Let me be the first person to utter these words this season: Shame on you, J.J. Redick.
A lot of people can't stand you. I actually love watching you play. Yet, I have to say, J.J. …
I'm so disappointed in you.
You entered this season as the NCAA's all-time leader in free-throw accuracy, at 93.8 percent for your career. You missed only 28 free throws in your first three seasons at Duke. We all marveled at your consistency.
But it all has fallen apart this season. You've already missed 23 free throws in 25 games. You've even missed two in a row. Your 88.2 percentage places you 27th in the country -- 27th! And guess what, you're no longer the NCAA's all-time leader. Congratulations.
What the heck happened to you?
Sure, you're shooting 50.8 percent from the field. Yeah, you just became the NCAA's all-time leader in 3-pointers made (416 and counting). OK, you're leading the nation in scoring (28.9 ppg). And yes, your team will be ranked No. 1 in the nation with a win over Miami on Sunday.
But what about the free throws, damn it!
I'm scared for you, J.J. It's a slippery slope … next thing you know, you'll be in the NBA chucking up bricks from the charity stripe like Shaq.
So pull yourself together. See a sports psychologist, write some more poetry, do whatever you have to do -- whatever it takes.
Don't let me down.
And he'd have the votes of his Bucknell teammates and coaches. The 6-11, 235-pound junior center is leading the 21-3 Bison in scoring at 13.1 points per game, and he's shooting 59.0 percent from the field. This past week, he chipped in eight points in a crucial 57-52 win at Patriot League rival Holy Cross and scored 12 in a 69-49 win at Lafayette. Bucknell is 12-0 in the conference with two league games left to play and is ranked nationally (No. 24) this week for the first time in school history.
"Inside, outside, Chris can just really shoot the basketball," Bucknell coach Pat Flannery says.
McNaughton was born and raised in Germany (although his father is American). The primary reason he ended up at Bucknell is that Flannery was sent a videotape that starred another German player, Joe Herber. Herber ended up being a little out of Bucknell's league, so to speak -- he now starts for West Virginia -- but Flannery was intrigued by another player on the video. "This big kid kept showing up on the screen, going up and down the floor," Flannery says. "He had soft hands, and he could run."
The Bucknell coaching staff made contact with McNaughton -- and it turned out he was hoping to come to the U.S. to play in college. He really enjoyed his first visit to Bucknell's campus, and the Bison got the big man they coveted. He has come in pretty handy, too -- like last season when he hit the game-winning shot to shock Kansas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Bucknell returned all five starters from last year's team, and the Bison have been even better this season. They've already won at Syracuse and at DePaul, and their only losses came against Villanova, at Duke and at Santa Clara.
McNaughton plays primarily with his back to the basket, employing a variety of post moves, although he has been stepping outside a bit more this season. And one thing's for sure, he doesn't miss much -- particularly in big games. He scored a career-high 29 points against Villanova earlier this season. And in last year's NCAA Tournament, he scored 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting (including that winner) against Kansas, and followed that with 23 points on 10-of-14 shooting in a losing effort against Wisconsin in the second round.
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But there really are no leading stars on this Bucknell squad -- it's a team of good supporting actors, particularly McNaughton, Charles Lee and Kevin Bettencourt. The Bison have two critical games coming up, a BracketBusters matchup at Northern Iowa on Saturday and a home game vs. Lehigh (10-1 in the Patriot League) on Wednesday. Despite the national ranking, Bucknell's no lock for an at-large bid -- the Patriot League has never received one.
"There's two ways to handle success, rest or work harder," Flannery says. "Our kids have worked hard … and they're hungry."
Don't be surprised to see Bucknell's best supporting actor come up big when it counts.
He might even get some gold hardware to show for it.
There's a reason Beilein's name comes up so much when coaching vacancies are discussed.
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Millsap has led the nation in rebounding the past two seasons -- and, with his 28-spot Wednesday, now leads the nation once again, with an average of 13.2 boards per game.
Bill Chambers of William & Mary holds the NCAA Division I record for rebounds in a game with 51, a total he posted on Valentine's Day 1953 against Virginia. Other notable totals: Tommy Heinsohn had 42 for Holy Cross against Boston College in 1955, and Dave DeBusschere pulled down 39 for Detroit vs. Central Michigan in 1960.
