Sunday, November 12, 2006

Notes and Observations from Week One

Here are a variety of thoughts and observations I have for the first week of the 2006-2007 college basketball season:

- Maryland looks to be their usual selves: athletic, long, very good in a full-court game. However, they still struggle to hit the outside shot and are not overly impressive in their half-court offense. D.J. Strawberry and Mike Jones are solid on the wings, while freshman Greivis Vasquez looks like a player with potential. Bambale Osby is going to be load in the paint, while Ekene Ibekwe doesn't look like he improved at all in the offseason.

- Michigan State is going to struggle offensively in a big way. Drew Neitzel and freshman Raymar Morgan are their only legitimate scoring threats in the starting lineup. Their defense will keep them in most games, though.

- A couple of surprising upsets from Friday: Utah losing to Southern Utah, and Northwestern falling to Cornell. Looks like another long year in the Big Ten for the Wildcats. Auburn narrowly escaped against Troy, coming back for a three-point win.

- Looking for Connecticut's next big scorer? Try guard Jerome Dyson. The freshman had 16 points and 6 rebounds in a closer-than-expected win over Quinnipiac.

- While on the subject of the Huskies, here's another story: coach Jim Calhoun calling out Quinnipiac coach Joe DeSantis for--get this--playing zone defense. He was upset because DeSantis made a point of saying that Quinnipiac would play what they usually do. I guess he expected DeSantis and his players to just roll over to the bigger Huskies.

- George Washington looks to be similar to last year: long, athletic frontcourt players with outstanding guards in Carl Elliot and Maureece Rice. However, the frontcourt players can't score at all, and their overaggressiveness sometimes backfires in the half-court.

- Southern Illinois will still be playing stout defense this season, but it looks like they will still struggle to score. They only gave up 28 points to Washington (MO), but scored only 59.

- Arkansas could be a potential NCAA Tournament team. Freshman Patrick Beverly put up 29 points in his first career game against Southeast Missouri State. If the Razorbacks get consistent perimeter play, look out.

- Remember the name Tajuan Porter. Oregon's 5-6 freshman guard scored 93 points in three games, including shooting 21 for 34 from three-point land. Even with Malik Hairston, who was out with a groin injury, the Ducks rolled to three victories.

- Friday was not a great night for mid-major stars. Loyola-Chicago's Blake Schlib only had 6 points, Penn's Ibrahim Jaaber only had 5, Eastern Washington's Rodney Stuckey struggled against Gonzaga, and Caleb Green of Oral Roberts had 8 turnovers in a loss to Loyola Marymount. Trey Johnson of Jackson State also did not play well against Alabama, despite scoring 36 points. He shot 11 for 30 in a 31-point loss.

- Remember when St. John's couldn't hit a three? Enter JC transfer Avery Patterson. In his first game in a Red Storm uniform, Patterson set a school record by hitting eight threes. He followed that up with a 15-point night against Navy. The Johnnies shot 20 for 43 from long-range in two games.

- One candidate for team of the week could be Washington State. The Cougars went 3-0 and looked very impressive with a more up-tempo style of offense. Derrick Low is a big-time scorer.

- Also in the Pac-10, Stanford looked good against Siena, winning by 20 against a MAAC contender. Freshman Robin Lopez had 15 points, 14 rebounds, and 6 blocks, while Anthony Goods went off for 30 points.

- UTEP may not be prepared to give up their winning ways just yet. They rolled to a couple of impressive wins, including a victory over Penn, before falling late to Syracuse on Sunday.

- Speaking of the Orange, freshman Paul Harris has not lived up the hype thus far, but has looked pretty good. He has contributed in a variety of areas, and just needs to cut down on the turnovers and score a bit more.

- San Diego State is going to be an unpredictable team all season long. They went 3-0 over the weekend, but won by a combined 7 points. Brandon Heath hit a buzzer-beater to beat Murray State, then hit two free throws last night to defeat St. Mary's. The Aztecs then escaped by three over Seattle Pacific on Sunday.

- DePaul is clearly not ready to live up to the hype. Bradley, after losing stars Patrick O'Bryant and Marcellus Sommerville, destroyed the Blue Demons by 20. Don't count out the Braves in the Missouri Valley race if they continue to play like this.

- Is Wake Forest's Kyle Visser ready to step up? After years of not living up to expectations, the senior center went 10 for 10 from the field for the Demon Deacons, going for 23 points and 9 boards in a win over James Madison.

