We are in mid-February and tournament time is just around the corner. The bubble watch has already begun and the ESPN Bracket Busters are Saturday. That said, here are a few of my thoughts and observations from the world of basketball.
- In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, how many teams play with heart? Truly play hard on defense, come prepared and compete? I’ve seen so many lopsided scores (even double ups) this year, especially in women’s basketball, that it makes me wonder about a lot of things going on in those programs but especially heart.
Jeremy Lin is all the rage right now and yet still has detractors. Why can’t people just be happy for the guy? He’s playing great and is good for the league coming off of a lockout. I was fortunate enough to see him play many times at Palo Alto HS here in the Bay Area and personally told at least 3 college assistants that they should offer him…none did. He was tough, competitive, smart, got to the basket at will, and his team won a lot of games including the California State Championship by beating Mater Dei.
- More Lin: I had the chance to witness the “BAM Testing” at the Portsmouth Invitational after his senior year of college. Landry Fields, his New York Knicks teammate, was also there and had a great showing although another “under the radar” type of guy. Lin is 6’3/200 and was the quickest guy in the squared cone drill they did of all the 64 players in attendance, yet we’ll hear 20 times tonight on ESPN that he’s “not athletic” or “not very quick,” crazy talk.
- Gonzaga is going to do it again…St. Mary’s thrashed BYUin Provo and beat the Zags handily as well in Moraga and looked poised to break the Bulldogs 11 year WCC Title streak but losses at Gonzaga and LMU have changed all that. Their 2-game lead over Gonzaga and BYU is gone and they are limping down the home stretch. Canadian PG Kevin Pangos (pictured, thanks RTC) and German PF Elias Harris have keyed the Zags run. I’m scouting them tonight.
- Speaking of the Gaels, they play Murray State in the Bracket Buster. Murray State and St. Mary’s both lost after the match-up was announced so I ask you this…is this a good match for both? Will the loser find themselves on the outside looking in come “bubble Sunday?”
- BYU has been good for the WCC as many teams have bumped up their level of play while others will have some decisions to make.
- Draymond Green is one of the smarter players I have seen this year, he really gets it. His Michigan State squad, coached by Tom Izzo, is one that does play with heart and competes every night.
- How about Kansas Jayhawk big man Jeff Withey? Dude was a nobody and has really stepped up his game playing alongside Thomas Robinson who is an absolute stud by the way. Withey had a crazy good week last week and was National Player of the Week.
- Dana Altman is doing a great job with the Oregon Ducks, he’s had to piece together his squad and they are playing very well with a huge swing to the Bay Area schools this weekend with a chance to finish the weekend in first place.
- Duke’s win over Carolina was amazing, we’ll see how both teams respond after such an emotional game.
- Speaking of Duke, former Blue Devil Kyle Singler is enjoying a good season with Real Madrid in Spain. They play in both the ACB (Spain) and in the Euroleague. His teammate, Sergio Rodriguez (former NBA’er) is leading the EL in assists per game.
- Missouri has really been defending well and is a tough match with their 4-guard looks.
- Drew Gordon is playing well for New Mexico, the 6’9 PF had 17 points and 17 rebounds as the Lobos (21-4) beat a ranked San Diego State squad. His little brother Aaron is one of the top high school players in the nation as a 6’7 Junior in San Jose, CA.
- Jim Calhoun should have retired after winning the title last season.
- Kentucky could win both the SEC men’s and women’s titles respectively.
That’s enough rambling for now, I’ll post some more thoughts next week.