Northwestern Wins: A College Hoops Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘Al-Farouq Aminu’

ACC Preview: #3 Wake Forest

Posted by Tommy on November 5, 2008

Coach- Dino Gaudio (2nd season)

PG- Ishmael Smith (JR): This six foot guard is lightning in a bottle. Everybody raves about Ty Lawson being the fastest player up and down the court with the ball, but I’d pay a lot of money to see a race between Smith and Lawson. Being fast with the ball is nice and all, but I’m sure Dino Gaudio would like to see Ish slow the game down just a notch because he committed almost 3 turnovers per game as a sophomore. Turnovers are a minuscule problem compared to Ish’s woes at the free throw stripe. He shot 29% at the line last season. Yes 29%, it’s not a misprint. It’s mind-boggling because Smith does everything else so well but for whatever reason, it doesn’t seem to click at the line. Smith will provide around 10 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 5 APG, shoot 43% from the field and will probably get his assist-to-turnover ratio up around 2, all pretty good stats for a point guard. With all that upside, Gaudio is forced to take his starting point guard out of the lineup in end-game situations where Wake is getting fouled, which is extremely unfortunate because Smith knocked down two game-winning shots in ACC play last season.

SG- Jeff Teague (SO): Teague was Wake’s second leading scorer last year as a freshman. He and Smith combine to make one of the quickest backcourts in the country. Teague’s athleticism and quickness is similar to Smith’s but Teague has a more polished jumper and a little more size. He’s very good at getting his hands on the ball on defense and is always in the hip pocket of his counterpart. As a freshman, Teague seemed to step up in the big games and played like an experienced leader during ACC play. He scored 26 vs. BYU, 27 vs. Miami, 26 vs. Duke, 18 @ UNC and 25 @ Va. Tech. Now that he has a full year under his belt, Teague is going to have to be one of the leaders of this young Demon Deacon squad. In my opinion, he’s on the verge of a breakout season and will flourish with all of the athleticism round him.

SF- Al-Farouq Aminu (FR): Gaudio landed a Top-five incoming freshman class overall and the best small forward of the 2008 class. He made his high school opponents look like preteens with his size, jumping ability and skills. This kid has nice length for his 6-8 frame and can jump out of the gym. He has a rare ability to create offense on his own whether he pulls up from deep or takes it all the way to the rack, both of which he’s very capable of. He has good size for the three spot so I’d like to see him be post defenders up as well as beat them off the dribble from the perimeter. If Aminu does prove he can score on the block, he would feature a three-pronged offensive game similar to that of former freshman phenom Kevin Durant.

PF- James Johnson (SO): At 6-9, 245, Johnson is built like a power forward but has the skill set to play both the three and four. He was Wake’s leading scorer and rebounder last season with 14.6 PPG and 8.1 RPG and like the rest of this Demon Deacon team has great athletic ability. Johnson reeks havoc on defense with his combination of size, athleticism and length and averaged 1.4 STL per game and 1.3 BLK per game last season. Johnson has tremendous upside and deserves to be thrown into the conversation as one of the best up and coming players in the conference.

C- Ty Walker (FR): As a coach, if you have an incoming class of freshmen in which a player like Tony Woods isn’t the headline guy, you know you’ve got some young talent. One thing about Woods that turns me off is his string bean-like frame at 7′, 215. I’m sure he’ll put on some muscle mass under college strength coaches, but strong post players will be able to use their body on the block to negate Wood’s shot-blocking ability. He’ll provide the Deacs with a great shot blocking presence for when guards penetrate or when another player is being posted up, but adding weight would really help Woods. His size and ability to run the floor will prove a nice addition for Wake.

