March 20, 2007
One of the interesting things about the big dance is the way some players step it up and have a major impact.
Here are five guys that may surprise you with their importance so far.
At Texas A&M, Billy Gillispie has a lot of offensive threats, led by Acie Law and Joseph Jones. Dominique Kirk came into the tournament averaging under seven ppg. In wins over Penn and Louisville, Kirk has totaled 37 points while hitting 11-of-17 shots from the floor. He has been very important since Josh Carter has struggled lately.
Pittsburgh gets instant offense off its bench from Ronald Ramon and the long-range shooter has come through big time. He is averaging 13 ppg. in the big dance, hitting six of his nine trifecta attempts.
At Florida, you think about guys like Al Horford and Joakim Noah up front, but Chris Richard has been a positive force in the tournament. He has been reliable to chip in this season, and Billy Donovan has to be happy with his play.
Wendell White was a solid player for UNLV this season, but he has been a big key in wins over Georgia Tech and the upset of Wisconsin. He had 19 against the Yellow Jackets and 22 vs. Wisconsin, including six-for-six from the foul line.
Tennessee has great guards in Chris Lofton, JaJuan Smith and Ramar Smith. Wayne Chism has been a physical force inside and his 13 points and five rebounds in just 18 minutes was so important as the Vols advanced past Virginia.
Think about these five guys, role players that have helped their team reach the Sweet 16.
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.