Flagrant Fouls

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Eric Devendorf:
Tournament Villain or Misunderstood?

Throughout Syracuse three week thrill ride, two things have become abundantly clear. Jonny Flynn has propelled to super-stardom, and Eric Devendorf has become America’s most hated player. Story after story has been written on ESPN, Yahoo, SI, etc., depicting Eric as a bad apple, and a player no one respects or cheers for. Devendorf did have an incident where a student alleged he had physically assaulted her, however, a Syracuse Judicial board later decided he had not done any physical harm to her. The board decided to suspend Eric 2 games anyways, with the reason being, yelling, swearing at, and defending yourself against a female student while drunk in the early hours of the morning was a violation of a previous probation which he had received. Let’s look back at our own college years and reflect for a minute before we judge this kid. I wasn’t there and don’t know what “really” happened that night, and I certainly would never condone hitting a female, but everyone who reads this did something they regret in college. The kid made a mistake, he shouldn’t have yelled at a women or been in a poor situation after 1am. He regrets it, and has apologized. But for the media to completely turn on him for his mistake, is a pretty big overreaction. If you ask Devendorf’s teammates, to a man, they all love playing with him. Gerry McNamara recently called him one of the best teammates he’s ever had. His heart on the basketball court is unmatched, and he wears his emotions on his sleeves. Eric is an instrumental piece to the Syracuse puzzle, and the Cuse would not be here today without him. The kid hasn’t been convicted of a crime while at Syracuse and shouldn’t be treated like a criminal. Eric may have been anointed America’s most hated player, but one writer is here to say, IT AINT RIGHT.

Posted 5 days, 19 hours ago at 2:57 PM.

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Inside The Mind of Blake Griffin

Posted 5 days, 20 hours ago at 1:52 PM.

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• NBA team needs HAVE NOT been taken into consideration
• Early Entries and Withdraws will be implemented in Mock Draft 3.0

Updated March 25, 2009

1. Sacramento Kings – Blake Griffin, Oklahoma (SF/PF) Sophmore
2. Washington Wizards- Hasheem Thabeet, Uconn (C) Junior
3. L.A. Clippers- James Harden, Arizona St. (SG) Junior
4. Memphis Grizzlies- Jordan Hill, Arizona (PF) Junior
5. Oklahoma City Thunder- Brandon Jennings, Lottomatica Roma (PG)
6. Minnesota Timberwolves- Earl Clark, Louisville (SF) Junior
7. Golden St. Warriors- Willie Warren, Oklahoma (SG) Freshman
8. Toronto Raptors- Tyreke Evans- Memphis (PG/SG) Freshman
9. Indiana Pacers- Gerald Henderson, Duke (SG/SF) Junior
10. New Jersey Nets- Eric Maynor, VCU (PG) Senior
11. New York Knicks- Ty Lawson, UNC (PG) Junior
12. Charlotte Bobcats- Demar DeRozen, USC (SG) Freshman
13. Chicago Bulls- BJ Mullens, Ohio State (C) Freshman
14. Phoenix Suns- Jonny Flynn, Syracuse (PG) Sophmore
15. Milwaukee Bucks- Greg Monroe, Georgetown (PF/C) Freshman
16. Philadelphia 76ers- Stephen Curry, Davidson (PG/SG) Junior
17. Detroit Pistons- Sam Young, Pittsburgh (SF) Senior
18. Minnesota Timberwolves- Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest (SF)
19. Atlanta Hawks- Damion James, Texas (SF)
20. Dallas Mavericks- Jeff Teague,Wake Forest (PG/SG) Sophmore
21. Utah Jazz- Kyle Singler, Duke (SF) Sophmore
22. New Orleans Hornets- Patrick Patterson, Kentucky (PF) Sophmore
23. Portland Trailblazers- Jrue Holiday, UCLA (SG) Freshman
24. Chicago Bulls- Darren Collison, UCLA (PG) Senior
25. Sacremento Kings- Tyler Hansborogh, UNC (PF) Senior
26. Oklahoma City Thunder- Craig Brackins, Iowa State (PF) Sophmore
27. Orlando Magic- Dejuan Blair, Pittsburgh (PF) Sophmore
28. Minnesota Timberwolves- Omri Casspi, Israel (SF)
29. L.A. Lakers- Terrance Williams, Louisville (SG) Senior
30. Clevland Cavaliers- Chase Buddinger, Arizona (SG/SF) Junior

Posted 5 days, 23 hours ago at 10:58 AM.

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Sweet 16: South Region Semifinals
Memphis, TN

The South Region has star power, as 4 of the nations top programs battle it out for a spot in the Final Four. Will Tyler Hansbrough finish his storied career a champion? Will Eric Devendorf, the countries most hated player, get to play in front of his family and friends in Detroit? Will Blake Griffin carry his upstart Sonners to a National Championship before bolting for the NBA lottery? I’m here to answer those questions and more, as I break down the matchups in the South Region.

Oklahoma vs Syracuse

The Sooners will get the opportunity to avenge an embarrassing loss, suffered at the hands of Carmelo Anthony, Gerry McNamara, and Hakim Warrick in the 2003 regional finals. The Sooners had no answers, and no clue how to attack Syracuse famous 2-3 zone, and the nations most unstoppable player (Melo), led the Cuse to a Final Four. 6 years later the rematch is on, accept this time, the nation’s most talented player is wearing the wrong color jersey. Blake Griffin, the consensus soon to be Naismith Award winner, has been on a tear of late, and that’s a scary thought. Blake averaged 22.5 ppg’s and 14.4 rebounds this season, and is considered the Nations top rebounder and most dominant player. Over his last 6 games, the super soph has picked up his numbers to the tune of 24.5 points and 17.2 rebounds. The 2-3 Zone is known for producing a lot of offensive rebound oppurtunities, and how Paul Harris and Rick Jackson fare against Blake on the weak side could very well determine whether the Orange are able to slow him down.

