Sunday, November 20, 2005

Week in Review

The first full week of the season and the short week of games before that brought several surprises, and many observations about a variety of teams. Starting at the top, Duke looked somewhat lackadaisical in their opener against Boston University, but then showed why they were the #1 team in the country in blowout victories over Seton Hall and Davidson. Connecticut had a sloppy performance against Pepperdine, and did not pull away until the very end of the game. Josh Boone showed that he could be one of the best big men in the country, although the Huskies demonstrated that they need Marcus Williams in order to make a run in March. Michigan State got blown out at Hawaii. Nearly every one of their main players were taken out of the game due to cramps, and the Spartans looked awful. Besides Drew Neitzel, Shannon Brown, Maurice Ager, and Paul Davis, the rest of the team had a combined 17 points from 8 players. The supporting cast needs to step up. Hawaii, on the other hand, showed that they will be a tough team to beat in the WAC. Julian Sensley played to his potential, and a trio of perimeter players provided balance. If they can win on the road, look out. Another Top 15 team that was upset by an inferior opponent was Stanford. Although they were playing without star post player Matt Haryasz, the Cardinal allowed UC-Irvine to come into Maples Pavillion and pull off the upset by 16 points. Perimeter stars Chris Hernandez and Dan Grunfeld combined for 42 points, while Fred Washington pitched in 9 points. The rest of the team had 12 points. That won’t get it done. One of the Atlantic-10 favorites, Charlotte, lost two games in the opening week. Northwestern and Wyoming both beat them, and pretty handily in doing so. Other than Curtis Withers and De’Angelo Alexander, no one else was really coming through. In the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, Florida surprised many by winning the whole event, beating Wake Forest and Syracuse. Taurean Green looked excellent at the point, and Corey Brewer was developing into a star. Syracuse looked poor in their opening round games, but looked like the old Syracuse at Madison Square Garden. They played excellent defense against Texas Tech. Terrence Roberts was a solid player inside, while the wings provided decent production, in addition to the play of Gerry McNamara. Texas Tech showed that they have one of the best backcourts in the country in Jarrius Jackson and Martin Zeno. However, there was not much balance being provided on the inside, and the lack of a third option was obvious. Wake Forest looked very overrated, even though they beat Texas Tech. Justin Gray did not seem comfortable at the point, and showed he is more of a scorer, which mostly everyone knew. When Florida pressed the Deacons, Gray struggled. Trent Strickland and Kyle Visser both tallied 16 points and 16 rebounds against Tech, and Strickland is averaging a double-double. Eric Williams played well inside. Over in the preseason NIT, Memphis looked extremely impressive. They dismantled UW-Milwaukee, and then defeated ranked Alabama pretty easily. Darius Washington is looked like one of the best point guards in the country, while Shawne Williams and Rodney Carney are going to be a match-up nightmare for opponents at the forward spots due to their athleticism and versatility. Alabama, as expected, got excellent production from their frontcourt in Chuck Davis and Jermareo Davidson, while Richard Hendrix preformed very well. Ronald Steele was somewhat disappointing at the point, and Justin Jonus showed he could be the answer on the wing. UCLA did not look overly impressive in their win over Temple nor their victory later in the week over Delaware State. Jordan Farmar suffered an injury and did not play against Del. St. Aaron Afflalo showed the ability to be a super scorer, while Cedric Bozeman demonstrated his versatility. UNC-Wilmington looked like a candidate to be a season-long Cinderella sleeper, with wins over Butler and Northwestern, although they got beaten badly at Colorado later in the week. All three games were on the road. Two teams expected to make the jump from the NIT to the NCAA in the ACC were also upset. Miami, playing without Anthony Harris, lost to Air Force, while Virginia Tech had one of the worst losses of the weeks, getting beaten by Bowling Green at home. Possibly the worst team to beat a BCS club was Sam Houston State, who beat Missouri in the Preseason NIT. Quin Snyder’s days are numbered. Wisconsin, who lost four starters from a season ago, nearly lost at home to Eastern Kentucky, but prevailed in 2 OTs. Alando Tucker had 38 points, and showed he is going to be one of the best all-around players in the country. Another Ohio Valley favorite that took an NCAA contender to OT was Murray State, who narrowly lost to Cincinnati. Both teams have a chance to be sleepers should they make the NCAA Tournament, while the Badgers and the Bearcats could be slightly overrated. The defending champions, North Carolina, escaped at home by 3 against Gardner-Webb on a last-second trifecta by David Noel. Tyler Hansbrough demonstrated that he is going to be one of the best freshman in the counry, and another freshman, Danny Green, also impressed. Veteran forwards David Noel and Reyshawn Terry produced very well. Point guards Bobby Frasor and Quentin Thomas combined for 2 points, 11 assists, and 8 turnovers. Oregon State, who need to win on the road to make the NIT-to-NCAA jump, lost by 28 at Tennessee Tech, an expected OVC also-ran. Another Pac-10 team expected to push for an NCAA bid, California, lost by two to Eastern Michigan. Yes, it was without Leon Powe, but Eastern Michigan? San Diego State, the favorite for the Mountain West conference, lost to Illinois-Chicago. Finally, two expected mid-major powers, Winthrop and Old Dominion had impressive wins over BCS clubs. Winthrop beat Marquette, while ODU defeated Georgia.

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