Northwestern Wins: A College Hoops Blog

An ode to Verne Lundquist’s calls and everything college basketball

Archive for the ‘The Day After’ Category

Weekend Roundup: 12/6 & 12/7

Posted by Tommy on December 8, 2008

Saturday, 12/6: Saturday’s slate was highlighted by a couple Top 10 teams getting toppled by unranked opponents. The first upset came from the Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor, where the Wolverines avenged their loss to Duke in the 2K Sports Classic. Michigan picked up their second win against a Top 5 team behind a career-high 28 points from DeShawn Sims. The Blue Devils shot 7-33 from deep, which wasn’t enough to shoot the Wolverines out of their 1-3-1 zone. Outside of Sims’ 28, Manny Harris provided 17 and Zack Novak had 14 off the bench. For the Dukies, this loss shows that they can’t rely on the three as much as they have been if they want to make it to the Final Four. Singler was 1-9 from deep and Paulus and Elliot Williams were a combined 0-7 from the field.

The second upset came from another Big 10 team. Ohio State’s Evan Turner led the 5-0 Buckeyes in five categories with 28 of OSU’s 67 points, 10 boards, 5 assists, 2 steals and 40 minutes. Despite the return of Harangody’s presence in the paint, Turner drove to the hoop time and time again, testing the big men of Notre Dame and scoring at will. Harangody had a great first game back on the offensive end with 25 points to go along with 16 boards. Kyle McAlarney came back down to earth after going 3-11 from the field and 0-6 from deep. B.J. Mullens cracked the double digit mark with 11 points in 18 minutes of play. Thad Matta had his team playing great defense and shutdown everybody but Harangody and Tory Jackson. The Irish shot 38.1% from the field and 53.8% from the stripe, not encouraging stats for a team that usually doesn’t shoot itself in the foot.

Staying in the midwest, Wisconsin was also looking for a resume quality win against Marquette. The Badgers pulled out to a 6 point halftime lead, but saw it vanish in the last 6 minutes of the game. Jerel McNeal carried the Golden Eagles with 19 of his 26 points in the second half. McNeal was 10-18 from the field and 4-7 from deep, including the go-ahead three with 5:26 to go.  Both teams struggled shooting the ball from deep and from the free throw line. The win over Wisconsin was a huge one for Marquette, who needed a pick up after their loss to Dayton.

Other Notes:

  • Stephen Curry does it again. His 44 points lifted Davidson over NC State.
  • Big East darkhorse Cincinati, led by Mike Williams, picked up a nice win over UAB.
  • Boston College took down UMass despite 35 from Ricky Harris
  • Baylor continues to impress as they took down Washington St despite the difference in style of play.

Top 25 in Action:

  • #3 Pittsburgh’s Sam Young stays hot with his 28 point performance in Pitt’s 80-51 rout of Vermont.
  • #5 Gonzaga took care of Indiana 70-54 in Indianapolis, Heyvelt led the Zags with 17.
  • #10 Purdue forced 35 turnovers in their 90-42 win over winless Arkansas Pine-Bluff.
  • #11 Louisville jumped out to a 50-17 halftime lead in their win over Indiana State.
  • #17 Wake Forest stays undefeated after crushing Buknell 81-52, Teague had 26.
  • #18 Georgetown dismantled American 73-49. Wright led all scorers with 22.
  • #22 Miami withstands a late comeback vs. Kentucky and holds on to win 73-67.
  • #24 Davidson beat NC State 72-67 thanks to Curry’s second 44 point performance of the year.
  • #25 Kansas scored 50 points in the second half of their 86-62 win over Jackson State.

NW Wins Horse Trailer Player of the Day: DeShawn Sims, Michigan

Sunday, 12/7: Sunday had nowhere near the action Saturday provided, but another Top 25 team went down. Florida State took down the #21 Florida Gators at home despite shooting just 31% from the field. The Seminoles’ leading scorer Toney Douglas was limited to just two points and was 1-9 from the field. It’s tough to win games when your leading scorer was completely shut down and your team shoots 31 percent, but Leonard Hamilton had his squad playing great defense. The ‘Noles forced Florida into 16 turnovers. Role players like Ryan Reid, Solomon Alabai and Jordan DeMercy stepped up for FSU in Toney Douglas’ absence from the scoring column. This is a big win for Leonard Hamilton, who’s been on the hot seat for some time now.

In the Big 12/Pac 10 Hardwood Classic, Oregon improved their record to 4-4 with a 75-70 win over Kansas State. Tajuan Porter was locked in, shooting 8-13 from the field and 6-9 from deep. The Ducks, who shot 48% from the field, got nice contributions from guards LeKendric Longmire and Garrett Sim. Kansas State outscored Oregon 39-10 from the bench and out-rebounded the Ducks 34-24 but allowed Oregon to shoot 31 free throws, 22 of which were made.

Liberty gave the Clemson Tigers all they could handle at Littlejohn Coliseum. The Flames, led by Seth Curry’s 24 points, had a 7 point halftime lead on the road but K.C. Rivers proved to be too much for Liberty to handle. Rivers had 32 points, 11 boards and a pair of steals. His nine points in the final 2 and a half minutes put the Tigers over the top after trailing a large portion of the game. Both teams shot right around 50% from the field and were 80% from the line, but Clemson had five more rebounds, eight more assists and 6 less turnovers than the Flames, crucial stats in a close game like this. I know people like to say there isn’t such thing a good loss, but this game shows that Liberty is a contender to win the Big South.

Other Notes:

  • Indiana State picked up their first win against Lamar, who was 6-1 going into the matchup.
  • Virginia Tech overcomes a six point halftime deficit to Navy in their 79-70 win in the BB&T Classic.
  • Maryland’s Landon Milbourne scored a career-high 20 points in the Terps’ 76-53 win over George Washington.

Top 25 in Action:

  • #6 Oklahoma rolls over Tulsa 69-44 thanks to a 43-19 halftime lead.
  • #9 UCLA shot 58% from the field in their 85-67 win of Cal State Northridge.
  • #11 Louisville’s Earl Clark had 17/14/8 in their 91-56 win over Ohio.
  • #12 Michigan State was 9-19 from deep in their 75-59 win against Bradley.
  • #19 Arizona State handled Nebraska 64-44, Harden had 20/9/6.

NW Wins Horse Trailer Player of the Day: K.C. Rivers, Clemson

Advertisements

Posted in The Day After | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

December 5: The Day After

Posted by Zach on December 5, 2008

UCLA Texas Basketball

A.J. Abrams would not let Texas lose that game.

The sweet shooting senior scored 31 points- including the final six in the game- to lead the Longhorns to a hard-nosed victory over an energized UCLA team not only looking to exact revenge following last year’s defeat at the hands of Texas in Pauley Pavilion last season, but a UCLA squad hoping to silence some doubters following a disappointing performance in the 2K Sports Classic, a game in which they looked completely lost on offense against the Beilein Zone. The Bruins fought back valianty after falling behind by nine at intermission, but ultimately A.J. Abrams would have none of that.

