Northwestern Wins: A College Hoops Blog

An ode to Verne Lundquist’s calls and everything college basketball

Posts Tagged ‘A.J. Price’

Big East Preview Roundup

Posted by Zach on November 3, 2008

Here are all of my previews: 1. Connecticut, 2. Louisville, 3. Notre Dame, 4. Pittsburgh, 5. Marquette, 6. Georgetown, 7. Syracuse, 8. Villanova, 9. West Virginia and 10. Providence, 11. Cincinnati and 12. DePaul, #13-16

First Team
G- A.J. Price, Connecticut
G- Scottie Reynolds, Villanova
F- Sam Young, Pittsburgh
F- Luke Harangody, Notre Dame
C- Hasheem Thabeet, Connecticut

Second Team
G- Jonny Flynn, Syracuse
G- Jerel McNeal, Marquette
F- Terrence Williams, Louisville
F- Jeff Adrien, Connecticut
F- Earl Clark, Louisville

Third Team
G- Kyle McAlarney, Notre Dame
G- Deonta Vaughn, Cincinnati
G- Austin Freeman, Georgetown
F- Lazar Hayward, Marquette
C- DeJuan Blair, Pittsburgh

Player of the Year:
1) Luke Harangody, Notre Dame
2) A.J. Price, Connecticut
3) Sam Young, Pittsburgh

Defensive Player of the Year
: Hasheem Thabeet, Connecticut
Breakthrough Player: Austin Freeman, Georgetown
Freshman of the Year: Samardo Samuels, Louisville
Coach of the Year: Jim Calhoun, Connecticut
Dark Horse Player: Dar Tucker, DePaul
Dark Horse Team: Georgetown
NCAA Teams: 10
NIT Teams: 2
CBI Teams: 1

Top Five Games

1) Connecticut at Louisville (February 2)
2) Notre Dame at Pittsburgh (January 31)
3) Connecticut at Notre Dame (January 24)
4) Louisville at Notre Dame (February 12)
5) Louisville at Georgetown (February 23)

Big 12 preview up Wednesday and Bracketology on Thursday, while Tommy should have his ACC preview done by next Monday. Not sure if Pat feels like contributing to the site at any point with his Pac-10 preview.

Posted in Big East Report, Conference Previews | Tagged: , , , , | 27 Comments »

Big East Preview: #1 Connecticut Huskies

Posted by Zach on November 3, 2008

1. Connecticut Huskies– Coach: Jim Calhoun (23rd season)

PG- A.J. Price (SR):
Whether Price is fully recovered from the torn ACL he suffered in the first half of the shocking loss to San Diego in the first round of the NCAA Tournament is the biggest question mark for this Connecticut team. Price is their sparkplug point guard who also happens to be their most dynamic scorer. He shines in big games, averaging 20 PPG in the seven games Connecticut played against ranked teams last season. He runs a spectacular point guard for Jim Calhoun, leading the Huskies in assists last year. When Price went down and the backcourt turned into a Wiggins-Austrie duo, the drop-off was painfully clear. By all accounts Price is 100% healthy and possibly in the best shape of his life. Price is a preseason All-Big East selection after leading Connecticut in scoring 13 times in 07-08. Price is the one player in the nation I see making the biggest leap forward this season, and the main factor for why I believe Connecticut is the team to beat in this loaded conference.

SG- Kemba Walker (FR):
Originally many pegged fellow freshman Nate Miles to start and give coach Calhoun more rebounding and size in his starting five, but with Miles’ dismissal I suspect Calhoun will opt to go small originally. Walker is a rough-and-tough Bronx point guard at heart who can handle the Big East from day one. A trio of Walker, Dyson and Price in the backcourt will be hard to match in all of college basketball, especially if Walker replicates some of his performances in the U18 FIBA games, where he took home MVP honors. Calhoun calls his prized freshman “cat-like quick”, a dynamic scoring guard who will look to push the tempo and add a new dimension for this team. Outside shooting is a bit of a question mark for Walker early in his college career (I don’t suspect he’s a one-and-done, but who knows), so he’ll look to feed shooters Price and Dyson on the wings and rack up the assists.

SG- Jerome Dyson (JR):
The emergence of Walker could spell Dyson to the bench once Robinson returns, but for now the junior will be pegged as the third guard for coach Calhoun. Dyson’s scoring average (12.5) actually dropped from his breakthrough freshman campaign (13.8) and many viewed his season as something of a disappointment. His three-point shooting (33%) needs to improve slightly, but Dyson does so many valuable things for this team. He’s an aggressive wing who attacks the basket with ferocity, drawing fouls and making free throws consistently (81%). He’s outstanding defensively, racking up nine steals in one game vs. St. John’s last season. I see Dyson thriving in a complimentary role to stars like Price, Adrien and Thabeet, making positive contributions in an offense where he can play fourth or fifth scorer.

