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NCAA Tournament: Round One Standouts/Flops

Posted on 20. Mar, 2010 by Marcus Kwamie in Tournaments, nba-draft

 

In what might have been the best first round in the history of the NCAA Tournament, teams expected to make a deep run were falling faster than the real-estate market.  Those people who were foolish enough to laminate their brackets (Justin !!!) had their heads in their lap before they could even brag about how hardcore they are.  We saw upsets, buzzer beaters, and unbelievable individual performances.  We also witnessed players expected to carry their team to "one shinning moment" barely play long enough to capture a highlight for Jen Hudson.  Here's a look at who stood out and who flopped in round one. 

 

Round One Standouts

Jimmer Friddette, BYU

There aren't too many players who get more out of less than Jimmer.  He isn't athletic, doesn't have great size or quickness, and won't be seen on any NBA radars anytime soon.  That said, this guy has had an outstanding collegiate career and his opening round game might have been one of his best games ever.  He scored 37 points on 13-26 shooting, and had the answer everytime the Gators made a big play.  He was the heart and soul of BYU and willed them to victory in round one.  If they can sneak past Kansas St. in round two, they'll  have a huge home court advantage in Salt Lake City. 

 

Michael Loyd Jr., BYU

This one man fast break is the definition of spark plug off the bench.  He uses his quickness to keep his defender back peddling in transition and makes them pay by going hard to the rim.  He finished with 26 points on 7-10 shooting, made 3-5 from deep, and 9 of his 10 free throws.  He also got his hands in the passing lanes and picked up 4 steals which helped rally BYU early in the game when Florida looked to be in control.  One of the best efforts I've seen off the bench all year. 

   Jordan Crawford   , Xavier

Jordan Crawford came through when the Musketeers needed him most. Crawford at one point put on a layup clinic getting to the basket at will and finished. Once he built the momentum he began dialing it up from beyond the arc. Crawford shot 11-21 on the night going for 28 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and a block. A complete effort on both ends of the court and really cemented his place as a top prospect for next years NBA draft. With Crawford having already gone through 5 coaches in his short collegiate career, expect him to return to Xavier where things are familiar and become a household name.

JaJuan Johnson, Purdue

For a guy coming into the tournament as a tweener pick for the late first round early second, JaJuan was very convincing in his efforts to help scouts with their decision. With the world betting against Purdue, Johnson took matters into his own hands and led his Boilermakers to a win. Scouts have been questioning Johnson’s play of late, in that his production has not stepped up with Hummel out of the lineup. JaJuan scored 23 points, got to the line 11 times, and matched a career high 15 rebounds. Johnson certainly looked the part of an NBA first round pick Saturday afternoon and another game of this magnitude might firmly entrench him there for good.

    Louis Dale    and  Ryan Wittman, Cornell

Cornell was this year’s customary #12 seed who upset a #5 (when are we going to stop calling this an upset). The Big Red were a trendy pick because many experts believe that this is the best team to come out of the Ivy League in over a decade. They did not disappoint. They were led by senior guard Louis Dale, who used his speed and ball handling ability to drive into the lane and fearlessly convert on a combination of reverse layups, teardrop floaters, and pull up jumpers. Dale finished with a game-high 21 points. Dale also showed skill running the point by swinging the ball around and finding open teammates to the tune of 7 assists. His frequent targets were centre Jeff Foote and senior forward Ryan Wittman, who was money from downtown. Wittman closed out the game in the 2nd half connecting on 4-6 from downtown and finishing with 20. Both seniors will have another shot on the biggest stage to light it up in what should be a shootout against Wisconsin on Sunday.

Jon Leuer, Wisconsin

Junior forward Jon Leuer had a complete inside-outside game against Wofford. He was a force inside the paint, showing that he has the ability to drive the ball and finished strong early in the 1st half. For a big man he also showed good court vision, hitting cutting players on inlet passes. Leuer finished with 20 points and 8 boards. But his standout performance will be remembered for three clutch plays in the final minute. Leuer hit a 19-foot jumper from the corner to put Wisconsin up by two with 49 seconds to go. Then on the defensive end he showed poise and good lateral quickness, forcing a turnover with 10 seconds to go. Leuer was fouled on the ensuing possession and put the game out of reach by converting both of his free throws. 