Matching his career high with 31 points, Abrams can certainly score points. We all knew that. But for the senior to take over the point guard duties and step into the esteemed shoes of D.J. Augustin is no easy task, especially a kid burdened with being the #1 scoring option at all times. Not many college players, even experienced seniors like Abrams, can take that much responsbility and experience success. The assist totals have been unimpressive, sure. The scoring, and the success of the Texas Longhorns, though, has not suffered.

Abrams was awesome Thursday night, sinking 9/18 from the floor, 5/9 from three and 8/9 from the free throw line, coupling another strong double-double from Damion James into a Texas win over a fellow Top 10 team (at least right now). Abrams is now averaging 18.0 PPG on the young season, an improvement from a year ago. This Texas team legitimately looks like an Elite Eight contender- Justin Mason is an underrated player, James is a beast on the boards and can score inside, Pittman and Johnson give them bulk. Rick Barnes is also a fine coach. After losing a heartbreaker to a good Notre Dame team in Maui, this was a much-needed boost for Texas. If Abrams can handle the point and maybe get some help from Balbay down the road, the Longhorns will, like always, be in the mix in March.

UCLA will also continue to improve as the season wears on. Going into Austin and leaving with a victory is no easy task. Darren Collison needs some help, though. He took 22 shots in the game and turned the ball over 6 times. It just doesn’t feel like UCLA is a true threat like they have been the last three years under Ben Howland. Aboya, Dragovic and Keefe are somewhat useful players, but there’s just so much pressure on Collison and the inconsistent Josh Shipp. Look for Jrue Holiday to improve more and more (he did not play well last night) and contribute in all areas. For now, UCLA seems like a contender to be upset early in the tournament and fight for the Pac-10 title with Arizona State.

You can’t make the Final Four every year, Ben.

Other Top 25 games played on Thursday night:

  • #2 Connecticut (8-0) remained perfect, but it was not easy. Buffalo and their star Rodney Pierce (28 pts on 10/19) gave the Huskies all they could handle, notably guards A.J. Price (another so-so outing), Kemba Walker (did not put up a shot) and Jerome Dyson (major off night). Hasheem Thabeet and Jeff Adrien had to muscle the Huskies to the win, sinking 14/21 shots and combining for 39 points and 25 rebounds in a 68-64 bullet dodger.
  • #6 Oklahoma (7-0) survived a Leonard Washington cheap shot on Blake Griffin for a 73-72 win at home to remain undefeated. DeMar DeRozan is still struggling (5/13 FG, 0/1 3pt) and Daniel Hackett still cannot get on track scoring-wise, meaning it was Dwight Lewis who had to handle the scoring for the Trojans (25 pts). Blake Griffin was excellent again (8/12, 25 pts, 6 reb) and the Sooners finally received a promising outing from point guard Austin Johnson- 7/12 FG, 17 pts, but only 1 assist.
  • #16 Villanova (8-0) destroyed Houston Baptist 93-57 behind five double-digit scorers, notably Scottie Reynolds with 23/6 and Corey Stokes hitting six triples. Villanova hasn’t really played anyone of note (other than Rhode Island, which is a nice win) so we should be able to evaluate them more effectively after facing Texas this Tuesday in the Jimmy V.
  • #19 Arizona State (6-1) took care of Jackson State 81-60. James Harden: 7-10 FG, 4-5 3pt, 22 pts, 8 reb. He’s good.

Other games of some interest:

– Could Charleston be the team to end Davidson’s Southern Conference streak? They improved to 6-1 (1-0) on the season Thursday and have a win over South Carolina this season.

– Saint Mary’s picked up a quality road win against a fellow mid major, toppling Kent State 75-69 in Ohio. Patty Mills is starting to get back on track- 8/17 FG, 4/7 3pt, 6/6 FT, 26 points, while Diamon Simpson (I love this guy) grabbed 15 rebounds in the winning effort. Kent State nearly came back in this one after the Gaels jumped out to a big early lead, but didn’t get enough out of their star Al Fisher: 5/14 FG, 14 points. Kent State is 3-4, but they’re stronger than their record indicates.

– The Horizon began their conference season last night (actually earlier in the week with one game) with Valparaiso winning on the road at Youngstown State, Butler getting a Zach Hahn three at the buzzer to stay unbeaten and win at preseason favorite Cleveland State, Milwaukee handled Detroit at home and Green Bay sent Wright State to 0-5 with a home victory.

– Isaiah Thomas is an impressive freshman for Washington. He and Abdul Gaddy should form a nice backcourt for Lorenzo Romar in the next couple seasons. Thomas finished with 18 points and Washington toppled Oklahoma State at home for a much-needed victory. They’re now 4-3 and the Cowboys (James Anderson 3/12 FG) fall to 5-3.

NW Wins Horse Trailer Player of the Day: A.J. Abrams, Texas

Arizona @ Texas A&M on the U tonight.

Posted in The Day After | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Weekend Roundup (11/29-30)

Posted by Zach on December 1, 2008

Tennessee Gonzaga Basketball

Here’s a summary of how an entertaining weekend played out in college hoops…

Five Most Meaningful Outcomes

1. Gonzaga 83, Tennessee 74: Credible experts like Dick Vitale and myself (okay, Dickie V isn’t a credible expert) predicted Gonzaga would make the Final Four this season. Their performance Sunday night in a huge resume building win over Tennessee vaulted them firmly into contention to reach Detroit and established the Zags as a top-five team in the nation. The big differences from a year ago? Jeremy Pargo has listened to NBA scouts advice and molded into a coaches dream for a point guard- one who makes sure his talented teammates are involved before taking over scoring-wise when his team desperately needs a boost. Austin Daye has turned into one of the top shooters in college basketball at 6’10. Josh Heytvelt is clearly the team leader and has advanced post moves and scoring ability some in the NBA don’t even possess. Other players like Goodson, Brown, Bouldin, Downs and Gray (whom I love) all know their roles and stay grounded. Rather than the usual finesse Gonzaga teams of years past, this group is physical, tough and has all the ingredients. They certainly impressed Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl, and these two teams will meet up again next month in Knoxville for a tremendous rematch.

2. Wake Forest 87, Baylor 74: I was extremely impressed with Wake Forest’s performance in a dominating second half over a Baylor team that cleanly beat Arizona State on Friday night. Coach Dino Gaudio allows his athletic team to run the floor and play the fast-paced offense that suits point guard Jeff Teague. Wake grabbed 57 rebounds in the contest led by L.D. Williams, Al Farouq-Aminu, Chas McFarland and James Johnson. Whether Wake can contend with Duke or Carolina in the ACC is still a question mark, but they certainly showed they’re top-4 seed worthy in Anaheim. The question is whether Wake can develop more consistency shooting from the outside as the season wears on (fortunately Baylor shot only 26% from deep in the game).

