Wednesday, April 19, 2017

She's A Beast: Recee Caldwell

She’s A Beast: Recee Caldwell

McDonald's All-American, elite scorer, great leader, and an even better person. All these characteristics describe Texas Tech’s star guard Recee Caldwell. This season Caldwell put up 14.5 PPG, 4.5 APG, 2.8 RPG, while shooting 36.4 percent from the three-point line and 38.1 percent from the field. Her efforts this season brought her All-Big 12 Honorable mention. Caldwell scored 20 plus points in 10 of their 31 games with career high of 38 points against Texas A&M. Her ability to create her own shot, along with creating opportunities for others is special and should not be ignored.
            I spoke to Caldwell about her approach to the game, this seasons results, her take on her play this season, what she plans to work on this off-season, and her opinion on why the WNBA isn’t as popular as the NBA.
TB: what is your biggest motivation?
RC: To make my family proud, and take care of them. My mom and dad have taken care of me my whole life and I wanted to show my gratitude by taking care of them one day.
TB: With all your success on the court how are you able to stay so humble?
RC: Talents are not from me they come from God. Why would I take credit for something that isn’t all me?
TB: What do you need to work on this off-season?
RC: This offseason I will be working on finishing at the rim through contact, moving without the ball to make myself a better offense player, and consistency on the defensive side of the ball.
TB: Do you prefer to play on or off the ball offensively?
RC: I prefer to play on the ball, I like to create for other and put them in situations to score along with creating my own shot.
TB: With your abilities as player and your success why are you considered underrated?
RC: We didn’t have a lot of publicity this season. If we start winning publicity and recognition will start to come but we have to win games first.
TB: Why is the WNBA not as popular as the NBA?
RC: It’s because of the style of play in the NBA they play more free you don’t see a lot of sets being ran they allow the players to just play.
TB: What are your expectations for next season?
RC: I would like to improve as a player and as a team, hopefully I will be able to lead my team to the NCAA tournament next year.
The sky is the limit for Caldwell, Lady Raider fans and I will expect big things from her next season. With her abilities to score the ball at will and make her teammates better one could assume that she will be selected to the 1st or 2nd All-Big 12 teams next season and start to get the national recognition she deserves. If and when she improves her game this off-season Recee Caldwell will be a household name and no one will underestimate or underrate her again.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Monte Morris: Diamond In The Rough

Monte Morris: Diamond In The Rough

Every year, The NBA Draft has hidden gems that many teams pass on for various reasons such as measurables, age, potential, and production. For example, potential rookie of the year guard Malcolm Brogdon, coming out of college many teams were concerned about what position he would play and his ability to score efficiently and consistently. All thirty teams passed on him once and 5 teams passed on him a second time until the Bucks took a chance on him with their 36th pick in the second round. With that being said, there will be another player many teams pass on that I believe will have a very solid NBA career in Monte Morris from Iowa State.
As a senior, yes as a senior he averaged 16.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG, and 6.2 APG. Morris is a pure point guard that simply doesn’t turn the ball over. He led the country in assist-to-turnover ratio 4 years in a row. Also during his tenure at Iowa State, he was a Big 12 1st team All-American in 2017 and 2 time Big 12 2nd team All-American in 15-16. Morris has a very balanced game he’s very solid on off the ball defense which made him the all-time leader in steals in Iowa State history. Offensively he can score from all three levels very well, especially at the rim and from midrange, but has a lethal three-point shot, shooting 38 percent for his career.

