Friday, March 25, 2005

Shooting Counts

Hassan Adams soars into the
first round of the NBA Draft
Back before the tournament started I told my brother, Drew, that I was taking Duke to the Final Four because they had the best shooter in the field in J.J. Redick. My thinking was that you just can't put a price tag (don't worry, I'm not dredging up the "Town Hall" on whether college athletes should be paid) on being able to hit jump shots. And the theory has played out ... just not really with Duke. Redick and the Blue Devils will have their chance, but for now, the long ball has been kind to others in the field, including the winners from tonight̢۪s games.

- West Virginia has used their sophisticated offense and backdoor cutting to set up open looks, and it's been the shooting of guys like Gansey, Salley, and Pittsnoggle (my favorite name to say) that has carried them to the Elite Eight.

- Illinois "gets it done" (a nod to the insane Digger Phelps) with defense and passing, but none of that works of guys like Brown and Williams and Head don't knock down shots. Their ability to stretch the defense and hit threes is what makes them great.

- Louisville, my pick to represent the left side of the bracket in the title game, is shooting epitomized. If they ever go ice cold, they are probably done. But when you've got three guys that are all capable of dropping 5-7 threes and going for over 20 any given night, that's the kind of team that is hard to stop. And tonight against Washington, Garcia and Tai-Kwon-Dean both hit five triples.

- Finally, Arizona advanced purely because of shooting. Salim hit the game-winner and the equally important three a few minutes earlier (when Bobbit moronically tried to pick his pocket) and he and Hassan Adams combined to shoot 15-23 from the field. On that topic, Adams probably did more for his NBA prospects in that game than any player has in one tournament game in recent history. Maybe D-Wade against Kentucky a few years ago. Adams has always been criticized as being a guy that can't take his game to the perimeter, but now that Lute Olson is letting him fire from deep, he's showing he has the whole package. He can lock people up, take it to the rim, sky for rebounds, and now drill jumpers. To me, he looks just as good as Igoudala.

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