Cal's Anderson, Stanford make hay against Washington schools
Joe Nicholson/AP Photo
Player of the Week: Ryan Anderson, Cal Golden Bears
By Andy Katz
Last week: 27 points, 9 rebounds vs. Washington State; 33 points, 17 rebounds vs. Washington
There is no debate about the most glaring omission from any national award list to date: Ryan Anderson.
That his name is missing from the award lists demonstrates how little attention Cal receives nationally. Anderson is a lock for first-team All-Pac-10 and likely will finish in the top three in the player of the year voting in the conference, with UCLA's Kevin Love and Stanford's Brook Lopez.
Over the weekend, Cal (13-7 overall, 4-5 Pac-10) swept Washington State and Washington to keep moving toward an NCAA Tournament berth. It was the Bears' first sweep of the Washington schools since 2003. And the majority of the credit went to Anderson.
He scored 33 points and had 17 boards in the win over Washington. During a stretch in the second half, he scored 15 straight points and took the Bears from down five to up five.
Anderson's two-game numbers were phenomenal: 60 points, 26 rebounds, 20-of-32 shooting, 9-of-14 shooting on 3s, 11-of-11 shooting at the line.
He is averaging 22.2 points and 10 rebounds a game. He also is highly thought of by the NBA's brass. The 6-foot-10 sophomore is considered a first-round lock whenever he decides to declare for the draft.
Team of the Week: Stanford Cardinal
By Andy Katz
Last week: beat Washington 65-51; beat Washington State 67-65 in OT
I tried to get Stanford coach Trent Johnson excited, but I couldn't. He refused to sound emotional about the Cardinal's sweep of the Washington schools, notably the overtime win over Washington State on Saturday.
"We're just getting better," Johnson said rather blandly.
He went on to say that getting a sweep on the road is just as difficult as getting one at home. And in the Pac-10 this season, that might be true.
Still, Stanford was able to beat the struggling Cougars without its second-leading scorer, lead guard Anthony Goods. Goods injured his ankle in the win at Washington on Thursday, and Johnson said he is hopeful Goods can return for Thursday's game against Oregon in Palo Alto.
Stanford has won five games in a row since losing at Oregon by five. Its only other conference loss was at home to UCLA in the Pac-10 opener. The sweep of the Washington schools put the Cardinal alone in second place at 7-2, 18-3 overall, assuring the team an NCAA berth. Stanford is the one team that is realistically within reach of the first-place Bruins. Washington State, Arizona and USC all have four losses, and UCLA probably isn't going to lose three more games (that's not being too bold, right?).
Stanford's maligned guards might prevent the team from overtaking the Bruins, but Brook Lopez's play in the post has been so consistent (18.9 points and 8.3 rebounds per game) that it's hard to entirely dismiss the Cardinal.
Stanford is the surprise of the conference and, if it reaches the top 10, will be the surprise there, too. It ends the season with five of nine at home, putting it in position to finish at least second in the Pac-10 and enter the NCAAs with a respectably high seed.
By Jay Bilas
1. UCLA A Healthy Choice
UCLA's Darren Collison demonstrated why I believe he is the best point guard in America when healthy. He had 16 assists and just two turnovers against Arizona State and Arizona. Collison can dominate a game without scoring, and he puts the toughest pressure on the ball of any defensive guard I have seen this year. Collison forced Arizona's Jerryd Bayless and Nic Wise to turn their backs, took away their vision and disrupted every initial timing pass of Kevin O'Neill's sets, which are designed to get Bayless and Chase Budinger open for jumpshots. To underscore Collison's impact, all you had to do was watch Arizona's game against USC. The Wildcats' guards had the time and vision to pick apart the USC defense and deliver the ball right in the shooting alleys of Budinger and Bayless; they lit up the Trojans. Against UCLA, Arizona couldn't run anything, and the Bruins shut down the Wildcats when they were playing their best basketball. Without injuries, UCLA would be the best team in the country.
