Best of the Best: Nov. 14-20 Hoops Honors
Every Sunday night during the hoops season, Brent Yarina recaps the week that was on the men’s hardwood and hands out his weekly honors. See Brent’s first installment, for action from Nov. 14-20, in this post.
Co-players of the week: Tim Frazier, Penn State – The Nittany Lion point guard stuffed the stat-sheet on his way to leading Penn State to a 3-1 week, the lone loss coming against No. 2 Kentucky. Frazier shot 50 percent from the field and averaged 21 points, 5.8 rebounds, 6.8 assists, two steals and 0.5 blocks in a busy four-game week. He also twice set a career-high in points, with 26 on Wednesday and 27 on Sunday, and twice tied his career-high in assists, with a pair of 10-assist games.
Drew Crawford, Northwestern – Crawford’s 27-point, seven-rebound performance lifted Northwestern to the Charleston Classic title Sunday night. The junior hit 11 of 15 shots, including 4 of 8 from downtown, in the championship game over Seton Hall. Crawford was impressive in the semifinal game against Tulsa, too, pouring in 28 points on 11 of 19 shooting. In Northwestern’s three games, he shot 57 percent, hit 11 treys and averaged 24 points, 6.3 rebounds and one block.
Team of the week: Ohio State – The third-ranked Buckeyes topped No. 8 Florida, 81-74, in one of the season’s best early-season matchups, and, as expected, destroyed Jackson State, 85-41. Preseason Big Ten Player of the Year Jared Sullinger was hyper-efficient in the two wins, scoring 36 points on only 17 shots, in addition to pulling down 17 rebounds. Back to the big win against the talented Gators — it was a positive sign to see William Buford (21 points), Sullinger (16), Deshaun Thomas (15) and Aaron Craft (13) all in double digits against such a high-profile team. Someone has to make up for Jon Diebler and David Lighty’s scoring, and it looks like the Buckeyes may have a their options to do just that.
Impression of the week: Indiana’s Cody Zeller was worthy of the hype. Last week, the highly touted Hoosier took home the season’s first Freshman of the Week honors. Expect a repeat when the conference releases its honors Monday, because Zeller only got better in his second week of college ball. The big man averaged 18.5 points and eight rebounds, including a 23-point, 13-rebound effort in 23 minutes against Savannah State, and he’s giving Indiana the inside presence it’s lacked since D.J. White left town. Best of all, the kid plays all out all the time, evidenced by his 13 steals in four games.
Impression of the week II: Purdue’s Robbie Hummel looks healthy. Practicing and playing a couple games in a week following an extended absence is one thing, but playing four games in seven days is a completely different beast. Hummel, who is back from a pair of season-ending knee injuries, looked great playing extended minutes in multiple games for the first time since February 2010. Not only did the senior leader average 33.5 minutes, he contributed 19.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, two assists and one block per game en route to leading Purdue to the championship game of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.
Odd stat of the week: Minnesota’s Trevor Mbakwe posted a pair of 10-rebound efforts, giving him three such performances in as many games this season. Naturally, the double-double beast has been in double digits every night, as well, including a season-best 20 points Thursday against Fairfield.
Something that caught my attention: Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor is playing facilitator early on. With Jon Leuer and Keaton Nankivil no longer around, Taylor has opted to get his sidekicks involved instead of doing it all himself. The point guard, who attempted 13.1 field goals per game last season, averaged 6.5 shots in two games this past week, including three against Wofford. His passing and ballhandling are as elite as ever, though, with 15 assists and one turnover on the season. Once the competition stiffens, don’t be surprised if Taylor is back around his 13 attempts a game.
Keep your eye on…: Nebraska – The Huskers are 3-0, marking their best start in three years, have won 26 consecutive nonconference home games and boast polished LSU transfer Bo Spencer. Spencer, who averaged 22.5 points in two games the past week, and Nebraska are playing much better than many people expected. Like most Big Ten teams, this could be a tough team to beat on its home court.