3. Kentucky 54, West Virginia 43: This one was ugly, but Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie doesn’t care. The Wildcats rebounded from the VMI loss and the UNC thrashing to win the Las Vegas Invitational over the weekend, defeating both Kansas State and NCAA contender West Virginia. Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson are constituting pretty much the entire Wildcat offense, with Meeks once again putting the game away at the free throw line and Patterson chipping in with a double-double. These two will need to lead Kentucky if they hope to make the NCAA Tournament and save their coaches job. Kentucky overcame a 26-16 deficit at halftime in this game.

4. Pittsburgh 57, Washington State 43: Two defensive-minded teams met in the final of the Legends Classic in New Jersey as you can tell by the score. Sam Young (15) and Levance Fields (14) forced enough Washington State turnovers (15) and turned them into points for the victory. After a hotly contested first half, Pitt really stiffened their defense in the second stanza. With a weaker Pac-10, the Cougars could find themselves in the NCAA Tournament as a third place finisher, so it’s a nice resume win for Pittsburgh.

5. Georgetown 75, Maryland 48: These crosstown foes finally meet (why they don’t play is a mystery) in the third place game of the Old Spice Classic with Georgetown winning in an impressive rout. It’s fairly clear that John Thompson is simply recruiting on a higher level than Gary Williams in the talent-heavy DC area at this point, with the Hoyas reeling in talent like Austin Freeman, Chris Wright, DaJuan Summers and Jason Clark while the Terrapins settle for second-tier talent such as Eric Hayes, Adrian Bowie, Sean Mosley and Braxton Dupree. And it clearly showed on the basketball court with this game not even being competitive. Still, Maryland showed they’re capable in their shocking victory over Michigan State and Georgetown could be pointing to this convincing win in March.

Top Five Player Performances

1. James Harden– He doesn’t wow you with his leaping ability or blazing speed or strong frame. Heck, he even looks kind of dorky with the long tee-shirt he wears under his Arizona State uniform. But James Harden can definitely play basketball, and if Blake Griffin, Tyler Hansbrough and Stephen Curry didn’t exist, Harden would be Player of the Year. He dropped 32 points on Baylor in a loss and followed it up with 40 in a blowout win over NCAA caliber UTEP, hitting six threes.

2. Kyle McAlarney– Remember his shooting display in Maui against North Carolina? He decided to perform an encore in front of the home fans on Sunday, collecting 32 points on nine threes in the win over Furman. In his last two games, McAlarney has shot 35 threes and made over 50% of them. They’ll need McAlarney to keep shooting the lights out with Luke Harangody sidelined with pneumonia.

3. A.J. Slaughter– In the absolute #1 shocker of the month of November, Western Kentucky flat out dominated #3 Louisville on a neutral floor. This isn’t last years Sweet 16 Hilltopper team, either. Most of the top scorers from that team have departed. A.J. Slaughter played more of a secondary role last year, but certainly looked like a star in the victory, compiling 25 points and 9 rebounds on 8/15 shooting.

4. Sam Young– Mentioned him before in the Legends recap, but Young is the early frontrunner for Big East Player of the Year. He dropped 33 on Belmont, followed it up with 24 in a win over Texas Tech, and then led the way with 15 and 8 against tough Washington State. With Levance Fields also playing well and looking healthy, Pittsburgh is to be feared.

5. Jodie Meeks– Meeks has been flat out unstoppable early for Kentucky. He’s averaging 25.5 PPG, 4.8 RPG, shooting 38% from three and 88% from the line. And he’s been to the line often, hitting 23/25 from the charity stripe in Las Vegas over the weekend, most in high-leverage situations. Meeks turned the ball over nine times against Kansas State, but totaled 37 points, 6 rebounds and 4 steals for the Horse Trailer. Meeks personally told me he is honored.

Five Upset Specials

1. Western Kentucky 68, Louisville 54: If somebody told you he/she saw this coming, they are a liar. In just the third game of the season for the Cardinals and coach Rick Pitino, they were the victims of the most shocking upset of the year to date. Western Kentucky effectively double-teamed Samardo Samuels and caused all kinds of havoc for Louisville guards Edgar Sosa and Andre McGee, who combined to go 0/13 from the floor, 0/9 from three, score 2 points while dishing out 2 assists with 4 turnovers. Yikes. Louisville got three-happy like they often do, shooting 30 from deep and making 6. Earl Clark is showing no signs he wants to be one of the premiere players in college hoops. A reprehensible loss for Louisville.

2. Dayton 89, Marquette 75: Another Big East contender to fall on Saturday was Marquette, losing to upstart Dayton in Chicago in a game where they were thoroughly outplayed. The Flyers used their quickness and a career performance from reserve guard Rob Lowery (21 points) to stun the Golden Eagles and improve to 6-0. Once again, Marquette played no defense, an obvious concern for Buzz Williams. They allowed an Atlantic 10 team to shoot 53% and shoot 39 free throws, while Dominic James continues to regress jump shooting wise.

3. Drake 68, New Mexico 62: The Lobos were supposed to be taking over right about now under coach Steve Alford. Instead he fell in both games at Cancun over the weekend to VCU and Drake, the latter being the more shocking and disappointing. New Mexico even held Drake’s main scorer, Josh Young, to 10 points on 2/10 from the floor and still lost the game, falling behind by as much as 16 in the second half. They’ll need to win the Mountain West now for a tournament bid at 3-4.

4. Cal State Fullerton 92, Charlotte 84: This one isn’t a huge upset (CSF was only a 3-point dog), but Charlotte and coach Bobby Lutz are currently on a major down spiral, finishing last in the Anaheim Classic with this loss and dropping to 1-6 on the season. They looked like at least an NIT contender nearly downing Clemson earlier in the week before losing heartbreakers to Providence and Cal State Fullerton and receiveing a walloping from Arizona State. Can they possibly recover from this?

5. Green Bay 84, Massachusetts 67: Speaking of bad A-10 teams, how about Massachusetts? They have talented players like Chris Lowe, Anthony Gurley and Ricky Harris, but it clearly isn’t materializing at this point for new coach Derrek Kellogg. Most of all they can’t play defense, letting Green Bay have six players in double figures in a performance that dropped the Minutemen to 1-4 on the season.

Bubblicious Wins

  • Texas Tech over Mississippi State at the Legends Classic was a big win for coach Pat Knight and one to possibly place on the resume come March if the Red Raiders are sitting on the bubble
  • Texas A&M taking down MAC contender Kent State on a neutral floor was a nice win for Mark Turgeon and Co. after losing to Tulsa
  • Don’t look now, but Nebraska is still undefeated! They beat MVC favorite Creighton in a hotly contested game over the weekend.
  • Illinois is still undefeated, too. They topped Tulsa who beat A&M the day before.
  • Florida State with two very impressive wins over California and Cincinnati in Las Vegas. The opposite for UNLV, who lost to both of those teams and are now looking weak for an at-large, even with the win at UTEP earlier in the week. Wink Adams went 5/26 with three assists in the two losses.
  • Saint Mary’s looked overwhelmed in their loss to UTEP on Thursday but rebounded with a couple quality victories over Providence and Cal State Fullerton
  • Nevada lost to Portland and is off to a horrific start to the season. Brandon Fields is still trying to get himself into the flow of the offense.

