Big East Report: Point Guards
The Big East is home to some of the biggest, strongest, most powerful centers in the country. But the point guards excel on more than strength. Each have a particular skill set along with one super skill. This week for the Big East Report we will take a look at the best PG in a number of different categories.
Toughest Physically: Tory Jackson—Notre Dame.
Besides being a steadying influence, TJ constantly exhibits toughness on both ends of the court. Taller than Mighty Mouse but equally as strong, Jackson rebounds and defends courageously. He is the third best rebounder for ND, a medal-worthy achievement considering four teammates stand nearly a foot taller than Jackson.
Best Defender: There is not a great perimeter defender in the Big East. Maybe its impossible to shine on defense when you are facing topflight competition from your counterpart each night.
When he chooses to Dominic James is a lockdown defender. He has the lateral quickness and leaping ability to keep the best scorers at bay. But James can get tired, lazy or both.
Most Versatile: Scottie Reynolds “The Probe”
Reynolds, who does not dominate the ball as he did two years ago, can score so many ways. He has a nice looking outside shot and gets up the floor well. Most of his points come from the free throw line though as The Probe constantly inserts himself into the jumble.
Backcourt mate Corey Fisher often begins the possessions with the pill, but Reynolds makes it a wrap. No other Big East guard consistently creates as much havoc as the diminutive Scottie.
Most Underrated: Eugene Harvey—Seton Hall.
Once thought to be the savior, the beginning of the turnaround of Seton Hall hoops, Harvey is merely a lonely star. He almost amassed a triple-double early in the season against the lowly Columbia Lions.
The Pirates have not enticed a big man of merit to stay in the Garden State.
Harvey had better bigs alongside on his high school team, St. Benedict’s Prep. He fed the post to Lance Thomas (Duke) and Samardo Samuels (Louisville) while playing for Seton Hall alum Danny Hurley. Harvey has good hops and brings plenty of skills on deck. The Pirates just need more.
Most Clutch: A.J. Price—UConn. “The Silencer”
When playing, AJ Price is the most clutch Big East point guard. Levance Fields comes in a close second in this department. More than just skilled player Price and Fields possess the ideal demeanor for a clutch player.
With frenzied fans lurching forward and injecting adrenaline into the moment neither PG freezes up. Their facial expressions and body language exude confidence and provide a sense of calmness to teammates.
Price buried a pivotal three-pointer against Gonzaga in Washington and Fields deflated Duke a year ago with a triple in the waning moments.
Several times when UConn hosted Villanova, Price took and buried three-point baskets when the momentum was swinging.
This mixture of competence and bravery is key for the NCAA Tournament run these Huskies plan to make.
Best Passer: Dominic James—Marquette.
While his shot has never materialized, he has come a long way as a passer. James throws the alley-oop as well as any. Intriguingly he can finish the feat from the receiving end too.
Not all of DJ’s dishes are penetrating. With his exquisite drives James finds himself kicking out to a Wesley Matthews or Lazar Hayward often.
Perhaps his most emblematic performance was in a victory over DePaul. In the first half alone DJ managed nine assists along with zero turnovers. In the last two years especially James has seemed to embrace the concept of a pass first point guard. This should help not only his team, but also his chances of getting drafted this spring.
Best Shooter: Deonta Vaughn—Cincinnati.
Vaughn should not be mentioned amongst the point guards. He is a scoring guard, realistically a shooting guard. When freshman Cashmere Wright tore his ACL in November, Vaughn moved back over to the point, again.
The lessons he learned as the lone scorer in a depleted albeit climbing program helped him develop a cutthroat scorer’s mindset.
Vaughn has parking floor logo range and never takes his eyes off the prize. His is an ego that never needs stroking.
Leadership: Levance Fields—Pittsburgh.
The best time to judge a player’s importance, his value is in his absence. With a dastardly ankle injury last year, Fields was forced to watch 13 games from the sideline. Pitt played 8-5 through that stretch. With Fields around losses to Cincinnati and Rutgers would have been unforgivable.
Upon his return Pitt edged Cincy twice, Syracuse, Louisville, Marquette, and Georgetown. Close wins should be credited to a poised point guard. Fields is that. He gives Pitt the stabilizing force a wife gives a husband.
Biggest Void: Unquestionably Louisville.
With their monstrous talent, Louisville should never fall out of the Top 10. The losses they have suffered can be blamed on the PG void. Andre McGee has physical limitations but Edgar Sosa has emotional demons.
His unquenchable quest for perfection leaves him moody, becomes debilitating, and occasionally takes him out of the game.
“When you see [Sosa] happy, when you see him smiling, he is out there working hard and getting steals, then he is a great player,” admits McGee. “When he is worried about the mistakes he is making…that really affects his game.”
Because of the marginal backup (McGee) Ville’s tourney run is tenuously dependent on the mercurial Sosa.
Best Backup: Kemba Walker—UConn.
Walker ran his way past St. John’s during his return to the Big Apple. The freshman PG for UConn scored 21 points against the Red Storm, most of them slashing to the paint.
A Bronx native, Walker plays fearless and aggressive the moment he enters the game.
His role is much like the departed Dougie Wiggins. Walker is called upon to add a spark to an occasionally plodding Husky offense. Walker is not as fast as Wiggins, but his ability to finish in the lane surprises even the most fearsome shot blockers.
His utility was proven in UConn’s close loss to Pittsburgh last night.