PF- Jeff Adrien (SR): The Brookline, MA native is a Jim Calhoun favorite and for good reason. Adrien is a monster rebounding presence who routinely shoots over 50% from the floor on the season. He’s seemingly always in the right place in the paint to snatch a key offensive rebound for the Huskies. Could Adrien average a double-double in his senior campaign after tallying 31 total in his last two seasons? It’s definitely possible, considering Adrien finished last season at 14.8 PPG and 9.2 RPG. There are some clear weaknesses in Adrien’s game, most notably an absence of any threatening mid-range jump shot and porous free throw efforts. Still, the value far outweighs the negatives for this power forward. He’s not a superstar, but, much like Dyson and Thabeet, Adrien provides the Huskies with phenomenal contributions in certain areas (in his case, rebounding). Factor all of these players together and you have the most complete team in the nation.

C- Hasheem Thabeet (JR): The progress of one Hasheem Thabeet has been remarkable. Just two years removed from picking up a basketball for the first time, Thabeet was incredibly raw his freshman year, possessing no offensive qualities and proving sluggish and uncoordinated on the floor at times. Heading into his junior season, Thabeet is shooting 60% from the floor, adding an array of mini-hooks and short jumpers to a growing offensive repertoire. The blocked shots and rebounds are a given for the 7’3 Thabeet. This future lottery pick averaged a stunning 4.5 BPG last season to go along with 7.9 RPG and defensive player of the year honors. His free throws also improved from 51% as a freshman to 70% as a sophomore. What Thabeet provides on defense cannot be measured simply in statistics. Opposing guards are ultra-hesitant to test the post when Thabeet is manning the middle ready to swat your floater into the tenth row, and his size is nearly unmatched in college basketball. Only foul trouble will keep Thabeet from making a tremendous impact for Connecticut all season long.

Bench:
There’s no trade deadline in college basketball, but Connecticut should acquire freshman Ater Majok and junior Stanley Robinson right around midseason to add more depth and height. Many feel the Australian Majok is a future NBA talent with his 7’4 wingspan and 6’10, 225 pound frame. He’s very raw on the offensive end, but should provide excellent rebounding and defense right away. Majok may be eligible by late December. Robinson’s academic and personal issues means he won’t find the floor until the second semester, just in time for the depths of the conference season. Unless Robinson screws up again, Calhoun has yet another returning double-digit scorer, athletic rebounder and shot-blocker extraordinaire at his disposal. Craig Austrie is a valuable piece off the pine for Calhoun. He led the Big East in free throw shooting, can run the point without turning the ball over, and plays strong defense. Look for his playing time to drop with Walker on board, though. Freshman Scottie Haralson will be called on as the three-point marksman late in games, an area where Connecticut has struggled the last two years. Forward Gavin Edwards appeared in 30 games last year and hit 55% of his shots.

Backcourt: A
Frontcourt: A
Bench: A+
Coaching: A

Bottom Line:
I mentioned that Louisville was loaded in their preview. Believe it or not, Connecticut is even more loaded, even with the loss of Nate Miles. They have the ingredients for a Big East banner: senior point guard who can score and dish, the best defensive big man in the nation, excellent complimentary pieces, a deep bench, outstanding rebounders and shot blockers, and one of the best coaches in the nation. Whether Robinson rejoins the team and Majok can contribute immediately are two glaring question marks. This Connecticut team won’t fall victim to another early round upset, instead playing deep into March and contending for the national championship.

Key Non-Conference Games: Paradise Jam, 12/20 vs. Gonzaga (Seattle), 12/29 vs. Georgetown, 2/7 vs. Michigan
Key Conference Games: 1/24 @ Notre Dame, 2/2 @ Louisville, 2/25 @ Marquette, 3/7 @ Pittsburgh
Most Valuable Player: A.J. Price
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA (National Champion)

Posted in Big East Report, Conference Previews | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

NCAA Position Rankings: Top 10 PG

Posted by Tommy on July 17, 2008

The ability of a point guard to run an offense and distribute the ball is very key for a college basketball team’s success. Great point guards are tough to come by, and extremely tough to keep around because there is such a high demand for point guards in the NBA. I am going to run down the top 10 point guards in the country for the upcoming 2008-2009 season.

1.  Ty Lawson: Lawson is one of the few exceptions of highly skilled point guards that stick around for all four seasons. The “Roadrunner” is the fastest player with the ball in the NCAA, helping him run the potent UNC fastbreak. He can get the ball into the right hands, but Lawson is also a great scorer around the rim. With all the running UNC does, Lawson doesn’t get too many chances to show what he can do in a half-court offense, but he would be my first choice to run a fast-break. He spent the second half of last year bothered by an ankle injury so he’ll be back at 100 percent for the first time in a while.

