Observations on Day 2 of the 1st Round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament

March 22, 2019

by Alan Lu

I was able to catch a few games that went on in Friday’s games of the 1st Round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament, and there were several players that impressed me with their strong play.  Zion Williamson dominated as usual, and R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish turned in very solid performances.  Kenny Wooten, Tacko Fall, and Liberty’s guards also played well, as these players to me were the standout performers in the games that I saw on this day.

Duke really dominated in the second half in their blowout win over North Dakota State.  Zion Williamson was impressive, as he played a strong all-around game.  He threw down numerous thunderous dunks, and he also rebounded his own miss from the free throw line to do so.  He also used a nifty behind the back dribble move after getting a steal to score on a crafty layup in transition, and he handles the ball very well, especially in the open floor.   Williamson had a tremendous game, and he had 25 points in his team’s victory on this day.

R.J. Barrett also played very well to help his team get the first round win.  He did a very good job of knocking down shots, and he was able to regularly get to the hoop to garner scores, as he managed to score on a high-flying dunk off of a drive once.   Overall, Barrett did a great job of scoring the basketball, and he played well in all facets of the game to help get his team the victory.

Cam Reddish also played very well on both ends of the floor, and this looked to be one of his best games yet this year, and he showed a tremendous ability to shoot, score, and defend in this contest against North Dakota State.  Reddish excelled as a three-point shooter in transition, and he also played great defense.  He would poke balls and pick off passes to get steals, and he also swatted a shot out of bounds to prevent an opponent from getting his shot up.  In all, Duke’s players played really well, and Williamson, Barrett, and Reddish will probably end up getting selected in the top 5 of the upcoming draft.

UCF’s 7-6 senior center, Tacko Fall had a very good game in his team’s win over VCU.  He is a good low post scorer that can catch many passes thrown his way, and his length, mobility, and scoring touch allow him to dominate on the block.  He can score on powerful dunks inside, and he can maneuver past smaller defenders to get buckets around the basket.  He also rebounded and defended well, and he would block many shots to help protect the paint for his team.

However, he will still need to improve his conditioning and foot speed.  Sometimes, he would be stationed in the middle of a zone to conserve his energy, and on other occasions, he would merely jog up the floor.  But he would sometimes get back on defense, as he is a mobile player for someone his size.  Overall, Fall had 13 points, 18 rebounds, and 5 blocks, and he is a second round prospect that could end up thriving in a backup center role at the next level in the mold of a Boban Marjanovic type in the NBA.

Oregon’s junior big man, Kenny Wooten played very well, as he would run the floor to score on hustle plays, and he would also use off-ball motion to garner scores.  He was able to catch a nice lob pass to score on an alley-oop dunk on offense.  Defensively, he excelled as a shot blocker and rim protector in the paint.   Wooten has not always been the most consistent player this year, but he is playing his best basketball right now, and he looks to be a second round prospect in the mold of a Jordan Bell type in the NBA.

Also, hats off to Liberty and UC Irvine for pulling off big wins over Mississippi State and Kansas State, respectively.  I was able to catch some of the second half of the Liberty-Mississippi State game, the Liberty Flames can really shoot the basketball, and they also moved the ball and defended well.  Lovell Cabbil Jr. did a very good job of distributing the ball, and he excelled as a shooter on the floor.  6-6 junior guard, Caleb Homesley also did a great job of making threes, and he also scored on a nice dunk off of a cut.