Marcus Williams establishes himself as the frontrunner for MVP of the NCAA tournament with yet another fantastic scoring and passing display. Joakim Noah shows off his half-court skills this time in a physical grind it out setting. Randy Foye carries his team to victory and shows why he might be the most talented shot-creating guard in the country at the moment. Rudy Gay and Allan Ray come up flat when their teams need them him the most. Those and much more in our sixth installment of the NCAA Tournament stock watch.
Sweet 16, Thursday Games, Stock Up, Down and Neutral prospects
Round of 32, Sunday Games, Stock Up, Down and Neutral prospects
Round of 32, Saturday Games, Stock Up prospects
Round of 32, Saturday Games, Stock Down and Neutral prospects
Round of 64, Thursday Games, Stock Up, Down and Neutral prospects
Round of 64, Friday Games, Stock Up, Down and Neutral prospects
Marcus Williams, 6-3, Point Guard, Sophomore, UCONN, Stock Up
26 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, 7 turnovers, 6-13 FG, 11-11 FT
Right from the beginning, Williams displayed his passing abilities, throwing the ball the length of the court to Josh Boone for an easy dunk. He continued by hitting a couple three pointers, and used his strength and craftiness to get to the free throw line. On offense, Marcus showed just about everything, including some great passes, nice layups, and long range jump shots. In addition, Williams made some amazingly clutch baskets late in the second half and in overtime. After hurting his ankle in the extra session, he walked it off on the sidelines for a couple minutes before coming back to make a tough layup, a key pass, a huge steal and two free throws in the final minute to ice the UCONN victory. If there was any weakness for Williams against Washington, it was the 7 turnovers that were the result of some forced passes, and a few out of control drives to the basket that can be credited to the fact that he was trying to step up as his teams go-to guy. Many of these turnovers happened during the beginning of the second half, when UCONN was out of sync and the whole team was playing sloppily. Williams was able to calm the team down, and lead them back for the victory.
Marcus Williams has displayed every skill necessary for him to improve his draft stock throughout the NCAA Tournament, continuing to show why hes considered the top point guard in the country, but also showing more shooting and scoring ability than weve ever seen from him. He is definitely on the watch list of the numerous playmaking deprived teams in the lottery right now due to his passing, scoring, and clutch abilities. With this performance hes become the frontrunner for the NCAA tournament MVP award, especially if he can lead the Huskies to a national championship.
Joakim Noah, 6-11, Sophomore, PF/C, Florida
15 points, 10 rebounds, 5 blocks, 0 assists, 3 turnovers, 6-13 FG, 3-4 FT
Noahs heartbeat was on full display for every second he was out on the floor; running the floor like a madman, blocking shots, taking the ball relentlessly to the basket and crashing the glass with every drop of energy he had in his frail frame.
He struggled at times to finish around the hoop because of his undeveloped strength, especially early on, but looked outstanding in other instances using his length, athleticism and smarts to will balls into the basket while never ceasing to attack his man. We didnt see as much of his ball-handling and passing skills in the open floor because of the style of play we saw here and the tempo the game was played at (the 57-54 end result tells the story), but Noah made his presence felt in every other way imaginable for his team, and on both ends of the floor too.
Next up for Noah and the Gators are #1 seed Villanova and a potential chess match where he might be forced to defend 6-3 or 6-4 guards on the perimeter for certain stretches. His ability to make his presence felt offensively and defensively as he did in so many key sequences tonight will probably be the difference between a Final Four berth or a trip back home to ponder his NBA draft future.
Randy Foye, 6-4, Senior, Shooting Guard, Villanova
29 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 10-25 FG, 7-8 FT
Against BC Foye displayed why he is such a valuable commodity, and the most important of Villanovas guards. His combination of shooting and slashing is very rare for a player who plays such good defense to boot. Foye proved today that he could score taking the ball all the way to the hoop as well from outside the three point line, but the majority of his points were scored with an advanced mid-range game which included a number of floaters and jumpers over taller players. He also used his penetration ability to get open looks for his teammates when he was able to draw extra defenders his way.