- Texas Tech's Jarrius Jackson returned from his "dismissal" to score 27 points for the Red Raiders in their opener. That might be the shortest dismissal of all-time.

- The New Jersey Institute of Technology won their first game as a D-I team on Saturday, winning on the road at Manhattan. It looks like the Jaspers could struggle in the post-Bobby Gonzalez era.

- Georgetown narrowly escaped at home against Hartford in a game that was close throughout. If the Hoyas are going to contend for a national title, they are going to have to find a consistent scorer on the wing. Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert can't do everything, and Jonathan Wallace is a better passer than scorer.

- Marist did not look like a potential sleeper team on Saturday, getting blown out by Ohio on the road. Point guard Jared Jordan shot 7 of 22 from the field and turned it over 4 times against the Bobcats. Ohio's big man, Leon Williams, dominated the post, putting up 16 points and grabbing 16 rebounds.

- Hofstra is definitely not ready for the expectations that were put on them heading into the season. Their guards are outstanding, but their frontcourt needs to drastically improve before they are considered a serious sleeper in March. Charlotte jumped out to a 17-point halftime lead over the Pride before winning by 6.

- Charlotte is too inconsistent to be considered an A-10 contender. After their impressive win over Hofstra, the 49ers followed that up with an 18-point loss at the hands of North Texas.

- Massachusetts looked like a potential contender in the Atlantic-10 after an impressive win over Dartmouth. While it was only Dartmouth, the Minutemen looked much improved. Freshman point guard Tiki Mayben had 11 assists, while Rashaun Freeman put up 25 points and 10 rebounds.

- One of the most underrated backcourts in America belongs to Wyoming. The Cowboys' guard tandem of Brandon Ewing and Brad Jones combined for 56 points, 14 rebounds, 7 assists, and 5 steals in a very impressive win over a solid Boise State team. Star Coby Karl was held to 9 points, and had 6 turnovers for the Broncos.

- Clemson is also 3-0 to start the season after a nice trio of wins, including Sunday's victory over Old Dominion. They have a very balanced attack, but still are not very impressive shooting the ball.

- Looking for Craig Smith's replacement? Look no further than freshman Shamari Spears, who picked up where Smith left off, scoring 23 points and grabbing 6 boards in an easy win for Boston College.

- Mississippi State may have won by 35 against Nicholls State, but look closer at the box score. The Bulldogs had 29 turnovers, including 19 by All-SEC performers Charles Rhodes and Jamont Gordon. They will need to improve that if they are going to contend for an at-large bid.

- Mike Cook showed good scoring ability in an easy opening win for Pittsburgh. He scored 17 points and could be the missing piece for the Panthers. Aaron Gray had a double-double, and Levance Fields dished out 9 assists while only taking one shot.

- Toney Douglas of Florida State did not squash any worries of his ability to play the point after dishing out only 3 assists against McNeese State. The Seminoles had assists on only 13 of their 32 field goals.

- Duke had an impressive opening game against Columbia. Freshman center Brian Zoubek had 18 points and 6 rebounds, and went to the free-throw line 13 times. Greg Paulus showed no signs of injury, dishing out 7 assists in 19 minutes. Josh McRoberts had only 8 points for the Blue Devils.

- Ohio State looked solid in three opening week wins. Wings Ron Lewis and Daequan Cook are going to be the main scorers for the Buckeyes, and OSU is going to be a perimeter-dominated team until Greg Oden returns. They were out-rebounded by Kent State and will struggle against teams with a lot of size.

- The biggest game of the week was Arizona at Virginia. It did not disappoint. The Wildcats jumped out to a 13-point halftime lead, but UVA came back to tie it in the second half. It was back and forth for awhile, before the Cavaliers pulled it out in the end for a 93-90 win. Arizona needs work on the interior. They are not good at all defending the paint, and struggled mightily defensively in the halfcourt throughout the contest. Ivan Radenovic has developed into a very good all-around player, but Mustafa Shakur still has not lived up to the hype he had coming out of high school. Arizona's wings are terrific offensively, though. For Virginia, their perimeter play is going to carry them. Sean Singletary is extremely difficult to defend driving to the basket, while Mamadi Diane, J.R. Reynolds, and Adrian Joseph are very good scorers on the wings. Jason Cain played well down low, scoring 13 points and grabbing 12 boards.

1 comment:

  1. San Diego State has no bench. I was at a couple of those games and they are just an injury away from a very dismal season. There was a goodly amount of buzz surrounding this team over the summer but without playing much improved defense Fischer will have another subpar conference performance, imo.