Off The Boards
By Jack Scheuer
March 19, 2014 Edition
Before I get into looking at that little tournament that starts this week, here are my All American selections for the 2013-14 season:
Doug McDermott from Creighton, who should be a unanimous pick, except somebody, somewhere will disagree. He’s about as close to a perfect player as you can get; Duke’s Jabari Parker, a one-and-doner who got better and better with every game, and was the best of the heralded freshmen; Shabazz Napier, UConn’s 6-1 (maybe) guard who leads his team in just about every offensive category and has learned had to play under control; Russ Smith, from Louisville, who stayed for his senior year, and just might lead the Cardinals to the Final Four; Kyle Anderson, at 6-9, a sophomore who can play four positions, is an excellent passer who can score, and who probably won’t be back at UCLA next season.
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For hoop fans it’s the best time of the year, and things get serious tomorrow night in Buffalo when St. Joe’s tips off with UConn before Villanova plays Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Obviously the Hawks have the tougher assignment, but the way they’ve been playing they certainly have a shot. If Halil Kanacevic continues doing his Charles Barkley imitation, and the rest of the starters keep doing their thing, it could be a big night for the Big 5. UConn has an explosive backcourt with Napier and Ryan Boatright, plus 6-9 DeAndre Daniels can score and rebound, but the game looks like a toss-up. Two very important things for the Hawks will be to stay out of foul trouble and to make their free throws, something that has been a problem all season. Since the LaSalle loss they’ve been playing excellent basketball. No sense stopping now.
Villanova has had plenty of rest since it’s upset loss to Seton Hall, and should be raring to go against Milwaukee. The Wildcats will be a heavy favorite, but that shouldn’t stop them from going all out, and I’m sure Jay Wright will make sure that happens. The Panthers, from the Horizon Conference, lost 13 games, and their best player is 5-10 point guard Jordan Aaron, one of only two starters from last year.
So, if the locals both win, come Saturday we’ll see the first Big 5 game ever played in Buffalo.
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This and That: Biggest player in the tournament is 7-5,340, Sim Bhullar from New Mexico State. He’s not just big, he averaged 10 points and 8 rebounds a game…If Duke and Arizona keep advancing they could meet in the Final Four. That would mean that Philly’s own Amile Jefferson (Duke) and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson could play against each other…. After some of the antics we’ve seen from coaches this season, it’s great see a class act like Tony Bennett have so much success. The Virginia head-man will be a top candidate for Coach of the Year…..Funny how that NCAA computer can come up with so many “coincidence” matchups. We could see Villanova-St.Joe’s, Dayton-Ohio State, Creighton-Nebraska, and Oklahoma-Oklahoma State. Just amazing….Got to feel bad for Larry Brown and his team. SMU seemed to deserve a spot in the tournament.
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A final thought: Phil Martelli took a lot of heavy criticism midway through the season when the Hawks were struggling. Now that his team has turned it around, shouldn’t he be given the credit? No matter what happens in the NCAA’s, St. Joe’s will end up with a good year.