Thursday, March 15, 2007

NCAA Roundup (Thurs. Primetime session)

-Thank you, Eric Maynor. You pretty much single-handedly salvaged one of the most unappealing days in NCAA tourney history. I guess I should not only thank Mr. Maynor, but the whole VCU squad & their young coaching stud, Anthony Grant, who put together an inspiring effort. I picked VCU in my preview because I felt they had the athletes to overwhelm Duke, and to me that was the difference. They put their athletic advantage to great use in a non-stop torrent of pressure defense which gave Paulus & Co. fits all game. It was sort of strange to see Paulus' strong numbers at the end of the game, because I don't think they were indicative of how overwhelmed he looked on both ends, especially how Maynor outplayed him.

-How bout how Maynor took over the game at the end like he did vs. George Mason. I loved how he waved off his teammates on the last play, and calmly took his time bringing the ball up the court where he knew he could abuse Paulus or Scheyer off the dribble. I actually felt he was taking way too much time bringing the ball up, and was yelling at the TV for him to hurry up, but Maynor knew exactly what he was doing. Just wish Raft was doing the game, we would have heard "ONIONS" a lot.

-The only other game of note during the night session, and the only other tight game of the day, was Xavier-BYU. I had Xavier in this game pretty much for the simple fact that they were playing across the river from Cincy. Drew Lavender hit some tough shots down the stretch to save Xavier's season. And now onto a battle for the state of Ohio in round 2 vs. the Buckeyes.

-Two games I thought would be closer were the Weber-UCLA & Pitt-Wright St. I felt Weber & Wright. St could stay close to UCLA & Pitt because of their conservative styles of play, but Weber never was a threat, and Wright St. was close but let the game get away right before the half.

-One of the more disappointing teams of the day was Gonzaga. I had them over Indy, but they could not generate any consistency whatsoever on offense. On top of that, they must of missed 6-8 point blank shots thru-out the game, with Kuso being the main culprit. And it wasn't like Indy was all that great on offense either, it was just a very difficult game to watch with combined poor play. Even without Heytvelt, the Zags had enough talent to compete better than this. The Zags might had a worse showing than Stanford today: consider the Zags got to stay on the West Coast, and the Cardinal had to play a
12:30 game in the Eastern Time Zone vs. a team playing an hour from home.

-Really like the Friday afternoon slate of games. The only game that doesn't interest me is the Wisconsin-Corpus Christi tilt. I think all the other 12:30 & 2:40 games have the goods to be competitive, I even think N. Texas might put a scare in Memphis, just a feeling. Also, my upset special of the tourney is at 2:30 with Long Beach playing Tenn.

-I would love for Albany to beat Virginia. But even though I think the Cavs are not as good as their 4-seed, I think Albany is not as good as their 13-seed, and they really don't have much outside Jameer Wilson is terms of scoring ability. Although, I do like their young coach, Will Brown, to possibly make this game closer than Virg would like.

Draft Watch:
1) Eric Maynor is surely rocketing up many GMs & scouts draft boards with his play the last 2 weeks. Only seen him play a few games, but I have been real impressed so far. He reminds a lot of GP, but with shades of Chauncey thrown in. He sort of moves like Billups & even sort of resembles him in the face. And most importantly, he seems to ooze confidence & calmness like Billups. The kid is cool as ice. His body & defensive prowess remind me of Payton. Where else he reminds me of GP-- his shaky outside shot. This is definitely the sorespot in his game, and the mechanics on his shot need some tweaking. He does though have a knack for hitting floaters in the lane, which is nice. But what stands out about Maynor's numbers is his stellar 3:1 asst/to ratio. He led the Colonial in assists with 6.3 and he also did a nice job rebounding from the PG spot, similar to GP. Where I was slightly surprised was his steals numbers--only 1.2 per. I would have figured it to be higher, but he's still a nice ball-hawk on defense. Still want to watch him a few more games before I declare him a 1st round talent, but the small sample size so far has been encouraging.

2) Josh McRoberts sticks around the lower lottery slots because of his nice physical attributes. He is a legit 6-10 with a long wingspan, and nice athleticism. The other thing that makes him special is his great ball-handling & passing ability. The issue I have, is with his tenacity. Duke needed McRoberts to step up too many times to count this year, and it seemed to me McRoberts more often than not did not play up to his full potential.

3) Derek Raivio is probably a longshot to make the NBA, but I think he might have a chance at a second round selection. Obviously his physical specs are not great: he's not very big, and his lateral quickness will make him a huge defensive liability. But his straight-ahead speed on the dribble is underrated and his handle is very good & he does show good passing skills. To me what makes him 2nd round caliber, is his shooting. Not just that he is a good shooter, it's his hair-trigger release which could be effective vs. the bigger guards he would be facing in the NBA.

(I'll deal with draft prospects on Ohio St., UNC, UCLA, & Pitt later.)

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