spt-120227-anthonydavis

The curious case of ignoring Anthony Davis

3 Comments

Kansas’ Thomas Robinson was the only unanimous All-American selection this season, which is an odd thing given Kentucky’s Anthony Davis has swept every major national player of the year award thus far. (Only the AP, Naismith and Wooden are left.)

But he was two votes shy of joining Robinson as a unanimous pick.

So, the voters who left Davis off their lists were soon tracked down: Scott Reid of the Orange County Register and Scott Mansch of the Great Falls Tribune. You can imagine the emails those two are getting right about now.

Is it a big deal that Davis isn’t a unanimous selection? Ultimately, no. He’ll be the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft and probably take at least one of the remaining national awards, if not all three (Robinson has a chance to split the awards.)

But when Reid wrote a story explaining why he left off Davis, well, it shows how much offense is valued over defense by people. An excerpt:

[Michigan State’s Draymond] Green and Robinson are the best two players in the country. Zeller was the player of year in what is year in and year out the best conference in the country: the ACC.

So it came down between [West Virginia’s Kevin] Jones and Davis for the final spot on the first team. If there was a bias in the vote it wasn’t anti-Kentucky or anti-Calipari but a belief that the Big East is a much tougher conference then the SEC. It’s just not even close.

I also liked Jones’ play against top opponents:

*Louisville, 22 points, 11 rebounds
*Syracuse, 20 points, eight rebounds
*Kansas State, 30 points, 12 rebounds
*Georgetown, 22 points, 16 rebounds
*Cincinnati, 26 points, 13 rebounds
*Notre Dame, 14 points, 12 rebounds

Then there’s the monster game he had against Baylor: 28 points, 17 boards while Perry Jones III finished with four points.

A couple of other factors: Davis had only seven points against North Carolina, only six against Indiana and he didn’t have a field goal in the final 18:03 of a SEC title game loss to Vanderbilt.

The Zeller reasoning is taken apart here. And the games he references for Davis are odd. Yes, no field goals late against Vandy. But he also combined for 43 points, 19 rebounds and 12 blocks in two other wins vs. Vandy. Not to mention 22 points, 12 boards and six blocks vs. Florida. Or 14 points, six boards and seven blocks vs. Kansas – in just his second game with Kentucky.

Davis is the leading scorer (14.3) and rebounder (10.0) for the nation’s best team, not to mention the best shot blocker in the country. If he were one-dimensional like Syracuse’s Fab Melo, then maybe leave him off. But there’s no better player in the country for both ends of the floor.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman out with a knee injury

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. shoots against San Diego State during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
Leave a comment

The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.

The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.

They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.

That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.

Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:

VIDEO: Buddy Hield is ‘all money’ on game-winning three vs. No. 24 Texas

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State forward Chris Oliver during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
Leave a comment

With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.

At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes

“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:

“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”

“It’s all money.”

Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.

Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .

Want to talk about coaching luxuries?

Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.