Wednesday Report Card: Foster Threes, UNM's Blown Chance..
A - Northwestern
Before February 19th, Northwestern had lost all 14 of its Big Ten games by at least 10 points. But a close hard-fought 2 point loss on the 19th at Iowa gave NW hope heading into a big home showdown with Indiana. Another hard-fought 3-point loss to the Hoosiers carried over into the Wildcats first Big Ten win in over a year, a 62-60 victory over Michigan. In what has been another forgettable season for the program, at least there's hope for next year.. as the Cats top three players (Coble, Moore, and Thompson) all return.
B - Shan Foster
Back when Foster was in high school, I had reservations about his awkward release. Writing at the 2003 ABCD Camp, I wrote, "although his outside shot isn’t the prettiest, it will go in so long as he’s squared to the hoop and has ample time to lock and load." Foster still has that same weird knuckle-ball of a shot.. but they seem to keep going down as the senior's hitting on 46% of his threes. At home he's even more deadly from long range, and is now a huge reason why Vandy upset the #1 team in the country. After losing 4 of 5 game sin January, Vandy's hot start looked like a fluke.. but they've suddenly won 7 in a row to look legit again. Should be interesting to see how they fare in the Tournament.
C - Missouri State
This is basically the end of an era at Missouri State. Last night's home game was the last at the JQH Student Center.. and probably Barry Hinson's last ever chance to coach in Springfield. After another disappointing, non-NCAA Tournament season, you have to figure Hinson will be let go in the off-season. But despite a season full of mediocrity, at least Hinson and the Bears found some glory last night, beating the 20th ranked Bulldogs of Drake.
Losing at Vandy isn't that shocking.. but what bothered me was how poorly they played down the stretch. From a game-management standpoint, it was pretty horrendous. Fouling when you shouldn't foul, not fouling when you should, driving to the basket when you need a three, the ball in the wrong person's hands, etc, etc. It wasn't even like Vandy was lights out down the stretch, missing some FT's, a bonehead foul of their own, but the Vols wasted whatever openings they had.
F - New Mexico
The Lobos blew a huge opportunity last night.. falling to BYU in OT at home. UNM had won six straight games, moved into the Top 50 RPI, was getting respect nationally.. and finally had a home game against one of the MWC's top teams. But despite taking a 58-50 lead with under 6 minutes to go.. the Lobos squandered the lead.. and perhaps their season. The fact remains UNM doesn't have a Top 50 all year, which is simply inexcusable for an at-large team.
The Daily Report Card tells you all you need to know about the day in college hoops. From good to bad and bad to worse, I'll be laying down the law.
Previous Best / Worst
February 25th - The Bubble / Villanova
February 21st - Tony Lee / Oregon State
February 20th - Hasheem Thabeet / Aaron Bruce
February 19th - Josh Duncan / Tim Welsh
February 18th - Wake Forest / NJIT
February 15th - Oral Roberts / Big Ten Predictions
February 13th - Mike Green / Ed Donato
February 11th - Charron Fisher / Tim Morris
February 8th - Big West / Virginia
February 6th - Chris Lofton / Dick Vitale
February 5th - Bob Knight / Josh Heytvelt
February 4th - New York Giants / Washington State
February 1st - Nevada / Penn