Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Top Guns From The 3-BALL FREE-FOR-ALL

It's only natural that we'd spend this "Wicked Wednesday" -- which is wedged between The Espy Network's college b-ball "Stupid Tuesday" and its "Throwup Thursday" -- by charting the progress of God's Gifts To Jump-Shootin'.
With the month of March scheduled to start tomorrow (by decree of the calendar), the Madness is only going to get better when some of our national collegiate heroes start poppin' from Treyland (shooting what Dickie Vee likes to call "a trifecter") at a frenetic clip.
First, though, we need to take a few minutes and review the dossiers of some of this nation's unsung 3-ball heroes.
Interestingly, Daylight Savings Time begins on Sunday, Mar. 11 this year (a week-and-a-half from now), rather than the customary "first April in Sunday" which has governed our lives for some many years.
What's most fascinating about DST occurring three weeks earlier than normal -- which'll officially signal the springing ahead of Spring (and increased usage of Irish Spring in the shower) -- is that some of us smart-asses can crack wise with, "The sun will go down an hour later. The jumpers? They might never go down."

Which means 3-ball percentages are destined to -- of course -- "fall."

With that in mind, it's wise to spend the final day of Feb. exploring the ballers who have been seduced by the sales pitch of the sideshow barker.
"Step up to the 3-point line, lads! Three tosses at the basket wins a prize! How can ya go wrong? Make one from 19-feet, 9-inches and win a prize for the little lady!
"Howzabout it, Sport?"

Okay, then ... let's see who's game:

1) JOE KRABBENHOFT (Wuss-consin) -- "Krabby" (if that's, in fact, what his Badgered teammates call him ... for all we know, he goes by "Hoft") ... garners top honors for the mere fact that in 9 of the Badgered's 15 conference games, Joe has attempted exactly ONE 3-ball -- and missed all 9.

It goes like this for the stylish sophomore out of Sioux Falls, SD:
In nine separate Big 11 games: 0-1 on treys.
In another Big 11 game vs. Penn State: 1-1 from 3-range.
In five other Big 11 games: 0-0 from beyond the arc.
We had such high hopes for "Joey K With The Deadly J." In his 15 non-conference contests, Krabby drained 6 of 12 trifecters ... this, after an 8 of 29 (28 percent) showing as a Badgered frosh last year.
It must seem like a million years ago when Krabby was nailin' his only 3-ball attempt during the season opener against Mercer.
Let's not give up on Krabby, though. It might be interesting to see a show of hands from those who predict that Joey K With The Deadly J is gonna snap out of it and have a huge (maybe even a "mega-huge") Big 11 Tournament and killer NCAA tourney.
Wait! Don't everybody raise his/her hand at once.
Krabby don't like it when there's a hand in his face 'cuz it upsets his concentration.
Badgered Note: Krabby barely received our Wisconsucks vote ahead of his teammates, Kammron Taylor and Michael Flowers.
In 11 home games since mid-Dec., Taylor is 23 of 48 (48 percent) on 3-balls. In eight away games during the same span, Taylor is 13 of 46 (28 percent).
By the way, there will be no Big 11 tournament games or NCAA tournament games played in Wisconsucks' arena -- so all of those sharpshooters, to coin a phrase, might be in big frickin' trouble.
Flowers, meanwhile, is almost as classic as Krabbenhoft. In the Badgered's eight January games, Flowers was 0 of 10 (0.0 percent) on 3-balls. Flower Power bounced back to sink 9 of 18 3-balls in his first five Feb. games, but finished the month 1 of 7.
Here's the juice: In Wuss-consin's NCAA second-round loss to Dunder Mifflin, Krabbenhoft will go 0 of 1 on 3-balls, Flower Power will go 1 of 3 and Kammron, yup ... 2 of 6.
Damn shame, too.
Brian Butch -- the Butch Badger -- and his dislocated elbow with an associated fracture deserved better.
Way to let him down, Badgered.

2) JOE ALEXANDER (Wuss Virginia) -- Don't be deceived by the fact that we've got us another Joe, even though this one plays for the Meltdowneers.
This is no Ordinary Joe, seeing how he was born in in Mount Airy, MD roughly 10 years before Jimmie Cone opened its stand there to coincide with the popular Jimmie Cone hangout in Damascus located less than 10 miles away on Rte. 27.

