ATB: HowlandBall > IzzoBall (for now)

Posted by rtmsf on November 21st, 2007

ATB v.4

11.20.07

Game of the Day. #3 UCLA 68, Michigan St. 63. Whew. One night after declaring UCLA the best team in the country, we turned our tv on tonight and watched the Bruins go scoreless for the first 5+ minutes against Michigan St. and put in a lackluster first half before righting the Shipp in the second half (sorry, that was terrible). Down 11 at the break and shooting only 24% from the field, Howland must have implored his guys to execute better in the halfcourt in the second half. They did, and after keeping within contact of MSU through most of the second half, Love’s three-point play with 1:58 remaining initiated a 10-0 Bruin run to finish the game (from down 63-58 to up 68-63). It seemed that every time down the stretch that UCLA needed a play, whether defensively or offensively, they made it. From the Mbah a Moute follow-dunk to tie the game to the sick perimeter D they draped on Drew Neitzel’s three-point tying attempt (airball), UCLA did what was necessary to win. This is why we think this version of HowlandBall is the team to beat come March. They withstood an inspired performance by Michigan St. (54% FG, 93% FT), and still came out with the W. When they get Darren Collison and friends back at full strength, they should be even better. Final comment on Love (21/11): obviously, the guy is extremely skilled. Great court awareness, deft touch around the basket, and a nose for the ball (8 off rebs). Our only complaint with him is the same one we mentioned a week ago – we wish he had some explosion around the rim, as there were a couple of times he just couldn’t get the ball up against MSU’s athletes despite having inside position. But his numbers are still sensational for a freshman, and we recognize that’s a nitpick that will become a problem at the next level more than this one. Final comment on MSU: they’re better than we thought they would be this year, but the question is how will Big 10 teams (who are used to their style of basketbrawl) play them this year?

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.441366&w=425&h=350&fv=session%3Dfsp_763%26domain%3Despn%26fspRoot%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fassets.espn.go.com%2Fmotion%2Ffsp%2FFSPRoot%26bgColor%3DECECEC%26bgImage%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fassets.espn.go.com%2Fmotion%2Ffsp%2FFSPRoot%2Fespnbg_playbtn.swf%3Fimg%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fassets.espn.go.com%2Fmedia%2Fmotion%2F2007%2F1121%2Fhu_071120ncb_ucla1v.jpg%2526showbutton%3Dtrue%2526buttonx%3D82%2526buttony%3D5%26playlistURL%3Dfalse%26playlistViewer%3Dfalse%26playlistParser%3Dfalse%26adType%3Dfalse%26adPauseEnabled%3Dtrue]

WCC Pride. St. Mary’s 99, #9 Oregon 87. The upset of the night (was it really? yeah, we guess so…) took place in tony tiny Moraga, CA, on the campus of WCC annual also-ran-to-Gonzaga St. Mary’s College. We noted this as an upset alert last night, and sure enough, SMC really stuck it to the Ducks tonight. Despite winning its first four games by an average of 19.8 pts (all at home), and just like Pac-10 colleague Stanford (@ Siena) last weekend, the Ducks wilted when faced with an inspired opponent defending their home court. From what we saw, Oregon routinely played matador defense as one of the St. Mary’s guards glided down the lane for another score (most notably freshman Patrick Mills, who set a school record for a frosh with 37/5 assts for a blistering 36 efficiency rating). It also appeared to us that SMC just wanted it more, regularly beating the Ducks to loose balls and errant caroms. For Oregon, Hairston, Leunen, Porter and Kamyron Brown (Bryce Taylor was out with a shoulder injury) combined for 62 pts, but it was on 22-51 shooting. We take nothing away from St. Mary’s here, as they are a very good team that can potentially ride this win to an NCAA at-large berth next March (presuming a solid WCC campaign), but the takeaway here is just how different Oregon looked in a road environment. With a core group of seniors such as Leunen and Hairston, we just expected more poise. Enjoy RTC #2 of the year (both at the expense of Pac-10 teams, btw).