Enjoy the ACC/Big Ten Challenge everyone!

Posted in The Day After | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

November 29: The Day After

Posted by Zach on November 29, 2008

Tennessee Georgetown Basketball

So many important games on the slate Friday. I’ll try to recap as many as possible…

Old Spice Classic: Could Siena have been a tad overrated heading into this season? Pesky Wichita State toppled them 72-70 and sent them deep into the losers bracket. The second game was undoubtedly the best of the day and possibly the tournament. Georgetown played a much better all around game than they did the previous day against Wichita State, but multiple ridiculous Cameron Tatum threes carried Tennessee to an enormous win 90-78. Yep, 90 points against that great JTIII defense. Tyler Smith was his usual solid self- 21pts, 6/12 FG, 9/10 FT- and Bobby Maze looks sensational (in some ways he could be an upgrade from Chris Lofton) with 9 assists and 0 turnovers. Maryland was playing with house money against Gonzaga after already knocking off Michigan State last night. They were simply outmanned and outtalented (word? probably not) by a Zags squad 81-59 who may have the old Josh Heytvelt back in the fold. They kept him involved in the second half and he dominated the weak Terps frontline for 22 points on 9/10 FG. In the final game, Raymar Morgan rebounded from a disastrous performance against Maryland with 29 points on 9/11 FG and 11/13 FT to pace the Spartans to a 94-79 win over Oklahoma State, who got a strong effort from Terrel Harris.

Anaheim Classic: Saint Mary’s took out their frustration after a disappointing performance against UTEP to dominate Cal State Fullerton 79-54. Patrick Mills responded with 21 points and the Gaels out-rebounded the Titans 51-28, including 10+ from Diamon Simpson and Omar Samhan. The second game- a Wake Forest defeat of a UTEP team that may win Conference USA 82-79– was all about two players: Jeff Teague and Stafon Jackson. The sophomore Teague scored 29 points, dished out 6 assists and hit multiple HUGE free throws down the stretch, while Jackson scored 31 on 9/23 FG, 13/14 FT and grabbed 9 rebounds. Jackson is ultra-talented and definitely has an NBA career ahead of him. Providence forced turnover after turnover in the final three minutes to come back and defeat a 1-5 and reeling Charlotte team 67-62, scoring the last ten points of the contest. The most impressive team the entire day ended their game around 2:30 ET- the Baylor Bears and their 87-79 dismantling of #14 Arizona State. Baylor defeated the tough Sendek zone by draining 11/24 threes and only turning the ball over eight times in the entire game. LaceDarius Dunn scored 27 points and Curtis Jerrells totaled 22, holding off 24 in the final nine minutes from James Harden. Might want to start following this quick, energetic, sharp shooting Baylor squad if you’re looking for a bandwagon.

Preseason NIT: In the third-place game, Boston College scored 54 second half points en route to a nice 83-77 win over UAB. Tyrese Rice scored all 24 of his points in that explosive second half, holding off Lawrence Kinnard’s career high 29 and improving to 4-2 on the season. In the game of the day between two top-15 teams, Oklahoma defeated Purdue 87-82 in OT for the Preseason NIT crown. The Sooners managed 87 points against the normally sturdy Purdue defense by attacking the teeth of the D and living at the free throw line, taking 46 attempts as opposed to 5 for Purdue. Blake Griffin didn’t have a great game- 5/13 FG, 18 points, 21 rebounds, missed some big FT’s- so some of Oklahoma’s secondary pieces showed they’re not just a one-man team: Taylor Griffin with 19, Willie Warren with 22 and Cade Davis with 10, along with clutch free throws in the final minute.

Las Vegas Invitational: West Virginia had six players in double digits- including 14 from John Flowers- and dodged a 15/34 free throw line performance to outpace a weak Iowa team 87-68. West Virginia will face Kentucky for the championship tonight after they survived a late Kansas State run to win 74-72. Jodie Meeks was once again out of his mind, showing why he’s one of the top scorers in the country: 37 points, 11/17 FG, 11/13 FT, 4/6 3pt, and outscored KSU in the first half by himself.

Legends Classic: Washington State played their usual phenomenal defense to down upstart Mississippi State 63-52. Freshman Klay Thompson went off for 19/10 and continues to look impressive, while the Cougars held Jarvis Varnado to just four blocks! Pittsburgh continues to look strong in the early going, holding off Trevor Cook and a fighting Texas Tech team 80-67. Sam Young filled up the stat sheet as usual with 24 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists, even though he struggled overall from the floor (9/25). Two players Pitt will need to win the Big East- Jermaine Dixon and Gilbert Brown- both played very well.

Other Games of Note

  • Dayton overcame an 0/24 (!) performance from beyond the arc to defeat Auburn 60-59 in overtime and improve to 5-0 on the season
  • Illinois (5-0) with another nice win 69-63 over Kent State and Al Fisher’s 18 points. Mike Tisdale stepped up with 20 points
  • Rhode Island will face Villanova today after a 77-72 win over Penn State. If you’re wondering, Jimmy Baron only hit four threes
  • Syracuse shockingly trailed ACC basement dweller Virginia 40-29 at halftime before rallying to a 73-70 victory at the Carrier Dome
  • California destroyed 5-0 UNLV, who just won at UTEP, 73-55, with five players in double figures and Wink Adams shooting 3/14
  • Another notch on the CUSA belt with Tulsa taking down Texas A&M 67-56 behind 16-9-7 from the talented Ben Uzoh

NW Wins Horse Trailer of the Day: Jodie Meeks, Kentucky

On The Tube Today

  • Samford @ Ohio State- 12pm (BTN)
  • Bryant Univ @ Connecticut- 1pm (ESPNFC)
  • Miss Valley State @ Iowa State- 130pm (ESPNFC)
  • North Dakota State @ Minnesota- 2pm (BTN)
  • Texas Tech vs. Mississippi State- 530pm (HDNET)
  • Denver @ Wyoming- 6pm (MTN)
  • Pittsburgh vs. Washington State- 8pm (HDNET)
  • Creighton @ Nebraska- 8pm (ESPN FC)
  • Drake vs. Vanderbilt- 830pm (CBSCS)
  • West Virginia vs. Kentucky- 1030pm (ESPN2)
  • VCU vs. New Mexico- 11pm (CBSCS)

One last note: Look at my predictions for these tournaments I made and tell me I’m not Nostradamus.

Posted in The Day After | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Day After: Old Spice Classic Recap (Day 1)

Posted by Zach on November 28, 2008

Maryland Michigan St Basketball

LIVE from Orlando! (actually my living room, but we can pretend)

What did we learn from Day One of the Old Spice Classic? Tennessee is for real, Georgetown can’t shoot, Maryland and Oklahoma State could be in the hunt for a bid after all, Purdue may be the class of the Big Ten rather than Michigan State, Wichita State is no walkover and Gonzaga may be slightly overrated.

