Day Two: Atlantic-10 Conference Tournament Blog

Day Two: Atlantic-10 Conference Tournament Blog
Mar 14, 2008, 12:54 pm
The second day of the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament featured some tense match-ups and showcased the rest of the conference’s star players. Xavier, Massachusetts, Temple and Richmond, played for the first time after enjoying their day off via tournament byes, but by the end of the day, the semifinal field was set at Xavier vs. Saint Joseph’s and Temple vs. Charlotte.

Xavier vs. Dayton

Though a Xavier victory was almost never in doubt, the focus of this game was on Brian Roberts’ performance. The results were somewhat disappointing again. Roberts played a majority of the game as Dayton’s point guard and showcased a familiar skill set. While he looked more comfortable with the ball in his hands setting up the Dayton offense, he still displayed hesitance in his decision-making and a tendency to pick up his dribble too soon. He did a better job in terms of dictating tempo and asserting his leadership on both ends of the floor. Taking this performance into account, Roberts showed that he is very much a combo guard and does not look like a future point guard that some expect him to become.

In terms of generating his own offense, Roberts was more aggressive today, but it did not amount to much for Dayton’s upset bid. He showcased his perimeter jumpshot more today, complete with high release point, beautiful form, and a quick release. If left open, Roberts rarely misses, but today Stanley Burrell’s suffocating defense forced him into some tough shots and he finished shooting a horrid 1/7 from beyond the arc. His shot selection was certainly suspect, and his inability to create offense for himself against a quicker and more athletic defender is certainly concerning regarding any future at the next level.

After yesterday’s performance, Roberts needed to improve in a major way, but responded by shooting 6/13 from the field, 1/7 from the perimeter, and 0/2 from the line alongside of a 3 assist and 3 turnover effort. With Dayton not being guaranteed anymore post-season games, it will be up to Roberts to impress scouts and personnel at Portsmouth if he wishes to have a shot at competing in the NBA. This was not a good weekend for Brian Roberts.

Xavier’s Derrick Brown, though only a sophomore, was equally disappointing. Brown entered the season with high expectations following a successful freshman campaign and has been only average thus far. Despite displaying solid athleticism, his quickness and speed in the open court are both lacking and he is surprisingly slow running the floor. Based on his physical profile, however, his muted impact is somewhat confusing.

Offensively, Brown is yet another combo forward. In fact, if someone saw Brown play for the first time today, they likely thought he was a perimeter player. After all, he spent most of his time on the perimeter and only received the ball once while posting up his man. Considering his strength and athleticism, his aversion to post play diminishes his effectiveness. Dayton did not have a single player that could have stuck with him in the post.

His face-up game is the same, consisting of Brown driving to the basket and either losing the ball because of his shaky handle or finishing utilizing his solid body control and athleticism. He took a pair of spot-up perimeter shots today and showed the same slow and deliberate release as he has all season. His form does not look bad necessarily, but he is going to have a tough time taking perimeter shots at the next level if he does work extensively on fluidity in his shooting motion.

His 9 rebounds, 3 of which were on the offensive boards, show his potential to be a great rebounder at this level. His problem is still that he rarely boxes out his man and prefers to rely on his athleticism and strength in order to rebound the basketball. He is particularly active on the offensive boards, but despite his calm demeanor, he is an aggressive player who is constantly in the mix on loose balls and the offensive glass. Defensively, he has trouble staying in front of perimeter players due to poor lateral quickness and has most effective this season as a post defender, which further complicates his desire to play on the perimeter.

Brown is only a sophomore and certainly has a long way to go before he becomes a legitimate prospect for the next level. Working on his handle and his jumpshot are certainly steps in the right direction, but he must improve his understanding of the game and his role within Xavier’s game plan, physical limitations and all.

Two other performances were of note, mainly the defensive efforts of Xavier guard Stanley Burrell and swingman C.J. Anderson. Burrell utilizes his strength, length, excellent lateral quickness, and quick hands on a daily basis to be an absolute menace with his man-to-man defense. He forced Brian Roberts into most of his 7 forced perimeter jumpshots and did a great job harassing Dayton’s guards. Offensively, he is nothing special, primarily shooting threes with poor form and slashing to the hoop with his right hand, but his defensive prowess is worth a mention. Likewise, Manhattan transfer, swingman C.J. Anderson has proven himself to be quite the stopper himself. After locking down Saint Joseph’s star Pat Calathes last week (in a match-up that will repeat itself tomorrow), he spent today guarding five positions, using his strength, quickness, and long arms to interrupt every dimension of Dayton’s offense. On offense, his awareness plummets and his basketball IQ looks suspect, but defensively he is one of the nation’s best perimeter stoppers.

