LittyHoops Scoop: Weekly Hoops Roundup

For once, St. Joe's Delonte West outshines star teammate Jameer Nelson.

Delonte West caught fire with a 33-point effort on 12-for-12 shooting against Xavier.

Delonte West caught fire with a 33-point effort on 12-for-12 shooting against Xavier.

  • LittyHoops Archive

    Jan. 19, 2004

    By Brian Litvack

    Team of the Week

    82-68 def. Missouri
    81-70 def. Notre Dame

    Don't look now, because the defending national champs are playing as well as any team in the nation. Last week, the Orangemen went on the road and handily defeated two very talented teams in Missouri and Notre Dame. Syracuse has reeled off 13 straight after dropping its season opener.

    The Orangemen have collectively stepped up their play to fill the shoes of departed superstar Carmelo Anthony. Hakim Warrick has asserted himself as their go-to player, scoring 21 and 19 in the wins. Billy Edelin has settled into Jim Boeheim's system and teams with Gerry McNamara to form a versatile backcourt where both guards can play either position. Josh Pace has also taken advantage of his opportunities and is averaging 10.6 points and 6 boards.

    Syracuse has an experienced and talented rotation that plays well together. More importantly, they have the swagger and confidence of Champions. This will always give them an edge in big games as the season progresses.

    Player of the week:
    Delonte West
    Saint Joseph's

    West was sensational last week, helping the Hawks stay undefeated with wins over Fordham and Xavier. West, who usually plays Robin to Jameer Nelson's Batman, overshadowed the player of the year candidate against Xavier by going a perfect 12-of-12 from the field and 6-of-6 from the line to tally a career high 33 points. For the week, West averaged 22.5 points on 85% shooting, eight rebounds, 4.5 assists and three steals. If West and Nelson continue to click on all cylinders, the A-10 might become a one-team league.

    Line of the Week

    Desmond Farmer


    Farmer was unstoppable in leading USC in an upset over No.7 Arizona, 99-90. Although the Trojans have struggled of late, the win shows that the Pac-10 is more than just a two-team league. To top it off, Farmer's performance came during a week in which coach Henry Bibby "wanted to kick him out of practice three times this week."

    Games of the Week

    No. 16 Texas at Missouri, Tuesday
    This is yet another make or break game for Quin Snyder's Tigers. If Missouri (7-6, 2-1) can pick up a victory against the Longhorns, after downing Oklahoma last weekend, they will move back up into the upper echelon of Big XII teams. Texas has been riding the play of freshman sensation P.J. Tucker and has adjusted well to life without TJ.

    No. 6 Cincinatti at No. 5 Louisville, Wednesday
    The Bearcats and the Cardinals are the two best teams in Conference USA and both ride 13-game winning streaks into this clash. The swagger is back for Bob Huggins' bunch, but don't look for Pitino's boys to be intimidated. Both teams play pressure defense and like to get up and down the court. With tremendous athletes gracing the court for both sides, look for this to be a high-flying battle in Freedom Hall.

    No. 1 Duke at Maryland, Wednesday
    A handful of ACC games can make this list every week but this classic match-up is the most intriguing. Maryland is especially tough at the Comcast Center and is in the midst of a gruesome stretch after playing UNC and at Georgia Tech last week. Duke is rolling along and a win here would make them the team to beat in the ACC.

    Michigan State at No. 23 Purdue, Sunday
    Michigan State has been an early-season disappointment after stumbling through a gauntlet of top 25 teams. But Izzo's troops were in much the same situation last year and ended up in the elite eight. A win in West Lafayette and MSU may start getting that winning feeling in East Lansing. Purdue, which was struggling after its early season triumph in Alaska, had a strong week defeating Illinois and Wisconsin.

    Where's the amateurism?

    - Despite being academically ineligible, The NCAA has reinstated Baylor senior co-captions R.T. Guinn and Terrence Thomas in a decision "full of grace and understanding." According to Bob Knight, Baylor should focus on following the rules these days. "If kids can't do the work in the classroom that's required by the NCAA and this league, then I think it's a bad precedent to set, regardless of the circumstances," Knight said. A week ago I said we should all root for the Bears, being the ultimate underdog and all. Um, yeah... you can scratch that.

    - Southern Mississipi hosted Marquette in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Southern Miss sold a home game to a promoter who then staged the contest in Green Bay as a Brett Farve tribute game (Farve being an SMU grad). C-USA teams were outraged that Marquette was essentially receiving an extra home conference game. But any advantage the Golden Eagles had was flushed away in an 83-61 drubbing by SMU.

    The Oscar goes to (best drama)...

    Rashad McCants
    North Carolina

    McCants is like playing Russian roulette with a little two-shot; all or nothing. Thankfully for the Tar Heel faithful, McCants pulled the trigger from downtown twice in the final minute and hit both times. McCants' offensive outburst resulted in a game-high 27 points including the game-winner.

    McCants has weathered a storm of criticism since coming to Chapel Hill. He was in the middle of the Matt Doherty firestorm, and is a frequent visitor to the doghouse for his lack of defensive intensity, poor body language, and questionable shot selection. Admittingly McCants says, "I've just been playing bad all year." And therefore he has "been criticized more than anybody but Saddam," according to Coach Roy Williams.

    McCants burst on to the scene last November when he led UNC to victory in the pre-season NIT. Expectations soared as McCants "was a freshman, and my challenge was to shock the world." McCants wasn't yet mature enough to be the star that brought prominence back to the Tar Heel program and shocked nothing but Doherty's ego.

    McCants no longer has to be the star as fellow sophomores Raymond Felton and Sean May have become the leaders of the team. McCants still needs to show up every night and play with the focus and intensity that Williams desires. According to teammate Melving Scott, "Everyone has their own personality; I guess we have to deal with it if we're going to accept him as a teammate. He's getting better at it." If McCants can put together the pieces of his cranial puzzle, the Tar Heels will be legitimate title contenders.

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