So I spent the end of my last post getting all concerned about the challenge of SU facing Marquette, and they go and lay a steaming pile against DePaul last night, letting the Blue Demons finally end their 24-game Big East losing streak. I guess you never know in this business.
Anyway. Much has happened in the week that was for the former Orangemen in the NBA and around the world. Let’s check in right quick.
Jonny Flynn had one of the best games of his young career this week, pouring in a career-high 29 points and dishing 9 assists in a win over Philadelphia on Monday. The timing couldn’t have been better, since he had stunk up the room in his past three games, shooting a combined 9-41 from the field and not reaching double figure scoring in any of them. He fell back to earth last night with a 4-13 performance against the Thunder, though he did have 8 assists and still had the balls to take the final shot (a semi-desperation three that fell short). Jonny is finding it a challenge to play against bigger point guards, but he’s working on just getting a little better every game.
Hakim Warrick also had a rough night last night, playing a season-low four minutes and scoring 4 points. After posting a huge double-double on Jan 11 (21 points and 10 boards) his production has tailed off again. He’s averaged just seven points and three rebounds over the five games since (including last night).
Carmelo Anthony has returned from his knee injury and picked up almost right where he left off. Denver has won all four games since he came back into the lineup. Melo has averaged 28 points over the four games, which has actually reduced his scoring average for the year down below 30ppg. He’s still leading the league in scoring, a few tenths ahead of LeBron and Kevin Durant. His best game in this four-game span was a 37-point, 8-rebound showing against division rival Utah.
Donte Greene was back in the starting lineup again last night. He has been in and out all season, as coach Westphal routinely tinkers with his lineup depending on matchups. He didn’t take much advantage of the opportunity though, going scoreless in 16 minutes of action — in fact he only took one shot. (One shot? Did somebody replace Donte Greene with Folgers Crystals?) He apparently earned the starting spot last evening thanks to a nice 12-point, 8-rebound effort against Charlotte on Monday. But something apparently happened to throw off his game. Hmm. Could it be that he was distracted by having recently been in a fierce competition for the affections of a Sactown hottie?
Donte’s Dating Tip #1: always keep your eyebrows smoothed.
Etan Thomas has still not played a second for Oklahoma City, and Jason Hart has not been signed by anyone. (If the Wolves want him back, they have to wait a while longer.)
There has been some player movement overseas though. As soon as I finished the previous update by bitching about how Josh Pace was in the ABA where stats and game coverage are nearly impossible to find, I get the good news is that Josh is planning to head back over to his old stomping grounds in New Zealand where they have, you know, an actual functioning league. Josh has had a fabulous Kiwi career, highlighted by his winning the league MVP in 2007. But the NZBL season doesn’t start until March, so in the meantime Josh is sticking with the ABA. He had 33 points, 10 boards, and 6 assists for the SE Texas Mavericks on January 10 according to the press release. He had 13 points on Thursday against the North Texas Fresh (whose logo, seen here, is fantastic) and 17 points Saturday against the Music City Stars. They had a game last night but their website has not yet been updated with any information about it.
In Europe, Elvir Ovcina’s journey continues. He has decided to bail out of the Slovenian League (I don’t blame him) and signed on with the LTi Geissen 46ers in the Bundesliga, Germany’s top league. He immediately stepped into the starting lineup for Geissen, and led the team with 16 points while adding 7 rebounds in his first game as a 46er on Sunday.
Next door to Germany, Demetris Nichols is still plying his trade over in France. He had 14 points and 5 boards in Saturday’s French league game, but only 4 points and 2 rebounds in last night’s contest. He also had 5 points and 2 boards in last Tuesday’s FIBA Eurochallenge game; his team, Gravelines, won that game but it was not enough to qualify them for the Round of 16 so their Eurochallenge is over.
In England, Matt Gorman’s Sheffield Sharks won the midseason tournament in their league. So congratulations Matty. It is unclear whether Gorman got any court time in the championship game, as a box score is not readily available. He was not among the leading scorers, and his name does not appear in the game story. [Sad face] In a similar vein, Kristof Ongenaet has not gotten any playing time in his team’s last couple of games. [Another sad face]
However, Preston Shumpert is absolutely running things in Turkey. He led Efes Pilsen to another win Saturday by scoring a team-high 22 points and adding 5 rebounds. He followed that with 19 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists in a win last night. He was a combined 3-6 from deep in the two games, which lowered his three-point shooting percentage on the season to just over 60%. Efes Pilsen is still in first place in the Turkish league, about halfway through the season. They also play in the Euroleague (a different competition than the Eurochallenge) and last week they faced a do-or-die situation. It was the last game of the first round, and they needed a win to advance. Shumpert came off the bench to lead the team with 21 points (4-5 from deep), and chipped in 5 rebounds and 3 steals; Efes Pilsen won and advanced to the Round of 16. Here’s Preston walking off the court in Orleans after the performance:
Efes will face Real Madrid (yeah they play basketball too) in the Euroleague next week.
Finally, we head to the Far East. Terrence Roberts had two big games over the weekend in Japan. Saturday he scored 14 points in 13 minutes off the bench (including 4 dunks, if I am reading the boxscore correctly — that game must have taken forever, what with having to replace the shattered backboard four times). The performance earned him a start on Sunday. He stepped up to the challenge with 20 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. And 4 fouls, of course. Meanwhile, Ryan Blackwell has found his groove as a solid sub. He had nearly identical statlines in his two games over the weekend: 12 points and 7 rebounds both days. Saturday he also added 2 assists and 2 steals; Sunday it was 5 assists and 2 blocked shots. The epic matchup of these two players’ squads doesn’t happen until early March — they are in different divisions and thus play each other only one weekend this season. But you never know, they could meet in the championship!
That’s a wrap from here. See you in another week-plus.