Anyway, here's Joey Cone's rap sheet: A 12 PPG scorer, he missed all 10 of his 3-balls during the 'Neers first three games of Feb. ... before he got red-hot.
Joe Jr. established some serious mo, going 5 of 19 on 3-balls (0 for 2 last night vs. Pitt) since that 0 of 10 beginning.

3) FRANK YOUNG (Wuss Virginia) -- This "Young Gun" definitely climbed his way up the charts by making a late push.
The YOUNGster ended Jan. by going 8 of 13 from downtown, but, like the rest of his teammates, he enjoys missing 3-balls more than he likes makin' 'em (as evidenced by his 4-of-12 effort during the 'Neers' 9-of-41, 3-ball fiesta from last week ... hey, without Frank's 33 percent from beyond the arc, WVU would've shot 17.24137 percent on 3-balls instead of 21.95121 percent).
Young Gun's 0 of 5 performance vs. Pitt last night put him at 15 of 54 in Feb. (27.777777 percent), so, "look out, March!" -- big Frank's headin' into the new month and loaded for bear!

4) RODERICK WILMONT (The Hooters) -- Always a joy to watch, despite the fact that after averaging 15.7 PPG heading into last weekend's game at Mich. State, Rod-Wil missed all six of his shots vs. the Spartans and was 0 of 4 from treyland.
Rod-Wil is testing our patience, given that, in his 93-game IU career, he's totalled 53 assists and 85 turnovers and is only a 61 percent foul shooter.
Tonight provides new life (on national TV! in hi-def!) when the Hooters play at Northwestern. IU is 3-9 on the road and 15-0 at home, typical of the Big 11 in '06-'07.
Regardless ... what we'll see tonight is a 48-43 barnburner.
And it wouldn't shock anyone if Rod-Wil bounced back with 11 points and 1 assist.
Hooter sidebar: A.J. Ratliff is 15 of 24 on 3-balls (63 percent) when he hoists 'em up inside Assembly Hall, but he's only 13 of 35 on 3-balls (37 percent) when he jacks 'em up in enemy gyms.
There's no real newsflash here ... just that we're wondering if A.J. Ratliff is a) pissed b) sad c) unaware that he ranks No. 3 on our list of all-time I.U. A.J.s -- behind the always-underrated, often-outstanding A.J. Guyton (mid '90s) and A.J. Moye (Knight recruit; solid off the bench for the '02 national finalist Hooters).

5) ERIC DEVENDORK (Sorrycuse) -- It was a lot more fun to appreciate The 'Dork's vast mediocrity when he was flanked by that motherchucker, Gerry McNamara.
Now, that each game represents 'DorkTime for the 'Cuse, "E" has struggled.
But, usually, when a player struggles, a night of going 2 of 8 from 3-Town is never out of the question.
And, don't be surprised if that 2 of 8 actually turns out to be a 3 of 9.
"E's" the kinda guy who can turn it on like that.
Sure ... 'Dork capped a tepid Jan. by going 0 of 11 (0 of 6 on 3-balls) in a 103-91 loss to the Farting Irish. And 'Dork's 5-for-7, 3-ball exhibition vs. RuPaul to begin Feb. wasn't exactly the bounceback that he had in mind.
However, since the RuPaul game, 'Dork has rediscovered his game, goin' 6 of 27 (22 percent) on 3-balls.
In other words, the 'Dork sriously puts the "me" in "mediocre."
The hidden part of 'Dork's game which people rarely see is the fact that he shoots better than 80 percent from the foul line.
Rather than work somebody off a pick and create on a dribble-drive, 'Dork likes to pop from 3.
Good for him.
Freedom of expression.
That's the way Boeheim likes it.
When he's not lobbying for the NCAA field to expand to a field of 76 or 88 or 100 or 128 or 256 or 512 or 1,024 or 2,048.