Size shouldn’t be an issue for Syracuse, as the Orange have plenty of meat up front in Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson. They are more than capable of playing physical, and frustrating prolific big men. Just ask Matt Kingsley or Jeff Pendergraph, the duo who combined for 11 points, and 6 rebounds, on 4-13 shooting against Syracuse in the first weekend of the tournament. Blake and Taylor Griffin provide a different and unique challenge to the Syracuse front court, and if you were watching this weekend, they are more than up to the task.

But the real question on everyone’s mind isn’t whether Blake Griffin will be great, we already know he will be. The 400 pound elephant in the room is whether or not the Sooners have learned how to attack the 2-3 zone. Will Sooner fans have flashbacks of a 2003 Syracuse defense that held Oklahoma to just 47 points, or will they be the one’s celebrating this time? It’s hard to tell to be perfectly honest. Oklahoma has only played two games this season against teams that play exclusively zone. The most recent was this weekend when the Sooners faced Michigan, and Jon Belein’s daunting 1-3-1 zone. It’s a defense that gives most teams who aren’t familiar with it, a lot of problems. As a team Oklahoma shot 49% from the floor, and Blake Griffin did damage scoring 33 points, and pulling down 17 boards. More importantly Blake went 14-20 from the floor, showing no signs of being slowed down by a zone. Texas, a team that does play quite a bit of 2-3 zone was able to beat Oklahoma and hold them to 45% shooting as a team. Griffin only played 11 minutes however, so that’s a tough game to get too much out of.

The one thing noone has been talking about all week is that Syracuse has a pretty potent offense as well. Everyone is focusing on how the Orange plan to stop Blake Griffin. My initial thought is that they won’t, but they might just try to outscore him. How is Oklahoma going to stop the dribble penetration of Jonny Flynn, and prevent the Cuse’s outside shooters from getting open looks? How will Blake and Taylor fare against Men from the Big East Conference? Oklahoma hasn’t seen a lot of teams with the toughness of the Syracuse big men, nor have they played any teams who have a point guard like budding superstar Jonny Flynn.

I predict that this game will be a very high scoring affair, but in the end, the grit and heart of tournament villan Eric Devendorf, along with “Mr.Big Shot” J Flyzzle , will prove to be too much down the stretch for the Sooners. Expect chants of ONE MORE YEAR to fill the rafters of the Fed Ex Forum as Sooner fans won’t want to say goodbye to their once in a lifetime talent.

North Carolina vs Gonzaga

This game has potential to be the most exciting of the tournament. Gonzaga has the athletes to run up and down the floor and go tit for tat with the Heels, and I expect them to do so. Jeremy Pargo (brother of Jannero Pargo) is the point guard for the Zags, and will have a tremendous challenge going head to head with Ty Lawson. Jeremy is up to the challenge though, as he too is an NBA talent. Averaging 10.1 points and 5 assists per game, Jeremy is an outstanding floor general, and an even better leader. He has the speed to stay in front of Lawson defensively, and the ability to take Lawson off the dribble and create offense for Gonzaga. For UNC, Lawson’s toe is no longer a concern. To prove it, the young man out of Oak Hill Academy went off for 21 points in the second half of the Tar Heels win over LSU.

This isn’t just a game about point guard play. There is going to be plenty of talent all across the board on display in the Fedex Forum. Wayne Ellington, UNC’s 2-guard might just have the sweetest stroke in America. He shoots the ball so effortlessly, he should be nicknamed Ray Allen Light. Tyler Hansbrough will also be wearing baby blue, and his credentials get discussed daily on Flagrant Fouls, and on every other news outlet across America. We’ll put a picture in that says all you need to know about Tyler. Some of the Tar Heels that don’t get as much publicity are wing man Danny Green, and big man Deon Thompson. Danny Green tested the NBA waters last summer, but elected to come back and try to improve both his stock and his game. He does a little bit of everything for the Heels. He averages about 13 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists per game, while playing within the team concept and deferring to the Carolina’s other superstars at times. Deon Thompson helps Tyler Hansbrogh in the middle and has quite a few moves in his offensive repertoire. He started the season like a house on fire but has cooled off of late, and has yet to really have a good game in the tournament. Nevertheless the ability is there and Gonzaga will have to account for his whereabouts on the floor.

Gonzaga also has NBA talent. Forward Austin Daye has had a dissapointing sophmore year, but was projected as a potential lottery pick coming into the season. Inconsistency has really plagued him all year, but the potential is there for Daye to have a monsterous game, and Hansbrough might have his hands full. Gonzaga’s other forward, Josh Heytvelt had a tremendous season and has already had one huge game in this tournament. He scored 22 points and pulled down 8 rebounds in the Zags first round game vs Akron. Michah Downs, a transfer from Kansas has also played really well this season. The former 5-Star recruit has helped the Bulldogs in a variety of ways and will likely be asked to go head to head with either Ellington or Green.

This game has all the star power you could ask for, but in the end I predict it will be the MEGA stars from Chapel Hill advancing.

Nolan Shulman

Posted 6 days, 1 hour ago at 8:15 AM.

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