Here are my recaps/analysis:

#12 Tennessee 78, Siena 64
: I expected the first game of the Old Spice Classic between Tennessee and Siena to be competitive with the veteran and tournament tested Saints giving the younger Vols all they could handle. I definitely underestimated the size, strength and athleticism of a Tennessee team that used returnees like Tyler Smith, Wayne Chism and Brian Williams and additions like impressive point guard Bobby Maze, Renaldo Woolridge (who is a great addition because his shooting can extend the floor and create more room for Smith and Chism to operate) and Scotty Hopson to dominate the mid-major Siena. This was a great test for the Saints, whom I still feel will come away with two wins in this tournament and contend for an undefeated season in the MAAC. They won’t play a team as athletic and talented as Tennessee the rest of the way. The Vols forced Siena into taking mid-range jumpers instead of the dribble-drive penetration to the hoop that made Siena so successful at the end of the last season. Taking Kenny Hansbrouck out of his game (1-10 FG, 6 points) and containing both Franklin and Ubiles from starting a run was huge for Tennessee. Worth noting that Ryan Rossiter held his own with 12 and 12 down low for the Saints.

#16 Georgetown 58, Wichita State 50
: Georgetown was very unimpressive in their squeaker over Wichita State in the second game of the Old Spice Classic. They allowed Wichita State to hang around most of the first half, the Shockers actually cut the lead to one in the second, then Georgetown secured a close win by hunkering down defensively and DaJuan Summers finally coming out of his shell to hit some clutch threes. Wichita State is a very young team predicted to finish near the bottom of the MVC, but we may have to re-evaluate that standing. Gregg Marshall is a very good coach and he successfully confused Georgetown offensively mixing up the zone and man-to-man, often causing the Hoyas empty possessions by swinging the ball around the perimeter and eventually either turning it over or throwing up a poor shot. In the end though, the Shockers just didn’t have talent to match Georgetown, who may be worse in the Big East than projected. They play stout defense like you’d expect a JTIII team to do, but their offense is stagnant, they’re a poor outside shooting team, and don’t really have any dominant force to rely on. Monroe is efficient in the post, runs the floor like a gazelle and has a smooth stroke at the foul line, but he’s more of a secondary player on a second weekend tournament team. I know it’s one game, but with a loaded Big East, the Hoyas could find themselves near the bubble. They could change that tomorrow by upsetting Tennessee.

Maryland 80, #6 Michigan State 62
: Wow. What a tremendous win for the Terps and Gary Williams, the kind of win that gets you into the NCAA Tournament on Selection Sunday as opposed to barely missing the cut. Maryland completely outplayed Michigan State in the fashion you’d expect an underdog Gary Williams team to do. Thanks to Goran Suton and his injured knee, Maryland’s weak frontline actually out-rebounded Michigan State during this game, shot 47% from three and received a great performance from throwback Dave Neal, the lone senior on the squad. The real difference came at the foul line, where the Spartans shot just 44% at 12/27 while Maryland shot at 81%. Another key was Raymar Morgan entrenched in foul trouble the entire game, only managing four shots and scoring four points, with coach Tom Izzo visibly frustrated with his inconsistent play. Vasquez, Hayes, Mosley and Bowie were all great for a Maryland team that really put it together last night. Could they make a run through this tournament like they did in the ACC Tournament a few years ago?

#10 Gonzaga 83, Oklahoma State 71:
The Zags avoided the upset bug and pulled out a hard-fought victory from an Oklahoma State team that could be dangerous in the Big 12 this season. They’ve got incredible athletes in Eaton, Harris, Anderson and Muonelo, can shoot the ball very well from deep, and constantly push the tempo in Travis Ford’s offense, looking to wear the opposition down late in the second half. And that may work on a few occasions in the Big 12, but having absolutely zero post presence may mean NIT rather than NCAA. Overall, I was impressed by the Cowboys effort last night, especially super sophomore James Anderson, and they should give Michigan State a run for their money. As for Gonzaga, I thought the key play in the game was Ira Brown snagging an offensive rebound and drawing Anderson’s fourth foul about midway through the second half. Brown gave them great energy off the pine and may take all of Sacre’s minutes sooner than later. Daye showed a nice stroke from the outside, Downs contributed with 12 rebounds and Pargo provided senior leadership and clutch shots in crunch time. The only Achilles heel I can see for Gonzaga is their ability to stop people on defense and it may ultimately lead to their downfall. Matt Bouldin I also thought was very shaky; they need him as their fourth weapon behind Pargo, Heytvelt and Daye.

Anaheim Classic First Round

  • UTEP dominated St. Mary’s 75-62 behind 20 points from Randy Culpepper who completely outplayed Patty Mills
  • #24 Wake Forest edged a competitive Cal State Fullerton squad 75-69 with Jeff Teague notching 24 points
  • #14 Arizona State dominated Charlotte in the second half to win 84-56 with Jeff Pendergraph scoring 23 and grabbing 10 boards
  • Baylor took care of Providence with ease- 72-56- leading from the very tip and will play Arizona State in a great 2nd round game

NW Wins Horse Trailer of the Day: Jeff Pendergraph, Arizona State

Day Two analysis from two games- Georgetown vs. Tennessee and Gonzaga vs. Maryland (possibly Michigan State vs. Oklahoma State depending on if I’m still home)- coming tomorrow.

Posted in Non-Conference Tournaments, The Day After | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

November 26: The Day After

Posted by Zach on November 26, 2008

Syracuse Kansas Basketball

I’m starting to believe this Syracuse team can finish in the top five in the Big East.

Why? Primarily because there’s no way they would have won that overtime thriller against the Kansas Jayhawks last year. In Kansas City with thousands of screaming Rock Chalk diehards. Down double digits in the second half.

This is a new Syracuse team. Not one that folds defensively, makes careless turnovers, has absolutely no depth and won’t make adjustments. Hell, Jim Boeheim even ditched his patented zone defense midway through the second half after the athletic Jayhawks were attacking it with ease (most notably impressive freshman Tyshawn Taylor) and went straight man-to-man, allowing athletic defenders like Paul Harris and Jonny Flynn more leeway to be aggressive.

It appears to me defense would be the only thing holding back this Orange team from finshing in the top five in the loaded Big East, and even in that area I feel they can surely improve to an above-average defensive team in time for March. They have the pieces necessary to patch together a top-15/20 caliber campaign- an intelligent, steady, playmaking, clutch shooting point guard who allows the inconsistent Eric Devendorf to play off the ball in Jonny Flynn, who clearly outplayed the fatigued Sherron Collins late in that game. They have Arinze Onuaku in the post, who has made it clear to me in these two CBE Classic games he can become a star in the Big East. It baffles me why Boeheim doesn’t attempt to keep him more involved in the offense (I think Dickie V pointed this out). He’s also a ferocious rebounder and a superb defender, swatting away two Kansas shots late in the game on one possession and actually bringing me to my feet.

