As conference play is starting for the Big 12 and SEC, I am asked which player is better Phil Pressey or Ben McLemore. At first thought I would say Pressey is more important because of how efficient he has made Missouri’s offense. Pressey appears to be painting a new mosaic everyday with his beautiful passes and effective layups. Without Pressey, Missouri’s offense looks like a chicken with its head cut off. There is no smooth flow to the offense. Pressey’s second best trait behind his vision and passing ability is his quickness. Everyone knows about these skills but people often forget about him as a threat from beyond the arc.
With Ben McLemore, Bill Self and the Jayhawks are getting a true scorer. He shoots the way Bradly Beal was predicted to shoot at Florida last year. Both players were Saint Louis natives. When coming out of high school Beal was the pick by everyone but Bill Self saw something special in McLemore. After redshirting his freshman year, McLemore has been able to showcase his talents every game. If I had my choice today I (KC’s biggest Gators fan) would take Ben McLemore over Bradley Beal. McLemore shoots the three ball with such poise and consistency. His stroke is as smooth as a babies bottom. McLemore is much better on perimeter defense then most expected.
It is hard to choose between these two stars but because he is younger I would lean towards Ben McLemore. If it were for one season and I could build my team around a player, I would choose Phil Pressey. You let me know who is the best player.
If it was unknown before, I’ll say it now- I am a big fan of the Kansas freshman sensation Ben McLemore. I believe he is a player with special talents that no other freshman in the NCAA has. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article on Ben being “The Freshman B.M.O.C.”. I admire McLemore for what he has accomplished this season. Despite only playing in eleven games, Ben has been raising eyebrows across the country with his play, especially after a big win at Ohio State. As I was doing my daily routine of reading blogs about the Kansas guard, one caught my eye. It was an article from rockchalktalk.com comparing Ben McLemore to Miami Heat star Dwayne Wade. Right now, one is an NBA All Star and the other is a redshirt freshman in college. However, as freshmen, their stats nearly mirror one another’s. Ben could very well be a player like Dwayne Wade was at Marquette, and here is why.
I compared McLemore and Wade in points per game, rebounds per game, assists per game, their floor percentage, and three point field goal percentage. In 32 games played as a freshman, Dwayne Wade scored 17.8 points per game. Through 11 games, McLemore is averaging 16.5 points per game. In rebounds, Wade edges out McLemore with 6.6 boards compared to Ben’s 5.7. Dwayne is also beating Ben in assists with 3.4 compared to 2.3. Ben has a barely better field goal percentage with 48.8 and Wade with 48.7. However, Ben’s three point percentage is much better than Dwayne Wade’s. McLemore has hit 40.8 percent of his threes this year, but Wade only knocked down 34.6 percent. Currently, Ben’s floor percentage is 54.1. Wade’s was 54.4 as a freshman. Floor percentage is the chances of a team scoring when the ball is in a certain player’s hands. It is a very important stat that often goes unnoticed. In other stats, Ben McLemore is much better right now than Dwayne Wade was. McLemore shoots 85 percent at the free throw line, but Wade only shot 69 percent. Overall, Ben’s offensive rating is 119.1. Wade’s was 108.3. If none of these numbers make sense, here is a graph comparing the two.
The blog I read acknowledged the odds of Ben McLemore becoming the next Dwayne Wade— a two-time NBA Championship winner, Gold Medal winner, etc. Those are some big accomplishments that McLemore is being called “destined to be”. The odds of any player having this sort of status are slim to none. But would it be unfair to say McLemore has better chances than others? His stats would say differently.
For Jayhawk fans, it is hard to find positives after losing in the National Championship. Kansas had a remarkable run to the NCAA Championship last April, somewhere no one thought they would be. The team prevailed in tight games throughout the tournament, but their run ended against Kentucky. The heart of the Kansas basketball team, Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson left for the NBA. Gloom seemed to rein over Lawrence, but a freshman sensation emerged. Ben McLemore was suspended all of last season for eligibility reasons and was forced to watch his team from the bench. But now, McLemore is leading the Kansas Jayhawks to a hot start on the season. Ben’s absence last year has helped him mature as a basketball player and has made him a dangerous threat this season.
McLemore has taken the reins of this team. At the beginning of the season, it was unknown who would be the leader of this Kansas team. Jeff Withey is the threshold as the only true center, and he has tacked on 40 blocks already this season. However, Ben is making the most noise. He is not running his mouth with arrogance, but Ben is performing at a level like no other freshman. UCLA freshman guard Shabazz Muhammad was the talk of the freshmen coming into the season. His team has three losses in just eight games. Kentucky’s star freshman Nerlens Noel and the Wildcats are already unranked. Ben McLemore’s play has made the Kansas Jayhawks the ninth ranked team in the country.
