Player of the Week
DeAndre Daniels, Connecticut
While the deteriorating Huskies continue to fall short, Daniels continues to stake his claim as a player to be reckoned with in 2013-2014. The multi-skilled 6’8 forward has played 42 minutes per game over his last three, averaging 22 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks. He possesses the three-point range to stretch defenses (5 makes), the agility to run the floor and the length to impact games as a shot blocking presence. At this stage he’s more comfortable on the perimeter offensively and as a weak side defender on the interior, with the latter being a trouble spot for a 195 pound SF. Connecticut will finish their season at home to Providence on Saturday, and with a fractured foot sidelining Tyler Olander, Daniels will once again be hard-pressed to catch a breather. Continued strength training will be critical to his evolution as a pro prospect.
After ripping his less than impactful efforts in last week’s blog, Zanna awoke from his trance in a big way versus Villanova. The senior destroyed his previous career-high with 19 rebounds (7 off.) in the overtime victory, while also scoring 8 of his 14 points in the extra session. His 2 blocks surpassed his total accumulation from the prior eight games. Woodall posted his first double-double of the season behind 13 points and 11 assists, cracking double figures in the point column for the ninth consecutive game. He had struggled to get a piece of the paint and facilitate in recent weeks, so this was an encouraging development. The Panthers can clinch the 4th seed at MSG (double bye) with a win at DePaul and a Notre Dame loss at Louisville.
Martino Brock, South Florida
The South Alabama transfer appears to have finally found his mojo 15 games into the conference schedule. He helped lead the charge in home victories over DePaul and Connecticut, the Bulls first back-to-back wins since December 29th and January 2nd. A 6’6 wing with high-level athleticism and a knack for defensive disruption, Brock averaged 15.5 points on 64% shooting (below 40% on the season), 6 rebounds and 3.5 steals on the week.
Jerian Grant, Notre Dame
Grant returned to form this week after a trio of rough shooting efforts. The redshirt junior hit 8 three’s in 13 attempts against Marquette and St. John’s, en route to 21 points per game. He left his imprint in many other facets, putting up 6.5 assists, 5 rebounds and 2.5 steals. Grant is at his best when using his strong frame to get cheap points at the FT line, but he doesn’t attack consistently. His 2014 draft stock continues to hover in the mid-late 20’s.
Chane Behanan, Louisville
The rugged, undersized power forward was a non-factor offensively and on the glass in ‘Cardinal’ wins over Syracuse and Cincinnati. Behanan shot 1/6 from the field and 2/8 from the line at the Carrier Dome, and attempted 3 total shots and was held without a rebound versus the Bearcats. There is little doubt his lack of security at the stripe has seeped into the rest of his game. After all, his strengths are physicality and aggression; if he’s afraid to get hacked then he’s abandoning his style and liable to disappear. If Louisville beats Notre Dame at the Yum! Center on Saturday (as a prohibitive favorite), they take down the regular season title.
Omar Calhoun, Connecticut
Playing with a sprained wrist, Calhoun has not seen many shot offerings pass through the net. In road defeats at Cincinnati and South Florida he shot 2/21 from the field and 2/15 from deep. The freshman had played his best basketball of the season in the month of February, so clearly the wrist has debilitated his performance. Give him credit for going to battle for the shorthanded Huskies. Calhoun is currently listed as “day-to-day” for the season finale.
Top 5: Seeding the 2nd Tier
1. Syracuse (11-6) - Despite fumbling badly down the stretch run, a win at Georgetown could secure the Orange a spot on the 3-line.
2. Pittsburgh (11-6) - Outside of falling short at Rutgers, the Panthers have avoided the bad loss. They fit the bill as a visually unimpressive 4-seed.
3. Notre Dame (11-6) - Unfortunately for the Irish, Kentucky has nosedived and de-valued their best non-conference win. Road struggles ultimately lead to a spot in the 6/11 matchup.
4. Villanova (10-8) - The enigmatic Wildcats are tough to project. Home wins over Louisville, Syracuse and Georgetown; an 18-point home loss to Columbia and late fold at Seton Hall. 10-seed it is.
5. Cincinnati (8-9) - Losers of 6 of 8, the Bearcats don’t look like a tournament team on the offensive end of the floor. Their strong non-conference resume should save them, however. A home win over USF is a MUST. 10-seed.
Bubble: Providence (9-8) - The Friars will certainly need a win at Connecticut coupled with multiple wins in the BET. In terms of straight talent, they are more attractive than a few teams listed above.
·Shabazz Napier has missed the last two games with a sore foot and is listed as “day-to-day”.
·Few players in college hoops seek out contact, or run directly into it, more often than Russ Smith. He’s made 70 trips to the free throw line in his last seven games. 260 pound combo-forward JayVaughn Pinkston can give Smith a run for his money, attempting 35 freebies over his last three.
·What on Earth got into Marquette center Chris Otule versus Notre Dame? The defensive specialist scored a season-high 16 points on 8/8 shooting, relegating Jack Cooley to the bench in the process.
·The St. John’s program is not in a position, nor is Steve Lavin, to swallow many more on-court or off-court shortcomings. The suspension of DAngelo Harrison and the brawl involving SirDominic Pointer, in concert with the mediocre product on the hardwood, could signal a need for change at the top,
·6’3 freshman Kris Dunn has done everything for the Friars; everything but score. He averaged 9.5 rebounds, 6 assists, 1.5 blocks and a steal this week.
Follow on twitter for Big East and national insight @AdamGaneles
Daniel is just a wonderful player. I adore him a lot and I think if other players learn some tactics from him, it will help them to improve their play as well.