NBA teams with aging point guards or need to upgrade at that position should consider drafting him such as the Spurs, Heat, Bulls, Knicks, and 76ers. The risk on Morris is very low many mock drafts have him going middle-to late in the second round. He’s a very clean cut, hardworking player which you can attest to by his averages going up every year of his college career. Yes, he considered “old” because he stayed all 4 years, but is there really an issue drafting seasoned players out of college? 4-year college players come to the NBA more mature and their individual game will be more polished. The teams that drafted Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Draymond Green, and Jimmy Butler all have a strong case for why drafting seniors out of college isn’t such a bad thing. If I was an NBA franchise with an early second round pick and point guard is a position of need for my team I’d quickly jump the gun and draft Monte Morris. Don’t be the team that missed out on this hidden gem it might just come back to haunt you in a few years.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Process of Selecting Tournament Teams

The Process of Selecting Tournament Teams

In just fourteen days, the National College Basketball tournament will start. Before any teams book their flights and start giving out student section tickets, they have to participate in their particular conference tournament.
There will be thirty-two winners from each conference that will receive an automatic bid into the pool of sixty-eight teams. For example, in last year’s tournament, Holy Cross University went into the Patriot League championship with a 13-19 record with, what looked like, no hope to go to the tourney. They ended up beating Lehigh in the championship game to earn an automatic bid in the tournament, their first since 2007.
There are currently ten members on the men’s selection committee board that selects teams into the tourney, and all of them are athletic directors at various universities around the country. The selection committee only selects thirty-six teams who receive at-large bids to go to the tourney. The committee can select any number of teams from the ACC, American Athletic, A-10, Big-12, Big East, Big Ten, Mountain West, Pac-12, or the SEC. Many of these team will not know if they made the tournament until March 12th which is selection Sunday where the committee selects the final thirty-six teams.
The magic number of wins for a team to make the tournament is twenty or more, but RPI and BPI often determines your fate on selection Sunday. The Rating Percentage Index (RPI) is a tool the committee uses to rank teams based on their strength of schedule, wins and losses. Along with the RPI, the Basketball Power Index (BPI) is a team rating system that accounts for the pace of play, final score, site, key players, and strength of opponent. It is said to be the best way to predict the team’s performance going forward. During selection Sunday the committee places all teams into four regions: West, East, South, and Midwest. Until 1998, the regions were different the South region was once the Mideast then in 1985 changed to the Southeast. Each region has at least sixteen teams and higher seeded teams are closer to home. Although the higher seeded teams technically play home games, they still have a short drive away from campus, because no team gets the advantage of playing on their home floor. For example, in 2002, the University of Pittsburgh played their first and second round games in Pittsburgh at Mellon Arena, which is not their home floor.
Throughout the seeding process, there are various rules, such as the top three teams from each conference must be in different regions, the committee tries to seed teams from the same conference in different regions so if they happen to match up they can play each other in the regional final. The committee also puts non-basketball factors into consideration during the seeding process. In 2003, BYU, a latter-day saint school that has a strict policy about not playing games on Sundays, was accidently put into a region where they would be forced to play a game on Sunday if they advanced to the regional finals. The NCAA said it would change their region if they won their first two games and went to the regional semifinals. The NCAA final four and championship game will be on April 3rd in Phoenix Arizona. The tournament is full of upsets and Cinderella stories, which team will be victorious when the dust settles, only time will tell when the madness starts?

Monday, February 20, 2017

What the DeMarcus Cousins trade means for the Pelicans future?

What the DeMarcus Cousins trade means for the Pelicans future?

