Big men can make mark

RALEIGH, N.C. – The Class of 2004 is loaded, right? Absolutely.

We think so and taking it a step further, it's deep at the power and inside positions. But, so far with the exception of Glen Davis at the adidas Texas Classic, it's been the year of the guard.

Should we be surprised? Nope.

Guards and perimeter players have a long history of taking over at AAU and traveling team events. If you look at the major events last year, you'll see the influence of guards.

Tack Minor was the man at the Kingwood Classic, Shaun Livingston was MVP at the Spiece Run ‘n Slam, Sean Banks got it done at the Tournament of Champions, Gary Ervin starred at the Rumble in the Bronx, Andrew Lavender ruled the Peach Jam, Curtis Stinson was the man at the Big Time and Chris Paul captured the AAU MVP trophy.

"In AAU play, guards dominate the ball," Texas associate head coach Frank Haith said. "[Big men] haven't played with the guards much and if [the guards are] good they dominate the ball. A lot of times, big guys don't have a chance to shine.

"I just don't think in AAU ball there's enough time with the teams to develop a system to get the ball inside. In all-star type settings, which is what AAU ball amounts to, those events tend to lean more toward the guard play. The guards have the opportunity, more so than the big guys, to be a factor."

Enter Glen Davis. The 6-8, 300-plus man nicknamed "Big Baby" was like a bowling ball last month in Houston. He put his Sports Academy team on his back and carried them to the championship. It was a thing of beauty. He simply dominated and never tired. No one has ever earned an MVP award the way he did that weekend. Turns out, his MVP award was the exception to the rule so far this season.

So, will we see more "Big Baby-type" performances from the studs this spring at major events? Well, Al Jefferson is a strong candidate to do it. He's already been an MVP this spring, but it wasn't a national, elite level event. He's got a great AAU team that should challenge for some July championships.

Dwight Howard might be the best prospect in the land and his Atlanta Celtics are loaded up front but they lack the guard play needed to get you through 4 games on Sunday at a major event. Lamarcus Aldridge got close with Team Texas this spring already, but couldn't close out a guard-oriented team.

With that said, we asked a veteran college coach what advice he would give to a big guy looking to dominate a tournament.

"Play to your strengths and not your weaknesses," said Kansas associate head coach Norm Roberts. "Get out and run in transition and offensive rebound. I think those are the two big keys. There's going to be plenty of offensive rebound opportunities and if you can finish and run in transition that would help."

In other words, big men, it's time to take matters into your own hands. Top Stories