 Devin Ebanks , West Virginia

West Virginia did not have an impressive statistical performance in their first round match-up with Morgan State, but the impressive element of the game was the toughness of their front line. Led by sophomore forward Devin Ebanks, the Mountaneers wore down the Bears by playing tough on both ends of the floor. Ebanks was a defensive presence in the lane, had two blocks, and was a beast on the boards; grabbing 13 overall. Devin also cleaned up on the offensive glass, which led to many second chance scoring opportunities. On the fast break Ebanks ran the floor well and finished strong.  Overall he looked much better than he did in the Big East Tournament. 

Kim English and Keith Ramsey, Missouri

Missouri was able to extend their defense and force Clemson into a bunch of turnovers throughout the game. Senior forward Keith Ramsey was able to collect 3 steals and turn defense to offense.  This led to a number of high percentage points in the paint. Ramsey was 8-11 with 20 points. He also snared 8 boards in the game. Sophomore guard Kim English also finished with 20 points. English had the hot hand from behind the arc hitting 4-7 and also looked good in transition, finishing with confidence and showing good body control on the break. 
 

Eric Bledsoe and Patrick Patterson, Kentucky

Freshman guard Eric Bledsoe stepped up and led the way for the top ranked Wildcats in a rout of the East Tennessee State Buccaneers. Bledsoe was absolutely lights out from downtown, connecting on a school record 8 three pointers. He was almost perfect from beyond the arc, with his only miss occuring on his ninth attempt late in the second half. Bledsoe showed his range and was simply in the zone, hitting a number of his treys with a hapless defender’s hand in his face. On a day where John Wall spread the ball around amongst his teammates (his first double digit assist game since December 29th), Bledsoe was the major beneficiary finishing with a game high 29 points. Bledsoe also showcased his defensive ability by applying pressure to ETSU’s guards, collecting 4 steals and turning defense to offense.

The other major beneficiary of Wall’s distribution was junior forward Patrick Patterson who finished with 22 points, on a number of high percentage baskets (9-10 from the field). Patterson displayed good hands, catching a few laser inlet passes and converted them into strong finishes. Patterson was a dominant presence in the paint, demonstrating a nice drop step, a wide array of dunks, and finishing a pair of alley oops. Given that some of the other top seeds struggled with their competition today, it was nice to see Kentucky cruise; putting up triple digits. The Wildcats showed the nation that it is a balanced squad with many weapons and they can beat you in a number of different ways.  They have the most talent in this tournament, and 9 times out of 10, talent beats experience. 

Quincy Pondexter and Isaiah Thomas, Washington

Senior forward Quincy Pondexter had a great performance that will catch the eye of scouts and GMs at the next level. Pondexter hit the game-winning bucket that gave Washington an 80-78 win. He showed great control by driving to the hoop with his left hand, and then switched to his right to avoid the defender.  He then banked in the leaner. Perhaps more impressive then his game-winning shot was Quincy's persistence and determination t.  Although Quincy didn’t have a great shooting day overall (7-17), he was aggressive on the offensive glass with 5 boards. He ran the floor well and filled the lanes for a few transition buckets. Pondexter was also active on the defensive end, frustrating Marquette into poor decisions when the game was on the line. His final line was 18 points, 11 boards, 2 blocks, 2 steals and 2 assists.

Sophomore guard Isaiah Thomas played up to his name. The diminutive guard demonstrated versatility, great playmaking ability, but most of all, toughness. The MVP of the PAC-10 tournament was playing with a broken bone in his shooting hand and was still 3-3 from beyond the arc in the first half. He was aggressive on the offensive end, not settling for jumpers even though he had the hot hand from outside. Thomas constantly drove the ball into the paint for high percentage buckets. He took care of the ball and showed excellent court awareness and a deft passing ability; finding open teammates on draw-and-kick plays. On the defensive end, Isaiah got his hand in the passing lane and forced a critical Marquette turnover in the final minute of the game. He finished with 19 pts and 8 assists.

