Nov 20, 2012, 12:18 AM EDT
BROOKLYN – All things considered, Shabazz Muhammad didn’t play too badly in his first game as a collegian.
He finished with 15 points on 5-10 shooting in 25 minutes of action, although a couple of those buckets came in the final minute with the outcome, a 78-70 loss to Georgetown in the semifinals of the Legends Classic, all-but decided. He only grabbed one rebound, which is concerning given his strength and athleticism, and he was no where near the player that he needs to be on the defensive end of the floor. He was a long way from good, and he certainly didn’t come close to the reputation he had built for himself coming into the game.
This wass supposed to be a top three pick, mind you, and top three picks aren’t supposed to look as consistently over-matched as Muhammad did on both ends of the floor tonight.
And Muhammad will tell you the same thing.
“I can get a lot better. I didn’t play well tonight. I didn’t play well on defense,” Muhammad told reporters after the game.
That’s understandable. This was Muhammad’s first college basketball game after spending the past six months dealing with NCAA investigations into his time as a high schooler. He suffered a high-ankle sprain that kept him out for nine weeks over the summer. He didn’t practice with the team before they went to China. He didn’t go with the team to China. The first chance he had to practice was about a month ago, and in that time he’s dealt with a shoulder injury that kept him from being able to play, lift, or work on his conditioning for half that time.
He’s out of shape, out of sync with his teammates and, quite frankly, probably rusty.
And you thought he was going to come in here and look like James Harden did in his first game with the Rockets?
“It was really exciting getting out on the court for the first time,” Muhammad said when asked how he felt about his debut. “Just finally getting the jitters out and getting comfortable playing college basketball for the first time was a good experience.”
“I’m trying to get out here and gel with my teammates for the first time. My first college game, trying to get used to playing with all these players.”
It’s not like Muhammad is a piece getting plugged into an experienced team, either. Kyle Anderson is a freshman. Larry Drew II is a transfer that is playing for the first time in 20 months. Norman Powell is starting for the first time in his college career. Jordan Adams, who has scored at least 20 points in all four games as a collegian, is also a freshman.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Bruins have been dealt a bad hand when it comes to injuries. Muhammad has already dealt with ankle and shoulder issues. Kyle Anderson missed a couple months over the summer after thumb surgery. Tony Parker didn’t play on Monday due to a back issue. Tyler Lamb hasn’t returned to the court yet after getting surgery on his knee.
In other words, Muhammad isn’t the only one that needs to gel on this team.
It’s a group that doesn’t necessarily fit together perfectly with a coach who isn’t necessarily built to handle a team with their strengths. They were shredded defensively by Georgetown’s Princeton-style offense, which is not something you typically see from a Ben Howland-coached team. They looked lost offensively against Georgetown’s zone. They didn’t run the floor well at all. The 16 offensive rebounds they collected were nice, but the 60% Georgetown shot from the floor in the second half wasn’t.
“We are a team that is very young and we got hurt defensively,” Howland said. “They shot 55% from the game, 60% for the second half. Those two stats jump out.”
I spent the preseason doing nothing but send up warning flares that UCLA had dumpster fire potential written all over them.
And while I would love to take this time to revel in the fact that I was, once again, right, I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you that there were some positives to take out of this game.
First and foremost, Drew looks like a different player than they one that flamed out at North Carolina. He now has 33 assists and just six turnovers in 135 minutes this season. He got in the lane and created, he found shooters on the secondary break, he got the ball to his teammates where they needed it and when they needed it, and, most importantly, he did nothing dumb to hurt them. In the end, that’s all he really needs to do.
The other thing I liked was the way Howland used Anderson in the second half. There’s no question that Anderson is one of the more unique talents in the country, but asking him to be a primary ball-handler at this level is unfair. He’s not going to be blowing by players like Otto Porter and Greg Whittington off the dribble. Where he is effective, however, is as a playmaker out of the high post. When UCLA cut Georgetown’s lead to four in the second half, it’s because Anderson got them easy shot after easy shot against a 2-3 zone.
