Florida's clearly a tourney team; MSU needs to get healthy, more
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- We'll lead off my Monday Hoop Thoughts with my take on the quartet of teams that were assembled in Atlantic City last weekend for the Legends Classic. I did color commentary on those games for HDNet, so I had a great seat for the games as well as the shootarounds. I also got to spend some quality time with the coaching staffs.
If you saw the highlights of the Gators' upset of Michigan State, you probably saw sophomore point guard
Walker was much better on Saturday night against Rutgers, when he went 3-for-6 from three and had five assists to three turnovers. That only raised his three-point percentage on the season to 23.5 percent -- which is still better than the 19.5 percent clip being posted by his freshman backcourtmate,
Besides the arrival of Boynton, the biggest change for Florida over last year is the presence of
Bottom line: This is clearly an NCAA tournament team, and the Gators' size and skill level will win them a lot of games. Now they need to develop the toughness required to play deep into the tournament.
We know toughness will never be an issue with the Spartans. Size, however, is a different story. It was pretty dramatic to sit courtside and see how much bigger Florida was than Michigan State.
And yet, the Spartans dominated the boards against Florida because rebounding is at the heart of this program's identity. They also shot 52.5 percent and followed that up by shooting 58.6 percent in the win over UMass. This may be the most efficient offensive team Izzo has had. That is largely attributable to junior point guard
Michigan State should have beaten Florida, but the Spartans lost because they showed no poise against the Gators' press, resulting in 22 turnovers. Still, you have to keep in mind that this team has been riddled with injuries in the offseason and preseason.
My general take is Michigan State does not have as much room for error as it did last season, but that doesn't mean this team is not as good as last year's. We'll have a better sense of how good they are after everyone has been healthy and together for a few weeks. The Spartans are always going to rebound and defend, but in the end their halfcourt offense will be the difference.
This was my first time seeing Scarlet Knights sophomore guard
The following night, Rosario played better against Florida, especially on the defensive end, but he still needed 15 shots to score 14 points. After the game Scarlet Knights coach
The good news is that Rutgers does have some other nice pieces. Junior point guard
I didn't quite realize just how much of a rebuilding project
As for Harris, he is skilled but he does not seem to have the motor required to be a truly great player. He is a nice kid and a good student, but he needs to play with more edge. He also needs to be more committed to defense and do a better job moving without the ball. Kellogg switched him to point guard -- a position he has rarely played, even in high school -- midway through the Rutgers game, and he may play a lot more minutes at that position as the season wears on. Kellogg was also bringing 6-3 junior guard
Kellogg has done some good recruiting, but even as the young kids grow up next season they will have to account for the loss of Harris. Kellogg has his blueprint for rebuilding this program, but it is going to take a couple of years before we can judge how well he is getting the job done.
• Two guys who have shown they were worthy of inclusion in my
• I'm a little surprised (and I'm guessing
• Count me as one of those folks who believes the NCAA needs to get rid of those slippery promotional stickers on the court. There are plenty of ways to give corporations the requisite visibility without putting players at risk.
• Huge loss for Villanova as freshman center
• Freshman guard
• You have to wonder at what point Gonzaga's lack of depth will catch up with them. The Zags' starting five is solid, but they are a little too vulnerable to fatigue, foul trouble or injury.
• Memo to TV game producers: Unless a guy is losing his temper or his hair is on fire, there is absolutely no reason to show a live box of a coach while the game is going on. Please cease and desist.
• You think Michigan's
• Interesting how North Carolina is de-emphasizing the three-pointer of late. The Heels only shot 10 treys (making four) in the win over Nevada and attempted just four in their drubbing of Gardner Webb. I guess that's what happens when you replace
• I still think Tennessee is the team to beat in the SEC, but I admit I am not a big
• I don't think it's any secret that
• Had to do a double take seeing William and Mary win at Wake Forest over the weekend. I know W&M is pretty good (it played Connecticut tough and lost to Harvard in overtime on a buzzer beater), but if you're Wake there is no excuse for losing that game at home.
• I was less surprised by Louisville's loss at UNLV. It was a true road game, and remember UNLV won at Freedom Hall last year. That said,
• Illinois has some good frontcourt players, but the Illini remain offensively challenged on the perimeter. They went a combined 5-for-33 from three-point range in losses to Utah and Bradley last week.
• Alabama's wins over Baylor and Michigan make Cornell's win in Tuscaloosa look that much more impressive. Could this be a year when an Ivy League team wins a game in the NCAA tournament? Me thinks it could be so.
• At this point you'd have to anticipate that the Pac 10 will only get three teams into the NCAA tournament. That would leave a few bids out there for mid-majors to gobble up.
• Big, big wins for St. John's last week in Philadelphia, where it beat two NCAA tournament teams, Siena and Temple, in the Palestra. Remember, the Johnnies are still without their best player,