During the 2013-14 season, one of the biggest attention-grabbers in college basketball was the Sports Illustrated cover featuring Creighton’s Doug McDermott that was a recreation of the cover that featured Larry Bird back in 1979. While Bird played well enough at Indiana State to eventually have the Missouri Valley Conference name its Player of the Year award in his honor, McDermott won the award in 2013 before the Bluejays made the move to the Big East.
In his lone season in the Big East, McDermott earned Big East Player of the Year honors and every major individual honor he was eligible for nationally.
With his status as the best player in college basketball, the cover spot was certainly deserved. However according to Jay King of Masslive.com, McDermott wasn’t so sure about the idea when first approached. The winner of most of college basketball’s major individual awards discussed this at the NBA’s pre-Draft Combine on Thursday.
“They contacted me about it. And I was like, ‘Are you sure you want to do a remake of the greatest to play?’” he recalled, smiling. “They kind of laughed about it; they thought it’d be really cool. I guess Larry even thought it was pretty sweet too. That was a fun little deal that I’ll have for the rest of my life. He didn’t (contact me) but I just heard from the rumors that he saw it. But I hope to someday meet him and ask him about it. He’s a guy I watch a lot of film on. I’ve read some of his books. So he’s definitely a guy I’ve been following for a while.”
McDermott’s stated on multiple occasions that Bird is a player whose old highlights he studies on a regular basis, but he also noted in the story that he’s felt that those who make comparisons between the two were “crazy” considering what Bird accomplished throughout his basketball career.
McDermott, who’s expected to be a lottery pick in next month’s draft, did have to endure his share of good-natured ribbing from his teammates as well and that’s to be expected.
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:
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.