Morning Five: Halloween Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 31st, 2011

  1. As we’re now officially only one week from the first real games on November 7, practices have moved from the getting-to-know-you phase to setting of pecking orders and definition of roles. Unfortunately, one of the side products of two weeks of full-on practice is injuries, and a few notable names have already gotten banged up in the last few days.  Louisville freshman Wayne Blackshear will miss the entire season after tearing the labrum in his right shoulder; he had already missed most of the summer with an unrelated left shoulder injury and had only been cleared to return to practice just last week.  The McDonald’s All-American was expected to help the Cards supplant the loss of Preston Knowles’ scoring abilities, as Blackshear is an impact scorer from the wing. With all of the walking wounded on Rick Pitino’s team these days — Rakeem Buckles, Stephan Van Treese, and Jared Swopshire have all had injury issues — you have to wonder if the Cardinals will be able to field a complete team this year.
  2. In other injury news, Vanderbilt All-American candidate Festus Ezeli gave Commodore fans a fright last week when it was reported that the center sprained the MCL and PCL ligaments in his right knee and will require six to eight weeks for its rehabilitation. As we noted on the SEC microsite Friday, Ezeli’s absence from the Vandy lineup will force head coach Kevin Stallings to trust in his backups, senior Steve Tchiengang or redshirt freshman Josh Henderson, neither of whom have the athletic ability nor experience that the all-SEC player brings to the post.  In news considerably less consequential, Connecticut superstar freshman Andre Drummond received a concussion and a broken nose in practice on Friday that will likely keep him out of this week’s exhibition game against American International College. Drummond isn’t expected to miss more time than that, but he will have to wear one of those protective plastic face masks for the next six to eight weeks as his nose heals.  It’s already difficult enough for a freshman to become accustomed to the speed and athleticism of college basketball; it’ll be interesting to see how wearing that annoying mask might impact Drummond’s play in the early going this season.
  3. While on the topic of UConn, the NCAA officially announced late last week that schools wishing to play in the 2013 NCAA Tournament will need to meet a two-year APR threshold of 900, or a four-year APR threshold of 930, in order to qualify. A university source told that the school’s men’s basketball APR score for 2010-11 is expected to be approximately 975, which when averaged with 2009-10’s 826, will not be good enough (900.5). The four-year rolling average (888.5) would also come up short, which begs the question as to whether the NCAA will stick to its guns by keeping one of the sports’ marquee programs out of the Dance in 2013, or whether it will allow the Huskies a waiver opportunity by virtue of it showing ‘improvement’ or some other remedial measure.
  4. Late last week California head coach Mike Montgomery revealed that the surgical procedure he underwent recently was because of ‘high-grade bladder cancer’ and that he’s now 100% free of the disease. The 64-year old coach told assembled media in Los Angeles on Friday at the Pac-12’s Media Days that his doctors found the disease at the perfect moment to ascertain its danger and treat it before it got out of control.  With Montgomery bringing back perhaps his best team to Berkeley this season, we certainly hope that the irascible coach continues on a path of sustained wellness and remission from cancer so that he can concentrate on hardwood and basketballs rather than hospitals and bedpans.
  5. We plan on having more on this later today on the Big 12 microsite, but if you stumbled across ESPNU yesterday during your NFL Sunday, you may have been surprised to find Missouri playing something called Missouri Southern on that channel.  The One State, One Spirit Classic took place yesterday evening in Joplin, Missouri, site of Missouri Southern State University and ground zero of a deadly F5 tornado that rocked the town on the late afternoon of May 22 earlier this year. Over 150 people were killed and hundreds of Joplin homes and businesses were decimated that day, so Sunday’s exhibition game between the state’s flagship program and the local D-II school embodied the spirit of Show-Me Staters in an outpouring of support that will never be forgotten.  ESPN’s Dana O’Neil interviewed MSSU player Jordan Talbert about his reflections on that horrifying day (linked here because ESPN thought that the giant logo on the microphone didn’t identify who made the video clip clearly enough).
rtmsf (3954 Posts)

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