College Hoops: The Spin
We're not even two weeks into the season, and already
there is so much to talk about. Plenty of early upsets, youngsters playing like
seasoned vets and the fun in attempting to keep up with every Division I school
(and the NAIA schools that beat them).
Lasting (First) Impressions
Let's start with a couple of freshmen that really impressed me right away: Kris
Humphries of Minnesota and Australian Andrew Bogut of Utah. College hoop junkies
got a chance to see them go head-to-head in the second round of the Preseason
Humphries garnered Big Ten player of the week honors by averaging 23 points and
12.5 rebounds in his first two games as a collegian.
Meanwhile, Bogut also recorded double-doubles in his first two games, and did
a superb job in helping to limit Humphries to just one basket in the final 16
minutes of Utah's 12-point victory over the Golden Gophers. Bogut plays a very
efficient game and the international experience he has gives him a great advantage
over other freshmen making the transition from the high school game.
Big Five Brouhaha
As if any of the Big Five rivalries needed any spice, Villanova and Temple's "Midnight
Madness" game Nov. 21 on the Temple campus provided plenty.
After Villanova lost many players to suspensions due to a phone card scam, head
coach Jay Wright tried to schedule a couple Division III schools prior to the
team's trip to the Maui Invitational. There's nothing wrong with that, except
that Wright never asked Temple coach John Chaney for his approval in moving their
originally scheduled matchup on the 21st.
Chaney was outraged, saying he'd rather not play Villanova ever again. Eventually,
the schools settled on playing at the earliest possible date for teams not playing
in an exempt tournament or event. So midnight it was.
Long story short, the crowd was crazy as you might expect from college students
at that time of night - in fact, a fan from the Villanova section tossed a soda
onto the court near coach Chaney at one point. Villanova went on to a surprising
25-point victory over a young and thin Temple team that attempted - get this -
40 3-pointers (making only 10). Something tells me that this midnight thing isn't
going to catch on at Temple as long as John Chaney's roaming the sidelines.
The "T" is Silent
Ohio State head coach Jim O'Brien is suffering from a paralyzed vocal cord and
cannot talk much above a loud whisper, so imagine how difficult it must be to
get the attention of his team at any point in a raucous arena.
Now imagine that same coach trying to flag down an official - by using a pen and
paper. That's what O'Brien did in the Buckeyes' disappointing season-opening loss
at San Francisco.
After getting an official's attention and requesting his presence by the Ohio
State bench to discuss a call, the official turned him down. So O'Brien put his
pen and pad to use, writing "This is sad" and showing the referee. He was immediately
teed up and then tossed with four minutes remaining in the game.
Rocking The Boat Early
So what if Thanksgiving isn't even here yet. It's never too early to talk about
bad losses and quality wins. Just ask Ohio State, Villanova or USC. Or better
yet, ask Saint Joseph's, Ball State or - wait a second - Lubbock Christian?
Ohio State was fortunate to avoid an 0-3 start, losing to San Francisco and San
Diego State before squeaking by Central Michigan.
Villanova fell to Maui Invitational host, Chaminade, which hadn't won a game in
its own tournament in 11 years.
USC got smacked by Western Michigan in a game that allowed Trojans star Desmon
Farmer to play a couple hours from his hometown of Flint, Mich.
Saint Joseph's opened with an impressive victory over a talented and physical
Gonzaga squad, while Ball State took out Xavier in convincing fashion on its home
boards in Muncie.
But how many of you have ever heard of Lubbock Christian? Well, the kids at Rhode
Island and Bradley have now after the NAIA Chaparrals took them out, for the school's
first two wins against NCAA Division I competition.
Box Score Bits
Every week in The Spin, we'll offer some things you may have missed - and some
things you just may not care about at all.
At first glance, you may have looked at Bucknell's 12-point loss to Michigan State
in East Lansing and thought that maybe Michigan State just slept through the affair.
And while that's basically true, since Bucknell led 50-49 with seven minutes left
to play, it was the free throw line that cost the Bison a chance at a huge upset.
Bucknell missed 16 of its 17 freebies in the game, including their last eight
tries down the stretch.
In the one-man show department, Western Carolina's Kevin Martin scored 44 of the
Catamounts' 67 points in an 11-point loss to Georgia. No other WCU player scored
more than 7, which is the number of 3-pointers Martin knocked down.
And it was one of the first games played in this college basketball season, but
in Wake Forest's season-opening victory over Memphis, Taron Downey scored 20 points
and handed out 5 assists. That may not sound impressive, but it's amplified quite
a bit by the fact that Downey was just eight days removed from an appendectomy.