Jeff Green, 6-9, Junior, SF/PF, Georgetown
15 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 turnover, 7-12 FG, 1-1 FT, 0-2 3P
As has been the case this season, Green did most of his scoring with his mid-range game. The 6-9 inside/outside player hit a couple of soft jumpers in the paint, and of course hit the game winning leaner from 7 feet out as well. Vanderbilt did a pretty good job keeping Green from driving, which he likes to do. He tried going to his spin move once, taking his man off the dribble, only to pick up a charge as he finished strong.
Green, who is a great passer for a bigger player, moved the ball very well for the Hoyas, picking up 3 assists, but his contribution to the offense will not be seen in the box score. The Commodores did a fantastic job taking center Roy Hibbert out of the Georgetown attack in the first half, but Green was able to set his teammate up with some nice looks after the half. Green also showed great court vision out of the post, hitting Patrick Ewing Jr. a couple of times in the corner for open jump shots.
On the glass Green had a below average night, but not due to his own shortcomings. Green was very aggressive down low, blocking out very well against defenders, and even picking up a couple of fouls, but Vanderbilt just swarmed to the glass at points. This aggressiveness on the part of Green carried over to his defense. He was beaten to the basket a couple of times, but did a fairly solid job with on the ball and help defense. Green relied on his length and athleticism to deter a lot of opponents from attempting outside shots, and then forced a lot of kick outs thanks to his tough defense on players driving to the basket.
As a whole, this game didnt do much to help or hurt Green, but the last few minutes of play showed a lot about how he has matured as a player. He showed a tremendous amount of poise in knocking down two big shots that helped Georgetown escape with a win. Green is still a question mark to how successful he will be at the next level. He can go inside and outside at the college level, but in the NBA he isnt big enough for the post and isnt skilled enough or fast enough for the perimeter. Green still has plenty of upside, and is continuing to improve as a player. Another strong showing in the post season could ensure him as a mid first round pick, the real question now is how good of a player can Green become at the next level.
Nick Young, 6-5, Junior, Shooting Guard, USC
15 points, 7 rebounds, 6 turnovers, 0 assists, 6-13 FG, 1-5 3P, 2-2
Young started off the game looking like a man on a mission. His outstanding mid-range game was on full display, utilizing his devastating combination of jab-steps and hesitation moves from the triple threat position and looking like a true NBA shooting guard knocking down pull-up jumpers and fade-aways smoothly off the dribble. He elevates wonderfully from the mid-range and does a phenomenal job with his footwork and maintaining his body control to get off a clean look with an excellent release point.
His best play of the game came fairly early, throwing a quick jab at his defender and then just exploding towards the rim with an incredible first step before throwing down an emphatic one-handed jam in traffic. He caught North Carolinas defense completely off-guard, and undoubtedly had scouts scribbling furiously after pulling off such a strong move. He also hit an open spot-up 3-pointer during this terrific initial burst he started the game off with.
Young was extremely active on the defensive side of the ball as well, doing an excellent job keeping Brandon Wright from establishing position on him and going around him to pull down rebounds over the 6-9 power forward, despite being a 6-5 shooting guard (playing out of position) himself. He had 5 rebounds in the first 6 and a half minutes, but was not able to maintain the same level of energy and only pulled down one board the rest of the way.
Often times when a young player is participating in a truly huge game for his very first time at the collegiate level, you see them getting so pumped up from the adrenaline rush early on that they end up exhausting themselves physically. This might have had something to do with the sharp decline we saw in the second half in his energy level, as well as the foul trouble that plagued him for much of the game.
With his legs clearly not responding the way he needed them to in the second half, Young began resorting back to his old ways. He was too often the last stop in the flow of his teams offense, receiving the ball, but never making any real effort to create for anyone else. The 0 assists he dished out compared to 6 turnovers is quite telling in this regard, but not all that surprising when you consider that he only averages 1.4 assists per game. North Carolina kept throwing fresh bodies at him in a constant wave, and Young responded by settling for too many contested outside shots, finishing the game 1-5 from behind the arc.
All in all, Young has probably showed enough in this tournament to secure himself a spot in the first round, and could very well be considered a strong pick in the 10-20 range of the draft when its all said and done if he works out with NBA teams as well as we think he can. Hes got great scoring tools as his extremely productive college career would indicate, well as a nice upside to continue to improve.
Ty Lawson, 5-11, freshman, Point Guard, North Carolina
4 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 turnover, 3 steals, 2-10 FG, 0-1 FT, 0-3 3P
But even without the eye-catching statistics, Lawsons impact on this game was readily obvious. He played the entire second half, and his ability to continually push the ball would eventually wear a tough Trojan team down. One second North Carolina was on the ropes, the next it was Lawson getting the ball up the court for fast break situations on USC made baskets. It is becoming more and more obvious that this is Lawsons team - UNC struggled with him off the floor, and it is only going to get harder for Roy Williams to find a breather for his scintillating freshman point guard. Is Tywon Lawson perhaps the most dangerous open court point guard to enter the college ranks since TJ Ford first burst onto the scene?
Roy Hibbert, 72, Junior, Center, Georgetown
Vs. Vanderbilt: 12 points, 10 rebounds, 0 blocks, 5 fouls
From the tip, the Commodores stressed that they would double team Hibbert each and every time he touched the ball within 10 feet of the hoop. They constantly threw a second defender the way of the seven footer whenever he was on the low blocks, forcing him to kick the ball out to open teammates for jump shots. Hibbert was not even able to get his first shot up until the 7 minute mark of the first half, and that was his lone attempt of the opening stanza, along with two free throws that he converted. Defensively, he was burned constantly throughout the first half by perimeter oriented Vanderbilt big men who took him outside and routinely knocked down open jump shots or beat him to the basket. Simply put, it was a performance that he would probably choose to forget, if possible.
