Petteri Koponen Watch: Keepin' It Steady Edition

Busta BucketCorrespondent IMarch 20, 2010

There is only one way to prepare for Hippo's latest update. DINOSHARK! His words after the shark.

Last three weeks have gone by quietly in the Blazers' Italian front. While Blazers have turned their slump into a winning streak, Petteri Koponen has been performing steadily for his Serie A team, Virtus Bologna.

After the Italian cup final loss against Montepaschi Siena, Virtus has defeated Banca Tercas Teramo (77-67) and Cimberio Varese (80-67) at home, and lost a nail-biter on the road against Armani Jeans Milano (71-73).

Koponen's performances and stat-lines have been, well, steady. No shooting sprees, but no slumps. The Finnish point guard prospect only had two points with 0/4 field goals against Teramo, but had a +/- rating of +20, ultimately the best in his team.

Koponen also had 11 points against Milano, and 13 against Varese. While the opposing defenses have become aware of his skills, he doesn't get his shot off as easily as before the Christmas break, but in a team with so much firepower as Bologna, he doesn't need to be the one centerpiece of team offense.

Like mentioned in earlier International Watches, the recovery of point guard Andre Collins has helped Koponen quite a lot. In 11 games without Collins, Koponen averaged 1,6 assists and 1,6 steals while committing 2,2 turnovers a game.

After Collins arrived, Koponen has cut his turnovers down to 0,9 a game while increasing his assist and steals totals a bit (Ast: 1,8 Stl: 1,7).

It is also clear that Collins creates better shot opportunities for Koponen; while Koponen's field goal percentages were good before the break (2p .529%, 3p .410%), they have boosted up to excellent in the games played with Collins (2p .711%, 3p .472%).

While Montepaschi Siena is still destroying all the opponents in Italian league play with a 21-0 W-L-record, everything is open between the second and seventh spot. Montegranaro and Caserta have snatched 14 victories, Milano and Bologna stand tall with 13, and Cantu and Avellino have gathered 12 W's.

Bologna has two road games against playoff contenders these upcoming weekends; Dee Brown's Air Avellino at 21st of March, and Jumaine Jones's Pepsi Caserta at 28th of March.

It can be said that the next two games will determine whether Virtus will fight for home court advantage for the playoffs, or if they will have to settle to playoff spot hunt.

Since Virtus' roster is deep and talented, Koponen's numbers are unlikely to boost, but then again he has shown his ability to step up in the big games.

Here's a recap of Koponen's averages in Serie A season 2009/10 so far:

Games 20
Started 17
Minutes 26,5
Points 10,8
Rebounds 2,0
Assists 1,7
Steals 1,5
Turnovers 1,5
Personal fouls 2,3
2pt field goals 64,9% (not enough attempts to qualify for Top 20)
3pt field goals 43,8% (9th in the league)
Free throws 76,3%
Plus-minus +6,45 (15th in the league)