Daily Dribble: 1/03
Sorry for the late Dribble.. spent the morning finishing up this year's Top 30 Names in College Basketball list. Some old favorites like Longar Longar, Gyno Pomare, and Idong Ibok return along with 27 more great names. The list will officially go on-line in a couple days.
Last night, Duke teased the haters once again by struggling early at Cameron Indoor. But once Temple's long-range barage cooled down after a few minutes and Dionte Christmas' ankle started to hurt, the Dukies pulled away with ease. It was basically Duke's interior that led to the 18-point win, as Josh McRoberts scored a career high 21 (congrats to the golden boy for finally scoring 20+) and Brian Zoubek added 8 and 6 boards in just 13 minutes. McRoberts also ended up with 9 boards, 4 assists, and 4 blocks. He's been playing perhaps the best ball of his life recently, averaging 16, 12 boards, 5 assists, and 3 blocks over the last three games.
The best part about the Duke game though?.. that Dickie V was nowhere to be found. I'll take Len Elmore over just about anyone else on ESPN.
Give Indiana credit for fighting hard against Ohio State. I thought the Buckeyes would roll to the win at home, and when the score was 12-4 early, I thought Indiana was done. But the Hoosiers 12 threes and good effort on D kept this game a lot closer than it should have been. Oden ended up with 21 points, a new high, as well as 4 blocks. Defensively though he was more dominant than the 4 blocks would make it seem. Offensively, he was less dominant than the 21 points would make it seem though.
Ohio State really hasn't figured out how to play with Oden on offense. Thad Matta has explosive offensive weapons in Daequan Cook and Ron Lewis, but they tend to get lost (just 11 shots combined) with Oden on the floor. The big guy is obviously a load to handle in the post, but this team has regressed offensively in recent weeks. Before he joined the starting lineup, Cook scored double-digits in 7 of 8 games, just 3 of 6 since. For Lewis, it was 8 in a row in double-digits, but just 2 of 6 since. These team will hit its peak when they figure out how to utilize these guys on offense, while letting Oden dominate on the other end.
Besides those two games, I also watched UCONN dominate South Florida. The problem with this game is that USF has about 3 legit Big East players (Buckley, Mattis, Gransberry), while UCONN has 10. Jeff Adrien had perhaps his best game of the season with 16 points and 15 boards in the win. Perhaps the best part about the game though were 5 sick blocks by McHugh Mattis. Its unfortunate Mattis, who also ended up with 5 steals, is wasted on South Florida. Offensively, he's just a complimentary guy who can occassionaly rebound, but on defense he really makes an impact.
There was a scary moment in the game when 7-3 freshman Hasheem Thabeet got hacked hard by Gransberry. Thabeet lied on his back in pain after the intentional foul, but luckily returne later in the game. Though his 7 ppg, 7 rpg averages dont look dominate, Thabeet oozes with potential. Whats amazing though is how he reminds you why guys like Oden and Hawes are so special. Guys around 7 feet are supposed to take time to develop, so seeing Oden and Hawes playing at such a high level already is amazing. Despite the potential, its going to be hard for Thabeet to make a big impact in Big East play. Most of his big games so far have been against smaller 2nd rate teams (Coppin St, Albany, etc), but the pace of play and the physicality is so much better in conference play.
Also, so much for my prediction that Winthrop would make it a game at Texas A&M. The Aggies won by 20 and the game was never close. A&M enters conference play on Saturday against Kansas State playing some of the best ball in the country. They've won their last 5 games by a sick total of 36.8 per game.