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Seth Davis's 5 MINUTE GUIDE

March 19, 2012
March 19, 2012

Table of Contents
March 19, 2012

GOLF PLUS
LEADING OFF
THE MAIL
Inside: THE WEEK IN SPORTS
  • As it starts its 17th season, MLS has become a hotbed for talented players from Latin America—especially Colombia, which has a long history with the U.S. game

  • Everyone wants to see the Suns move their point guard—except for Steve Nash, who's happy to keep things as they are

  • These five players were once can't-miss kids. They're still kids and (for the most part) still have a chance to bust out like the Royals' Alex Gordon did in 2011

NCAA TOURNAMENT PREVIEW
PRO FOOTBALL
PRO HOCKEY
  • St. Louis has found its happy groove under coach Ken Hitchcock, who has taken his new club from unheralded to seemingly unbeatable

BASEBALL
ANTOINE WALKER
POINT AFTER
Departments

Seth Davis's 5 MINUTE GUIDE

DON'T FEAR THE MADNESS! BRUSH UP ON THE BEST PLAYERS, DEFENDERS, CLUTCH GUYS—AND THE GUYS WHO ARE ANYTHING BUT

NCAATHE ROAD TO NEW ORLEANS

This is an article from the March 19, 2012 issue

DOWN LOW AND DEADLY

It was a big year for big men. Although none of the player-of-the-year favorites are true centers, all are centers of attention when they get the ball on the block

THOMAS ROBINSON, F, KANSAS

After two seasons as a reserve, the junior was the nation's second-leading rebounder (11.8 per game) and he ranked in the Big 12's top three in points (17.9) and FG% (53.1).

ANTHONY DAVIS, F, KENTUCKY

The best shot blocking freshman since Patrick Ewing in 1981--82, he also became a dominant scorer during the second half of the SEC season. Davis averaged 15.6 points over his final 16 games and made 72.0% of his free throws.

DRAYMOND GREEN, F, Michigan State

Versatility and leadership propelled Green to Big Ten player-of-the-year honors. The senior led the Spartans in scoring (16.3 ppg), rebounds (10.4) and steals (1.5), and was second in assists (3.6).

DOUG MCDERMOTT, F, Creighton

It's fitting that the nation's best perimeter scorer has the body of a power forward. The 6'7", 220-pound sophomore ranked third in scoring (23.2 ppg) and in three-point shooting (49.5%).

JARED SULLINGER, F, Ohio State

After surprising everyone by returning for his sophomore season, Sullinger dominated the paint, averaging 17.6 points and 9.3 rebounds, and hitting 53.9% of his shots.

SUPPORTING ACTORS

It takes more than a superstar to win a national title—the players who understand their roles and make complementary contributions are just as critical to tournament success. Roll the credits

JEFF WITHEY, C, Kansas

The junior improved his scoring average to 9.3 ppg from just 2.3. That extra offense was a huge reason the Jayhawks were able to win an eighth straight Big 12 regular-season title.

DORON LAMB, G, Kentucky

While he's not as flashy as some of his other teammates, Lamb was the Wildcats' second-leading scorer (13.3 ppg) and the SEC's second-most accurate three-point shooter (45.7%).

ANTOINE YOUNG, G, Creighton

He's no Dougie, but the 6-foot senior was a reliable scorer (12.5 ppg) and ball handler: He was second in the Missouri Valley in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.41 to 1) and fourth in assists (4.5).

DESHAUN THOMAS, F, Ohio State

The Buckeyes' second-best offensive threat (15.4 ppg) put up as few as five points and as many as 30. When the 6'7" sophomore struggles, defenses can sag on Sullinger.

DERRICK NIX, C, Michigan State

The 6'9", 270-pound junior played only 19 minutes per game, but he made the most of them, averaging 7.9 points and 3.7 rebounds while making 55.5% of his shots.

POINTS TO PROVE

Long-range scorers, bruising rebounders and menacing shot blockers are nice, but nothing is more vital in March than a solid playmaker. These teams are at risk

FLORIDA STATE

The Seminoles ranked dead last in the ACC in both turnovers (16.3) and assist-to-turnover ratio (0.93) largely because of 6'5" senior point guard Luke Loucks (81 turnovers, 142 assists).

GEORGETOWN

Under the erratic direction of 6'2" sophomore Markel Starks, fast-break opportunities were rare for the Hoyas and they were 133rd nationally in turnover percentage (19.5).

KANSAS STATE

How has fiery coach Frank Martin not combusted? The Wildcats, led by 5'11" freshman Angel Rodriguez, finished ninth in the Big 12 in turnovers, with 14.5 per game.

VANDERBILT

Senior Brad Tinsley gave the Commodores a capable point presence, but he struggled to beat his man off the dribble and didn't create many opportunities for his teammates.

