Friday, December 08, 2006

Fun for Friday

TGIF sports fans, my sincere apologies for the lack of blogging this week. I thought it was time to reinvent the way in which I provide college basketball information to my readers and offer something a bit more valuable than the game summaries that have been offered in the past. I intend to begin each week with what I call, the “Monday Morning Wakeup Call” where I will update readers as to all events college basketball related that happened over the weekend in addition to my outlook for major games throughout the upcoming week. Similarly, I will provide you with “Fun for Friday” where I will offer similar news recapping major news from the week. Time permitting, I would like to continue to humor you with blogs such as the “Name Game” because who couldn’t use a little bit of Lee Cummard in their life? Without further ado, my very first “Fun for Friday.”

Big Wins, Bad Losses

Lead by Chris Lofton’s 34 points, Tennessee pounded Memphis 76-58 in a game that was truly never close. Bruce Pearl had Tennessee playing it’s own version of 40 minutes of hell, pressing full court for the entire game frustrating the Tigers into a number of turnovers leading to easy transition buckets – this is a great win for an unranked Volunteer’s team.

Notre Dame upended number five ranked Crimson Tide in a game where it appeared they controlled the tempo for its entirety. Notre Dame scored 99 points against a very defensive minded squad, forcing a number of turnovers in critical situations combined with dead-on shooting. With that victory, the Fighting Irish improve to 7-1, there best start since the 2002-2003 season and look to enter the Top 25 for the first time in two years.

Following in the footsteps of his father, Tony Bennett has his Washington State Cougars sitting near the top of the Pac-10 with an 8-1 record. Lead by Derrick Low’s 27 points, Daven Harmeling’s 20 points and signature Dick Bennett defense, the Cougars toppled a hot Gonzaga team 77-67 (Gonzaga’s lowest offensive output this year).

Rallying from a 13 point halftime deficit, Northern Iowa (if you recall they were a tough out in the 2006 NCAA tournament) defeated a depleted Iowa team improving to 7-1 on the season. The Panthers have won 3 of the last 4 versus Iowa and are certainly a major contender in T"he Valley".

With their single blemish coming at the hands of the sluggish Blue Devils, Air Force has been on a tear beating the likes of Texas Tech & Wake Forest with an overall record of 9-1. Jeff Bzdelik has his team playing scrappy defensive and efficient team basketball which has earned them a top 25 ranking.

Oklahoma’s then NCAA best 49-game non-conference home winning streak ended with a 67-61 beating from Villanova (Duke’s 47 straight victories now leads that category).

Players of the Week

Chris Lofton scored a career high 34 points to lift Tennessee over Memphis in what has become a very heated rivalry. Tennessee had no answers for Lofton as he scored 21 points by halftime on 9-11 shooting with an array of three’s, drives and mid-range jumpers. He finished the game with six three’s and 12-18 from the field.

Combo guard Russell Carter netted 27 points/5 rebounds/5 steals in ND’s win over Alabama. Whenever it felt like the momentum would swing to the Tide’s favor, Carter answered with fade-away three’s, athletic steals and tough rebounds in traffic.

Glen “Big Baby” Davis dropped 24 points and 10 rebounds in a win over 6th ranked Texas A&M 64-52. Davis did most of his work against fellow preseason All-American candidate, Joe Jones; this was also a huge win for LSU psyche coming off a tough loss to surging Wichita State.


Torrell Martin, 6-5 senior guard, Winthrop Eagles: in a tough overtime loss to Wisconsin, Torrell contributed 31points/4assists hitting 7-11 from three and 11-18 overall. Averaging a healthy 15points/7rebounds on the year he tends to step up in big games (25points/7rebounds in a seven point loss to UNC)

Stephen Curry – Unheralded 6 foot freshman guard for Davidson: Averaging 18 points/5 rebounds/3.5 assists, Curry dropped 24 points on UNC-Greensborough this week after scoring 32 at a loss to Michigan

Adrian Banks, 6-3 junior guard for Arkansas State: Scored 32 points in a tough loss to Bowling Green (averaging 20 points on the year)

Martin Samarco, 6-2 guard, Bowling Green: Dueled with Adrian Banks while scoring 29 points of his own; Samarco is averaging 22 points/4 rebounds on the year

Caleb Green, 6-8 Senior Forward, Oral Roberts: Green, a preseason Wooden Candidate averaging 20points/10 rebounds contributed 26points/8 rebounds over Lamar

Trey Johnson – An under the radar, 6-5 freshman guard for Jackson State: Scored 31 of his teams 54 points in a loss to Tulsa. Johnson averages around 30 points per game and comes up big against the majors (36 at Alabama, 33 at Georgia Tech, 27 at Illinois and 32 at Memphis)

VMI forward, Reggie Williams is averaging 26points/9 rebounds having already scored totals of 36, 45, 36, 30, 41 & 31 points, however all against mid-low major competition – VMI has topped 100 points four times this year

Rice forward, Marcus Almond (preseason Wooden Award and All-American candidate) is pacing Rice with 29 points/5 rebounds a clip and typically saves his best for the top tier competition (31 vs Colorado State, 28 versus Oregon and 42 versus Utah)

What happened to the Utes? At 3-4 Utah has already lost to the likes of Southern Utah, Santa Clara, Colorado and Utah State – not necessarily formidable competition with the exception of Colorado.

