Monday, November 29, 2010

The Maui Invitational

Us being all dejected ... (AP Photo/Eugene Tanner)
Terrence Jones
Game 1: 29/13/3, (12-17 FGs, 0-2 3PT, 5-9 FTs), 2 steals, 4 blocks in 35 minutes
Game 2: 16/17/2, (4-13 FGs, 0-2 3PT, 8-14 FTs), 1 steal, 4 blocks, 4 fouls in 36 minutes
Game 3: 24/4/1, (6-11 FGs, 4-4 3PT, 8-9 FTs), 2 steals, 2 blocks, 4 fouls in 27 minutes
You know what TJ got most hyped about in his Game 1 performance? Taking the ball off a rebound and sprinting with it across the entire court and throwing a no-looker to catch Josh Harrellson perfectly in stride for a lay-up. You couldn't erase that ensuing grin if your life depended on it. Terrence got the most buzz of anyone not named Kemba Walker in this tourney and even got the Chad Ford nod in his potential to be the top pick in the NBA draft. Crazy stuff. But it's undeniably justified when you see how thoroughly Jones seems to be able to do any and everything he wants to on the floor. Besides not get whistled for fouls. His tournament-concluding night of 4-for-4 three-pointers was nearly mind-boggling. He’s the heart and soul of our team right now.
Outlook: If it weren't for foul trouble, Jones' trip would have been flawless. While all of the calls against him weren't deserved, he has to get used to it and avoid the situations anyways. He’s averaging 21/10/2 on 50% shooting from the field … so why don’t we just go out on a limb and put the lofty expectations on him of maintaining that? Just to push meaningless what-ifs on you a little more: if Terrence made all of his free throw attempts so far, he’d be averaging 25.4 points a night in these opening 5 games. The kid’s slated as Kevin Garnett’s heir at that point.

Brandon Knight
Game 1: 13/2/3, (4-15 FGs, 2-8 3PT, 3-5 FTs), 5 TOs in 35 minutes
Game 2: 24/4/0, (10-17 FGs, 1-6 3PT, 3-6 FTs), 1 steal, 8 TOs, 4 fouls in 28 minutes
Game 3: 6/2/5, (3-15 FGs, 0-8 3PT, 0-1 FTs), 1 steal, 5 TOs in 38 minutes
He had the worst shooting night of his young career in the opening game and followed it by his worst ball-handling game in the semis. And then he followed it by an even worse shooting night. Not the greatest of vacations for our resident superstar point guard ... in fact, it was egregiously painful for the most part. He finished 3 of 22 three-pointers and averaged 6 turnovers a game compared to 2.7 assists. If it wasn't for his 24-point outing showing off his strong floor game against a strong Washington team, this would have been an unsalvageable trip for the guy.
Outlook: His shooting stroke was off and at times he almost looked selfish. He has to hone his confidence while understanding that he's not going to get the benefit of the doubt in throwing his body around recklessly in big games. He simply needs to keep his eyes open for kick-outs. I in no way think these rough games are a sampling of things to come for Knight. He's too intelligent on the floor for that.

DeAndre Liggins
Game 1: 12/5/4, (5-9 FGs, 2-4 3PT, 0-2 FTs), 3 steals in 35 minutes
Game 2: 7/4/2, (2-7 FGs, 3-6 FTs), 3 steals, 1 block in 26 minutes
Game 3: 8/3/1, (3-10 FGs, 0-2 3PT, 2-3 FTs), 1 steal, 4 TOs in 38 minutes
The stats aren't quite all the way there for Dre, but everyone watching the game knows he's been high impact every minute. And because of that, we’ll forgive him for not being able to shut down Kemba Walker while Walker was doing his best Michael Jordan impression. Most of DeAndre’s focus has been on the defensive end where he’s proven productive against such scorers as Jared Stohl and Isaiah Thomas, but his offensive output hasn’t registered with the same vigor. He’s only averaging 9 points per game in the early going.
Outlook: With Dre’s driving and shooting ability, he needs to up himself to around 13 or 14 points a night. His body’s big enough to where he should be a free throw shooting machine, but he’s only averaging 3.6 attempts per game. That could easily be doubled with how well he gets to the rim and absorbs contact. Since Dre is already the ultimate intangibles guy, there’s no need to harp on his peripheral stats. He’s going to give his all by being unselfish, hitting the boards, and digging in on defense no matter what the numbers tell you.

Doron Lamb
Game 1: 12/3/2, (4-8 FGs, 2-3 3PT, 2-4 FTs), 1 steal in 30 minutes
Game 2: 6/1/1, (2-10 FGs, 0-2 3PT, 2-2 FTs), 1 block, 4 fouls in 28 minutes
Game 3: 5/0/0, (2-5 FGs, 1-2 3PT, 0-0 FTs), 2 TOs in 14 minutes
After the Oklahoma win, Lamb was riding the waves of a magical early freshman run. After the pressure defense imposed by Washington’s guards, Lamb was brought back down to earth with exposed growing pains. Whether it was simply getting the ball ripped from him or being drawn into a charge, Doron couldn’t manage to handle the ball and get the team into its offensive sets. But what he could do, minus his awful Washington showing, is shoot the ball. He’s 9-of-16 so far on the year. That’s killer.
Outlook: His ball-handling woes have to be cured. The Washington game tape will be a how-to training video for all future opponents on how to guard Doron and try to entice him into turnovers. If that can be tightened, then the focus can turn back to how sharp and lethal his shooting stroke has looked. There’s no reason he can’t average 12 points off the bench with a 3-pointer (or five) nightly.

