Posted by nvr1983 on November 2nd, 2012
- We don’t typically spend much time talking about exhibition games in this space, but it was somewhat coincidental that each of the nation’s top three teams were in action last night. Indiana, Louisville, and Kentucky each got some work in against Indiana Wesleyan, Pikeville, and Northwood, respectively, with an average margin of victory of 33.0 points between the three games. The top storylines from each game: #1 Indiana was sluggish at the start but oft-injured Maurice Creek returned with a vengeance (12 points in 15 minutes of action); #2 Louisville hung its 2012 Final Four banner and may have found some instant offense in the form of freshman Montrezl Harrell (19 points, 13 rebounds); #3 Kentucky probably isn’t as “awful” as its head coach lets on, as the Wildcats experimented with 12 different lineups including one with a monster frontcourt of Nerlens Noel, Willie Cauley-Stein, and Kyle Wiltjer. And, of course, as you’re reading this, we’re only one week and change from the first official games.
- The Pac-12 held its Media Day in San Francisco yesterday, and as always, the only important part of these events (excepting verbal spats between egomaniacal coaches, of course) is when the media releases its preseason predictions. This year’s race is basically a dead heat between Arizona and UCLA, with the Wildcats receiving one more overall vote than the Bruins and the Bruins receiving one more first-place vote than the Wildcats. Let’s hope so, because this league is at its best only when these two traditional powerhouses are perched atop the league. The Bay Areas schools — California and Stanford — came in third and fourth, while last year’s regular season champion, Washington, and Pac-12 Tournament champion, Colorado, rounded out the top six. We’d expect the league to bounce back with at least four NCAA Tournament invitations this season.
- Oklahoma State received some excellent news Wednesday in what has been an injury-addled preseason when the NCAA used common sense to rule that talented swingman JP Olukemi will receive a waiver this year to play the entire season for his team. The issue that Olukemi was inadvertently facing was that he had started his NCAA five-years-to-play-four eligibility clock when his prep school’s basketball team shut down in the middle of the year and he continued taking courses at a local community college afterward. Doing the math, Olukemi’s final semester of eligibility would have been this one — meaning that his collegiate career would have ended at the midseason point (December 31, to be precise). The NCAA takes a lot of heat for how it handles its high profile cases, but there are a number of these mid-level cases where the organization generally gets it right. Kudos to them for realizing that the spirit of the rule wasn’t violated here. Plus, Travis Ford really needs him.
- Since it’s Friday we’re going to end the week on a positive couple of notes. First, TSN‘s Ryan Fagan profiles the new and often misunderstood South Carolina head coach, Frank Martin. The piece discusses how everyone’s first impression of the coach derives from his fiery demeanor on the court — not to mention the trademarked glare — but once his new players and colleagues quickly realize that Martin is a go-hard perfectionist who demands their best but also has their back, they don’t walk, they run, into his camp. Martin is a very good coach but he’s not a miracle worker, and South Carolina’s goal this season should simply be to become competitive. This program has been in a seemingly endless down cycle since the Eddie Fogler era of the late 1990s, but there is enough fan support and talent base in the area to field a successful program there — it just takes the right kind of hard-headed man to do it. Perhaps someone like Frank Martin.
- Next, CBSSports.com‘s Gary Parrish writes about a 20-year old North Carolina Central freshman basketball player by the name of Rashawn King who had leukemia so off the charts that the first time he was tested the medical staff believed that their machines were broken. After endless tests and treatments eventually got his disease under control and into remission, he became involved in the Make-a-Wish Foundation where he initially asked for an opportunity to meet his hero, LeBron James. Something so self-oriented didn’t feel right to him, though, so he changed his wish to throw a lunch party for his over 2,000 friends and classmates at Raleigh’s Middle Creek HS who had painstakingly supported and encouraged him throughout his fight. Last Tuesday, the Foundation made sure that he got to meet LeBron anyway, arranging for his NCCU head coach to drive him to a Miami-Charlotte exhibition game where he met King James, Pat Riley, Coach K, and a number of other hoops honchos. It’s a great story all-around, and one that’ll bring a bit of a tear to your eye — we need more Rashawn Kings in college basketball and sports in general, that’s for sure.