Throw Out the Leftovers: Four Teams Finding Trouble During Feast Week

Posted by Shane McNichol on December 1st, 2015

In theory, what we know as Thanksgiving week but ESPN has christened “Feast Week” should be a relatively easy time for a highly-ranked college basketball team. Board a plane and head somewhere sunny. Throw on a polo or a Hawaiian shirt if that’s more your style. Win a few games, maybe lose a tough one against another top team. Have some turkey before heading home to continue your season. For many schools, this is exactly what happened. Kansas, for example, went out to Maui, learned that Chieck Diallo was cleared to play, had some fun, and won the tournament. But for several other teams, their Feast Week did not go as planned. Four formerly ranked teams had a rude awakening in the midst of their early season tournaments, with more questions raised than answers.


Ben Simmons Needs to Find More Aggression (USAT Images)

Ben Simmons Needs to Find More Aggression (USAT Images)

The Bayou Bengals might have the best player in college basketball in Ben Simmons, but the problem is that his teammates aren’t exactly playing as if that is the case. During the Legends Classic in Brooklyn, Simmons posted two impressive stat lines in the Tigers’ two losses. Against Marquette, he finished with 21 points, 20 rebounds and seven assists. He followed that up with four points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists against NC State. (Ed. note: LSU continued its swoon on Monday night in a 70-58 loss at College of Charleston where Simmons logged 15 points, 18 rebounds, four assists and committed seven turnovers.)

In both games, Simmons showcased the high-level talent that has NBA scouts drooling. He leads all of Division I basketball in rebounding and has flashed elite passing ability for a player his size. If the Tigers are going to win more games, however, Simmons needs to be a bigger scoring threat. Against NC State, he only attempted six shots from the field while teammates Tim Quarterman and Antonio Blakeney took 20 and 17 shots, respectively. Some of this discrepancy is likely because of Simmons’ great vision leading to good shots for teammates, but neither player was able to capitalize. Simmons was more aggressive offensively in the previous game against Marquette but he chose to pass to open teammates on two separate occasions in the Tigers’ final possession. He’s only a freshman, of course, but if LSU is going to contend in the SEC or make some kind of a run next March, it will be on the back of a more aggressive Ben Simmons.

Wichita State

Having Fred VanVleet off the court certainly hasn't helped Wichita State's stability. (AP)

Having Fred VanVleet off the court certainly hasn’t helped Wichita State’s stability. (AP)

The Shockers flew to Orlando with two wins on the season. When they boarded the plane for their return trip to Wichita, they still only had those two wins. Those wins, by the way, were over Charleston Southern and Division II Emporia State. Of all the teams listed in this post, however, Gregg Marshall’s squad has the best excuse in that it was without the services of potential All-American point guard Fred VanVleet. That doesn’t necessarily excuse Wichita State’s losses to relatively unimpressive USC and Alabama teams or a blowout defeat to Iowa, though. Was it simply a case of missing the leadership and talent of VanVleet on the floor? That’s certainly part of it, but if he is that meaningful to this team’s success (and he probably is), nagging injuries or foul trouble at the wrong time in March could doom the Shockers.

Notre Dame

Speaking of teams that lost to Alabama, Notre Dame also dropped out of this week’s AP Top 25. A heartbreaking loss to the Crimson Tide probably wouldn’t have resulted in that penalty alone, but the Irish’s demise was aided by the Monmouth buzzsaw. Though the Hawks have been impressive early this season with wins over UCLA and USC, Notre Dame’s struggles revealed more than just playing the wrong opponent. In that game, Notre Dame’s bench failed to score. As role players like VJ Beachem and Bonzie Colson take on more responsibility than they had last season, their production off the bench has not been replaced. The light-scheduling Irish have a chance to right the ship before ACC play begins in January, with four easy home games, a trip to Illinois this week for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, and a neutral site game against…


The Hoosiers! Notre Dame’s intrastate neighbor also had its share of struggles during Feast Week, suffering a pair of disappointing losses to Wake Forest and UNLV in Maui. Sloppy play, Tom Crean doing whatever it is Tom Crean does, and the subsequent angry fans clamoring for Crean to be fired are certainly cause for concern, but it wouldn’t be Indiana basketball if all the drama and issues didn’t take things a step further. After Troy Williams played 20-plus minutes and scored in double figures in each of the Hoosiers’ first four games, Crean decided to bring his junior forward off the bench for their next game against St. John’s. Williams managed a season-low seven points in only 19 minutes of action. It was a questionable move, though the Hoosiers were in the middle of playing three games in three days. Williams’ mother did not like this decision and, as a result, chose to blast Crean on Twitter, calling for her son to leave Bloomington. In an environment like what exists at Indiana, everything from gossip to poor play can snowball over a short period of time. This Hoosiers’ squad has enough talent to make some significant noise later this season, but the distractions, drama and pressure must stay out of the way of a good thing.

Shane McNichol (30 Posts)

Shane McNichol is a national columnist for Rush The Court. He is also the founder, editor, and writer at and has contributed to and Follow him on Twitter @OnTheShaneTrain.

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