CBB Tip-Off Marathon Thoughts | November 15, 2012
Traditionally, the College Basketball opens with a veritable marathon of action. With action taking place at all times through the night from all four corners of the nation.
Whilst there will always be games that suffer due to the break up of player preparation, pity poor Stony Brook at Rider who had the 6am start (the graveyard shift) when people may have the game on but no-one is really watching. Stony Brook won on the road 54-46 to get the win to extend to an overall 3-0 record.
There were some disappointments from lesser conferences. VCU who recently transferred to the A10 conference, a league they are meant to compete in, yet they lost 53-51 to Wichita State (who were in the tourney last year) and looked anything but.
UMass beat Ivy League favourite Harvard 67-64 thanks to two huge 3 pointers from Sampson Carter in the dying seconds in a wonderful contest that went to the buzzer.
A feel-good story amongst a multitude of headlines came from St.John’s season opener as coach Steve Lavin made his comeback appearance from prostrate cancer as his team defeated Horizon League Detroit 67-64 coming back from an 8 point deficit at half-time. You can anticipate the New York state college showing the resilience and fortitude their coach did to overcome his personal illness.
Temple also reside in the A10 and they have key player Scootie Randall back from serious knee injury, one that sceptics thought he would never return from. However, as Adrian Peterson in the NFL has showed, knee injuries are not the end of any career. Randall scored a career high 31 points on 10-19 shooting as the Owls beat Kent State 80-66.
Xavier who famously had a punch-up with Cincinnati last season, lost 80 per cent of offensive production due to abrupt transfers, arrests, lack of eligibility and yet they dismissed respected Butler easily. A fresh start after a mess for a solid program.
In the marquee match-ups for the evening, the Michigan State Spartans overcame jetlag from their Armed Forces Classic loss to UConn in Germany to overcome the Kansas Jayhawks 67-64 led by Keith Appling and Gary Harris in the backcourt.
Both teams are works in progress and get into their stride by February, both will go deep into the tournament and will be feared. In what could be a precursor for such a match during the tournament, both sides showed what they could do. Kansas will expect more from freshman Perry Ellis and Ben McLemore, and need to spread the burden on veterans Jeff Whitey and Elijah Johnson; they have pace but as with most teams, you need to know how to play a game on the fly along with collective levels of pressure and expectation.
Expectation for once is something not in abundance at Duke this year, due to their humiliating loss to #15 Lehigh in the tournament first round, Coach Krzyzewski still has talent in Mason Plumlee and Seth Curry. Curry led the Blue Devils to a resounding 75-68 victory over the National champions Kentucky Wildcats on a neutral site at the Georgia Dome.
Whilst Kentucky coach John Calipari was incandescent over Duke’s flopping when fouled, Calipari will be lucky to repeat the trick of taking a team of freshmen to the title again. Whilst he has Nerlens Noel at guard, the team collectively is get out gunned on the rebounds at both ends of the floor, Maryland out did them on the boards and the higher collective talent of Duke led by Curry’s 23 points took the win.
Last year, Kentucky had Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the overall number 1 and 2 picks in the NBA draft, but also had junior Terrence Jones who gave them a bit of nous and stability. Who can Calipari turn to for that this year is unclear, and this defeat gave him more questions than answers for the season ahead.
We have lots of questions, and whilst there is no clear answers, the season ahead will provide a lot of entertainment in finding those answers.