Saturday, November 14, 2009

Friday, Nov. 13 Observations

The first jam-packed day of the college basketball season was last night, and it was filled with interesting developments, trends and statistics. Here's a look at some of them:

- Maryland’s freshmen big man duo of Jordan Williams and James Padgett combined for 22 points and 17 rebounds. The Terrapins could be an ACC contender if they continue to get that sort of production from their bigs.

- Al-Farouq Aminu began his ascent into an All-American with 25 points and 13 rebounds against Oral Roberts. However, the Demon Deacons still had more turnovers than assists and received zero three-pointers from their guards.

- Without Corey Raji, Rakim Sanders and Courtney Dunn, Boston College’s Tyler Roche stepped up, scoring 30 points to help lead the Eagles to an easy win over Dartmouth. Tyrese Rice’s replacement, Biko Paris, had seven assists but six turnovers.

- One of the more surprising statistics I noticed was that Virginia freshman Tristan Spurlock played just three minutes and didn’t score a point. I was under the impression he would be a key secondary option to Sylven Landesberg, but apparently not.

- Look at the lineup Duke started against UNC-Greensboro: 6-5 Jon Scheyer, 6-7 Olek Czyz, 6-8 Kyle Singler, 6-8 Lance Thomas and 6-10 Miles Plumlee. It’s no surprise the Blue Devils dominated the backboards, 44-20. However, it’s obvious they need Nolan Smith back.

- Clemson forced 26 turnovers and took 30 three-pointers. Yup, some things never change.

- Vermont lost to Loyola (Md.), but not because of Marquis Blakely.  He had 26 points, seven rebounds, two assists, three steals and five blocks. Try to find a better all-around stat line; I doubt it will happen.

- Best performance of the first week? Has to go to Arkansas’ Rotnei Clarke, who scored 51 points and made 13 three-pointers. Looks like my ranking of him as the 8th best three-point shooter was too low

- Kentucky cruised to an easy win over Morehead State, but the Wildcats shot 4-19 from three and turned the ball over 24 times. Moreover, they only forced 12 turnovers. Those numbers will change as the players get more accustomed to John Calipari’s system.

- Tennessee got inconsistent point guard play last season – and it looks like it hasn’t changed. Bobby Maze had two points and five turnovers in the opener.

- If Mississippi can get anywhere close to 38 points and 17 rebounds from DeAundre Cranston and Murphy Holloway every night, they are going to be awfully tough to beat.

- South Carolina will be on the wrong side of the bubble again if it doesn’t improve its assist-to-turnover ratio. It was 12:15 against Alabama A&M.

- The biggest surprise of the early-going was Rider defeating Mississippi State – by 14. At home. Sure, Renardo Sidney didn’t play, but there’s no guarantee that he will ever suit up for the Bulldogs. Rider shot 51 percent from the field, 63 percent from three-point range and only turned the ball over six times.

- One injury to watch will be the rolled ankle of Niagara’s Tyrone Lewis. He hurt it midway through the first half against Auburn and didn’t return. Lewis averaged 16.2 points per game last season.

- Siena just plugs people in and keeps it going. Kenny Hasbrouck’s replacement, Clarence Jackson, hit four threes and scored 24 points in his first start of the season.

- It didn’t take long for the Big East to show that it’s down. Seton Hall needed a 28-footer at the buzzer by Eugene Harvey to beat St. Peter’s; Pittsburgh had to overcome a 13-point second-half deficit to beat Wofford; and Villanova was down late in the first half before turning it on against Fairleigh Dickinson.

- Jerome Dyson is clearly recovered from injury. He had 27 points, eight assists and four steals against William & Mary.

- Marquette’s rebuilding season got off to a great start, with an 85-62 win over Centenary. Jimmy Butler had 27 points and 13 rebounds, and the Golden Eagles got 30 bench points from Darius Johnson-Odom, Jeronne Maymon and Maurice Acker.

- Don’t overlook South Florida’s win on the road over SMU. Behind Paul McCoy, the Mustangs could be a sleeper in Conference-USA, but USF got 23 and nine from Augustus Gilchrist en route to victory.

- Xavier struggled with turnovers, but their new-look lineup easily got past Youngstown State. Not surprisingly, the Musketeers were tremendously balanced, with five guys scoring between 10 and 14 points.

- UAB’s transfer trio of Elijah Millsap, Kenny Cooper and George Drake combined for 33 points and 22 rebounds.

- Based on its first-half performance against St. Mary’s (the one in Texas, not California), Tulsa is not ready to take over the Conference-USA throne. However, the Golden Hurricane dominated the second half for an easy win. Jerome Jordan needs to take more than four shots, though.

- Memphis only used seven players for double-figure minutes – these aren’t the 10-deep Tigers of the past few seasons.