Al-Farouq Aminu and Ishmael Smith, Wake Forest

Sophomore forward Al-Farouq Aminu played very well early. He was able to use his quickness on the defensive end to disrupt the passing lanes, forcing a few turnovers. He was also able to use his size to challenge Texas players to change their shots. This combination of quickness and size also enabled Aminu to collect 15 rebounds. On offense, Aminu did not have a great shooting day (6-18) but was still able to initiate contact down low and get to the free throw line where he was 6-7 and he finished with 20 points. In the final minute of OT he found Ari Stewart in the corner for a three that cut the lead down to 1. The downside to Aminu’s performance is that he faded in the final 5 minutes of regulation and the OT period. He looked tired and passive on the offensive end.   Aminu was getting boxed out and did not crash the boards like he did in the first half. Sophomore centre Tony Woods picked up the slack and had three put back dunks in the 2nd half for a total of seven offensive rebounds. But Aminu will have to play a full 40 at a high level against Kentucky’s imposing front line to give the Demon Deacons the chance to advance.

Senior guard Ishmael Smith used Thursday evening’s game against Texas as a showcase to display his speed with the ball, versatility, and clutch shooting. He hit a variety of lay-ups and pull up jumpers in the lane, including the game-winning bucket in OT with 1.3 seconds on the clock. Smith finished with 19 points (shooting 9-18 from the field). Smith also kept his teammates involved, by spreading the ball around and racking up 7 assists. Smith also collected 12 rebounds. He flirted with a triple double, the only downside is that he flirted with a quadruple double if you consider his 8 turnovers. Smith had a great game and a memorable tournament moment with his game winner, but Wake will need him to take better care of the ball against Kentucky.

Darringtion Hobson, New Mexico

Junior guard Darrington Hobson played tough all game for the Lobos. His grit and determination was impressive as he went down hard to he floor on a drive and sprained his left wrist and banged hip early in the first half, but he stayed in the game and was effective on the glass, collecting 11 rebounds.  He was effective in keeping his teammates involved, handing out 6 assists. Hobson hit some key momentum shifting buckets that kept Montana at bay and finished with 11 points. Hobson at 6-7 has good length and was able to use that on the defensive end, limiting Montana’s star player, Anthony Johnson, to a nightmarish performance.

Ekpe Udoh, Baylor

Kevin Garnett light had a monster performance in round one.  He was all over the court and made plays all game long.  He finished with 20 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks, and 2 steals.  There was really nothing Udoh didn't do positive.  NBA scouts are drooling over his potential, and this performance wet their pallets even more. 

Matt Bouldin, Gonzaga

Bouldin is such a steady and smart player he's a joy to watch.  Everyone in the stands around me kept yelling "what a smart play" all game long.  They were right.  He made on great decision after another.  He got in the lane, made open shots, played hard nosed defense, and helped lead his team to victory over FSU.  He finished with 17 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals.  How he attacks the zone and the patience he shows vs. Syracuse, may be the difference between marching to the sweet 16 or going home.  He's that important to the Zags success. 

Kalin Lucas, Michigan State

Kalin seems to always save his best performances for the tournament.  Round one this year was no exception.  He scored 25 points on 7-11, handed out 4 assists, and only committed 1 turnover.  He may be the most steady point guard in America, and he certainly is unflappable on the big stage.  A pure winner in every sense of the word. 

Round One Flops

Anthony Johnson, Montana

Senior guard Anthony Johnson picked the wrong time to have the worst game of his career. Johnson came into the game on the national radar after putting up 42 points in the Big Sky championship game last week. However, when he had the national television spotlight on him in what was his final college game, he went 1-12 from the field and finished with 6 points. While Johnson’s only field goal was a clutch basket from the corner with under two minutes that cut the lead to 1, on the very next possession he telegraphed his shot and was stripped. New Mexico converted on the turnover and put the game out of reach.

Luke Harangody, Notre Dame

The Gody finished his career on a somewhat dissapointing note.   He had such a prolific and productive career that it was tough to watch him go out like this.  He played just 23 minutes, scored 4 points and made just 2-9 shots.  This wasn't the story book ending he was hoping for, but it was a pleasure to watch him all four years.  His presence will be missed in the Big East next year. 

 

 

 

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One Response to “NCAA Tournament: Round One Standouts/Flops”

  1. Dave Dixon 20. Mar, 2010

    Unless I missed it. Why no mention of Kevin Jones of West Virginia ?….Kept the Mountaineers in the game early and led their 21 to 4 run……

    Reply to this comment

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