has little to no distribution or point guard skills, which should restrict his potential for a professional career.
3. He is a smart kid that understands the game and is the offspring of a former player of the game so he has been taught how to play the “right way.” I love this guy as a college player, but due to his limitations as a combo-guard, I would steer clear of him in the first-round. Most have him as a first-round lock, so I obviously have a differing opinion.
Player Alert: Your Friendly Neighborhood Baller
This guy was in the works to be my SCOUTING CORNER subject, but he is not as well-known to the general public so I opted to just introduce you to him. BYU senior guard Lee Cummard has been mentioned in this space before—but just as a wee mention in a Games This Week that his 13-2 Cougar team was playing in earlier in the season. I then compared him to Kyle Korver, but I will expound a bit more on the 6-7 185-pound do-it-all extraordinaire who is known around Provo, Utah, (and his home back in the Phoenix area) as Spiderman.
For starters, Cummard is an 18/6/3 kind of guy who shoots an outlandish 59 percent from the floor and 42 percent from 3-point range. Not that this production would mean that this is a breakout year, though, as Spidey spent his previous two seasons scoring and efficiently shooting, as well. In both campaigns, Cummard shot over 55 percent from the floor and at least 43 percent from long range, this from a perimeter player that has already amassed 1200 career points. He has long arms that accentuate his crafty game in the post and around the hoop. The high release of his shot and mid-range fade-away are eerily reminiscent of a certain “Hick from French Lick” (I will get crap for this, but it must be said). While not of the same talent level or will and desire of Bird (LC is too much of a team player right now), this kid does need to be put in the spotlight.
Although his team doesn’t have any strong “signature” wins yet, their only losses were a one-pointer to James Harden and Arizona State and a nail-biter that was much closer than the seven points would tell. Don’t let the “NR” ranking fool you, the BYU Cougars are one of the best 20 teams in the nation, and Lee Cummard just might be the best college player you’ve never seen.
I’m sure you want to know what I think about his prospects for playing at the next level, but I must save that for another day. Yes, he can play, but in this day of stupid up-side drafting, his grasp and ability just might be ignored. If Spiderman is not drafted, he will be snatched up by one smart front office.
Games This Week:
At 7:30 (All times ET) Memphis plays a much underrated Tulsa team that has no bad losses. You’ve probably heard of their 7-0 center Jerome Jordan (not that big of a fan), but he is not the extent of the talent at Coach Doug Wojcik’s disposal. Junior Ben Uzoh does a bit of everything for the Golden Hurricanes and with another year of seasoning could make himself into a point guard prospect at 6-3 and almost 200 pounds.
9 p.m. — Classic SEC battle on the deuce with Kentucky at Tennessee.
At 10 p.m., those who have tons of channels should check out the Mountain for a nice Mountain West game between TCU at BYU. You’ve already been told who to watch for.
Before the Lakers/Spurs game on ESPN, check out a nice little ACC game at 7 p.m. with Duke in Atlanta to take on the ‘Rambling Wreck of GTech.’ Duke is playing really well right now, led by maybe the nation’s best swingman in Kyle Singler. This sophomore really has no holes in his game. Does everything the right way. And he can knock down shots. I am also slowly becoming an Iman Shumpert fan; I’ve always been down with Gani Lawal.
A half-hour after that game tips, a classic Big East hate-fest between Syracuse and Georgetown (both top-10 for the first time since, probably Sherman Douglas was killing it at the Carrier Dome.) This game, however, will be in D.C., not Syracuse, which I hear is lovely this time of the year.
Things get crackin’ early with, from the broken record department, another good Big East match-up! Notre Dame bears the frozen north of upstate New York to take on the Orange.
BUT… Simultaneously, there is a nice little mid-major double header starting on ESPN2. First at noon, is Northern Iowa at Drake in a sweet little interstate/MissouriValley battle. My dad played D-III ball in Iowa and got his masters at UNI, so I got to side with the Panthers.
After that on the same channel are the Butler Bulldogs traveling from the friendly Indy-confines of Hinkle Field House (Friday Bucket List teaser) to play the UI-Chicago Flames, already owners of wins over Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt. Matt Howard is a productive, sophomore frontcourt player for Butler that spurned many major offers to play close to his Indiana hometown.
CBS has a solid afternoon double-dip with Georgetown and Duke at 3:30. I might be most curious to see how this intra-conference game turns out. Later at 6 p.m., Arizona State travels to Los Angeles for a match-up with UCLA in a key early season Pac-10 indicator.
The Big East will crammed down your throat a little more with, guess who??? Louisville!!! At 6 p.m., the Cardinals host the nation’s top team in the Pittsburgh Panthers. Should be a good game; watch Samardo Samuels versus DeJuan Blair.
I will ignore the obvious “great Big East game” on ESPN and give the ladies a nod as the UConn Huskies travel to Chapel Hill to play the Carolina Tar Heels. These are the nation’s top-two women’s teams right now and the distance between them and “the rest—Tennessee included” seems to be widening.
Check Cub Buenning’s scouting website for weekly player reports.