Jabari Parker’s season, as a whole, was quite impressive. He finished the year averaging 19.2 points and 9.0 boards while shooting 48.7% from the floor and 37.1% from three while leading Duke to a top ten ranking and, potentially, a top three seed in the NCAA tournament when the brackets are released.
What made Parker’s season so special, however, was how he was able to adjust the way that he was playing in the middle of the year.
Early on in the season, Parker couldn’t miss from the perimeter. It seemed like every jump he took was destined for the bottom of the net, but as defenses adjusted and he was guarded by bigger, more athletic defenders, settling for step-backs and challenged threes just wasn’t working. That’s why he had that five-game slump right around the turn of the calendar.
Down the stretch, however, Parker made a concerted effort to get to the rim, whether it was in transition, in the half court or in the post. In his last 14 games, there was only one game when he didn’t notch at least six free throws attempts. He also embraced becoming the team’s best defensive rebounder. He had 10 double-doubles during that same stretch — including the last six games of the regular season — and never finished with fewer that seven boards.
What Parker can do on a basketball court didn’t change all that drastically over the course of the season, but his ability to tweak how he played was the difference-maker for Duke this season.
The Mountain West issued a statement on Monday in response to the altercation that happened after New Mexico’s win at Colorado State on Saturday.
Following the Lobos’ 84-71 road victory, Geoff Grammer of the Albuquerque Journal captured an incident on video between Colorado State forward Emmanuel Omogbo and the New Mexico coaching staff.
Both sides claimed that the other was the instigator and the incident didn’t make anybody in the video look good.
For as bad as things might have looked, the Mountain West has decided not to hand down any sort of punishment. After an investigation, the conference could not truly determine the root cause of all the drama saying in the release, “A number of conflicting perspectives have emerged and, in some cases, there is no definitive proof as to the responsible party or parties.”
What has been determined is the entire incident created an undesirable athletic competition environment, and did not reflect favorably upon either basketball program, either member institution or the Conference. There were a number of errors in judgment throughout the course of the afternoon and poor decisions made by various individuals. Such conduct is unacceptable.
The Colorado State and New Mexico athletic departments have already initiated follow-up conversations with all appropriate parties to address the events of this past Saturday. Those will continue, with the institutions taking corrective measures they deem appropriate and advising the Conference office accordingly.
The Mountain West Board of Directors and Joint Council have been adamant in their emphasis on good sportsmanship and appropriate behavior. Those involved with this most recent incident will be under close scrutiny going forward – as will all Mountain West constituents.
Obviously there is a lot to sift through with this incident but hopefully these two teams don’t have any further incident when they play at New Mexico on Feb. 21st.
No. 22 Xavier’s slide continues with loss to short-handed No. 7 Creighton
It’s officially time to be concerned about No. 22 Xavier.
The Musketeers have now lost three straight games, all to the top three teams in the Big East, and currently sit at 13-5 on the year with just a single good win to their name: Clemson.
But prior to Monday’s loss to No. 7 Creighton, Xavier had lost all of their games on the road to teams that will either get a top five seed in the NCAA tournament (Villanova, Butler, Baylor) or play at altitude (Colorado). On Monday, the Musketeers not only lost 72-67 to Creighton, but they did so on a day where the Bluejays lost star point guard and all-american candidate Mo Watson to a knee injury midway through the first half and spent the majority of the game playing with star center Justin Patton saddled with fouls.
Should I mention that Creighton, who is third-nationally in three-point percentage, shot 5-for-19 from beyond the arc, or that their two best healthy guards – Marcus Foster and Khyri Thomas – shot a combined 10-for-31?
All of the stars were aligned. Coming how to an afternoon game against a top ten team on a holiday after losing back-to-back games on the road, and that top ten team lost their most important player early in the first half?
This should have been where Xavier landed that first elite win.
Instead, the Musketeers are left scratching their head again.
And it begs the question: If not now, when?
The Musketeers still play Villanova and Butler at home, visit Creighton and have the Crossroads Classic at Cincinnati. There are opportunities for them to get wins that they need.
But if they cannot get a win over a short-handed Creighton team at home, who are they actually going to be?
VIDEO: No. 7 Creighton beats No. 22 Xavier, loses all-american Mo Watson to a knee injury
The Bluejays would hold on to win a thrilling, hard-fought game, 72-67, without Watson. That’s impressive, and it means that they move into a tie for first place in the Big East with Villanova, but the story of this game was Watson.
According to a reporter at the game, Watson told head coach Greg McDermott that he “heard it pop“. Losing Watson to any significant injury would be catastrophic for the No. 8 Bluejays. Watson entered Monday averaging 13.4 points and a nation’s-best 8.8 assists. He’s been in the top ten of our Player of the Year Power Rankings all season long, is a clear-cut candidate for an all-american team and is the engine for the high-powered offense that has made Creighton a Final Four contender.
The injury may be somewhat controversial as well. Two minutes before the video clip above, Watson banged knees with a Xavier defender and had to be helped off of the floor. He was tested on the sideline and allowed to return to the game, albeit with a noticeable limp.
UPDATE: Greg McDermott told FS1 after the game that Watson’s ligaments are intact, but that they are concerned about the meniscus.
Kansas vaulted up to the No. 1 spot in the Coaches Poll for the first time this season, receiving 23 of the 32 first place votes.
Villanova comes in at No. 2 while UCLA, Gonzaga and Kentucky finish up the top five. Bay.or, who was No. 1 in the country last week, is No. 6 while Duke fell all the way to No. 18 with a pair of losses last week.
Villanova vaulted back into the No. 1 spot in the AP Poll after falling out for a week when they lost at Creighton.
Kansas comes in at No. 2 while UCLA, Gonzaga and Kentucky finish up the top five. Bay.or, who was No. 1 in the country last week, is No. 6 while Duke fell all the way to No. 18 with a pair of losses last week.