Over the course of the next two weeks, College Basketball Talk will be detailing what some of the country’s best, most intriguing, and thoroughly enigmatic teams need. It’s the spirit of the holidays. We’re in a giving mood.
What do other teams have on their Christmas Wish Lists? Click here to find out.
Gotta have it list-topper: Stars playing like stars
Over the last two games, Geron Johnson has seemingly certified himself as Memphis’ best player. After getting off to a slow start in his first two games — both of which were played out in the Bahamas — Johnson has averaged 16.0 points, 3.7 assists and 5.3 boards while shooting 21-34 (61.8%) from the floor and collecting eight steals over the last three games. That also happened to coincide with the first stretch all season long where the Tigers appeared to be playing up to their talent level.
Which begs the question: how come Memphis needed a guy like Johnson to come along and act as a savior when they have guys like Joe Jackson, Adonis Thomas and Tarik Black on their roster? How good can the Tigers really be when they have three supreme talents playing like role players?
Stocking Stuffer: Mental toughness and decision making
I don’t think that the Tiger’s issues in the Battle 4 Atlantis had anything to do with their effort; I thought Pastner’s group legitimately played hard. I don’t think there is an issue with the Tiger’s toughness this year, either; they’re rebounding is much better this season, particularly on the offensive end of the floor, than it was last year. I think where the Tigers are struggling is with their decision making under pressure. Will they turn the ball over when a defender gets into their face? Will they over-penetrate and force a shot in a big moment, or will they run offense and get a good look at the rim? Will the right players be taking the right shots?
Planning on re-gifting: Threes and elbows for Adonis Thomas
I don’t think that Thomas should completely eschew the trey-ball due to a 4-22 start, especially considering that he shot 40.5% from distance last season and spent all summer working on his perimeter stroke. But he should stop settling for so many jumpers and starts getting aggressive, because, frankly, it’s unacceptable that someone with his size and athleticism has only shot 10 free throws this season. As an added bonus, once he proves that he’s a nightmare trying to keep away from the rim, those threes will get just that much more open.
As far as the elbows are concerned, he might want to stay away from them unless he likes only being able to see out of one eye.