Darius Miller
Game 1: 5/5/0, (2-5 FGs, 1-3 3PT), 1 steal, 4 fouls in 26 minutes
Game 2: 8/3/1, (2-5 FGs, 1-2 3PT, 3-4 FTs), 1 steal, 1 block, 4 fouls in 24 minutes
Game 3: 15/4/2, (6-14 FGs, 2-5 3PT, 1-3 FTs) in 29 minutes
Darius has mysteriously looked lost since he made his way into the middle of the Pacific Ocean. If it weren’t for his more focused effort in the UCONN loss, fans would’ve probably wholly given up on Miller as major force. We thought he got caught in the headlights of last year’s freshmen and their collective shiny hype, but Darius has unfortunately seemed to take a firm backseat to this year’s group again.
Outlook: I like him taking around 15 shots a game far more than I like him watching the ball from the wing and accidentally throwing up 5 afterthoughts. Miller being offensively aggressive will make Brandon Knight’s job a whole lot easier going forward. If opposing defenses are taking note of Darius as a three-point threat (making a good 4-of-10 in the tourney), Knight will find himself with a lot more space on both his pick-and-rolls and simple drives. If Darius can focus on forcing himself to stay involved by creating his own shot opportunities, the rest of his game with naturally follow and he’ll be the do-everything 15/6/4/2/1 guy that we so desperately want him to be. And know he can be.

Josh Harrellson
Game 1: 2/3/0, (1-3 FGs), 4 fouls in 20 minutes
Game 2: 9/14/1, (4-6 FGs, 1-2 3PT), 1 steal, 2 blocks in 34 minutes.
Game 3: 0/6/0, (0-1 FGs), 1 steal, 2 blocks in 25 minutes
Game 2 was the best effort of Josh's career. Between the timely three-pointer, the gorgeous alley to TJ's -oop, and the 14 boards, we had ourselves an impact player. He didn't even get in foul trouble! But as soon as we thought he got himself into the swing of things, he comes up with a donut in Game 3 with only 6 meager boards to show for it.
Outlook: We simply need more of the Harrellson we got against Washington. I don’t care if he scores double digits for the entire season, but he just can’t be a guy who’s afraid to take shots, finish put-backs, or secure rebounds. He needs to nestle in around a 7-point, 7.5-board average and prove himself valuable enough to stay on the floor for over 25 minutes a game. The occasional surprise three-pointer will be awesome, too.

Eloy Vargas
Game 1: 2/4/1, (1-1 FGs) in 16 minutes
Game 2: 4/1/0, (1-1 FGs, 2-2 FTs) in 6 minutes
Game 3: 6/6/0, (1-2 FGs, 4-4 FTs), 1 steal, 2 blocks in 19 minutes
He's still incredibly irrelevant for the most part, but Vargas bookended Game 2 with a fantastic tip slam and two clutch free throw swishes. I'll take it. I’ll also take the confidence Vargas showed in calling his own number by backing down and taking a strong hook shot in Game 3. Those opportunities will be few and far between though if he’s not able to get stronger and give Coach Cal a reason to believe that he can hold his own and not be sent sprawling to the floor by any random opponent regardless of size.
Outlook: He has to simply be competent as Josh’s back-up since it looks like Coach is staying away from the small ball line-up for now. His offensive opportunities will continue to be few and far between, but his 5-of-7 field goal shooting and 6-of-6 free throw shooting for the season so far is definitely encouraging. He doesn’t quite look like he’s all the way there to be any more than a 3-board, 1-block a night contributor, but there’s always room for him to surprise us in a stretch run against the right team.

Jon Hood
Game 1: 1/2/0, (1-2 FTs) in 3 minutes
Game 2: 0/1/0, (0-3 FGs, 0-2 3PT), 1 steal in 9 minutes
Game 3: 3/3/0, (1-2 FGs, 1-1 3PT) in 9 minutes
He shows no confidence when he’s on the floor. He just looks like he’s fiending to get a shot up as quick as possible to prove his worth, even though making a jumper or two won’t be anywhere close enough of a reason to keep him out there in the wing rotation anyways.
Outlook: Jon doesn’t look like he’s taken the leap yet to be an NCAA contributor. The only way he sees the floor this season is with further significant foul trouble or an injury and a half to the rotation wings.

Stacey Poole
Game 1: DNP
Game 2: 0/0/0, (0-2 FGs, 0-1 3PT) in 8 minutes
Game 3: 0/0/0, (0-0 FGs) in 1 minute
Stacey only got into the action in Game 2 due to some unforeseen wing foul trouble, and he immediately attempted to jack up shots to make up for lost time. And he missed.
Outlook: He didn’t make anything of his Game 2 opportunity to close the first half. So we’ll just keep him in the non-factor folder until further notice.

Jarrod Polson
Game 1: DNP
Game 2: 0/0/0, (0-0 FGs) in 1 minute
Game 3: DNP
Outlook: None whatsoever.

... and Free Enes.

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