Having the opportunity to coach Dayton guard Brian Roberts during his sophomore and junior year, I'm not surprised by his senior success and am very happy for him and the Flyers.
Watching him make those long jumpers at the top of the key and make plays off the on ball screen brings back memories. The country is now getting to see what I saw in practice and games when I was a Dayton assistant coach. "B Rob", as we called him at Dayton, has a skill package that separates him from other guards because he can not only score off the catch and dribble, but is a very underrated passer. When I watch Brian as a coach and not as a fan, I can see his confidence. And the look in his eyes confirms that he feels he can score against anyone and usually in bunches.
I remember telling him in practice to finish his shot and not drop his hands so much, but he has so much confidence in his shot sometime he feels he can just flick it in the hole, and most of the time he did just that. This week's A-10 Player of the Week has helped the Flyers earn their first national ranking since 2003 at No. 20 in the AP and No. 23 in the ESPN/USA Today poll. Entering the season with 1,335 career points, he could crack the top five in Flyer history and will not only be a A-10 Player of the Year candidate but will be an academic all-conference selection again as well.
I always like to compare present players with great players from the past, and Brian Roberts reminds me of another great Toledo guard, Kelvin Ransey. Ransey played at Toledo's Macomber High School. Ransey could make shots at a staggering rate and finished his career at Ohio State fourth on the career scoring list with 1,934 points. In 1980, Ransey was the fourth pick in the NBA draft by the Chicago Bulls and played in the NBA for six years. At 6-foot-1, he was a combo guard like Roberts but in the NBA was a point guard, which will be Brian's permanent position after college.
As the Flyers head into A-10 play, Roberts' consistent play and leadership could make this a special season.
I watched Tennessee play against Xavier and Gonzaga, and there can't be a harder-playing team in the country. The Vols play with great energy and intensity the entire game. They make it extremely difficult to start your offense because they push you so far out of the scoring area in the half court. They expose teams that can't match their intensity, and at times it seems like there are seven players on the floor instead of five. When they set their press, the player advancing the ball is hounded to the point he is just trying to escape the pressure and beat the 10-second count. On BLOBS and SLOBS (baseline out of bounds and sideline out of bounds plays), they combine scouting with high energy switching and make it a chore to get the ball inbounds.
What a pleasure to watch a team go full throttle for 40 minutes. Even head coach Bruce Pearl, who coaches every possession, has a pretty good-looking defensive stance on the sideline.