Okay, so the depth isn’t tremendous. Rick Jackson won’t provide much off the pine. But the additions of both Eric Devendorf and Andy Rautins give this Syracuse team an entirely new dimension, spreading the defense and allowing both Flynn and Onuaku more room to work on the outside and inside, respectively. I also saw some encouraging play from freshman forward Kris Joseph in the tournament.

Bottom line: This Syracuse team is much more poised, mature and developed than a season ago when they missed the NCAA Tournament. While the Big East is loaded and I have a difficult time believing they’ll outlast Connecticut, Louisville, Notre Dame or Pittsburgh at the top of the conference, stranger things have happened. Credit Jim Boeheim for avoiding all cupcakes and challenging his Syracuse team to see what they’re made of early in the season. It certainly paid off.

#8 Notre Dame 81, #7 Texas 80: Both of these teams showed Tuesday night in a hotly contested Maui battle that they’re top ten teams. Both entered the game playing phenomenal defense- Notre Dame at 54 PPG and Texas at an even more impressive 46.3 PPG- but both explosive offenses managed to score 80 points in a thriller that Notre Dame almost blew from the free throw line. They held a seemingly comfortable eight point lead with about a minute to go when Tory Jackson, Zach Hillesland and Luke Harangody missed six free throws down the stretch to aid a Texas comeback. A 60-foot desperation heave from A.J. Abrams (who finished just 5/17 from behind the arc and took 27 shots total) hit the front rim in a shot that surely had the entire city of South Bend holding their breath.

Both squads made it fairly clear they belong in the top ten in the nation and could reach the Final Four. Texas received a strong effort from Justin Mason (16 pts, 7/12 FG, 7 reb, 5 asst and an electric dunk), Damion James (11pts, 12reb, 4/10 FG, didn’t force outside jumpers), Gary Johnson (5/11 FG, 10 pts, 8 reb) and Abrams even though he struggled overall from behind the arc. For the Irish, Kyle McAlarney did his thing, hitting five threes and scoring 19 points. Tory Jackson had another solid game (6/12 FG, 16 pts, 7 reb, 5asst, 2 TO) and Harangody finished with 29 points, 13 rebounds and a desperation heave from nearly halfcourt that banked in late in the second half. Mike Brey should be concerned about two things, though: 1) Yeah, Texas is a very potent offensive team, but Notre Dame struggled yet again defensively, 2) they got all of two points from their bench of Nash, Peoples and Zeller.

Curry Held Scoreless: No, Loyola (MD) did not find some 11-foot behemoth with a dinosaur’s wingspan to cover Curry. Coach Jimmy Patsos, the always creative mind who decided to sit in the stands for the second half of his game against Cornell to avoid receiving another technical, decided to employ a plan that seems fairly obvious now that someone has finally thought of it: double-team Stephen Curry. Not your usual double team, though. Loyola literally drapped two defenders on Curry the entire game. For every single Davidson offensive possession, the Wildcats held a 4-to-3 advantage, meaning Andrew Lovedale, Bryant Barr, Aaron Bond and Will Archambault could have career nights. Curry: 0/3 FG, 0/1 3pt, 3 assists, 0 points. For a guy averaging about 35 points per game. Instead of forcing shots through a constant double team, he deferred to teammates. Which brings up the question: Can this guy do anything wrong?

Other Top 25 Action

  • #1 North Carolina advanced to face Notre Dame after smoking Oregon 98-69. Hansbrough scored 16 points on 12/14 FT, making just two shots
  • #4 Pittsburgh took care of a quality Belmont team 74-60. Scary note: DeJuan Blair didn’t play due to inflammation in his right knee
  • #15 Marquette cruised 85-68 over Texas Southern with Jerel McNeal (20 points) and Lazar Hayward (18 and 9) leading the charge
  • #18 Florida barely squeaked by Washington 86-84 with Nick Calathes picking up 21 points and dishing out 8 assists
  • #22 Villanova dominated Monmouth 71-48 behind 18 points and five threes from Corey Stokes and Cunningham (9/17) with another good game

Games of Note: Arizona trailed pretty much the entire game against bottom-feeder WCC squad Santa Clara before pulling out a 69-66 victory in Athens, Georgia with Chase Budinger scoring 22 points; Virginia Commonwealth will need more than Eric Maynor to win the Colonial this season. His final line: 35 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 11/20 FG, 6/12 3pt, 7/9 FT, and besides some solid efforts from Larry Sanders, the depth just isn’t there. They lost a heartbreaker 93-90 in OT at 4-1 East Carolina; Indiana received another drubbing in Maui, losing by 26 to St. Joseph’s and allowing seven threes from Darrin Govins; You know the saying “fool me once, shame on you…fool me twice, shame on me?” Liberty defeated Virginia in Charlottesville 86-82 last night with Seth Curry dropping 26 points and averaging 21/6/4 this season. He’s playing at Liberty. What are these Virginia schools doing?!?!?! If there’s another Curry on the way, RECRUIT HIM; Saint Louis couldn’t build off their BC win and lost to Nebraska by 14 points, allowing the Huskers to shoot nearly 60%; Penn State with a decent win on the road vs. in-state rival Pennsylvania.

News And Notes

Results from the punishments handed down on Indiana yesterday: Kelvin Sampson cannot coach in college for five years and Indiana received three years probation. This program should be slightly rejuvinated by a top ten recruiting class entering Bloomington next season. Be patient, Hoosier fans!

– Troubled Massachusetts guard Doug Wiggins has now been suspended indefinitely by coach Derek Kellogg after an arrest for breaking and entering. The incident occurred off campus in Amherst last weekend and wasn’t the first of such incidents for Wiggins, who left Connecticut over the summer after averaging nearly 7 PPG there as a reserve.

– Devestating news for St. John’s that broke a few days ago: Roger Mason, Jr, the best player on a St. John’s team looking to avoid the cellar in the Big East, tore a tendon in his right foot and will miss the rest of the season. This can’t be a good sign for either Norm Roberts job security or the chances the Johnnies had of avoiding another disappointing season. Mason led the team in scoring last season at 14.0 PPG.

– Some other quick injury news: UCLA dodged a bullet as forward Alfred Aboya’s left wrist appears to be okay and he should play in the Bruins next game; Southern Illinois wasn’t so lucky, losing their center Nick Evans for 4-6 weeks after breaking his wrist in the same game; impressive Xavier freshman guard Terrell Holloway will miss 2-3 weeks of action with a stress fracture in his left foot.

