College basketball all-week team: Alford scorches the nets as UCLA picks up two key wins
Team basketball is a sight to behold, but when an individual player is in a zone, sometimes the best strategy is simply to get the heck out of his way and let him dominate.
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JOIN THE TEAM.
Each week at NCAA.com, we’ll select a college basketball All-Week team. Comprised of five positions, the squad is selected based on games and performances from the week prior. Let’s get to this week's edition.
G Joel Berry, North Carolina
Berry has taken on a larger role in the North Carolina offense as a junior, and he’s thriving as expected. The Tar Heel floor general averaged 22 points per game in two wins this week over Wake Forest and No. 9 Florida State, and he was particularly great against the Seminoles.
Berry scored 26 points against FSU, and on a North Carolina team that’s inconsistent from the outside, his three 3-pointers were huge. Perhaps more importantly, he had one of his best defensive games of the season. Xavier Rathan-Mayes scored 21 points against Duke earlier this week; Berry held him to 2-of-6 shooting with five turnovers.
Though he was objectively better than Marcus Paige last season, Berry was a complementary player. You never know how someone is going to respond to becoming “the guy,” but Berry has passed that test with flying colors. He’s one of the best point guards in the country, and his two performances this week illustrate that.
G Bryce Alford, UCLA
Man, this UCLA team is fun. And man, Alford is so much better as a catch-and-shoot player than he was as a point guard.
The Bruin senior leader scored 37 points on Thursday night against Colorado, canning nine 3-pointers along the way. He then scored 15 points on 12 shots against Utah. The biggest beneficiary of the Lonzo Ball Experience thus far, outside of UCLA fans, is Alford.
With a true point guard in the fold, Alford can do what he does best: run off of screens and bomb away from deep. The senior is making 46.8 percent of his 3s this season, up 10 percent from his 2015-16 mark; he’s doing this on 7.3 attempts per game. Alford can still make plays off of the bounce when necessary, but he’s a prime example of why role allocation is so important in basketball. He’s have a stellar final season.
F Quincy McKnight, Sacred Heart
The craziest college basketball game this week was on Saturday, and it was between Bryant and Sacred Heart. The latter prevailed, and McKnight was the biggest reason why.
Sacred Heart’s star played an astounding 54 minutes, and to say he was productive during that time would be an understatement. McKnight scored 44 points, grabbed nine rebounds and dished out six assists. He only needed 26 shots to score his 44 points; McKnight got to the free-throw line 12 times and drained four 3s.
There’s more. In Sacred Heart’s Thursday win against St. Francis, the sophomore scored 26 points en route to a 12-point victory. He’s now averaging nearly 20 per game this season, but this past week, McKnight averaged a cool 35 points per game. That will work. Sacred Heart is only 8-11 this season, but there are few more electrifying scorers in the country than McKnight.
F Kenrich Williams, TCU
Williams simply does everything for the Horned Frogs, who are a surprising 14-3 on the season. It’s really telling that Williams was able to make the all-week team by averaging 9.5 points per game in his two outings – that’s because of everywhere else he contributes.
Williams is a lockdown defender. He rebounds – the junior averaged 13 rips per game this week and is averaging 10 on the season. He passes (3.5 assists per game this week), protects the rim (five total blocks) and is active in passing lanes (seven total steals). TCU won at Texas and at home against Iowa State this week, and Williams’ emergence as a super-utility player has been an encouraging sign in Waco thus far. He’s a blast to watch on a nightly basis.
C Ivan Rabb, California
Rabb is the rare transcendent star whose best attribute is his steadiness.
Nothing he does jumps out at you, but he does just about everything at B+ level. That means he’s one heck of a player, and he’s carrying a California team that lost most of its talented nucleus from last season.
In California’s two wins over Washington and Washington State this week, Rabb averaged 17 points and 13 rebounds per game. He’s getting to the line 6.7 times per contest this season in a Golden Bears offense that struggles to create space, and this week, he had 19 free-throw attempts.
Free-throw attempts aren’t the sexiest stat, but they’re important. They’re an extremely efficient way to score, and though Rabb’s per-40 numbers look very similar to last year, he’s doing this with less space and less talent surrounding him. California was an unlikely NCAA tournament pick going into the season, but at 13-5, the Bears have a decent chance to go dancing. They don’t have that shot without Rabb.