Flagrant Fouls

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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 MOCK DRAFT 2.0

• 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
nolan@flagrantfouls.com

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

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Jonny Flynn to Grace Cover of SI

It’s been a pretty amazing few weeks for Jonny Flynn. It seems that the team’s run in the Big East Tournament has catapulted him from a star into the face of college basketball. After playing 67 minutes and scoring 34 points in the most thrilling college basketball game the Big East Conference has ever seen, Jonny has begun to see a rise in his popularity. This rise hasn’t occured in Syracuse (because everyone in Syracuse was already smitten about the Niagra Falls native), it’s been a national sweep that has talk show hosts calling Jonny the most popular player in America, and everyone who’s anyone lining up to interview him. The latest development is that Jonny will be on the cover of Sports Illustrated, the most popular sports magazine in the world. Here’s a sneak preview of what next months cover will look like.

Nolan Shulman
nolan@flagrantfouls.com

Posted 6 days, 17 hours ago at 4:19 PM.

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Sweet 16: East Region Semifinals
Boston, MA

The Sweet 16 is upon us, and the East Regional semifinals figure to be a dandy. With all 4 top seeds prevailing over the weekend, the stage is set for two epic showdowns Thursday night.

Duke vs Villanova

This figures to be an up-tempo battle between the guards of these two heavyweight programs. Villanova, fresh off manhandling a UCLA team that had been to 3 straight Final Fours, will be playing it’s first neutral site game of the tournament. After spending the first two rounds in the comfortable confines of the Wachovia Center, the Wildcats will head to Boston, eager to prove the Big East Conference was by far the best conference in America. Scottie Reynolds, Dwayne Anderson, and Corey Fisher have been the engine of the Cats all year, running the break, pressuring the ball, and really making guards all around the country play sloppy basketball. This won’t be an easy task with the great guards that Duke fields in their lineup. Starters Jon Sheyer and Elliot Williams are solid, but it’s the Blue Devils depth that makes them a special unit. Senior Greg Paulus was a three year starter before being given a bench role this season, while Nolan Smith (son of late NBA player Derrick Smith) has also had a brief stint as a starter this season. Guard play will be at a premium in this game, and the unit that makes more shots and creates more turnovers, could very well determine the outcome of this big time matchup.

The post play of both teams lack depth, but the big men that are featured are very impressive. Villanova has the Big East’s Most Improved Player, Dante Cunningham. As a senior, Cunningham has relished this final opportunity, and has really stepped up his game in the tournament. Dante has been sensational thus far, going off for 25 points and 7 rebounds in a round one nail biter over American. In round two, Dante came up huge again, with a double-double, ammasing 18 points and 10 boards against UCLA. He hasn’t played anyone as good as Duke’s Kyle Singlar though, and Singlar is no slouch. He has more ability than any of UCLA’s big men, and I won’t dare disrespect him by comparing his to the players on American. Singlar will be the most talented player on the floor, able to post up with his back to the basket, face up his opponent, or drive to the goal and create opportunities for himself and his teammates. This should be a relatively even duel, and a battle I’m eager to see.

I like Duke to pull this game out, as their combination of coaching, shooting, and skill should be enough to “Pitt” them into the Regional Finals. Coach K has struggled in recent tournaments, losing in the first weekend the last two years. This Duke team has the talent and poise to make a deep run, and I believe they will do exactly that.

Pittsburgh vs Xavier

The Panthers survived the first two rounds, struggling with both Eastern Tennessee St. and Oklahoma St. That being said, the name of the game is “Survive and Advance” and the gritty Panthers did exactly that. Sam Young did what he’s been doing the entire season, carrying the Panthers to victory with his dynamite all around game. The Super Senior scored 32 points on 12-20 shooting, adding 8 rebounds, and 3 blocks in Sunday’s win over Oklahoma St. Levance Fields continued his steady, mistake free brand of hoops, scoring 13 points, and handing out 9 assists. More importantly, Fields committed just 2 turnovers and was the consummate floor general the Panthers have come to depend on. Sophmore Sensation Dejuan Blair was average, but threw his body around and made big plays when it counted. It all added up to a trip to the Sweet 16 and a matchup with Xavier.