Different half, different story. From the opening possession of the second half, it was clear that we were looking at a completely different player then we had seen before the intermission. The Hoyas immediately looked to get Hibbert touches inside, which he successfully converted to the tune of 8 quick points. He was incredibly active on the offensive glass, scoring on two tip dunks that changed the total psyche of his Hoya team. He played inspired on both ends of the floor, utilizing his size on the defensive end while anchoring the zone defense that Georgetown ran. Although he was not credited with any blocks, he altered countless shots and took up the large majority of the paint when he was planted in the middle of their zone scheme. When Vanderbilt decided to pull Hibbert away from the basket late in the game is when he got in foul trouble, eventually fouling out on a Derrick Byars three point attempt with around four minutes to go. Even with the foul trouble, he still had a superb half to end the game.
Hibbert has done just a good a job as anyone in the country this past season in terms of improving his draft stock. He has firmly cemented himself as the third best center prospect in this years draft behind Greg Oden and Spencer Hawes, and could very well be a lottery pick when its all said and done. Georgetowns NCAA tournament run has done nothing but allow the emerging big man to put his skills on display for NBA scouts for yet another day, giving him the opportunity to bolster his draft stock even more while other center prospects are forced to sit back and watch on television.
Joakim Noah, 6-11, Junior, PF/C, Florida
13 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, 1 block, 2-4 FG, 9-11 FT
Derrick Byars, 67, Senior, SG/SF, Vanderbilt
Vs. Georgetown: 17 points, 5 assists, 1 turnover, 1 rebound, 1 steal, 5-12 FG, 3-7 3PT, 4-5 FT
Versus the Hoyas, Byars chose to let the game come to him rather than force the issue, even though Vandy might have been better off if he would have looked to score more when he had the ball in his hands. He did an outstanding job of reading the defense and finding the open man, as shown by his five assists. These assists were not based off of penetration by the Virginia transfer, but rather by his remarkably heady play and ability to work the ball around the perimeter. His solid fundamentals were on display, exhibited on his beautiful backdoor cut and reverse layup with his left hand in the first half. He came through in the clutch when his team needed him most, drilling a three pointer over Roy Hibbert around the 9 minute mark, only to then foul Hibbert out at approximately the 4 minute mark when he took him out on the perimeter yet again and was fouled on a three point attempt. Byars then came through big again, isolating Jeff Green on the wing and taking him to the basket, drawing a foul and converting two huge free throw attempts late in the game. Whenever the Commodores need him to step up, he did, but unfortunately that was not enough to make up for their inability to defend Georgetown inside.
The defensive end is where Derrick really stood out against the Hoyas, putting the clamps on Jonathan Wallace throughout the entire game. He did a great job of keeping in front of Wallace, constantly pressuring the ball and not allowing him to collapse the Vandy defense like he has done to so many other teams throughout the year. Byars actually has outstanding defensive fundamentals and knows HOW to defend, not relying on his athletic traits like so many shutdown defenders do at this stage, allowing him to perform consistently on the defensive end no matter whom the opponent many be.
On the down side, Byars is not the greatest athletically, nor does he possess the worlds best ball-handling skills for a perimeter player. He beats people off of the dribble through his smart play and utilization of ball fakes, rather than his explosive athleticism or remarkable crossover. The seniors shooting mechanics are a bit odd, as he often shoots the ball from the left side of his head, resulting in inconsistent release points and success in his outside jumper. Even though he shot 37% from three on the year, his percentage would be much higher if he were able to clean up the form on his jumper a bit more before he hits the next level.
Byars has used the tournament to show the nation his complete game, and gave him three more opportunities to show scouts what he brings to the table. Pre-draft workouts will be essential for him, as they will serve as a chance for him to improve his stock enough to warrant a guaranteed contract in the first round, or could leave him sitting in the second round fighting for a roster spot in training camp. Either way, his performance in the NCAA tournament has done nothing but help him in the eyes of NBA scouts.
Corey Brewer, 6-9, Junior, Small Forward, Florida
11 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 turnovers, 1 steal, 3-10 FG, 1-6 3P, 4-4 FT
Defensively, Brewer wasnt exactly himself today either, getting beaten on a couple of occasions off the dribble after not showing the patience needed to defend Butler for 35 seconds every possession like they force opposing teams.
Florida ended up advancing to the next round, so everything ended well, but theyll need their swingman at his best and most focused on Sunday if they are to be able to advance to the Final Four.
Tyler Hansbrough, 6-9, Sophomore, Power Forward, North Carolina
5 points, 4 rebounds, 1-6 FG, 3-4 FT
Hansbrough was thoroughly outplayed on both ends by Gibson, who appeared to have stolen a bit of his physical aggression. Gibson kept Hansbrough from getting good position inside, and forced him to step away from the basket for lower percentage shots than we are used to seeing from the sophomore. He didnt get the ball as much as he should have, but still appeared to force the issue at times when he did.
USCs focus on Hansbrough did allow Brandan Wright to put in one of the best games of his career, but we expect a lot more from Tyler Hansbrough in the energy and aggression departments. When he isnt his normal self as far as energy in the lane, Hansbrough suddenly looks a lot more pedestrian than when he is sending bodies flying in the lane.