I spent a good part of my weekend watching these NCAA Tournament games, and as a result, my bleeding ulcer is bleeding. Jeff and I, like a pair of third-graders, whined to each other much of the time as our brilliant selections of Texas A&M and New Mexico going to the Elite Eight went by the boards before you could say Ali Farokhmanesh. That’s the last time we pick an agriculture and mining school to get past the second round.
Despite the excrement that we call our bracket, how can we not love the fact that Saint Mary’s, Northern Iowa and Cornell have reached the Sweet Sixteen? And how incredible is it that Farokhmanesh and Omar Samhan have been two of the tournament’s standouts? If not for George W. Bush sending troops into Iraq, there would be no way these two young men would have the same liberties both on the perimeter and in the post as they do now.
Getting back to the guys who do this professionally, there were plenty o’ surprising performances in the League of Unordinary Gentlemen over the weekend.
Toney Douglas – This godsend averaged 24.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.0 steals and a whopping 5.0 threes in games against Philly and Houston over the weekend. He is locked and loaded as the Knicks’ starter at point guard the rest of the way, but you’ll have to take the bad with the good. I would imagine he’s long gone in most leagues, but if he’s somehow still available, drop Tracy McGrady, Bill Walker, Sergio Rodriguez or Ticky Burden for him.
Roy Hibbert – This Greg Fox preseason favorite has had a bizarre season. He has gone stretches with huge rebounding and blocks numbers, then has gone stretches in which he never sees the court, and has also gone stretches in which he is scoring, but couldn’t pull down a rebound over Arnold Horshack. Regardless, his minutes seem to have stabilized in the 25-30 range with the occasional big-minute outburst when he is playing particularly well. He produced 17.5 points (15-26 fg), 7.0 rebounds and 1.0 blocks in his games against Detroit and Oklahoma City over the weekend. Hang with him the final few weeks.
Beno Udrih – We’re not sure how long Tyreke Evans will be out with his broken face, but in the meantime, Udrih is the man to own. Try these numbers on for size: 26 points, nine assists and four steals against Milwaukee and 20 points and 17 assists yesterday in a win over the helpless Clippers. For those of you in percentage leagues, he is shooting a scintillating 49 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3-point range.
Spencer Hawes – Thanks to a rash of injuries and to Paul Westphal constantly juggling his lineup, the second greatest Spencer in NBA annals (behind coach-killing Spencer Haywood) has re-claimed his starting role and has been performing rather well of late. He dispensed (get it?) 16 points, eight rebound, six assists, two blocks and two 3-pointers in 35 minutes against the Bucks on Friday and registered 13 points, 10 boards and three blocks yesterday against the Clips. Hawes has Troy Murphy potential with a few more blocks to boot. Believe it or not, he’s still only 21 years old and has a nice future ahead.
Francisco Garcia – Garcia is carving out a strange career. He’s typically on everyone’s pre-draft sleeper list and then splits a toenail during mini-camp and is done for three months. With Evans out and Omri Casspi taking a long winter’s nap, Garcia has a huge opportunity to re-emerge for the Kings. In two games over the weekend, he averaged 13.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.0 3-pointer, but the important number is the 34.0 minutes he averaged. For those of you in dire need of the long ball, pounce on the Louisville product.
Jason Maxiell – Nothing makes me despise reporting on basketball more than talking about the Pistons, but Maxiell again has new life with Ben Wallace back on the shelf. In the eight games that Wallace missed with a sore patellar tendon, Maxiell averaged 10.9 points, 11.3 rebounds and 0.9 blocks. In his first game back to action, Wallace actually injured both of his knees and reports as to the severity have yet to surface.
Manu Ginobili – I can’t imagine what Ginobili’s numbers would have looked like all these years if he had consistently been given starter’s minutes… or if he had Kobe Bryant‘s mentality and heaved shots from all angles at all times. In the past eight games, he has averaged 23.4 points with phenomenal peripherals. If his hooves remain intact, expect top 30 production the rest of the way.
James Johnson – This virtual unknown has found his way into the Bulls’ starting lineup. He is averaging 30.5 minutes over his last six contests and gives you a little bit of everything, including blocks and threes. Joakim Noah is working his way back into the mix, which could stem Johnson’s minutes. But for this week, Johnson could be a nice play.
Anthony Tolliver – The Golden State rotation can make a person’s head spin, but Tolliver is clearly worth an add. He should qualify at center an offers a variety of fun stats as a key member of the Warriors’ sprint and relay teams. He has played 35+ minutes in six of his last nine, and over this period has totaled 17 threes, 10 steals and eight blocked shots. It’s tough to be a believer in anything Nellie does, but the sample size is getting larger.
Reggie Williams – This is not the Reggie Williams who chucked up shots for Georgetown 25 years ago. This is the 10-day contract Reggie Williams who is chucking up shots at an alarming rate for the Warriors. Over his last three games, he has averaged 32.7 minutes, 17.3 points, 2.3 threes and 1.3 steals per contest. Don Nelson is liable to pull someone out of the stands to play 35 minutes tomorrow, but for the time being, Williams could help you win.
Big Monday night with 10 games on tap, including Celtics at Jazz and Spurs at Thunder. The Suns are also playing tonight in Golden State. If the Warriors can hold Phoenix under 150 points, fans will be treated to a milkshake at the local Steak ‘N’ Shake. That’s one milkshake, 12,000 straws.