This is an issue/question that's been bothering a lot of us all season. This team seems, at times, to be unable to put games away. When we want them to go into "boot on the throat" mode, they seem to shy away. But tourney time is coming and we're going to need a sure-fire play for tight circumstances. So who gets the rock??
I think we're all agreed, if Robbie was in, it would be him. No slight to anyone else, but Robbie has shown a knack for making things happen and I think we would all feel content, win or lose, if he was the one taking the final shot. But Robbie is saving himself for the repeat championship in 2011-12, so who is gonna get it done now?
1. JJ "The Foundation" - If he is double-teamed within 5 feet of the basket, he will make the shot. Game over, carve it in stone, he gets it done. Regardless of how the player-of-the-year votes turn out, the indelible image of this season in my mind is seeing JuJuan do his little turn around jumper over a double team, every single game. It is amazing. I love the Thunderdunks, but his consistent threat near the basket is deadly to opponents and is a huge reason we've won 20+ every year he's been around. CONS: The outside shot. JJ's improved this year with his perimeter shooting, but it also takes him out of his element, which is dominating anyone in the paint. We've seen him knock down amazing threes, but we've also witnessed him come up short on a few (Wisconsin). Game on the line, we want him doing his thing down low.
2. Smooge "The Assassin" - We watched him put the nail in Illinois' coffin Sunday with a cold-blooded shot from the floor. If JJ is drawing a double under the basket, this is the next best option. He's a guy who can take the game on his shoulders and will the team to a win. CONS: He's been hot/cold lately. He's made huge threes when we needed them. We've seen him miss some short J's and layups. No word on his wrist injury. A few more games like Illinois and I will feel a whole lot better.
3. LewJack "Sneaky-Smart Money" - I love Lew and this is an entirely scenario-based ranking. JJ will draw the two biggest underneath, Smooge will draw the remaining best defender. That leaves Lewis "Take a picture, it will last longer" Jackson drawing the #4 defender and feasting upon his bones. A hearty laugh ensues. Seriously, his quickness will beat any #4 in the league. He's been finishing really well on his drives this season, and the thought of his undersized frame flying through the air against 2-3 men 6-8 inches taller than him would make even Jim Burr blow their whistle. He plays with absolutely no fear and a ton of heart. CONS: Of course, his size, and if he gets trapped in a double-team, he's in serious trouble. He still doesn't have a shot from the perimeter.
4. Ryne "One sleeve for my homies" Smith - Just like the weather in Indiana, this guy can fuck up your day in a serious way. When he is en fuego, there is no shelter. When he isn't, he's the white guy in the arm sleeve earning some good defensive minutes. For my money, he is the most confounding player on the team - flashes of brilliance, stretches of less-than-brilliance. CONS: Will the real Ryne Smith please stand up?
5. Robbie Hummel on one leg - It would still be pretty damned good.
6. The Field - Each has done an admirable job contributing in different areas - GDB with his defense/dunks, Byrd hitting outside shots when we need them, Bade getting tough rebounds, TJ getting good minutes and improving each game. But the game is on the line - it isn't gonna be these guys, not yet.
What do you think?