By Dick Vitale
The blocked shot is a lost art at a lot of schools. It is a play that often leads to transition baskets. Making the key block on defense can make or break a team.
My friends, I love seeing the big men on campus who come through with the big play. I was thinking about my crème de la crème, the All-Swat team this season. These players share the motto, thou shalt not enter the lane, baby!
When coming up with my All-Swat squad, I have to start in Lexington, Kentucky. Diaper dandy Anthony Davis is something special and he already set the school’s single-season record in the category. He can influence the game so dramatically because he forces opponents to change shots because of his presence. He has come up with crucial blocks at the end of games. John Calipari is thrilled to have him and he makes such a huge difference in the lane.
I love what John Henson of North Carolina has done with his shot-blocking ability. Sure it helps to have size and length but it also is impressive to have good timing. Henson is a force on that talented Tar Heel front line.
C.J. Aiken of St. Joseph’s may not get as much publicity as some of the other members of my All-Swat team. He is one of the best defenders in the tough Atlantic 10. He’s 6-9 but listed under 200 pounds so he can use some more meat on his bones. As for his shot-blocking ability, go ask Drexel’s Bruiser Flint since Aiken had nine against the Dragons earlier this season.
Jeff Withey of Kansas is one of the most improved players in America and it helps to be around seven-feet tall. He has been a factor blocking shots for Bill Self’s Jayhawks. It probably helps to have Thomas Robinson as a partner in the lane.
Louisville’s Gorgui Dieng has not been playing basketball that long, yet he is a big positive for Rick Pitino’s Cardinals. He will get better and better with even more experience, which should scare Louisville’s opponents.
There you have it, members of my All-Swat team.