Thoughts From Last Night
– A very quiet hoops night last night, but I did catch the Notre Dame-Cincinnati matchup. Jack Cooley had some early difficulty with the Bearcats’ length, but he used his strength advantage well down the stretch. Jerian Grant continues to use his athleticism well to get into the lane and finish strong at the basket, but it helps when shooters like Scott Martin and Pat Connaughton help spread the floor. Eric Atkins isn’t flashy at the point guard position, but he is effective and smart. Atkins and Grant also played tough defense on the perimeter, forcing Cashmere Wright and Sean Kilpatrick out of their comfort zone often.
Players to Watch
Quinn Cook, Duke vs. Clemson– Cook has done a very strong job taking over the Blue Devils’ point guard spot as a sophomore. Sporting a 2.7:1 assist to turnover ratio, and coming off of a 14 assist/1 turnover game against Wake Forest on Saturday, Cook is facing one of the ACC’s best at pressuring the ball and forcing turnovers in Clemson. Cook has done well in previous matchups with pressuring teams in Louisville and VCU, though Clemson’s pressure is more structured than either of those teams. Cook will need to stick to the gameplan and hit the gaps early to avoid the various traps.
Alex Oriakhi, Missouri vs. Alabama– Oriakhi is coming off a subpar performance against Bucknell on Saturday, but he will have a chance to make good with a strong outing against an athletic, strong defending Alabama team. Oriakhi will be counted on for the little things here, setting screens to free Phil Pressey and shooters, sealing off the lane, and playing tough interior defense.
Otto Porter, Georgetown vs. Pittsburgh– Porter had difficulty creating space to get good looks against Marquette’s defense on Saturday, and Pittsburgh has the athletes to create the same issues for Porter. The important thing for Porter will be to stay patient, play within the offense, and the openings will start to come once the offense gets into its flow.