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.441369&w=425&h=350&fv=session%3Dfsp_438%26domain%3Despn%26fspRoot%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fassets.espn.go.com%2Fmotion%2Ffsp%2FFSPRoot%26bgColor%3DECECEC%26bgImage%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fassets.espn.go.com%2Fmotion%2Ffsp%2FFSPRoot%2Fespnbg_playbtn.swf%3Fimg%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fassets.espn.go.com%2Fmedia%2Fmotion%2F2007%2F1120%2Fhu_071120ncb_marys1v.jpg%2526showbutton%3Dtrue%2526buttonx%3D82%2526buttony%3D5%26playlistURL%3Dfalse%26playlistViewer%3Dfalse%26playlistParser%3Dfalse%26adType%3Dfalse%26adPauseEnabled%3Dtrue]

Maui Wrapup. #11 Duke 79, Illinois 66. The third marquee game of the day was in Maui, where Duke rode great shooting (eFG% = 63%) to a dominating performance over Illinois. This game went pretty much as expected. Duke’s guards scored 62 of their 79 total pts, Illinois couldn’t throw it into the Pacific (eFG% = 35%), and the Illini kept themselves from being humiliated by murdering Duke on the boards (19 off rebs to 4). This is why Marquette, with its trio of talented guards, may have a chance to beat the Devils (again) tomorrow night in the Maui finals. The wildcard is what Duke gets from Singler, as tonight he was in foul trouble and relatively quiet (8/1). They’ll need his production tomorrow night. #12 Marquette 91, Oklahoma St. 61. Marquette got 51 pts from its starting guards, as this game was never close (MU was up 18 at halftime). At the risk of annoying one of our prominent critics, all we’ll say about OSU in this game is that Sean Sutton has perfected his father’s trademark scowl.

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.441370&w=425&h=350&fv=session%3Dfsp_938%26domain%3Despn%26fspRoot%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fassets.espn.go.com%2Fmotion%2Ffsp%2FFSPRoot%26bgColor%3DECECEC%26bgImage%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fassets.espn.go.com%2Fmotion%2Ffsp%2FFSPRoot%2Fespnbg_playbtn.swf%3Fimg%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fassets.espn.go.com%2Fmedia%2Fmotion%2F2007%2F1120%2Fhu_071120ncb_duke1v.jpg%2526showbutton%3Dtrue%2526buttonx%3D82%2526buttony%3D5%26playlistURL%3Dfalse%26playlistViewer%3Dfalse%26playlistParser%3Dfalse%26adType%3Dfalse%26adPauseEnabled%3Dtrue]

Ridiculous Score of the Night. #6 Tennessee 109, Middle Tennessee St. 40. UT is starting to scare us a little bit. Beating a D1 team – any D1 team – by 69 pts is something not seen very often. The Vols started this game on a 31-4 run and clearly never looked back, leading by 40 at halftime and as much as 71 in the second stanza. Some absurd stats – UT scored 1.47 ppp, had an eFG% of 79%, and scored on almost two-thirds of its possessions in this game. JaJuan Smith led the way for the Vols with 32 pts (on 7 threes), and Chris Lofton broke out of his slump with 17 pts on 6-9 (5-8 from three) shooting. 69 pts… Bruce Pearl better watch himself in Murfreesboro.

Other Ranked Teams.

  • #1 Memphis 84, Arkansas St. 63. Kemp 22, Mack 19, CDR 16.
  • #2 UNC 110, South Carolina St. 64. Only 46 pts, Roy? Bruce Pearl says “pfshaw…”
  • #10 Indiana 95, UNC-Wilmington 71. E-Giddy with 30/6/3 assts.

On Tap Today (all times EST). The Maui Finals are in action and the NIT semis kick back up.

  • Texas A&M (-4) v. Washington (ESPN) 7pm – NIT semis - we think this will be a fun game to watch.
  • Georgetown (-20) v. Ball St. 7pm - JTIII may take his bro Ronny’s frustrations out on BSU.
  • Davidson (-4) v. W. Michigan 7pm – an excellent mid-major road test for Davidson – avoid the letdown!
  • Oklahoma (-25) v. Morehead St. (ESPN FC) 8pm – snooze…
  • Kansas (-26.5) v. N. Arizona (ESPN FC) 8pm – we like KU, really we do, but we’d like to see them outside of Allen Field House.
  • Syracuse (-1.5) v. Ohio St. (ESPN2) 9pm – NIT semis – anticipating our first look at Flynn and Green.
  • Louisville (-3) v. UNLV (Vs.) 9pm – a no-joke road test for the Cards.
  • Duke (NL) v. Marquette (ESPN) 10pm - let’s hope this game is half as exciting as last year’s version.
  • Butler (-6) v. Michigan (ESPN2) 11:30pm – Great Alaska tips off with a solid mid-major/BCS matchup where Butler is expected to win.
Share this story

ATB: The Debut of E-Giddy

Posted by rtmsf on November 13th, 2007

ATB v.4

11.12.07

Story of the Night. For the life of me I cannot remember, what made us think that we were wise and we’d never compromise, for the life of me I cannot believe, we’d ever die for these sins, we were merely freshmen… (h/t Verve Pipe ca. 1997) Ok, we’re already sick of talking about this year’s freshman class, but GOOD GOD are these youngsters talented or what? The idea that college hoops was somehow “better off” when kids were going preps-to-pros looks a little ridiculous now, doesn’t it? We’re not necessarily fans of one-and-done either, but we have a sneaky feeling that during the next CBA between the NBA Players Assn. and the owners, the rule will change to two years post-HS as to when a player can declare for the draft. We can’t wait to get these guys in college for more than a year.

Things We Saw. So given the SOTN, we’ll start with a game we didn’t actually see, #11 Indiana v. Chattanooga (see below vid). Out of all the frosh, the player we’ve been most excited to see has been E-Giddy – no disrespect to Derrick Rose, Kevin Love, Michael Beasley or anyone else, but Eric Gordon has been the guy who seems most likely to make our jaws drop. We still haven’t actually seen him, of course, but look at this debut line – 33/6/4 on 9-15 shooting (7-11 from three). Plus, some of those threes on the highlights were about 6 feet behind the line – kid has mad range. What’s more is that Kelvin Sanctions’ team needed it, because the Hoosiers were down 4 at the half to a game Chattanooga team. DJ White added 17/4/2 blks in the winning effort, and yeah, IU showed some areas for improvement (rebounding), but make no mistake about it, this is probably the best inside/outside tandem in the country and a huge reason why we have Indiana going to the F4 next April (Indiana 99, Chattanooga 79). Moving to games we actually viewed, #14 Duke was impressive tonight – better than we’ve given them credit for. The thing about the Devils (esp. at home) is that they’re absolutely going to terrorize people defensively with their m2m defense and their traps. Traps lead to turnovers, turnovers lead to dunks and threes, dunks and threes lead to an avalanche of points and a rocking CIS, and before New Mexico St. anyone knows it, you’re already down twenty and your players are completely befuddled and rattled. That’s how Duke plays, and therefore, the only way to beat the Devils at home is to treasure possession of the ball and avoid those demoralizing runs. NMSU had 26 turnovers and allowed Duke to hit 13 threes tonight – how do you think that’s going to end for them? We do still wonder about Duke’s lack of interior size, though (Duke 86, New Mexico St. 61). Tonight’s #11 Oregon-W. Michigan game exhibits why we’re so high on the Ducks this year. Four of their five starters (Taylor, Porter, Hairston and Leunen) can lead the scoring column on any given night. Tonight it was Hairston’s turn, as he went for 29 on 9-11 shooting (3-3 from three). Not many teams have that kind of skilled and experienced offensive balance that they can throw at you every night. Now… defense might be their achilles heel. The Ducks did give up 58 pts in the second half tonight, and it’s hard for us to believe a team that gives up that many pts to anyone is a legitimate contender, but maybe Ernie Kent can shore that up as the season progresses (Oregon 97, Western Michigan 88).

