Player of the Week
Virginia's super-senior Mike Scott isn't a high-level NBA prospect, but he's very much the difference between a bad Cavalier team and a good Cavalier team. The double-double machiene has returned from his red-shirt senior season with a vengence, and is averaging 15.3 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. He claims to have lost about 20 pounds over the summer by cutting junk-food out of his diet and this is evident when you watch him move on the court. He is just as tough and strong as he ever was, but is significantly more agile and explosive. As the team's centerpiece, Scott has led Virginia to an excellent 6-1 start to the season, including a vicory over #15 Michigan on Tuesday. Not a lot of people had the Cavaliers as significant players in the ACC this season, but they've proven to be a strong defensive squad with great size and several different offensive options. With the slimmed-down Scott performing like one of the top players in the ACC, Virginia could be a very competitive team come conference play.
If you followed the Hokies last season, you know that they were struggling to win games until Erick Green took control of the point guard position. Once he became a starter, Virginia Tech went on a tear and won nine out of their following ten games. This season, Seth Greenburg did not waste any time and made Green the starting point guard as soon as he could. Unsurprisingly, this has worked out in favor of both Green and the team's record so far. Scoring in double-figures in every game he's played in this season, Green is averaging 14.8 points on an efficient 52.2% shooting from the floor. Perhaps most impressive is the improvement the junior guard has made from the perimeter; shooting 61.1% on 2.2 made threes per game, up from 24.8% on 0.8 makes a year ago. The Hokies will be counting on the much-improved Green to lead them to that oh-so elusive NCAA Tournament bid, but it's way too early to be considering such things.
Ehhh... Somebody from UNC was bound to inherit the "Cold" distinction following the former top-ranked team in the nation's shocking loss to UNLV. It wouldn't be very fair to blame Zeller for the loss, but the skilled 7-footer was really unable to contribute anything that may have altered the embarrasing final outcome. Zeller finished the game with a line of 5 points on 1/6 shooting, 7 rebounds and 4 fouls. But what the game on Saturday exposed really didn't have anything to do with Zeller; rather it highlighted the questionable depth of UNC's frontcourt. John Henson and James McAdoo each had 4 fouls of their own, and without their star bigs, the Tar Heels (one of the best rebounding teams in the country last season) were outrebounded 46-37 to an unranked team. Zeller will surely bounce back from his poor performance quickly, but if UNC wants to make it to the Final Four, they're going to have to keep their post players out of foul trouble.
Top 5 Starting Point Guards
1. Kendall Marshall - No surprise here. Marshall makes everybody around him better with his unreal court-vision and his pinpoint passing accuracy. He's ranked second in the nation in assists per game, averaging 10.8, which more than makes up for his inability to score consistently (at least at this level).
2. Terrell Stoglin - Virtually the polar opposite of Marshall, Stoglin is a scorer first and a scorer second. Maryland's sophomore guard is only averaging 1.3 assists per game. That may not be ideal for a starting point guard, but Stoglin does lead the entire conference in points per game with 21.0.
3. Seth Curry - Curry was forced into the point guard position by Kyrie Irving's departure to the NBA last season. He is thought of as a spot-up shooter more than a distributor, but he has managed to do a good job this season handling the ball for the Blue Devils. He's second on the team in points (14.1) and first in assists (2.8).
4. Lorenzo Brown - Like Curry, Lorenzo Brown isn't supposed to be a point guard, but once Ryan Harrow bolted for Kentucky, somebody had to assume that lead guard role. Brown has filled Harrow's shoes and then some. He's averaging 6.5 assists (second among all ACC players) and 3.3 steals (first among ACC players) and he's led NC State to a great opening to the season (5-1 record).
5. Erick Green - As mentioned above, Erick Green is doing everything at a fairly high level for Virginia Tech so far this season. He's scoring, shooting and moving the basketball well.
North Carolina was the first top overall ranked team in five years to lose a game in November ... Harrison Barnes hurt his ankle during UNC's loss to UNLV, but is expected to play on Wednesday against #9 Wisconsin ... Duke has still never lost in the Maui Invitational tournament, thanks in part to the late-game heroics of sophomore Tyler Thornton, who hit two huge three-pointers to seal a win in the championship game against Kansas ... Clemson big man [Payer: Milton Jennings] set career highs in a victory against Furman with 22 points and 14 rebounds ... Florida State lost against Harvard and #4 UConn over the weekend to completely drop out of the AP Top 25 rankings ... Boston College has not gotten off to a great start, but their freshman Patrick Heckmann did explode for 32 points in a win against UC Riverside ... The Big Ten-ACC Challenge is officially underway and the Big Ten is off to a significant lead, winning four of the first six games ... Every ACC team has now lost at least one game ...
Also knows how to play basketball! Great stuff as always, Tyler. Sorry I never made it to Canby, but I appreciate you taking the trip to Portland. Will have to try and make it when I get back in February.