Other Observations on Day 1 of the Sweet 16

March 23, 2018

by Alan Lu

On Thursday, Loyola-Chicago played against Nevada, and it was a nail-biter all the way until the end.  The Ramblers did a great job of scoring on fast breaks, their guards excelled at scoring on quick drives to the hoop, and Cameron Krutwig did a good job of scoring in the post.  As Loyola-Chicago defeated Nevada, they will go on to face off against Kansas State in the Elite 8.

Nevada’s 6-7 junior forward, Cody Martin excelled as a facilitator, and he was active as a help defender in this game.  He showed a knack for hitting cutters, and he passes the ball well from the high post.  He is a point forward that sees the floor well, and he can deftly handle the basketball.

He struggled with his jump shot, but he excelled at scoring on hustle plays, and he can get scores on smooth drives to the hoop.  However, Cody Martin appears to have a hitch in his shot, as he appears to have a long load up time, he also may tend to kick out his legs when he shoots, and he doesn’t land straight.  His brother Caleb though, has sound shooting mechanics.  In addition, Cody Martin had a tendency to bite on pump fakes, which would cause him to commit fouls and allow scores on jumpers.  In general, Cody Martin played well in his team’s loss, and he is a gritty, versatile point forward that could be a solid second round pick for an NBA team whenever he decides to enter the draft.

Nevada’s 6-7 junior forward, Jordan Caroline played really well, as he excelled at scoring and drawing free throws on strong drives to the hoop, and he also drew free throws on a thunderous dunk attempt.   Plus, he also did a good job of knocking down quick threes off the catch.  Also, he played decent defense, as he rotate to block a shot inside, and he also can get his hands on passes to get deflections.  Plus, he will also contest shots in the post to force misses.  However, Caroline had trouble defending opponents off the dribble, and sometimes he would overplay opponents, which can lead him to be out of opposition defending in the paint.

In summary, Caroline played very well in this game, and he could be a good find for an NBA team in the future, as he is a strong, physical combo forward that can make impactful plays in the paint on both ends of the floor, and if he develops his outside shot, that could really open things up for him on offense at the next level.

Nevada’s 6-7 junior forward, Caleb Martin did a great job of knocking down threes, as he can make spot-up jumpers from well beyond the arc, and he showed a knack for making pull-up threes.  He also can score on cuts and on drives, but sometimes he would miss shots due to rushing them on occasion.  Martin also cut to the hoop, and received the ball to find a teammate on a cut to set up a score, and he also played unselfishly, but he also committed some turnovers.  He can be careless with his passes though, and he may not always have his balance, as he fell once on a drive. 

He showed fairly average defensive skills.  Caleb Martin blocked a shot in the post once, but it went right to an opponent, as his man scored on a put back.  Martin also drew a charge when defending a drive once.  However, he tended to get beat off the dribble to allow scores, and he was playing through a left foot injury.  Overall, Caleb Martin played fairly well, as he excelled as a shooter and scorer, but he did not really stand out in the other facets of the game.  Still, he has had a very good tournament, and he could project into a 3 and D role at the next level.

Loyola-Chicago’s 6-6 senior swingman, Donte Ingram did not really stand out in this game, and he did not look to take many shots, but he did score once on a drive to the hoop.  He also can kick the ball out to shooters off the dribble to set up scoring chances for his teammates.  But he did commit one turnover as he was called for a charging foul when driving to the hoop on a separate possession.  Plus, he would also run in to get a couple of defensive boards.

Nevada’s 6-7 senior forward, Kendall Stephens really struggled in this game, as he missed all 8 of his three-point shots, as he went scoreless in his team’s loss to the Ramblers.  He also tended to gamble defensively, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores against Loyola-Chicago.

Other Notes:

I also was able to see the last few minutes of the Gonzaga-Florida State game.  It was a very defensive match, but Florida State played quite well, as they played really good defense, and they also are a talented team that has a deep roster, in which 11 players on their team ended up scoring in their win over Gonzaga.  As the Florida State Seminoles defeated the Gonzaga Bulldogs, they will go on to play against Michigan in the Elite 8.

Out of the last few minutes that I saw, Florida State’s Mfiondu Kabengele seemed to play the best, as the 6-9 freshman forward scored on a powerful dunk off of a cut, and he also showed a penchant for blocking and altering shots in transition to prevent opponents from scoring on the break.  He is an athletic big man that may project into a rim protector role in the NBA.

Gonzaga’s 6-5 freshman guard, Zach Norvell Jr. scored on an acrobatic, reverse layup on a drive in transition, and he also made a corner three.  While he only made 4 of 16 field goals in this game overall, he is an athletic player that can score the ball in a variety of ways.  He did commit a hard foul on the break that led to a score and multiple free throws, as the referees deemed it a Flagrant 1 foul, but Norvell looks to be a talented player that could end up being Gonzaga’s primary scorer in the future.

Florida State’s 6-6 senior swingman, Braian Angola also impressed late in the game.  He drew free throws on a drive to the hoop, and he also threw a long outlet pass on the break to set up a score for Phil Cofer.  He is a skilled player that could end up getting invited to an NBA summer league roster this year as he can help his team in a number of ways.