The point forward’s strengths oftentimes do not show up on the stat sheet. In 32 minutes he scored 9 points, grabbed 9 rebounds and dished out 3 assists, but most importantly Anderson helped UCLA to control the tempo on offense, which was vital against Georgia. Whether he’s making plays out of the high post or bringing the ball up after grabbing a rebound, Anderson’s size and awareness on the court is what separates him from other players at the offensive end.
Just as Shabazz is still learning to deal with the tempo, speed, athleticism and length of players offensively, Anderson is going through his own learning curve. Not the quickest or most athletically gifted player, Anderson is adjusting to the overall tempo of the game and quickness of thought that comes with it, especially for a player who has the responsibility of playing multiple positions on the floor.
Yesterday he picked his spots to shoot better than he did in his 0-for-6 outing against Georgetown, going 4-of-7 for 9 points. He had just 3 assists, but you can attribute that low number to UCLA’s 19-for-45 shooting performance (they had just 5 assists total). Anderson moves the ball from side to side and understands how to probe the defense and as he gains more experience and learns more about the players on his team, don’t be shocked to see him throw up a triple-double or two this season.
Victor Oladipo, 6-5, 215, Shooting Guard, Junior, Indiana: Menacing first step. If you’re not in front of Oladipo when he catches the ball, there’s a good chance the athletic wing is already at the rim by the time you’ve recovered. Oladipo is quick, fast and explosive when he attacks at the offensive end.
He is comfortable finishing with either hand, as he proved with a few reverse layups with his left in traffic. Oladipo came to the Hoosiers as an extremely raw player who had explosive athleticism, but he’s transformed himself into a player who is capable of dominating the game at both ends thanks to the hard work he’s put in.
“When I first got here, as you guys have probably seen in film and stuff like that, I used to dribble off my foot out of bounds,” said Oladipo. “I used to work on it because I knew there was gonna be a time where coach needed me to handle the ball. I’ve just been working on my ballhandling and it’s paying off. I’m gonna continue to work on it because it can always improve. I can always improve every aspect of my game, so I’m just gonna continue to get better.”
While his defensive prowess is unquestioned (he’s one of the best on-ball defenders in the nation), Oladipo’s ball-handling and shooting stroke have improved thanks to his time in the gym studying other players and incorporating their work ethics into his game. “I watch a little bit of everybody,” said Oladipo. “I went to Chris Paul camp this summer, so I watched him. I watch D-Wade because why wouldn’t I? They all do something special and then you have the special, special players who do a lot of things special. They are always consistent with what they do. Going back to the summer at Chris Paul camp, he worked out before camp, he worked out during camp and then he worked out after camp. It’s like he’s always in the gym, so why wouldn’t I always be in the gym, apply that to my work ethic? I finally hit a three today, so how about that? Hard work pays off, man, and I’m gonna continue to shoot it as long as I’m open.”
Otto Porter, 6-9, Forward, Sophomore, Georgetown: Following an extremely impressive performance that filled the stat sheet and provided his team with energy at both ends against UCLA, Porter was slowed down a bit in the matchup with Indiana. More than anything, I’m convinced that he was slowed down as a result of his relaxed and composed nature on the basketball court; when he’s aggressive and looking to score, Porter is a force to be reckoned with, as was the case with under 10 seconds to play when he drove the lane and converted a difficult lay-in to tie the game and send it into overtime. Porter’s gift is also his curse.