Fantasy College Basketball Game of the Week: Tulsa at Creighton
After some technical difficulties to start the season (basically me being unable to properly program my DVR), the fantasy college basketball game of the week is back. Each week, I'll take a deep dive look at one game that tickles my fancy and could be of interest to fantasy college basketball players (or basketball fans, in general). With Doug McDermott being the first pick in many fantasy college basketball drafts, I figured I'd start the season with him. By the way, I did watch most of the Champions Classic as well as the Marcus Smart game in the win over Memphis, but I'll look at those teams later in the season. My goal here is to not write about the same team twice.
To be honest, I did not know much about the Golden Hurricane coming into their game. I knew their coach was Danny Manning and that this is their last year in Conference USA before they head to the American Athletic Conference as a semi-replacement for Louisville (who heads to the ACC). One might ask if there is a difference between the AAC and Conference USA, and I would not be able to provide a good answer. The season has not opened well for Manning and his charges, who were predicted to be middle of the pack in Conference USA. Tulsa has not been in the NCAA tournament since 2003 after a solid 10-year run in which they made it to the Big Dance in eight of 10 years and won at least one game seven times.
In this game, Tulsa had two main issues: they did not have much going on in the paint and they were unable to hit their 3-pointers (5-of-20 on long range shots). Forward Rashad Smith had a solid game with 21 points, while Pat Swilling Jr. came off the bench to score 18 points, including four of the team's five 3-pointers. The team kept the game close throughout the game, but could never get over the hump. The Golden Hurricane will be a work in progress, but they could be a contender in the watered down Conference USA.
My main question about the game was whether McDermott is a future pro. I am skeptical of any player who makes it to his senior year (similar to the feeling of any baseball player putting up big, unexpected stats), but McDermott has been incredibly productive for the last three seasons. The 6-8 senior has hit 50 percent of his 3-pointers this season and has hit at least 54.8 percent of his field goals in his last three years. The best thing about him is that he doesn't take bad shots, which is unusual for a superstar. He plays with a lot of energy and was able to corral a career-high 15 rebounds, but I thought that was more because of good positioning (and a lot of missed Tulsa shots) than excellent rebounding skills. I was a bit surprised that he did get that many boards. My guess is he doesn't have a huge number of double-doubles.
This may sound like a backhanded compliment, but McDermott is an excellent college player. I don't think his game translates all that well to the pros. Of course, he could be a new age Steve Novak who is in his eighth year as a one-dimensional player. Even on Creighton, McDermott was somewhat hidden on defense as the team employed a zone. He isn't a terrible defensive player for college, but he will likely be exposed in the NBA. Who will he cover? I also think he'll have some problems in the Big East against better competition than he had played in the Missouri Valley. The Bluejays should be one of the better teams in the new Big East. They make for a decent bubble team with a superstar and should make their third straight tournament. I'll be back next week with LSU vs. St. Joe's from Orlando.