Thursday, March 18, 2010

2010's Fab Five: So to Speak...

Note: Check out Pay's bracket reflections for 2010 HERE.

After last night's rather lengthy introduction, I'll make things short and sweet today, introduction-wise.

Here are 5 names you need to know before the tournament tips off.

Some you may know quite well, whereas others are names you've never even considered (or even heard of) having an impact on this tournament.

Nevertheless, they may end up mattering much more than you think.

In recent years, names like Will Thomas/Josh Pace/Courtney Lee/Rashad Anderson/Lee Humphrey/Danny Green and many many more popped up far more often than you might've expected, much to some people's surprise.

It can't always be the Okafor/Carmelo/Hansbrough/Battier/Dixon star of the favored teams that get all the praise, right?

Is there a better college hoops' pre-game than, "We are Georgetown"???

I doubt it.


Midwest Regional: Chris Wright (PG, Georgetown)
It might be an oversimplication, but as Wright goes...the Hoyas' tournament chances go. Greg Monroe may be the MVP and Austin Freeman might be the team's #1 offensive impact player, but if Hoya Paranoia will sweep past the likes of a potential trio of opponents consisting of Tennessee, Ohio State, and Kansas...Wright has to be THE man. He also has to do it for 40 minutes - on both sides of the ball - during all three matchups. After seeing him play in the Big East Tournament, it isn't nearly the stretch it might've seemed earlier this season. Who does Wright remind me of? Ben Gordon and the UCONN Huskies (of both '03 and '04). Don't assume I'm putting Wright on equal footing skill-wise with Gordon. No dice. However, as Gordon went the Huskies' Final Four aspirations. Check his stats during the '04 title run. Sick!

It's impossible to find a picture of Riley in game-action. That should tell you a lot.
This guy sees more court time than Riley...for now.


West Regional: DaShonte Riley (C, Syracuse)
Of course I had to go Syracuse. But stick with me for a minute. While Arinze Onuaku's "quad" injury has been anything but underreported, it still remains to be seen/guessed how Jim Boheim - for a game, two games, or the tournament - will balance his 7-man rotation. Especially if Onuaku struggles physically, with his conditioning, or avoiding fouls with heavy legs. Does Mookie Jones see increased minutes? Or is DaShonte Riley, a freshman who's played sparringly and produced even less, the man asked to fill the paint? Both seem unlikely. Nevertheless, a 6-man rotation (no matter how talented) can only get you so far in late March. If Rick Jackson finds himself in foul trouble, does Riley stand on a front line with Wesley Johnson and Kris Joseph? Or (gasp) do Riley and Jones somehow see playing time together. Scary, even borderline terrifying, questions for even the most adament Cuse supporters.

Kinda fun to look at that top 10, isn't it?


East Regional: Isaiah Thomas, Jr. (PG, Washington)
You want to make a name for yourself young is your chance. The last Washington basketball player to come into the tournament with any legit hype was Nate Robinson (sorry, Spencer Hawes). Robinson's translated that - alongside considerable talent and grit - into NBA notability. The kid can sorta dunk well, too. As for Zeke Jr., he's been under the radar a little more than I expected. Ala Patrick Ewing Jr, perhaps. While Washington isn't advancing very far in many brackets, Jr remains a talented scorer and is playing his best basketball of the year right now (Baby Zeke took home MVP of the Pac-10 Tournament...yeah, they still had one). A glaring weakness does appear to be his assist-to-turnover ratio (92 assists to 76 turnovers); however, you gotta love a sophomore shooting over 93% from the charity stripe. He has the pedigree, but does he have the moxy to keep his team alive after the first weekend?

It's hard to find a player from Finland to root for. Too bad (for me) he's a Monarch.

South Regional: Gerald Lee (PF, Old Dominion)
I had to go mid-major. I had to go CAA. Double duh! With Eric Maynor out of the picture (finally, George Mason fans), star billing in one of America's premiere mid-major conferences fell to - of all people - a Finish import named Gerald Lee. He's also a mid-major European big man who isn't overly obsessed with shooting the 3-ball. A rare, athletic talent at his size (6'10), Lee was the only Monarch to score (14.6) in double digits this season. A sign for concern? Hardly. ODU plays suffocating defense, crashes the glass on both sides extremely effectively, and Lee plays as well with 2 fouls in the first half as any player I've seen in the country. Especially those who aren't Dookies being protected by the shield. Yeah, I said it. Adding to that, Lee also owns two wins over Georgetown. Not too many others can say that in the past four seasons. Notre Dame has a talented frontcourt; however, I want to see Gody and company contain the 6'10 Finn inside the paint. ODU may even be able to force Notre Dame into old bad habits, chucking up countless 3s against a tough 3-2 zone, thanks in large part to Lee's ability to guard off the ball and rebound in the paint against lankier opponents. Silky smooth may be overused, but it describes Lee to a T. Hey, that rhymed!!!

Seriously, watch It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. PLUG!


Wild-Card: Green Man (Location: TBA)
He'll show up in a variety of colors and at more locations than you may expect. Nevertheless, the spawn (or at least the best usage ever) of an It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia-cult classic is one of the funniest and most welcome sites in student sections across the country. Do your thing, Green Man. For all of us.

There's plenty of other names out there. (*Cough* Kevin Anderson of U of R)
YOU tell ME who they are...for you.

Man, you gotta experience this live. It's unmatched in my book.
Even as a loyal Cuse fan.

Note: Check out Pay's bracket reflections for 2010 HERE.

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