Sunday capped off an interesting All-Star weekend in New Orleans as the Western conference defeated the Eastern conference 192-182. As the game came to a close, rumors were circulating that the All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins would be traded to the Pelicans. Fortunately for the city of New Orleans the deal got done. The trade consisted of DeMarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, 1st and 2nd round pick in the 2017 draft. With the addition of Cousins to the Pelicans along with another All-Star forward in Anthony Davis, one could argue this is the most dominant big man tandem the NBA has ever seen since Ralph Sampson and Hakeem Olajuwon or Tim Duncan and David Robinson. Cousins and Davis both average over 27 PPG along with 10 RPG and are considered the two best big men in the league. The Pelicans currently sit in the 11th spot in the West with 23-34 record going into the second half of the season. With this blockbuster trade, the Pelicans are expected to make playoff run and advance to at least the second round. With the trade deadline to end February 23, the Pelicans are one piece away from being major contenders in the West. If the Pelicans can make a trade to acquire more consistent SG to help stretch the floor, the sky is the limit for them in the future. Currently, the Denver Nuggets are looking to trade Wilson Chandler who averages 15.6 PPG along with 6.7 RPG. If they can add him to their lineup they would be a legit threat to the top teams in the West. The projected starting lineup to be with the addition of Cousins could be Jrue Holiday and E’Twaun Moore in the backcourt, free agent signee Solomon Hill at the SF position with Davis and Cousins in the front court. The Pelicans front court is Elite and will be a living nightmare for opposing defenses, but to contend with the Warriors, Spurs, and Rockets they must bring in more backcourt depth and shooting to relieve some of the pressure off their dynamic twin tower tandem. Projected starting SG E’Twuan Moore would serve as a, role player on most NBA teams, but due to their lack of backcourt depth he will have elevate his game if the Pelicans don’t make a trade in the next three days. He currently averages 9.8 PPG, 2.2 RPG, and 2.2 APG. Just a day ago the Pelicans were a mediocre team in the West that wasn’t going to the playoffs this season to now potentially being 6th,7th, or 8th seed if the two superstars can play together successfully.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Why the Wildcats wont win the National Champisonship

Why Kentucky won’t win the National Championship

The Kentucky Wildcats are currently 11-2 with an 6 overall ranking after beating SEC opponent Ole Miss in their opening conference game. Kentucky’s out of conference schedule was pretty tough they played 4 top 25 teams in Michigan State, UCLA, North Carolina and Louisville and finished 2-2 against those teams. Kentucky is one of the most talented teams we have ever seen and arguably the most talented team in the country with potentially 4 NBA draftees from this year freshman recruiting class alone.
Although the Cats are talented their inability to shoot the ball from three could hinder them as the season progresses. As a team Kentucky shoots a disturbing 33.2 percent from three. Coming into the season point guard De’Aaron Fox was expected to shoot the ball much better like he did in high school, currently he is shooting 15.4 percent from behind the arc. In the Wildcats losses their opponents have ran zones against them to prevent them from driving to the basket also forcing them to make perimeter shots. By running a 2-3 zone it keeps the Wildcats from getting to the lane and finding open cutters for easier baskets. Kentucky does most of its damage offensively in the paint and in transition, when they are forced to make perimeter shots and run half-court offense they seem to struggle by having long lapses without scoring points.     
None of their guards or wings for Kentucky shoot the ball well on a consistent basis except shooting guard Malik Monk. Monk this season has played well season averaging 21 PPG on 49 percent from the field along with 39 percent from three. Although he shoots the three ball well he shoots most of his shots off the dribble, the Wildcats lack a 3-point marksman. If opposing defenses don’t allow the Cats to score a lot of points in transition and make sure they are limited to one shot on offense Kentucky could struggle to score points at times.  Along with the bad three-point shooting Kentucky struggles from the free-throw line shooting 68 percent which needs to improve before tournament time.
The Wildcats are a great team they have all the qualities to make it to the Final Four, they are a top 10 rebounding team with over 47 a game, elite on and off the ball on defense, and have players at every position that can make plays. There only major flaw is perimeter shooting, if they can fix that during conference play we could potentially see the Cats in Phoenix this April.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Why The Warriors Needed A Loss written for the Daily Toreador

