Daily Dribble: 12/22

December 22nd, 2006

It's no secret I like scoring.. but Duke's win over Gonzaga showed why defense is just as important. The Blue Devils (mainly due to Jon Scheyer's man to man defense) completely shut down consistent 20 point scorer Derek Raivio. Raivio, who finished with just 4 points, looked like the little boy that struggled to get going all of last season. Without him scoring, and Heytvelt neutralized by Josh McRoberts, Jeremy Pargo's 21 points (17 in the 2nd half) weren't enough to get it done. It was odd to see Pargo and Greg Paulus (20 points), usually 3rd or 4th options on offense, leading the way. Besides those two, the other impressive performances came from Duke's David McClure (4 blocks in 27 minutes) and Abdullahi Kuso (6 blocks in 20 minutes).

For McClure, it was perhaps the culmination of what has been a steady rise in importance for the Blue Devils. As Gerald Henderson struggles to get going offensively and Lance Thomas spends more and more time on the bench, the junior McClure has seen more and more action. Also deserving of respect is Josh McRoberts who, despite scoring just 11 points, really was the focus of the offense with his great passing skills. It always amazes me why teams will double McRoberts or pack it down on him considering his only real plus skill is passing..

Despite all the talk of Duke-Gonzaga, the better game was #14 Oklahoma State's double-OT win against #7 Pittsburgh. This game cut into the 1st half of the Duke game (thankfully since those two only scored 41 points in the half) and I was bummed to see the game end. Mario Boggan scored 30 to Aaron Gray's 24 and that difference of 6 was the difference in the game. Both though deserve credit for battling hard despite playing over 43 minutes. At spots late in the game and early in the 1st OT it looked like Gray had run out of gas, but he really kept Pitt alive with big rebounds (off the missed free throw near the end of regulation) and big jumpers (including an and one). Considering how nicely Gray shoots the ball, its odd that he struggles so much (60% on the season, 2-7 in the game) to hit ft's.

George Mason improved to 5-4 with a win over struggling Holy Cross. After starting 6-1, the Crusaders have lost 4 straight and 5 of 6 due to better competition and injuries. With Bucknell streaking, their Patriot League hopes are suddenly looking down for the first time.

It took an extra 5 minutes of overtime, but the Terriers of St Francis NY finally won their first game last night. Junior guard Jamaal Womack scored a career best 21 points in the 76-73 win over Manhattan.

The Ohio Valley Conference doesn't waste any time getting into its conference season. Some teams have already played 5 conference games, but Samford is in first place with a 3-0 record. The Bulldogs, who beat Murray State 55-44 on Thursday night, have won all 3 of these games on the road.

Appalachian State's epic week in Puerto Rico continued with a win over Vanderbilt.. I guess Virginia and UCF just wasn't enough. Also in the San Juan Shootout, Northwestern scored a season high 77 in blowing past Utah by a whopping 33 points.

- Dribble, Dribble, Dribble, Pass! -