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Andy Katz Dream Team


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1. J.J. Redick, Duke

I agonized a bit over my first choice, going with Redick over Gonzaga's Adam Morrison. This was, by far, the toughest call for me.

 

Why? Well, both players can take the big shot and make it. They're not afraid to miss and take it again. Neither player would mind getting into the grill of another teammate and they're both winners.

 

I went with Redick because he's a better 3-point shooter and he's been around longer. Even though Morrison is the man when the game is on the line, I still like Redick in a late-game situation at the free-throw line and to make a play, since he's been in more big-time games.

 

Neither player has been known for his defense, but Redick isn't as poor of a defender as one would think and he has been getting better reviews for his defense of late.

 

2. Dee Brown, Illinois

I wanted speed, quickness and overall offensive flow coming from my point guard. That's why I went with Brown.

 

I've watched Brown the past three-plus seasons develop into one of the best winners in the game (he hasn't lost a nonconference game since he was a sophomore). He came back from a broken foot about as focused as any player has recently from an injury. He is the consummate leader. He can get after the ball defensively and he does an exceptional job of making that lead pass, always looking up to get the break going. He's also a scorer, which makes him versatile on this squad, although he's my primary ball handler.

 

So far I have an all-American backcourt that can score, shoot the 3, run the break and, at least from this perspective, hawk the ball well enough for that not to be a liability.

 

3. Rodney Carney, Memphis

Once we move into the frontcourt, that's where the length comes into play. Adding Carney on the wing makes my team extremely quick on the break.

 

Brown and Carney together could be the fastest end-to-end teammates we've seen in the game in a long time. Redick could easily run with this crew to get to the wings for a trey. The spacing with this trio would be tough to defend.

 

Carney also is developing into a big-time scorer, with his recent 37-point display against Louisiana Tech as the latest evidence. Carney's length on the wing could also aid defensively, as he could stick with the opposing team's top player. We'd probably put Carney against Morrison if he was playing against his squad.

 

Once again, I'm going with experience here. That's three senior starters and only one loss among this group (that would be Memphis to Duke) so far this season.

 

4. LaMarcus Aldridge, Texas

My fourth choice was easy, as Aldridge gets the nod in the post.

 

Aldridge is on the radar as possibly the No. 1 pick in the 2006 NBA draft. He's had eight double-doubles this season and is coming off of his best block performance, with five against Texas State.

 

Aldridge is still learning how to be more of a dominant post presence and does prefer to be a face-the-basket post player, but on this squad, how could he not get the dump down dunks off of Brown's penetration? Trying to double down on Aldridge would likely be impossible with the shooting of Brown and Redick on the perimeter. If he stays at home inside defensively, then we have a shot-altering presence as much as a shot-blocker.

 

5. Shawne Williams, Memphis

The fifth starter is the versatile freshman Williams. He's 6-foot-9 and he can play inside and out. Williams and Carney, if need be, can hunker down and defend in the interior next to Aldridge. I'm not worried about Williams going to the glass with his 6.3 boards a game. He's also a versatile shooter, making 19 3s so far to aid in his 15.9 points a game average. Dishing out nearly three assists a game also means he's an above-average passer, so passing back out from inside will help the offensive flow of our team.

 

6. Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina

Hansbrough is leading the youthful Tar Heels in scoring (15.8 ppg) and rebounding (7.2 rpg). He's 6-9, 235 pounds, and can play strong in the post. And, he's got five fouls to give if Aldridge and Williams get into trouble. He manages that well, earning more than three fouls only twice in his first nine games this season and never fouling out.

 

7. Al Horford, Florida

Horford has been an integral part in the Gators' 11-0 start. He's leading the team in rebounding at 7.1 per game and is adding a not-too-shabby 12.8 points a game. At 6-8, 235-pounds, Horford gives another wide body inside, so I have plenty of options in the post.

 

OK, so I put this squad together. Now, what would a few actual coaches do with it?

 

"That would be some kind of team," said Villanova coach Jay Wright, who coached the USA to a gold medal at the World University Games last August in Turkey, so he's used to coaching all-star teams of this ilk.

 

"Everyone is long, lanky and athletic," he said. "You can get out and extend your defense and take away the 3-point shot because of your length. But you can also make 3s with the big, long players [who] could shoot 3s. You've got a point guard in Dee Brown who could set them all up and beat everyone down in transition. Having Aldridge, Hansbrough and Horford makes it tough to double-down, and with the 3-point shooters, you've got the whole package."

 

Sounds good, right? Well ...

 

"You're going to score, and if you're in a fantasy league, you're winning with the scorers you've got," Memphis coach John Calipari said. "I wouldn't want to face them, and it would be more about how you're going to guard your guys. But if you're talking defense, I'd say you're just OK. You're going to outscore teams."

 

OK, so Calipari doesn't love our defense, even with two of his own guys on the squad. Still, he said the unselfishness with Redick and his player, Williams, makes this squad motor.

 

"There's probably only one team I'd rather have than that one," said Calipari. "Mine."

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