College Basketball: The Spin
Polls are the most visible way to measure a team's success, or lack thereof, at a quick glance at any point during the season. But as any USC football follower will surely attest, the value of being at the top of the polls is debatable, even at the end of regular-season play. That's in the screwed-up galaxy of college football, where champions aren't necessarily determined on the field, though.
The way things have gone early in this 2003-04 season, being No. 1in college basketball is a sure-fire sign that a loss can't be too far in the distance. In both the media and coaches' polls, there have already been three different No. 1 teams in three weeks of play (UConn, Kansas & Florida). And on Wednesday, Gary Williams made his 300th win at Maryland a sweet one as the Terps became the first unranked team to defeat a No. 1 team on its home court in over 3 years by outmuscling Florida in overtime. Teams like Kentucky, North Carolina and Missouri could be next to be saddled with the No. 1 jinx.
Thin, But Phat
Arizona will need to stay healthy, because of a rotation that basically utilizes just six players now that Isaiah Fox is out for extended period of time after knee surgery. But no one pities Lute Olson for having such little depth.
That's because this Wildcats squad is as athletic as any team in the nation, and Tuesday's Jimmy V Classic game against Texas was Exhibit A, as in Adams and Andre - Iguodala, that is.
Hassan Adams is about as explosive as any guard in the country, attacking the rim with reckless abandon. And Iguodala is providing everything that Luke Walton did last season statistically, but has physical gifts that Walton can only relate to because he is now a teammate of Kobe Bryant. Iguodala had a triple-double in Arizona's 91-83 victory in one of the more impressive showings I've witnessed this season. It was the eighth straight season that Arizona has met Texas, and the Wildcats have won every single meeting.
Uniform Maker Charged With an "E"
New Tennessee State head coach Cy Alexander didn't think his first loss would be a letter on his team's uniforms. But that was the case when his Tigers were forced to sport new white tops with one letter missing - as in "Tennesse" - in their first four home games. Their blue road jerseys were misspelled as well, but they wore last year's black tops instead.
When asked her thoughts on the matter, TSU athletic director Teresa Phillips said it wasn't the first time that had happened and quipped, "But then, we had a vice president that didn't know how to spell potato."
Louisville's Top Scorer Mourns Loss of a Brother
Francisco Garcia, a sophomore star for Rick Pitino's Cardinals, lost his younger brother, Hector Lopez on Monday. The 18-year-old Lopez was walking with friends when two men shot him in the neck and chest.
Garcia matched his career high with 24 points in UL's victory over Seton Hall on Wednesday in an extremely emotional game for him, before returning home to Bronx, New York to be with his family.
Just a Few Observations
Don't be fooled by Michigan State's 3-3 start, its worst since Tom Izzo's first season in East Lansing. Those three losses have come against Kansas, Duke and Oklahoma, and the Spartans still have games against Kentucky and Syracuse before they begin Big Ten play. It's no wonder Michigan State rarely seems to feel the pressure in March.
Much is expected of Missouri this season, and the Tigers are off to a 3-0 start. But things are not as they seem. The Tigers haven't been able to find consistency at both ends of the floor yet and needed a 21-2 run over the final seven minutes to take care of Indiana over the weekend.
It would've been impressive for Stanford to beat Kansas WITH Josh Childress, but doing so without him further proves why Mike Montgomery is one of the best coaches in the country. Childress hasn't played yet this season due to a stress reaction in his foot, and isn't due back until late this month at the earliest.
Box Score Bits
Time to shed some light on players who put on their shoes one at a time, just like the ones you see on the tele all the time. You just don't hear about these guys as often.
Murray State's Cuthbert Victor was the key in the Racers' double-overtime triumph over Western Kentucky. Victor put up 26 points and 20 rebounds on the Hilltoppers.
Rafael Araujo, BYU's stud on the interior, tormented Oklahoma State with 32 points and 17 rebounds.
Bucknell sophomore Kevin Bettencourt scored more than half of his team's points by scoring 42 points thanks to 11-of-16 shooting from behind the arc. But the Bison lost the game, 84-79, to St. Francis (PA).
Old Dominion's Alex Loughton gave Bobby Lutz's Charlotte squad all it could handle in a game that lasted two overtimes. Loughton stuffed the stat sheet with 45 points, 15 boards and 6 assists. He made all five of his 3-point attempts as well, but didn't even get a field-goal attempt off in the second OT. Limiting Bettencourt's touches in that final overtime was key as Charlotte prevailed, 105-102.