2. Jeremy Pargo: As a freshman, Pargo was a guard with plenty of raw, unpolished talent. There was no question he could get to the bucket, but there wasn’t much else he could do with much effectiveness at the college level. Pargo has come leaps and bounds from where he was as a freshman, and now he is the leader of the Zags. He not only developed his decision making, but improved his shot as well, making him a big scoring threat from the point guard position.

3. Tyrese Rice: Rice was one of the few bright spots for BC last season. He can fill the hole with anybody in the country, just look at the UNC game last season. The only problem for Rice is that there was so little offensive talent around him last year that he had to do a lot of the scoring on his own as well as force the ball into tight holes. As a result, he averaged 3.4 turnovers/game and had a 1.45 assist-to-turnover ratio. It would be awesome to see a talent like Rice in Lawson’s place at UNC, but he isn’t, so that’s why he is my #3.

4. Scottie Reynolds: Unlike Pargo, Reynolds came to Villanova and performed as a point guard right away: he scored 40 points versus UConn as a frosh and was named 2006-07 Big East Rookie of the Year. Last year, Reynolds had a good year, averaging 15.9 ppg and 3.2 apg, but didn’t really live up to his high expectations. Villanova returns many of the same players so I think they’ll build more chemistry as a unit, and this is a big draft stock year for Reynolds as well so look for him to really try to improve his game.

5. Greg Paulus: Paulus has improved over the past couple of years more than anybody in the nation. He really struggled at times running the point for Coach K as a freshman, averaging 3.3 turnovers/game and only 6.7 ppg. Over the course of his junior season he cut his mistakes down to 1.6 turnovers/game and improved his scoring to 11.4 ppg. Although his stats show improvement, you have to watch him to see how much he has improved. You can see how his confidence has increased, not only as a point guard, but as a scorer as well. He stopped forcing passes and took better shots, not to mention he became deadly from behind the arc last season. If Paulus can continue improving, look for him to be a great true point guard.

6. Darren Collison: Collison has one of the most well-rounded skill sets as a point guard in the country. Nothing about his game really stands out on the offensive end when you watch him, but he does everything well. He is a good decision maker, can get to the rim pretty well, has a pretty good shot from beyond the arc and is a good floor general. What makes him different from most point guards in the nation is that he takes pride on the defensive end of the floor and is a lock-down defender. His well-rounded skills, coupled with his defensive ability make him a top tier point guard.

7. Stephen Curry: With Curry being a two-guard his entire college career, this is kind of based on speculation. He played point guard in high school so he knows what it takes, but the college game is a huge step up for point guards. Scoring-wise, we all know what Curry can do with the ball in his hand. The only question is whether he can make good decisions as a point guard. I wouldn’t be surprised if Davidson ran an NBA style pick-and-roll offense to give Curry chances to create. I think he’ll be a great point guard, but he’s at #7 only because his skills aren’t proven.

8. Levance Fields: Heart. It’s the first word that comes to my mind when I think about Levance Fields. He was expected to miss the whole second half of the season due to a broken left foot, but Levance made it back in the middle of the Big East regular season for the Panthers. He makes up for his diminutive stature (listed at a generous 5’10”) with his heart, and is the leader of the Panthers. His assist-to-turnover ratio was close to 3:1 last season, meaning he is a great decision maker and who could forget about his shot to beat Duke?

9. AJ Price: Price is one of the more talented guards in the country, and his improvement since his freshman year makes for a promising junior year for Price. Price suffered a near-fatal brain hemorrhage before his freshman season, resulting in an extra year of eligibility. His comeback from the hemorrhage has been remarkable, and I think he’ll continue to grow as a point guard. Last season he averaged a huge 5.8 apg, but he had 2.4 turnovers/game. If he cuts down on the turnovers he is a top tier point guard with plenty of scoring ability.

10. Devan Downey: One of the most underrated guards in college basketball looks to improve on his 18.4 ppg from last season for the Gamecocks. He transferred from Cincy to South Carolina after his freshman year and will be coupled with Zam Fredrick in the Gamecocks’ backcourt. Downey is a very explosive athlete and can get to the rim with the best of them. He also added 5.4 apg last year as a sophmore, but like AJ Price, committed too many turnovers with 2.7 TO/game. Look for Downey to surprise a lot of people this year with his explosive talent.

Also Considered: Jonny Flynn, Kyle McAlarney, Dominic James, Grievis Vasquez, Eric Maynor, Ish Smith, Chris Warren, Trevon Hughes, Kalin Lucas.

Posted in Player Rankings | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments »