By: Sam Meyerkopf / @HoopLikeDrazen

Last week I took in the College Battle for Oz as St. Mary’s and Boise St. squared off in Moraga. Boise won 82-71 and a total of six Australians played in the game, three for each team. Emmett Naar, Dane Pineaue and Jock Londale for St. Mary’s and Nick Duncan, Anthony Drmic, and Igor Hadziomerovic for Boise St.  Drmic is a senior and by far the most decorated of the six players, landing All-Mountain West Second Team honors the past two seasons and closing in on being the Broncos all-time leading scorer when he graduates. But for these notes we will focus on three younger Aussies who have very interesting skills and futures.

First Edition of Notes from the Trapezoid: Eredivisie League, Early Overreactions, and Mega Vizura

Second Edition: Alba Berlin, Early Season Injuries, Westermann and Micic

Third Edition: European Freshmen Bigs, Bo in Bayern, and Oostende vs Aalst Showdown

Note #1: Emmett Naar, Organizing Point Guard, St. Mary’s

The national freshman leader in assists is…?

St. Mary’s redshirt freshman Aussie Emmett Naar.

Naar started his game playing career in college by spearheading the St Mary’s offensive attack and leading all freshman (Yes, even you Tyus Jones) in assists at 6.3 a game.

Even with senior transfer point guard Aaron Bright on board, Naar has pushed him off the ball and commanded full time lead guard duties. In a write-up after the FIBA U19 World Championships, Christophe Ney of called Naar an “Organizing PG” and I think that fits him quite well. He does a great job setting up the offense and playing poised under pressure. He has every pass in his arsenal. In the first few possessions of the game vs Boise I saw him drive and kick, throw a beautiful loop pass off the pick and roll to a cutting Brad Waldow, and made an extra pass to an open corner shooter. In classic St. Mary’s point guard fashion he can dissect the ball screen and has a lot of options to use off of it.

Things aren’t perfect for Naar, he’s still a freshman. Boise guard Derrick Marks was able to easily post up and bully Naar into some easy close range shots. Right now Naar is still fairly weak and needs to add strength. He isn’t too quick and his craftiness on offense doesn’t function the same way defensively. His jump shot is good when given space and he has a floater he can uncork if defenses play him for the pass when he drives. Overall Naar is a very fun watch and a player those in Euro ball will appreciate.

Naar Surveying from Mid-court

Note #2: Dane Pinaeu, Energy Forward, St. Mary’s

Pineau is a sophomore and was expected take a little bit of a leap this season with playing time opening up for him. And while he’s playing more and has become a real part of the rotation, his game hasn’t taken a great leap forward. Running mainly at the 4 position with some spot minutes at the 5, Pineau still uses his trademark hustle and energy to rebound and run the floor. But his rather clumsy footwork hurts his post-up ability. If he can hit a jump shot consistently, that would seem to be a weapon that would open up his offensive game. But as Pineau continues to get stronger and just older, his effort and energy should enable him to make a lot of plays all around the court. But for now, he’s still learning.

Note #3: Nick Duncan, Stretch 4/5, Boise St.

Duncan, Pineau, and Naar were all on 4th place Australia’s U19 World Championship team. The best player on that team was Utah Jazz guard Dante Exum but the other three were all vitally important.  And of the three players, Duncan was often the second best offensive option.

This slightly pudgy big man could score and use his body in the paint but also had a nice touch out to the three-point line at the U19’s. Duncan is now the starting center for Boise but in such a guard dominated attack, he is very much a third or fourth offensive option. The one thing Duncan has been able to do is knockdown three’s. He’s shooting over five a game and mainly is popping out for catch and shoot opportunities.

In the game I saw Duncan, though, he looked like he wasn’t quite in top shape and didn’t have a huge impact on the game. St. Mary’s center Brad Waldow had 29 points and continually got easy post or roll catches. Duncan couldn’t slow him down. He also has a fouling problem and since he already is not the quickest guy out there, not being fully fit obviously is playing a role.