The NCAA would love us to call these play-in games “the First round,” but they’re just games where teams have to fly to Dayton and try their hardest to actually make the main tournament. Last night, St. Mary’s beat Middle Tennessee 67-54 with a resounding performance from St. Mary’s senior point guard Matthew Dellavedova in the second play-in game of the night. Dellavedova scored 22, shot 5-7 from three-point-range, had six rebounds, four assists and carried his team throughout the entire game. But when the game was over, Turner Sports analysts Steve Smith and Charles Barkley weren’t praising the effort or saying what a good game it was, they were talking about how bad it will be when St. Mary’s plays a “big boy school like Memphis.” And Smith said that Dellavedova had a “high motor.”
“I like his motor. He doesn’t have that many athletic skills. He just plays the game the right way and is a leader,” Smith said.
While I’m sure Smith meant this positively, How can a player with that stat-line and game-winning prowess not have that many athletic skills? Was the other team just letting him score on them?
“High motor” has to be one of the best and most-common sports clichés around today and is a subtle way to say that someone isn’t naturally skilled or talented, but just works real hard to play the way that they do. “Scrappy,” “Gym Rat,” and “Cerebral,” are also acceptable.
But to embrace the classification (one that – despite the whiny sound of the beginning of this article – I happen to find hilarious and great), I’ve compiled my 2013 NCAA Tournament All High-Motor Team.
Obviously, I have to start with the Australian sensation – St. Mary’s Matthew Dellavedova. Dellavedova looks like a combination of an Australian Rules Football player and Steve Nash. And his one request for America is, “maybe bring over Australian Rules football (AFL), so I could watch it more.” He and I both agree on that subject. And his mouthguard may be a tad large.
Next, we have St. Mary’s Stephen Holt, for no other reason than his name is STEVE HOLT!
Ohio State’s Aaron Craft is my homeboy. He plays defense like a man possessed and is playing the best offensive basketball of his entire college career.
Gonzaga’s Kelly Olynyk has a great story. Thinking about transferring because he was down on the ‘Zags depth chart, he ended up staying after being convinced by Gonzaga Head Coach Mark Few and is a player of the year candidate. Love the hair.
Creighton’s Doug McDermott shoots threes, scores in bunches. Creighton is in Nebraska. One of these things you knew.
Wisconsin’s Mike Brusewitz has the perfect name for a meat-head Milwaukeean that likes to give people “knuckle sandwiches” or as he calls them, “a bruise-a-witz.” Don’t make him angry. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry. (He probably isn’t anything like that.)
A definition for Ole Miss’ Marshall Henderson – (n.) A player who is disliked by every fan of every team that he plays. Averages 11 threes attempted a game. Trolls every team that Ole Miss happens to beat. See: Ole Miss vs. Auburn/Ole Miss vs. Florida.
Duke’s Ryan Kelly is a “stretch-4,” which means that he isn’t very good in the post and shoots a lot of threes. Jacking up threes seems to be a common thread in this column. Duke is 18-1 this season when Kelly plays. He’s known as the “White Raven” to Dukies. Kelly explained the nickname to Dan Patrick on radio, saying, “I went to Ravenscroft High School (in Raleigh, NC) and we were the Ravens, so I’m assuming that’s where it came from, and then obviously, I’m white.”
And finally, Indiana’s Cody Zeller is too talented to have a high motor. He’ll be a top-5 pick in this year’s NBA Draft.