Bench: Wake is returning their top nine scorers from last season and brings in one of the best recruiting classes in the country which consists of three stud freshmen, two of whom are starting. The only player who averaged more than 30 minutes per game last year was Ish Smith and I expect much of the same liberal substituting this year from Gaudio. The frontcourt will be bolstered by junior Chas McFarland and freshman Tony Woods, two very capable post players. Junior L.D Williams gives Gaudio a guard that is solid at both ends of the floor and has a little more size than Teague and Smith. Senior Harvey Hale is a capable backup guard and will come in for Smith when Wake needs a good free throw shooting lineup. Junior Jamie Skeen will come off the bench and give the Demon Deacons a strong rebounder and defender.

Backcourt: A-
Frontcourt: A-
Bench: A-
Coaching: A-

Bottom Line: Words cannot even begin to describe how much upside Wake Forest has this season. Each starter is very talented and very athletic and for the most part, young. Smith, Teague and Johnson, three of their go-to guys, combined for 7.9 turnovers per game last season, far too many for two guards and a talented player like Johnson. If Wake cuts down on turnovers, their athleticism alone will keep them in games. Wake has the talent to surpass Duke at number two in the ACC, but if they continue to turn the ball over they could fall behind Miami and perhaps Virginia Tech. A pretty favorable ACC schedule in which they only have to play North Carolina and Miami once apiece certainly helps. With that said, all the pieces are in place for Wake to make a run at the ACC title in 2008-09.

Key Non-Conference Games: 11/27-30 2008 76 Classic, 1/03 @ BYU
Key Conference Games: 1/11 vs. North Carolina, 1/28 vs. Duke, 2/4 @ Miami, 2/22 @ Duke
Most Valuable Player: James Johnson
Projected Postseason: NCAA (Sweet 16)

Posted in ACC Report, Conference Previews | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Smith And Plumlee Starting For Duke; ACC Media Day

Posted by Zach on October 27, 2008

Seth Davis attended Duke’s practice over this weekend and wrote an in-depth rundown over at SI.com (By the way, since Clark Kellogg is now the #1 play-by-play man for CBS, Davis will be joined by Greg Anthony in the studio for their college basketball coverage). He writes about how Jon Scheyer will take the big shots for the Dukies, how Kyle Singler put on 20 pounds to counter the workload of playing in the post, and how bust Lance Thomas (should have gone to Rutgers) may find himself in the outside looking in with Coach K’s man crush David McClure, 7-foot stiff Brian Zoubek and 6’8 freshman forward Miles Plumlee receiving more playing time.

The story of Plumlee is ironic because Duke scooped him up after he de-committed from Stanford when Trent Johnson left for LSU. Of course, Duke assistant Johnny Dawkins ended up taking the Stanford job. Coach K didn’t do any favors for his long-time assistant and continued to pursue the improving Plumlee. I thought Plumlee would spend a year off the bench as a role player getting asserted into the Duke mindset, but their lack of size (and faith in Thomas) means he might start at the 5-spot.

Davis: For someone who is as young and tall as he is, Plumlee has plenty of meat on his bones, and he is very agile to boot. (Krzyzewski told me he jumped 6 feet, 9 inches for his high school track team.) He seemed a little lost at times basketball-wise, but that’s nothing unusual considering it was only his fourth practice. Plumlee is Duke’s best shot-blocker, and he fits the Blue Devils’ wide-open style much better than 7-1 sophomore center Brian Zoubek. If the season started today, Plumlee would be Duke’s starting center.

Also surprising is near confirmation that Nolan Smith will start at point guard for the Blue Devils over three-year starter and senior Greg Paulus. Paulus was slowed by knee injuries over the summer and the vast improvement of Smith, along with his athleticism and purer point guard skills, appear to have given him the edge.

Smith had a listless workout when I was there, but that’s only because he was trying to shake off a stomach virus that had him vomiting for two straight days. Everybody I talked to, Krzyzewski included, said that Smith had played better in the summer and fall than any other player. And when I raised the question to Coach K that this development might be tough for Paulus to deal with, he brushed me off. “There’s only one ego on this team, and that’s our team ego,” he said. “So everybody is responsible for doing what’s best for the team. This isn’t some inherited wealth. Each year you have to earn it. That doesn’t mean Greg’s a bad player, but right now Nolan would start.”