NW Wins Horse Trailer Player of the Day- Eric Maynor, VCU

On The Tube Today

  • Alabama vs. Saint Joseph’s- 2pm (ESPN2)
  • Texas vs. Oregon- 430pm (ESPN2)
  • Boston College vs. Purdue- 7pm (ESPN2HD)
  • Indiana vs. Chaminade- 7pm (ESPNU)
  • Eastern Washington @ Minnesota- 830pm (BTN)
  • Southern Methodist @ TCU- 830pm (MTN)
  • UAB vs. Oklahoma- 915pm (ESPN2HD)
  • Notre Dame vs. North Carolina- 10pm (ESPN)

Posted in The Day After | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

November 25: The Day After

Posted by Zach on November 25, 2008

Kansas Washington Basketball

Recap of Monday night action in the world of college hoops…

Syracuse 89, #18 Florida 83: Early in the season, the Big East is doing nothing to dispell notions of their conference possibly being considered the strongest in the history of college basketball. The first of two in Kansas City certainly wasn’t a tape you’d send to a clinic instructing defense. Both Syracuse and Florida split the opposing zone defense with relative ease for 40 minutes, and other than a few first half Andy Rautins or Nick Calathes threes, most of the baskets were layups and dunks. This was especially the case for Gators big man Alex Tyus, a sophomore with a frame most big men can only dream about. I watched this game intensively primarily because I wanted to become more familiar with Florida and some of their young talent. Suffice to say Tyus athleticism, explosivness near the basket, and ability to find seams in the Cuse defense stood out dramatically. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how impressive Nick Calathes is as a complete basketball player. 19 points, 7 assists and 4/8 from deep doesn’t tell half the story of how much this super sophomore provides as a floor leader, instinctive and sneaky passer and smooth jump shooter. I also came away impressed with Erving Walker as a speed demon driving to the basket with surprising range on his jumper. If Florida shapes up their defense, they could be a force in a weak SEC.

On the other side, this is a tremendous win for Syracuse to tout on Selection Sunday in case they slide in conference play because Florida will likely pad their record and ranking in the SEC. I took a couple things away from their high-scoring effort tonight: 1) Jonny Flynn doesn’t force anything. He lets the game come to him, finds open teammates, yet can seemingly score at any time when Syracuse desperately needs a hoop. 2) Andy Rautins really carried the Orange in the first half shooting threes. Rautins and Devendorf can give this team a whole new dimension if they develop consistency from outside. 3) Onuaku is a ferocious rebounder (12 in the game, seemed like 22). He snatches anything in his vicinity and grabbed numerous key boards down the stretch. 4) Keep an eye out for Cuse freshman Kris Joseph, a developing forward with a nice mid-range game that has served coach Boeheim well off the bench in their wins over Oakland and now Florida. If Syracuse can shore up the defense, they’ll be a force.

#23 Kansas 73, Washington 54: If anyone had lingering doubts, watching Washington throw up brick after brick tonight in the Sprint Center should have confirmed what a loss to Portland seemed to show: Lorenzo Romar’s squad is not very good. At all. Admittedly, Kansas displayed spirited and aggressive defense all night long with their 2-3 zone completely disrupting impressive freshman Isaiah Thomas and slashing forward Quincy Pondexter, but the jump shooting (29.2%) is hideous for the Huskies. Losing their primary outside shooter in Ryan Appelby certainly looks like a devestating subtraction at this point. When Cole Aldrich shut down Jon Brockman offensively, this team was completely lost. Dentmon, Overton and Gant look more and more like disappointments for Romar, and with expected contender Southern Cal also exposed over the weekend, you might find Tony Bennett’s Washington State Cougars finishing third in the Pac-10 this season behind UCLA and Arizona State.

Kansas played a decent game. Nothing spectacular that leads me to believe they’re a top-15 team, but they certainly showed enormous potential and reason for Jayhawk fans to be extremely excited. Cole Aldrich played a phenomenal game both offensively showing a variety of post moves and a mid-range jumper that somehow finds the bottom of the net even with a funky release, and defensively confusing the usually steady Jon Brockman and providing constant help defense, blocking shots and starting the Kansas break. Aldrich and Marcus Morris forms a great front line for Self to work with. It also appears Sherron Collins has his attitude/work ethic straightened out and he’s ready to lead a young Kansas squad. Tyshawn Taylor is an athletic guard who will compliment Collins nicely in the backcourt. The only concerns should be offensive rebounding (Washington dominated here) and three-point shooting (just 2 of 8).

#2 Connecticut 76, #19 Wisconsin 57: The Badgers love to slow the game down, limit possessions and force their opposition to change their gameplan to fit their ideal tempo. Usually Bo Ryan has no trouble doing so, but this year’s Connecticut Huskies are a totally different animal. Their roster is an endless assembly line of playmakers that forced the Badgers into more of a high-energy contest and even managed to drop 76 points on one of the most stout defenses in the nation. Who would have thought Jerome Dyson, not Price, Thabeet or Adrien, would be the Huskies leading scorer thus far in the 08-09 season? Dyson, along with Adrien down low and the emergence of the soaring freshman Kemba Walker, have been phenomenal thus far. I’d feel confident about my Connecticut pick to win the national title if Hasheem Thabeet wasn’t such an enigma. The only competition for the 7’3 center tonight came from the 6’8 Keaton Nankivil and 6’7 Joe Krabbenhoft, yet Thabeet never demanded the rock on offense and finished with nine points on 2/6 from the field. There’s absolutely no reason for Thabeet to not score 20 points in this matchup, and it shows a lack of aggressiveness that’s concerning if I’m a Connecticut fan. We’ve seen this the last two years with Hasheem, and the developing excuse seems to be wearing off.

Other Top 25 Action

  • #1 North Carolina made mince meat of poor Chaminade 115-70, scoring 67 in the second half behind 26 points from Danny Green
  • #7 Texas pulled away late in Maui and defeated St. Joe’s 68-50 with A.J. Abrams scoring 17 and playing a great point guard
  • #8 Notre Dame earned a second round date with Texas after trouncing Indiana 88-50; Tory Jackson with 21/6/5 on 10/17 FG
  • #21 Miami demolished San Diego in a good win 80-45 even though Jack McClinton only scored nine points and went 1/6 from three
  • #24 Wake Forest’s last two scores: 120-88, 62-31. Think Coach Gaudio worked on defense? Jeff Teague led the way with 14 points
  • #25 Davidson beat Florida Atlantic 76-60. Curry: 39/4/4, 13/21, 5/9, 8/9. Another day at the office.

Other Notes- Cleveland State beats St. Leo by 10 points, Loyola (IL) is demolished by Cornell, Wright State manages 37 points at home and Butler losing everyone leads me to believe this could be a down year in the Horizon League; Massachusetts with the most despicable loss of the night, going down at home to Jacksonville State 75-74. That’ll get the fans riled up for some Minutemen hoops, coach Kellogg! Patrick Patterson scored 28 points and snatched 12 rebounds in a Kentucky rout of Longwood; bad loss for Bradley at home by 12 to UMKC; Georgia has been awful so far this year, winning tonight 54-48 over Santa Clara and trying to cement themselves as the Oregon State of the SEC this season; Ohio State escapes 61-57 over Bowling Green with B.J. Mullens held to two points, lending credence to my earlier article about freshmen struggles early in this campaign; UNLV with a tremendous road win at Conference USA contender UTEP 80-67 with Wink Adams going for 20 points; we thought Oregon State might be on the upswing after contending with Nevada on the road, but they lost by one to Yale tonight at home.