Saint Joseph’s vs. Richmond

Saint Joseph’s passed what Coach Phil Martelli called “a mental test” today as they forced the slow and steady Richmond Spiders into a transition in what turned out to be an easy victory. The game featured a stellar first half by star Pat Calathes and another interesting performance by emerging point guard Tasheed Carr.

In a first half in which he had 7 points, 4 assists, 2 rebounds, and just one turnover, Calathes showed his versatility on the offensive end, as well as some areas in which he definitely can improve.

While he possesses a very good mid-range game, his creation abilities would be much better if his handle was tighter. He has a high dribble and on occasion, he loses control of the ball while he is dribbling towards the basket. Improving his speed with the ball in his hands will likely come from a higher comfort level dribbling the basketball. Another problem was his shot selection, which until today had been very good. He finished shooting 4/11 from the field and 2/7 from beyond the arc, which was a testament to his increased amount of forced shots.

One thing Calathes did much better today was pass the basketball. He likely would have more than his recorded 6 assists had his teammates been able to finish. He has an incredibly high basketball IQ and good court vision, but it is his passing ability that is most impressive as he did not throw a pass that missed its target on the perimeter or in the post.

Calathes is likely the best prospect in this tournament, and his combination of offensive savvy and basketball IQ was certainly on display today. He struggled in his last match-up against C.J. Anderson and Xavier, but tomorrow will be a look at whether or not he is capable of adapting against a long and athletic perimeter defender that he will likely see a lot at the next level.

Emerging point guard Tasheed Carr delivered another interesting performance. He is an athletic player, as mentioned in the last post, with long arms, strength, and good size for the point guard position. Today, it took him a couple possessions to get himself into a rhythm, but he controlled the tempo much better today to such an extent that when he was not on the court, Saint Joseph’s offense began to resemble Richmond’s.

Most of his offense this game came by slashing to the basket and finishing at the rim, but he showed his developing mid-range game when he took a good pull-up jumpshot from the top of the key. His calling card, however, is still his defense and he did not disappoint, intimidating Richmond’s guards along with fellow backcourt mate Garrett Williamson into 10 first half turnovers. Next season will ultimately reveal whether or not Tasheed Carr is a legitimate prospect at the point guard position, but his strides this year have been very promising.

LaSalle vs. Temple

The story of this game was Temple’s 6’5 shooting guard Dionte Christmas, who in the first half showed one of the most complete offensive arsenals in the entire tournament.

Christmas shot a blistering 7/10 from the field and got to the line 6 times in the first half and finished the game with a final line of: 29 points (8/15 FG, 2/7 3FG, 11/14 FT), 5 rebounds, 4 assists (2 turnovers), and two steals in 38 minutes of play.
He displayed a beautiful textbook jump shot from around the basket out to the NBA three-point line, and a very soft touch around the basket. He created offense for himself off of the dribble, and though he must improve his handle if he wants to maximize his mid-range potential, he already has a tremendous offensive repertoire even while his dribbling can be somewhat erratic. When his shots stopped falling in the second half, he attacked the basket, finishing the game with 14 free-throw attempts to his credit and proving that he is more than merely a one-dimensional shooter. His shot selection is certainly suspect at this point and likely a product of his team’s over reliance on his offensive output because his overall basketball IQ seems good.

On the defensive end, Christmas answered some questions. He has good lateral quickness, which combined with his length, allow him to be a good perimeter defender. He did a good job staying in front of the shorter and quicker Darnell Harris and showed the versatility to guard all of LaSalle’s perimeter players at some point during the game. He is an athlete on this level, but it is unclear at this point whether or not he projects as better than average at the next level. Besides Calathes, Christmas is likely the best prospect at this tournament and showed today that his potential at the next level might be beyond the role of a shooting specialist.

