Morning Five: 11.25.11 EditionPosted by nvr1983 on November 25th, 2011
- We hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving and got to indulge in turkey or whatever food you prefer while spending time with friends and/or family. There was not much off-the-court news yesterday so instead of our traditional recap where we avoid discussing the games directly we are going to provide general overviews of the games that have already happened and the ones that are on tap.
- Praise continues to pour in for the Duke–Kansas game, which may have been the best November college basketball game in the past few years. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst (aka LeBron’s personal biographer) called it “a candidate for one of the best regular season games of the year” and we would agree with his assessment. While neither team is close to the true upper echelon of college basketball (the UNCs, UConns, and Kentuckys of the world) they are definitely Sweet Sixteen teams at least and possibly Elite Eight level teams when they work out a few kinks (of course, they could also get upset during the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament). If you missed the game because you were either at/watching another game, traveling, working, or spending time with family and you find yourself with some free time today, we highly recommend that you watch a replay of it if it is on your DVR or through ESPN3.com.
- The best teams playing yesterday were all playing at the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament in Nassau, Bahamas where the three best teams (Connecticut, Florida State, and Harvard) all won their opening games relatively easily while Central Florida used a late run to beat College of Charleston. As a reward for their hard-fought win the Knights, who are without star A.J. Rompza for another month, will get to play the defending national champions who are still adjusting to the post-Kemba era and will be without the services of Ryan Boatright, who will be sitting out his sixth and final game against UCF, and perhaps Alex Oriakhi after this Twitter mishap. The other semifinal pits a very good Harvard team against the Seminoles, who feature one of the top defenses in the country. The first game should be a relatively easy victory for the Huskies, but the second game might be the best college basketball game being played tomorrow.
- The FSU-Harvard game might be the best game tomorrow, but we would suggest you keep an eye on the Preseason NIT finals that pits Syracuse against Stanford. The Orange come in as the heavy favorites, but we think the game could end up being a lot more competitive than many people think because we don’t think that the Orange are as good as many pundits have been saying they are (basically a better version of the Vanderbilt story) and the Cardinal are better than anybody outside of Palo Alto expected. Neither team has beaten a top-tier team yet, but Stanford has the most impressive victory this season of the two teams with its 15-point victory against Oklahoma State that was not as close as the final score indicates. Another thing to watch for in this game is what is going on with the Syracuse backcourt where a mini-controversy is brewing between Scoop Jardine, the incumbent, and Dion Waiters, the challenger who played in place of Jardine in the Orange’s last game.
- With no end in sight for the NBA lockout many professionals have headed to interesting locations to keep their skills sharp while waiting for the business/labor negotiations to be resolved allowing them to return to their NBA teams. Most players who have chosen to play in games are doing so in summer/very advanced recreational leagues, exhibition games for charity, or in Europe. Former Ohio State center Byron (B.J.) Mullens has taken a less traditional approach as he is working on his game in prison. We know what you are thinking and the answer is not that Mullens is incarcerated. Instead, Mullens has chosen to go to prisons to talk to the inmates about making better choices in their lives and to get in some solid games, which he has been doing this since he was in high school. We would be interested to hear if any of the inmates that Mullens has encountered or mentored are out of prison now and cite him as an influence.