Friday, December 15, 2006

Fun for Friday

Boy was it tough trying to find games this week that kept me awake. With exams having started early this week for most colleges, the lineup was pretty light and will continue as such for most of the weekend. Having said that, there were a few surprise wins, losses and overall ugly performances that would make William Hung look like Bon Jovi. I also managed to come up on the short end of both of my predictions from the Monday Morning Wake-up Call, so at least I have that going for me.

Big Wins, Bad Losses

As I so wrongly predicted, but did note how tough they were, UMass upended the Louisville Cardinal in Louisville, 72-68. At one point Louisville trailed by as much as 17 points in the first half; this was a classic student (Travis Ford) beats teacher (Rick Pitino) performance. The Minute Men were lead by senior F/C Rashaun Freeman’s 21 points/5 rebounds and UMass increased their winning streak to four. Coincidentally, next up for Ford’s team is a meeting with the Kentucky Wildcats at Rupp Arena, where he played and starred for 4 years under Rick Pitino.

A solid outing for DePaul winning handily at home against Wake Forest, 78-63. Wake Forest could not handle the Blue Demons more athletic backcourt duo of Wilson Chandler (season high 24 points) and Sammy Mejia (23 points/12 boards/5 assists). This is a huge win for DePaul and an awful loss for the Deacons as Wake Forest has now lost three straight and face a tough Virginia Tech team in Blacksburg this weekend. DePaul looks to start a winning streak at Rhode Island.

Cincinnati scored a nice win at home, beating Xavier 67-57 lead by freshman guard, Deonta Vaughn’s 24 points. Neither team had success putting the ball in the goal as they both made 21 total field goals and 6 three’s apiece. Ironically, the Bearcats made ten more free throws than the Musketeers equaling the margin of victory.

In what was a very embarrassing performance by a division I program, Northwestern barely got by Division III Wheaton (Ill.) 41-39 as Wheaton missed a last second, buzzer-beater three at the end of regulation. The “Thunder” ran an incredibly patient and efficient offense, and actually lead by two at the half. They also held Northwestern to just 27% shooting on 26 field goal attempts.

Players of the Week

Sr. Guard Loren Stokes, Hofstra: averaging 22.5, 3 assists, and 5 boards per game, Stokes dropped 25 points and 7 boards in a three point win over 0-11 St. Francis of New York. We’ll see what he can do against the big boys facing Syracuse in upstate New York on December 22nd. His averages come against less than formidable competition accept for the 24 points he posted in a loss to Charlotte in the first game of the season.

Bo McCaleb, a 6 foot junior guard for the University of New Orleans scored a career high 36 points as the Privateer’s opened its Sun Belt Conference season with an 80-76 win over Louisiana-Lafayette on Wednesday. McCaleb is averaging almost 26 points and an astonishing 7 rebounds a game.

Shout-outs

San Diego State improved to 9-2 for the season with a 37 point victory over Campbell University. They’ve already beaten a pretty good Cal team with their only two losses coming to Arizona and W. Michigan. Senior shooting guard, and Wooden-award candidate, Brandon Heath leads the Aztec’s with a 19 point average.

With a 76-58 win over St. Mary’s this week, Nevada improved to 8-1 on the year. More significant was the 19 points scored by Nick Fazekas that propelled him to become the first player in Nevada history to top 2000 points for his career. Fazekas, a 6-foot-11 senior who entered the game leading the NCAA in rebounding with a 14.1 average (14th nationally in scoring at 21.8), became the 12th player in the Western Athletic Conference to score 2,000 career points and just the fifth to top 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. In addition, he’s also been able to maintain a field goal percentage of 50 percent and at least 80 percent from the line. Only five other players in college history have been able to score over 2,000 points, grab over 1000 rebounds and maintain those shooting percentages -- Rick Barry, Larry Bird, Bill Bradley, Christian Laettner and Keith Van Horn. Not bad company.

Weekend Predictions

It’s a light weekend due to exams, however a few games on tap worthy of watching:

#2 Pitt at #7 Wisconsin: Two potential Final Four teams, two standout players (Badgers Alando Tucker and Pitt’s Aaron Gray) and two similar styles of play in addition depth. The game will continue at a very comfortable pace, however in the end, I think the home-court advantage will be too much for the Panthers and Wisconsin will hand Pitt’s it’s first loss of the season.

#18 Butler vs. Purdue: This game is being played on neutral grounds at the Conseco Fieldhouse where Butler has had resent success beating Notre Dame and Indiana in the Preseason NIT. Purdue enters the game with a pretty good resume to date as well and the battle for Indiana braggin’ rights will be tough. With seniors Carl Landry and David Teague back at 100% this year, Purdue will be a tough out; I like the Boilermakers to get the best of the Bulldogs.

Southern Illinois at Indiana: Indiana’s best non-conference win of the season thus far was their win against Charlotte, and Charlotte is 3-5. Sadly enough, Indiana needs to beat the Salukis in order to build some confidence heading into conference play. I think Indiana will struggle against an experienced Saluki team, however losing at home is not an option right now. The Hoosiers pull this one out by the closest of margins.

Kentucky at Louisville: This classic in-state rivalry should be a good game for two teams still trying to figure out how to close out and put a solid performance together for a full 40 minutes. I think Kentucky’s experience will be too much for the Cardinals, even at home, and should come out the victor in a very close game.

Quips, Quarrels, Querulous Inquiries

Three teams in all of Division 1 basketball remain…WINLESS!!! Out of 337 Division 1 programs, St. Frances (NY) of the Northeast Conference sits at a dreadful 0-11, Southern University of the Southwestern Athletic Conference are 0-10, and lastly, the Gaels of Iona of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference are 0-7. St. Francis’ coach was apparently asleep at the wheel during off-season scheduling. They lost at Syracuse, at UMass, and at St. Johns and at one point had a stretch of five straight road games. They only have one player in double figure scoring (Robert Hines at 14.7/game) with about a 6 point gap between the next highest scorer. There next game is away (surprise!) at 5-4 Hartford this weekend.

Southern has not helped themselves either in the scheduling department (but you have to tip your hat to the courage of both teams to play such daunting competition); get this, 4 of the Jaguars first 6 games included disastrous losses to Georgia, Wisconsin, Oklahoma State and Florida with an average margin of loss at 46 points per game! Yikes. After losing by 11 this week to Southeastern Louisiana, they’ll be seeking their first victory this weekend at home against Louisiana Tech, whom they just lost to only eight days ago.

The Gaels, shocking enough, also have only one player in double figures, yet feature 10 players averaging at least 14+ minutes a game: That’s a whole lotta guys doing a whole latta nothin’. To their credit, they’ve only had one home game, the very first of the season followed by six straight away games. Life doesn’t get any easier for the Gaels as Fightin’ Jeff Ruland brings his club to scenic Piscataway, NJ to face the Scarlet Knights – by no means is RU a basketball powerhouse, however when you lose to Sacred Heart and Rider, facing Rutgers is like facing UNC.

I believe we shall call this, “The WINLESS Watch” and I promise to monitor each teams’ performance until they finally get a win. When you think about it, these are three very pathetic starts to a new season, I mean, even first year Division 1 program NJIT has two wins and they were playing Division III ball just 10 years ago!

2 Comments:

Anonymous pbrods said...

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2006/basketball/ncaa/12/14/gray.panthers.ap/index.html

Gray has the flu - not a good sign for Pitt against Wisky. You may actually get a prediction right for once. But Pitt is not a one man show, so we'll see.

9:29 AM  
Blogger JT & Deuce said...

Come on my friend, I was 6-3 over last weekend! This week was tough with a great win for UMass, however i'm glad they pulled it out. Oh yes, i was just thinking...regarding movies based in steel country, how could we forget "The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh" starring none other than Dr. J?!

1:53 PM  

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