Tuesday, April 03, 2007

. . . And Then There Were None

Last night, everyone finally got to see "the" game from Greg Oden - the one where he unquestionably looked like the best player on the floor for 40 (ok, 38, he sat for 2) minutes and controlled action around the basket. He hit 10 of his 15 shots, pulled down 12 rebounds, blocked 4 shots (I could have sworn it was more) and altered a handful of others, and helped hold the Gators under 50% from inside for the first time in a long time. He looked like the only Buckeye who came ready to play, and he was fantastic. What's more, it didn't look like it was any big thing - not just in the way he reacted, but there wasn't a single play where you reacted, "ha, let's see him do that every game." It looked like he could do that every game, without a problem - not to say he didn't make some exceptional plays (he did), but they were exceptional because he was doing things that he can do on a regular basis that other players can't do more than once in a blue moon.

And in the end, all that fantastic play for Oden mattered for nothing more than a nice video to put together for whichever of the Memphis, Boston, or Milwaukee GMs has the enviable task of selecting between Oden and Kevin Durant. This was a completely different game inside and outside the arc. On the inside, Oden and the Bucks won easy - they shot 63% on twos while holding Florida to 46%. But the Bucks gave away the game on the perimeter, shooting 17% on threes while the Gators knocked down 56%. Any time the Buckeyes made a run, Florida seemed to nail a wide-open three. The Gators also did yeoman's work on the glass, pulling down 37% of their own misses (including all but one of Oden's blocks) and 74% of the Buckeyes' errant shots. There was a stretch in the second half where they seemed to get an offensive rebound any time they missed, turning Buckeye stops into Gator scores in the blink of an eye, and keeping the OSU run at bay.

Florida was an exceptional team. Their five starters were extremely well balanced, providing them with threats on the inside, on the perimeter, and on the drive, plus a legit lock-down defender and three guys who were excellent rebounders. Chris Richard was a superb sixth-man off the bench, and could be a big NBA sleeper. They played with a definite on-off switch all season, but when it was on, there was no match for them. I think the only two teams that could have had a shot at beating the Gators when they were on their game were Kansas and UNC - both had the size to matchup inside, the speed to match up on the perimeter, and the depth to not be worn out by Florida's seemingly endless energy. But those teams had their own flaws that deprived them of the opportunity, so we'll never really know.

College basketball now goes into hibernation, and this website will join it there for the next seven months. I'm about as uninformed on recruiting as can be, and there's only so much playing with numbers that is useful (or that I have the time, energy, and inclination to do). Despite the above, this is not the ultimate post for this season - I still want to take a look at the differences between the "real" and "standard" tempo-free stats for Duke, and I'll also be putting up the season statistics for each team, both in-conference and out-of-conference, as a resource for the summer. In case any of you are laying out by the pool in July and suddenly seized with the compulsion to find out what Tyrelle Blair's defensive rebounding percentage was in conference play, rest assured, you'll have a place for it. For the rest of you, it's been a fun year, and I'll see you back here in November.

No comments: