Saturday, November 29, 2008

Saturday Roundup

Hope Thanksgiving leftovers treated everyone well. A lot of action in the pre-season tournaments last night. 

Pre-season NIT Finals:

  • Oklahoma 87, Purdue 82 OT: Despite being double and triple teamed all night, Blake Griffin still managed to put up 18 points and 21 boards. Taylor Griffin added 19 points, but it was the play of the Sooner guards that won this game for them as Willie Warren scored 22, Austin Johnson had 11, and Cade Davis added 10. E'Twaun Moore led the Boilermakers with 22 while Nemanja Calasan added 20 and 8. The game ended in a bit of controversy. Down 81-80 with 40 seconds left Purdue turned the ball over, but seemingly forced a Oklahoma turnover on the ensuing possession. An inadvertent whistle by the ref (he thought Oklahoma called a time out) gave the Sooners possession on a jump ball. Purdue was forced to foul and OU hit their free throws down the stretch.
  • Boston College 83, UAB 77: Tyrese Rice scored all of his 24 points in the second half as the Eagles rallied to beat the Blazers. UAB got 29 points and 8 boards from Lawrence Kinnard and 22 and 9 from Robert Vaden (although Vaden, who struggled in both games in NYC, was just 8-27 from the floor).
Old Spice Classic:
  • Gonzaga 81, Maryland 59: Josh Heytvelt led Gonzaga with 22 points and 9 rebounds while shooting 9-10 from the floor and Austin Daye added 17 and 10 as the 'Zags outscored the Terps 29-13 during one stretch to push a one point lead to 17. Maryland, who shot 9-19 from deep in their romp of Michigan State, was just 1-13 from the floor.
  • Tennessee 90, Georgetown 78: Tyler Smith led the Vols with 21 points and Bobby Maze added 14 points and 9 dimes (and 0 turnovers), but it was the play of Cameron Tatum off the bench that made the difference in this game. Tennessee outscored the Hoyas 33-13 in the last six minutes and Tatum scored 14 of his 17 during that run. Chris Wright led the Hoyas with 18.
  • Michigan State 94, Oklahoma State 79: Raymar Morgan scored 29 points in 23 minutes off the bench and sparked a 28-5 Spartan run that turned a 14-7 deficit into a 36-19 lead. Terrel Harris led the Cowboys with 21. 
  • Wichita State 72, Siena 70: It looks like Gregg Marshall might finally be turning things around for the Shockers. Clevin Hannah had 19 and Toure Murry added 18 as Wichita State had their second straight strong performance (they gave Georgetown all they could handle on Thursday). Siena was led by Edwin Ubiles, who had 20 and 8.
76 Classic:
  • Baylor 87, Arizona State 78: LaceDarius Dunn had 27 points including two three's in a 14-0 run midway through the second half that pushed the lead to 15. What have I been saying about Baylor? God, I hate it when I'm right. James Harden led the Sun Devils with 32.
  • Wake Forest 82, UTEP 79: The Demon Deacons got 29 points from Jeff Teague as they held off a game UTEP team. Stefon Jackson had 31 for the miners, who have looked tough in their first two games in Anaheim.
  • St. Mary's 79, Cal St. Fullerton 54: Patty Mills had 21 points and 6 assists, Diamon Simpson had 12 and 17 boards, and Omar Samhan added 14 and 14 as the Gaels ran all over the Titans in the second half.
  • Providence 67, Charlotte 62: The Friars trailed by 10 at the half and 5 with 3:00 to go but rallied to knock off Charlotte. Providence scored the last 10 points of the game and forced 13 second half turnovers.
Other games to take note of:
  • West Virginia 87, Iowa 68 (Las Vegas Invitational)
  • Kentucky 74, Kansas State 72 (Las Vegas Invitational)
  • Pittsburgh 80, Texas Tech 67 (Legends Classic)
  • Washington State 63, Mississippi State 52 (Legends Classic)
  • Duke 95, Duquense 72
  • Dayton 60, Auburn 59 OT: Dayton set a record by going 0-24 from deep. And still bat Auburn. The SEC is terrible.
  • Illinois 69, Kent State 63 OT
  • Charleston 82, South Carolina 80 OT: What was I saying about the SEC?
  • Syracuse 73, Virginia 70
  • Kansas 85, Coppin State 53
  • California 73, UNLV 55
  • Tulsa 67, Texas A&M 56
  • Villanova 64, Towson 47
  • Marquette 73, Northern Iowa 43
  • Florida State 58, Cincinnati 47
  • USC 70, UT-Martin 43
Games of note today:
  • 12:00 PM: Milwaukee (3-3) @ Wisconsin (4-1)
  • 1:00 PM: Bryant (1-2) @ UConn (5-0)
  • 3:30 PM: Stetson (2-2) @ Miami FL (3-1)
  • 4:30 PM: Miami OH (2-2) @ Xavier (5-0)
  • 5:30 PM: Texas Tech (4-1) vs. Mississippi State (5-1)
  • 5:30 PM: Texas A&M (4-1) vs. Kent State (3-1)
  • 8:00 PM: Pitt (6-0) vs. Washington State (5-0)
  • 8:00 PM: Dayton (5-0) vs. Marquette (5-0)
  • 8:00 PM: Cincinnati (4-1) vs. UNLV (5-1)
  • 8:30 PM: Villanova (5-0) vs. Rhode Island (5-1)
  • 10:30 PM: Florida State (6-0) vs. Cal (5-0)
  • 10:30 PM: Kentucky (3-2) vs. West Virginia (4-0)
Continue reading...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Friday Roundup

The first rounds of the 76 Classic and the Old Spice Classic both took place yesterday. There was only one real upset on the afternoon, and it was a big one as Maryland knocked off Michigan State 80-62. While the game was close in the first half, Maryland was in control most of the way. After Michigan State took a 43-39 lead in the second half, the Terrapins went on a 27-6 run to put the game away. Michigan State was short-handed inside as Goran Suton sat the game out and both Delvon Roe (knee surgeries) and Raymarr Morgan (foul trouble) were forced into limited minutes. Not to take anything away from the Terps, because they played fantastic, but Michigan State just didn't show up. Outside of Travis Walton (who was 8-10 from the floor) the Spartans shot just 33% from the field and were 12-27 from the line. Maryland was just the better team last night. Greivis Vazquez had 17 and 6 assists for Maryland and Eric Hayes added 13, but the key was the Terps bench, where they got 17 from Dave Neal and 13 from Adrian Bowie (they combined to go 6-7 from deep).

The rest of the Old Spice Classic:

  • Gonzaga 83, Oklahoma State 71: Gonzaga got a balanced effort as they had six guys score between 8-17 points, led by 17 and 12 boards from Micah Downs. Oklahoma State is going to be good this year - they faded down the stretch last night, but this was not a 12 point game. Expect the Cowboys to make a lot of noise in the Big XII. Byron Eaton is so tough to keep out of the lane, Terrell Harris and James Anderson are good scorers on the wing, and Obi Muonelo is a scrappy 6'5" forward (he's averaging 10.2 rpg).
  • Georgetown 58, Wichita State 50: This game was a lot closer than it should have been as Georgetown just looked out of sync. Austin Freeman had 18 for the Hoyas, and Greg Monroe added 11, but he only took six shots. He has an amazing skill set and all the tools you could ask for, but he looked too passive at times (which was his biggest knock coming in).
  • Tennessee 78, Siena 64: The Vols just ran the Saints out of the gym, getting up by 20 at the half. Siena got nothing out of their big three, as they combined to go 10-35 from the floor for 27 points. Siena is better than they showed last night, which also probably means Tennessee is better than people predicted.
Today in the Old Spice:
  • 11:00 AM: Wichita State (2-2) vs. Siena (2-1)
  • 1:00 PM: Tennessee (4-0) vs. Georgetown (3-0)
  • 5:30 PM: Maryland (4-0) vs. Gonzaga (3-0)
  • 8:00 PM: Michigan State (2-1) vs. Oklahoma State (4-1)
Last night at the 76 Classic:
  • UTEP 75, St. Mary's 62: Patty Mills shot 5-20 from the floor and Diamon Simpson only played 23 minutes before fouling out as the Miners knocked off the Gaels. UTEP's Stefon Jackson had 17 and 10 boards and Randy Culpepper had 20. Omar Samhan led the way for St. Mary's with 20 and 14.
  • Wake Forest 75, Cal St. Fullerton 69: Jeff Teague led the way for the Demon Deacons with 24 points as WFU hung on against a scrappy Titans team. Oh yeah, and he did this:

  • Arizona State 84, Charlotte 56: James Harden never got it going, but Jeff Pendergraph had a double-double with 23 and 10 as the Sun Devils rolled.
  • Baylor 72, Providence 56: Providence was ice cold in the first half as Baylor built a 36-22 lead. The Bears hung on in the second half despite 23 turnovers for the game. Kevin Rogers led the way for Baylor with 16 points. Goeff McDermott sprained his ankle in the first half, but returned and played (but he looked like he was in pain and limped all over the court).
Today in the 76 Classic:
  • 3:30 PM: UTEP (3-1) vs. Wake Forest (4-0)
  • 6:00 PM: St. Mary's (3-1) vs. Cal St. Fullerton (2-3)
  • 10:00 PM: Charlotte (1-4) vs. Providence (3-2)
  • 12:30 AM: Baylor (5-0) vs. Arizona State (4-0)
Pre-season NIT Finals:
  • 1:00 PM: UAB (4-1) vs. Boston College (3-2): Tyrese Rice and Robert Vaden should put on a shooting show.
  • 3:30 PM: Purdue (5-0) vs. Oklahoma (5-0): I like both of these teams, but I don't see anyway that the Boilermakers will be able to compete with Oklahoma's bigs inside. I mean, can JaJuan Johnson really match-up with either Griffin brother?
Legends Classic first round:
  • 5:30 PM: Mississippi State (5-0) vs. Washington State (4-0)
  • 7:30 PM: Pitt (5-0) vs. Texas Tech (5-0)
Las Vegas Invitational first round:
  • 9:00 PM: Iowa (5-0) vs. West Virginia (3-0)
  • 12:00 AM: Kansas State (5-0) vs. Kentucky (2-2)
Other games of little to no interest for you to keep an eye on:
  • 3:00 PM: Duquense (4-0) @ Duke (6-0)
  • 6:00 PM: Kent State (3-0) vs. Illinois (4-0)
  • 7:00 PM: Virginia (3-1) @ Syracuse (5-0)
  • 8:00 PM: Coppin State (1-1) @ Kansas (3-1)
  • 8:00 PM: California (4-0) @ UNLV (5-0)
  • 8:30 PM: Towson (3-1) vs. Villanova (4-0)
  • 8:30 PM: Northern Iowa (3-1) vs. Marquette (4-0)
  • 1030 PM: Florida State (5-0) vs. Cincinnati (4-0)
Continue reading...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Roundup

Quick round-up today as the turkey awaits.

UNC 102, Notre Dame 87: I hope you weren't expecting any defense in this game. Notre Dame hung around for a while in the first half, but a 25-9 run (sparked by 9 points and 2 assists from Ty Lawson) by the Tar Heels turned a two point deficit into a 14 point lead. Notre Dame only got it under ten once the rest of the way. Lawson finished with 22 and 11 for UNC, Deon Thompson had 19 and 13, and Hansbrough looked like he is finally healthy as he went for 34 and 5 boards. Kyle McAlarney went for 39 points on 10-18 shooting from deep, but Harangody (13 and 7) was not himself as he had spent time in the hospital because of the flu and Tory Jackson (10, 3 dimes, 3 turnovers) did not show up.

When it comes down to it, this game really taught us nothing about either team. We knew UNC was going to push the ball on offense and put up big numbers offensively. We knew that Notre Dame was going to have problems stopping people defensively and problems matching up on the inside. If Notre Dame had Harangody at 100%, I think that it would have been a closer game (although, I guess you can say if Hansbrough had been at 100%, UNC may have won by 25).

The rest of the last day of Maui action:

  • Alabama 58, St. Joe's 48
  • Texas 70, Oregon 57
  • Indiana 81, Chaminade 79
The pre-season NIT semi's took place last night as well:
  • Purdue 71, Boston College 64: Purdue built up a 20 point lead and hung on as BC made a late run. Purdue is going to be tough to score on this year. Granted, BC is not UNC, but Tyrese Rice is as good of a scorer as there is in the country and Purdue completely shut him down. Yea, he ended up with 17 points, but 7 of those came in the last 1:30 of the game when it was all but over. All five starters had at least 9 points for the Boilermakers, led by 19 and 6 dimes from E'Twaun Moore.
  • Oklahoma 77, UAB 67: Blake Griffin led the Sooners (surprise, surprise) with 32 points and 15 rebounds (which actually lowers his rebonding average from 19.8 to 18.8). The Sooners were down 62-60, but went on a 17-5 run to close out the game. Griffin had 5 points during that run, and also made a steal which led to an and-1 dunk by Austin Johnson. There were a few red flags for OU. The Griffin brothers combined to play 74 minutes last night. Every starter except Willie Warren (who battled foul trouble all game) played at least 35 minutes, and only one guy off the bench (Cade Davis) played more than 7 minutes. That is not a good sign early in the season, a time when coaches normally have too deep of a rotation. Robert Vaden did not have his best game for the Blazers, going for 18 points on 7-19 shooting. Paul Delaney III led UAB with 23.
If yo get bored with football today, here is the basketball schedule. It is actually a pretty good one.

Old Spice Classic:
  • 12:00 PM: Tennessee (3-0) vs. Siena (2-0)
  • 2:30 PM: Wichita State (2-1) vs. Georgetown (2-0)
  • 7:00 PM: Maryland (3-0) vs. Michigan State (2-0)
  • 9:30 PM: Oklahoma State (4-0) vs. Gonzaga (2-0)
76 Classic:
  • 2:00 PM: St. Mary's (3-0) vs. UTEP (2-1)
  • 4:30 PM: Cal St. Fullerton (2-2) vs. Wake Forest (3-0)
  • 9:00 PM: Charlotte (1-3) vs. Arizona State (3-0)
  • 11:30 PM: Providence (3-1) vs. Baylor (4-0)
Continue reading...

K's Korner: Blogging Through a Mid-Major's Season Pt. III

Welcome to K's Korner!! Scott Klatzkin is the voice of the Delaware State University basketball and football teams. The Hornets play in the MEAC, but also play one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country. Scott will be checking in with us periodically throughout the season as he follows DSU all over the country.

Monday at Lehigh was the first official road game of the season, but Tuesday began the actual road trip. The morning began with a drive down to Baltimore’s BWI airport where I met up with the basketball team and we flew out to Columbus. From Columbus, the team rode to Dayton and we got in on Tuesday evening to the Marriot. The team went off to practice shortly after, while I stayed behind to prepare my game notes for the next night’s broadcast. Only problem was that the hotel charged $14.95 for 24 hours of internet service. Am I out of my mind to think they are out of their mind to charge that rate for internet? Internet service costs me about 40 dollars a month and they expected me to pay a quarter of that for a night? I could be wrong, but I’d like to think that there are more people than just me and George Costanza that would refuse to pay this ridiculous rate.

However, my frugal ways did make things awfully difficult to try to prep for the Dayton game. I looked up stats on my Blackberry and re typed them on to my computer, which made game prep take much longer than usual and before I knew it, it was late and I hadn’t eaten anything yet. I went down to the hotel restaurant bar and watched UNC dismantle a nervous looking Kentucky team (Did anyone see Tyler Hansborough on the bench that game? Was he going to an art gallery that night? Did he forget his white gloves and white mime face paint? Is he goth now? Who styles him? Please, put a tie on that kid).

Since I had pretty much locked myself in my room the night before, I made it my goal to introduce myself to all the players and coaches at shoot around the next day. At this point I think about 80% of the traveling party thought it was just a coincidence that I had been on the same flight, stayed at the same hotel and happened to be riding on the team bus. From the looks on the players and a staff’s faces after saying hello, it was clear that my introduction solved the riddle that was “do you know what the young dude in the tie is doing riding with us?”

Game time was at 7:00pm and we arrived at the gym around 5:30. I was more than impressed with UD Arena, which is the site of the NCAA Tournament play-in game. I haven’t been to every A-10 arena (or any) but I would have to think that this place is the cream of the crop for the conference, and the fans are without a doubt some of the best I have seen regardless of their league. There were probably 11,000 of the 11,906 that attended already in their seats to watch warm-ups and they all stood to their feet as Dayton was introduced and returned to the floor for lay-up lines with 4:00 left until tip. The fans stood and cheered, and continued to do so until after the national anthem. 11,000 on their feet for about 10 minutes, not one person sitting down – I thought that was impressive.

I wasn’t impressed again, though, until about 12 minutes into the ball game. It was a slow paced game, and the score was only 13-10 Dayton with 8 minutes left in the first half. Then Chris Wright showed why some have him slated as the most NBA ready player in the Atlantic-10. A fast break layup off an alley-oop that was thrown far too high for anyone without a 40 inch vertical to catch, let alone lay-in. Then two vicious jams on the next two possessions and within 1:50 of game clock, the Flyers got their lead up to 19-11 with 6 minutes left, and the UD Arena crowd was rocking. The Hornets stayed in the game at the break, only down 28-21 thanks to a few triples by Donald Johnson, but the second half was a different story.

Maybe I’m easily entertained, but I love a good college basketball crowd and the Dayton student-section did not disappoint. The “Red Scare” seemed to have all gotten rosters or box scores from the first half, closed their eyes and pointed to one player. That player became their target. That player was Marcus Neal. Neal only had 4 points in the first half, but for whatever reason, the “Red Scare” decided he was going to be the guy they tormented for the next 20 minutes. It began with “Boos” every time he touched the ball, and then increased to “Maaaar-cussss”, followed by a more up-tempo chant of “MAR-CUS NEAL, MAR-CUS NEAL.” The junior captain was eventually removed from the game after getting stripped in the backcourt and then forcing a shot on the next possession. One would think that being removed from the game would be enough to calm the crowd. It wasn’t. With the Flyers up at least 18 for most of the second half, the crowd became more interested with our 6’5 shooting guard than with the actual happenings on the court. They continued with “Put in Marcus,” “We Want Marcus” and finished off with a cheer of “Where is Marcus? Clap-Clap, Clap-Clap-Clap.”

When they did pay attention to the game itself, they watched a Dayton squad that was far too athletic and strong for Delaware State to keep up with. It was all Flyers in the second half, and I found myself having to find ways to keep the broadcast interesting. One way that I’ve done this in the past is to find a way to relevantly mention Duke Basketball during the broadcast. I used to do it just to upset my former color analyst, Matt Janus (a die-hard Villanova fan, who I’m sure will be upset enough by the play of Duke transfer Taylor King as a Wildcat over the next few years), but then it became more of a challenge to myself. How could Duke possibly fit into a DSU-Dayton game? Well, I’m glad you asked. You see, Wisconsin transfer and Dayton backup guard, Mickey Perry, played AAU for the Illinois Warriors with Jon Scheyer. So when Perry drilled a 3 pointer with 3:39 remaining. I got to reel off that useless factoid. Sadly enough, that was the most exciting part of the second half.

Dayton won the ball game 62-42 and the A-10’s top Sophomore, Chris Wright, finished with 18. Our leading scorer was Donald Johnson with 11. A disappointing 3rd consecutive loss for the Hornets, but there was no time to hang their heads - Tipoff in Columbus against Ohio State in less than 24 hours.
Continue reading...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wednesday Lay-up Lines

Today is the last day for the Maui Invitational:

  • 2:00 PM: Alabama (2-2) vs. St. Joe's (2-2)
  • 4:30 PM: Texas (3-1) vs. Oregon (3-2)
  • 7:00 PM: Indiana (2-2) vs. Chaminade (0-2)
  • 10:00 PM: UNC (5-0) vs. Notre Dame (4-0): #1 vs. #8. Luke Harangody vs. Tyler Hansbrough. Do I need to say more? If you like fast paced basketball, and you like watching teams shoot a lot of three's, then be sure to catch this game. I would expect both team's to at least make it into the 80's. North Carolina has rolled through their first five games, but they haven't faced much competition. A very good Notre Dame team should give us a pretty good gauge as to how good the Heels are. I think UNC wins by double digits.
Pre-season NIT Semi's:
  • 7:00 PM: Purdue (4-0 )vs. Boston College (3-1): Tyrese Rice is one of the best scorers in the country. It will be interesting to see how he handles going against a great Purdue defense.
  • 9:30 PM: UAB (4-0) vs. Oklahoma (4-0): UAB looks pretty good this year, but they have nobody that can match up with the Griffin brothers. 
Continue reading...

K's Korner: Blogging Through a Mid-Major's Season Pt. II

Welcome to K's Korner!! Scott Klatzkin is the voice of the Delaware State University basketball and football teams. The Hornets play in the MEAC, but also play one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country. Scott will be checking in with us periodically throughout the season as he follows DSU all over the country.

The first weekend of the Delaware State Hornets basketball season is in the books and I just feel compelled to pronounce my love for the game of college basketball. I broadcasted University of Delaware hoops for four years from 2003-04 to 2006-07 and last season, after graduating, was my first year not sitting courtside 30 times from November to March. I think I may have actually forgot just how much I loved watching the game, and my appreciation for the sport has once again been replenished. I feel like Seth in "Superbad" right now.

I feel like I don't say it enough, I'm not embarrassed. It's like why don't I say it every day? Why don't I say it more often? I just love college basketball. I want to go to the rooftops and scream: "I love my best friend basketball." BOOP!
Okay enough with the love fest let's get to the details of the first few games. With my work schedule and the broadcasting of DSU football, I had not gotten the chance to see much of the basketball team prior to their season opener against Wilmington University. In fact, despite being a Delaware native for 20 years, I can't recall ever seeing a DSU Hornets basketball game, so this was a officially a first. I walked into Memorial Hall (which is a great name and gives off the impression of a large arena, but realistically is smaller than my high school gym and seats 2,000 at max capacity) and watched the end of the DSU women's game (MEAC schools play women-men doubleheaders) before the Hornets came on the floor to warm up.

The team does not look like a Division 1 basketball squad. The tallest player is 6 foot 7, and only about 2 of the guys have the muscle tone and body of a player you would find in a higher ranked conference. One of those guys is Arturo Dubois, a two-time 2nd Team All-MAAC selection at Manhattan College, the other is Marcus Neal, a 6'5 shooting guard that led the team with 40% 3-point shooting a season ago. But looks can be deceiving, and they do return their point guard, Trevor Welcher, from last season and a few JUCO transfers are joining the team to replace 2008 All-MEAC 1st teamer, Roy Bright.

The game begins and it becomes evidently clear to me that the title of this blog is extremely misleading. The Delaware State basketball team has been very successful in recent years, Head Coach Greg Jackson is probably the best coach in the conference, and I hope they make the post season for the 4th time in 5 years this season – but this is not a mid-major team I'll be covering this season. The quality of play in the MEAC is that of a Low-Major.

In any case, the game was what one would expect from a season opener between a low-major and a Division II team. Sloppy at times, nothing too exciting, but the Hornets got the W, 71-59, and start their season off 1-0. My favorite part of the game, though, was the 1,167 DSU fans that came out. As mentioned, it's a very small gym, so I could hear a lot of what was going on behind me and I found it hard at times not to start laughing out loud on press row. Late in the 2nd half, Will Alton, a Wilmington freshman guard from Pennington, NJ checked in and the crowd went wild. It was clear from Will's skinny frame, floppy Seth Rogan hairdo and 4 fouls in 5 minutes of action that he had no business being on the court, and the Hornets fans probably made him wish he had stayed in his cozy seat on the bench. Every time he touched the ball on offense, or guarded a player with the ball on defense, heckles of "Yo, Justin Timberlake," "Give JT the ball," and my personal favorite "Timberlake, get Sexy-Back on the bench" rang out. I don't know what was funnier, the heckling, or the fact that all white people apparently look like Justin Timberlake, even when sporting an entirely different haircut and a basketball jersey.

Game 2 of the Hornet Classic (which is intended on being a warm-up against Division II teams so that the Hornets can pick up 2 wins before losing 12 straight) did not go as planned, and Del State dropped a game to D-II Cheyney. I was in Norfolk, VA for a football broadcast at Norfolk State (Hornets trailed 28-7, and came back to win 34-28), so I didn't see the game, which is probably a good thing. Despite the loss, the team's second leading scorer from 07-08 (10.0ppg), Donald Johnson, bounced back from an 0-7 shooting night on Friday and scored a career high 26 on 4 of 8 from beyond the arc.

Sunday was a day for laundry, packing, typing up game notes, running errands and getting mentally prepared for the road trip. Then Monday came and it was finally here. You look at the schedule and get excited for all the teams you'll face this season, but you don't realize just how much travel and preparation it takes until the time to pack up and leave finally comes. So Monday I headed to Bethlehem, PA for stop 1 of 12 of this non-conference schedule.

I got to Stabler Arena around 4:30 and started setting up my radio equipment when I spotted Manhattan transfer, Arturo Dubois sitting in a chair near the entrance to the locker room. The Bronx native was wearing a fresh Yankee fitted and sweatpants, instead of the normal DSU warm-ups. I asked him what was up and he smiled, not because he was happy he'd be missing the game, but to show off the new gap in his mouth after having one of his front teeth knocked out as the result of an elbow to the mouth in Saturday's game. "I got surgery today," he told me, looking like Michael Strahan but speaking without the All-Pro's lisp. Just great. The Hornets are without their only big man for the night and facing a team that has a pair of 7-footers. Closer to tip-off, I spoke with a few members of the Lehigh staff and expressed my concern about the big fellas. I was reminded that if these guys were any good they wouldn't be playing at Lehigh. Good point. They barely played and didn't affect the game's outcome.

The Hornets stuck with the Mountain Hawks in the first half despite playing without their only big man and with Marcus Neal not attempting a field goal the entire night. DSU led 29-26 with 1:43 to go in the first half and then potential Patriot League Player of the Year, Marques Hall, decided to start playing. Hall was held to 2 points on a pair of free throws up to that point, but hit 3 three pointers before the half, each from an increasingly difficult angle and further distance from the basket. As Hall's final 3 point shot of the half fell from about 28 feet, so did any DSU momentum. The second half was all Lehigh, and the Hornets didn't help themselves from the line, shooting 4 of 14 in the final 20 minutes. Final score 76-58. Time for sleep, it's on to Ohio in the morning. Continue reading...

Wednesday Morning Shootaround

Two great games were played on Tuesday: Texas-Notre Dame in the Maui semi's and Syracuse-Kansas in the CBE finals.

Notre Dame 81, Texas 80: The Fighting Irish won the first match-up of top 10 teams this season. Notre Dame was up for the entire second half, pushing the lead to 79-71 with just over a minute left. But in the last 48 seconds, Notre Dame went 2-8 from the foul line and Texas hit three three's to cut the lead to 81-80. After Luke Harangody missed two free throws with 3.5 seconds left, AJ Abrams fired up a prayer from 60 feet that hit the front of the rim.

Texas did not play all that well last night. AJ Abrams shot 8-27 (5-17 from deep) for 23 points, but those numbers looked even worse before he hit two three's down the stretch. He was getting some decent looks but just missing them. Dexter Pittman had 4 fouls in 5 minutes. Damion James had a double-double, but does not understand what he can and can't do offensively and does not understand what a good shot is. For example, midway through the second half Notre Dame was starting to pull away and had built up a 57-50 lead, but two Justin Mason drives had cut the lead to three, and Texas had the ball. After one pass on that possession, Damion James got the ball on the wing, took two dribbles that went nowhere, and forced up a long, contested two point jumper and missed. James needs to realize that he is a slasher, rebounder, and energy guy that can knock down open jumpers and not a pure shooter. When he does, Texas will be a lot better.

Justin Mason bounced back from a rough one against St. Joe's. He had 16 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, just one turnover, and this:



Luke Harangody led Notre Dame with 29 and 13. Everytime I watch the big man play, I am more and more impressed with his agility. He is a big guy, but he makes some very nimble moves around the basket. The one that sticks out in my mind came in the second half against Connor Atchley. Harangody got the ball on the right block about 12 feet from the rim. He made a quick spin move and took a dribble to the rim. It looked like he was going to try to dunk on the help side defender, but instead hung in the air and spun in a lay-up on the other side of the rim. Tory Jackson finished with 16, 7 dimes, 5 boards, and 3 steals while McAlarney added 19 points on 5-9 shooting from deep.

Other Maui scores:

  • St. Joseph's 80, Indiana 54
  • Alabama 78, Chaminade 56
  • UNC 98, Oregon 69: Hansbrough ended up playing, but logged limited minutes as the Heels smacked the Duck
Syracuse 89, Kansas 81 OT: Jonny Flynn needs to be in the conversation as to who is the best point guard in the country. Flynn finished with 25 points and 5 assists last night, but more importantly he hit a three pointer off the dribble with six seconds left that forced overtime.



He was also the main reason Syracuse was able to climb back into a game that Kansas had seemingly taken control of. A Tyshawn Taylor three pushed the lead to 51-38, but Jonny Flynn picked up back-to-back steals leading to two breakaway dunks, sparking a 19-5 run that was capped by an Andy Rautins three-pointer that gave Syracuse the lead. Arinze Onuaku played great for the Orange, finishing with 19, 12, and 4 blocks while Paul Harris finished with 14 and 14 and saved the game with this block.



In the consolation game, Florida hung on to beat Washington 86-84.

Other scores of note:
  • Davidson 78, Loyola MD 48: Loyola held Stephen Curry scoreless, as in without a single point, in 32 minutes of play. How did they do it, they ran a triangle-and-two, with both of the two guarding Curry. Andrew Lovedale led the Wildcats with his third straight double double, going for 20 and 10. 
  • Pitt 74, Belmont 60: DeJuan Blair didn't play (knee swelling), the Panthers got outrebounded by 11, but Sam Young had 33 points in the win.
  • Villanova 71, Monmouth 48
  • Marquette 85, Texas Southern 68
  • Arizona 69, Santa Clara 66: You know about St. Mary's and Gonzaga in the WCC, and you should know about San Diego by now. Well, add Santa Clara to that list. The Broncos have lost to UAB, Arizona, and Georgia by a combined 12 points.
  • Liberty 86, Virginia 82: After seeing what Stephen Curry is doing at Davidson, how did Seth Curry end up at Liberty? He had 26 against the Cavs and is now averaging 22.3 ppg and shooting 38% from deep.
  • Dayton 71, Mercer 53: This may be the end of the Bears run.
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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

11/25 - Some Links, Some News

-Xavier freshman PG Terrell Holloway is out for 2-4 weeks with a stress fracture in his left foot. Pretty disappointing news for the frosh as he looked so impressive in Xavier's championship in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. It could be worse, however. Even if he is out for four weeks, Holloway should still be back in time for X's trip to New Jersey to play Duke.

-UCLA's Alfred Aboya doesn't have a broken wrist. Southern Illinois's Nick Evans does.

-It looks like the Kelvin Sampson soap opera is over at Indiana. From ESPN:

Sources told ESPN.com on Tuesday that Sampson, now an assistant with the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks, will receive a five-year show-cause penalty -- one of the harshest the NCAA can levy against an individual -- while the Hoosiers program has been spared a postseason ban.

The sources also said Indiana's self-imposed penalties are expected to be upheld. Meanwhile, the Indianapolis Star is reporting that the Hoosiers will receive three years' probation. The NCAA has scheduled a 4 p.m. ET conference call to discuss its findings in the case.
Good decision by the NCAA not to punish the kids at Indiana right now because it is an entirely new group of people around the program. Punish the school, don't punish some kids that are going to spend 2-3 years getting pounded by Big Ten opponents.

-Doug Wiggins has been suspended indefinitely from the UMass basketball team after being arrested for breaking and entering. Apparently, Wiggins was found in the bathroom of someone else's home. Wiggins is sitting out this season after transferring from UConn, where he had been in trouble before. Last year, he was suspended for two games after an arrest for possession of alcohol by a minor.

-Seth Davis of SI wrote a very interesting article about St. John's and what has happened to the basketball program there. Definitely a must read.

-Gary Parrish explains why there are so many pre-season tournaments.









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Tuesday Lay-up Lines

Games all day today, thanks in large part to the Maui Invitational:

  • 1:30 PM: St. Joseph's (1-2) vs. Indiana (2-1): Already going on as I write this post. Indiana kept it close for a half, but St. Joe's jumped all over the Hoosiers in the second half. St. Joe's won 80-54.
  • 4:00 PM: Alabama (1-2)vs. Chaminade (0-1)
  • 7:00 PM: Texas (3-0) vs. Notre Dame (3-0): The best game of the season so far as two top 10 teams square off. The key to the game will be in the paint - can a smaller, perimeter oriented Notre Dame team handle guys like Damion James, Gary Johnson, and Dexter Pittman? 
  • 9:30 PM: UNC (4-0) vs. Oregon (3-1): Hansbrough didn't play last night. He tweaked an ankle against UC Santa Barbara on Saturday and with the stress reaction in his shin, Roy Williams didn't want to use him all three days in Maui. No word yet on his status for tonight.
CBE Classic:
  • 7:45 PM: Florida (3-1) vs. Washington (2-2): Consolation game. If Florida is serious about playing zone, this is probably a much better match-up than Syracuse. Washington doesn't have as many shooters on the perimeter. 
  • 10:00 PM: Syracuse (4-0) vs. Kansas (3-0): Sherron Collins and Jonny Flynn are two of the best point guards in the country and it should be fun to watch them go head-to-head. I'm worried about Kansas getting penetration against a zone - they don't really have anyone that excels at getting into the lane and creating for teammates (a la Eric Devendorf last night). 
Top 25 teams taking the court and other games to keep an eye on:
  • 7:00 PM: Belmont @ Pitt
  • 7:30 PM: Monmouth @ Villanova
  • 7:30 PM: Mercer @ Dayton
  • 8:00 PM: Texas Southern @ Marquette
  • 8:00 PM: Loyola MD @ Davidson
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Tuesday Morning Shootaround

Still waiting for my internet to get fixed. Gotta love comcast...

Anyway, I watched entirely too much basketball last night - 5 games in total before giving up during Oregon-Alabama. As I said yesterday, Feast Week is easily the best week in the college hoops season that doesn't come in March. The games yesterday: Texas-St. Joe's, Notre Dame-Indiana, UConn-Wisconsin, Florida-Syracuse, and Kansas-Washington. Six (or seven depending on where you have the 'Cuse) ranked teams, nine with tourney hopes, played yesterday. My thoughts on the games:

Texas 68, St. Joe's 50: Texas won this game with defense (how often have you heard that the last few years). The 'Horns pressured a St. Joe's team (who looked like they weren't ready to play) throughout the game, forcing 18 turnovers. The Hawks made a little run at the end of the half to cut the lead to 37-28, but an 11-2 Texas spurt (aided by three St. Joe's turnovers) put the 'Horns up 48-30 and all but sealed the win. I knew Texas was going to be big this year, but still, they are huge. They start Dexter Pittman, Connor Atchley, and Damion James at the three (a guy who averaged a double-double last year) and bring Gary Johnson (14 and 10 last night) and Alexis Wangmene (8 and 7) off the bench. Those are a lot of big bodies for Rick Barnes. But I'm not convinced of their point guard situation yet. Abrams is clearly more comfortable running off of screens in a half court offense (he did pretty well handling the ball in transition), and Justin Mason, as good as he is, just is not a point guard. If the 'Horns want to be a Final Four team, Dogus Balbay or Varez Ward is going to have to step up and push for more minutes handling the rock.

For St. Joe's, I was really disappointed watching Ahmad Nivins. He ended up with 14 and 13, but he seemed genuinely uninterested for most of the game. I mean, the guy is long, athletic, and strong and could feasibly average 18 and 12 in the A-10, but he is going to have to work a lot harder than he did last night.

Notre Dame 88, Indiana 50: Really not all that much to say here. Notre Dame got a lead early and put it in cruise control by the end of the first half. Kyle McAlarney, who was 2-13 in his first two games, finally got into a rhythm, knocking down 6 3's. Tory Jackson, who is one of the most under-appreciated players in the country, scored 21 and had 6 assists, but also turned the ball over 5 times. I really like Jackson's game (he reminds me a lot of Taliek Brown, the PG for UConn the year they won the title with Okafor and Gordon). He is quick with the ball, getting in the lane just about whenever he wants. Once there, he is a very good passer (has led the Big East in assists the last two years) but he can also finish with a variety of floaters and finger-rolls. He's also a pesky defender and a great rebounder for his size. He's a perfect point guard for Mike Brey and this Notre Dame team that has so many offensive weapons.

On the other side, I was really impressed with how hard Indiana played. The talent isn't quite there yet, but one thing you have to credit Tom Crean's team for is that they didn't give up, even down 30 late in the game. There are a few pieces to build around. Freshman Nick Williams, who signed with Crean at Marquette, showed a lot of upside, although he is still a little raw. I also saw a lot to like in Tom Pritchard, the Hoosier big man that came into the game averaging 16 and 10. He is a crafty lefty in the post. He's got a slew of fakes and has tremendous foot work. When he gets the ball on the block, he knows what he wants to do with it and is patient enough to take his time and make his move. He's not a great athlete, but he has a nose for the ball. He'll be the guy that Crean runs his offense around this year. Pritchard had 14 last night.

UConn 76, Wisconsin 57: The first thing to note about this UConn team is that Jim Calhoun has been going with a seven man rotation early on. One of the things that has really bugged me about Jimmy C in recent years is that his notorious "quick hook" has gotten quicker and quicker, and he would end up going 10 or 11 deep and using guys that had no business playing in the Big East. He wasn't doing that last night (well, as much - AJ Price got pulled about 40 seconds into the second half for taking a bad shot). UConn's strength this year is going to be their guard play. AJ Price, Jerome Dyson, Craig Austrie, and Kemba Walker wreaked havoc on Wisconsin guard's. UConn is back to their old ways, running Calhoun's 2-2-1 press then dropping back into man-to-man. I was really impressed with Kemba Walker (this was the first time I saw him play). He is probably going to be the quickest guy on the floor every game this year, and he takes advantage of that. He is an absolute terror defensively, as he had four steals last night (two of which led two 1-on-0 fast breaks) and forced about 3 or 4 more turnovers. He still is a freshman and makes freshman mistakes (he had 7 turnovers himself, a lot of which were just a result of over-penetrating and playing too fast), but Calhoun will live with Walker learning as he goes when he gets 12 points, 8 boards, 4 steals, and 2 dimes out of him. Another thing that impressed me was that out of UConn's big four (Dyson, Price, Hasheem Thabeet, and Jeff Adrien), Dyson was the only one that played well (21, 3 dimes, 3 steals). Price struggled all game as he is battling a variety of ailments (abscessed tooth, sprained ankle, coming off the torn acl). Thabeet and Adrien combined for 23 points, 15 rebounds (10 offensive), and 4 blocks, and seemed like they were getting pushed around a bit on the blocks by Wisconsin's bigs. And the Huskies still beat a good Wisconsin team soundly. When the Huskies get it going this year (and when they get Stanley Robinson and Ater Majok eligible), they are going to be tough to beat. One last note - Thabeet looked much better defending on the perimeter last night. What Bo Ryan did was take whoever Thabeet was guarding (usually Keaton Nankivil, who led the Badgers with 11) and use him as a screener, both off and on the ball. While he still is not great at it, Thabeet looked much improved at defending the pick and roll. His inability to do so is what cost UConn their first round game against San Diego last year.

Wisconsin did not look very good last night. They don't really have a scoring option on the block (although I'm sure a lot of that had to do with Thabeet's presence), Trevon Hughes really struggled against the Huskies pressure, and if it weren't for a tremendous start (5-5 from deep in the first 10 minutes), Wisconsin might have been run off the court in the first half. I'm not and never will be worried about a Bo Ryan coached team, but right now they look like they are a ways behind Michigan State and Purdue.

Syracuse 89, Florida 83: This is the second time I've seen the 'Cuse play, and they are really going to be good this year. I probably would put them at fifth in the Big East right now (behind the big four). Jonny Flynn is the same Jonny Flynn from last year. Paul Harris is just as tough, but as added a 15-17 foot jumper that you must defend. Arinze Onuaku has gone from a 275 lb fat boy to 275 lb of muscle (seriously, he looks like he should be on World's Strongest Man). Kristoff Ongenaet, Rick Jackson, and freshman Kris Joseph are all going to be able to provide hustle, rebounds, and defense inside. And they've gotten back the two things they were missing last year - perimeter shooting from the wings (Eric Devendorf and Andy Rautins) and another guy that can penetrate and score or create shots for others (Devendorf). But the biggest change I see in this year's team is that Jim Boeheim has them playing a lot of man-to-man, which makes it all-the-more difficult for a team to prepare for the 'Cuse. Boeheim has himself a tough team that is going to make some noise this year.

As for Florida, I want to know where their defense was last night. For some reason, Billy Donovan decided to play predominantly 2-3 zone last night, which Syracuse tore apart. Personally, I think that Donovan was trying to see how good this zone could be if he wanted to use it later in the season. He has a ton of guys that are long and athletic and can cover a lot of space in a hurry, which is exactly what you want in a zone. Offensively, it all starts with Nick Calathes. I hate to use cliches, but the kid is just one step ahead of everyone else. The best comparison I can give for Calathes is Jason Kidd. They are both bigger point guards who can make any pass with either hand, know where people are going to be before they get there, do not need to look when they make a pass (seriously, Calathes probably looks on about a third of the passes he throws), and both have an ugly, but effective, set shot three pointer. The best example was this play from last night. Calathes had the ball on the wing, and Alex Tyus (who played great last night, more on him in a bit) was in the opposite short corner. Syracuse was in a zone. Calathes drove baseline (to his right), and after two dribbles zipped a pass right to the center of the paint. It looked like the pass was to nobody, but Tyus, as Calathes was driving, was curling around into the middle of the paint, where he got the ball and got an easy look (I forget if he finished the lay-up or got fouled, but it resulted in two points). Calathes finished with 19 and 7 dimes. As for Tyus, he just knows how to get open. He is a lanky, 6'7" athlete, but he is very active and scored 24 last night on a variety of put backs and dunks off of Florida's ball movement.

Kansas 73, Washington 54: Kansas is exactly what you would expect. Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich are both as good as advertised. Collins last night had 18 points, 5 assists, and 2 steals, but more importantly made great decisions and was the leader for this young team. Perfect example: after a bit of a scrum for a rebound, Markieff Morris and Justin Dentmon got chest to chest and started jawing with each other. As the refs headed over to break it up, Collins said something to Morris and kind of forced him to head back to the bench, then as the game headed into the commercial break, you could see Collins talking with the ref for a while. No way I can know what was said, but by his body language and gestures, it was clear that Collins was going to bat for his young teammate. That's what senior leaders are supposed to do. Aldrich looked like the real deal last night. He did miss a couple easy ones inside, but for the most part played great. He ended up with 16, 9 boards, and 6 blocks. What impressed me the most were his outlet passes. There were two or three in the first half when he grabbed a rebound in traffic, kept it above his head, turned and flung the ball 50 feet up the court to a Jayhawk in stride, leading to a fast break. And all of that would happen in the span of about a second and a half.

For Washington, they have a long way to go. Brockman is a horse inside, but beyond him they aren't anything too impressive. Isaiah Thomas can score, but he has a long way to go before he lives up to his name. The rest of that team - Quincy Pondexter, Dentmon - looked downright awful at times last night. The days of Brandon Roy must seem like a long time ago for Lorenzo Romar.

Other scores of note:

  • Davidson 76, Florida Atlantic 60 - Stephen Curry had 39 points and 4 assists in the win.
  • Wake Forest 62, Winston-Salem 31 - A week after scoring 120 points in a game, the Demon Deacons held a team to 31 when they struggled offensively. Don't hand Duke second place in the ACC just yet. 
  • UNC 115, Chaminade 70
  • Miami FL 80, San Diego 45
  • Kentucky 91, Longwood 57
  • Ohio State 61, Bowling Green 57 - BJ Mullens had 2 points in 11 minutes.
  • UNLV 80, UTEP 67
  • Oregon 92, Alabama 69
  • Yale 53, Oregon State 52
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Monday, November 24, 2008

Monday Lay-up Lines

The third week in November is exciting for more than just football fans. Outside of the month of March, Feast Week is the best week in college basketball. With the number of preseason tournaments that take place during this week, not only will there be college basketball on TV for 15 hours a day, but there will be some incredible match-ups. I've mentioned this before, but these games are more important that just winning a pre-season tournament. A lot of times, they are the deciding factors when trying to determine who is a 2 seed and who is a 3 seed, or, more importantly, who gets in to the dance and who is doomed for an NIT berth. The action starts at 3 pm tomorrow with the most well-known of the pre-season tourneys - the Maui Invitational.