Got this one from the Links of the Day on the Sports Guy's page, but it's worth posting again. The quote, found in The Stanford Daily, is from Erin Lashnits, who has been suspended for the rest of her tenure as the Stanford Tree. Apparently she had caused a series of problems, and the last straw was when she was removed from the court at Cal on Feb. 9 and subsequently given a Breathalyzer test.
I guess when you play a tree, you have to keep things interesting for yourself, eh? Wanna read more? Here's the link.
Other thoughts from games I watched this past week:
• I know I criticized Indiana fans earlier this season for rushing the court after the Hoosiers defeated Illinois -- because Indiana was ranked No. 11 in the country at the time, not far behind Illinois at No. 5, and the game was played in Bloomington. Yet I can't blame Villanova fans for rushing the court after the No. 4 Cats toppled No. 1 UConn in Philadelphia on Monday. Villanova fans had such high hopes coming into this season, and many of them probably lost plenty of hope when Curtis Sumpter got injured. The fact that Villanova can still beat a team like UConn -- well, that's cause for serious celebration.
• Am I starting to doubt Michigan State, one of my Final Four picks? Yeah, a li'l bit. But I'm not giving up on the Spartans yet.
• Watched a good portion of the U.S. women's curling match against Japan on Tuesday night -- and, to my surprise , I actually kinda got into it. Keep your eyes peeled for the Curling Report Card, coming soon to Page 2 …
That game wasn't nearly as close. The No. 15 Wildcats won 96-73 in Storrs, breaking the Huskies' streaks of 18 consecutive wins in the Big East (a league record) and 27 consecutive wins at home. UConn's Ray Allen, the Big East's leading scorer at the time, was held to 11 points on 4-of-17 shooting. 'Nova's Kerry Kittles, who was second behind Allen, notched a career-high 37. And 3-point specialist Eric Eberz (remember Eric Eberz!) scored 23 points, including seven treys.
UConn would go on to be a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament that year, losing in a regional final to eventual national champ UCLA. Villanova earned a No. 3 seed but was upset by Old Dominion in the first round, 89-81 in triple overtime, in one of the best first-round games in recent history. Petey Sessoms led ODU with 35 points, and Kittles scored 22 in defeat.
So, on Wednesday against Fordham, all the Xavier players wore both their socks up, in a tribute to their missing leading scorer and rebounder. And they got a win for him too, 84-64 over the Rams. A nice tribute.
Moving on to this week's poll question: Are you disappointed in J.J. Redick? Please vote at the top right of this page.
And remember, please send me questions for next week's column or nominations for the different subject categories. You can e-mail me here.
Here are a couple of questions I received this past week:
I know the Jayhawks don't start five freshmen, but with Kansas' freshmen leading the way, could we see a run similar to Michigan's in the '90s?
-- Mike, Marion, Kan.
Don't think so, Mike. Enjoy this squad while you can -- the Jayhawks are playing extremely well right now and are certainly capable of going pretty deep in March. But I don't see them getting to two consecutive national championship games. They'd be fortunate to get to one Final Four. Plus, some of those freshmen might not even be around next season.
I know teams have won with three-guard offenses, but can Villanova win the whole thing with a four-guard offense (and what seems like limited post play)?
-- Sean, Collegeville, Pa.
Will Sheridan didn't look very limited against UConn (13 points, 10 rebounds). Yes, the four-guard offense is unusual. But if Villanova can beat Connecticut, it can beat anybody this season. I do think the Wildcats can win the whole darn thing. One thing's for sure, they'll be a tough out in the Big Dance.
Bucknell at Northern Iowa (Saturday, 12:05 p.m. ET, ESPN2): It's BracketBusters weekend -- try to catch some of the great mid-major matchups. This should be a particularly good one.
UConn at West Virginia (Saturday, 3:45 p.m. ET, CBS -- but check local listings): A pivotal Big East game, and -- surprisingly -- both teams are coming off losses.
Georgetown at Villanova (Sunday, noon ET, ESPN Full Court): 'Nova knocked off UConn -- can the Cats avoid a letdown against a very good G'town squad?
Tennessee at Florida (Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET, check local listings): Can the Gators get revenge for their loss to the Vols last month?
Kieran Darcy is an editor at ESPN.com and a contributor to ESPN The Magazine. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.