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Mason Rocca against the Knicks.

Sunday was a rare chance to see Mason Rocca play on American television, probably my first time watching Rocca in action since the 2006 FIBA World Championships. I just finished the New York Knicks vs. Armani Jeans Milano game on my DVR and I've posted a running commentary after the jump. - JS

Rocca entered the game at the 3:48 mark of the first quarter with AJM trailing 21-13.

His left-handed scoop drive was blocked by the Knicks' 7'1" Russian center Timofey Mosgov.

Mosgov tried to post Rocca, could not make a short turnaround.

If you want an education on how to box out larger, more athletic defenders, watch Rocca's ability to find his man with his hands, move his feet into position and check them several feet from the hoop. His mark isn't going to get the ball without fouling and if it doesn't come to Rocca, a teammate can slide in for the board.

Down 24-19, Mosgov slipped to the ground on defense and Rocca cut to the basket, scoring off a righty flip on the left side.

Rocca tried to stay with Anthony Randolph, but Randolph spun away and scored as Rocca reached in.

The Knicks led 26-23 after one quarter. Rocca was +5 during this stretch.

Wilson Chandler drove past Rocca from the arc to the paint and Rocca had no choice but to foul.

He sneaked behind a Knick on the weak side for an offensive rebound and was fouled as he tried a quick follow.

The first FT rattled in. The second was no good.

Mike Breen on Rocca: "I talked to some of the Italian sports people before the game and they said 'he's too small, he can't shoot, he can't jump, but he has the biggest heart of any player in Italy.'"

A familar handoff screen by Rocca led to a three pointer on the left wing for Milano.

Mosgov with a baseline jumper as Rocca sagged to the paint.

Rocca and Mosgov tied one another up on a defensive rebound, both fell to the floor. Jump ball.

A pair of Ibby Jaaber steals and layups give AJM a 36-33 lead.

Offensive rebound by Rocca between two Knicks.

Rocca broke up a pick and roll, Armani Jeans gets out 3-2 and scores.

He came out of the game with 8:00 left in the half, and AJM up 39-34, outscoring the Knicks 26-13 while he was on the floor.

When Rocca returned on the court the score was tied at 50 and there was 2:46 showing.

Grabbed an offensive rebound in the center of the paint and a spinning pump fake got three surrounding Knicks in the air.

Rocca holds Amare Stoudemire for a foul 16' from the basket, but AJM is in the bonus.

A pass by Rocca was stolen by Landry Fields and Rocca fouled Fields as he raced down the court before he could get off a shot.

It was 58-52 Knicks at the break. Rocca was -6 during this stretch.

Milano had no answers for Stoudemire, who scored 32 points in 28 minutes and was 11-13 at the free throw line.

Milano went to a zone late in the third quarter for the first time.

At the end of three, the Knicks led 91-79. Roger Mason banked in a three right before the buzzer.

New York opened up up a 102-82 advantage with 9:15 to play in the 4th when Rocca returned and played the rest of the night.

Randolph with a left-handed hook drive over Rocca.

Rocca caught the ball in the paint, fouled by three Knicks going up.

His first FT sailed long.

Walt "Clyde" Frazier: "He's aiming the shot, showing lack of confidence."

Second FT is good.

Giorgio Armani is sitting courtside, petting an autographed basketball.

Rocca at the center of a 2-1-2 press.

Held by Tony Douglas posting up.

Knicks over the limit, two more FTs.

First is long. Second rolls in.

Keeps his ground as Randolph pivots, forcing a bad shot from far out.

Randolph fouled by Rocca trying to slide over and cut off a baseline drive.

Rocca tries to cut of a drive and Randoph has an easy alley oop.

Knocks down Randoph as he ran up the court with a stiff, legal screen.

Breen: "Rocca just set a nasty screen on Douglas. I don't know if Douglas was upset at Rocca or his teammates for not warning him that the screen was coming."

Fouls Fields hard inside.

Nearly forces a steal at midcourt

Always working, even with a comeback out of reach, fouled over the back trying to grab an offensive board.

First FT long. Second FT also long, but there's a double lane violation. Jump ball at center court.

Rocca gets great position on Randolph for a defensive rebound, but has the ball slapped away as he turns upcourt.

Left-handed drive from the perimeter ends with a Knicks foul. Rocca back to the line.

First FT is good. Second FT bounces down the hole.

Rocca gets great position and spins to the far side of the basket, using the rim as a shield and scores on a reverse layup at the buzzer to make the final score 125-113 Knicks.

AJM outscored New York 31-23 with Rocca on the floor in the final nine minutes of this exhibition.

Rocca's stat line:

20 minutes played
2-3 from the floor
5-9 at the line
Nine points
Six rebounds, four offensive
Two assists
One turnover
Five fouls

It was sentimental seeing an older Rocca, a decade removed from Princeton, a touch slower yet still as strong, doing so many of the things that endeared him to Tiger fans and helped make his teammates better.

Stuart Schulman said,

October 6, 2010 @ 6:30 pm

I saw about the first half of the game--thought he acquitted himself nicely.

He didn't have that hitch in his foul shot when he was with the Tigers, did he?

Jon Solomon said,

October 6, 2010 @ 6:39 pm

He was a 66.3% FT shooter at Princeton, but I don't remember that leaning hitch as part of his routine at the line.

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