Friday, January 30, 2004

Battle of the Big Men - Part II

Well, did you see the game on ESPN 2 tonight? Dwight Howard versus Randolph Morris, two of the best big men in the nation. The game itself looked like is was going to be a runaway as Howard's SACA team cruised to a 15 point lead. However, Landmark came storming back in the 2nd half on the back of Morris's play. Morris's Landmark Christian pulls off the upset and beats 20-0 SACA 73-71.

In attendence were boatloads of scouts, NBA personnel, Pat Riley, Jerry West, Paul Hewitt, Tubby Smith. Lots of big names.

Howard's game was probably not to his standards. Yes, he had a handful of powerdunks and putbacks, but he was getting double and triple teamed in the post. Howard got into foul trouble in the first half which limited some of his minutes. Howard ended up fouling out at a critical juncture with 1:10 left in the game. No doubt Howard has a strong presence in the paint. But based on the two games I have seen, his otuside shot is a question-mark. Howard ended with 25 points, 11 boards and 4 blocks.

Morris had a solid game from beginning to end. He played every bit as good as Howard and probably better. Very active on defense, very strong post moves and great footwork, which was directly responsible for getting Howard in foul trouble. Backed him into the paint and went strong to the basket. Probably the only negative was that he was slow again getting back on breaks and after made buckets. Don't know if it was conditioning, but there were many times he never made it back up court on a break. No doubt this will have to improve. Morris ends with 25 points, 15 boards, about 5 blocks and about 5 steals (blocks and steals my estimate).

All-in-all, a fine performance by Morris and a good one by Howard. So are these guys NBA ready? I just don't know. I believe they both would benefit from 1-2 years of college but can they turn down the bucks? The general concensus is that Howard is NBA 99.9% and Morris is college bound 95%. I'm not so sure that the lure of the NBA won't snag Morris as well, especially when you look at his numbers for the season. They are not much different from Howard's.

Well, we can hope and pray that he follows through with his previous statements and goes to college. We can hope and pray even more that Morris decides to chose GT. I can tell you that the UK folks are salivating after watching him play tonight (just check out their recruiting boards). We should be also. This kid is ready to play and would fit in great with Hewitt's system.