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February 10, 2009

Thabeet, Calhoun on rise in power rankings

Rivals.com Power Rankings: PG | SG | SF | PF | C | Freshman | Head Coach

Connecticut's first week as the No. 1 team in the nation turned into a showcase for Hasheem Thabeet.

The 7-foot-3 junior collected 14 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks while holding freshman center Samardo Samuels scoreless in a 68-51 victory over Louisville on Feb. 2. Thabeet followed that up by compiling 17 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks Saturday in a 69-61 triumph over Michigan.

Thabeet's big week helped make him the new No. 1 center in the Rivals.com Power Rankings, which measure the nation's top performers at each position.

"I just go out and play all out," Thabeet said after the Michigan game. "The coaches told me not to be scared about getting into foul trouble, so every time I try to help and block it. I'm just trying to change the game. Every time my teammate gets beat, I'm there to block the shot."

He has blocked plenty of them lately.

Thabeet ranks third in the nation with four blocked shots per game. He has 20 blocks over his past three games and 28 over his past five games.

His performances against Louisville and Michigan helped Thabeet overtake North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough in the power rankings. Hansbrough averages nearly nine more points per game, but Thabeet is a better defender, pulls down more rebounds and shoots at a higher percentage.

"He changes the game completely for us," Connecticut guard A.J. Price said. "I don't know where we'd be without him."

Thabeet isn't the only Connecticut representative atop the power rankings. The Huskies' 11-game winning streak also allowed Jim Calhoun to move to the top of the coach rankings. Calhoun moved ahead of Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, whose team lost at Clemson and beat Miami in overtime.

Players remaining atop their respective positions this week included Wake Forest point guard Jeff Teague, Marquette shooting guard Jerel McNeal, Arizona State small forward James Harden and Oklahoma power forward Blake Griffin. Memphis guard Tyreke Evans maintained his status as the nation's No. 1 freshman.

Evans also moved from shooting guard to point guard in this week's edition of the power rankings, which allowed teammate Antonio Anderson to enter the power rankings in the shooting guard slot. A team can't have multiple players included in one position of the power rankings, unless one of those players is coming off the bench.

This week's edition of the power rankings takes into account all games through Sunday.

The power rankings of a player and coach can fluctuate each week during the season depending on how they fared the previous week, but the power rankings measure overall career performances as well as their most recent results.

Rivals.com Power Rankings: PG | SG | SF | PF | C | Freshman | Head Coach

Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at smegargee@rivals.com.

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