Tempo-Free Big East: Week One

After two months of non-conference play and guarantee games, the Big East slate tipped last week. It is still ridiculously early to begin evaluating these squads — other than Creighton and Seton Hall, the remaining eight teams have played just two games — we can still begin to identify potential trends, possible standout players, and break down which team(s) to closely monitor in the coming weeks. Continue reading “Tempo-Free Big East: Week One”

Assist Tracker: Dec. 22

The Northwestern – Creighton game provided plenty of fireworks and also a bunch of notable assist efforts. First I’d recommend reading this great piece by Patrick Marshall. He used some stats I collected about Doug McDermott and Grant Gibbs and ran with it using his insights from watching the Bluejays play all season. It’s really interesting stuff.

Grant Gibbs (G, Creighton) — In keeping with the theme of Marshall’s piece five of Gibbs’ 12 assists in Creighton’s 87-79 win over Northwestern were to Doug McDermott. Gibbs’ assists were mostly for threes (7), but also included two jumpers and three layups. McDermott finished the game with 27 points on 10-14 shooting from the field. Overall nine of 10 baskets by McDermott on Thursday were assisted by a teammate.

Antoine Young (G, Creighton) — That’s because Young added three more (the final one was by Ethan Wragge). Overall Young had seven assists with a relatively even breakdown between four layups and three threes. Creighton had 26 assists on 30 baskets (86.7%). The Bluejays came in having an assist on 66.3% of their baskets, 10th in the country.

Dave Johnson (G, Quinnipiac) — Johnson had 10 assists as Quinnipiac defeated Niagara 85-81. Six of the 10 assists went to Ike Azotam who went 13-18 overall and scored 32 points. Six of Johnson’s assists went for layups, three for threes and one dunk. Johnson, a junior from Jackson, NJ, also scored 13 points. He came in averaging 2.9 assists per game, so this was a bit of a surprise.

Zac Swansey (G, Tennessee Tech) — Swansey really spread his 10 assists around in the Golden Eagles’ 81-68 win over Kennesaw State. Jud Dillard got three assists and scored 16 points. Liam McMorrow also got three and scored 15 points. TTU’s leading scorer, Kevin Murphy, had 21 points, but got just one assist from Swansey in the game.

Michael Bizoukas (G, Missouri State) — Even though Missouri State fell in overtime to West Virginia 70-68, Bizoukas continues to thrive with the Bears. He had 10 assists against Mountaineers. Five of them went to Kyle Weems and another four were to Caleb Patterson. Bizoukas is getting help from his teammates as seven of his assists were either on threes (4) or jumpers (3) – though to be fair three were also on dunks.

Aaron Craft (G, Ohio State) — Usually it is Craft’s defense and not his offense that’s making headlines, but in Ohio State’s 69-40 win over Miami (OH) he had nine assists and just one was to Jared Sullinger. Instead it was William Buford that benefitted the most from Craft’s passing with six of his eight baskets coming off assists from the sophomore. Buford led the Buckeyes with 18 points. Overall Craft had assists on five jumpers, three layups and one three. It’s also worth noting that the box score gives Craft for eight assists, but the play-by-play says the total was nine.

John Shurna (F, Northwestern) — Northwestern’s loss was disappointing for the Wildcats and one of the reasons is that Shurna didn’t really show up. He went 6-14 from the field and scored 18 points while mostly being a non-factor in the outcome. It’s worth noting though that Shurna did have nine rebounds and six assists. Those six assists were evenly distributed with two each to Davide Curletti, Luka Mirkovic and Drew Crawford. That means Shurna contributed to both of Mirkovic’s two baskets – another problem for the Wildcats – and two of Curletti’s four. Overall Shurna assisted on three layups, two jumpers and one three.

Two big names that didn’t do much? Junior Cadougan had just one assist in Marquette’s win over Milwaukee. He took on more of a scoring role against the Panthers, leading the team with 15 points. Shabazz Napier had five assists in Connecticut’s close win over Fairfield. Only four of them are in the ESPN play-by-play, one is a dunk by Andre Drummond.

Assist Tracker: Dec. 19

Damier Pitts (G, Marshall) — Pitts had a double-double with 19 points and 11 assists in the Thundering Herd’s 87-86 victory over Belmont. DeAndre Kane scored 29 points to lead Marshall and six of Pitts’ 11 assists went to him. Also, seven of those 11 assists were for layups.

Grant Gibbs (G, Creighton) — It’s easy to get assists when you’ve got one of the most prolific scorers in the NCAA on your team. That’s what Gibbs has to work with in Doug McDermott. Against Tulsa on Monday Gibbs had 10 assists. Seven of those assists went to McDermott. Two of Gregory Echenique’s four made baskets came from Gibbs.

Eric Atkins (G, Notre Dame) — Atkins’ nine assists against Sacred Heart came in the Fighting Irish’s 106-65 victory and he distributed them pretty evenly. There were three layups, two jumpers and four threes. Both of Alex Dragicevich’s threes came from Atkins assists.

Keith Appling (G, Michigan State) — Two of Appling’s eight assist in the Spartans’ 89-54 win went to Draymond Green, who also had seven of his own. Appling had three assists for threes. Two of them went to Brandon Wood.

Draymond Green (F, Michigan State) — None of Green’s six assists went to Appling, but he did have two to Wood and two to Branden Dawson. I find it interesting that just one of his six assists was for a three. I’d expect a post player like Green to be passing for assists, but he’s hitting cutters in the lane.

Kendall Marshall (G, North Carolina) — Marshall upped his dunk percentage in Monday’s 99-49 victory over Nicholls State. Four of his seven assists went for dunks. That’s probably the advantage of playing a team like Colonels. I believe this is the first game this season that Marshall didn’t have an assist on a jumper.

Tyshawn Taylor (G, Kansas) — Last Sunday Taylor had knee surgery. Today he was playing in Kansas’ 80-74 loss to Davidson. He had seven assists (and five turnovers) in his first game back. Those assists went to three people: Thomas Robinson (3), Elijah Johnson (2) and Jeff Withey (2). I’d really like to watch this one on ESPN3 replay if possible and see if the turnovers were committed while trying to pass to one of them, especially because Robinson and Withey are true post guys.