Tuesday, August 9, 2011

UAAP/NCAA Power Rankings: Week 4 of 2011

The unified UAAP/NCAA Power Rankings throws everything into a blender, hits the button, and ducks as it first mashes up, and then sorts out all 18 teams of both leagues. Among other factors, the panel of one takes into consideration: the quality of opponents played in the past week, how the team fared against those opponents, whether or not a team is on a roll, be it an uphill or downhill, and other factors like injuries or internal disarray.

A ton of upsets in the UAAP have shaken things up, while the race to stay in the middle of the pack in the NCAA causes some movement as well. And oh yes, a one-time number one regains the top spot in the rankings!

Defeated UST 66-53, FEU 69-49
Last Week: #2 - Save for a close shave versus the Adamson Soaring Falcons on opening day, the Eagles have won all their games handily, carried along by a defense that holds opponents to lows in two-point percentage, field goal percentage, turnover points, and points in the paint. And what's amazing is that this team is still such an incomplete product, with a list of things to work on that includes, off the top of my head, getting Greg Slaughter into better post position early in the first quarter, improving the bench scoring, getting more consistent offense from Kirk Long and Emman Monfort, improving the outside shot, and improving Kiefer Ravena's mid-range game. Peaking? Hardly. Still dominant though? Yes. 

Upcoming Games: FEU on August 13
Defeated MIT 74-68

Last Week: #1 - The Red Lions have been getting some adversity lately, and have responded well to it, coming up with fourth quarter wins against Mapua, and earlier, Letran. The Cardinals though showed that rebounding is the key against the defending champs, and that if you can handle the zone-press by hitting some outside shots, you do in fact have a chance against them. The question is, who has the personnel to pull that off? And second, what is Coach Lim doing to counter that tactic?

Upcoming Games: JRU on August 10
Defeated EAC 77-70, and AU 92-79
Last Week: #3 - The Stags' weakness is right there for everyone to take a go at it: they're second only by a few percentage points in turnovers per game and so a quick, speedy team that likes to get up and down the court should give them a lot of trouble. If they also persist with starting Calvin Abueva, they also may not have enough scoring in reserve to carry them, considering the inexperience of the Stags' bench. As seen against EAC, the Generals immediately went on a huge run to get within single digits of the Stags, forcing Coach Robinson to put back in his starters. Speed and a deep, scoring bench. That sounds like Mapua and San Beda doesn't it?

Upcoming Games: MIT on August 10
Defeated LPU 92-89
Last Week: #5 - Mark Cruz (7 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.3 steals) is maybe the most underrated rookie this season, and he's been a vital part of Letran's success, as he starts to play more crunchtime minutes than the more veteran Franz Dysam. The big difference between the two point guards? Cruz can score, not just by slipping into the lane for a layup with a burst of speed, he can also hit open jump shots, something Dysam (29% FG, to Cruz's 37%) has been inconsistent in doing this year. That fact makes him the better compliment to Kevin Alas down the stretch, as Alas can now draw a double and kick it out for an open jumper by Cruz.

Upcoming Games: EAC on August 12
Defeated DLSU 66-58

Last Week: #7 - Better lucky than good? Good start as well, as the Falcons had not a single turnover in the first half, and forced ten turnovers on La Salle in the first quarter. You can't blame La Salle though for trying the zone, seeing as how it shut down the Falcons late versus NU. As I've said all season long, this is a jump shooting team, and if the jumpers aren't falling, through luck or by skill, then they're likely going to lose. And seriously can anyone look into the regression of Jan Colina? Just zero points and two rebounds against La Salle? What happened to this guy?

Upcoming Games: UP on August 11, TBD on August 14
Lost to ADMU 53-66, defeated UP 68-49

Last Week: #9 -Very quietly, UST is becoming a good defensive team, holding teams to just 16.1 percent from beyond the arc (best in the UAAP) and 36.39 percent from the field (second-best to ADMU). They also happen to be second-best in points allowed in the first two quarters and surrender the least attempts in the paint. With all that said, this squad's three wins include NU in overtime, UE and UP, safe to say as we entire the twilight of the first round, not exactly top-tier teams. Also worth remembering? UST killed La Salle in the preseason, even with Karim Abdul in foul trouble.
If that's not a source of confidence for the Tigers then I don't know what is.

Upcoming Games: DLSU on August 11, TBD on August 14

Lost to CSJL 89-92

Last Week: #8 - Despite losing Chris Cayabyab to foul trouble versus Letran, the Pirates still gave the Knights the fight of their lives, forcing overtime and then threatening again right at the end. Though they fell to .500, the return of Shane Ko adds someone who can defend in the backcourt, as well as settle down a team that plays a bit too out of control at times (22.75 turnovers, most in the NCAA). They'll play their last game of the first round against JRU next week, and a win would really help their Final Four chances, but even if they lost every game from this point out, this season is already a success for this plucky team. 

Upcoming Games: JRU on August 15

Lost to ADU 58-66
Last Week: #6 - La Salle faces the exact same problem as UST does, a 3-3 record, with all three wins coming against the lower ranked teams. The Archers' flashy stats though are on the offensive end, most points, most free throws, most second-chance points, most turnover points, and most points in the paint. The thing is though, everything UST did versus UP (see below), are also applicable against the Archers, as is whatever scheme Adamson did to stymie the La Salle guards (10 points total from LA Revilla, Luigi Dela Paz and Jarelan Tampus). All that said, surely they're going to make some layups now late in the game right?