The Wears are capable up front, Josh Smith and Tony Parker can provide muscle when need be, and Muhammad, Adams and Powell provide as much scoring punch on the wing as you’ll find anywhere in the country.
There are still plenty of pieces that need to fall into place for this group.
But if you’re a UCLA fan, now is not the time to be selling off your season tickets, and judging them too harshly off of their first game with Muhammad in the fold is unfair.
Jun 19, 2013, 2:30 PM EDT
Spike Albrecht spent the majority of the college basketball season as the answer to a trivia question: Who is the little white kid that backs up Trey Burke, the best player in the country? The way the 2012-2013 campaign ended, however, was much, much different. If you’ve forgotten, the kid who was signed late by…
Jun 19, 2013, 1:06 PM EDT
Northwestern head coach Chris Collins has filled out his coaching staff, as he added Armon Gates as his third assistant coach on Tuesday. Gates is a Chicago native that spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach at Loyola (IL). “We’re very excited to add Armon to our staff,” Collins said in a statement…
Jun 19, 2013, 12:25 PM EDT
Darius Cobb, Ben McLemore’s former AAU coach, will be meeting with the NCAA’s Enforcement staff today to discuss the involvement that Rodney Blackstock had with the former Kansas all-american and those close to him, according to a report from Eric Prisbell of USA Today. That could end up being a thorn in the side of…
Jun 19, 2013, 11:30 AM EDT
A recent growing buzzword in college basketball is the importance of the “culture” of a program. Culture within a college basketball program dictates how things work and it’s use as a word and as a concept is meant to influence players — and in some cases fans — into believing that certain activities or teachings…
Jun 19, 2013, 10:52 AM EDT
Mark Few picked up his first commitment in the Class of 2014 as Portland native and Rivals top 150 shooting guard Silas Melson pledged to the Zags on Tuesday night, according to a report from ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman. Here’s how ESPN breaks down his game: He has a smooth shooting stroke out to 20-feet and…
Jun 19, 2013, 10:17 AM EDT
Michigan State needed Adreian Payne to return to school if they were going to make a run at a national title. With Derrick Nix graduating and with their only incoming front court player being Gavin Schilling — who isn’t exactly the second coming of Greg Oden — Tom Izzo’s team was going to have a…
Jun 18, 2013, 11:25 PM EDT
If you aren’t familiar with Vine, it’s an app that allows users to record up to six seconds worth of video. That was plenty of time for Tennessee rising junior forward Jarnell Stokes to film Oklahoma State star sophomore guard Marcus Smart taking a sideline bounce pass and throwing down a 360 slam while the…
Jun 18, 2013, 10:12 PM EDT
Gorgui Dieng is gearing up for next Thursday for the 2013 NBA Draft. On Tuesday, following a workout with the New York Knicks, the former Louisville center had time to talk about his old team. “I think they’re going to have a better team this year,” Dieng told Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com and SNY.tv on…
Jun 18, 2013, 8:42 PM EDT
A week after being cut loose by Iowa State, Indian Hills Community College forward Richard Amardi made a commitment to the Oregon Ducks. He has one year of eligibility left. Jeff Goodman first reported the news via Twitter on Tuesday night. The 6-foot-9 Amardi was on the wrong-end of a scholarship issue. He had originally committed…
Jun 18, 2013, 7:52 PM EDT
After three years with the Penn State program, rising junior forward Jon Graham was granted a release and will be allowed to transfer for his final two seasons of eligibility, the school announced on Tuesday afternoon. “Jon and I have had several meetings to discuss his future and he has decided to seek opportunities to…
Jun 18, 2013, 6:42 PM EDT