Although he could not play in games, McLemore was still able to practice with the team last season. He learned the offense and defense, which gave him a serious advantage over other freshmen. Ben became comfortable with the team which has turned out to be key for the Jayhawks. The biggest factor McLemore brings is the fact that teams are familiar with his style of play. Teams throughout the country did not see him play last year, making him a well-kept secret. The high-power skillset McLemore brings to the table makes him an elite all-around player.
Ben McLemore’s contribution on both sides of the floor has made him the leader of this team. On the offensive side, McLemore averages almost 15 points a game and dishes over two assists. Defensively, he averages close to six rebounds per game. Ben McLemore is not huge, though. Most people would expect a 6’5” freshman with a 195 pound frame to not be nearly as active as McLemore has been. However, he has a leaping ability like no other. His awareness and timing for put-back dunks is simply jaw-dropping. When McLemore is running full speed at the rim, the only thing that can stop him is the path of the ball. Ben’s posterizing dunks have made him a fan favorite. Here is an example of what Ben McLemore is able to do.
Not only is his jersey number 23, but Ben McLemore flies through the air very similarly to Michael Jordan. His skills are not nearly there, but he is certainly on course to be a remembered player. Ben’s humbleness shapes his already great character. After games he will give high fives, sign autographs and pose for pictures. All Jayhawks need to be appreciative of Ben McLemore. Coach Bill Self has taught a numerous amount of great freshman. From Deron Williams to Mario Chalmers, Bill Self has coached some of the most talented players in the NBA today. Out of all those freshman, Self says Ben McLemore is the most talented freshman he has ever coached. Although it is evident that a player with talent like his would leave early for the NBA Draft, the decision still lies in his hands. In the meantime, everyone can sit back and watch the freshman lead Kansas this season.
The Jayhawks could not have started worse against Ohio State. Tyshawn Taylor and the squad seemed nervous and timid. KU had nine turnovers and shot 29 percent from the field. Kansas could not get in a rhythm offensively in the first half. While credit must be given to Ohio State’s stifling defense, the main problem was no being used to the atmosphere of a Final Four. At the end of the first half the score was 34-25 Ohio State. Bill Self and his team have been a second half team all tournament long. The resilience of this group of players can not be questioned after watching their road to the championship. At the start of the second half KU seemed like a completely different team. They were energetic and were executing in their half court sets. Also, the shots that were not falling in the first half began to go in.
In the second half, both Thomas Robinson and Elijah Johnson were taking over the game. Thomas Robinson became his old dominant self again by scoring 11 points in the second half. Elijah Johnson was attacking the basket at will, mainly through transition. Johnson scored eleven points in the second half as well. Jeff Withey was a major difference maker on the defensive end in the second half as he neutralized Ohio State’s best player in Jared Sullinger with his length and shot blocking abilities. KU finished the comeback win in the final moments of game winning 64-62. It is to hard to give a game ball out because four players stood out equally. Travis Releford, for his glove like defense on senior William Buford, Thomas Robinson for his late game surge with continues baskets, Elijah Johnson with his 11 points in the second half, and Jeff Withey for shutting down one of the best big men in the country for an entire half. The game ball should ultimately go to Travis Releford for his work on both ends of the court. Along with his always great defense, he managed to contribute with 15 points.
Tyshawn Taylor continued his drought from the three point line now being 0-21 for the NCAA tournament. However, Travis Releford was a surprise offensively because he finished with fifteen points and seemed to score at crucial times for KU. Jeff Withey may have only finished with 4 points, but had seven blocks and altered many more shots. In the first half, Thomas Robinson was trying to force things offensively, which he cannot due in the next game against Kentucky.
KU will play for the National Championship Monday against the extremely young and talented, Kentucky Wild Cats. These two teams met earlier this season with Kentucky winning 75-65. Both Kentucky and Kansas are completely different teams since the pervious matchup. Kentucky has their offense working just as well a the defense has been all year. While most people proclaim the Wild Cats as a defensive team, the offensive development has caught up. While Kansas has had many players emerge since then with Elijah Johnson, Trevor Releford, and Jeff Withey, the battle will be an extremly tough one.
This will be the most talented team Kansas has played against all year. Kentucky has six first round picks on their roster and will have the first two picks for the 2012 NBA draft in Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. For the Jayhawks to win, they will need to play a near perfect game. The first key for them is to get Anthony Davis in foul trouble which is a hard feat to accomplish. He has only fouled out of one game all season. Without their shot blocking machine, Kentucky has looked like a beatable team. Kentucky suffered its first loss of the year against Indiana and Anthony Davis was in foul trouble most of the game. The second key for Kansas is to out rebound Kentucky. This is tough task because of the athleticism Kentucky has on the court. The third and final key is to shoot the ball above 50% against Kentucky. If KU can accomplish these three keys, they will celebrate their another National Championship.
