Thursday, January 27, 2011

Stupid Name, Insane Game

A couple days ago, I told my roommate that I don't think I want to root for Jimmer Fredette because of his stupid first name. I told him that I don't have anything against Fredette, but I really, really hate that name. Jimmer? Are you serious?

Then I saw him interviewed on PTI the other day, and he was a great interview. I found out his give birth name is actually James, which is somewhat of a relief, and Jimmer came about because his mother started calling him that as a child to be different from Jimmy. Then it just stuck. OK. I guess that makes his mother the bad guy here, because Jimmer is still a god-awful, stupid name. And come on, Jimmer. You're a grown man now. I'm not sure how you didn't put a stop to that Jimmer nonsense at some point in high school at the latest.

But I digress. I didn't want to be a Jimmer Fredette fan because it pains me to hear his name. Then I finally got to see him play for the first time this season last night, and god damn, I am a Jimmer fan.

All week long we heard about how last night's match-up between No. 9 BYU and No. 4 San Diego State in Provo was the biggest game in Mountain West history. ESPN had been hyping it all week. So after grabbing a few rounds at the corner bar to cope with the insane amount of snow falling, we headed back to my house and turned on ESPN to take in the game. Only it wasn't on ESPN. Or ESPN2. Or any other normal channel. No, the "BIGGEST GAME IN MOUNTAIN WEST HISTORY" was on CBS College, a station not everyone gets with their cable packages. Thankfully I do, but that's really dropping the ball by the major NCAA basketball networks. How can you not have this game on a prime channel? Makes no sense to me.

Anyway, back to Fredette. After starting out slow and getting killed on the glass by San Diego St. — especially their star Kawhi Leonard, who finished with 22 points and 15 rebounds — Jimmer took over. And I mean took the fuck over. He scored the last 15 points of the half for BYU, totaled 20 in the first 20 minutes alone. He did it by driving to the hoop, pulling stop and goes, using his body, draining ridiculously deep threes. You name a way to score, and Jimmer did. It was amazing.

At times, he was a bit out of control. Nearly every time he touched the ball, he got himself up in the air. Sometimes that hurt him. Mostly it didn't. And he always looked to score first, rarely passing the ball. That's evident by his, ahem, 0 assists last night. But damn was he fun to watch. Really fun.

And he just kept going. In the second half, BYU pulled away, and Jimmer scored another 23 points, finishing the game with 43 in all on 14-24 from the field, 5-8 from three and 10-11 from the line. He played 39 of a possible 40 minutes. And he put on an offensive display that I'm not sure I've ever seen.

People may wonder if Fredette can really play in the NBA. After watching him last night break down San Diego St.'s NBA-caliber athletes and doing it in a variety of ways, there's no doubt in my mind he can. Today. In fact, I'd trade Evan Turner for him right now. Not because Fredette is a better all-around player than the current 76er, last year's National Player of the Year that went 2nd overall in the draft. But because he can do one thing, score, at an incredibly high level. Turner does a lot of little things pretty well, but nothing great. Fredette is a great scorer and great shooter. But he's so much more than that.

Look at J.J. Redick. He's become a very good contributor to a good Orlando Magic team. Of course, he was a great player in college, one of the greatest NCAA basketball scorers of all time. But Fredette's game is so much more advanced offensively than Redick's was when he was at Duke. Redick did most of his damage working off screens and getting open for shots, especially from three. Fredette certainly does that, but he also handles the ball like a point guard, creates shots for himself off the dribble, can get to the rim, and, if last night is any indication, can use his body to shield defenders and still make buckets after contact as well as anybody. He really is remarkable. And let's not discount his shooting. Once he steps over halfcourt, he's deadly. And the kid is shooting 90 percent from the line. There's a reason he leads the nation in scoring at 27.4 points per game, a reason he's shooting 48 percent from the field and 42 percent from three. A reason that he, along with Jared Sullinger and Kemba Walker, is the talk of college basketball right now. Because he's damn good.

I may hate his stupid name, but there's nothing not to like about Jimmer Fredette's offensive game.

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