Home 9 Non categorizzato 9 The unstoppable Swanigan and…

The unstoppable Swanigan and…

Autore: Raffaele Fante
Data: 10 Gen, 2017

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Equilibrium reigns in the 2016-17 Ncaa season. There are only two teams left undefeated after Villanova had its first loss last Thursday: Gonzaga and the new #1 Baylor. Indiana lost three of the last four and drops out of the top 25 for the first time this season while Richard Pitino’s Minnesota sneaks in at #24.

A few off-the-court news as well. Coach K will be out 4 weeks after undergoing back surgery, Butler won against Georgetown but the team’s flight was canceled after an emergency landing and finally, shooting guard Hamidou Diallo committed to Kentucky for next season.

Your recap.




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A new number one

In the last 25 years, only Syracuse ever managed to start the season unranked and reach the #1 spot, but it took them more than 9 weeks to do it. It is worth to remember that Baylor got zero votes both in the first and second AP season ranking. And now, for the first time in history, it’s looking down on everyone.

Coach Scott Drew righted a program that was in huge disarray after the 2003 scandal. Moreover, the team lost three key players in Taurean Prince, Rico Gathers and Lester Medford over the summer. Still, they are top 15 in both offensive and defensive efficiency and are now 15-0.

However, the last two games at the Ferrell Center were a grind. Manu LeComte had to nail a buzzer beater to get the Bears over Iowa State. Against Oklahoma State, Jawun Evans had 8 points on 2-for-12 from the field, including three missed shot from close range, one turnover and went 1-for-3 from the free-throw line in the last two minutes. Beside Evans poor performance, the Bear’s defense was key in handling Oklahoma State its third consecutive loss: fourth-best in the nation (58.3 points allowed per game), Baylor can mix a 1-3-1 zone, match-up zone and single coverage. Johnathan Motley recording his fourth consecutive double-double also helped.

Johnathan Motley (Baylor)


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Big Ten’s Mr Double-Double

Purdue’s 66-55 win against Wisconsin put an end to the Badgers 9-game winning streak, and Caleb Swanigan had his 14th double-double (8th consecutive) of the season (18 points, 7-of-10 from the field, 13 rebounds). Swanigan is averaging 18.3 points and 12.9 rebounds this season and already has the most 20-20 games (four) in a season among high-major players in the last 20 years.

Swanigan had his hands full on defense with Ethan Happ and Nigel Hayes, especially in the first half. Calen did a good job in the post against Happ, but he is forced to rely on his physicality, since he lacks the verticality to make up for a mistake. Against Hayes, on the other hand, he is drawn 15 feet away from the basket. When that happens, Swanigan tends to take a couple steps back, leaving his opponent open.

Despite everything, Swanigan was still a factor on the boards, showcasing his quickness and awareness, tools that are certainly helpful to someone lacking the bounce to out-jump his opponents. He still carried Purdue on offense and really put on a show, scoring in every possible way: pick&pops, dunks, half-hooks, put-backs and from outside the arc. The form on his jumper is not pretty, but as long as his shots go down (2-for-2 against the Badgers), there is nothing wrong with him shooting it.


Pac 12’s Mr Double-Double

The last couple of weeks saw California play 4 of 5 games against ranked teams, but it seems that was not big deal for Ivan Rabb, who has been playing better of late, after a slow start. He has been averaging 15.8 points and 14.2 rebounds in this stretch and after picking up losses against Virginia, Arizona and UCLA, Cal finally picked its first important win of the year.

USC started the season 15-1, best start of a season since 1971, and was still undefeated at Galen Center this year in the 9 games the team played at home. Cal held on to the game for the full 40 minutes, while Rabb and Chimezi Metu put on a show in a battle of PF. Rabb ended up winning the duel: a block and two free-throws to seal the game and the Golden Bears escaped with a win.


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Old school white big men

Saint Mary’s played BYU in one of the big games in the WCC, and fans had a chance to watch two of the best white centers in the Ncaa. The Gaels had a comfortable 81-68 win, but Jock Landale and Eric Mika really put on a show for all the lovers of old-school post moves.

Both born in 1995, although Mika is considered a sophomore after losing a full season because of his Mormon mission, the Cougars center finished with 28 points and 10 rebounds, while the Australian finished with 26 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists for Saint Mary’s. In the last two years Landale went from bench warmer to one of the most efficient players in the nation: 7th in two-point percentage (67.5%) while averaging 18.4 points and 9.7 rebounds. His performances are the reason why the Gaels only lost one game so far and have been a consistent presence in the ranking.

When comparing the two, Landale is playing for a good team that relies on a solid backcourt in Emmett Naar and Jack Rahon, who combined for their average 12 assists against the Cougars. Most of those assists are usually for him.


Mika is better equipped in fundamentals and moves, but he also has to create for himself.


And he can also take the PF spot, courtesy of a reliable game facing up the basket, but his range does not extend to the three-point line. He is leading the Cougars with his 20.5 points and 9 rebounds average. The team, despite being 322nd in the experience in D-I, is doing better than expected in a harder conference this year.