2. The Unknown Big Man
Rider's Jason Thompson is the best mid-major big man in the country, and it is too bad most people (even devoted college basketball fans) couldn't pick the kid out of a lineup. Thompson is a 6-foot-11 senior and "late bloomer" who has learned to dominate games, and he will be an NBA pro. Thompson had 23 points and 21 rebounds against Siena over the weekend and has been written about before on ESPN.com, but without him being on the idiot box weekly, his play doesn't seem to resonate with the general public. For the second straight year, he is averaging more than 20 points and 10 rebounds per game while blocking almost three shots per game this season. He was one of the best and most well-rounded big men in the Nike LeBron James Skills Academy, and he will prove his worth at the next level. If his team can navigate the tournament, you might just see him in the MAAC final during Championship Week on ESPN. Jason Thompson can really play.
3. Shooting Woes?
When you are unbeaten, the focus is on your weaknesses, rather than just how good you are. Well, Memphis has some relative weaknesses, but few teams seem able to exploit them enough to steal a win, and it's not like the Tigers haven't played a good schedule. For example, Memphis as a team shoots a poor percentage from the free-throw line (58 percent), which would suggest the Tigers would falter in late game situations and lose in the NCAA Tournament. But Memphis was hardly a great free-throw shooting team the past two years, yet the Tigers made it to the Elite Eight both times. There were a bunch of drop-dead great free-throw shooting teams that were bounced early. Also, a good many of Memphis' poor free-throw shooters are bench players who will not be playing key minutes in tough games. I think we all can agree that if Memphis puts up a performance against a really good team like it put up against UTEP (1-of-17 shooting on 3-pointers and 20 missed free throws), the Tigers will be beat. But that has not been the Tigers' pattern in the past or this season. Against Georgetown, the Tigers hit 22 of 29 free throws, and they shot the ball better from the line in the NCAA Tournament the past two years than they did during the season. Is it troubling? Yes. Is it a fatal flaw? Probably not.
By Reggie Rankin
Scouts Inc.'s Reggie Rankin takes a look at eight upsets that could happen this week:
• Monday: Saint Joseph's over Villanova, 8 p.m. ET
The very young and talented Wildcats don't have a senior on their roster. Sophomore guard Scottie Reynolds, freshman guard Corey Fisher and junior forward Dante Cunningham are their major players. Reynolds is a big-time scorer with 3-point range who can get to rim and finish off the dribble. Fisher also can make plays off the bounce and knock down the 3. The very quick, athletic Cunningham is a solid low-post threat and offensive rebounder. Saint Joe's has balanced scoring led by the super skilled Pat Calathes. Insider Ahmad Nivins can score on the box and finish with authority. Tasheed Carr is a powerful guard who can deliver the ball on the money and rebound in addition to his double-figure scoring, and 6-foot-8 forward Rob Ferguson is an excellent shooter off the catch with 3-point range. Villanova has struggled on defense and has been inconsistent on offense recently. The Wildcats never quit and have showed they can come back from huge deficits, but they will have to have a good night on the defensive end of the floor to hold off Saint Joe's in this heated city battle on Hawk Hill.
• Tuesday: Florida over Tennessee, ESPN, 9 p.m. ET
The Vols impose their will on opponents and make them play faster than they would like, making players do things out of their norm. They make forwards and centers handle the ball in the backcourt, out of their comfort zone, against full-court pressure. Chris Lofton and JaJuan Smith lead a team that is as deep as any in the country, and the Tennessee defense can turn turnovers into dunks and open 3s so fast it will make your head spin. But the young Gators like to pressure and shoot 3s as well, and play at an extremely fast pace. If the tough, skilled Nick Calathes and Jai Lucas can make some plays in the open court, and Walter Hodge and Marreese Speights can continue to finish around the rim, Florida could give the Vols some problems in Knoxville.
Peter Aiken/Getty Images
Josh Young and Drake will have to be careful facing Illinois State.
