Wednesday, February 27, 2013

ADEDS NCAA Basketball Update 2-27-13: 'From Me To U'

The 'Canes look to tackle the NCAA tournament field.
Pretty soon South Beach could be known for great weather and scenery, night spots, and championship basketball.  Not only are the defending NBA champion Miami Heat doing their thing in the pro ranks, the University of Miami (FL) Hurricanes in 2012-13 have a squad that has all the makings of a contender for a NCAA National Championship.  What makes this team special is their combination of size, speed, and veteran leadership, all under the tutelage of head coach Jim Larranaga; who famously led mid-major George Mason to an unpredictable run to the Final Four in 2006.  The size in the frontcourt starts with 5th year senior Kenny Kadji; a seven-footer with NBA potential that can grab boards and initiate the fastbreak off the bounce and also has range extended beyond the collegiate 3-point line.  Senior forwards Reggie Johnson (6-10, 292 lbs.) and Julian Gamble (6-10, 250 lbs.) are like a couple of bookend tackles protecting the Miami paint on the defensive end, and making themselves available for easy finishes off pick-and-roll on the offensive end.  The guy that really gets the mojo going for the U is sophomore point guard Shane Larkin.  His defensive ball pressure on opposing guards is nearly unparalleled in the country (2.1 spg, leads ACC) and turnovers forced by him usually turn into quick transition buckets.  Not to mention, Larkin is a whiz in the pick-and-roll offense with his ability to penetrate past defenders for layups and his efficient perimeter shooting (41.6% 3-point).  Add in four-year starting senior guard Durand Scott (13.3 ppg. leads team), and a pair of athletic wing guards in junior Rion Brown and senior Trey McKinney Jones, and the Hurricanes have a strong chance of making Miami the championship basketball capitol of America.

Rising up.
No moment is too big for Porter, Jr.
Second leading scorer Greg Whittington was ruled academically ineligible for the season in January, but that hasn't stopped the Hoyas from putting together a 10-game win streak, including a 57-46 win at rival Syracuse Feb. 23 in the final scheduled Big East game between the two schools.  Otto Porter, Jr. is a future NBA lottery pick that does his best work in crunch time.  Freshman guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera is coming into the limelight after dropping a career-high 33 points Feb. 20 vs. DePaul.

Oklahoma State
Freshman guard Marcus Smart is on the rise on NBA draft boards and has Travis Ford's folks poised to make a run at the Big 12 Title.  Markel Brown's team leading 15.9 ppg and 38.9-percent 3-point shooting prove that he's more than just an elite dunker.

Michigan State
Tom Izzo has yet another brawlic frontcourt in the likes of Branden Dawson, Adreian Payne, and Derrick Nix.  Keith Appling and Gary Harris, Jr. form a backcourt that can run circles around you once they get hot.

Mark Few has never had a squad ranked this high, but the talent and depth of the roster remains.  Eight guys average over 15 minutes per game.  Kevin Pangos (44.8% 3-pt) can knock down the 3 with the best of 'em.

Kansas needs Tharpe to contribute key minutes.
Falling off.
Bill Self's team might not be the worst to ever suit up in Lawrence, but recent lack luster performances in conference against TCU and Oklahoma are major cause for concern.  The insertion of sophomore guard Naadir Tharpe into the rotation may be the key for the Jayhawks turnaround.

When the 3's aren't falling, the Gators are rather mediocre.  They went 5-3 in February when it looked like they would dominate the conference in a down SEC year.  Still, this is a dangerous team when Kenny Boynton, Mike Rosario, and Scottie Wilbekin are hitting from the perimeter.  Patric Young is a grown man in the paint.

The lack of depth at guard means the Cardinals have to rely heavily on Russ Smith and Peyton Siva to varying degrees of success.  Smith leads the team in scoring at 18.4 ppg but is only shooting 40.2-percent from the field and 31.8-percent from 3-point.  Gorgui Dieng and Chane Behanan will have to be huge in games where the guards get in foul trouble.

This was a shaky team even before Nerlens Noel went down with the season ending ACL injury.  Considering that, the rebuild-and-reload Wildcats of recent years look like they are in danger of missing the NCAA tournament altogether.  What's more troubling for John Calipari is that this losing probably won't affect the decision of players such as Noel, Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress, and Willie Cauley-Stein from putting their names into the 2013 NBA draft.  Which means Cal will have to start with basically a new starting five yet again in 2013-14.

Oladipo is like Tony Allen with better ball skills.
ADEDS Players to Watch:
Jared Berggren - Wisconsin
Markel Starks - G'Town
Gary Harris, Jr. - Michigan State
Jeran Grant - Notre Dame
D.J. Richardson - Illinois
Tim Hardaway, Jr. - Michigan
Victor Oladipo - Indiana
Shane Larkin - Miami (FL)
Marcus Smart - Oklahoma St.
Pierre Jackson - Baylor
Victor Rudd, Jr. - South Florida
Markel Brown - Oklahoma St.
D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera - G'Town
Richard Howell - N.C. State
Zeke Marshall - Akron
D.J. Cooper - Ohio
Kelly Olynyk - Gonzaga

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