Xavier is a pretty balanced team, led by BJ Raymond, Derrick Brown, and CJ Anderson. Their lack of size on the interior is a bit worrysome, considering the brute strength of Blair. Jason Love will be given the task of trying to contain Dejuan underneath. His averages of 7 points and 6 rebounds doesn’t make me feel to good about his chances. This is a team with great wing players, but none of them have the abilities of Sam Young. BJ Raymond had a solid effort against Wisconsin going for 15 points, but the Panthers defense will be keying in on the 6-6 senior. The matchup of Young and Raymond will be important, but I just don’t see anyway how it doesn’t go in Sam’s favor.

In the end I expect Pittsburgh to come out and dominate this game from the opening tip. They just have too many advantages when you look at the matchups on paper. I’m still going to encourage Xavier to lace em up and be on time, cause we know that in this tournament “ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE”

Nolan Shulman
nolan@flagrantfouls.com

Posted 1 week, 1 day ago at 9:17 AM.

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Syracuse Post Game Press Conference
Round of 32

NCAA: SU after Win to Arizona State Press Conference

Posted 1 week, 1 day ago at 4:16 AM.

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Cuse Dominate Paint, Stroke It From Deep
Advance to Sweet 16

The trip to Miami was a tremendous success, as the Orange came away with two relatively easy wins and advanced to play in the Sweet 16. After playing poorly and beating Stephen F. Austin by 15 on Friday, Syracuse rebounded and played a superb all around basketball game. They pounded it inside to Ricky Jackson and Onuaku early and often, as it was evident Arizona State didn’t have any bodies that could matchup with the Syracuse bigs.

As the defense started to sag, Eric Devendorf and Andy Rautins began what started to feel like a 3 point shoot out. The Orange jumped out to a 16 point lead as Jonny Flynn was penetrating and smiling, while the Junior shooters were coming up wet. It was a complete clinic and the Orange looked dominant in the first half. James Harden was held without a field goal in the first session, and the future lottery pick, looked like he had a better chance of winning 649 than minutes on an NBA roster.

The second half wasn’t much different, though Harden decided to upgrade to his “C” game. Arizona State didn’t attack the gaps of the zone, and relied on big shooting from Rihards Kuksiks (don’t worry, I can’t pronounce it either), who had 20 points, on 6-13 from 3 point land. If Kuksiks didn’t shoot the eyes out of it, this might have gotten embarrasing. Harden showed what he’s made of on the big stage, grading out somewhere between Pau Gasol in the NBA Finals last summer, and Chris Anderson in the 2005 Slam Dunk Competition. NBA Scouts who were on hand were down in the tunnel after the game, asking the Arizona State staff for reinbursment for their airfare. I mean this guy was putrid. Arizona State’s other big name, Jeff Pendergraph, managed just 9 points and 2 rebounds in a foul plagued 24 minutes. More importantly, he looked like a SunBelt Conference 2-guard standing behind Arinze. The bigs were the story in this one, completely out muscling the Pac-10 standout.

Next up for the Cuse, is the almighty Blake Griffin and his #2 Oklahoma Sooners.

Nolan Shulman
nolan@flagrantfouls.com

Posted 1 week, 1 day ago at 6:25 PM.