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West Virginia, dominating

TCU put up a fight (the Dixon therapy is doing wonders for the Slovakian Vladimir Brodziansky) but the Mountaineers ran away late in the game and got back to winning after an overtime loss against Texas Tech in their previous game. A couple of thoughts after this first stretch of the season. First, coach Bob Huggins is coaching his best offensive team in years and, more important, a team that is better on offense than defense. Part of the reason of this shift towards offense is the growth of sophomore Esa Ahmad. Second, the team will go as far as Daxter Miles carries them. The Mountaineers never lost in games where he scored 5 or more points.



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Collapse in Chapel Hill

Any word implying disaster is good to describe NC State’s loss at UNC. Mark Gottdfried’s team approached the game in the worst possible way and looked beaten from the very start. The Tar Heels, on the other hand, took the floor with the right attitude and absolutely trashed the historic rivals: a 26-point lead halfway through the first half, ballooning to 33 point after 20 minutes, and to 51 points at the final buzzer (107-56). UNC scored the most points ever in games between the two teams and the -51 is the second worst margin, topped only by a 62-10 UNC win dating all the way back to February 19th, 1921.

It is hard to find something relevant on the winner’s side. Justin Jackson had 21 points (6-of-11 from behind the arc), Joel Berry II had 19 points and 5 assists, but the biggest story is probably the return of Theo Pinson. The junior was out with a foot injury since October. He went scoreless in his 13 minutes on the floor, but his mistakes were mostly on shots (0-3 from the field, 0-1 at the free-throw line). He finished the game with 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals, zero turnovers and a good showing on defense. In an up and down season, Pinson might be the glue-guy the Tar Heels are missing to take that final step the team needs to finish off what they started last year. He also adds more size on the team’s backcourt, since he is 6-5.



Dennis Smith Jr had a really bad game, and his first four games on the floor are the perfect picture of NC State approach and attitude as a whole. Relaxed on defense, two live turnovers that became two baskets for UNC, three missed shots and two fouls in the first 3 minutes 54 seconds of his game, while the team was already down 10 points thanks to a three-point play by Kennedy Meeks. There is more than enough time to show what he can do against  the top teams, but this loss will stain his résumé during the draft process.



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We missed you, Sindarius

After a 6-game suspension for undisclosed legal issues, Sindarius Thornwell is back in the lineup for South Carolina and his first act was to apologize for his mistake:


The wing was suspended when the Gamecocks were still unbeaten and ranked #20 in the AP ranking, but went 3-3 without him and dropped out of the top 25. He was dominant in his first game back and finished with 19 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks and 6 steals in a 67-61 win over Georgia. P.J. Dozier (24 points) said after the game: “He makes such a big difference on the team, this game speaks for itself how much we missed him in all aspects of the game: rebounding, scoring defending, everything”. Thornwell is back and he is once again the heart of the third defense in the nation.

In a Saturday 79-68 win against a struggling Texas A&M (0-3 in the SEC) the wing took over the game with the Aggies up 59-58, scoring 11 of his 16 points in the last 7 minutes to go with 7 rebounds and 5 blocks.


Lawson the underrated

Memphis’ Dedric Lawson is the best player in the AAC and one of the most underrated frontcourt players in the nation. In the Tigers 80-59 win over Tulane the forward finished with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 5 blocks. After the game, Tulane’s Cam Reynolds said about Lawson: “I think his length bothers a lot of people. He’s 6-9, he can shoot over people if you try to contest his shot, so you really can’t let him have any space”. A viable strategy would be to force him to put the ball on the floor, but he is comfortable attacking the paint.

He also has good court vision playing in the post and he can find open teammates when he gets doubled. On top of that, he is an efficient defender, making him a good candidate to be a surprise in the draft next June. So far, he has been averaging 20.4 points, 11.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.8 blocks.

Ncaa basketball - Dedric Lawson - Memphis

Dedric Lawson – Memphis

Memphis is also a possible underdog in the Ncaa tournament. They have a good coach in Tubby Smith, Markelle Crawford as their second best player (24 points against Tulane, 19 points 8 rebounds in a win against Uconn) and KJ Lawson, Dedric’s younger brother, who had 13 points and 8 rebounds against Uconn and is more than ready to replace his elder once Dedric will be a professional.

Valparaiso is not just about Peters

After a loss against Oakland in the Horizon League, Valparaiso had a chance to get back on track in a home game against Detroit Mercy. Coach Matt Lottich was looking for answers from the backcourt duo of Shane Hammink and Tevonn Walker, after their combined 5-for-20 showing against the Golden Grizzlies. The two guards went for 23 and 21 points respectively in win on Sunday (81-74), staying aggressive throughout the game and relentlessly attacking the paint (26-for-29 on free-throws, combined). It was not an easy game for the Crusaders who, after leading by as much as 15 points, found themselves leading by 3 (73-70) with 100 seconds to go. That’s when Walker found Hammink open and converted on a three-point play to seal the game. Alec Peters finished with another double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds, shooting 7-of-9 from the floor, adding 4 assists for good measure, and calling out his teammates after the game for the team’s 20 turnovers.



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