In this week’s Around the Dorm, the “Ref,” Chris Molicki, challenges Staff Writer Kevin Lee, Staff Writer Mark Barroso and Staff Writer Mike Pietroforte to answer questions about the Linsanity going on in New York, which Tobacco Road team is superior this season and whether the Devils will be able to catch the Rangers by season’s end.
1.The hottest story in the NBA right now is Jeremy Lin and how he has revived the Knicks. While it’s absurd to think he’ll keep up his torrid pace, do you think he can give the Knicks consistent production night in and night out and truly be the answer for them at point guard?
KL: To be honest, part of Lin’s success has to be credited with D’Antoni’s system and the absence of Carmelo and Amar’e. With that said, I think that he fits well with the Knicks. Lin is a legitimate pick and roll player and has made Tyson Chandler infinitely better. When Amar’e returns, Lin could have an even more lethal pick-and-roll combination. In Lin’s first three games, he’s outplayed some legitimate point guards on both ends of the court in Deron Williams, Devin Harris and John Wall. Lin has also shown the ability to attack the hoop and score the basketball, although his scoring numbers will drop when Carmelo and Amar’e return. That’s the important thing though, Lin doesn’t need to average 25 and 8 every night. He just needs to be able to control the tempo of the game and spread the ball. Based on D’Antoni’s system, Lin has a ton of freedom to be that true passing point guard that the Knicks have been lacking the entire season.
MB: Jeremy Lin, the NBA’s first American born Chinese or Taiwanese player, proved to the world that he can offer consistent production at the point guard position against a good defense. Jeremy “Let it Fall” Lin has scored 89 points in his first three NBA starts — the most by an NBA player in his first three starts since 1976-77, according to ESPN. He is the first player to average at least 20 points and seven assists in his first three starts since 1991. Lin scored a career high 38 points during Friday’s defeat of the Lakers, the most by any Knick this season. Head coach Mike D’Antoni has not revealed what Lin’s role will be when Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire and Baron Davis return to the lineup but whatever it is, Lin will still be a brilliant basketball player. Lin has shown the skeptics that he is a consistent scorer, passer, rebounder and motivator. Although he may not be Allen Iverson, call him the answer (to the Knicks’ point guard situation). The Knicks (12-15) will keep #Linning because four wins are four wins and “Linsanity” is in N.Y. to stay.
MP: Jeremy Lin is definitely the answer for the Knicks at point guard. He has already proven that he’s a more than capable scoring threat by putting up 38 points against the Lakers and 28 points against the Jazz. I don’t expect him to continue to drop 30 points a game but his presence will definitely help the Knicks offense spread the floor and get open looks for Carmelo and Amar’e. Lin’s style of play fits in perfectly with Mike D’Antoni’s ideal style of offense, setting high picks for his point guard and giving him run of the offense. After seeing Steve Nash excel under D’Antoni in Phoenix, I fully expect Lin to flourish in the same style of offense. Just because he probably won’t be taking as many shots as he has been, look for Jeremy Lin to consistently put up around 18 points and 8 assists a game.
CM: Kevin gets 3 points for pointing at that Lin is a true point guard that the Knicks needed. Mike gets 2 points for saying how well Lin fits into D’Antoni’s system. Mark gets 1 point for pointing out that Lin has had one of the hottest starts ever.
2. Rivalry Week naturally saw its best matchup with Duke-UNC. The Blue Devils won at the buzzer, so it’s still hard to say who’s better. Which ACC team is the superior one and why?
KL: As much as I love Austin Rivers and Duke, I think UNC is the superior team. UNC is a better overall team. Unlike Duke, UNC has legitimate big men in Tyler Zeller and John Hensen. UNC also has a true point guard in Kendall Marshall, whereas Duke has many ball needy players in Rivers and Seth Curry. Comparing the two team’s best players, Harrison Barnes and Austin Rivers, I think Barnes is a much more complete player than Rivers as Barnes is more versatile, a better defender, and stronger to the hoop. Finally, I think that Duke relies too heavily on the three pointer. Some nights it will fall like the game against UNC, while other nights the three will be off.
