Northwestern Wins: A College Hoops Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘Ty Lawson’

ACC Preview: #1 North Carolina

Posted by Tommy on November 10, 2008

Coach- Roy Williams (6th season)

PG- Ty Lawson (JR): Lawson, commonly known as the Roadrunner, is the motor that makes this North Carolina team go. Roy Williams loves to have his guards break out after a defensive rebound in order to get a quick numbers advantage on the other end, and the speedy Lawson is the perfect guard to execute this strategy. He’s a great decision maker in the open floor, he can shoot from beyond the arc and is really good at finding the slightest holes in opposing defenses. As an underclassman for the Tar Heels, Lawson shot above 50% and had an assist to turnover ratio around 2.5. Not only does he excel with the ball in his hand, but he generates tons of steals with his constant pressure on the defensive end. North Carolina is a completely different team with Lawson at 100% and if he stays healthy all season it’ll be hard to pick against UNC as the national champion.

SG- Wayne Ellington (JR): Smooth. The first word that comes to my head when I watch Ellington. I know ACC basketball fans are probably tired of hearing Dick Vitale rave about how “smooth” Ellington’s game is, but there’s no denying it. He isn’t as quick as Lawson or as athletic as Danny Green, but he has great technique and is deceptive. Ellington is a cold-blooded shooter from beyond the arc and has a fine mid-range game as well. He makes it tough from opponents to double down on Hansbrough because of his shooting ability. He has good size for a guard at 6-4, allowing him to get a nice look at the rim over his defenders. While Hansbrough is out, the Heels are going to look to Ellington to be the primary option on offense. If Williams needs a clutch 3-pointer, Ellington has shown that he’s capable of knocking down big shots.

SF- Marcus Ginyard (SR): What David McClure is to Duke, Marcus Ginyard is to North Carolina, although Ginyard is a bit better. He played the third most minutes for the Tar Heels last season despite contributing only 6.9 PPG. He’s a great defender who does all the little things that don’t show up in the stat sheet and can play four positions. He’s not the most outspoken senior leader, but leads by example with his hustle and hard-working mentality. The Heels have no shortage of scoring options, so Williams just needs Ginyard to do what he does best: defend. Unfortunately, Ginyard is out for eight weeks after undergoing foot surgery meaning the Heels won’t have one of their senior leaders for most – if not all – of their non-conference schedule. Losing a player like Ginyard would be a pretty big hit for most teams, but Danny Green will suit the Tar Heels just fine until December.

PF- Tyler Hansbrough (SR): Nothing comes easy in college basketball, something the Heels are learning as they prepare for the season. In addition to the loss of Ginyard, Hansbrough is out indefinitely is a stress reaction in his leg. Hansbrough should miss only a couple weeks of the season but we’ll see if the possible nagging effects of the injury affect his play. I can’t really say anything else that even the most casual college basketball fans don’t already know about Hansbrough. I’m sure you’re sick and tired of hearing Jay Bilas ball wash Hansbrough, but it’s impossible not to admire somebody who’s undersized and not as athletic as his opponents, but is the best player in the country purely because of his work ethic.

PF- Deon Thompson (JR): The lanky 6-8 junior from California really came along for the Heels last season. He’s got plenty of raw talent but has some work to do technique-wise. Thompson gives North Carolina a shot-blocking presence down low, the only thing that Hansbrough doesn’t provide in the paint. Thompson is an average scorer and rebounder but is very athletic and runs the floor well. I think Thompson will be the most improved player on this North Carolina team when it’s all said and done.

Bench: Last year’s ACC Sixth Man of the Year Danny Green is a starter on any other team in the country. He’s a much better scoring option than Ginyard and is actually a solid shot blocker for a G/F. The Heels really could have used point guard Bobby Frasor last season when Lawson went down. Frasor can come in for Lawson at the point and run the offense with little drop-off. UNC brings in three McDonald’s All-Americans in Tyler Zeller, Ed Davis and Larry Drew Jr. Zeller and Davis will be the first two guys off the bench for the frontcourt while Drew Jr. is the 3rd guard behind Frasor and Green. These five players off the bench would probably be a competitive team in the ACC, which goes to show just how stacked UNC is this season.

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

Bottom Line: I’ve been a firm believer that no team is capable of going undefeated in college basketball, but looking at this roster gives me second thoughts. They have the best big man in the country, one of the top backcourts in the country and go ten deep. One thing that UNC really needs to improve on from last season if they want to go undefeated is their defense. If they let a team like Michigan State, Duke or even Wake catch fire, they’ll could find themselves in some trouble. This team will get tested early with a very strong Spartan team and will face Notre Dame in the final of the Maui barring a pretty big upset. It’ll be a very tough road especially playing away from home where every crowd fired up to see their team beat the best team in the land.

