Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Big East Breakdown – NBA Scout on Syracuse-Louisville; Storylines; Weekly Honors; Power Rankings
One veteran NBA scout who attended No. 6 Syracuse’s 70-68 victory over No. 1 Louisville on Saturday broke down several key players in the game for SNY.tv.
Here’s his take.
**Brandon Triche, Syracuse (23 points, 6 rebounds):
Scout’s take: “Brandon Triche is a very strong, highly-skilled, under-control combo guard.
“He’s very well thought of up there by all the people because of his great work ethic. He’s a genuinely nice person.
“His weakness is he becomes ‘MIA,’ missing in action. He doesn’t assert himself. He deferred too much last year [to Scoop Jardine and Dion Waiters]. Obviously, the weight is on his shoulders this year. Brandon Triche can really play and it’s always bothered me [that he defers]. [On Saturday] he was on a big stage, on national TV playing the No. 1 team in the country. I hope he ‘ll continue to assert himself. Why he would defer to anyone on that team is beyond me. He’s their best player.”
“The way he played he’s a first-round pick but he’s gotta play that way. Otherwise, he’ll be a second-round pick.
**Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse (16 points, 7 assists, 8 turnovers)
Scout’s take: “Michael Carter-Williams’ upside is tremendous. He needs to get stronger, learn how shoot and cut down his turnovers.
“If you get up into him, he turns it over. Russ Smith did the same thing to him that Ray McCallum did, got up into him and he turned it over [eight] times. He doesn’t like someone to get up into him in the backcourt.
“If he comes out, he’s gonna be and rich and make a lot of money because he’s gonna be a high pick. Business-wise, he has to come out because there’s a cautionary tale and the cautionary tale has a name: Greg Oden.
“What happens if the kid doesn’t come out and blows his knee or gets into a car accident? Now he’ll never get the money. Our system is whacked. A number of them will be lottery picks and they’re too young. And their bodies haven’t matured. Michael Carter-Williams has a boy’s body, not a man’s body. The D-League is a good place for him. People forget the NBA means ‘No Babies Allowed.” When these kids come in, they’re babies. It takes them three years.”
**Russ Smith, Louisville (25 points, 4 steals)
Scout’s take: “Russ Smith is shooting up the charts. He’s a tough, quick, little guy who shoots it straight. He brings great ball pressure. He’s Brooklyn-tough, cat-quick. He gets wherever he wants on the floor. He can push the ball. I think he’s intelligent enough when he gets to the NBA, he knows he’s gotta give the ball up.”
FIVE STORYLINES THIS WEEK
1. Syracuse (17-1, 5-0 Big East) and Louisville (16-2, 4-1) are a combined 33-3 and 9-1 in the Big East. Yet Syracuse is headed to the ACC in 2013 and Louisville will likely be there in 2014. By 2014, this will be a regular-season ACC game.
2. Despite playing without senior point guard Cashmere Wright (sprained right knee), Cincinnati beat Marquette, 71-69, Saturday night behind Sean Kilpatrick’s career-best 36 points. The Bearcats visit Syracuse Monday at 3:30.
3. Rutgers and St. John’s will play for the second time in two weeks Wednesday night when they meet at the RAC. Both teams are 3-3 in the league and the winner will move to 4-3 and improve their chances of cracking the league’s top eight. Rutgers won the first game, 58-56, Jan. 9 at MSG.
4. An injured Seton Hall club has lost four straight league games heading into Wednesday’s home tilt with USF. The Bulls lost their first four Big East games before beating Georgetown at home Saturday, 61-58. Something’s gotta give.
5. I saw UConn recruits Terrence Samuel and Kentan Facey this weekend at the Big Apple Basketball Invitational in New York and the Huskies are getting a couple good ones. The 6-3 Samuel hit the game-winning layup in Saturday’s 64-63 win over Seton Hall commit Aquille Carr and Princeton (Md.) Day Academy.
WEEKLY HONORSBIG EAST Player of the WeekSEAN KILPATRCK, Cincinnati, G, Jr.
Kilpatrick helped Cincinnati to a pair of BIG EAST wins by averaging 27.0 points and 5.0 rebounds as the Bearcats defeated DePaul (75-70) and No. 25 Marquette (71-69 in overtime). He scored a career-high 36 points — the most by a Cincinnati player in BIG EAST history — including the game-winning bucket with 4.3 seconds left in overtime in the win against Marquette. He added 18 points and six rebounds in the win at DePaul. Kilpatrick ranks fourth in the BIG EAST in scoring at 18.3 points per game.
BIG EAST Rookie of the WeekJAKARR SAMPSON, St. John’s, F, Fr.
Sampson averaged 13.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in a 2-0 week, helping St. John’s improve to 3-3 in BIG EAST play. He scored 17 points with four rebounds in a 67-63 win against No. 20 Notre Dame and had 10 points and five boards in a 71-62 victory at DePaul. Sampson leads BIG EAST freshmen in both scoring (13.6 ppg) and rebounding (6.6 rpg) this season.
BIG EAST Honor RollOTTO PORTER, Georgetown, F, So.
Averaged 20.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and shot 59.3 percent from the field in a 1-1 week.
RUSS SMITH, Louisville, G, Jr.
Averaged 24.0 points in a 1-1 week with 23 in a win at Connecticut and 25 in a loss to No. 6 Syracuse.
ERIC ATKINS, Notre Dame, G, Jr.
Averaged 17.5 points, 4.0 assists and 4.0 steals in a 1-1 week.
BRYCE COTTON, Providence, G, Jr.
Averaged 22.5 points in a 1-1 week. Had 24 points in a win against Villanova.
BRANDON TRICHE, Syracuse, G, Jr.
Scored 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting in a 70-68 win at No. 1 Louisville.
1. Syracuse (17-1, 5-0)
2. Louisville (16-2, 4-1)
3. Cincinnati (16-3, 4-2)
4. Marquette (13-4, 4-1)
5. Notre Dame (15-3, 3-2)
6. Pittsburgh (15-4, 3-3)
7. UConn (12-5, 2-3)
8. Georgetown (12-4, 2-3)
9. Rutgers (12-5, 3-3)
10. St. John’s (11-7, 3-3)
11. Providence (10-8, 2-4)
12. Villanova (11-7, 2-3)
13. USF (10-7, 1-4)
14. Seton Hall (12-6, 1-4)
15. DePaul (10-8, 1-4)
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.