The Floor Generals
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because it’s the most important position in the game.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, ducking out of work early to catch a juicy 5-12 matchup — or just watching at your desk. It’s a time when Cinderellas are crowned, tears are shed and everyone is glad CBS brought back the original version of “One Shining Moment.” Yep, March Madness is upon us.
As you fire up your favored bracket research models and settle in to binge all that glorious basketball in the coming weeks, we want to remind you where all the madness starts — the point guard spot. If you want to have the confetti fall on you on the final night of the season, you need great guard play. This OZY original series will help you get to know the guards who will be making waves this month, while exploring how the position has changed over the years.
St. John’s point guard Shamorie Ponds is the first big-time New York City prospect in a long time to head to Queens, where Chris Mullin is attempting to rebuild the once great program. Ponds is seeking to get his family out of the Brooklyn projects, and pull the Red Storm into March contention: St. John’s hasn’t seen the second weekend of the tourney since 1999. In his third and likely final college season, Ponds has shown flashes of putting this team on his back for a Walker-style run, but his uneven play has the Johnnies sweating out whether they’ll even make the field.
Louisville is in contention for back-to-back national titles, and a big reason why is this sharp-shooting combo guard, whose composure was honed by her mom heckling her on the backyard court. It worked, as Durr has added a new wrinkle to her game in her senior year — the ability to find teammates out of the double team. Don’t worry, she can still score: Durr dropped 47 on North Carolina State in late February. But her evolved game makes the Cardinals a great pick to cut the nets down again.
“Pistol” Pete Maravich was the definition of a score-first point guard. In his LSU days he brought the ball up the floor every time and shot an astounding 38 times per game, on his way to averaging more than 40 points per game in his college career. His era of the late 1960s and early ’70s saw a proliferation of superscorers like Calvin Murphy, Rick Mount and Austin Carr dropping 35 points per game. But even with the shot clock and the 3-point shot, today’s game is missing that element. Only three Division I players have averaged 30 points a game since 1992. Why? More superstars play together — witness the cluster of top NBA draft picks at Duke this year — and coaches are loath to let one player shoot so much.
To make a run in March, you need a great point guard. Here are a few to watch — from Murray State’s Ja Morant, to LSU’s Tremont Waters — who could surprise the top teams this March Madness.