Marcus Tyndale, another mid-major swingman with good statistics, had a much worse showing. Despite being listed as 6’5, he looked shorter than Christmas and while he does display good athleticism, his quickness in the open court is lacking. His jumpshot comes from his chin and his does not maximize motion, leaving his shot to be pushed with his arms and lacking range. He is a deliberate dribbler too, not fast enough with the ball in his hands to be a significant threat slashing against bigger and quicker defenders.

One area that Tyndale does excel in is rebounding. He uses his athleticism and strength to get jump high and grab rebounds or box out larger players in order to secure position. He may not be the biggest player on the court, but he is extremely tough and understands how to best use his body to rebound the ball. Likewise, on defense, he is hurt by his lack of lateral quickness, but does a good job of rotating and protecting the rim, really understanding where he should be positioned in the Temple defense.

While he does show good court vision and awareness, his passing ability is simply not as advanced and a lot of well-intentioned passes do not hit their intended target with speed. Tyndale would be best served at this stage to recognize his limitations and play more within them, as he is a good player at this level who simply tries to do too much. If he could clean up his jumpshot and work on his ball-handling, there is no reason to assume that Tyndale could not be a good player overseas in the future.

Charlotte vs. Massachusetts

While the Atlantic-10 Conference Player of the Year Gary Forbes and his speedy sidekick, Most Improved Player Ricky Harris, were supposed to steal the show, little Leemire Goldwire, exhibited his long range heroics again securing an upset bid and semifinal appearance for the upstart Charlotte 49ers.

Forbes had an interesting performance tonight, and one that largely played against the picture many scouts had painted of him throughout the season. He started the game slowly, not moving very well in UMass’s offense, but gradually became a factor as he stepped up and led his team on both sides of the ball. He has a very awkward shooting form in which he shoots with an exaggerated motion upwards with his chest sucked in and his arms above his head. He does not get much elevation on his shot, but it goes in more often than not. He also showed a mid-range game, but as with most prospects in the Atlantic-10, Forbes must develop a better handle and feel for the ball before he becomes an effective mid-range shooter.

Towards the end of the game, Forbes relied on an average first step to get into the lane and convert around the rim, where he showed a soft touch.

While he has often been labeled a bit of a ball-hog with his play this season, he only attempted 13 shots tonight and sported a 4 to 1 assist-turnover ratio, which statistically represent how he was looking to incorporate his teammates into the offense. Tonight, however, it backfired, and he needed to take the game over more at the end of the game. Because of his average lateral quickness and athleticism, Forbes does not seem like a great NBA prospect, but his combination of size, versatility, and scoring ability should translate into a contract overseas.

6’2 shooting guard Ricky Harris is one of the fastest and most athletic guards in the college game, but did very little tonight as he showed that despite his improved numbers, he still is not much of a factor in a grinding halfcourt game. His shooting motion has a hitch and he leans slightly to the right when shooting, which definitely hurts his shot’s consistency. He is a competent slasher, but his ball-handling ability can best be described as wild and he is rarely in complete control with the ball in his hands. Equally confusing is his defensive inconsistency considering the fact that few players possess lateral quickness of his caliber and lighting quick hands. He is a name to watch in the future because of his quickness and athleticism, but as of now, is not much else.

The story of this game, however, was Leemire Goldwire, who continues to defy gravity and conventional wisdom to make contested crunch-time three-point shots from well beyond NBA range. He is a streaky 5’11 shooting guard with miserable shot selection, but his back-to-back late game heroics deserve a mention even if he has zero NBA potential. Charlotte has somehow managed to stay relevant despite their relative lack of talent, and Goldwire is one of the main reasons why.

The semifinal round of the Atlantic-10 Conference Tournament features its two brightest prospects (Pat Calathes and Dionte Christmas) in tough match-ups so tomorrow’s games look to be as insightful as they are exciting.

Recent articles

9.9 Points
1.7 Rebounds
3.0 Assists
14.9 PER
7.0 Points
1.0 Rebounds
2.0 Assists
5.9 PER
5.2 Points
2.8 Rebounds
0.6 Assists
8.2 PER
2.7 Points
2.8 Rebounds
0.6 Assists
11.7 PER
7.8 Points
2.2 Rebounds
2.2 Assists
10.6 PER
8.0 Points
5.0 Rebounds
1.0 Assists
1.1 PER

Twitter @DraftExpress

DraftExpress Shop