- Missouri Valley favorite Northern Iowa certainly did not look like a potential bracket buster come March. They had six assists against 13 turnovers, and only beat Denver (a solid Sun Belt club, mind you) by six.

- Utah State went into Weber State and came out with a six-point win, while Idaho went to Utah and beat the Utes by seven. At the other end of the ledger, New Mexico State faced a Patty Mills and Diamon Simpson-less Saint Mary’s team – and got ran out of the building, by 32. The WAC pecking order has been established early.

- Apparently Oregon State is still a few players away from being a sleeper in the Pac-10. The Beavers lost by 24 at home to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. They turned the ball over 25 times, were outrebounded, shot less than 32 percent from the field and 46 percent from the free-throw line. They need freshman Roberto Nelson to be cleared ASAP.

- Arizona State knew it would defeat Western Illinois, but the Sun Devils had several bright spots, including Ruslan Pateev and Erik Boateng each scoring nine points and nine rebounds.

- Stanford is very likely to finish last in the Pac-10, but losing by 13 to San Diego was still somewhat surprising. Not the loss, but the margin.

- Would Washington State have scored 94 points in the Tony Bennett era?

- Isaiah Thomas scored 30 points for Washington, but Quincy Pondexter was the only other Husky in double-figures. Highly-touted freshman Abdul Gaddy had just five points and one assist in his debut. They nearly gave away an 18-point lead against Wright State, but still won by five.

- Interesting stat: four Big 12 teams scored exactly 88 points on Friday, and the seven Big 12 teams in action won by an average of 28 points.

- One eye-popping statistic I noticed was South Dakota’s assist-to-turnover ratio against Texas Tech: they had three assists to go with 30 turnovers. Yes, 1:10.

- If Curtis Kelly puts together more performances like he did against Loyola (Chicago) on Friday, look out Big 12. He had 22 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen have to shoot better than a combined 6-for-24, though.

- Baylor’s LaceDrius Dunn is clearly ready to take on more of a role; he had 32 points in the opener.

- Impressive debut for freshman Xavier Henry: he had 27 points on five three-pointers in an easy win for Kansas.

- One player who made the most of his minutes was Texas A&M’s David Loubeau. He played 20 minutes, but had 20 points and nine rebounds in that time.

- Best free-throw shooting performance? Hard to top Colorado’s Cory Higgins going 16-16 from the charity stripe.

- Other noteworthy efforts: Mercer’s James Florence dropping 33 on Bucknell; Duquesne forward Damian Saunders going for 17 points, 19 rebounds, five assists and four steals; Georgia’s Howard Thompkins getting 25 and 12 off the bench; Art Parakhouski of Radford finishing with 20 and 13; North Texas’ George Odufuwa grabbing 24 rebounds; TCU’s Zvonko Buljan going for 22 and 16; Carl Montgomery of Chicago State finishing with 22 and 17; and Coastal Carolina’s Joseph Harris getting 21 and 17 in a surprising win over Charleston..

- A very nice head-to-head battle was witnessed in the Yale-Sacred Heart game. Yale’s Alex Zampier had 35 points and six rebounds, but Sacred Heart’s Corey Hassan had 30 points, nine rebounds and five assists – and got the win.

- In Northwestern’s first game without Kevin Coble, the Wildcats looked….eh. Sure, they beat Northern Illinois by 22, but they shot less than 40 percent from the field and 24 percent from three-point range.

- Many people pegged Durrell Summers for a breakout season, and he didn’t disappoint, scoring 17 points in a win over Florida Gulf Coast.

- Penn State might not be good as a season ago, but don’t tell that to Talor Battle. He had 27 points, 10 rebounds and four assists against in-state rival Pennsylvania.

- Minnesota needs a go-to scorer. I don’t think Lawrence Westbrook is going to score 22 every night. Without Royce White, they don’t have many explosive offensive options.

- Indiana started two freshmen in Maurice Creek and Christian Watford, and they combined for an impressive 31 points and 13 rebounds.

- Illinois returns several pieces from last season, but the Fighting Illini’s top two scorers were both freshmen – Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson. If they can continue to provide offense, Illinois could be a Big Ten contender.

- There’s not one top-25 match-up throughout the entire first week. It’s a disappointing way to start the season – marquee match-ups get everyone excited, and there’s not a single one on the docket. 


  1. I know you didn't talk about this yet but is there concern for the Tarheels, especially with regards to their PG play? They've had some problems with turnovers in the back much is the loss of Ty Lawson going to affect them come March?

  2. I mentioned it after their first game, in a little write-up on Wednesday.

    I do think that their turnovers have been a huge problem, although it hasn't really affected them all that much yet. They're distributing the ball well, which hides some of those turnovers problems.

    However, the turnovers and poor three-point shooting have allowed inferior teams to stay in games longer than they should be able to. The game against Ohio State should really be telling as far as how the Tar Heels stack up.