Saturday, January 27, 2007

Your Crispix MVP = Roderick Wilmont

No matter how you slice it, Indiana's Roderick Wilmont HAS to be our Saturday b-ball MVP.
This is based solely on the fact that some of us spent no more than 5 minutes watching the Chuck-It-From-3, Free-For-All on the telly.
Hey ... we needed something to amuse us during that bowl of Crispix.

There's nothing funny, though, about how the Hurryin' Hoosiers needed a bounceback from the other night's messy showing at Illinois.
And Wilmont was leadin' the charge.

During his first three seasons, Wilmont had 35 assists in 86 games (avg. playing time in those 86 games was 16.19 minutes).
This year, it seems as though new coach Kelvin Sampson has urged Wilmont to be more pro-active in a leadership sense. Sampson is giving Wilmont more P.T. (27 mins./gm.) than Mike Davis did -- and the guard has responded.
Going into Saturday, Wilmont had amassed 20 assists thru the first 19 games, an average of 1.052 assts./gm.
That definitely beats the hell out of the 0.4069 assts./gm. which Wilmont had averaged for three seasons under Davis.

On top of that, Wilmont was only a 57 percent foul shooter (53 of 93), but, after sinking both FT vs. the Wolverines, he's made his last 8 and is now shooting 73 percent from the line this season (22 of 30).

Today, Wilmont sank the Wolverines by sinking a 3 in the game's first 10 seconds and then he drained two more in the final three minutes before halftime.
For some reason, TV color analyst Rick Majerus seemed quite taken by Wilmont's ability to jump and shoot a basketball at the same time.
Then, the play-by-play guy, Dave O'Brien, informed us that the 17 3-balls that Wilmont attempted at Penn State two weeks ago (he sank 7) was an IU record.

7 of 17 ... that's almost as good as how well Steve Alford shot in the '87 national title game against Syracuse.
Alford was 7 of 10.
Again, 7 of 10 in the national championship ain't no 7 of 17 vs. Penn State, but Alford will probably take it.

Wilmont has his 3-ball pct. up over 40 percent this season -- and that's a real plus, because, for every time that he goes 1 of 5 on 3-balls, you can damn well bet that Wilmont's gonna nail 3 of his next 5.
Then, he'll miss four of his next five, make three of the five after that ... and so on and so forth.

Speaking of 3-ball magnificence, North Carolina had its perimeter star -- Wes Miller -- struttin' his stuff from beyond the arc in the Tar Heels rout at Arizona.
For a lot of America, Wes Miller is the sole reason why we devote anywhere from 5-10 minutes per week on college b-ball.
Hey ... that's an intense 5-10 minutes during Crispix consumption.
Not a lackadaisical or half-assed 5-10 minutes.

Now, while it is true that Arizona was 1 of 23 on 3-balls (4.34782 percent) and committed 20 turnovers in Lute Olson's worst home loss, such inefficiency should not diminish from Wes Miller's contribution.

Let's rewind for a minute:
As a frosh ('02-'03), Wes Miller was 9 of 17 on 2's ... 33 of 103 on 3's.
Miller DNP in '03-'04 ...
As a soph ('04-'05), Wes Miller was 1 of 4 on 2's ... 5 of 16 on 3's.
As a junior ('05-'06), Wes Miller was 6 of 15 on 2's ... 64 of 145 on 3's.

That 3-ball avg. of 44 pct. last year, well ... it was a might encouraging sign.
Yet, entering Saturday, Wes Miller was 1 of 6 on 2's ... 14 of 49 on 3's -- THEN, he goes and struggles to find his 44 pct., 3-point stroke inside the McHale Center.

Miller missed all three of his 3's ... and that 14 of 52 total computes to 26.923 pct.
The way it looks now, Wes Miller appears to be on pace to finish the regular season with a 3-point pct. of anywhere between 27.668 and 29.048 and, then, after that, it's anyone's guess as to whether he can hike that success rate to 31.863 pct. or even 33.745 in the ACC and NCAA tourneys.
That MIGHT not be enough to get it done.
And, that's without addressing the woeful 16.66666666666 pct. on 2-pointers this season
If only there was a way that Roy Williams could light a fire under Wes Miller the way that Kelvin Sampson has with Roderick Wilmont.

Although "The Search For Wes Miller's Lethal Shooting Stroke" continues, at least the rest of Wes Miller's game hasn't gone to hell.
Before Saturday, Wes Miller had career totals of 145 assists and 90 rebounds in 105 games. Since he had no rebounds and no assists Saturday, Wes Miller's career assists/gm. avg, dipped from 1.3809523 to 1.3679245 and his career rebs./gm. avg. slipped from 0.8571428 to 0.8490566..

To borrow a catch-phrase from the scouts and the commentators on such matters, Wes Miller is "only going to get better."
More to the point, with a little hard work and with someone FedEx-ing them packages filled with talent, Roderick Wilmont and Wes Miller are going to make some big noise during the Big Dance.
Both players are smart enough to know that you'll never score your third basket of the game until you make your first basket and your second basket -- and, if it takes six or nine or 11 shots to get there, so be it ...

And, you can't jack up that assist average until you actually pass the ball to teammates who may (or may not) be more-qualified to make a basket.

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