NCAA Spotlight on the Aussie Men: McCarron and Metro State steal the limelight (27-Nov-13)

Damian Arsenis takes a quick look back over the past week in NCAA Division I hoops action and calls out all the highs and lows of the Aussies in action.

Just briefly...

The past week boasted an increasing number of Australian's in the spotlight over in US college basketball, including a player for one of the best Division II schools alongside some familiar Division I names. So let's get stuck into reviewing the more notable efforts as there is a lot to get through this week.

The Mountain West features two teams jostling for national exposure in the top 25. One of those teams is New Mexico who over the past week dropped their first game of the season and in turn fell outside of the national top 25 rankings. But before that happened, the Lobos managed to use up most of their 9 lives in accounting for UAB 97-94 in a double overtime thriller to open the Charleston Classic. In that game, Cameron Bairstow was once again at the forefront, scoring 21 points alongside 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal and 1 block in 32 minutes. However it is worth noting that Bairstow played no part in the extra periods as he fouled out in regulation, and shows how talented this Lobo teams is. Hugh Greenwood epitomised that in playing a solid supporting role, pulling down 8 rebounds to go with 5 points, 4 assists and 1 steal in a blemish free 44 minutes.

The Lobos ran out of of luck against a red-hot Massachusetts, with the both Bairstow and Greenwood finding themselves in early foul trouble and therefore heading to the bench. Bairstow was limited to just 24 minutes of action, and subsequently scored a season-low of 8 points with just 2 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal. Greenwood fared little better in managing just 2 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal in 21 minutes as the Lobos lost 65-81. The Minutemen went on to win the tournament and in turn leapfrogged the Lobos into the national top 25 rankings.

In their consolation round at the Charleston Classic, New Mexico bounced back to easily dispatch Davidson 79-58. Bairstow was back to his ‘beastly’ best, scoring a game-high 18 points that included an impressive 10/11 from the charity stripe. He also had 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 steal in a fine all-round performance. He had great support from Greenwood who was just 1-point shy of a rare double-double, scoring 9 points with 10 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 steal.

The 6'9" power forward Bairstow is now averaging 19.6 points (59% FG), 6.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game over 5 games. In playing alongside 7-footer Alex Kirk, the ‘twin-towers’ are averaging a combined 41.4 points and 18.8 rebounds per game and are one of the best front courts in the nation.

Boise State is the team hot on the heels of the Lobos, and their fast start to the season remained intact as they moved to a perfect 4-0 record. First up they took care of business against Seattle 86-68. Anthony Drmic was again the star, compiling a game-high 25 points that included a staggering 14/18 on free throws. Even more outstanding was the fact he scored 23 of his points in the second half! He also happened to accumulate 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 steals in 35 minutes just for good measure.

Then it was New Orleans that felt the wrath of the Broncos potent offence, with Boise State blowing them out 100-80. Once again it was Drmic leading the way, this time with an equal game-high 24 points on 9/17 shooting to go with 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. In registering 13 first half points, Drmic became the 23rd Bronco to score 1,000 points. Fellow starter Igor Hadziomerovic chimed in with 13 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists with 2 steals in 33 minutes of action, whilst Nick Duncan only logged 4 fouls in 6 minutes.

Drmic is averaging a super-impressive 24.8 points on 47% shooting with 5 rebounds over 4 games to start the season whilst Hadziomerovic is leading the team with 4.5 assists per game. Boise State is off to a flyer and is currently the highest scoring team in the country in averaging over 100 points per game.

Eastern Washington thrashed Walla Walla 82-44, and forward Venky Jois was in the mix with 14 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists, 1 steal and 1 block in 20 minutes. However even more impressive was the win to follow, where the Eagles rolled Boston University 80-68 in their opening game of the 2K Sports Classic. Jois joined in the hot Eagles shooting by compiling a nice line of 20 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 steal.

The Eagles carried over their outstanding shooting in defeating LIU Brooklyn 102-70 in their next game. In scoring 102 points, Eastern Washington nailed 11/17 from beyond the arc in reaching their highest score in 7 years, and Jois was again in the thick of the action. The sophomore had 17 points on 7/8 shooting to go with 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal.

In the final of the 2K Sports Classic, Eastern Washington came back to earth as their shooting touch deserted them against UC Irvine. Despite falling 58-81, the Eagles improved to 4-2 to start the season and to be placed atop of the Big Sky rankings. Jois had 8 points and 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 block in a foul plagued 19 minutes as the Eagles hot shooting over the past three games dried up. He was duly recognised for his outstanding performances across the three games in being named to the All-Tournament team. He is averaging 15 points and 6.7 rebounds per game over the first 6 games of the season.

Last week it was Sam Rowley who was the benchmark for Albany; this week it was 6'4" sophomore guard Peter Hooley. In the Great Danes' loss to Duquesne 59-70, Hooley crafted a team and new career-high 21 points to go with 4 rebounds and 3 assists in 37 minutes. After finding himself in early foul trouble, Rowley ended with 4 points and 10 rebounds with 2 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks in 24 minutes. Luke Devlin provided good support in coming off the bench with 8 points and 5 rebounds with 1 assist in 17 minutes.

Despite another career night by Hooley and a 5th career double-double by Rowley, Albany lost their third in a row in going down to Bucknell 64-77. Hooley was again in the groove with 21 points that included making 11/11 from the line. Rowley had 15 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals and 1 block in the losing effort. Thankfully the Great Danes ut an end to their three-game losing streak in downing Rider 70-59, and who else, but Hooley was leading the way. He racked up a third straight career-high in points by racking up 24 that included 5/7 from long-range whilst also gathering 4 rebounds and 2 assists. Rowley provided solid support with 9 points and 5 rebounds of his own.