Key Non-Conference Games: 11/18 vs. Kentucky, 11/24-26 Maui Invitational, 12/3 @ Michigan State,
Key Conference Games: 1/11 @ Wake Forest, 1/17 vs. Miami, 2/11 @ Duke, 3/8 vs. Duke.
Most Valuable Player: Tyler Hansbrough
Projected Postseason: NCAA (National Champion)

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Posted in ACC Report, Conference Previews | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Chase For Perfection: UNC Tar Heels

Posted by Zach on October 14, 2008

Unlike past Octobers, there is no debate over who should be deemed the preseason #1 team in the nation. In a near consensus for anyone with their head screwed on properly, North Carolina takes the honor.

Most major programs in BCS conferences would kill to have just three or four players on North Carolina’s roster for their own squad. Never before in my short life following college basketball can I recall a team so loaded in every capacity of the game. They tout the reigning national player of the year Tyler Hansbrough, a dominant power forward in Deon Thompson, the best sixth man in the country in Danny Green and two top-15 recruits in Ed Davis and Tyler Zeller. And that’s just the frontcourt. Don’t forget about the best guard duo in the nation- Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington- to go along with former starter and pinpoint shooter Bobby Frasor and, you guessed it, another five-star recruit in Larry Drew. It’s simply unfair.

For a college basketball team so completely stacked, the one question remains: can they do it?

And by do it, I mean finish the regular season undefeated. People thought going 16-0 in the NFL was a near impossibility until the Patriots pulled it off. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that this North Carolina team finishes the regular season with a perfect record. Not when I look at that roster.

Here are some of the roadblocks that UNC might run into on their path to immortality in 2008-09. Since college basketball is so damn unpredictable, this may be a futile exercise (anyone remember a certain Maryland team going into Chapel Hill and stunning these Heels?), but I figure this roster is so talented, a stunning upset at the hands of, say, Boston College or Virginia Tech will likely be avoided.

11/15 vs. Pennsylvania

Don’t underestimate the Quakers. This team can play with anyone in the country.

(Kidding, of course. Just wanted to see if you were still paying attention.)

11/26 vs. Texas/Notre Dame (Maui Invitational)

This is the second stiffest non-conference test for the Heels. They’ll face either a Texas team led by A.J. Abrams, Damion James and Justin Mason or a Notre Dame team with the dynamic inside-outside duo of Harangody and McAlarney. Notre Dame could give them the toughest test if Harangody handles Hansbrough and cancels out North Carolina’s best player. Tory Jackson can also match the speed of Ty Lawson. On the other hand, UNC can put up 100 points on Notre Dame’s often lackluster defense. Both of these finals could be classics, but it’s hard to say either of these teams are great matchups against the Tar Heels, especially on a neutral court.

12/3 @ Michigan State (Detroit)

North Carolina and Michigan State, the respective favorites in each of their conferences, were pitted to face off in the ACC-Big Ten challenge this season. Michigan State will enjoy a home-court feel with the game in Detroit, although the spacious facility (to say the least) may prove any sort of Spartan advantage moot. This game matches the quickest guards in the country, Kalin Lucas and Ty Lawson. Also, with Ginyard injured, Raymar Morgan may have a breakout performance. Still, who is guarding Hansbrough? Freshman Delvon Roe? Goran Suton? I don’t think so. Michigan State will test UNC but falter in the end.

1/11 @ Wake Forest

If everything comes together quickly for the youthful Demon Deacons, they could challenge North Carolina. Wake would need to perform like they did against Duke at home last season. That means depending on their stout freshmen and sophomores for a near-perfect performance. I wouldn’t count on it all coming together against Carolina, even at home and even relatively early in the conference season when Roy Williams may not know the Wake freshman so well. This is a definite test, though.

2/11 @ Duke

As much as the Cameron Crazies would give their future first-born to defeat undefeated North Carolina in Durham and end their undefeated ride (or beat them with one or two losses, like it matters), I don’t feel Duke matches up well with North Carolina at all. Unless Paulus, Singler and Scheyer put on a show from behind the arc like they showed they’re capable of back in Chapel Hill last season, you’ll see this contest finish more similarly to the game in Cameron. Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek are way too soft to handle Hansbrough and Thompson, so they’d have to win in a shootout, which I don’t see happening.

2/15 @ Miami

Miami, usually reserved for the middle ranks of the ACC, are contenders for a second place finish this season. Led by one of the top players in the nation in Jack McClinton and freshman stud Dequan Jones, the Canes have a chance. The depth of the Heels is the difference and the ultimate reason why they’ll take care of Miami.

So, what do you readers think: Which game poses the biggest threat to North Carolina? If I had to choose one loss, I’d say the Spartans. But in the end, my inclination remains that UNC does not lose this season.

The NCAA Tournament? That’s a whole different story.

