PATRICK: The first two college basketball games were played this evening as part of the 2k Sports Classic. Here is what we should take from these two games as we move on into the rest of the season.
1. Are Georgia Southern and Houston trendsetters?- That was a great basketball game, and while I sat at my computer in Milwaukee, I listened to the game via live radio feed (we told you we were diehards) and was really into it. Georgia Southern pulled off the first upset of the year, and better yet it was just a great basketball game. The final score was 65-63, and Houston had a final shot with 4.7 seconds left. What a way to kick off the 2008-09 season.
2. Kyle Singler is a beast- Remember when he looked like the picture above? Singler hit the gym and put on about 20 lbs of muscle. Now he just looks dominant (I know it was against Presbyterian) and he is definitely a favorite to be All-ACC First Team. He could be the missing link that the Blue Devils are looking for- a strong frontcourt player that can contend in the post.
3. Brian Zoubek still sucks- If I was a Duke fan I’d be pissed he has one of my team’s scholarships.
4. Better games on the first night please?- I know, I just ranted about how great the Georgia Southern vs. Houston game was, but seriously I would love to see two juggernauts battle it out on the first night. I think it would be a great way to start the season.
I hope you all had fun tonight, whether you watched the games or not, and here is the TV schedule for tomorrow:
7 ET: Michigan Tech at Michigan (ESPNU)
9 ET: Georgia Southern at Duke (ESPNU)
ZACH: I wanted to expand a bit off of Patrick’s proposal for opening the season with a more intriguing matchup. College basketball is starting to get the right idea with their 24 hours of coverage next Tuesday, and in no way do I think they should move that up to the first day of the season, but I have to agree with Pat’s suggestion. I fully understand that teams want to begin their season with a cupcake opponent to feel out rotations, playing time, and have their players log some minutes before the meaningful action begins. I find it hard to believe, though, that two high-major coaches in America wouldn’t agree to a contest on a neutral court the first day of the season. The hype and exposure would be tremendous. How about Texas and Michigan State pushing up their battle in Houston this year? I’d even take a matchup like Missouri vs. Illinois on ESPN2.
MLB has the Sunday night opener usually pitting the defending World Series champion against a division rival. The NFL has their Thursday night game, once again featuring the defending champ. Even college football manages to find two teams to play a conference game in August. I’m not asking for a conference game, I’m not even asking for a huge rivalry or a game with enormous implications. Just give me something besides the first round of Coaches vs. Cancer on ESPNU. It makes what should be a grand opener for the greatest sport in the world look foolish and irrelevant. It really is a shame.
I’ve got five thoughts from the first night of college basketball, as well:
1. If someone was living under a rock for the past three years and were shown that Duke game last night, they’d clearly choose Nolan Smith as their point guard over Greg Paulus. Expect that to be a switch that lasts the entire season. Paulus coming off the bench for Duke is hugely beneficial. It’s nice to have that long range shooter off the pine and limited minutes means limited turnovers.
2. Not sure I’m sold on Singler in the post yet. He attacked the rim very well starting from the outside, but I didn’t see any exceptional post moves that blew me away. Lance Thomas continues to look lost during short stretches on the floor and Brian Zoubek is a complete disaster. He fouled out against Presbyterian. Think about that for a second.
3. See how much we’re talking about Duke-Presbyterian? THINK OF THE FIRST GAME WAS ILLINOIS VS. MISSOURI IN SAINT LOUIS!! Why wouldn’t coaches jump at this golden opportunity?
4. This is a huge overreaction, but I foolishly penciled in Houston to play Duke in my Top Ten Games of the Week on Sunday and it came back to haunt me right away. So it’s probably time to start looking for a team like UAB, UTEP or Tulsa to challenge Memphis in Conference USA instead of Tom Penders’ Cougars. Kentucky rebounded quite well from their Gardner-Webb shocker, though.
5. Massachusetts and Southern Illinois also kick off their season tonight in Carbondale against D2 opponents. That should be an excellent second round matchup that I wish was televised.
Also, some important news out of Knoxville: freshman point guard Daniel West was ruled academically ineligible and will not play this season. Bruce Pearl expressed disappointment and was surprised at the ruling after West did well in summer school sessions. The Vols lose some important depth at point guard, with more responsibility now on the shoulders of Bobby Maze and J.P. Prince to run the offense.