Elmhurst Pub Roundtable

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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Best Player in College Basketball

So the debate goes back and forth as to who is the true best player in the NCAA. As the tournaments (both conference and national) begin to near, it's time to take a look at some of the contenders. The two most obvious are JJ Reddick and Adam Morrison. The guys are 1-2 in the NCAA in scoring average and it's widely known that Reddick's shooting range starts the second he enters the gym. Reddick has an uncanny ability to come off one pick, not be open, but keep moving and get his shot on either the second or third pick he comes off. Paulus and Nelson as well as Dockery have had the ability to hit him in just the right spot every time. Add to that, the kid hits every free throw he takes. Those skills can't be overrated. But you never hear about the kid's defensive abilities and he doesn't necessarily make his teammates better. He also benefits from having fellow All-American Shelden Williams in the front-court. Opposing defenses can't key on him when they have another player to worry about.

Morrison on the other hand, has no other help. He's only trailing Reddick by a tenth of a point in scoring average while shooting a higher percentage from the field and at the same time hauling in nearly 4 more boards a game and only one less assist from a forward position. Reddick may be on the best team in the NCAA (truly debateable if you watch them play and compare them to UConn, Memphis, and even Nova). I'll take him over Reddick in this case without a second thought in my head. The kid has no supporting cast and is going to carry this Bulldogs team straight to the elite 8. Sure, they've flamed out before but when you have a player of his caliber who can take over a game at any time, you have to trust that he will be able to do that against some of the lesser early round teams. And they've been challenged. Look at the pre-season schedule and the Maui Invitational that they played.

But what about other guys beyond these two? You can't talk about Reddick without Williams. And there are other names that have to be discussed: Randy Foye from Nova, Darius Washington at Memphis, Quincy Douby of Rutgers, PJ Tucker in Texas, Rudy Gay at UConn, Dee Brown at Illinois all need to be considered in the top 10 of this race. I still think this is more than a two man game. Personally, I don't see how you don't give Morrison the edge over any of these other 9 players, and given who he has around him it shouldn't be close. Given the national coverage of Duke and the way ESPN pimps them up to everyone, you know Reddick will garner more support than he actually deserves.


Blogger JRod said...

Yes it is true that Gonzaga doesn't quite have the supporting cast of players that a team like Duke has, but you cannot say that guys like Raivio, Batista, and the freshman Pargo are very good roll players just like Duke has. Raivio is a guy that can step up like Dockery and make a big shot when JJ isn't open. Batista isn't a big guy like Williams, but still does a great job rebounding. Now Morrison is a great scorer, but definitely lacks something on the defensive end, which will make him a great NBA player. Redick definitely gets more hype because he plays at Duke, but don't tell me this kid isn't deserving. He plays his ass off every night on both ends of the floor. He struggles shooting in a game from 3 and can still score 20 by getting himself to the line. He's proven this year that he can take the ball to the hoop but still kill you from downtown. I've watched Morrison play and have been impressed. He scores at will and can carry his team. But he just doesn't play with the tenacity of a JJ Redick. I think that Morrison may be a better scorer, but he is not quite the complete player that Reddick is. Truthfully, I'm not sure if there is anyone else in the NCAA that we should be talking about for Player of the Year. Rudy Gay is still inconsistent, Dee Brown can score but not like these other guys and he's missing Deron Williams' passing skills. When it comes down to it, Redick and Morrison are the only two guys anyone really wants to talk about and are the only two worthy of our attention right now.

10:48 AM  
Blogger cwhager527 said...

See I look at it a different way. First, I agree with you that these are the only two guys deserving to be in the mention for national player of the year honors. I threw out some other names if only to get people thinking, but since you and I are the only ones responding I probably didn't need to make as exaggerated a point on an issue we both enjoy and can dissect.

I watched Morrison play against Stanford (thank you TiVo) and can't say I see your point about his lack of tenacity. I think Morrison makes things look effortless. When I watch him, I see a player constantly in control who, like you said, can score at will and has to in order to keep Gonzaga in games. Look at the stats. Duke is a deeper team, with their starters accounting for 82% of total points vs. nearly 90% for Gonzaga's starters. Meaning, Morrison can't slip anywhere near as much as Reddick can in order for his team to win.

JJ has been held under 20 points 5 times this season, all Duke wins. Morrison has been held under 20 points 3 times, 2 Gonzaga losses (The other he dropped 43 on Washington). Logical conclusion, you stop Morrison, you stop Gonzaga. Maybe part of this you can argue the competition within the league where he stands head and shoulders above the rest. And Morrison carries his team through conference play since no one can stop him. I'll give you Batista is the Williams to his Reddick, but Pargo is averaging 3 points a game this season. Raivio does have some Dockery in him, but let's look at the relative skill level.

Best player in college basketball is just that. Morrison is THE man for that team and as he goes, so goes Gonzaga. Reddick can have an off night and have another ALL AMERICA there to pick him up. The Duke hype is beyond helping him. Outside of Maui and the Stanford game, people on the east coast have to wait till the midnight games to watch Morrison play. Not an easy task, especially when Duke is thrown at you on every Big Monday and Saturday afternoon game on national tv, regardless of opponent. The question for both of them is how their games translate at the NBA level. Given that Reddick is a shooter who uses (sometimes) multiple picks to get open and Morrison is a 6'8" (college height) forward, it'll be interesting.

11:15 AM  

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