Weekend Predictions

#6 Texas A&M at #1 UCLA – UCLA surging, most consistent team so far on both sides of the ball. A&M coming off a disappointing loss LSU and may not be used to the pressure of being a Top 10 team. UCLA wins at home.

#8 Washington at #18 Gonzaga – Freshman Quincy Pondexter nicely filling the void left by Brandon Roy. Gonazaga at home would like to make up for that disappointing loss to Washington State. I’m sticking with Gonzaga’s backcourt experience – Gonzaga wins at home.

George Mason at #9 Duke – Duke has struggled at home, they’ve struggled away and there’s no telling when their offense will show up. I believe their ranking is quite lofty considering there performances to date, however rankings don’t seem to indicate much of anything this year. George Mason will be in the game the whole way (a la Holy Cross), however the Cameron Crazies will pull the Blue Devils through for their 48th straight non-conference home victory.

#12 Wisconsin at #20 Marquette – Wisconsin arrives at Marquette coming off a tough overtime win over a very good Winthrop team. Marquette looked like a team on the rise after controlling Duke in early season victory and appears much better than their current ranking. However, I’ll go with experience and depth to propel the Badgers over Marquette.

#16 Wichita State at Wyoming – The Wichita State bandwagon is officially overloaded and the wheels are about to come off! For the fourth straight Saturday, the Shockers will be away from home and may have exhausted themselves. Wyoming is just the type of team to end the Shockers’ current winning streak. I’m taking Wyoming at home over a tired Wichita State team.

Oral Roberts at Georgetown – In what looked to be a very promising season, the Hoyas lost a handful of early season games and find themselves quickly removed from the rankings. Oral Roberts, having already defeated Kansas at Kansas, knows what it’s like to play and win tough games on the road. Despite that fact, I believe JT3 will motivate his club enough to pull out the home victory.

Xavier at Creighton – An interesting game. Xavier is the early favorite to win the A-10 and have been playing excellent basketball thus far. Creighton hasn’t started the season like they’d hoped and preseason Wooden Award candidate Nate Funk may not be in full form coming back from last seasons injury. With that said, Creighton’s fans are one of the best in the country and the place will be rocking. I like the Funk-master to upend the preseason favorite in the Awful-10.

#11 LSU at Texas – LSU is much of an enigma this year having lost convincingly to Wichita State while winning quite convincingly over Texas A&M. Freshman sensation Kevin Durant looks everything as advertised putting up 20points/9 boards a clip, but it may not be enough even at home. Texas starts four freshmen and I think LSU’s experience and the physically improved “Big Baby” will outlast the baby Longhorns.

#22 Maryland at BC – The first of many great ACC pairings this year as Maryland boasts a very experienced team coupled by one of the biggest freshman surprises (Greivis Vasquez) of the year. BC struggled early on but with the leadership of Jared Dudley and Sean Williams finding his offensive comfort zone, BC is finally hitting their stride. Toughest pick of the week but I will stick with my sleeper Elite 8 team, the Terps!

Quips, Quarrels, Querulous Inquiries

Someone going by the screen name “Pbrod” left a comment asking me where my column was on “Duke’s lovely 20 turnover, 48% free throw shooting performance against Holy Cross.” Let me first say that despite my infatuation with the Blue Devils, I do not intend to dominate this site with Duke material. If you genuinely read my blogs, I continuously note the wonderful performances of the top teams around the country and even go as far as to praise the Devil’s bitter rival Tar Heels. Yes, I could talk about how disastrous Duke’s early season woe’s appear (despite having just one loss to a solid Marquette team), I could speak to their lousy assist-to-turnover ratio (160 turnovers versus 11 assists), I could speak to how they’re last in the ACC in scoring at 68.1ppg, but I choose not to because despite all of the miscues, they are winning.

Despite the underachieving McRoberts, the turnover prone Paulus and having over 40% of the offense coming from freshman, they have been able to post the following statistics:

- They are giving up an ACC-best 51.4 points per game on the season (they have now held five opponents to under 50 points this season – matching the most by a Duke team in a single-season in the Mike Krzyzewski Era)
- They have out rebounded eight of their first nine opponents this year
- They held Holy Cross to just 17 second half points, giving the Blue Devils five halves this year yielding less than 20 points

If they lose, you can bet on me including a laundry list of reasons why Duke continues to struggle, but consider this – with Paulus struggling, more times than not Zrzyzewski has four freshmen on the court at the same time. So please, consider spending some time in thought before you post a comment. Remember, there are no stupid questions, there are only stupid people who ask questions.


Anonymous pbrods said...

48% free throw shooting and you're blaming it on playing freshmen? I guess that would be ok if your name is Shaq.

Nice prediction that George Mason will keep it close against Duke. That way, if your Devils stink up the joint and George Mason keeps it close then you can claim clairvoyance. If they blow the doors off of George Mason then you can say how great your team looks against a Final Four team from last year.

BUT, this George Mason team has already lost to Bucknell (who lost to Albany, St. Joes and the mighty PSU Nittany Lions), Creighton (who lost to Nebraska and Dayton already), and Wichita State (which wouldn't be a bad loss except for the fact that they have a dude who looks exactly like the Crabman from My Name Is Earl). Oh, not to mention the thrilling 2 point win over the mighty Radford team.

George Mason isn't any good and Duke SHOULD crush them. You know this so why try to lower expectations?

Oh, and which year did you graduate from Duke?

3:56 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home