• Tuesday: Illinois State over Drake, 8:05 p.m. ET
The Bulldogs have been one of the surprise teams of the season, taking the Missouri Valley Conference by storm. Drake has experience, solid depth and is an excellent shooting team. Seniors Leonard Houston and Klayton Korver, junior Jonathan Cox and sophomore Josh Young can shoot the ball from behind the arc, and the Drake matchup zone defense takes opponents out of their offenses. The Redbirds are seeking revenge after losing 79-73 on Jan. 19 at Drake. Young was out with a sprained ankle at the time, but Korver, Cox, Houston and Adam Emmenecker combined for 67 of the Bulldogs' 79 points. Illinois State is an excellent defensive team led in scoring by sophomore guard Osiris Eldridge, followed by 6-foot-7 forward Anthony Slack. Guards Dom Johnson and Boo Richardson do a great job of putting a value on the ball and making sure Eldridge, Slack and center Levi Dyer get their touches. The atmosphere will be electric when the Redbirds attempt to pay back the Bulldogs in Normal.
• Wednesday: Oklahoma over Texas, ESPN2, 7 p.m. ET
Oklahoma will try to establish its inside scoring attack with Blake Griffin and the much improved Longar Longar to offset the highly productive Longhorns backcourt -- D.J. Augustin and A.J. Abrams. Damion James will be a tough matchup for the Sooners because he can play inside and out and is a terrific rebounder. Tony Crocker will have to stretch the defense with his long-range stroke to give the big fellas room to work in the lane. If the Sooners' defense can slow down Augustin and Abrams by forcing them to take contested shots, their inside game is good enough to get them a huge home win.
• Thursday: Washington State over UCLA, 10:30 p.m. ET
The Cougars didn't make the Bruins work for their shots in game one and lost 81-74. The loss knocked Washington State from the ranks of the unbeaten. Kevin Love dominated, going for 27 points and 14 rebounds. The Cougs made seven 3s in the final 90 seconds, but the late barrage fell short. However, UCLA played great defense up until that point. Kyle Weaver must play better than he did in L.A., where he scored only nine points on 4-of-11 shooting. Things could be different this time in Pullman if Washington State can establish the tone on defense and if Derrick Low can get the 3s going right from the start .
• Saturday: Louisville over Georgetown, ESPN, 9 p.m. ET
Roy Hibbert anchors the great Hoya defense in the lane while Jessie Sapp, Jonathan Wallace and Jeremiah Rivers apply great pressure on the ball. The Cards are at full strength after some early season injuries. David Padgett and Derrick Caracter are legit low-post threats. Terrence Williams and Jerry Smith can knock down 3s, and Earl Clark is a long, athletic slasher who can rebound on both ends. If Louisville can swarm Hibbert in the low post and rebound the first miss, the transition 3 might go down often enough for a huge win in Freedom Hall.
• Sunday: Clemson over North Carolina, 6:30 p.m. ET
Carolina guard Wayne Ellington scored 36 points in 36 minutes, including the game winner in overtime, at Littlejohn Coliseum on Jan. 6 to give the Tar Heels a 90-88 victory over the Tigers. K.C. Rivers took scoring honors for Clemson with 24 points. The Tigers will go right at Tyler Hansbrough with James Mays and Trevor Booker in an attempt to make him defend early and often. Cliff Hammonds and Rivers will put pressure on Ty Lawson, Danny Green and Ellington, attempting to use dribble penetration to get inside the Tar Heels' defense and finish at the rim for a score or drop off. If the Tigers establish their inside game and handle the Carolina trap, they might return the favor in the Dean Dome.
• Sunday: Ohio State over Indiana, 1 p.m. ET
With weapons at every position, led by Eric Gordon and D.J. White, the Hoosiers can provide the knockout punch in a single run. But the young Buckeyes are tough in the Schottenstein Center, with senior Jamar Butler leading the attack. If Kosta Koufos plays strong in the lane and David Lighty, Evan Turner and Othello Hunter can locate and contain Gordon and box out White in the Buckeyes' 2-2-1 zone press back to 2-3 matchup zone, they could get the Hoosiers out of rhythm and give themselves a great chance.