I asked Krzyzewski if he had talked to Paulus about this. “We talk to all of our guys. We’re a program of full disclosure,” he said. “You have good chemistry by telling the truth. You can tell a lie without ever saying anything, just by not playing the right people.”

Surely a bold move by Coach K and we’ll see how long it lasts. I wouldn’t doubt the motives of Coach K, though; for all of Paulus’ talent, he knows his players more than anyone. And having Paulus’ shots off the bench could be genius. Expect a small crunch time team of Smith-Paulus-Scheyer-Henderson-Singler.

Today was ACC Media Day in Atlanta and here were the final results for preseason standings/teams (rundown of various thoughts by Jeff Goodman here):

1. North Carolina (unanimous 1st place)
2. Duke
3. Wake Forest
4. Miami
5. Clemson
6. Virginia Tech
7. Maryland
8. Georgia Tech
9. N.C. State
10. Florida State
11. Boston College
12. Virginia

(I’d have BC slightly higher, and NC State could emerge if the reports of Brandon Costner looking like the Costner of old are indeed true. Not sure about Georgia Tech; Shumpert may be their best weapon).

All-Conference Team
Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina (unanimous)
Tyrese Rice, Boston College (unanimous)
Jack McClinton, Miami
Ty Lawson, North Carolina
Gerald Henderson, Duke

(No arguments from me here. Toney Douglas of Florida State is my sleeper for this team after the season).

Player of the Year
Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina

Rookie of the Year
Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest

I’m loaded the next two nights so expect my #3 Big East team (Notre Dame) on Wednesday.

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NCAA Position Rankings: Top 10 SF

Posted by Tommy on July 24, 2008

Small Forwards, also referred to as “wings,” are often the most versatile players on the floor. They possess the perimeter abilities of a guard, but have more size and usually more ability to create offense on their own. Their combination of length and athleticism usually makes them tough defenders as well. So to be a great small forward, you need to be able to do a little bit of everything on the court. Oh, and being an athletic freak might help a little bit too. This year’s class of small forwards was tough to rank, partially because all of these players have different playing styles, but mostly because there isn’t a Michael Beasley or a Kevin Durant to be a clear-cut number one.

1. Robert Vaden: In one of the most stunning single half performances of the year (second only to Tyrese Rice’s 34 point half vs. UNC), Vaden put up 28 points in the second half for the Blazers in their non-conference victory against Kentucky. Vaden took the C-USA by storm last year by increasing his PPG to 21.1, up almost 8 points from his 13.5 PPG the year before. One thing that really stands out about Vaden is that he isn’t afraid to shoot the ball. He had 10 or more field goal attempts in every game he played in except for one last season, in which he shot eight. He shoots 40 percent from beyond the arc, which is good, but what I’d like to see him improve on his his overall field goal percentage. He shot 40.8% from the field last year, meaning he wasn’t much more effective inside the arc than he was from outside. If he improves his slashing ability, he could very likely be C-USA’s leading scorer next season, as well as a nationally known star.

2. Sam Young: Last year, Young took on a much bigger roll for Jamie Dixon and the Panthers and performed very well throughout the season. He won Big East’s Most Improved Player, and returns to lead Pitt in what looks to be a very promising season. Young averaged 18.1 PPG last season, 11 more PPG than the previous season, and his only single digit scoring game came against Georgetown when he scored nine points. Young is a very smart, hard working player that has great fundamentals. Also, he can post up or drive and shoot, making him very tough to guard. Since he doesn’t possess blazing speed, he uses his high basketball IQ, strength, and his plethora of tools to beat his opponents.

