NCAA Tournament: Stock Watch (round of 64, Thursday games)--Stock Up

NCAA Tournament: Stock Watch (round of 64, Thursday games)--Stock Up
Mar 16, 2007, 02:21 am
NCAA Tournament: Stock Watch (round of 64, Thursday games)--Stock Down/Neutral

[c]Eric Maynor had his coming out party in the biggest upset of day one[/c]

A look at the prospects who helped themselves the most in the first day of games at the NCAA tournament. Sophomore Eric Maynor takes down Duke in the most exciting game of day one. Stephen Curry announced his presence to the national scene with 30 points in a loss to Maryland. Tyrese Rice showed great leadership skills in helping Boston College take down Texas Tech, and much more.

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Eric Maynor, 6-2, Sophomore, Point Guard, VCU
22 points, 8 assists, 3 turnovers, 3 rebounds, 3 steals, 8-16 FG, 0-1 3P, 6-8 FT


Jonathan Watters

After the first eight games of the NCAA Tournament passed without a solitary upset, it was easy to wonder if March Madness would live up to its name in 2007. But that was before Duke-VCU, before sophomore Eric Maynor solidified his place in history as the nation’s latest underdog hero.

The nation should have seen this one coming after last weekend’s CAA championship game. Despite losing four starters and earning just a 6 seed for the tournament, ultimate underdog George Mason appeared to be doing the unimaginable once again. The Patriots knocked off heavily favored Hofstra and whipped eventual at-large Old Dominion, and were up five with two minutes to play in the championship game against regular season champ Virginia Commonwealth. But the legend of Eric Maynor was just beginning, and Eric Maynor doesn’t play for George Mason. Consecutive Maynor steals and acrobatic layup conversions knotted the game. An absurdly difficult runner in the lane put the Rams up by two, and a pair of Maynor free throws left VCU suddenly in command with 20 seconds to play.

So when Maynor drove the full length of the court and swished a pull-up jumper from 18 feet with just 1.8 seconds left on the clock to send Duke packing, the sophomore was only adding to his legacy. It may have been the shot of the tournament, but it was only one play in a game full of big plays, and only one big game in a season of big games.

Maynor absolutely dominated this one, hounding overmatched Blue Devil ball-handler Greg Paulus relentlessly and keying a full-court press that would cause 17 Duke turnovers and allow the Rams to come back from a double digit second half deficit. While Paulus did score 25 points on the night, he did most of his damage as a long range shooter – he never found a way to efficiently break the VCU pressure, and finished the game with 6 turnovers.

Meanwhile, Maynor was a blur on the other end of the court. He pushed the tempo, blowing past slow-footed defenders on the perimeter and getting to the rim at will. He finished the game with 22 points on 8-16 shooting and 6-8 from the line, adding 8 assists and 3 steals against just 3 turnovers. In other words, a star is born.

As far as the NBA is concerned, there is a lot to like here. Maynor is listed at 6’2 and just 165 pounds, but plays much tougher than that. He takes contact well, and is able to contort his body and make shots at strange angles. He has excellent speed and body control, and appears to be an excellent floor general as well. How many point guards can boast a 3 to 1 assist to turnover ratio after their sophomore year? Maynor is a lockdown on-the-ball defender, with long arms and quick hands capable of giving almost any opposing ball-handler fits. He will have to continue to add weight and continue to gain confidence/consistency on his outside shot, but Maynor has two more years to polish up his game. As for now, we’re much more interested in what he can do on Saturday to top the heroics of his past two games.

Stephen Curry, 6-0, Freshman, Shooting Guard, Davidson

30 points, 4 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 assists, 4 turnovers, 9-21 FG, 5-15 3P, 7-7 FT


Jonathan Givony

In the very first game of the NCAA tournament, we got what looked to be the first of many great storylines this March. Stephen Curry, a 6-foot nothing freshman and the son of NBA shooting great Dell Curry, led his team Davidson to a spectacular start against the Maryland Terrapins.

Curry, the nation’s leading scorer amongst freshman behind Kevin Durant, started the game on fire, scoring 18 points in the first half to keep his team right in the thick of things of a high-scoring, highly entertaining, fast paced game. He knocked down nearly everything he threw up in the first half, coming off screens, spotting up on the wing, pulling up off the dribble, and even getting fouled at one point on a 25-foot plus attempt. His range extends beyond the NBA 3-point line and his release is extremely quick. It’s no surprise this kid led the entire country in made 3’s, he’s that good of a threat from behind the arc.

But it wasn’t just a one-dimensional performance. Curry put the ball on the floor a little bit as well, utilizing his pump-fakes and the threat of his shot to open up driving lanes for him to fearlessly penetrate though. He’s not the quickest guy in the world, nor is he overly explosive finishing at the rim, or an amazing ball-handler, but he’s smart, tough and crafty enough to know how to get where he wants to on the floor. He got to the free throw line a number of times just by putting this kind of pressure on the defense, something that really helped keep Maryland honest in the way they defended the 3-point line.

Defensively, Curry did a nice job getting in the passing lanes, showing a lot of hustle going in for steals and then doing a fantastic job once in transition to either finish plays himself or find the open man. He also crashed the glass despite his severe height and strength disadvantage, something that tells you a little about the heart this guy has.

After an amazing 19 point performance in the first half Curry had a much more difficult time getting his shot off in the 2nd half, as he was both defended a lot closer by Maryland’s guards (D.J. Strawberry especially) and seemed to get winded down the stretch. He went over 12 minutes without scoring until the 6:30 mark, but then seemed to get back into the flow momentarily for 5 quick points. In the end, though, it wasn’t enough for Davidson to overcome the superior depth and athleticism of the Terrapins, and Maryland advanced to the next round despite Curry’s coming out party.

Curry doesn’t look like an immediate NBA prospect due to his lack of size and the fact that he’s essentially a 6-foot shooting guard, while he isn’t a great athlete to make up for that. Regardless, though, there is a place in the league for guys who can shoot like that, so if he continues to make strides in his game and improves his playmaking ability over the next few years, it wouldn’t shock us to see Dell’s son continue in his footsteps.

Tyrese Rice, 6-0, Sophomore, Point Guard, Boston College
26 points, 8/18 FG, 8/8 FT, 4 Rebounds, 4 Assists

Mike Schmidt

Tyrese Rice started the game strong for Boston College, and did so by playing at his tempo. He pushed the ball up the floor at every chance he had, and helped his team build confidence through easy baskets. Rice not only displayed his finishing ability at the hoop on the fast break, but also made some fantastic passes to the wings running alongside him. In the half court offense, he displayed good scoring ability as well. Rice’s mid-range game was really impressive against Texas Tech. He used a cross-over dribble to create space, and knocked down a floater at least 5 times over bigger players from around 10 feet out.

In the second half, Rice’s scoring cooled down a little bit, but he made the effort to try and get his teammates’ involved. In the clutch, he was able to come up big from the free throw line, making all of his attempts from the charity stripe today. He doesn’t exactly blow you away with true point guard skills, but his ability to draw the defense and pass the ball is very valuable at this point, especially for a team like BC, whose offense can get really stagnant. Shot selection will need to be an area of improvement for Rice in the future, as well as his three point stroke, but Rice has solidified himself as one of the most productive points guards in college basketball right now. His scoring helped Boston College jump out to the early lead over Texas Tech while Jared Dudley struggled, and he did a good enough job in the second half of controlling the game to get his team past the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

Earl Clark, 6-9, Freshman, SF/PF, Louisville
12 points, 4 rebounds, 4 steals, 4-7 FG, 3-4 FT, 1-2 3P

Jonathan Givony

One of the main catalysts (along with Edgar Sosa and David Padgett) in Louisville’s blowout victory over Stanford was their emerging freshman Earl Clark. His energy early on set the tone for the Cardinals in building up a massive lead, and from that point on he and the entire team were on cruise control. Two big rebounds started things off, one on each end of the floor, complete with a nice putback, as well as a heady steal on an inbounds play and a subsequent dunk. Clark knocked down an open 3-pointer from the corner (elevating like a true small forward), and then came up with another steal for an emphatic dunk to cap off a huge run that Stanford would never recover from. Clark played outstanding defense on Stanford’s go-to guy Lawrence Hill, and was unselfish within the team’s offense in finding good shots. This was a great way for the freshman to make his NCAA tournament debut, but at the end of the day, he’s still a prospect from a few years down the road.

Dashaun Wood, 5’11, PG, Senior, Wright State
Vs Pittsburgh: 13 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 4 steals, 4 turnovers, 4-12 FG, 2-6 3PT

Joe Treutlein

5’11 senior point guard Dashaun Wood had a pretty strong game to finish off his college career, though it would’ve looked a lot better on paper had his teammates finished more of the open looks he created for them.

Wood doesn’t bring as much quickness to the table as you would expect from a small point guard, but he makes up for it with plenty of craftiness. He can get into the lane pretty well when he wants to, but is at his best when coming off a high screen to get early separation. He didn’t finish all too well in the lane in this game, though he used some creativity to adjust his lay-up attempts when defenders got in his way. Wood’s nicest play of the game was an isolation that began about 18 feet from the basket where he smoothly went from a crossover to spin move right into a floater from about seven feet away.

Wood was at his best when he was looking to create for others, showing good passing skills in every way imaginable within a half-court set. He was hitting cutters on the baseline and through the lane, hitting shooters off curls from long and mid range, feeding the post, driving and dishing, and just making smart passes to open teammates behind the three-point arc. While he did net seven assists on the game, he probably made about 10 passes leading to wide open missed shots as well, which is evidenced by his team’s poor 33% shooting on the game. Wood showing excellent court vision in making many passes right through the seams of the defense, making many of those passes while on the move.

Wood also hit a couple of threes on the game, where he is a decent shooter at .375 on the season. His form is solid and his release quick, though he pushes forward a bit on his shot. Wood turned the ball over four times on the game, mostly due to not protecting the ball on the perimeter, as opposed to making bad passes.

On the defensive end, Wood netted four steals, but showed problems when guards attempted to drive on him in isolation situations, not making quick lateral movements and letting his man drive by him.

Wood is likely headed for Europe next season, where he should be a highly sought after commodity thanks to his combination of scoring and passing abilities. He looks like a strong candidate to play at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, but he’d have to really impress to get into NBA discussions. It would be interesting to see how his passing game will flourish with better shooters on his team, which he will hopefully get the chance to at the PIT. There’s also always the chance that after a few years in Europe he could improve his game to the point where an NBA team would take a flyer on him as a third point guard in a role similar to Darrick Martin’s current role on the Raptors.

Ibrahim Jaaber, 6-2, Guard, Senior, Pennsylvania
16 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 6/16 FG, 4/5 FT

Mike Schmidt

Jaaber started the game slowly, but eventually came on strong in the second half and made it a close game for Penn against #3 seed Texas A&M. He started the game just 1/5 from the field, with his only converted shot coming on a quick drive off a pick and roll at the top of the key. From there, he was able to create a couple more shots for himself, but finished the first half 3/10 from the field with his team down by double digits.

Jaaber come out of the gates on fire in the second half, and actually led Penn to a lead with around 10 minutes remaining in the game. He displayed the ability to get to the hoop and finish with a good first step and body control. Off the dribble, Jaaber adjusted well to shooting on the perimeter when being contested by physical defenders. He made two shots on pick and roll drives where he was challenged by the much taller defenders on Texas A&M. He wasn’t able to led Penn to the unlikely upset, but did all he could to keep his team in the game.

Jaaber was expected to be more of a scorer than anything today, so he is therefore more of a combo guard at this point. He did show good passing ability in the game, including one in traffic while handling the ball in transition. Jabber will need to go into Portsmouth and prove he can be a full time distributor as well as a good scorer in the NBA, but his more likely destination at this point appears to be Europe, where his skill-set is better suited.

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