By Andy Katz
Here's what I'm looking forward to this week:
• Gonzaga at Saint Mary's, Monday (ESPN2, 11 p.m. ET): If the Gaels want a shot at winning the WCC, they must get this home win against Gonzaga.
• Florida at Tennessee, Tuesday (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET): The Gators have struggled away from home, while the Vols have been dominant. We'll see if that continues.
• Drake at Illinois State, Tuesday: This is the rematch of the two best teams in the Valley this season. If Drake is going to lose in the Valley, this likely would be the spot.
• Connecticut at Syracuse, Wednesday (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET): The Orange get a shot to keep their pulse going against the hottest team in the Big East (save Georgetown).
• Duke at North Carolina, Wednesday (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET): This game will be part one of a two-part series to determine the ACC champ and possible No. 1 seed in the East.
• Indiana at Illinois, Thursday (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET): Let's see if the Illinois fans are as nasty to former recruit Eric Gordon as the Oregon fans were to UCLA's Kevin Love, who is from their state. If they are, they should be ripped as much as the Ducks faithful were by their own administration.
• UCLA at Washington State, Thursday: The Cougs aren't playing well, especially Daven Harmeling and Aron Baynes. That's a problem, since Josh Shipp and Kevin Love are on top of their games for the Bruins.
• Oregon at Stanford, Thursday (ESPN Full Court, 10 p.m. ET): The Ducks had the Cardinal's number in Eugene. I'm not sure they can handle the Ducks inside.
• Georgetown at Louisville, Saturday (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET): The Cards can help UConn by knocking off the Hoyas at home. Someone has to take out Georgetown soon if a team like Connecticut wants a shot at first.
• Ole Miss at Arkansas, Saturday (ESPN Full Court, 5 p.m. ET): The Rebels desperately need a road win, and the Hogs suddenly are a viable NCAA contender after a win over Florida.
• USC at Washington State, Saturday (ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET): We'll see if the Cougars still are reeling at this point or if they stopped the bleeding with a shocker over UCLA.
• Oregon at Cal, Saturday (ESPN Full Court, 7 p.m. ET): The way both squads are playing right now, this is a classic conference bubble game.
• Clemson at North Carolina, Sunday: We can only hope this game is as entertaining as the first one, won by a Wayne Ellington 3-pointer for the Tar Heels.
• Saint Joseph's at Xavier, Sunday: The Musketeers have a shot to create more separation in the league race by handing the Hawks a second league loss.
• Arizona State at Arizona, Sunday: The Sun Devils are reeling, and the Wildcats are hurting emotionally after the UCLA debacle. Someone will come out of this game with renewed confidence and hope.
UCLA Hammers Arizona
Kansas Rolls Past Colorado
Top Teams Outside The Polls To Watch1. Arizona
6. Mississippi State
7. Rhode Island
9. Saint Joe's
Penn State Upends Michigan State
Indiana Handles Northwestern
• Connecticut: UConn is emerging as possibly the second-best team in the Big East after knocking off Louisville and Pitt last week at home. A.J. Price is playing like the point guard Jim Calhoun projected two years ago.
• Rhode Island: Just a couple of days into February, the Rams are one win shy of 20 and are a game behind Xavier. Ultimately, the Rams might tussle with Saint Joseph's for second in the A-10 and could join the Hawks in the NCAA.
• Purdue: Say what you want about the Boilermakers' lack of power wins out of the Big Ten. The reality is that Purdue is tied atop the Big Ten standings with Wisconsin (the Boilermakers already beat the Badgers) and Indiana with one loss.
• Drake: The Bulldogs have the look George Washington did a few years ago when the Colonials rolled through the A-10 only to get a poor seed because of the strength of schedule. Drake looks untouchable in the Valley with an 11-0 conference record and a 20-1 overall mark.
• Memphis: OK, so it was close with UTEP. That's fine. The Tigers still won. They still are undefeated, and Conference USA still looks like it can't keep the Tigers from going undefeated in league play.
• UCLA: Get out of the way of this squad. The Bruins locked up ASU and Arizona last week at home and made sure there are no doubts the Bruins are the clear favorite for the Pac-10 title and a No. 1 seed in the West.