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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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Top Ten 2009 Prospects

Posted by Zach on June 28, 2008

Demar Derozan/ Nike Hoop Summit

The 2008 NBA Draft ended late Thursday night, and while it seems that the 2009 Draft won’t feature as many star-studded, one-and-done freshman like Derrick Rose, Michael Beasley and O.J. Mayo, the top prospects for next June are immensely talented and feature their own unique skill sets. More experienced college players like Darren Collison, Earl Clark, Ty Lawson and Stephen Curry will be featured, along with still a fair amount of freshman like Tyreke Evans, B.J. Mullens and Brandon Jennings.

I’ve narrowed down the expected class to my Top 10 players for the 2009 draft:

1. Demar DeRozan, SG, Southern Cal

Most experts have Blake Griffin pegged as their #1 prospect, but I’ll opt for DeRozan, an unbelievably athletic shooting guard from Compton projected to make an immediate impact as Southern Cal in his one year. He’s an explosive, quick scorer with NBA size and leaping ability that will make scouts drool, but has more of a complete repertoire than just highlight dunks. His shooting range and skilled rebounding also are very impressive and worth being the number one overall selection.

2. Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma

Griffin appears to be a Carlos Boozer clone, someone that will average 20 and 7 at the NBA level. His polished skill set around the rim is more developed than most professional players, and he’s extremely difficult to keep from scoring in the paint. The most impressive facet of Griffin’s game is his rebounding ability, both offensively and defensively. Defense needs to improve, but the toughness is there.

3. B.J. Mullens, C, Ohio State

As you’ll see soon enough at Ohio State, Mullens is an enigma that needs motivation and polish. Nobody possesses as much pure upside and potential to dominate as Mullens, but the seven footer can often lack discipline and motivation. He’s very athletic, the opposite of a usual stiff even given his size. Mullens is a gifted rebounded and finisher with a strong NBA frame. Defense also needs refining.

4. Brandon Jennings, PG, Arizona

The rumors are afloat that Jennings may opt to play in Europe. Regardless, his stock as an NBA stud will not decline with this decision. At Oak Hill Academy this past year, one of the most distinguished programs in the nation, Jennings averaged 35 points and 8 assists per game. He has top notch athleticism and quickness to the rim, an excellent jump shot and court vision similar to a young Chris Paul. If he decides to play in Tucson, Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill will love to play with him.

5. Hasheem Thabeet, C, Connecticut

NBA scouts have been drooling over this kid’s potential for years now. His offensive game needs plenty of molding and development before he can become a threat on both ends of the floor at the next level, and even in the loaded Big East. But this kid is the best pure defender in the nation. His shot-blocking ability is off the charts and explosive leaping ability controls games in the paint.

6. Jrue Holiday, PG, UCLA

Many scouts believe Holiday is a more talented Russell Westbrook, the same Westbrook that just went fourth overall in the 2008 Draft. Holiday is versatile at both guard positions, but excels controlling the offense, both with his passing and court vision, and excellent motor to the basket. He’s also the most developed defender of the class at the guard position- his aggressiveness leads to steals and Holiday is committed equally on the defensive end.

7. James Harden, SG, Arizona State

If you asked a college basketball fan who the Freshman of the Year in the Pac-10 was last season, most would say O.J. Mayo, or Kevin Love, or Jerryd Bayless. They’d all be wrong. James Harden took the crown as a freshman in 2007-08, scoring 17.8 per contest while shooting 53% from the floor. Harden is a flat out scorer with an above average jumper and a knack of getting to the basket. His length and wingspan will undoubtedly impress NBA scouts.

8. Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina

Lawson is an example of someone who will shoot up draft boards because of his explosiveness and athleticism. He’s a Superman quick point guard who will lead the top team in college basketball, so scouts will know how he does playing with talent. Lawson is a blow-by scorer with plus court vision and strong finishing ability, but he badly needs to lessen the turnovers and strengthen perimeter shooting, or defenders will just play off of him.

9. Nick Calathes, SG, Florida

Calathes really flew under the radar as a freshman last season at Florida, not only for his shooting abilities (37% from 3, and he can even improve on that), but his passing ability (6.1 APG) and rebounding (5.3 RPG). Calathes is a complete player who can play three positions, possesses excellent ball handling and scouts will rave about his basketball IQ. The biggest part of his game is the three-point shooting, which has seemingly unlimited range.

10. Tyreke Evans, SG, Memphis

Evans, much like Jennings, is a super-recruit who excelled at a top high school program in the nation, scoring 33 PPG and grabbing nine boards. Evans is a flat out scorer, someone with a quick first step who nails mid-range jumpers at a consistent basis while also finishing at the rim. He’s a gifted ball handler, someone who will excel in John Calipari’s system. One negative: Evans can be a selfish player.

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