Why the Warrior Needed A Loss

NBA season tipped-off of Wednesday with three NBA games starting with the returning NBA champs Cavaliers against the new and improved New York Knicks. Followed by the Trail Blazers vs the Utah Jazz and soon after the highly anticipated final game of the Golden State Warriors against the San Antonio Spurs.
The Warriors struggled all night guarding and rebounding with Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge. Leonard finish with 35 points along with Aldridge’s 26 points and 14 rebounds. Golden State’s defense seemed to be nonexistent giving up a lot of second chance points, wide open threes and layup after layup. Along with lackluster defense, 2016 All-Star Klay Thompson struggled offensively he shot 1 for 6 from the three-point line. Golden States offense looked to be discombobulated and very out of sync. The Warriors turned the ball of several times during potential fast break situations. Every time the Spurs took a small lead, Golden State tried to force up bad three-point shots to cut the league down quickly. They did not run their offense to the best of their ability, played a lot of one on one isolation ball with bad floor spacing while running their offensive sets. With floor spacing so bad their offense had no flow or consistency meaning tougher shots would have to be taken with the shot clock being an issue.
 Like many teams with new faces on their roster, they usually have bumps in the road before they have success. The Warriors have in all aspects a “super team” with Two MVP’s, 6 total All-Stars with 4 in the starting lineup. Even super teams struggle and go through adversity in 2010 the Miami Heat with an addition of LeBron James and Chris Bosh had their issues, they lost their first game of the season, along with 4 and 5 game losing streak at one point during the season. In 2008 the Boston Celtics went through their struggles on the road with issues on both sides of the court before they won their NBA championship.

This loss will humble the Warriors causing them to tune up the mistakes and flaws with their defensive communications and their offensive style of play. Golden State is very talented, but familiarity with each other skill sets, understanding of one another’s role, and communication on both sides of the ball must be established first before this team can be the power house we all expect them to be. Losses like this builds team chemistry and better character, many fans expected the Warriors to run through the West without any challenges, but every great team goes through some adversity. The Warriors will go home and watch film on this game and develop better focus understanding this season will be no walk in the park teams will play them hard night in and night out. A month from now this loss will be a distant memory in the past, the Warriors are way to talented to struggle for long periods of time. By mid-season Golden State will have proved why they are this season favorite to be NBA champions.

Monday, October 24, 2016

No More Blues In Salt Lake City

No More Blues in Salt Lake City

The 2016-2017 NBA season starts tomorrow; this has been one of the most anticipated seasons in the last several years due to all the offseason additions many teams made this summer. Golden State won the offseason with the addition of former MVP Kevin Durant, followed by the Pacers who brought in Jeff Teague and Al Jefferson. The Celtics also brought in an All-Star in Al Horford this offseason. There is one team that is on the rise and demands respect around the league and it is the Utah Jazz. The Jazz barely missed the playoffs last year with a 40-42 record.
Although the Jazz didn’t make big splashes this offseason they still brought in key veterans that will improve their team significantly, such as former All-Star guard Joe Johnson, established veteran in Boris Diaw, and Point guard George Hill. Joe Johnson will bring another threat to the Jazz’s bench his ability to put the ball in the basket from all three levels is great asset to have on your team. Diaw is a former NBA champion, meaning he will bring much needed leadership to a young and upcoming team. Also he is a great passer, his elite passing skills will cause nightmares for opposing defenses. Finally, Hill is to be the projected starter he brings more depth and more consistency from the PG position. These three players will help the Jazz return to the playoffs for the first time since 2011-2012 season.

In addition to these significant acquisitions, many players on the team have improved their game such 2015 first round pick Trey Lyles. This offseason during the NBA Summer League Lyles improved his three-point shot along with his ability to shoot off the dribble. Lyles put up an impressive 20.3 PPG and 10.3 RPG during his time in the summer league. Expect to see a big increase in minutes from his 17.3 from last year. Lyles will be the Jazz’s secret weapon off the bench this season, he will have to show up big for the Jazz to live up to their potential this season. The Jazz are expected be much improved this season, I believe they could increase their win total by at least 8 to 10 wins placing them in the sixth or seventh spot in the West. In addition to their offseason signings the Jazz brought back majority of their team including their star players in Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors. Hayward could be the most underrated player in the league, last season he put up very good numbers with 19.7 PPG, 5 RPG, and 3.7 APG. Along with Favors’ 16.4 PPG, 8 RPG, and 1.5 BPG. Favors missed several games due to injury he will need to stay healthy for the Jazz to be successful. If the Jazz can stay healthy the sky is the limit for this team, they will catch many fans and other teams by surprise this season. Not that many people are big on the Jazz, meaning they are one of the more underrated teams in the league. After this season I expect the Jazz won’t be considered to be a sleeper in the Western Conference or throughout the league anymore.