The return of Greg Whittington was going to be a crucial for the Georgetown Hoyas, entering next season without Big East Player of the Year Otto Porter. However, on Tuesday it was confirmed that Whittington has suffered a torn ACL in his left knee. “Greg will return when he is 100 percent healthy,”Georgetown head coach John…
Jun 18, 2013, 5:46 PM EDT
Harry Giles (Wesleyan Christian Academy/Winston-Salem, N.C.) was one of 12 players selected to the USA Basketball Under-16 team, playing in the FIBA World Championship in Uruguay. The 6-foot-9 2016 recruit injured his left knee on Wednesday in a win over Argentina. On Tuesday, Giles told Jason Jordan of USA Today that he torn his ACL and MCL.…
Jun 18, 2013, 4:39 PM EDT
Kansas commit and consensus top high school player Andrew Wiggins decided not to play for the Canadian Under-19 team this summer at next week’s FIBA U19 World Championship in Prague, Czech Republic. That hasn’t stopped the 6-foot-7 Wiggins from impressing this summer. According to Gary Parrish of CBS Sports, sources confirmed that Wiggins participated in his first…
Jun 18, 2013, 3:03 PM EDT
We’ve dissected the position that Aaron Gordon will play at Arizona far too often this offseason. Maybe, instead of worrying about whether he’ll be a three or a four, we should sit back and appreciate the fact that he can do this: I mean … I just … wow. Oh, there’s a better angle, too:…
Jun 18, 2013, 2:28 PM EDT
Ever since Ed O’Bannon first filed a lawsuit against the NCAA over the use of his likeness in a video game back in 2009, there has been scuttlebutt that the outcome of said lawsuit could end up playing a major role in the way that college athletics operates at the highest level in the near…
Jun 18, 2013, 12:50 PM EDT
One of the big names to keep an eye on in the Class of 2015 is one of the biggest players in the class: 6-foot-11 Stephen Zimmerman. A native of Las Vegas who plays his high school ball at Bishop Gorman, Zimmerman is a lanky left-hander that can score with his back to the basket,…
Jun 18, 2013, 11:28 AM EDT
Florida head coach Billy Donovan made the final cuts to the U19 Team USA team on Monday night, getting the roster down to 12 players. The best known player on the team? Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, who will likely enter the 2013-2014 season as a preseason first-team All-American. Duke sophomore Rasheed Sulaimon, incoming Arizona freshman…
Jun 18, 2013, 10:41 AM EDT
Jermaine Marshall has had a change of heart. Last month, Marshall announced that he would be leaving Penn State with the intention of going pro, but he’s had a change of heart. Marshall, who didn’t sign with an agent, will graduate on August 10th and has received a release from the Nittany Lions. He’ll be…
Jun 18, 2013, 9:58 AM EDT
How badly is Greg Whittington injured? That’s the biggest question facing Georgetown heading into the summer, because at this point, we know that Whittington is dealing with some kind of a knee injury. Late Monday night, Casual Hoya reported that Whittington was hobbling around on crutches. Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com and Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com…
Jun 18, 2013, 9:28 AM EDT
Through 12 games in the 2012-13 season, Lehigh senior guard C.J. McCollum had done nothing to dispel the notion that he was one of the nation’s best players. With averages of 23.9 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game to that point in the season, McCollum was leading the country in scoring and well…
- Communication plays vital role in development of Marquette’s Vander Blue 0
- This week is a very important week for Ed O’Bannon’s case against the NCAA 0
- A broken foot failed to derail C.J. McCollum’s trek to the lottery 0
- The most important skill Michael Carter-Williams learned as a freshman? Work ethic 0
- Aaron Gordon: ‘Whatever Coach Miller wants me to play, I’ll play it.’ 0
- Heat rally to beat Spurs in Game 6
- PBT: After blowing lead, can Spurs rebound in Game 7?
- CSN: Report: Hernandez 'not ruled out' as suspect
- PHT: Can Blackhawks solve Rask in Game 4?
- PST: On-fire Altidore lifts USA over Honduras in WCQ
- Underseeded? Nadal draws No. 5 at Wimbledon
- CSN: Celtics-Clippers KG, Rivers trade talks dead