Friday In Review:
Temple 69, St. Bonaventure 51
The reality, however, is that Allen dominated Nicholson, grabbing 15 rebounds in addition to 14 points. In the process, Allen showed his varied offensive repertoire, from drop stops to floaters, from put backs to jump hooks. Even more interesting, however, is the ease at which Allen looks for and finds his teammates. His passing opened up the floor today, allowing him to impact the game without scoring.
The question remains, however, if Allen is too unselfish and too passive, both significant criticisms throughout his career. Similarly, can Allen overcome his lack of ideal size and athleticism to contribute at the next level? These questions will have to wait until todays match up against Rhode Island in addition to future competition with NBA-caliber frontcourts.
Similarly, his defense remained unimpressive, which certainly has something to do with his lack of strength, but has more to do with his lackadaisical attitude and lack of awareness on this end of the floor. St. Bonaventure does not play lockdown defense by any stretch of the imagination, but Nicholson failed to play any of Temples big men effectively.
On offense, Nicholson retreated to his spot-up jump shot far too often and, though he has proven that he can hit this shot in the past, yesterday he missed. Worst yet, he took his focus out of the post, where his quickness and mobility are particularly effective, for crucial stretches of the game.
When he finally went to the post, he showed improved, but still lacking, footwork and aggressiveness. If a player like Nicholson makes an NBA roster, there will not be many plays called for him, so he will be forced to do the small things if he wants an opportunity to play. Next season, he must focus on improving his overall effort and skill level so that he leaves no doubt that he belongs in the NBA. In the meantime, he has a lot to accomplish.
Michael Eric, Temples 611 center, also looked good, apart from his excellent size, frame, and solid athleticism. He scrapped for loose balls and got position under the basket, both ways for him to compensate for his less than stellar skill set, awareness, and basketball IQ. If he can continue to carry these improvements into next season, then he could be an intriguing prospect down the road.
Rhode Island 63, Saint Louis 47
The next game was a step in the wrong direction and what resulted was the closest the Quarterfinals got to a blowout. From a scouting perspective, there is little of note here.
Xavier 78, Dayton 73
In what was by far the best game of the day, not to mention the roughest, fastest, and most brutal, Xavier rallied from a double-digit deficit to beat the struggling Dayton Flyers.
The key to victory was Terrell Holloway and his clutch free throw shooting, but Jordan Crawfords second-half return to form was just as important.
This is not to say that Crawford looked like he could be a role player at the next level, which is his likely fate. In fact, the contrary was true. Crawford struggled with fewer touches and his frustration was visible, at times. He was unable to get into any sort of rhythm until he took it upon himself to bring Xavier to victory by relentlessly attacking the basket.
While he is a very good slasher, and tonight was no exception, he is going to have trouble adjusting to the next level if he cannot learn how to fulfill a role in an offense without having it feature him as the primary handler and scorer.
His lack of maturity and focus were also on full display last night, as well, bringing up further questions about his transition to the NBA. Tonight, he was one of Xaviers heroes, but he also showed the scouts in attendance that he has a long way to go on both sides of the ball before contributing at the next level.
For Dayton, it was a particularly somber scene. After 30 minutes of brilliant coaching, the Fylers squandered a 15-point lead, culminating in a technical foul, a 6 point swing and a crushing defeat at the hands of a bitter rival.
Individually, it was bittersweet to see a team full of interesting players bow out so early. Small forward Chris Johnson only played 11 minutes before fouling out, unable to showcase his superb shooting stroke and explosiveness around the rim. Though hes just a sophomore and he will be back next year, it was a non-descript end to an otherwise much improved season.
Senior power guard Marcus Johnson also looked solid, locking down Jordan Crawford for stretches and using his freakish athleticism to attack the basket and to compensate for his developing skills. His shooting motion needs some serious work and his compact 63 frame does him few favors, but he is a quality player and should have a long professional career after he graduates this spring.
His aggressiveness and assertiveness with the ball in his hands were a welcome sight, even though his shooting mechanics, ball handling, and perimeter instincts still need significant work. It seems as though he is slowly but surely on his way towards transitioning into a wing or legitimate combo-forward at the next level. He will have to prove himself defensively despite his lack of ideal length, but his above average lateral quickness, size, and quick hands should help ease the transition.
At this point, Wrights future plans are unknown. When we asked him about his plans for this summer and for next year, he responded, Thats not something that Im worried about right now. Regardless, he showed the positive and negative aspects of his game and found a way to contribute regardless of whether or not his shot was falling.
Xavier advanced, all but ending Daytons NCAA Tournament hopes, and will meet Richmond this afternoon in the semifinals.
Richmond 77, Massachusetts 72
This game was ugly from the onset, rescued from obscurity by an inspired run by Massachusetts shooting guard Ricky Harris, likely the last run in his college career. Along with hot shooting from backcourt-mate Anthony Gurley, the Minutemen stormed back from a double-digit deficit before bowing out to Richmond, who will test their balanced attack against Xavier. As we mentioned before, be on the lookout for Richmond combo-guard Kevin Anderson and shooting guard David Gonzalvez, two players who should match up well against the Musketeers.
Semifinals: Saturday, March 13
#1 Temple vs. #4 Rhode Island (1 p.m. on CBS College Sports)
#2 Xavier vs. #3 Richmond (3:30 p.m. on CBS College Sports)