MB: The University of North Carolina Tar Heels (21-4, 8-2 ACC) are the superior ACC team this season. Although the Duke Blue Devils (21-4, 8-2 ACC) defeated UNC on Wednesday, the fifth ranked Tar Heels have scored the most points per game in all of DI (84.1). UNC bests Duke in the overall rivalry 131-102 and had won 31 consecutive home games before Duke barely beat them. The Tar Heels also lead DI in rebounds per game (46.1) and are fourth overall in assists (18.0). The Duke fans will claim that the leadership ability of freshman Austin Rivers (29 points in win over UNC) give them the edge over their ACC rival but UNC has more standouts such as Kendall Marshall who is second in DI in assists with 9.8 per game and Tyler Zeller who scored 25 points in Saturday’s win over No. 20 Virginia. Both UNC and Duke do not necessarily need to have a high field goal percentage to win games but UNC will box out the Plumlee brothers on March 3 to keep the ball in the Tar Heel possession. UNC wins.
MP: After Duke’s buzzer-beating win over North Carolina, both teams stand with identical records. Both are 7-2 in ACC competition and 20-4 overall. Although Duke had the last laugh in their most recent matchup I still think North Carolina is the better team. They have a huge cornerstone in senior center Tyler Zeller who consistently puts up big numbers offensively and defensively (17.8 ppg and 11.0 rpg), they have a bonafide star in sophomore shooting guard Harrison Barnes, and they have a legitimate play-caller in sophomore point guard Kendall Marshall. The Blue Devils on the other hand have been playing some Jekyll and Hyde basketball lately and sneaking out with wins while losing to a few soft teams (Miami and Florida State). Austin Rivers has proven to be a scorer himself and is definitely a star, but the Duke streaky offense seems to run primarily on whose hand is hot from the 3-point arc and they aren’t always sure who is going to show up. Both teams are strong and could make serious runs, but I don’t see the same consistency and balance from the Blue Devils that I see from the Tar Heels.
CM: Mark gets 3 points for saying that the Tar Heels rebounding gives them the edge. Kevin and Mike each get 2 points for pointing out that the Blue Devils live and die by the three.
3. The Rangers are still the best team in the NHL, but the rival Devils are closing in on them. Do you think it’s possible for N.J. to catch N.Y. in points?
KL: I don’t see the Devils doing so. The Rangers are the best team in the NHL in my opinion. They are second in the league in goals against and remain one of the deepest teams in the NHL. Marian Gaborik is a stud on the offensive end and Henrik Lundqvist is a having a dominant season. The Rangers are just too good in my opinion to relinquish their lead atop the Eastern Conference standings. The Devils are on a nice little streak, but long-term the Devils won’t squeak by the Rangers in the standings.
MB: The New Jersey Devils (66 points) will not be catching up to the New York Rangers (75 points) this season. The possibility of the sixth ranked Devils making the playoffs does not make them better than the Rangers who are atop the Eastern Conference. Two is a good number for the Rangers. They are second in the NHL in goals against with 2.0 per game and second in the NHL in points behind the Detroit Red Wings (76 points). Rangers goalkeeper Henrik Lundqvist ranks second in the league in goals against with a 1.8 goals against average and second in the league in save percentage with .939. New Jersey’s Saturday loss to the Florida Panthers marks their first two game losing streak since losing three straight in the end of January. Meanwhile, the Rangers have won seven of their last 10 games. The Devils might have won the battle by shutting out the Rangers on Tuesday but New York will win the points war of the Atlantic Division.
MP: The Rangers and Devils are very similar teams right now. The Devils have been beating good teams lately, and putting up a lot of goals. They beat the Penguins 5-2, the Flyers 6-4 and the Canadiens 5-3. They even beat the Rangers 1-0 in their own low-scoring brand of hockey, when the Rangers would-be game tying goal was waved off in the final seconds. The Rangers have been consistently scoring the goals they need to win games, while riding the strong play of Henrik Lundqvist. While I don’t think that the Devils are quite as good as the Rangers are, and they’re getting by on the health of the very old Martin Broduer, they’re very hot right now, and the Rangers do have reason to stay on their toes. But the Rangers hold nine points on them right now and if they continue to play at the pace they have been, I don’t see the Devils catching them.
CM: Mark gets 3 points for pointing how good Lundqvist’s stats are. Mike gets 2 points by saying that the Devils have beaten good teams, but they’re too far back in the standings to catch the Rangers. Kevin gets 1 point for pointing out Gaborik’s dominant offensive play.
Mark wins this week’s AtD, 7-6-6.
“My first win feels awesome! I came to play.” — Mark