NCAA Tournament: Why Kevin Love Is the Best Big Man in College Basketball

Paul PeszkoSenior Writer IMarch 29, 2008

I’m not talking about numbers. So don’t quote a bunch of statistics. It doesn’t matter that one or two other big men like Tyler Hansbrough have slightly better overall numbers.

What particularly interests me are Kevin Love’s intangibles. Namely, instinct and savvy.

After leading UCLA to a 76-57 win over Xavier, Love wound up with his twenty-third double-double this season, scoring 19 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.

Although 23 double-doubles is an impressive number for any college player, Love is only a freshman, which makes his achievement even more impressive.  Add to this the fact that the PAC-10 was not an easy conference.  The top three teams all made it to the Sweet Sixteen.

Built more like a defensive end, the 6-10, 271-pound Love is not terribly fleet afoot. In fact there are probably quite a few defensive ends who could beat him handily in a 40-yard dash. He doesn’t have such a great verticle leap either.

But Kevin Love is a load. Make no mistake about it. Once he gets into position, it would take nothing less that a Dodge Ram to move him.

And that is perhaps his greatest attribute. He has a remarkable knowledge of the game. He knows angles and positioning like a flight engineer knows wind drafts and velocity.

He has a peculiar knack of understanding precisely where he has to be at any particular point and taking the shortest distance to get there. And once he is there, you don’t move him.

It doesn’t matter whether he is at the offensive end or the defensive end, he has unmatchable positioning skills. And that’s something that statistics don’t take into account.

Statistics only show his points per game, his rebounds, his blocked shots. They don’t show the number of times he has contested shots. They don’t show the number of times he has prevented a player from getting into a position where he could take a pass and get off an easy shot.

Statistics don’t show the number of times Love has blocked out an offensive player, allowing a Bruin teammate to grab a rebound. On the offensive end, the statistics don’t count the numerous times his picks have allowed teammates to score uncontested baskets. Nor do statistics account for his aggressive style under the boards that have led to second and third chance opportunities for the Bruins.

And defenses also have to account for him when he steps outside.  His perimeter shooting is not to be taken lightly as opponents have quickly discovered.

While some others may have scored more points per game or grabbed more rebounds or have better style points, in my estitmation, Kevin Love’s instincts and awareness of how to play the game make him arguably the best big man in college basketball, certainly the best among this freshmen class.