After winning the first two games of their season, Albany are now 3-3 on the season. Hooley leads the team in scoring with 17.3 points per game shooting almost 92% from the free throw line and 44% from beyond the arc. Rowley is averaging 12.8 points on 60% shooting with 7.3 rebounds per game.

There is arguably no team that is as unlucky this season as Lafayette who have now lost all 5 of their games this season, with an average losing margin of just 6.4 points, including two losses in overtime. One of those heart-breakers was an 80-81 loss to Princeton despite the best efforts of Daniel Trist. The junior forward had 19 points on 9/14 shooting to go with 9 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 block in 31 minutes in the tough loss. Compatriot Nathaniel Musters managed 2 points and 2 rebounds in 9 minutes on court.

Lafayette then lost a second straight overtime thriller to NJIT 88-91 to only add salt to the wounds. Trist continued his fine individual form with a 21 point, 7 rebound and 4 assists effort before fouling out in 37 minutes. The Leopards then lost another close one, this time falling 76-79 to Yale. Trist continued to toil hard in contributing 12 points on 6/10 shooting alongside 2 rebounds in just 22 minutes. Despite the tough start to the season, Trist is averaging an eye-opening 15.4 points and 7.3 rebounds over 5 games.

Taylor Dyson had a quiet week last week, and despite Hartford dropping all three games this past week, Dyson was prominent in the last two. In a 78-81 narrow loss to Hofstra, Dyson compiled a team-high 16 points on 6/10 shooting to go with 2 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal in 22 minutes. He then backed that up with 15 points with 3 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal in 22 minutes in a bad 55-80 loss to Holy Cross. In that game, Corban Wroe had 5 points and 4 rebounds and 21 minutes of his own.

UC-Riverside of the Big West had a good win against Southern Utah 74-59, and it was senior 6'10" forward Chris Patton who stood out. He racked up a big double-double that included game-high’s of 21 points and 15 rebounds in 30 minutes for the Highlanders. He then backed it up with 15 points and 8 rebounds in a nail-biting 68-69 loss to Seattle. Patton had the game-winning shot in the last second only to see it miss, resulting in the Highlanders falling to 3-3 to start the season. Patton is averaging 11.4 points and 7.2 rebounds a game to date this season.

Ball State big man Majok Majok had a big two games that featured back-to-back double-doubles. He had 11 points and 12 rebounds in 22 minutes as Ball State defeated Southeast Missouri 87-83, and then had a game-high 15 points with 11 rebounds in a thrilling 58-59 loss to Butler. He is someone worth keeping a look out for over the coming weeks given his size and athleticism.

Some other call-outs include;

  • A 12 point outing by Dexter Kernich-Drew for Washington State in their loss to TCU in which he nailed 4/7 from downtown.

  • Chudier Pal saw 18 minutes of action against East Carolina in recording 6 points and 8 rebounds despite going down 70-81.

  • Jordan Vandenberg returned from an ankle injury to start for North Carolina State in their win over 82-62 win over Florida Gulf State. He had 7 points and 10 rebounds in his season debut.

  • Angus Brandt had 19 points and 7 rebounds in a big win over SIU Edwardsville

Player of the week

This weekly feature usually focusses on Division I competition, however something caught my eye in trawling through all the results over the past week, and that was the outstanding performances by an Aussie playing for Metro State - the current #1 ranked Division II school in the nation. Metro State played in the NIT Season Tip-Off tournament against their Division I counterparts, and over four games they impressed by going 3-1 with the Australian star Mitchell McCarron simply inspiring.

McCarron in action - Courtesy of Metropolitan State Athletics

McCarron was arguably the hottest talent in town as he averaged an amazing 27.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game across all four games. His hot streak included shooting 73% from the field whilst hitting an astonishing 12/15 from the three-point line - a clip of 80%! His outstanding tournament started with a double-double of 19 points and 12 rebounds in a 63-66 loss to Rhode Island in their opening game. This was a game the Roadrunners let get away, but it would not happen again.

Metro State then backed up with a great win over Fairleigh Dickinson 87-76. McCarron was unstoppable in recording a new career-high in points as part of an impressive double-double. He poured in 34 points on a sizzling 11/13 shooting that included 3/4 from downtown. He also racked up 10 rebounds, 1 assist and 3 steals in with just 1 turnover in 39 minutes.

The Roadrunners were not done yet, and set about creating history. McCarron carried his rare form in compiling 26 points on 10/15 shooting to go with 9 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal in a thrilling 75-74 win over Elon. Fellow Aussies Nicholas Kay (10 points) and Harrison Goodrick (8 points) provided great support. In notching their second straight win, Metro State became the first Division II school to win more than one game in the NIT Season Tip-Off tournament. But there was still more to come!

Canisius was their next casualty as Metro State ran out to a 83-69 win. McCarron was once again the star; he shot his way to another game-high of 28 points on 10/15 shooting including an amazing 5/6 from long-range. He also 6 rebounds, 2 assist and 4 steals in 37 minutes, while Kay had 21 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists.

McCarron ended the as the leading scorer, and over the course fo the week was also named Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference offensive player of the week. His performances were simply to irresistible to overlook and he is someone who we should all follow a little more closely moving forward.

Team of the week

See above: Metro State.

A Division II school featuring 5 Australian's earning a 3-1 record over 4 games against Division I opposition within a week. Enough said.

The Australian's on their roster are: McCarron, Kay and Goodrick, but also Will Sinclair (transfer from Utah Valley) and Obi Kyei.

Who was your Aussie player or team of the past week? Did anyone get missed that should have received a mention? Share your opinion by posting a reply.