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.439745&w=425&h=350&fv=]

Other games we caught briefly. LSU once again brings out some lineup of five jumping jacks ranging in height from 6’4 to 6’10, and not one of them has the first clue how to play basketball (thanks John Brady!). Another rook who is getting no hype but is in the Stromile Swift/Tyrus Thomas mold is Anthony Randolph. He very nearly put up a trip-dub in his first game as a Tiger (19/13/6 blks) (LSU 72, SE Louisiana 62). We tried to watch some of #13 Texas’ debut w/o Kevin Durant, but the pace put us to sleep. We heard that DJ Augustin led the way with 19/2/4 assts (Texas 58, UT-San Antonio 37). We also watched a little bit of Ohio St.’s first game since the Findlay disaster, and it appeared that the Buckeyes were getting Matta’s message. Even though four players scored in double figures led by David Lighty (17/8/4), we really wonder if OSU has any depth to speak of this year (Ohio St. 91, Wisc-GB 68). #2 UCLA was the nightcap, and even though Kevin Love had good numbers (21/9), there was one second-half series of shot/block/putback/block/putback where K-Love just didn’t look very explosive around the rim. Thick, yes. Strong, yes. Skilled, yes. But explosive? We were hoping he’d power through and dunk on someone like that when he held position to the rim. Didn’t happen (UCLA 83, Youngstown St. 52).

Interesting Scores. Boston College 68, Florida Atlantic 62. BC might be in for a really rough year. Syracuse 97, Siena 89. What is UP with those horrid Cuse unis (see below vid)? Oh, and rook Jonny Flynn (28/5/9 assts) looks like he’ll be a fun one for Boeheim. Maryland 70, Hampton 64. This one didn’t surprise us that it was close – we’re not sure what to expect from the Terps this year, but we know that Hampton is a good team.

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.439746&w=425&h=350&fv=]

Upset Alert. Another D2 team over a D1 team, albeit a low major (Cal St. San Bernardino 71, Weber St. 59).

On Tap Today (all times EST). 53 games, but not very many interesting ones. The best ones are either not televised (Toledo-Vandy) or on the freakin’ U (TAMU-ORU).

  • Michigan St. (NL) v. Chicago St. (ESPNU) 7pm – ho-hum.
  • Toledo v. Vanderbilt (-5) 7pm - this is a really interesting game for both teams’ at-large profiles.
  • Syracuse (NL) v. St. Joseph’s (ESPN) 7pm - upset alert – Cuse goes down at home.
  • Mercer (NL) v. Alabama 7:30pm – Mercer has a chance for another big win at home this time.
  • Miami (OH) (NL) v. Xavier 8pm – should be a good southern Ohio battle.
  • Gonzaga (-28) v. Idaho (FCSP) 8pm - we want to see if Daye can keep it up.
  • Ohio St. (NL) v. Columbia (ESPN) 9pm – an Ivy school not named Penn or Princeton on ESPN?
  • Texas A&M (-15.5) v. Oral Roberts (ESPNU) 9pm – upset alert – TAMU could lose this game.
  • UC Irvine (NL) v. Nevada 10:30pm – Nevada needs to regroup and win this game.
  • UCLA (NL) v. Cal St. San Bernardino (ESPN2) 10:30pm – there won’t be many other D2 teams on ESPN2 this year.
Share this story

ATB: OJ Mayo’s Debut – “Mercer Mercer Me!”

Posted by rtmsf on November 11th, 2007

ATB v.4

11.10.07

Story of the Night. Is the A-Sun the best conference in college hoops this season? Three nights after Gardner-Webb shocked the hoops world against Kentucky, and one night after Belmont whacked Cincy… the Mercer Bears went into LA and pushed around #25 USC and OJ Mayo. That’s three road wins against three BCS teams in the span of about 72 hrs (remember: the A-Sun was 0-34 v. BCS teams last year!) As for this game, sure OJ got his numbers (32/7/4 assts on 12-27 FG + 8 tos), and isn’t that really why he’s there? In shooting 59% for the game (led by James Florence’s 30), Mercer rode a 17-pt halftime lead into an easy win. We have a bad feeling that more of this is on the horizon for USC with Mayo running the show. We’re just sayin… (Mercer 96, USC 81)

