Copyright 2014 Philadelphia Newspapers, LLC
All Rights Reserved
The Philadelphia Daily News
What is up with all these serious Canadian players? Steve Nash, who played at Santa Clara for those who only know him as a two-time NBA MVP, helped start the invasion. It is now a full-scale assault.
The leading scorers at Kansas, Michigan, Boston College, Iowa State and Gonzaga are all Canadians. They would be Andrew Wiggins, Nik Stauskas, Olivier Hanlan, Melvin Ejim and Kevin Pangos, respectively.
Canadian Khem Birch is averaging nearly a double-double for UNLV this season. Dwight Powell is the second leading scorer at Stanford. Tyler Ennis leads Syracuse in assists.
The No. 1 pick in the 2013 NBA draft was Canadian Anthony Bennett (UNLV). Wiggins obviously remains in play for the top pick in 2014. In this age of instant gratification, everything and everybody is overanalyzed. Just relax and watch Wiggins develop.
If you are looking for the most improved Canadian this season, look no further than Stauskas. Last season, he just stood at the three-point line and waited for Trey Burke to get him the ball. This season, he is playing the entire court and has become a really tough cover, putting the ball on the floor, making plays, finishing plays and still hitting threes at a high rate. He is an average defender, but every other part of his game screams NBA.
Guess the Canadians just got tired of seeing all these good American hockey players, so they have decided to try to take over the game invented in America by a Canadian.
What is the deal with two fouls?
John Chaney is one of my all-time favorite people. But I hate what he did with the two-fouls-in-the-first-half deal.
There might have been other coaches who routinely took any player with two fouls in the first half out for the remainder of the half. Chaney is the first I remember doing it all the time. Now, it has become an epidemic.
How does a coach know when or whether a player will get three more fouls? Why would you take a star player out of a game you can't win unless he is on the floor?
It is lunacy, and it is being practiced more and more by paranoid coaches.
If a key player gets two fouls very early, does it make sense to give him some time on the bench and perhaps play some offense/defense, spot him in and out, try to get him to halftime with the two fouls? Absolutely.
Does it make sense to just put him on the bench and forget about him until the second half?
Back in the 1980s, when I was coaching school kids in Baltimore, I had a team with one player who could score. One night, he got four fouls in the first quarter. He could score, but he was wild.
If he sat on the bench, my team had no chance, so I called timeout and told him to calm down. I then told him to hang on the offensive end of the court, just shoot jump shots, so he could not get a charge and never cross halfcourt. Told my team to pack in a 2-2 zone and dare the other team to make long shots.
My star scored 35. We won by five. He still has four fouls.
Joy to watch
There was some question about how "The Mayor" would do when he got the job at his alma mater. Nobody is questioning Fred Hoiberg now. Iowa State was really good last season and might be better this season.
And, if you want to watch precise offensive basketball, check out this team. The Cyclones have had more assists than turnovers in every game. They are in the top 30 nationally in offensive efficiency, defensive efficiency and pace of play (73 possessions per game).
Yes, they have lost three straight after starting 14-0, but the Big 12 might be the most competitive league in the country. Teams, even really good teams, will lose.
Martelli was right
Phil Martelli called me last week to remind me of his November comments when he said everybody needed to calm down about all the freshmen because the best player in the country was Creighton senior Doug McDermott. Turns out the Saint Joseph's coach was right. McDermott has been the best player in the country as we head for February.
Nobody who was at the Wells Fargo Center on Monday would argue. McDermott averages 24.8 points and has the Triple Crown of shooting accuracy - 50.2 percent from the field, 44 percent from the arc and 90.3 from the line.
The Princeton connection
Seven men who played at Princeton are now head coaches: Mike Brennan (American), Mitch Henderson (Princeton), Sydney Johnson (Fairfield), Chris Mooney (Richmond), Craig Robinson (Oregon State), Joe Scott (Denver) and John Thompson III (Georgetown). That is quite a tribute to the legacy of Pete Carril.
Getting late for unbeatens
Having even one unbeaten team on Jan. 22 is a lot for a typical season. That Syracuse, Arizona and Wichita State are still perfect is an aberration, but no fluke. These teams are very good, national championship contenders all.
This and that
- By the way, anybody who was at Hagan Arena on Nov. 16 was not surprised by the shooting display of Creighton's Ethan Wragge against Villanova Monday (9-for-14 from the arc). He was 7-for-11 against Saint Joseph's 2 months ago. So, in two games in the city this season, he was 16-for-25 from the arc. That's ridiculous.
- Pac-12 games are worth staying up for again. Ten of the 12 teams are averaging 75 points or more because the coaches are actually letting the athletes play. Five teams — Utah (51 percent), UCLA (50.2 percent), Oregon State (49.4 percent), Stanford (49.1 percent) and Arizona (49.1 percent) — are among the nation's top 12 in shooting accuracy. No. 1 Arizona seems to be getting better with each game. Don't see a lot of weakness in Sean Miller's team. The Wildcats have lots of ways to score and defend as if it matters. And just think, Drexel might have beaten them if Damion Lee did not get hurt during the game.
- Wisconsin has won games by scoring in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 100s. It is no surprise the Badgers are winning. It is a surprise how they are winning. They have scored 70 or more points in nine consecutive games, very un-Badger like from previous seasons.
- I probably have used this before, but I saw my friend Bob Ryan use it again recently, so I had to share. Bill Russell played in 21 deciding games, counting his NCAA days at San Francisco, his NBA years with the Celtics and Olympic medal rounds. His teams' record in those games? 21-0. Nice to see they finally got around to putting up a statue outside Boston City Hall.