The University of Kansas suffered a major loss today when assistant coach Danny Manning decided to leave KU and become Tulsa’s next head coach. Manning has very deep roots with the Kansas basketball team. He was a player for KU and led them to the 1988 National Championship, and after his basketball playing career, was arguably one of KU’s best assistant coaches. He turned many raw big men into all-American type players. He coached Marcus Morris, Markief Morris, Darrel Arthur, Thomas Robinson, and Wayne Simien all of whom were stars at Kansas.
With Kansas losing Manning, the recruiting may suffer as well. Big men such as Tony Parker, one of the top centers in the 2012 recruiting class, may not go to KU because of Manning’s absence. Also, this will mean that future Kansas big men Perry Ellis, Zack Peters, and Landen Lucas will not have the luxury of one the best coaches in college basketball coaching them the next 4 years. With that being said Manning will forever be remembered as one of five greatest KU players of all time. Thank you foreverything Danny and without you the 1988 basketball team would not have been dubbed “Danny and the Miracles”.
KU faced another tough opponent in Purdue on Sunday Night. Purdue, a lower ranked team, had given many top Big 10 teams a good game throughout the year. Purdue also plays great defense and makes very few mistakes. This Purdue team showed up last night. They had a great defensive game plan for Thomas Robinson and the defense frustrated KU’s offense causing them to shoot only 30 percent from the field.
The game couldn’t have started out any worse for KU with Purdue starting out the game on an 11-2 run as forward Robbie Hummel scored 9 out of their first 11 points. KU couldn’t generate any offense during the first half. Purdue made Thomas Robinson a non-factor offensively for most of the first half. Purdue would triple team Thomas and force Thomas to either take a bad shot or he would pass the ball out to a wide open shooter. KU had trouble defensively as well in the first half trying to guard Robbie Hummel. KU originally had Thomas Robinson on Robbie Hummel, but with Robbie Hummel being able to hit the three, Thomas was no match. KU then had Kevin Young guard Robbie Hummel, but Kevin picked up 2 quick fouls and went back to the bench. Robbie Hummel finished the first half with 22 points. KU trailed at the half 36-30.
The start of the second half didn’t look promising for Kansas as well with Purdue starting the half on a 10-2 run. Bill Self switched up his defense to match-up zone which slowed down Purdue’s offense. Robbie Hummel only scored 4 points for the rest of the game .With this change in defense, KU started to make some shots offensively. Elijah Johnson, a junior shooting guard, led the charge offensively, making a three pointer and completing a three point play (the old fashion way). With a perimeter player stepping his game up this allowed the middle of the defense to open and allowed Thomas Robinson to face less double and triple teams. Thomas Robinson and Elijah Johnson carried the team offensively for the rest of the game. KU won the close game 63-60 and will advance to North Carolina State in the sweet 16. Elijah Johnson played the best game of his career finishing with 18 points 4 rebounds and 3 assists. Thomas Robinson finished the game with 11 points and 13 rebounds.
KU played the worst game of the year against Purdue. Purdue should have won the game and dominated KU for 35 minutes of the game. However, I think this game will be a wake call for KU and show them can’t start sluggish and expect to win games. I thought KU was exposed against Purdue. Purdue showed that you can eliminate Jeff Withey from the game by having a more guard oriented line up on the floor. Jeff Withey only had 4 points in 15 minutes of playing time. However, KU will not shoot 30 percent from the floor for the rest of the tournament. This was by far their worst game of the year offensively.
KU’s next opponent in the sweet sixteen will be North Carolina State. While I don’t think KU will have a hard time matching up with North Carolina State, I think this could end up being a much harder game for KU. First they have a two power forwards that I feel can both guard Thomas Robinson in C.J Leslie and Richard Howell. C.J Leslie is there best player who leads them in scoring with 14 points a game and is second in the team with 7 rebounds a game. Also they have a good back court with a great point Lorenzo Brown who averages 13 points 5 rebounds and 7 assists a game. The key for this game is Jeff Withey. Withey will need to be tenacious on the defensive end because most of their points are in the paint from C.J Leslie and Richard Howell. He will also need to rebound well in this game because North Carolina State can give a lot of team trouble in rebounds. In the end I think this will be a very close game, but I feel that KU is more talented and experienced so KU should be playing in the Elite 8 this weekend.