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).
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.
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.