Player of the Week
Nerlens Noel -Kentucky
Noel's performance last week against Ole Miss is one of the best individual performances by any player all season long. That may be hard to believe considering he only took one shot, missed six free throws and ended the game with double the amount of fouls (4) as he did points (2). But it was his impact on the defensive side of the ball that had everyone talking. Noel picked up his 4th foul midway through the second half and just as Ole Miss was making their last run to get back into the game. The Rebels knew that Noel had four fouls and attacked him play after play. Noel didn't back down and ended the game with a career high 12 blocked shots. In the final five plus minutes of the game, Ole Miss couldn't get anything off close to the rim. Noel stepped up when the team needed him most on the road against Ole Miss and he followed that up with a 19 point 14 rebound effort in an overtime win on the road at Texas A&M. He may not be Anthony Davis but Noel has definitely made a name for himself in Lexington.
Jarnell Stokes -Tennessee
Stokes has had an up and down season for the Vols. He has struggled to find where he fits offensively with Jordan McRae and Trae Golden. But it seems as things have begun to click for Stokes who has had to pick up the slack down low due to the loss of Jeronne Maymon. He has recorded a double double in 4 of his last 5 games and could have had five straight if it weren't four foul trouble that limited him against Ole Miss. Stokes has a wide body and uses his size to his advantage when he gets opposing players on his hip. His post moves have improved from a season ago and he has become a more efficient scorer from the block. He is shooting over 65% from the field over his last five contests which has coincided with Tennessee's recent string of conference wins. Head Coach Cuonzo Martin has to find away to get his big man more touches like he did against Vanderbilt where he dominated the paint the entire time he was in the game.
[Player: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope] - Georgia
KCP has played well all season long but his team isn't winning. That's not necessarily his fault but when you are "the guy" on a team, the successes and failures seem to fall squarely on your shoulders. Pope struggled a little early on in the season with his shot but lately he has been on fire. He has scored in double figures in every game this season but has increased his scoring lately to right at 20 points per game. He has been shooting the lights out from all over the floor and has finally started to use his size and length to rebound. He has had at least 7 boards in each of his last four contests. The Dawgs are 4-1 during KCP's run and are looking to get above .500 in conference play when the team travels to Knoxville on Wednesday to take on the Vols.
Reginald Buckner - Ole Miss
Marshall Henderson gets most of the press but Buckner's presence on the inside for this Ole Miss team can't be understated. When he and Murphy Holloway are doing work on the inside, it forces the defense to collapse, opening up those shots for Marshall. But over the last few games, Buckner hasn't been able to get it going. Call it a combination of a couple of things. The team is playing against the top tier teams in the conference, Buckner has been in foul trouble preventing him from being aggressive on the glass and Henderson has decided to take it upon himself to shoot his team into as well as out of games. If the Rebels are going to get back on track after suffering two straight SEC losses, Buckner and Holloway have to get more touches on offense.
Top 3 Reasons why Florida will make the Final Four
1. Perimeter Defense
Florida ranks #2 in total defense in the country at 51.1 points per game. They hold their opponents to just under 36% shooting which is the ultimate measure of defense. They have one of the best on ball defenders in college in Scottie Wilbekin and have one of the better defensive rebounders in Patrick Young. Billy Donovan preaches defense and every player on his roster has bought into that concept. And as we've seen in the past, teams that can defend always seem to make it the furthest come March.
2. Erik Murphy
Murphy's versatility is hard for most teams to match up with. He can take smaller defenders down on the block and he also has the ability to take larger slower players to the perimeter and be effective. We've all seen how the loss of Ryan Kelly has hurt Duke because of the matchup problems he creates and Murphy is the same type of player. Individual matchups are key when Tournament time rolls around and Murphy is one of the harder players to match up with in the country.
As the old phrase goes, big men get you to the tournament but guards win it for you. Boynton is another senior for this Gators squad who plays big minutes and takes big shots. He has been in the tournament in each of his first three seasons in Gainesville and he knows what it takes to win on the big stage.
Noel is starting to look like a young more athletic Mutumbo.....
Flip Pressey might be the best passer in the nation..I think his playmaking skills are better than Trey Burke and Micheal Carter Williams..I think he still has a chance to slip into the late 1st round......
Jarnell Stokes to me, has to be 1 of the more disappointing players in the nation..He has the talent to average a double double...It seems like he's doing too much thinking on the court...
And there might not be a guard in the country, whose stock has dropped as much as BJ Young....
After the last game kicked-in the averages, ma dog KCP is shooting .45 FG% and .37 3FG% which are very solid numbers.
P.S. In some cases, KCP is listed 6'6 while McLemore 6'4... can't wait until the final measurements to see how that plays out.
McLemore is far more explosive than KCP. Also, B-MAC is listed at 6'5. He's easily the best player in the country.
Who said otherwise???
Still backing up that UF FF comment? I know, one game but they showed their flaws vs Ark....Not on fire from 3 point land and they struggle. No real inside game, no real star on the team.
Hard to judge a team based off of one game. Every team has their flaws and Arkansas exploited Florida's last night.
They definitely didn't look like a final four team last night but every team gets a mulligan. Duke had one against Miami, Louisville has had a few and so has almost every team in the top 25.
So, one can make predictions this year but I wouldnt be so emphatic about them. You pointed it out, all these so called top teams getting their asses handed to them.
I cant recall top 5 teams getting drilled like this. Folks were trying to compare this uf team to UK's team from last year..give me &$#%#&@! break!