INDIANA

The Hoosiers already ranked 225th in assist percentage. This is an even bigger problem since 6'5" senior point guard Verdell Jones III tore his right ACL during the Big Ten tournament.

TICK ...TICK ...TICK

Not every player wants the ball in his hands when the clock is winding down and the entire season is on the line. But then, there are some who welcome it

ISAIAH CANAAN, G, Murray State

Along with tremendous poise, the 6-foot junior has the ability to blow a game open with his scoring (19.2 ppg). He was 15th in the nation in three-point shooting (47.3%).

JOHN JENKINS, G, Vanderbilt

One SEC coach told me this senior is the best shooter he has ever coached against. A career 44.1% three-point marksman, Jenkins ranked 30th nationally this year at 44.7% and also led the SEC in free throw percentage (84.3%).

MARCUS DENMON, G, Missouri

He went through a brief midseason slump but still had 57 points in the two regular-season games against Kansas. He connected on 40.9% of his tries from beyond the arc.

AUSTIN RIVERS, G, Duke

The 6'4" freshman's numbers were good (43.6% from the field, 36.8% from three), but his desire to let fly at crunch time—as he did in beating UNC—makes him special.

HOLLIS THOMPSON, F, Georgetown

The junior led the Big East in three-point percentage (44.4) and has already buried a couple of game-winners this season, against Alabama and Marquette.

72.4%

Adjusted Tempo (total possessions/minutes)

FULL-SPEED AHEAD

The Tar Heels ranked second in the nation in scoring (82.0 ppg), yet they averaged only 5.1 threes (277th nationally). That shows how reliant they are on running. Sophomore Kendall Marshall's ability to pitch the ball to his fleet of bigs makes him the ideal quarterback.

58.9%

Adjusted Tempo (total possessions/minutes)

SLOW AND STEADY

The Badgers put up just 63.9 points per game, 10th in the Big Ten, but they allowed just 52.9, which ranked first. A Wisconsin game is rarely pretty, but it's usually close—seven of the team's nine losses were by fewer than 10 points.

GETTING DEFENSIVE

When an opposing hand starts to get hot, having someone who knows just how to cool it off can make all the difference

JAE CROWDER, F, Marquette

The Big East player of the year has the size, speed and tenacity to guard all five positions—and at times the senior has done just that. The 6'6" Crowder ranked 11th nationally in steals (2.4) while grabbing 7.9 rebounds per game.

KHALIF WYATT, G, Temple

Wyatt is strong, smart and very aggressive. He has excellent positioning, which enables him to guard both penetrators and shooters.

GORGUI DIENG, C, Louisville

The lithe 6'11", 235-pound sophomore is the perfect anchor for the Cardinals' full-court pressure defense. He finished eighth in the nation in blocks (3.2).

JOHN HENSON, F, North Carolina

The Heels rely on the junior's defense (including 10.1 boards and 2.9 blocks) to trigger their offense, so it's crucial that Henson's sprained left wrist heal quickly.

FAB MELO, C, Syracuse

How valuable is the 7-foot sophomore? The Orange's only loss of the regular season came when he was sitting out to resolve an academic issue. Melo was ninth in the country in blocks (3.1), and he also averaged 5.8 rebounds.

WHOM TO FOUL

These Final Four contenders all have a weak link at the free throw line

49.1%

SCOOP JARDINE, G, Syracuse

49.2%

JORDAN MORGAN, F, Michigan

50.8%

JOHN HENSON, F, North Carolina

53.2%

MASON PLUMLEE, F, Duke

57.4%

DERRICK NIX, C, Michigan State

DIXON

PLUMLEE

WHOM NOT TO FOUL

A team hoping to ice a victory would be happy to inbound the ball to a member of this quintet

89.5% (6th nationally)

SCOTT CHRISTOPHERSON, G, Iowa State

88.4% (T-15th nationally)

MICHAEL DIXON, G, Missouri

88.4% (T-15th nationally)

OLIVER MCNALLY, G, Harvard

87.6% (22nd nationally)

SETH CURRY, G, Duke

86.4% (33rd nationally)

DONTE POOLE, G, Murray State

PHOTOPhotograph by FRED VUICHPHOTOGREG NELSON (ROBINSON)PHOTOGREG NELSON (WITHEY)PHOTOGREG NELSON (DIXON)PHOTODAVID E. KLUTHO (GREEN)PHOTODAVID E. KLUTHO (MCDERMOTT)PHOTODAVID E. KLUTHO (TINSLEY)PHOTOBILL FRAKES (LOUCKS)PHOTOBILL FRAKES (RIVERS)PHOTODENNY MEDLEY/US PRESSWIRE (RODRIGUEZ)PHOTOFRED VUICH (CROWDER)PHOTOAL TIELEMANS (HENSON)PHOTOAL TIELEMANS (PLUMLEE)PHOTOJOHN W. MCDONOUGH (BACKGROUND)PHOTO