3. Chase Budinger: Budinger has tested the NBA waters after each season of his college basketball career, but has decided to come back to Arizona each time. To me, this is the right decision because Budinger has some things to work on in his offensive game. His combination of height and athleticism makes him a dangerous wing player, but he’s a streaky shooter and needs to work on his dribble penetration ability. He’ll get plenty of chances to showcase his ability next season as the Wildcats’ main offensive threat. If he becomes a more consistent shooter and a better penetrator, Budinger can be a late lottery to early second round pick next year.

4. Tyler Smith: After garnering First Team All-SEC and Honorable Mention All American, Smith returns to the Vols as a leader for the 08-09 season. Last season, Smith led the Vols in rebounding (6.7 RPG), assists (3.4 APG) and in field goal percentage (53.6% from the field) and was third on the team in scoring with 13.6 ppg. He will see a much bigger offensive role for Bruce Pearl with the departure of leading scorer Chris Lofton. Look for Smith to continue filling up the stat sheet, to keep his high field goal percentage and to keep up his great defense next season.

5. Al-Farouq Aminu: Dino Gaudio landed one of the most versatile freshman of the 2008 class in Aminu. At 6’8″, he has great size for a small forward and he possesses the ability to effectively face up on the perimeter. He has a good shot, can penetrate pretty well, and could potentially post up his smaller opposition at the small forward. If he develops his inside and mid-range games, he will be able to score in a number of ways for the Demon Deacons.

6. Nick Calathes: Calathes was forced into a leadership role for Billy Donovan’s baby Gators last season because there was next to no experience around him. He can do everything on the floor: he averaged 15.3 ppg, 6.1 assists/game and 5.2 rebounds/game last year as a freshman but he’s a bit inconsistent. He’ll have to improve on his scoring ability as well as his consistency if he and the Gators are to be successful. I think Calathes will step up to the challenge as the leader of the Gators.

7. Devin Ebanks: Ebanks joins a free-flowing Mountaineer offense in which he should flourish. He has a great ability to create offense on his own, meaning he has a pretty good perimeter shot, has good penetration skills and can score around the rim. His size at 6’8″ will help see the rim over his opponents and his length makes him deceptive when he drives the basketball. Huggins brought in a freshman with plenty of raw talent and scoring ability, and I think Ebanks will turn into a great scorer in the Big East.

8. K.C. Rivers: Rivers does a lot of different things for Oliver Purnell. He plays the wing, as well as some guard, and can score, rebound and is one of the best defenders in the ACC. He averaged 14.7 ppg last year, 6.8 rebounds/game, which is very impressive for a 6’6″ wing, and 1.9 steals/game. Rivers is a good 3-point shooter at 40.2% from the beyond the arc, and plays bigger than his size might indicate. Rivers will be the leader for the Tigers next season and will be the source of a lot of their offense, whether it be from beyond the arc or in the paint.

9. Austin Daye: As a huge recruit, everybody expected Daye to come into Spokane and perform right away for the Zags. The 6’10” freshman only averaged 18.5 minutes/game last year, in which he scored 10.5 PPG and grabbed 4.7 rebounds/game. This year, Daye may see almost double the minutes he did last season, meaning theoretically, he should double his statistics. He was a raw talent as a freshman, but after an off-season with Mark Few and company, I think Daye will vastly improve his game and see more time on the court during the season.

10. Earl Clark: Clark is a very athletic forward for Rick Pitino and has a very strong game in the paint. He averaged 11.1 PPG and 8.1 rebounds/game in 28.5 minutes/game. He is a great player off the dribble and uses his strength to finish round the rim. If Clark can add a mid-range and perimeter game, he is a lock for an NBA lottery pick because of his athleticism. He can defend well and can block shots (1.7 blk/game), but turns the ball over too much. Clark will see more time next season as an upperclassman and I think will attract a lot of NBA scouts with his scoring ability.

Also Considered: Wes Matthews, Josh Shipp, Terrence Williams, Danny Green, Delvon Roe, Robbie Hummel.

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