Maui Invitational:

  • 3:00 PM: St. Joseph's (1-1) vs. Texas (2-0) - Ahmad Nivins is averaging 21 and 12.5, but he hasn't faced a front line as big as Texas yet. 
  • 5:30 PM: Indiana (2-0) vs. Notre Dame (2-0) - The Hoosiers are 2-0 and freshman Tom Pritchard is averaging a double-double, but Tom Crean and Pritchard will get their first real test with Luke Harangody and the Irish.
  • 9:30 PM: UNC (3-0) @ Chaminade (0-0) - I bet Virginia thought it would be a cake walk too.
  • 12:00 AM: Oregon (2-1) vs. Alabama (1-1) - Both teams have already been upset in this young season. Alabama's loss to Mercer doesn't look so bad right now. Oregon's loss to Oakland does.
The CBE Classic semi-finals are also being played on Monday night in Kansas City.
  • 7:30 PM: Florida (3-0) vs. Syracuse (3-0): The first real test for either team. With most of the SEC struggling, this tournament is a chance for Florida to prove themselves the favorite in the conference.
  • 10:00 PM: Kansas (2-0) vs. Washington (2-1): Our first chance to really see what Cole Aldrich is made of as he will be going toe-to-toe with Pac-10 player of the year candidate Jon Brockman.
The Virgin Islands Paradise Jam finishes up with the finals tonight. 
  • 6:00 PM: Miami FL (2-1) vs. San Diego (2-2): The Hurricanes lost to UConn in the semi's, but Jack McClinton broke out of his shooting slump. San Diego, who lost to Wisconsin, is expected to compete with Gonzaga and St. Mary's for the WCC crown, but has already lost two games this season. 
  • 8:30 PM: UConn (4-0) vs. Wisconsin (4-0): Both UConn and Wisconsin struggled in their opening round games, but won handily in the semi's. Interesting match-up between two very different styles of play, especially offensively. Bo Ryan runs a precise system, whereas Jim Calhoun wants his guys to push the ball and basically just let their talent lead them.
The rest of Monday's action:
  • 8:00 PM: Florida Atlantic (3-1) @ Davidson (3-1)
  • 8:00 PM: Winston-Salem (0-2) @ Wake Forest (2-0)
  • 10:00 PM: UNLV (4-0) @ UTEP (2-0): UTEP may turn into the team that can give Memphis a run for the C-USA crown, especially if Randy Culpepper (25.5 ppg) can turn into a reliable #2 scoring option beside Stefon Jackson.
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College Basketball Week in Review: Will Anyone Be Able to Stop Steph Curry or Blake Griffin This Year?

GAME OF THE WEEK:
Xavier 63, Virginia Tech 62
This one was pretty easy to pick. Virginia tech led by as many as 12 in the second half and went up 7 with 5:14 left on a Malcolm Delaney three, but the Hokies would not score for the remainder of regulation. Xavier battled back to tie the game up on two Kenny Frease free throws to force OT. In that OT, there were six lead changes as the two teams went back and forth. Tied at 60 with time running out, Dorenzo Hudson missed a pull-up jumper but Jeff Allen was in the right place as he tipped in a weak side rebound to give Tech the lead. Out of timeouts, Jason Love took the ball out of bounds and quickly found Dante Jackson, who took one dribble and fired from just beyond half court. He banked in the prayer, and the Xavier players stormed the court. Derrick Brown led Xavier with 16 and 6 boards while CJ Anderson added 13. Jeff Allen led everyone with 22 and 11, but AD Vassallo was held to 4 points on 2-13 shooting (he did have 10 boards and 8 assists).

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK:
Stephen Curry, Davidson and Blake Griffin, Oklahoma
In three games this week, Curry averaged 35.7 ppg, 8.3 apg, and 3.0 spg while shooting 53% from the floor, 15-33 from three, and 24-25 from the line. He led Davidson to a 2-1 week. Their only loss was to Blake Griffin and the Oklahoma Sooners, where Curry scored 44 points on what most considered to be an off-night. Griffin has been equally as impressive in the early season. In three games this week, Griffin averaged 26.7 ppg and 20.3 rpg while shooting 72% from the floor. For the season, Griffin has yet to score under 20 points and grab fewer than 18 rebounds.

While both players were pre-season first-team all-americans, no one could have expected the performances that these kids have had four games in. Blake Griffin's athleticism is on a whole different level from the rest of college basketball. The kid is a freak of nature. With his size, mobility, and leaping ability, he is drawing comparisons to Amare Stoudamire. Curry has been just as impressive. He has silenced anyone who doubted his ability to run the point. He is not the play maker that Jason Richards was, meaning he isn't going to be breaking people down off the dribble to create for his teammates. But Curry has proven he is very good at findings people spotting up in transition and that he is able to get the ball up the floor and get Davidson into their offense without turning the ball over. Davidson will not be as good as they were last year, but with Curry on the floor, the Wildcats will never be out of a game.

TEAM OF THE WEEK:
Xavier
If Mercer had held on to their 18 point lead against Georgia tech at home, they would have been back-to-back winners of the TOTW award. But they lost, which opens up the door for the Xavier Musketeers. X won three straight games against good opponents as they won the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Sunday night. They beat Missouri 75-71 on Thursday, Virginia Tech on the buzzer beater on Friday, and held on against Memphis on Sunday night for the title. I've been really impressed with Xavier in the early going. I thought that they were going to be down after losing three seniors in Stanley Burrell, Josh Duncan, and most importantly Drew Lavender. But former Indiana recruit Terrell Holloway and looked better than advertised in five games this season. He hasn't put up spectacular numbers (7.8 ppg, 6 assists vs. 10 turnovers), but he had protected the ball, he has gotten the ball up the court against two teams with a very good press (Missouri, Memphis) and he has stepped to the line an knocked down big free throws (27-28). Fellow freshman Kenny Frease has looked promising as well, but he still has a way to go to learn the college game. As usual, X is getting a balanced effort as they have eight guys averaging between 6.0 and 10.6 ppg and more than 15.8 mpg.

MATCH-UPS OF THE WEEK:
For the best games this week, check-in daily for Lay-up Lines as all of the marquee match-ups take place in the tournaments.
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Monday Morning Shootaround

Three ranked teams went down on Sunday afternoon. The first to lose was USC, who got knocked off by Missouri. The Tigers were down 53-43 in the second half, but used a pair of 12-2 runs to beat the Trojans. DeMarre Carroll led Mizzou with 29 and 11, but he also added 3 steals. All told, the Tigers forced 19 Trojan turnovers with their 40-minutes-of-hell pressure, and 13 of those (8 by Daniel Hackett, 5 by Dwight Lewis) came from USC's starting back court.

These two teams have started out the season very differently. USC was supposed to challenge for the Pac-10 title, but they have struggled in the early going. Demar Derozan is a great athlete, but he does not quite understand how to play the game when he is going up against guys that are his size that can run and jump with him. They have question marks at the point, and are still waiting for someone to emerge along side Taj Gibson (who has been nothing short of fantastic). Missouri, who was expected to be a middling Big XII team at best, has been very impressive. They start out the season 4-1, with their one loss being a nail-biter to Xavier. Carroll is averaging 20 and 7, while front court mate Leo Lyons is putting up 17 and 6. The Tigers have a lot of long athletes, which is what makes their press so effective. When it is working right, they can play with anyone in the country.

Other ranked teams in action:

  • UConn 76, Miami FL 63 - UConn finally looks like the #2 team in the country. The Huskies got 19, 14, and 7 blocks from Hasheem Thabeet and used a 16-0 run early in the first half to break the game open. The 'Canes kept fighting, cutting the lead to four a couple of times, but never really made it interesting. AJ Price added 13, 11 boards, and 5 assists while Kemba Walker continued his hot start by scoring 11. Jack McClinton broke out of his two game shooting slump, going for 27 and 5 three's.
  • Xavier 63, Memphis 58 - Real hard-fought game on both ends of the floor. Xavier was ahead for most of the game, but really had to battle the Tigers pressure down the stretch. Once again, it was free throws and poor decision making that cost Memphis a title. The Tigers were just 15-30 from the line, going 1-6 and missing two front-ends in the final minutes. Tyreke Evans has a ton of talent and potential and will one day be a very good player, but until he learns what is a good shot and what isn't, he is going to hurt Memphis. For example, Memphis was down six, but on three straight possessions ran a two-man game with Robert Dozier in the post and Doneal Mack on the wing. The result of those three possessions were a basket and two fouls, and in the process Memphis cut the lead to three. On the fourth possession, Evans brought the ball up the floor and jacked up a quick three-pointer off the dribble. He bricked it, and Xavier got the rebound and scored at the other end. Doneal Mack has been one of the bright spots for Memphis early on. He's their best perimeter shooter (although he has been inconsistent early on), but he's also added a very nice mid-range game and is attacking the basket more than ever. 
  • Louisville 81, South Alabama 54 - Samardo Samuels scored 24 points in the win, his second straight game leading the Cardinals in scoring. More importantly, after struggling in the Morehead State win, Terrence Williams, who is coming off of a knee injury, had 12 points, 7 boards, 7 dimes, and 5 steals.
  • Duke 78, Montana 58 - Duke improves to 6-0 with the win, but played without Greg Paulus who missed the game because of the arm injury that has been bothering him.
  • Arizona State 61, Pepperdine 40 - James Harden has 33 and 12 in the win, but the Sun Devils really need people around the sophomore to step up. Jeff Pendergraph has 23 points on the season.
  • Wisconsin 64, San Diego 49 - Trevon Hughes has flown under the radar for most of his career at Wisconsin, but the kid is proving how good he is this year - he's scored 20 in back-to-back games. It will be interesting to see him go up against the hyped back court of UConn.
  • Seton Hall 77, Virginia Tech 73 - Another tough loss for the Hokies, who got 23 from Malcolm Delaney, 22 from AD Vassallo, and 17 and 17 from Jeff Allen. Bobby Gonzalez is not well-liked in coaching circles, but he is doing an impressive job with this Pirate team. They are now 4-1 on the season with wins against Tech and USC. Jeremy Hazell is blossoming into a go-to scorer (22.8 ppg) for the Pirates, who are also getting double-digit production from three other starters. The two wins in this tournament put the Pirate's in very good position to earn an at-large berth if they can manage to finish in the top 9 of the Big East.
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Saturday, November 22, 2008

11/22 - Some Links, Some News

Just two quick newsworthy items:

  • St. John's forward Anthony Mason Jr. is done for the year after tearing a tendon in his foot. Apparently he hurt it a while ago but played through the pain for the two games in the Pre-season NIT opening round. Mason is a senior, but he will apply for an extra year of eligibility.
  • Classy Eric, real classy. From the Daily Orange:
    Kimberly Smith, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told police she was stopped on the 900 block of Walnut Avenue around 3 a.m. when several people began yelling at her and kicking the 2007 Hyundai Elantra she was driving, Connellan said. SPD was called by SU's Department of Public Safety, and met Smith at the intersection of University Place and Comstock Avenue, he said.

