Northwestern Wins: A College Hoops Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘Darren Collison’

November 21: The Day After

Posted by Zach on November 21, 2008

Michigan UCLA Basketball

Michigan coach John Beilein finally got his signature victory. Upsetting #4 UCLA at Madison Square Garden is a win that could directly alter a program- a win that encourages disappointing Michigan fans to start caring about hoops again, a win that brings back memories of the Steve Fisher glory days, a win that top-flight Detroit recruits will remember when considering the University of Michigan. A floundering program that muddled in mediocrity for the entire Tommy Amaker era finally got its savior in John Beilein, its superstar in Manny Harris, and a signature win to tout.

How did Michigan topple the Bruins? Most will point first to the 1-3-1 zone defense Michigan used for most of the night, befuddling UCLA and taking All-American point guard Darren Collison completely out of his game. To effectively score against a 1-3-1 like the one Beilein employs, the offense must be able to find seams in the defense, something Collison and Holiday struggled mightily with last night. It often seemed as if Michigan had seven players on the court on defense, always swarming the UCLA guard with the ball immediately and preventing them from kicking it out to an open shooter like Dragovic or Shipp. Another way to defeat a zone is feed the ball quickly to a scoring big man who can manuever in the post and finish. With the loss of Kevin Love and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, the Bruins simply lack that type of player. None of the freshmen have emerged yet, and Aboya/Keefe will not place scoring ability at the top of their resume.

The energy and execution of the Wolverines last night was sensational. You saw it when DeShawn Sims finished a dynamite backdoor cut to ice the game under a minute. You saw it when Michigan’s Mike Gansey, freshman guard Stu Douglass, drained a quick catch-and-shoot three in the face of the UCLA defense. You saw the development of Manny Harris, a tremendous scorer who couldn’t escape defensive stud Jrue Holiday (the perfect Ben Howland player) instead find open teammates rather than force off-balance shots down the stretch. Michigan was all about three things last night: 1-3-1 zone, quality possessions and forcing turnovers. UCLA turned the ball over 17 times.

Now the Wolverines have another opportunity to play Cinderella when they face Duke in the championship game tonight in a much more difficult matchup, especially if Gerald Henderson plays with as much fire as he did in the second half of the Southern Illinois game. It may be too much to ask for this young Michigan squad to topple the Blue Devils, but they’ve certainly made quite an impact already. We could look back in January and laugh that UCLA was ever #4 in the nation. It’s possible. But for now, beware Big Ten. The Wolverines are back.

The Other Semi: I remarked to Pat midway through the first half of the Duke-Southern Illinois game last night that Gerald Henderson’s been the type of player who has failed to fully harness his talent in his Duke career, possibly associated with a lack of desire. Henderson managed just 9 PPG in three contests vs. Presbyterian, Georgia Southern and Rhode Island at home and went to the foul line just nine times in those games. Maybe he heard me. Henderson made five shots- including four from behind the arc- in a gigantic second half run for Duke, saying after the game he’s “not sure what happened.” Gerald is one of the most athletic and talented players in the country. With Kyle Singler emerging as a force and Nolan Smith an upgrade at the point, Duke could reach the Final Four if Henderson consistently plays up to his ability. Duke pulled away with a 54-35 second half, made 40 of 47 (!) free throws, and won 83-58.

San Juan Update: Every single year, Sean Miller produces a quality basketball team. They’ll try to topple another major conference foe today in San Juan when they face Virginia Tech after defeating Missouri 75-71 in the first round of the tournament. Terrell Holloway played hero for the Musketeers, sinking 10 of 10 free throws in the second half while Missouri sunk just 15 of 31 from the charity stripe in the game. DeMarre Carroll led the way with 17 points for the Tigers while Derrick Brown finished with 16 for Xavier.

Dick Vitale spent most of the Michigan-UCLA game screaming about how the Big East will be the strongest conference in his thirty years at ESPN. Um, he may have a point. The Seton Hall Pirates, predicted around 12th-14th in the loaded conference by most prognosticators, took down the consensus #3 in the Pac-10 last night in a stunning second half comeback. The halftime deficit was 43-28 and Taj Gibson was compiling easy buckets in the post against the Hall frontcourt minus Robert Mitchell. Eugene Harvey (18/5/5) and Jeremy Hazell (15/4 stl) stepped up in the second half to carry the Pirates into another tough game against Memphis later today. The Trojans have to be the most disappointing team in the nation thus far, struggling in two home games and now laying this egg against Seton Hall. DeMar DeRozan has not looked comfortable (3pts on 1/4) and Daniel Hackett was 0/7 last night. Great win for Bobby Gonzalez and his seven scholarship players.

