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Quality point-guard play more vital than ever


Jan. 2, 2004
To win in college basketball this season, teams need strong play at the point-guard slot. Early-season results have shown more than ever the importance of point guards.

Let me tell you, every team needs someone on the court who emulates the coach on the sideline, someone who has a great feeling for the flow of the game and understands how to distribute the ball. It's so important to get the ball to the right people at the right time. Shot selection is essential in college hoops, and if you can put the shooter in the best position possible, it really makes a difference.

The point guard is also important on the defensive end. He can put pressure on the ball, rattling the opponent and forcing bad passes that lead to turnovers.

Ask Michigan State coach Tom Izzo about the importance of point-guard play.
Just take a look at the recent Duke-Texas matchup as an example (an 89-61 Duke win). The contest really came down to one player who changed the game: Duke point guard Chris Duhon. If Duhon were in Texas' lineup, the result would have been totally different. On defense, he absolutely took the Longhorns out of any flow in their half-court set. On offense, he made every big-time play, with his penetration and ability to find open teammates as well as his shooting touch.

If you look across America, ask Michigan State coach Tom Izzo about the importance of point-guard play. Izzo has seen his team lose five games already to major programs: Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, Oklahoma and UCLA. If his Spartans had better point-guard play, they would have gone to the winner's circle at least a few times in those five outings.

If I were coaching on the collegiate basketball scene today, I would make sure I recruited at least one legitimate point guard to serve as the catalyst of my offense. The point guard sets the tone -- today's game is dominated by perimeter play. There are so many young big players leaving early for the NBA, making guard play that much more essential.

With the 3-point shot, a penetrator who can drive, dish and deliver to the outside shooter, creating opportunities, is a major plus. Just look at all the talented point guards in college hoops today -- guys like Duhon, Saint Joseph's Jameer Nelson, North Carolina's Raymond Felton, Notre Dame's Chris Thomas and Stanford's Chris Hernandez (just to name a few).

It's no longer all about the big man on campus. The guy with the rock in his hand at the point can control a team's destiny.

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