Turn the Page

This season the Panthers' hopes for an NCAA Championship ride on the shoulders of one senior. For a team that plays so well together, it's almost against form to suggest that the play of Julius Page would determine the destiny of this team, but it isn't entirely wrong.

Since the NCAA tournament two years ago, the Panthers have been in search of a go-to shooter, a clutch performer if you will. Brandon Knight was the clutch passer, but in terms of a pure shooter, Page has been the nominee.

He has yet however to take responsibility. He has in fact been a streaky shooter his over his college career; ever so close to completely taking over games only to disappear in subsequent contests.

Last season, the hot hand of Page the Panther swept the Big East tournament. But that same shooter was invisible in the Panthers' loss to Marquette, ending with only 12 points.

This season is perhaps different. Ben Howland used to say that Page needed to take his shots early, that if Page waited too long to get in the game, he would struggle. Indeed, that has been the case for most of his career. Page seems to always score a plethora of baskets or just a few. He's scored enough to be #14 on the list of most points scored in a Panther's uniform (1319 points).

This season started off the same for Page. He was having trouble scoring against major opponents (8 points against Alabama, 6 points against FSU), but he was having a field day against the cupcakes (21 points against St. Francis, 19 points against New Hampshire). His pre-season injured ankle didn't allow him to utilize his amazing burst and vertical leaping ability.

Then Georgia visited the Petersen Center.

Page had one of the worst games of his career last season against the Bulldogs. "I remember that loss like it was yesterday," Page said. "I played terrible that game. I wanted to do this not only for myself, but for the team. I didn't want to lose. This was a chance for everybody to step up."

Page took his own advice by destroying the Bulldogs this year with an 18-point gem, going 2 –3 from behind the arc. He then followed that game with a 4-point dud against William & Mary.

Page turned the heat up with a 20-point effort last night, but does that mean we can expect a single digit output on Saturday in South Florida? Or has the "page" been turned? It's still too early to tell.

His ability to show up consistently for big games will be the deciding factor, but remember this, if Page isn't THE go-to guy in the NCAA tournament this season, his career will end in the Sweet Sixteen.

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