6) ANTHONY GOODS (Stan-fraud) -- Some of us on the Eastern Seaboard had the privilege of viewing the final 1:00 of regulation and the two OTs of the Cardinal's loss to Gonzaga -- which is when we saw which long bomber had "the goods."
Held to 2 points through regulation, A.G. started flingin' garbage at the rim -- and, goddammitall if some of those shots didn't go in.
The no-look, off-balance, fall-down, scoop-shot-while-eating-a-handful-of-concession-stand-popcorn ... that'll be a trademark shot in Maples Pavilion for years to come.
Years from now, when fans see a talented player, they'll be apt to say, "He's good ... but he's not Anthony Goods."
By the way, the full workup on A.G. reveals that since the opener vs. Siena when he was 7 of 11 on 3-balls (and finished with 30 points) in the victory, Goods was 6 of 37 (16.21621 percent) in the Cardinal's five losses leading up to the Gonzaga defeat.
The sophomore will only get better.
That's what "they" always say ... "he'll only get better."
Seems to apply here.
For no apparent reason.

7) COLIN FALLS (Notre Dumb) -- Here's a fan fave. Kid averages 33 minutes a game ... and, all, told, Col' has nine offensive rebounds this season.
Colin doesn't Falls down -- but he camps along the 3-point line.
There are approx. 2,455 players this season who have gotten nine rebounds "by accident."
That stat is not official.
It might be more like 3,008.
In the "Official Guide To America's Least-Active Rebounders," Colin "falls" somewhere between administrative assistants and those four little girls on the jungle jim.
See? A 10-year-old kid in a morning recess game on a court adjacent to the girls on the jungle jim just missed a shot and a little girl playing on the swing stopped swinging and gathered up the loose ball while Colin -- not within 50 miles of the play -- slapped his hands fervently, calling for the ball and screaming about being open.
That's the thing about Colin Falls. Ya never know if he's going to go 4 of 11 on 3-balls or if he'll crank it up and give ya one helluva 5-of-14 wild ride.

8) LEE HUMPHREY (Team Gator Raid) -- Uh-oh ... why the long face, Ace? Sure, you were sinking an off-the-charts 68 percent (33 of 48) of your 3-balls through the first half of the SEC season.
Despite a recent cold streak, The Hump's 3 of 7 on 3-balls in the L to Tenn. lifted his recent success-rate from 28 percent to 30 percent.
Beware the sleeping giant ...

9) JASON McALPIN (Gary-land) -- No one who was there that night (and some of us have the ticket stubs to prove it) will ever forget the manner in which J-Mac stood poised as the final seconds ticked away against Missouri-Kansas City.
The scoreclock showed 0:02.7 as the ball left his hand -- and the scoreclock was all zeroes as J-Mac's shot hit nuthin' but net was the final horn sounded.
Save yer stubs from this one -- Terrapins 101, UMKC 50.
Sure, J-Mac had already nailed a 3 less than 1:00 of elapsed time earlier, but this one was special ... buzzer-beater special.
It's what every autistic and non-austic kid dreams about.
By going 2 of 2 on 3-balls, J-Mac let everybody know that there was A New-And-Improved J-MAC for America to embrace.
In that game, J-Mac's teammate, Mike Jones (M-Jo to McAlpin's J-Mac), tried to steal the spotlight by going 9 of 13 on trifecters.
As it happens, though, both kids are on the long road back.
After the 51-point, nailbiter against UMKC, McAlpin played during the final two minutes of the 41-point win over Mount St. Mary's (going 0 for 1 on a 2-pointer) and then played the final minute of the a 31-point win over then-winless Iona (unsuccessful in his one FG att. ... a 3-ball, of course).
Just the fact that Coach Gary trusted J-Mac enough to take that shot in the final minute of a 31-point win over an 0-12 opponent, well ... there's only so much we can say about "courage" and "dedication" and "inner-strength" and "a half-full bag of Skittles."
J-Mac hasn't sniffed PT since, but the confidence he gained from that 51-point win over UMKC and the 31-point win over 0-12 Iona speaks volumes.
As per Jonesy, he's coming off a win over UNC three nights ago -- but the once highly-touted recruit sank only 1 of 6 trifecters.
Tonight when he tangles with Duke, it's not difficult to envision him torching the Dukies for 3 threes in 8 or 9 attempts.
The kid is THAT good.

10) CHRIS LOFTON (Tiny-See) -- The Vol standout probably doesn't desrve to be in this group because he averages eight 3-ball attempts per game and actually sinks 3.3 of 'em.
Lofton had that stretch from the final week of Nov. through the first week of Jan. when he averaged 26 PPG, scored at least 28 on six occasions (34 vs. Memphis; 35 vs. Texas) and was 42 of 83 on 3-balls.
The Lofton Legitimacy Factor, however, is under investigation, since Chris is only 10 of 39 on 3-balls during the past four games.
Another thing: For someone who's averaged 20 PPG during his three seasons on Rocky Top, he did not play in an NCAA tournament game as a frosh or a soph.
There's much to prove next month ...

11) DAN NWAELELE (Air Farce) -- The Falcons were one of the pleasaant surprises of this season as Nwaelele was averaging 15 PPG and draining 50 percent of his treys.
The Academy has slipped, though. Before losing their regular-season finale at home to BYU last night, the Falcons -- who look sharp in black socks and black sneakers (ha ha ha) -- were 1-4 in their final five road games.
And it was all Nwaelele's fault.
Sort of.
Eight of 27 (29 percent) won't get it done.

12) MATT BELL (ARMY) -- As per other military b-ballers, let's hear it for the senior from Kokomo, Indiana.
OK ... so he had only 7 points vs. Bucknell a few days ago, but that was only the third time in 28 games in which Matt B didn't reach double figures. And, it came only three days after his season-high 24 vs. the Lafayette Leopards.
He's a scrapper ... and he hits 50 percent from beyond the arc ... and he's a military guy, which means that he has 74 more things on his "to do" list than 93 percent of Dee-One b-ballers.
And, he's the grandson of a dear friend of the mother-in-law, so, let's give it up for the soldier.
He's as cool as the other side of the pillow.

13) IDONG IBOK vs. EKPE UDOH -- This doesn't exactly fit the category ... but it's fun to say "Idong Ibok of Michigan State vs. Ekpe Udoh of Michigan" even if neither is in the game at the same time -- or even if they are on the floor together, but aren't guarding each other.
Last night offered a vintage matchup when MSU (20-1 at the Breslin Center; 1-7 on the road) waltzed into Ann Arbor's Crisler Arena to face the Wolves (16-2 at home; 3-8 on the road).
And, as per usual ... the 16-2 home team improved to 17-2 at home and the road team dipped to 1-8.
Wouldn't it be neat if there was an NCAA selection committee to inform Tom Izzo that a 1-8 road record is not tournament-worthy?

14) AARON GRAY (Pissburgh) -- When he's on the floor, all the Panthers know is that "Gray Matters."
Aaron hasn't attempted a 3-ball this season ... but that's attributed to the fact that he's a low post player (and a damn semi-adequate one at that).
While he may not have a problem, per se, with the 3-point line, the free-throw line makes Aaron queasy.
Check this out:
In Feb., Gray sank 11 of 34 foul shots.
Hint to Pitt opponents: Foul Gray every time somebody makes (let's say it together) ... "an entry pass."
The flip-side of Gray is Georgeclown's 7-foot-2 tour de force, Roy Hibbert.
Hibbert ended Jan. by sinking all 4 of his foul shots against Cinshitnati -- and this month, he went 32 of 39 from the foul stripe (82 percent). In his first 19 games this season, Hibbert was 50 of 80 (63 percent) from the line.
Will the REAL free-throw shootin' Roy Hibbert please stand up?
Hibbert's postseason life is going to depend on the unselfishishness of his teammates -- those very same teammates who couldn't seem to get him the ball vs. Sorrycuse on Feb.'s final "Boring Monday" (you can't spell "boring" without "BIG").
Anyway, after scoring 20, 23 and 20 in wins over Lousyville, Supermarquette and Wuss Virginia, Hibbert has scored only 29 in his past four games. Hibbert took only 4 shots in the loss to Sorrycuse on Blah Monday ... which snapped Georgeclown's 11-game win streak which dated back to mid-Jan.
Coach JT3 has to figure out how to get Georgeclown's No. 2 seed all locked up, just so that he can give it away to a No. 15 seed.
Or a No. 9 seed in Round Two.

Bottom line: The seeds are important.
What matters is that our children express their inalienable right to miss 5 outta every 8 trifecters ...

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