• Duke: The Blue Devils toy with teams for a spell. They let them hang around, then jet away in the final stanza.
• Georgetown: The Hoyas have looked vulnerable, especially two weeks ago. But the reality is the Hoyas still are atop the Big East with only one blemish.-- Andy Katz, ESPN.com
Georgetown Takes Out Seton Hall
West Virginia Holds Off Providence
• Cincinnati: The Bearcats' story is a nice one. They have plenty of quality wins, like at Louisville and against West Virginia and Pitt at home. But after the loss to Marquette at home, the Bearcats are 10-12 overall and 5-5 in the Big East. And it seems like the overall mark will be too hard to overcome.
• Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets don't have as many stand-up wins as Cincy and showed some life for a few weeks, but the loss to Maryland sent them back to 10-10 and 3-4 in the ACC. Making a bid seems out of reach without a serious roll of wins.
• Villanova: The Wildcats dropped another home game to slip to 3-6 in the Big East, 13-7 overall, and put themselves in a perilous spot -- trying to stay out of 13th place in the conference and stay in the league tournament in New York.
• Boston College: The Eagles were 3-0 in the ACC just two weeks ago. Now, they are 3-4, after losing at Virginia, North Carolina and Clemson and to Virginia Tech at home in overtime. The 12-8 record needs plenty of padding to influence the committee.-- Andy Katz, ESPN.com
Kansas State Upended By Missouri
• Dayton: Injuries have decimated the Flyers of late, as they slipped to 3-4 in the league, 15-5 overall after a loss at Rhode Island.
• UMass: The Minutemen have a slim margin, too. The loss at Saint Louis sent UMass down to 3-4 in the A-10, 14-7 overall.
• Miami: The Hurricanes couldn't close out NC State two weeks ago, did the same at Wake Forest and couldn't hang with Duke. Now, the Canes are 2-5 in the ACC, 15-6 overall, and looking at quite a mountain to climb to get a bid.
• Ole Miss: The Rebels were one of the last unbeaten teams in the country. Ole Miss now is 3-4 in the SEC, 16-4 overall, and let a key home game get away on South Carolina's Dominique Archie 3-pointer in the final seconds.-- Andy Katz, ESPN.com
Arkansas Scores Big Win Over Gators
• Virginia Tech: Their nonconference record is weak, but the Hokies still are 5-3 in the ACC after a sweep of Virginia pushed them to 14-8 overall. If the Hokies finish third in the league and have a strong-looking record, such as only five or six losses, do they get in? Or do they have to beat Duke or North Carolina at least once?
• Kentucky: It's hard to ignore that Kentucky is 4-2 in the SEC. Now, I know, the Cats are only 10-9 overall. But what happens if the Cats keep winning and have only four losses in the league? What then?
• Maryland: The win over North Carolina, on the road no less, will have shelf life if the Terps can find a way to third place. At 4-3, they are tied for third in the loss column with Virginia Tech and Clemson.
• Saint Joseph's: The Hawks (14-5 overall, 6-1 A-10) enter the Holy War game Monday against Villanova having won five in a row and 10 of 11 overall. The Hawks went 6-1 in January and are 8-3 on the road this year. A year ago, the Hawks had only five road wins. Pat Calathes also is on a tear, averaging 17.5 points and six rebounds in two games last week and 19.6 points and nine boards in the A-10 this season.-- Andy Katz, ESPN.com
Texas A&M Wins Third Straight
Game Of The Week
• Gonzaga 87, Santa Clara 82 2OTs: This is exactly why the Zags should be applauded if they get through the conference slate undefeated. Winning on the road can be incredibly taxing, with every team pumped to beat the Zags for a signature win. First-year coach Kerry Keating had the Broncos on the verge of the upset Gonzaga, but they were thwarted in the final 0.3 seconds from winning in regulation. Gonzaga's Steven Gray made two free throws to send the game into overtime. Freshman Austin Daye scored 13 of his career-high 22 points in the overtimes.-- Andy Katz, ESPN.com