In the NBA, Foye projects as a combo guard, and it would help him if he could show at least somewhat of an ability to run an offense like a point guard would. His shooting and mid-range game will translate to the pros immediately, however, and the team that drafts him will be getting a guy who can contribute right away. Randy Foye has at least one game remaining to continue to show scouts what an outstanding competitor he is, and if he can play again like he did against BC, his value will continue to rise.
Brandon Roy, 6-6, Senior, Shooting Guard, Washington
20 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 5 fouls, 7-18 FG
He displayed his awesome slashing ability early in the game, getting the ball in the hoop over the much taller front court players of UConn. Roy also showed his very impressive passing ability and court vision on his drives to the hoop. His knack for finding the open man will certainly help him at the next level. Though he was solid on defense, especially defending Rudy Gay, Roy found himself in foul trouble in the second half after a verbal confrontation between him and Gay lead to a double technical foul. In college, a technical foul also counts as a personal foul, so Roy found himself relinquished to the bench with 13:39 to go in the game.
His value to Washington was never more evident than the time he spent on the bench during the second half. When Roy exited the game, his team had a comfortable 53-45 lead. In the minutes that followed, Connecticut went on a 10-2 run and tied the game at 55. Roy returned with 6 minutes in the game, and made some key free throws in the final minute of the game. He couldnt do enough in overtime, however, and fouled out of his final collegiate game after being forced to send Marcus Williams to the free throw line with under 30 seconds remaining to stop him from getting a breakaway layup and icing the game for the Huskies. What was most disappointing about his exit was the fact that Roy and the Huskies were clearly robbed of a perfectly legal field goal in a clutch moment in overtime that almost certainly would have changed the outcome of the game, without even going into the conspicuous disparity between the two teams at the free throw line and the questionable technical foul for his altercation with Rudy Gay. A beautiful tear-drop by Roy was blatantly blocked on its way down by Hilton Armstrong in a clear goaltending violation that was obvious to every person watching the game except the oblivious men in stripes.
Brandon Roy proved tonight regardless why he is one of the best players in the nation, and why he will hear his name called out early from the green room on draft night. He has great ability to get to the hoop in combination with a smooth shooting stroke. Roy is also a very good defender, and has a great understanding of the game. He might be the player closest to a sure thing on draft night, and though he lacks the upside that some other players may have, Roy will be ready to contribute in the NBA from day one.
Rashad Anderson, 6-5, Senior, Shooting Guard, UCONN
19 points, 2 rebounds, 6-12 FG, 5-10 3 point FG
Though he only possesses average athleticism, Rashad Anderson has constantly displayed awesome outside shooting this season, a skill always sought by NBA teams. It will also help him that most of his shots come in a very timely manner, as he shows no fear of pulling the trigger at any times as he has the utmost confidence in his abilities as a player. It is highly doubtful that Anderson moves himself into the first round of the draft, but some team drafting in the second round could be looking at landing themselves a fantastic shooter to add to their rotation.
Roy Hibbert, 7-2, Sophomore, Center, Georgetown
10 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks, 5-9 FG, 4 fouls, 28 minutes
Hibbert did show off sparks of why many consider him to be a potential future starter for an NBA franchise, using his size and strength to establish position deep in Floridas paint on occasion and showing nice touch finishing off the glass with his jump-hook, and even putting the ball on the floor once from the free throw line before spinning beautifully into a soft layup. Defensively he struggled to get out and establish his presence when his man would stray more than a few feet away from the basket, and clearly faded a bit down the stretch when his team needed him the most.
If anyone would have told Coach John Thompson III two years ago that he would have gotten 10 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks out of his goofy looking high school senior when he committed to the Hoyas he likely would have been ecstatic, though, as no one can take anything away from the massive improvement Hibbert has shown since the second he stepped on Georgetowns campus. Hibbert has his work cut out for him this summer to continue to add polish to his all-around game and improve his conditioning, athleticism and coordination before being able to think about making the jump to the NBA, but from everything weve seen he has the work ethic, intelligence and physical characteristics to eventually make it there, potentially as early as next summer.