    Smith told police that when she got out of her car, Eric Devendorf allegedly approached her with a closed fist and punched her in the face, Connellan said.

    Attempts to reach Smith Tuesday night were unsuccessful. There were dents in both the passenger and driver sides of the car, Connellan said. Smith told SPD she didn't recognize the other people in the group, but that she had been an acquaintance of Devendorf. She said she wanted Devendorf arrested, Connellan said. He said the charge would be for harassment in the second degree.
    Devendorf has not been arrested and no charges have been filed, but this isn't the first time a Syracuse player has been in the news for something other than basketball. Jonny Flynn, Scoop Jardine, and Rick Jackson had to go to court to testify at a Grand Jury hearing in August regarding a sexual assault accusation (charges were never filed). DeShaun Williams was suspended in 2002 for a bar fight that put a woman in the hospital. And remember Billy Edelin?

    I doubt that Devendorf will end up in trouble because, like the Flynn-Jardine-Jackson incident, it seems like a he-said, she-said kind of thing. And I don't want to speculate what happened, especially since the incident occurred at 3 am on a Saturday morning (I doubt anyone involved really knows what happened). I don't like judging players that make mistakes that typical college students make. But a college athlete punching a woman in the face? No matter how drunk you are that should not happen. As much as I hate Syracuse, I hope that it isn't true.
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Saturday Roundup

The game of the night on Friday was Xavier vs. Virginia Tech. If you haven't seen it yet, watch the ending. Words cannot describe.



It was Jeff Allen (22 and 11) with the tip-in for Tech and Dante Jackson with the halfcourt buzzer beater. The importance of this shot goes well beyond advancing to the finals of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off tourney. Both Tech and Xavier look like they will be squarely on the bubble this year. Let's say Xavier goes on to win the A-10 and Tech ends up fifth in the ACC. Don't you think a win over Xavier would look really good on the Tech resume? There is a very real possibility that Dante Jackson making that shot will have an effect on the NCAA tournament field.

The rest of last night's Puerto Rico tournament action, which will conclude on Monday:

  • Missouri 87, Fairfield 59 - Demarre Carroll had 15, 6 and 5 and Leo Lyons had 12 and 10 to lead the Tigers.
  • USC 73, Chattanooga 46 - Taj Gibson led four players in double figures with 17, 15, and 5 blocks.
  • Memphis 84, Seton Hall 70 - Doneal Mack led the Tigers for the second straight game with 16 and Willie Kemp added 14 as the Tigers overcame a 32 point effort from Jeremy Hazell.
The first round of the Virgin Islands Paradise Jam took place last night as well:
  • Miami 70, Southern Miss 60 - Miami got a balanced effort as Dwayne Collins had 14 and 9, Jack McClinton had 13, and Lance Hurdle, who missed the 'Canes opener with a sprained ankle, added 13 big points off the bench. Jeremy Wise had 21 for USM.
  • San Diego 73, Valparaiso 66 - Gyno Pomare led the Toreros with 17 and 12.
  • UConn 89, La Salle 81 - The Huskies got 23 from freshman Kemba Walker and 22 and 14 out of Jeff Adrien as they held off a scrappy La Salle team. AJ Price returned from a sprained ankle (he was also playing through a swollen jaw from an abscessed tooth) and had 12 and 4 dimes. The biggest concern for Jim Calhoun was his team's toughness, especially defensively and on the boards, because the Huskies gave up 10 offensive rebounds and allowed the Explorers to shoot 50% from the field. After two consecutive so-so showings, should Husky fans start getting worried?
  • Wisconsin 60, Iona 58 OT - The Badgers barely hung on against a game Iona squad. Trevon Hughes had 21 in the win. 
The loser's bracket will take place tonight in the Virgin Islands, so Southern Miss will take on La Salle at 6:00 followed by Valpo playing Iona.

The CvC finals were played last night in MSG:
  • UCLA 77, Southern Illinois 60 - The Saluki's kept it close for a while, but a 20-2 second half run by the Bruins put the game away. There was good news and bad news for Ben Howland regarding Alfred Aboya - he went for 22 and 8 and looked like he could be the inside scoring presence the Bruins so desperately need, but he injured his hand trying to take a charge late in the game. X-rays taken in NYC were inconclusive and a CT scan came back negative, but Aboya is scheduled for an MRI when he heads back west.
  • Duke 71, Michigan 56 - Duke headed to the Garden early for an extra hour of preparation against the Michigan 1-3-1 and it paid off. A 8-0 early in the game pushed the Blue Devils lead to 25-15, and Michigan never really made a serious threat after that. Duke got 16 from PG Nolan Smith and 15, 8 and 4 dimes from CvC MVP Kyle Singler, but they still had 17 turnovers (although to be fair, a lot of that can be attributed to the unique Wolverine defense). With all the question marks that we have mentioned about the Dukies, they are now 5-0 and won their four games in the CvC by an average of 28.5 points. The Wolverines were led by 25 from guard Manny Harris.
Other scores of note:
  • UNC 84, UC Santa Barbara 67 - Hansbrough had 13 and 7 in his first game of the year, but seemed a bit out of sync as he was just 2-8 from the floor.
  • Pitt 86, Akron 67 - Sam Young had 26 for the Panthers and DeJuan Blair added 16, 13, and 5 steals. 
  • Notre Dame 65, Loyola Marymount 54 - Luke Harangody had 27 and 17 in the win, but Notre Dame struggled with a middle-of-the-pack WCC team. We'll give them the benefit of the doubt as they travelled all the way to the west coast to play to prepare themselves to the Maui Invitational.
  • Tennessee 76, Middle Tennessee 66 - Tyler Smith led the Vols with 18, 10 boards, and 4 assists, but UT struggled against MTSU.
  • Davidson 97, Winthrop 70 - Stephen Curry continued his struggles at the point. Against the Eagles, Curry went for 30 points and 13 assists to just 3 turnovers. I know the season is just four games old, but Curry is averaging 34 ppg, 8.8 apg, and forcing more turnovers than he commits - 4.5 spg to 2.8 t/o's. 
  • Utah 83, Mississippi 72 - The SEC's struggles continue. This is the same Utah team that lost to D2 Southwest Baptist.
  • Syracuse 86, Oakland 66 - Syracuse jumped on Oakland with a 22-5 run to start the game, and the Golden Grizzlies never made it close. Jonny Flynn had 18 for the Orange.
  • Virginia 68, Radford 66 - So their competition may not be the best, but regardless, the Cavaliers improve to 3-0 on the season. Sylven Landesberg is averaging 23.7 ppg.
  • Maryland 89, Vermont 74 - Greivis Vazquez hit a three to force overtime, where the Terps went on a 17-2 run to improve to 3-0 and get Gary Williams his 400th win. Vazquez finished with 26, 9 boards and 5 assists (but 5 turnovers) while Marqus Blakely had 23, 11, 4 steals, and 4 blocks for the Catamounts. Tough start for the Cats, as they have now lost tough ones to George Mason and Maryland.
Saturday's games of interest. Six ranked teams are in action:
  • 1:00 PM: Drexel @ Georgetown
  • 2:00 PM: Gardner-Webb @ Oklahoma
  • 4:00 PM: Indiana (PA) @ Pitt
  • 5:30 PM: Morehead State @ Louisville
  • 6:00 PM: Coppin State @ Purdue
  • 8:00 PM: Milwaukee @ Marquette
Other games to keep an eye on:
  • 12:00 PM: Delaware State @ Kentucky - Can the Wildcats get a win?
  • 1:00 PM: Georgia Tech @ Mercer - Mercer has beaten Alabama and Auburn on the road, and now hosts the Yellow Jackers. The Bears are led by Daniel Emerson (15.3 ppg, 12.3 rpg) and James Florence (22.3 ppg), who may be the best player in the country you've never seen. If Mercer wins this game, they will be ranked.
  • 7:00 PM: Kansas State @ Cleveland State - Kansas State is a middle of the pack Big XII team and Cleveland State is one of the favorites in a very good Horizon League. K-State better come to play.
  • 7:00 PM: Cornell @ Siena - This game would be so intriguing if Cornell's back court was healthy. Maybe the two best low-major teams in the country.
  • 7:00 PM: VCU @ Rhode Island - Eric Maynor and Jimmy Baron are two of the best players in the country outside of the BCS conferences.
On a side note, the internet is still out at my apartment, so a lot of my posts will be brief as I can only sit at a bar without ordering a drink for so long before the bartender gets mad. Should be back up and running normally by Monday. Apologies for the inconvenience. Continue reading...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Lay-up Lines

A ton of action tonight as the Pre-season tournaments are really starting to pick up.