Things We Didn’t See. #5 Georgetown appears to have had a shaky opening game against Bill & Mary tonight, leading by only 2 pts with under 10 mins to play. When the Hoyas finally realized they have something nobody else in CBB has – a skilled 7’2 center named Roy Hibbert (23/8/3 blks) – they put the game away. We love the Hoya backcourt of Wallace and Sapp (combined for 33/10 assts), but we’ll continue to have a lingering concern over the long-term prospects of this year’s version until we see if Dajuan Summers or someone else can adequately fill the departed role of Jeff Green (Georgetown 68, William & Mary 53). Staying in the Big East, Pitt is a team we never know what to make of from year to year game to game. Tonight they throttled a solid NC A&T team, with a big contribution from Sam Young (career-high 24/11/4 stls). We’re sure they’re on their way to another 20-25 win season and a top 4 seed, where we’ll either pick them to go to the E8 and they’ll lose in the first round; or, the reverse (Pittsburgh 86, NC A&T 61). Tubby Smith’s debut today at Minnesota went much as his debuts at Kentucky (88-49 v. Morehead St.) and Georgia (91-71 v. W. Carolina), with a blowout win versus an overmatched team. In typical Tubby fashion, the Gophers held Army to 35% shooting and forced 23 turnovers. One Gopher blog lauded the hustle and dedication from players that has been missing in recent years (Minnesota 84, Army 52). Over at Oregon, we were interested to see how the Ducks would respond to the loss of Aaron Brooks, and so far, so good, as a balanced attack quickly overwhelmed Pepperdine tonight. Malik Hairston, Tajuan Porter and Bryce Taylor all had 17 pts each as the Ducks raced out to a 30-pt lead at halftime and cruised the rest of the way – we likey (Oregon 100, Pepperdine 70). Vandy is an SEC team that we probably have overlooked this year, but the Dores picked up a solid win over a mid-major tonight by beating Austin Peay. Showing just how tough it is to beat Vandy in Memorial Gym once again, the Commodores shot 55% from the field and 52% from three in keeping AP comfortably at bay most of the night. Shan Foster (21 pts) and AJ Ogilvy (18/9/2 blks) led the way for Vandy, while AP star Drake Reed had a rough night (12/7 on 3-16 shooting) (Vanderbilt 81, Austin Peay 67). There was a great game tonight in Milwaukee when Marquette took on another talented mid-major, IUPUI. Marquette’s 8-pt halftime lead was quickly erased by a second-half 17-2 run by IUPUI, but spurred by Jerel McNeal’s 20 pts, the Warriors came storming back with a 23-8 run of their own to ensure victory (Marquette 76, IUPUI 68).

Score of the Night. Unbelievably, we’re going back to The Farm. For the second consecutive night, Stanford had a 30+ pt halftime lead over an opponent, and again, no starter played more than 20 minutes. Tonight’s beneficiary was Northwestern St. – what’s TJ giving those boys (Stanford 97, Northwestern St. 58)?

Upset Alert. Other than the above USC game, there were no big upsets today.

Joey Dorsey Award. OJ Mayo (USC). Not for his game tonight, but for his quote that hearing his name called in the starting lineup “was a lot of fun. I wish we would’ve won.” Maybe we’re being nitpicky here, but after getting thumped by Mercer, we’re not sure any part of the night should be remembered as fun.

On Tap Today (all times EST). 47 games on tap, several of which are worthwhile (assuming Comcast doesn’t screw us again and gets FC working).

  • Loyola (MD) (-5) v. Pennsylvania 12pm – our favorites in the Ivy and the MAAC.
  • Rutgers (NL) v. North Dakota St. 1pm - NDSU gave Florida trouble; they can do more than that with Rutgers.
  • Seton Hall (NL) v. Monmouth (ESPN FC) 1pm – um, we’ll be washing our hair at that time.
  • Virginia (NL) v. Vermont 2pm – don’t understand why this isn’t FC worthy but the garbage game above is.
  • Florida (-17.5) v. Tennessee Tech 3pm – really would like to see if Calathes can keep it up.
  • Gonzaga (-12.5) v. Montana 4pm – we’re very high on Gonzaga this year, but Montana is no slouch.
  • Stanford (NL) v. UCSB 6pm – if Stanford is up 30+ at half of this game, we’re putting them #1 in Monday’s blogpoll ballot.
  • Pittsburgh (NL) v. St. Louis (ESPN FC) 6pm – we’re tuning in just to see Majerus back on the sidelines.
  • Kansas (NL) v. UMKC (ESPN FC) 8pm – let the Kansas Kremations continue.
  • Oregon (NL) v. Pacific (ESPN FC) 9pm – both of these teams had great first games.
Share this story