March 27, 2006

McDonald's second practice breakdown

San Diego, Calif.-The intensity level of both squads was at a higher level during the second day of practice for the McDonald's All Star Game. Highlighting the practice session were some heated individual match ups. One of the most competitive match ups was between two future ACC players Thaddeus Young and Gerald Henderson, and Henderson more than held his own against the No. 3 ranked player in the Rivals150.

Thaddeus Young vs. Gerald Henderson

Young just did get the better of Henderson yesterday although Henderson did not have a bad day. Young just had a very good one. The reverse was the case today. Young didn't play bad. Henderson just played better.

Henderson used his strength and lateral quickness to limit Young's dribble penetration. And Young wasn't finding the bottom of the net like he did yesterday when he tried to shoot over Henderson. The Duke signee defended as though he had something to prove against his future rival at Georgia Tech.

Offensively, Henderson complimented his always strong midrange game with some precise outside shooting. Henderson did get sloppy with a couple pass, but as a finisher, Henderson is proving he has the explosion and touch to get it done in the ACC.

Javaris Crittenton vs. Tywon Lawson

A battle is formulating between Crittenton, Lawson and Sherron Collins for the top spot at the point guard position. Collins let Rivals.com know he considers himself the top point man in the country, but he will have to wait until Wednesday to prove his point against Crittenton and Lawson of the East squad. Crittenton and Lawson, however, got it on today during the scrimmage portion of practice.

Crittenton did not force difficult passes at the same clip as yesterday, but he did force a number of contested three-pointers over Lawson which came up empty. He was at his best and nearly unstoppable when he attacked the basket. One such drive ended with a beautiful running floater on a left handed split of the defense on a high ball screen. When the shot wasn't there, Crittenton consistently found the open interior pass.

Defensively, Crittenton did as good a job as anyone could staying in front of Lawson. Nonetheless, Lawson was very impressive offensively. He threaded the needle with a number of long bounce passes in transition. His three ball was falling when Crittenton gave him too much ground. And when he did get into the lane, Lawson hit his patented floater.

North Carolina fans are going to watch Lawson score a lot of points on midrange floaters. Georgia Tech fans will love Crittenton's explosiveness, defense and rebounding. On this day Lawson gets a slight nod over Crittenton.

Kevin Durant vs. Darrell Arthur

Durant began the day up to the same tricks with the ball that he utilized yesterday. As the damage mounted, Arthur switched off of Spencer Hawes and matched up with Durant. Suddenly, Durant was not having such an easy time handling the ball and finding open shots and open teammates.

Truly a gifted athlete, Arthur demonstrated his talent when motivated. He brought Durant into check and asserted himself offensively. Arthur had several plays where he came up with the basketball on the defensive end and went coast to coast finishing the play. He is showing prowess with his left hand both with the dribble and on the finish. Arthur is that prototypical athlete, as is Durant, who is so fluid that the tough plays come easy to him.

Hopefully the two forwards will guard each other for the duration on Tuesday.

Establishing themselves

Sherron Collins passed the ball so well but so often during the first practice, the West coaches told him to attack the rim today and think shoot first. Collins still dropped off a good deal of dimes, but he also established himself as the alpha point guard for the West. Time after time, he got to the rim practically at will. All the while, it is difficult to recall a turnover over the past two days.

Spencer Hawes is staking a claim as the West's "go to guy" in the post. Hawes has used the dinner table and the weight room to bulk up to 245-pounds. The added strength has only made his repertoire of low post moves even more dangerous. Hawes has also delivered some outstanding passes on the outlet, out of the low post and on the break. Highlighting his day was a between the legs bounce pass to a streaking Chase Budinger for a dunk.

Chase Budinger once again had a very good day in the gym. If it weren't for Durant's exploits, Budinger would be getting a lot more hype. The two of those guys provide a potent combination on the wings.

Greg Oden came out of his slumbers and dominated the paint on Monday. It didn't hurt that Oden had Brandan Wright on his side and not on the other side.



 

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