Bobby Jones, 6-6, G/F, Senior, Washington, stock neutral
9 points, 5 rebounds, 5 fouls, 4-8 FG
Al Horford, 6-9, Sophomore, PF/C, Florida
12 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 steal, 4-8 FG, 4-6 FT
His defense on 7-2 Roy Hibbert was a huge factor in his team coming out on top in the end, as the way he managed to take it to him on both ends of the floor had the talented big man bent over holding his shorts after all the energy he was forced to expend.
Horford rebounded with purpose, coming up with some massive boards on the offensive end especially, and did what his team needed to do in their half-court sets by scoring with a jump hook with his back to the basket, knocking down another mid-range jump-shot, putting the ball on the floor with his quickness before elevating and dunking emphatically, and knocking down a couple of clutch free throws that sealed the win for his team.
There wasnt anything all that pretty in the way Horford played tonight, but everything he did was effective and efficient and played a huge role in the final score that will send his team to the Elite Eight on Sunday.
Sean Williams, 6-10, Sophomore, Center, Boston College
7 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2-2 FG, 3-6 FT
Rudy Gay, 6-9, Sophomore, Small Forward, UCONN
14 Points, 5-9 FG, 4-5 FT, 2 rebounds, 5 turnovers
Rudy Gay played better in the second half, but still didnt look at the level of a top 5 pick, especially down the stretch. Jones continued to defend him hard without the ball, but Gay started to work for better positioning, which led to a nice move under the basket, and a few attempts from the free throw line. On defense, Gay started to concentrate on denying Brandon Roy position, and forced him into some difficult shots. At one point, Roy fouled Rudy which led to some heated words between the two players and a double technical foul. Gay is known for having a passive on-court demeanor a lot of the time, and it was nice to see some fire out of him for once. Though he had a better half, he still drove into the lane on a few occasions with no place to go, which led to some turnovers. On the defensive side, Gay missed a few help assignments as well, which allowed Washington to score on open layups right at the basket. Though he improved throughout the game, Rudy Gays performance left a lot to be desired from somebody considered such a great prospect.
After his last game where Gay was right in the middle of a UCONN victory and had the stat-line to back it up, many people though he would break out in the remaining games of the NCAA tournament. His performance against Washington showed that Rudy isnt yet ready to be the go-to player for his team, and that his draft stock is very much up in the air at this point depending on what NBA teams see in him. Gay has at least one more game to try and bounce back, but inconsistency is never a good thing even when were talking about someone this young.
Allan Ray, 6-2, Senior, Shooting Guard, Villanova
9 points, 3 rebounds, 0 assists, 1 turnover, 3-15 FG, 2-9 3P, 1-2 FT
As weve seen happen at times this season, Ray was ice cold all game long, starting off 0-5 from the 3-point line in the first 10 minutes of the game and only got his first field goal of the game with 5 minutes to go in the half. Ray was dribbling into double teams almost every single time he put the ball on the floor, clearly forcing the issue and going nowhere in the process and in one sequence handing the ball off to his point guard Kyle Lowry with 3 seconds on the shot-clock near mid-court to force him to throw up a 40 foot desperation shot that obviously came nowhere close. Ray did not let his cold streak deter him from continuing to heave up shots, missing a few that he would normally hit with his eyes closed until it seemed like Coach Jay Wright reeled him in and asked him to settle down a bit. Luckily for Ray his fellow shooting guard Randy Foye was incredible for the last 30 minutes of the game and his point guard Kyle Lowry made some huge defensive plays. The only real thing that can be taken away from this game, considering the fact that we already knew that Ray is as streaky a shooter as can be, is the fact that when his shot isnt falling there doesnt seem to be anything he can do to really help his team out on the floor. If Villanova had any kind of depth coming off the bench he probably would have been asked to take a seat, but to his credit Ray didnt hurt his team much at the end by forcing up shots and instead let Randy Foye run the show since he had the hot hand.