AAC Bests and Worsts From Opening Weekend

Posted by Mike Lemaire on November 17th, 2014

“Bests and Worsts” is a new Monday feature where we will recap the best and worst from the previous week of college basketball in the AAC. 

For as long as I can remember, DC Sports Bog has been doing its “bests and worsts” piece as an easy and fun way to recap Redskins’ games. I’ve always really loved the recurring feature and think it is an excellent way to summarize, in detail, everything that happened on Sunday. And because I am nothing if not unoriginal, I’ve decided to misappropriate the idea and use it for what I expect to be a weekly recap of the week in AAC basketball. So now that I have properly cited my inspiration, let’s get started, because the opening weekend in the AAC was a lot of fun.

Best Way To Start A Post About Bests and Worsts: There are pencil mustaches and then there are true odes to facial hair like the immaculate ‘stache that South Florida coach Orlando Antigua rocked in this old Harlem Globetrotters photo that was unearthed this weekend. That thing is clean.


This picture is great for a lot of reasons, we can’t stop staring at Orlando Antigua’s mustache.

Worst Way To Make A First Impression: Congratulations to all the Temple fans who purchased a ticket and willingly subjected themselves to the Owls’ 40-37 win against American — you are officially the country’s most loyal supporters. Now please, go home and take a bath or whatever will wash off the stink of that game. The Owls did win, so that’s nice, but they also had twice as many turnovers (15) as assists (7) and shot an offensive 22.9 percent from the field. Literally, people are offended by that shooting display. Forward Daniel Dingle played 38 minutes and made half of the six shots he took, good for 27 percent of the team’s made field goals.

Best Example of Taking Lemons and Making Lemonade: The Temple media relations employee who wrote the recap of the game for the school’s official athletics website isn’t being paid enough, as the piece is really a master class in Sports Information Director writing. In the first paragraph, the author manages to praise the team’s defense and mention it was the team’s best such effort ever under coach Fran Dunphy. The writer wasn’t ballsy enough to totally ignore the team’s offensive struggles, but the story on the win was spun as hard as possible, and you have to respect the effort this person is putting into his job.

Best Debut by a New Coach: Houston coach Kelvin Sampson announced his return to college basketball by promptly going to Murray State and beating the Ohio Valley Conference favorites with a second-half comeback. The Cougars didn’t play great and the Racers helped them by bricking nearly a dozen three-pointers down the stretch, but it was still a gritty and impressive 77-74 road win. Houston is really going to miss having a ball-handler and creator like L.J. Rose in the lineup, but they may have a future star in Devonta Pollard, who went for 19 points and four rebounds. 

Worst Debut By A New Coach: Only one AAC team lost in the opening weekend and that was Tulsa, which was easily handled by Oral Roberts. Losing to the always-competitive Golden Eagles isn’t all that embarrassing, but losing your season opener to a crosstown rival isn’t how Frank Haith hoped to start his coaching career at Tulsa. The real issue is that Tulsa made the NCAA Tournament last season despite a pedestrian offense, and Haith was supposed to help fix that problem. Instead, the Golden Hurricane didn’t move the ball very well and shot just 2-of-19 from behind the three-point arc. There will be better days ahead for Haith’s team, but it won’t be back in the NCAA Tournament if it plays like that too often.

Best Way to Make People Forget About the Player You Are Replacing: Losing Markus Kennedy for the first semester because of academics may still end up hurting SMU, but the Mustangs are also one of the few teams in the conference with the depth to weather that kind of loss. Sophomore Ben Moore drove that point home on Friday against Lamar. Moore went for 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting and 11 rebounds in the Mustangs’ blowout win. It needs to be noted, of course, that Lamar is really, really bad, but we will know a lot more about his growth tonight when SMU travels to play a ranked Gonzaga team.

Worst Job of Convincing Fans Not to Worry About Your Offense: After Cincinnati‘s exhibition win over Bellarmine last week, coach Mick Cronin literally said “I told you so” to those questioning how the Bearcats planned to score. He should maybe reconsider that position after games that don’t count, because it’s the same old story with Cincinnati now that they do count. Scoring 52 points is never good. Scoring 52 points against a team like Saint Francis, well, that’s enough to make some folks really worried this early. The Bearcats went just 2-of-14 from downtown, turned the ball over 17 times, and got exactly zero points in 14 uneventful minutes from their leading returning scorer Shaquille Thomas. The outcome was never really in doubt, but that type of performance won’t fly against a better opponent.

Best Reminder to UConn’s New Guards That There Is Still an Alpha Dog in the Kennel: Yes, the performance came against Bryant, and yes, the Huskies were actually in danger of losing this game for a brief period. But damn, senior Ryan Boatright filled the box score like Shabazz Napier only wishes he could do. In addition to scoring 24 of his team’s 66 points, Boatright also chipped in eight rebounds, five assists, and four steals. He even made three of his six three-point attempts. The Huskies’ young guards Daniel Hamilton and Sam Cassell Jr. were a bit inconsistent, and Rodney Purvis was suspended, so Boatright decided to send a message to the college basketball world that he is still here.

Against Bryant, Boatright was all like, "Hey Everyone! Remember Me?"

Against Bryant, point guard Ryan Boatright was all like, “Hey Everyone! Remember Me?” (Photo: Mark Mirko/Hartford Courant)

Worst Way to Try to Save Your Job: No offense to East Carolina coach Jeff Lebo, but it is going to be difficult for the Pirates to bring him back next season. Lebo’s teams have hovered around the .500 mark for three of his four seasons at the helm of the program, and now that they are in a new conference, Lebo will be expected to win. You know what doesn’t help when you are trying to win? Losing at home to UNC Asheville, like the Pirates did yesterday. East Carolina isn’t in the AAC because of their long history of basketball success, so expectations for this program aren’t that high. But if the team continues to lose home games to schools that have no business beating AAC teams, Lebo will be in trouble.

mlemaire (324 Posts)

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