Day Three: Atlantic-10 Conference Tournament Blog

Day Three: Atlantic-10 Conference Tournament Blog
Mar 15, 2008, 05:08 am
Saint Joseph’s vs. Xavier

In a rematch of a game I attended eight days ago, Xavier and Saint Joseph’s met in the tournament semi-final in a game that resembled their last meeting in every possible way, including a Saint Joseph’s upset.

Pat Calathes started off the game slowly, missing his first three shots, but then could not miss. His first couple shots drew front iron and it looked as if he was simply tired and not getting enough help from his legs. Increasing his lower body strength could definitely help him in this department considering the fact that he will likely make a lot of money based on his ability to shoot the basketball.

From that moment on, however, he could not miss. You would think that Xavier, of all teams, would not give him open looks on the perimeter, but just as he has done throughout the entire tournament: if left open, he never misses. Calathes also showed his versatility on offense by pulling up for a series of mid-range jumpshots and attacking the basket. There is little that he cannot do offensively against this type of competition, and while it looked as though C.J. Anderson had locked him down in the beginning, Calathes adapted well and showed that he can score against long and athletic defenders.

While his lateral quickness is much improved this season, and looks even better during the tournament, he is still not quick enough to play efficient defense against wing players and likely will not be quick enough to avoid getting beaten off the dribble by more athletic perimeter players at the next level. He does put in a good amount of effort on the defensive end, though, which sometimes makes up for his lack of physical ability.

Calathes’s passing ability remains one of the most underrated aspects of his game, as his court vision and basketball IQ are unrivaled at this level. He throws bullet passes into traffic, and if his teammates were better finishers, his assist totals would certainly be higher.

Tasheed Carr again showed that he has a lot of potential and just as much work to do before becoming a legitimate prospect at the point. He is clearly the vocal leader in the Saint Joseph’s offense, but because they often play a three-guard lineup his role is somewhat undefined in terms of whether or not he is a pure point guard.

His distributing ability looked very good in the first half as he controlled the offense, most importantly feeding Ahmad Nivins in the post. He is quick with the ball in his hands and had been doing a good job of driving the lane and dishing out to a perimeter shooter. Today, however, he did not attack the basket and he was less effective as a point guard. While he looked very good in stretches, he still has a tendency to pick up his dribble too soon and over-dribble, a testament to his transition to the point guard position. Also, he must work on his dribbling because he is very fast with the ball in his hands as it is; with a better handle, he develop into one of the faster point guards in the NCAA.

Still, Carr is at his best on his defensive end. Today, he guarded three positions, taking turns on Drew Lavender and Stanley Burrell for most of the game. Their combined 6/16 shooting with 0/3 from beyond the arc is because of Carr’s defense. He has very good lateral quickness and is capable of fighting through screens and traffic because of his superior strength. He excels as an on-ball defender because of his height, massive wingspan, and quickness and likely can stay in front of any perimeter player in college basketball. This wingspan also allows him to rebound the basketball, despite oftentimes not being anywhere near the basket. Alongside fellow guard Garrett Williamson, Carr’s perimeter defense is going to give perimeter-oriented tournament teams nightmares.

Xavier, on the other hand, floundered, and sophomore forward Derrick Brown’s performance epitomized the effort. He only took four shots in the game, two of which were put-back attempts and one was from beyond the arc. His only other shot came around the basket off of a nice post move where he utilized his size and athleticism to his advantage. His lack of offensive production is very confusing and even more disconcerting considering how unwilling he is to play in the post and how unprepared he is to play on the perimeter.

On defense, he is too slow to guard perimeter players and picked up a majority of his 4 fouls by reaching or playing with his hands instead of moving his feet. As said in past evaluations, he is only effective as a post defender at this point.

This being said, he did little else and while he showed his solid passing ability, the best adjective to describe his game would be “passive.” I talked with some members of the press familiar with Xavier, and they all said the same thing: Brown is as good as he wants to be. He has a significant amount of work to do and if anything, his performance throughout this tournament has thrust him back into obscurity because frankly, he is not doing anything special. Working on his conditioning, ball-handling, shooting, and general effort is going to take a lot of time, but he must improve in these areas if he wants to be able to be a legitimate perimeter player at this level; he is not there yet.

Temple vs. Charlotte

For as well as Dionte Christmas played yesterday, he played just as poorly today. His perimeter shot was not falling, and while his form looked good, including good elevation and a quick release, his shot selection was extremely questionable. He was guarded by long and athletic perimeter defenders and did not respond well. While he eventually started attacking the basket, his handle is too suspect at this stage for him to be an effective slasher at the next level. His defensive effort on Leemire Goldwire was good and he showcased his solid lateral quickness on the perimeter, but his season low of 6 points on 2/9 shooting and 1/7 shooting from the perimeter really exposed his limitations and raised plenty of questions about his potential at the next level.

A good performance tomorrow is essential for Christmas if he wants to stay somewhat relevant in the draft discussion for next season. He is going to square off against two of the best perimeter defenders in the league tomorrow in a potential explosive match-up against Saint Joseph’s. Temple versus Saint Joseph’s, the deepest rivalry in Philadelphia, has the potential to be a shootout between Calathes and Christmas, and is just the kind of duel that the scouts in attendance are looking forward to evaluating.

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