Fantasy College Basketball Game of the Week: Georgetown at Kansas
If you were to go into Saturday's game between Kansas and Georgetown, and had not heard of any of the players (or the resounding hype that surrounded one), I wonder which player you'd pick as the most remarkable. Early on, you'd certainly want to watch Josh Smith, the 300+ lb Hoya center who can be a completely dominant post presence. He tired quickly and was not a factor after the first television timeout. Maybe as the game went along, you'd notice Kansas' backup center Tarik Black who had his best game since transferring from Memphis. He challenged Smith and was the beneficiary of some nice passes to finish around the basket. Most likely, however, you'd probably think that sleek Jayhawk center Joel Embiid was the prized possession on these two teams. The seven-footer from Cameroon certainly looked like the lottery pick he is expected to be next June. He matched Black's 17 points, showed off some post moves, and was a defensive presence once Smith slowed down. The player you'd probably overlook was #22 on Kansas. If you were watching at home without sound, you'd wonder why they kept showing Andrew Wiggins.
And this is the problem: Wiggins has been hyped to preposterous lengths (somewhat like his arms) and he can hardly be expected to be the LeBron/T-Mac hybrid he is supposed to be. It's not as if Wiggins played terribly against the Hoyas or has been a complete disappointment through the first third of his lone season at Lawrence. He leads the team with 15.5 points on 46.6 percent from the field with three 20-point games. He has a pleasant 3-point stroke and can be effective on the boards when his teammates like Embiid, Black, and Jamari Traylor aren't hoovering them up. He also looks like he will be a good perimeter defender. The main problem seems to be offensive aggressiveness. I would have liked to see his defenders off the dribble, but he did not do that at all. In fact, he didn't really have any drives to the basket. Driving to the basket isn't a huge part of the Jayhawk offense, but that hasn't stopped players like Tyshawn Taylor and Sherron Collins from attacking the rim. I doubt that Wiggins will be an out-and-out bust, but he seems to be following the Harrison Barnes path to basketball goodness (not greatness).
Embiid did look fantastic. He has hit nine of his last 10 shots in his last two games and appears to be improving at the free throw line (17-of-22 in his last two games). The NBA loves big players with upside and Embiid certainly qualifies. Wayne Selden also looked good. The 230 lb wing has been inconsistent in the early going, but the Kansas system is generally learned over multiple years (which may be holding Wiggins back as well). He finished with nine points on six shots and is hitting 37.0 percent of his 3-pointers. Selden may not be a great fantasy pick for this season, but if he sticks around, he could be a player to keep an eye on.
The game was close for the first 14 minutes before Selden, Traylor, and Black led the Jayhawks on a eight-point run. Kansas never looked back. The one issue coming out of this game might be an injury to Perry Ellis who took a Jabril Trawick elbow to the top of the head. The sophomore tried to take the resulting free throws but missed the basket wide left on the first attempt. Fortunately for Kansas, Ellis wasn't needed in the win. I think this team will be fine despite losses to Villanova, Colorado, and Florida (all quality teams) in the early going.
As for the Hoyas, it is hard to know what to think. Smith was involved on the team's first three baskets and looked like he would nearly indefensible. His conditioning is bad and the Jayhawks took advantage of his slowness on defense. Perhaps coach John Thompson III would be best served playing Smith in very short bursts to maximize his effectiveness. The Hoyas have a nice scoring backcourt in D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Markel Starks, but they might not have enough help to rise above the new Big East, which starts conference play on New Year's Eve. The Hoyas went on a nice streak through the old Big East last year before bowing out to Florida Gulf Coast in the NCAA tournament. Time will tell if they have enough to play with the Villanovas and Butlers of the world.