NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Texas guard D.J. Augustin might have a 15-year NBA career ahead of him. He might be the best guard in the nation. He might be the best guard to come along in years. Yet on a bright afternoon in a half-empty Alltel Arena a man named Jack McClinton stole the show from right under Augustin's feet.
It's improbable that McClinton's team, the Miami Hurricanes, will develop into a glorious Final Four tale of the seventh-seeded underdog. Their road there is filled with too many obstacles and the Miami program is still too infertile to produce a fanatical run.
|When McClinton turned it on in the second half, the Gaels just couldn't keep up. (US Presswire)|
Of course, McClinton isn't totally unknown. After all, he made first team All-ACC. Hard-core hoop heads know his name. Yet ask the casual fan about him and they might think you mean Jack Bauer or Bill Clinton.
In the first game of this sub-regional, McClinton brutalized the St. Mary's Gaels, leading the Hurricanes to a 78-64 win. He just beat them to a bloody pulp, scoring 32 points in the second half. The Gaels had no answer for his speed or outside shooting ability. Then again, few teams do.
McClinton was 12-of-19 shooting and hit half of his six 3-point attempts for 38 points. He made all 11 free throws.
"Throughout the whole game they were playing me for my shots," McClinton explained. "I was being covered. The second half I was trying to be more aggressive, trying to drive the ball. And once I was able to get a couple of drives, the defense was kind of on their heels which opened me up for my shot."
He was asked if this was the best game of his career, which is sort of like asking Donald Trump if he likes money. You know the answer as the question rolls off the lips.
"I don't know," McClinton laughed. "What do you think?"
Ah, yeah. I'd say yes. Absolutely. Si. Da. Did I mention, yes?
This sub-regional is stuffed with great guards. For example, if you wonder why so many bloviate and slurp when Augustin's name is mentioned, you saw flashes why in his game against Austin Peay. It was a game not filled with massive points but featured great defense, steals, gorgeous assists and stern generalship.
Augustin is built like Tim Tebow but moves like Steve Nash. He is an incredible distributor and is reminiscent of a more athletic Chris Paul or even Nash in some ways (except Augustin plays defense). Augustin was constantly pointing and synchronizing, moving teammates around like chess pieces against the Governors.
The few times Austin Peay would try to apply full-court pressure -- huge mistake -- Augustin would either dribble through it or get fouled.