Finals of the CvC:

  • 5:00 PM: UCLA vs. Southern Illinois - Given the defensive prowess of both teams, they may not break 100 combined.
  • 7:30 PM: Duke vs. Michigan - Really like this match-up, especially given the way the Wolverines are playing. I'm curious to see how Duke handles the 1-3-1.
Semifinals of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off:
  • 12:00 PM: Fairfield vs. Missouri
  • 2:30 PM : Xavier vs. Virginia Tech - Really good match-up here. Jeff Allen and Derrick Brown are two of the more versatile forwards in the country, and should be fun to watch go head-to-head.
  • 6:00 PM: Chattanooga vs. USC
  • 8:30 PM: Seton Hall vs. Memphis - Everyone wanted to see USC play Memphis and watch Tyreke Evans match-up with Demar Derozan.
First Round of the Paradise Jam:
  • 1:00 PM: Southern Miss vs. Miami - Guards Jeremy Wise and Jack McClinton can both really put up points in a hurry. 
  • 3:30 PM: San Diego vs. Valparaiso
  • 6:00 PM: UConn vs. La Salle - AJ Price should be ready to go after missing a game with a sprained ankle.
  • 8:30 PM: Wisconsin vs. Iona
Other games to keep an eye on:
  • 6:30 PM: Mississippi vs. Utah
  • 7:00 PM: Akron @ Pitt
  • 7:00 PM: Oakland @ Syracuse - Oakland just beat Oregon and Syracuse struggled against Richmond. The Orange will need to slow down Johnathon Jones, who had 32 against the Ducks.
  • 7:00 PM: Winthrop @ Davidson - Two of the best mid-majors of the last decade.
  • 8:00 PM: Vermont @ Maryland
  • 8:30 PM: Tennessee @ Middle Tennessee State 
  • 10:00 PM: Notre Dame @ Loyola Marymount
  • 10:00 PM: UNC @ UC Santa Barbara - There are rumblings that Hansbrough may play. I bet you are asking why UNC and Notre Dame are heading west to play road games against the likes of Loyola Marymount and UCSB, right? It is because the Maui Invitational starts on Monday, and both coaches are trying to get their player's acclimated to the time change.
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Friday Morning Shootaround

A lot of pre-season tournament action to get into. Let's start with the CvC semi's.

Duke 81, Southern Illinois 56: Southern Illinois looked terrible in the first half. Duke looked even worse. The Blue Devils managed to hold a 29-23 lead at halftime despite 15 turnovers in the half and Gerald Henderson and Kyle Singler going scoreless. But the second half was a different story, as Henderson and Singler combined for 33 points, Duke turned it over just four times, and the Devils outscored the Saluki's 54-35 en route to a 83-58 win. Henderson in particular looked like an all-american in the second half, scoring 20 points, hitting four three's, making plays defensively, and capping off the night with this dunk:




I'm on record here as saying that the in order for Duke to at least put up a fight against UNC in the ACC, they need Jon Scheyer to turn into a 15-17 ppg guy. I still believe that to be true and that Scheyer is not quite there yet (although seeing Singler and Henderson take over that game when Duke was struggling eased my doubts a little bit). But more importantly, Duke needs to solve their turnover issues. They had 15 in the first half. I know Southern Illinois is a tough team defensively, but they usually aren't the kind of team that will turn you over a lot. What I mean is that they aren't a pressing team, they are a team that will play fundamental, tough, helping defense that will force you to use a lot of clock and hopefully end up taking a rushed or bad shot. They aren't a Clemson or a Missouri that is going to press all over the floor. And Duke still had 15 turnovers in the half. Some were charges. Some were errant passes. There were travels, three-seconds, and I think I even remember a double dribble. I'm not sure what the answer is. Nolan Smith has struggled at times, but Paulus has his own turnovers issues. Maybe it is a focus thing. I don't know. What I do know is that they were up six at the half on a well-coached, possible (although they didn't look it last night) tourney-bound SIU team with those 15 turnovers. Without them, Duke might have won by 40.

There was one good sign for the Devils. Brian Zoubek looked good, especially in the first half (I believe his first half numbers were 9 points and 4 boards). He finished with 10 and 6, and if he can give the Devils that line every night, they won't have to worry all that much about the struggling Miles Plumlee.

Michigan 55, UCLA 52: The biggest upset of the year so far, at least by rankings. UCLA has been way overrated in the preseason by everyone (including myself, I had them at #3). They will be up there by the end of the year, but right now their freshman are just not ready. Outside of Jrue Holiday, the other four combined for a scoreless 15 minutes, and J'Mison Morgan didn't even play. Speaking of Holiday, last night was the first chance I got to see him play, and man is he good. He's not going to light up the scoreboard like the freshman of the past two seasons, but he is an efficient, smart, and fundamental player. He was 6-8 from the floor for 13 points, doing it in a variety of ways (I remember him hitting a three, making two pretty drives to the rim, and hitting a pull-up off the dribble from 15 feet). He attacks the boards very well for someone his size. He did a great job defensively on Manny Harris, maybe the best player in the Big Ten. I'm not sure if he is going to be a great pro yet, but if he stays at UCLA for three years, he will be an all-american.

Some last tidbits on the Bruins. They need a scoring presence in the paint - badly. Howland's system has always relied on being able to dump the ball on the block and know you can get points. Alfred Aboya, James Keefe, and Nikola Dragovic are all good players, but none of them are going to require a double-team - Keefe and Dragovic are more shooters than anything, and Aboya is known for his defense and rebounding. Collison and Shipp struggled badly last night, comibing for 18 points and 10 turnovers.

By talking about UCLA, I'm taking credit away from where it is due. The Wolverines played phenomenally last night. Beilien has this group of guys really buying into his system and playing above their potential. They've now beaten UCLA and Northeastern (who knocked off Providence). Their 1-3-1 zone is giving team's fits. Manny Harris has played great, and DeShawn Sims (who plays starters minutes but comes off the bench) is turning into an all-league caliber player. He led the Wolverines with 18 and 5 last night. And their role guys are, well, filling their roles. Case in point, Stu Douglass. The unheralded freshman had 10 points, 5 assists, and came up with two big three-pointers in the second half. Beilien has a bunch of cast-offs, but they look like they are ready to make some noise in the Big Ten. But it shouldn't surprise you that Beilien is winning with guys no one wanted - do you know where Mike Gansey and Kevin Pittsnoggle are now? Gansey is in Germany, and Pittsnoggle is a teacher.

Scores from the Puerto Rico Tip-Off :

  • Seton Hall 63, USC 61 - The Pac-10 may be giving the SEC a run for it's money as the most disappointing conference early in the season. Oregon State lost to Howard. Washington lost to Portland. Oregon lost to Oakland. Now two of the top three teams have been knocked off by middle-of-the-road power conference teams. Taj Gibson had 19, 18, and 3 blocks for the Trojans, but John Garcia had 11 and 18, Jeremy Hazell had 15, and Eugene Harvey had 18, 5, 5, and 3 steals as the Pirates came back from a 15 point half time deficit. It was their defense that led the comeback - USC had only 18 points in the second half and SHU got 27 points off of 19 USC turnovers.
  • Xavier 75, Missouri 71 -  The Musketeers got a balanced effort (8 guys between 6 and 16 points) as they overcame a late Missouri run.
  • Memphis 83, Chattanooga 71 - Doneal Mack scored 19, hit five three's, and keyed a 31-14 second half run that put the Tigers up 12 at the half. Shawn Taggart had 16 and 11 for Memphis.
  • Virginia Tech 74, Fairfield 57 - AD Vassallo had 24 points and Jeff Allen had 18, 8, 5 blocks, and 3 assists in a game that was never close.
  • Illinois 69, Vanderbilt 63 - Demetri McCamey had 23 and 6 assists to lead four players in double figures as the Illini held off Vandy.
  • Oklahoma State 91, Tulsa 73 - OK State forced 16 first half turnovers as they built 54-28 halftime lead. Byron Eaton led the way for the Cowboys with 26 and 7 dimes.
  • Texas Tech 167, East Central 116 - It doesn't matter who it was against. 167 points. The Red Raiders shot 67-113 from the floor, 13-25 from deep, had 10 guys in double figures, and scored 90 in the second half.
  • Florida State 79, Stetson 77 - Toney Douglas scored 20 of his 26 in the second half as the Seminoles barely hung on against Stetson. 
Best of the night:
  • Nick Stallings, Centenary - Stallings had 31, 7 boards, and 5 dimes in a win over Troy.
  • Courtney Pigrim, ETSU - Pigrim had a triple double with 21, 10, and 10 in a win over Wingate.
  • Marshon Brooks, Providence - Brooks had 30 off the bench to lead five players in double figures in a win over Sacred Heart.
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