|03-26-2005, 07:14 AM|
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Tucson, AZ
Casino cash: $5377
Redick, Salim and the embarassingly lazy East Coast media
Emerging From Non-Obscure Obscurity
By Michael Wilbon
Saturday, March 26, 2005; Page D01
ROSEMONT, Ill. -- Mustafa Shakur, Arizona's primary playmaker, is biased, but qualifies as an expert nonetheless. He played alongside Duke's J.J. Redick a few summers ago on a high school select team representing the United States in Greece, and he plays alongside Salim Stoudamire every single game.
Like all the Arizona players and coaches, Shakur sits in complete disbelief when he watches ACC basketball games on television and hears analysts, often people who have coached and played at the highest level, call Redick the best shooter in college basketball.
"I don't get angry, I just laugh at it," Shakur said. "The numbers are right there and show everything clearly. I guess people are sometimes afraid to go with the clear-cut guy and decide to go with the hype instead. Don't get me wrong, J.J. is a great shooter and a great player. You'd be stupid to think he's not a great player considering what he does for Duke. But Salim can create his shot against anyone, somebody 6-foot-4, 6-7, fast, long, tall. It doesn't matter. I don't see how anybody can say a college player is a better shooter than Salim."
The people who have Stoudamire's back are finally being heard. The number of Stoudamire believers must have grown exponentially Thursday night when, with 2.8 seconds left in a region semifinal here against Oklahoma State, Stoudamire created enough space to fire an 18-footer that took Arizona from one point down to victory. Everybody on both teams knew Stoudamire was going to get the ball. Was there any chance he was not going to shoot? "Not at all," he said the day after.
The number of people who still haven't seen Stoudamire is dwindling, thankfully, as is the number of people who think Duke's Redick is a better shooter. There really shouldn't be any debate anymore as to which player is a better shooter because, as Shakur said, the numbers are so overwhelming in Stoudamire's favor, to ignore them is to admit to some agenda.
What legitimately hurts Stoudamire's exposure is that Arizona's games, when they are televised in the East, often begin at 10 p.m. or later. And most are on regional stations and not national cable. Arizona Coach Lute Olson raged against the Pacific-10 television contract a couple of weeks ago during the Pac-10 tournament in Los Angeles, going as far as to say, "Publicity-wise, we're a second-rate conference."
Even so, there's no blackout on box scores or Internet information in the East.
"It doesn't take a Rhodes scholar," Olson said Friday, to figure out "if a guy is shooting 41 percent and a guy is shooting 53 percent, who the best shooter in the country is. If he played in the East, he'd be first-team all-America. He'd be the number one two-guard in the country."
Olson was kind not to call eastern media types lazy, but I won't be as easy on my colleagues. It's inexcusable for people who write and talk about sports for a living not to have known how good Stoudamire was before now.
Olson has every reason to be annoyed. Here's how much better than Redick Stoudamire has been this season. Entering Friday's game, Redick would have had to make 66 consecutive three-pointers to pull even with Stoudamire in terms of three-point shooting percentage. Stoudamire is making 51.5 percent overall and 51.5 percent of his three-pointers, while Redick, before Friday's game, had made 41.2 percent overall and 40.5 percent of his three-pointers.
This is what we call a rout. And it's not like Arizona is playing bums. The ACC may be a little tougher defensively than the Pac-10, but not 10 percentage points worth. Just as Redick is ridiculed largely for nothing more than being white, some lavish him with too much praise for the same reason.
In the meantime, Stoudamire has gone largely unnoticed even though he plays for a perennial top 10 team.
So here's the scouting report on Stoudamire for the uninitiated: He's a 6-foot-1, 179-pound senior who grew up in Portland, Ore., and is a cousin of the NBA's Damon Stoudamire. His release is so quick and he jumps so high that he gets off his shot without trouble against players a half-foot taller. He, like millions of kids under 25, wears his hair in a style I like to call "uncombed." Yet, he's meticulous about everything else, including the way he keeps his place. He doesn't watch college basketball on TV, only NBA games.
And he is a loner to such an extreme he has long carried the reputation of being "difficult," which may be putting it kindly. The NBA scouts, East and West, wonder if Stoudamire is more trouble than his shot is worth, if he's too non-communicative to get along in a league as gregarious as the NBA. Stoudamire's assertion Friday that "you need isolation sometime" just might scare off a few more scouts.
Channing Frye, Stoudamire's teammate for four years, told reporters here that the two barely knew each other for three years. On the second day of school to start their senior year, Frye said Stoudamire approached him and said, "You want go to lunch?" In total disbelief, Frye said he blurted out, "Are you kidding?"
Stoudamire spent the better part of 30 minutes talking about how he's trying to be more tolerant, more open.
"I want to be remembered as a good person," he said. "I am a good person and I want to display that. It's a matter of me figuring out that the people around me have my back, my best interests. I'm just not concerned about that clean-cut image. I'm a natural person. That's why my hair looks this way. I get angry at myself, but I try to channel that into a positive, but it's been a struggle."
But his shooting stroke is such a thing of beauty. You watch Arizona long enough, you'll wind up screaming at Stoudamire to shoot more, even though the Wildcats have so many good players. Asked why he doesn't shoot more, Stoudamire said: "My teammates may get mad and think, 'Salim is just out for himself.' I'm very conscious of that."
Doubtful they would. He has won three games with buzzer-beating shots this season. He erases teammates' mistakes. Shakur explains one difference between Redick and Stoudamire. Both are unstoppable coming off screens, Shakur said. But if the pass is late, Stoudamire simply rises above the defender and makes the shot regardless. Redick has to resort to Plan B.
Of course, this is Illinois' problem Saturday in the region final.
"He doesn't have to have his balance," Illinois guard Deron Williams said. "He doesn't have to square up. He lets it go and it goes in."
And Stoudamire does it more often, more precisely than any guard in the country, period.
|03-26-2005, 07:41 AM||#2|
Join Date: Mar 2002
Casino cash: $5275
great story. the NY Times did a cool story about his shooting stroke and how it is unconventional the day before the Oklahoma St. game. If I can find the link I will post it. He is great to watch.... the little i have seen.
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