Other Games of Note: Illinois scored a difficult road win against Vanderbilt 69-63. Super soph Demetri McCamey sunk 5/10 threes in the contest, while senior Trent Meachem chipped in with four triples of his own. Oklahoma State and new coach Travis Ford haven’t had much trouble scoring so far this year. They dropped 91 points on a quality Tulsa squad in Stillwater with Byron Eaton (7/13 FG, 11/14 FT, 26/7/5) leading the charge. #12 Memphis pulled away from Chattanooga and won 83-71 behind five Doneal Mack treys. #19 Florida has played awesome basketball so far this year, winning 64-50 over Southern Utah behind 18/7/4 from Nick Calathes, one of the best all-around players in college hoops. Florida State narrowly avoided what would have been a horrid upset for Leonard Hamilton, beating Stetson 79-77 at home.

Upset Special: What the hell happened to George Mason?? After an intensely contested road win against NCAA contender Vermont up in Burlington, Mason faltered 50-44 to Hampton last night. They made just 33% of their shots, 2/17 from deep, turned the ball over 23 times, and compiled just four assists. Four assists! A bad, bad loss on the resume of George Mason.

Craziest Score Ever: When I saw this score for the first time on ESPN’s Bottom Line last night during the Michigan-UCLA game, I honestly thought it was a mistake. East Central Oklahoma has allowed over 100 points in each of their two games this season (D2’s VMI?), so maybe we should have seen this coming: Texas Tech winning 167-115, shattering the school record for points in a game. The Red Raiders certainly built some confidence on his squad as ten, TEN!, Tech players scored in double figures. They made 67/113 FG, 13/25 3pt attempts and compiled 35 team assists. Probably should have taken the over. Your move, Graham Harrell.

NW Wins Horse Trailer Player of the Day: Marshon Brooks, Providence- 30 points, 5 steals, 11/15 FG, 5/8 3PT, 3/3 FT

On The Tube Today:

  • Xavier vs. Virginia Tech, 130pm (ESPNU)
  • Southern Illinois vs. UCLA, 5pm (ESPN2HD)
  • Chattanooga vs. USC, 5pm (ESPNU)
  • Akron @ Pittsburgh, 7pm (ESPN FC)
  • Duke vs. Michigan, 730pm (ESPN2HD)
  • Memphis vs. Seton Hall, 730pm (ESPNU)
  • Pepperdine @ New Mexico State, 930pm (ESPN FC)
  • North Carolina @ UC-Santa Barbara, 10pm (ESPNU)
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November 14: The Day After

Posted by Zach on November 14, 2008

I am extremely elated that UCLA won that game.

Not because I’m evil. Not because I always root for the powerhouse to crap on the little guy. Not because I’m a diehard Redhawks hater. I just really, really wanted to see this new-look Bruins team and their fabulous freshman, along with mainstays like Collison, Shipp and Roll, on the Garden floor in a possible final against Duke next week. No UCLA would have meant Duke likely plows their way through the semis and finals, and that’s simply no fun for a variety of reasons.

So I’m relieved. Very relieved.

What we learned last night: Miami (OH) is a team to be feared. No, they’re not overly athletic or multi-dimensional or immensely skilled, but they grind out possessions and play excellent defense under coach Charlie Coles. That’s why I was fearful taking the Bruins +15 even with the talent disparity. I just felt early in the season Miami would confuse the UCLA freshmen and slow the game down enough where it would be mildly close by the last minute. And that’s exactly what happened. Holiday only had 5 points in 15 minutes, Gordon had 2 points in 8 minutes, Lee had 2 points in 11 minutes and Morgan with 1.

Instead, the veterans led the way for the Bruins. James Keefe hit a crucial, more lucky-than-good three late in the second half, Michael Roll connected on a few crucial treys, Alfred Aboya hit a couple big free throws, Shipp went 6/14 for 16 points, while Darren Collison went 6/11 for 16 points, as well.  The team only shot 13/20 from the line, but most of those misses came early. They sunk most of the clutch free throws late.

Michael Bramos led the way for the Redhawks with 22 points. Congrats, now you get Pittsburgh!

