Monday, March 12, 2012

Not Yet

 

I'm glad he got his mind right. He has turned into a top rate player in the C-USA. That's not the NBA though. Immediately aft er this interview he went out and had two mediocre games. If he gets to go pro with a decent contract, I don't blame him if he leaves. But I think he would be an outstanding senior if he stays. Joe Jackson, him and Tariq Black are just beginning to blend. The added experience will improve his lot as well as his team mates. He will be even better. Plus he is doing quite well academically (4.0).

6 Comments:

Blogger Common said...

There's no doubt that guard Will Barton is the star for the Tigers, but if he's having an off night, other players have stepped up time after time this season.

University of Memphis sophomore guard Will Barton might as well be wearing an X on his jersey when the No. 8-seeded Tigers open NCAA Tournament play Friday at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, against No. 9-seeded Saint Louis.

For weeks, the Conference USA Player of the Year has been priority No. 1 on opponents' scouting reports, having put together one of the most prolific sophomore seasons in Memphis history.

But the Tigers (26-8) have proven, especially of late, their fortunes don't depend solely on "The Thrill", as Barton is aptly nicknamed.

Even when Barton has struggled offensively -- though those occasions have been rare with Barton just six points shy of breaking the Tigers' single-season record for points scored by a sophomore -- Memphis has been able to rely on other sources for production.

When Barton scored a season-low seven points against a UTEP team determined to slow him in the Tigers' Conference USA Tournament quarterfinal last week, sophomores Tarik Black, Joe Jackson and Chris Crawford combined to go 16-of-30 from the field for 43 of Memphis' 65 points in an 18-point win.

A game later against UCF in the semifinals, Barton, who's shooting 51.1 percent this season, went just 3-of-10 from the field for 10 points.

The rest of the team combined to go 22-of-45 from the floor (48.9 percent), with senior reserve forward Wesley Witherspoon leading four Tigers in double figures with 15 points. It was Memphis' fifth win in the seven games this season that Barton scored 10 or fewer points.

While Barton suspects he will continue to be the main concern of opposing defenses in the NCAA Tournament, he also warns that teams that believe they can beat Memphis by basing their gameplan solely on stopping him had better rethink those plans.

"Ever since conference (play) really got started, I think that's what teams have been doing, especially if you look at the Conference USA Tournament. We got box-and-oned or stuff like that," said Barton, whose Tigers will be up against one of the nation's stingiest defensive teams in Saint Louis (25-7).

cont:

8:18 AM  
Blogger Common said...

cont:

"I hear some people saying, 'We get him. We're gonna beat 'em.' But that's not gonna work. We've got too many weapons for just one man to stop us from winning a game. You see Joe has been stepping it up. Tarik, when he's not in foul trouble, he's doing his thing. Chris is playing well. Antonio (Barton). We get AD (Adonis Thomas) back in there. Ferro's (Ferrakohn Hall) been playing good. And that's what we need -- all the guys to step up."

Part of what has made Memphis so tough to contain defensively -- the Tigers' rank fifth nationally in field-goal percentage at 49.4 -- has been its unselfishness.

The Tigers have registered assists on 55 percent of their made field goals this season in a highly efficient motion offense coach Josh Pastner likes to describe with the phrase "the open man is the go-to man."

"We've done a really good job of making the extra pass," Pastner said. "We're moving the ball, others guys are stepping up and we're making shots. Will Barton has had an All-American season and was deserving of Conference USA Player of the Year. But what makes our team good is we have multiple weapons at multiple positions. We are not a one-dimensional team.

"Whether (opponents) try to throw in a junk defense or they're gonna play their man or however they play, we've seen everything (defensively)."

While Black's school-record 68.6-percent shooting clip has anchored Memphis inside, the Tigers have also been particularly sharp from outside the 3-point line, where their 36.9-percent shooting this season ranks second-best in school history (Pastner's 2009-10 team set the school record for 3-point efficiency at 38.8 percent).

Besides Barton's team-leading 18.1 points per game, Memphis has two other players averaging in double figures in Jackson (11.1 ppg) and Black (10.9) and another, Crawford, averaging 10.6 in the 23 games he's started this season.

"Me and the trainer, Brad (Anderson), were talking about how teams are going to try to scout us," Black said. "A lot of teams do have that mentality, 'Well, OK, we're gonna try to stop Will Barton and make the rest of 'em beat us.' But then again, we have other players who on any given night have put up 20 points, 25 points. And it's not just one other person or two other people. It's been three or four random people.

"Here lately, we've been playing great basketball together. So really you can't just look at (Barton) and say, 'We're gonna stop him and make the rest of the team beat us,' because everybody has been putting up good numbers."

Tigers in the NCAA Tournament

Who: No. 8 seed U of M vs. No. 9 Saint Louis

When, where: 5:50 p.m. Friday, Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio

TV, radio: TBS; WREC-AM 600, WKBQ-FM 93.5

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