During today’s media session at the NCAA Tournament in Austin, Texas an irresistible force versus immovable object type storyline emerged. A potential battle on the wing tomorrow between Illini scoring machine Brandon Paul and Colorado’s Pac 12 Defensive Player of the Year Andre Roberson. Everyone knows that the Illini are very reliant on Paul for scoring, and that Roberson always guards the biggest weapon that the Buffaloes' opposition has.
And Brandon Paul is quite confident in his ability to score. He put up 43 last year versus an Ohio State team that later reached the Final Four. Brandon Paul scored 34 on Gonzaga this year, a #1 seed in the West Regional. In the Illini Big Ten Tournament victory over the Gophers, Paul was almost literally half of Illinois’ total scoring (25/49 points) So when Paul told the media today just how confident he is in his own scoring ability, he has the numbers to back it up. This season, BP3 had the highest scoring per game average by an Illinois player in ten years.
Here’s the transcript:
Q. Brandon you talked about going up against Roberson with him guarding you, Have you ever seen a defender with that big a wing span? Any guys compare to him?
BRANDON PAUL: I played against Victor Oladipo the last few years, obviously he’s the defensive Player of the Year. So I'm sure he’s a tough guy to go against.
And I’ve seen all types of defense, so going against these guys I’m going to look at it as if I look at every other game. I’m not going to take them for granted, I’m not going to be like, oh, these guys can’t guard. Clearly, they’re a good team that defends well or they wouldn’t be in the tournament. I just got to make sure I’m cautious, I take care of the ball.
Scoring’s not going to be an easy task, but at the same time I’m a gifted scorer, I know that, the team knows that, so I’m going to look forward to my God given abilities and my teammates and coaches putting me in a position to score, because that’s what I do best.
Since the word “wing span” was used, I’m assuming this question was asked by ESPN’s Jay Bilas.
Okay, now that's the type of confidence you definitely want to have in your go-to scorer. You’d want the same exact qualities in the pilot of your airplane- someone who’s extremely self-assured they can get the job done. Given the talk today, you can see why us media types might want to turn this NCAA Tournament game into a one-on-one battle between Brandon Paul and Andre Roberson, instead of a contest between two full teams.
“I want to make one thing crystal clear. It’s not Roberson versus Paul tomorrow and Paul versus Roberson, it’s Illinois versus Colorado. I think that Brandon, as an older player, understands that. Obviously he’s an important part of what we do, just like Roberson is an important part of what Colorado does. So we’ll take that for what its worth,” Groce said.
When Brandon Paul brought up the Hoosiers' Oladipo, I thought it was apt comparison- lengthy, athletic player known for defense first and foremost. Also, both have “league” potential, as does Brandon Paul. So I wondered where all three might end up once this NCAA Tournament is over. Will they move on to the NBA?
It's good that I happen to be friends with the guy who graded out as the most accurate 2011 AND 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the web. For this year, he has Oladipo as a lottery pick and Brandon Paul as a first-rounder. He has Roberson projected as a first-rounder in 2014
So get ready for a Texas sized shoot-out tomorrow.
And go here for video of Gus Johnson's LOUD, EXCITED CALL of Paul's buzzer-beater last weekend.
Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net, an author and regular contributor to MSN, Fox Sports , Chicago Now, Walter Football.com and Yardbarker. Banks has appeared on Comcast SportsNet and the History Channel, as well as Clear Channel, ESPN and CBS radio all over the world. President Barack Obama follows him on Twitter (@PaulMBanks)
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