Upcoming Games: UST on August 11, TBD on August 14

Lost to UP 63-76, ADMU 49-69

Last Week: #4 - It's all about anger management for FEU. Mark Bringas didn't need to act like thug against UP, thus making him unavailable for the Ateneo game. Terrence Romeo didn't need to point his finger at the referee to earn a technical foul. Coach Flores should have acted more calmly, knowing his bench already got a warning thanks to Anton Montinola's halftime complaints, and maybe if you had Mark Bringas there, you wouldn't have had Russel Escoto shoving his elbow into Greg Slaughter's throat. See how that all works out? That's why the last thing they want to be this Saturday is physical, unless that is, they're okay with having another player suspended.

Upcoming Games: ADMU on August 13

Defeated JRU 78-77
Last Week: #14 - St. Benilde. Back to back wins. Could be, might be, actually good? They have a lot of scorers to support Carlo Lastimosa now, but still no height, though they've seemingly compensated for this by relentlessly attacking the rim (34.14 FT attempts a game) to get the bigs in foul trouble. That said, the fact that they concede the most points after the first two quarters is a problem, big men or no big men. If they can correct that mistake though, their last two assignments are Arellano and EAC, both winnable, which would put them over .500 entering the second round.

Upcoming Games: AU on August 12

Defeated FEU 76-63, lost to UST 49-68
Last Week: #15 - How did UP go from beating FEU to bellyflopping against UST? UST's defense was surprisingly solid, even without Jeric Teng, limiting them to single-digit fastbreak points, clogging the paint to force them to take outside shots (which Mike Silungan foolishly obliged), and having Chris Camus cover Jett Manuel (apparently they were THAT were worried about him). They're also getting literally nothing from the power forward position, as Carlo Gomez and Paolo Romero have totaled just 24 points between the two of them in the last three games they've played.

Upcoming Games: ADU on August 11, TBD
Lost to SSCR 70-77, defeated UPHSD 71-58
Last Week: #10 -After three very difficult games against Mapua, but without Claude Cubo, San Beda, and San Sebastian, EAC was rewarded with a cakewalk versus the Altas, drawing them into a tie for fifth place. That said, EAC can still go backwards, especially when you consider how many bad shots and boneheaded turnovers this squad is capable of. If you're determined to turn Joshua Torralba into your marquee player for the next four years, the least you can do is help him bring up his shooting percentage from 30 percent and cutback on his 3.3 turnovers a game. 

Upcoming Games: CSJL on August 12

Lost to SBC 68-74
Last Week: #13 - Do we still hold out for the fact that Mapua could be good and can overtake Lyceum, CSB and EAC for the last Final Four spot? While you have to like their tenacity versus San Beda, their only two wins came against EAC without Claude Cubo and a prayer versus Arellano. If the game versus the ceiling-less Perpetual Help is anywhere near close, then it maybe time to jump off this bandwagon and wish Allan Mangahas a good post-collegiate career.

Upcoming Games: SSCR on August 10, UPHSD on August 15
Lost to CSB 77-78
Last Week: #11 -  The Heavy Bombers rejoiced to have shooter Nate Matute back when they played CSB, but he was mostly a non-factor against the Blazers, scoring just four, on one triple and one charity, and pulling down a rebound. The earlier he can reintegrate himself with the team, the better, as they need him in this final stretch of the first round. While it's unlikely they'll upset San Beda (though Jake Pascual won't be available to the Red Lions), Lyceum and Letran are both winnable games that can propel the Bombers up the standings.

Upcoming Games: SBC on August 10, LPU on August 15

Defeated NU 72-71

Last Week: #18 -Biboy who? The one and done former Lyceum Pirate was on fire especially in the fourth quarter, taking over for Paul Zamar when the latter started to miss after a scorching second and third quarter. More importantly, Roi Sumang looked great for the first time all season. Sure he still committed some errors, but his speed and passing were on full display for the first time, and Coach Codinera ought to let him freelance more often, especially in transition as the Warriors have this weird tendency to not attack on the break unless they're 100 percent sure they're getting a basket or a foul.

Upcoming Games: NU on August 13
Lost to UE 71-72
Last Week: #12 - Coach Altamirano rode the hot hand of Bobby Ray Parks after the first quarter, opting not to follow his usual substitution pattern by sitting Mbe instead to start the second. The gamble did not pay off, and Parks was a nonfactor once again down the stretch, reducing to taking three-point shots. Now needing to sweep the second round to have a prayer of making the Final Four, the team might want to consider bringing Parks off the bench, and give Mbe more touches. It's not like they have anything to lose at this point. 

Upcoming Games: UE on August 13

Lost to EAC 58-71
Last Week: #17 - We all knew that going into this tournament without Marlon Gomez and Paul Nuilan that the Altas would struggle again because of a lack of height, but getting 0 second-chance points against EAC simply stuns me. Getting Jeorge Allen back (12 points, seven rebounds, one steal) helps out a lot but boy do they need their shooters to start hitting things, especially Jett Vidal, who is just 22% from beyond the arc.

Upcoming Games: MIT on August 15

Lost to SSCR 79-92
Last Week: #16 -Mark Doligon showed that he can do stuff for this team, contributing 17 points, two rebounds and three assists in a 20 minute stint for the Chiefs. Maybe, just maybe that will start encouraging head coach Leo Isaac to give more minutes to his bench, especially when you consider how fatigued his starters are come the fourth quarter. They give up an average of 5.72 points in the final period.

Upcoming Games: CSB on August 12

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