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UCLA vs NOVA: Inside the Matchups

The Guards
Darren Collison vs Scottie Reynolds-
Both guards are savy upper-classman. Darren the pesky on ball defender, and Scottie a streaky scorer who can take a game over. Darren is such a great defender it’s going to be difficult for Reynolds to get anything easy.
Advantage: UCLA

Jrue Holiday vs Corey Fisher- Jrue was excellent in the first round against VCU, scoring 13 points, and handing out 6 assists. Corey played a good all around game against American, as he always does. He scored 11 points, and pulled down 4 rebounds to go along with his 4 assists. Both players are more important to their team than the numbers suggest, and this matchhup will be an important one to monitor. Fisher is a feisty and aggresive defender and I think he’s going to get the best of Holiday.
Advantage: VILLANOVA

The Wings
Josh Shipp vs Dwayne Anderson- Dwayne Anderson has been on fire the last couple of weeks. He made the buzzer beater over Marqutte in the Quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament, than went for 25 points and 8 rebounds in the opening round vs American. But Shipp has been to 3 straight Final Fours and has averaged 14.4 ppg’s this season. You can’t overcome 3 years of success with a two week stretch.
Advantage: UCLA

The Bigs

Alfred Aboya vs Dante Cunningham- Cunningham averages 16.3 pts and 7.2 Reb’s and was the Big East’s Most Improved Player. He can post up, and stick the 15 footer. Aboya is also a Senior with a ton of tournament experience. He averages just under 10ppg’s and just over 6 boards. But he’s intelligent, and has been a big part of alot of UCLA wins. Cunningham is a better player and will have to win this matchup for Villanova to have a chance.
Advantage- VILLANOVA

Should be a dynamite game between two teams that are hungry to advance. The game will be played on Nova’s “suto” home court, but UCLA has an experienced, veteran core, and their freshman aren’t freshman anymore. No excuses, the best team will advance. Will it be the Big East, or Pac-10 sending a team to the sweet 16?

Nolan Shulman
nolan@flagrantfouls.com

Posted 1 week, 3 days ago at 8:32 AM.

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Cleveland State: Not a Cinderella

Cleveland State’s manhandling of Wake Forest last night has generated morning headlines of “Cinderella”. But anyone who followed college basketball this season, knows that Cleveland St. is for real. Cleveland State is coached by Gary Waters, a man who coached in the Big East for 5 seasons at Rutgers. Although he didn’t enjoy a lot of success during his stint at The RAC, he did have the opportunity to coach against the best of the best, and game plan for the countries top talent. Gary Waters was ready to coach on the big stage- everyone knew that. But how did he get his players ready? Coach Waters scheduled some of the toughest teams in the country during the non-conference portion of their schedule. They played at Washington, at West Virginia, and at Syracuse. They walked into one of the hardest places to play in America (the Carrier Dome, Syracuse), and pulled off a dramatic upset in front of 20,000 fans.

So if your surprised that Cleveland State played fearless, and controlled basketball last night on the biggest stage, you haven’t been watching them all year. They’ve beaten Syracuse, Butler, Valparaiso, and have played 6 games against the rpi top 50. They were ready for Wake Forest and certainly weren’t in awe of them. To call them a cinderella is disrespecting what they’ve accomplished this year. Cinderella is a team that surprises the country, and Cleveland State didn’t surprise anyone. I have them going TWO rounds in my bracket.

Arizona, who pulled off an upset of their own by upending Utah in Miami, has it’s work cut out for them. Nic Wise was sensational and will need to be again if Arizona is going to be playing in the sweet 16. Cleveland State’s J’Nathon Bullock, Norris Cole, and Mr Big Shot, Cedric Jackson will be waiting to show the Arizona lottery picks (Chase Budinger and Jorda Hill) what they can do. I just hope the Wildcats are watching film and getting their minds right, and not sitting on the beach. I hope they learned a lesson from Wake Forest, because playing Cleveland State is no vacation.

Nolan Shulman
nolan@flagrantfouls.com

Posted 1 week, 3 days ago at 5:45 AM.

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Eric Devendorf: 10pts, 2reb, 6TO

Donna Ditota interviews Eric Devendorf

Posted 1 week, 3 days ago at 6:43 PM.

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