Wednesday, January 02, 2008
Jeff Goodman, Fox Sports - College Hoop Blog: Good 'N Plenty
College Hoop Blog: Good 'N Plenty
Jeff Goodman, Fox Sports
TRIP OBSERVATIONS: MEMPHIS CHEMISTRY, ARIZONA'S INTENSITY
Dec 31, 2007
After catching four more ranked teams in addition to one that was ranked in the preseason over the last three days, here are a few observations:
1) I find it hard to believe that there’s a team out there with better chemistry than the second-ranked Memphis Tigers. They play extremely unselfish together and go everywhere as a group – and we’re not just talking about a few of them. They go to the mall, out for meals and just about everywhere in a group of 13.
2) This is no disrespect to Hall of Famer Lute Olson, but this Arizona team plays harder than the Wildcats have played in recent years. Interim coach Kevin O’Neill, the future successor once Olson retires, will be scary once he adds some depth in the next couple of years. Right now Arizona has virtually nothing up front besides Jordan Hill.
3) Butler’s senior backcourt of A.J. Graves and Mike Green is among the nation’s best. Graves is an unconscious shooter with unlimited range and Green is a guy who powers his way to the basket and can also distribute the ball. They’ll be a tough out come tournament time because of their guard play and the toughness in the paint from freshman Matt Howard.
4) Southern Illinois just isn’t the same team this year. Don’t expect them to just roll through the Missouri Valley, either. The Salukis lack the overall toughness they had a year ago now than guards Jamaal Tatum and Tony Young are gone.
5) The worst call that I’ve seen this entire season came when Arizona big man Kirk Walters was hit with an intentional foul late in the game against Memphis. It was a clear block and there was nothing blatant about it.
6) If I were the AD at Ole Miss, I’d try and lock up Andy Kennedy for a long, long time. He’s one of the best up-and-coming coaches in the business. He can coach, is a proven recruiter and has a way about him with the players.
7) I got a chance to watch Illinois 2009 commitment D.J. Richardson, a long wing out of Peoria High. Illini coach Bruce Weber’s new approach of trying to offer a few of the state’s top young players has worked thus far – and Richardson has the potential to become a big-time player. He scored 28 points and was 5-for-10 from long distance against a team that had three D-1 players.
TEXAS GETTING JOHNSON BACK
I’ve seen Texas freshman Gary Johnson play at least 30 games while at Aldine High and throughout the spring and summers.
He’ll make a difference, but he’s certainly no savior.
Johnson, who will make his regular-season debut this week against TCU, will give Rick Barnes’ team energy, a rebounder and a player who can score in the low post, but the Longhorns will still need more consistency out of Connor Atchley and Justin Mason.
RANDOM NOTES: Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said he will play his former boss, Bob Huggins, in a home-and-home series with West Virginia beginning next season. Huggins is going to Ole Miss next season. ``Would have rather lose to someone you like or someone you don’t like?” Kennedy said. … One of the more overlooked additions at the break was that of South Florida wing Aaron Holmes, who left Florida State a year ago after just a few games. Holmes scored 20 points in 19 minutes and was 5-of-8 from long range in a win over Winston Salem State – his third game with the Bulls. … Ohio State freshman Jon Diebler just needed a little time to relax. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard struggled early and was just 7-of-45 from long range, but he’s 14-of-23 from long distance in the last four games. … Speaking of guys who like to let it fly from deep, UAB’s Robert Vaden has averaged more than 13 attempts from 3-point land in the last four games. He’s 23-of-53 in that span.