Crisis averted. We’ll still have the premiere matchups at MSG- Southern Illinois vs. Duke and Michigan vs. UCLA with possible Duke-UCLA final late next week. Miami certainly gave us a scare, though.

NW Wins Horse Trailer of the Day- Darren Collison, UCLA: 36 mins, 6/11 FG, 4/4 FT, 16 points 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 1 block

On the tube tonight: (all times ET)

  • Toledo @ Florida- 6pm, ESPNU
  • VMI @ Kentucky- 7pm, ESPN FC
  • Western Carolina @ Connecticut- 730pm, ESPN360
  • Florida A&M @ Kansas State- 8pm, ESPN FC
  • Stetson @ Texas- 8pm, ESPN FC
  • UT-San Antonio @ Oklahoma State- 8 pm, ESPN FC
  • American @ Oklahoma- 8pm, ESPN FC
  • Detroit @ Purdue- 9pm, ESPN360
  • Hofstra vs. Clemson- 9pm, CSS
  • St. Francis @ Texas Tech- 9pm, ESPN FC

Other games of note: Bucknell @ Maryland, Albany @ Villanova, Stanford @ Yale

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Pac-10 Preview (#1): UCLA Bruins

Posted by Patrick on November 8, 2008

https://i1.wp.com/farm1.static.flickr.com/165/393553649_ebd59ed0c1.jpg

#1-UCLA Bruins: Coach-Ben Howland (6th year)

PG-Darren Collison (Sr.)- For the past two seasons Collison has been one of the best point guards in the nation and this year I expect that he’ll pick up just where he left off.  Collison has a young and talented group of players to pass the ball to, and also can take the ball to the basket himself. Sometimes people overlook Collison’s ability to shoot the ball, but last year he shot 52% from behind the arc on 101 attempts. If Collison can shoot the three like that this season, UCLA should compete for a national championship.

SG-Jrue Holiday (Fr.)- The most complete freshman in the nation makes his way over to Los Angeles to become part of a Bruins team that is looking to make yet another consecutive Final Four.  Holiday has great fundamentals, plays superb defense, knows how to score, shoots a consistent three ball, and is very athletic. He may be UCLA’s leading scorer this season, and will easily be one of the top players not only in the Pac-10 but in all of college basketball.

G/F-Josh Shipp (Sr.)- While a lot of people think that freshman Drew Gordon could be starting at this spot by season’s end, Howland will most likely give the nod to Shipp who was a major part of their Final Four run last season. He is a great shooter and a strong defender, hurting the opposition inside and out. Plus, who can forget his performance at Cal last season. Shipp is a vital part of this team and he could be a major factor if this team wants to win a national championship.

PF-Drew Gordon (Fr.)- Like I said, some people may think that Gordon will be better suited at SF instead of PF, but if you have a guy like Shipp already on your team you have to move Gordon to a different position. Gordon will fight for rebounds, and he definitely has the ability to post up and score.  He’s the wild card of the Bruins starting lineup; he could become a great player immediately, or he could fold under the pressure and UCLA fans will see more Alfred Aboya.

C-J’Mison Morgan (Fr.)- Morgan would be the best center in this year’s class if not for B.J. Mullens. Morgan is a force on the inside that can compete at the high-major level, matching up well with every other center in the Pac-10 right away.  Morgan is also a tremendous rebounder and blocks shots like its nobody’s business. If he can continue these trends in college, Morgan’s play will vault UCLA from a very good team to an elite team.

Bench: Malcolm Lee and Jerime Anderson are two stellar recruits that will be great bench players for UCLA. Anderson will be the back-up point guard. Alfred Aboya and Michael Roll round off the 9-man rotation that will be on the court for the Bruins this season. The bench provides talent, experience, and athleticism that will take UCLA a long way come March.

Bottom Line: This team reminds me of a worse version of last year’s Memphis. They are quick, athletic, and like to get into the fastbreak. They also are young but have experience where it counts. This team has the ability to get back to the Final Four, but most of the production depends on three freshman who I just don’t see getting the job done in March. UCLA is a stellar team this year and will win the Pac-10, but I see them falling in the Elite 8.

Backcourt: A

Frontcourt: B+

Bench: B

Coaching: A

Projected Post-Season Tourney: NCAA (Elite Eight)

Key Non-Conference Games: 2K Sports Classic (11/20-11/21), at Texas (12/4), Notre Dame (2/7)

Key Conference Games: at USC (1/11), Arizona State (1/17), USC (2/4), at Arizona State (2/12)

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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.

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