NW Wins Horse Trailer Player of the Day- Stephen Curry, Davidson (again): 39 points, 13/21 FG, 5/9 3pt, 4 assists, 2 turnovers

On The Tube Today

  • Saint Joseph’s vs. Indiana, 130pm (ESPNU)
  • Chaminade vs. Alabama, 4pm (ESPN2)
  • Texas vs. Notre Dame, 7pm (ESPN)
  • Gardner Webb @ South Carolina, 7pm (ESPN FC)
  • Florida vs. Washington, 745pm (ESPNUHD)
  • Oakland at Kansas State, 8pm (ESPN FC)
  • Saint Louis at Nebraska, 8pm (ESPN FC)
  • Texas Southern at Marquette, 8pm (ESPN FC)
  • SE Louisiana at Texas Tech, 8pm (ESPN FC)
  • North Carolina vs. Oregon, 930pm (ESPN)
  • Syracuse vs. Kansas, 10pm (ESPN2HD)

Posted in The Day After | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Weekend Roundup (11/22-23)

Posted by Tommy on November 24, 2008

Saturday, 11/22: After such an exciting week in college basketball, Saturday’s slate was pretty pedestrian, taking a back seat to the late-season action of college football. The Paradise Jam played its consolation semis, the Las Vegas Invitational featured Kentucky vs. Delaware State and Pitt vs. Indiana (PA), while Texas Tech and Eastern Kentucky squared off in the Legends Classic. Although there weren’t any noteworthy games on Saturday, there were plenty of close ones.

The Mercer Bears, apparently unafraid of challenging major conference opponents, took Georgia Tech to overtime Saturday afternoon. After a 16-0 Bears run, Mercer extended their lead all the way to 18 with 12 minutes in the second half. The Yellow Jackets trailed the entire game until Zach Peacock’s pair of free throws tied the game at 69 with 32 seconds left. Gani Lawal, who had a team-high 27 points, blocked James Florence’s bid at a game winner to send it into overtime, where the Jackets never looked back. Florence gave the Bears 26 points and E.J Kusneyer contributed 22. Keep an eye on these Bears come March.

Gardner-Webb, another team that isn’t scared to play with the big boys, gave the Sooners a run for their money on Saturday. Oklahoma seemed to be running away with the game after they rallied to an 11 point lead with 5 minutes in the second half, but Gardner-Webb cut the deficit to five at the half. If it wasn’t for Blake Griffin’s career highs with 35 points, 21 rebounds and five assists, the Sooners probably would have fallen to the Bulldogs, who had a five point lead with six minutes left in the game. Griffin is certainly looking like the National Player of the Year right now after his huge performance last night. He’s averaging 26.0 PPG and 19.8 RPG.

Other Saturday notes:

  • Saint Louis held Tyrese Rice to 2-14 from the field in their 53-50 upset over the Eagles
  • UAB (4-0) looks like they can contend in the C-USA after their 77-62 rout at Old Dominion. Robert Vaden had 28 points.
  • Clemson got a hard fought win over Charlotte after Demontez Stitt’s free throws made it a four point game with 16 seconds.
  • Navy outlasted WIlliam & Mary in a 102-99 3OT win.

Top 25 in Action:

  • #3 Louisville’s balanced attack helped them prevail over Morehead State 79-41.
  • #6 Pittsburgh was led by DeJuan Blair’s 27 point, 18 rebound performance vs. Indiana (PA)
  • #10 Purdue held Coppin State to 46 points in their 20 point victory. Hummel had 20 points and 10 rebounds.
  • #14 Oklahoma relied on Blake Griffin’s 35 pt, 21 reb performance to rise above Gardner-Webb 80-76.
  • #17 Marquette struggled with their crosstown rivals Milwaukee in the 1st half, but ended up winning 100-80.
  • #18 Georgetown got 20 points from Greg Monroe in their 81-53 win over Drexel.

NW Wins Horse Trailer Player of the Day: Blake Griffin, Oklahoma

Sunday, 11/23: Sunday’s matchups were much better than Saturday’s, to say the least. #17 Miami and #2 UConn squared off in the first of the Paradise Jam semis. Jim Calhoun and the Huskies proved that they should still be considered one of the best teams in the country despite playing down to weaker competition such as La Salle. Thabeet led the way for the Huskies with 19 points, 14 boards and seven blocks. A.J Price seemed to get back on track with 13 points and 11 rebounds of his own. McClinton gave the ‘Canes 27 points and was 5-8 from beyond the arc. UConn had its way in the paint, outscoring Miami 48-30.

Wisconsin faced San Diego in the second semi of the Paradise Jam. San Diego was a sexy upset pick but Bo Ryan and the Badgers were having none of that. They put on a clinic on the defensive end of the floor, holding the Torreros to just 49 points. Trevon Hughes led the charge for the victorious Badgers with 22 of Wisconsin’s 64 points. Wisconsin will go on to face the Huskies in the finals of the Paradise Jam.

How about the job Sean Miller has done at Xavier? The loss of Josh Duncan and Drew Lavender had people questioning whether the Musketeers could make it back to the dance. Sunday’s win over #12 Memphis will squash whatever doubts there were regarding Xavier while raising some doubts about the Tigers. Derrick Brown, C.J. Anderson and B.J Raymond are three versatile forwards that are good on both ends of the floor. Xavier held Memphis to 32% from the field, but the Tigers didn’t help themselves with their continual woes at the stripe. Calipari can point directly at his team’s free throw percentage of 50% last night as the reason the Tigers didn’t win the game. Xavier completed their dramatic road to the Puerto Rico Tip-off finals with a nice resume win.

Missouri pulled off a big win against #19 USC in the consolation half of the Puerto RIco bracket. Demarre Carroll had 29 points off of 11-17 FG and 11 rebounds. The Tigers nearly shot 50% from the field but allowed the Trojans to shoot 46%. Missouri did a great job of neutralizing DeMar Derozan who was just 2-9 from the field with 8 points. Daniel Hackett had 11 points but committed eight turnovers. USC has not looked impressive in the least bit so far this season.

Seton Hall handed Virginia Tech their second loss of the season after beating the Hokies 77-73. The Hall outscored VIrginia Tech by 10 in the second half. Jeremy Hazell, who has looked great to start off the season, had 23 points to lead the Pirates. Robert Mitchell’s 15 and Paul Gause’s 14 also made up for an off night from team leader Eugene Harvey. A.D. Vassallo and Malcolm Delaney combined for 47 points in their losing effort.

Top 25 in Action:

  • #2 UConn blew past the Hurricanes 76-63 to advance to the Paradise Jam finals.
  • #3 Louisville demolished South Alabama 81-54 in the Billy Minardi Classic.
  • #5 Duke took care of Montana by a score of 78-58 despite the loss of Greg Paulus.
  • #12 Memphis’ woes at the stripe cost them again in their loss to Xavier.
  • #15 Arizona State was led by James Harden’s 33 points and 12 boards in their 61-40 W over Pepperdine.
  • #20 USC fell victim to the upset bug in their 72-83 loss to Mizzou.
  • #22 Wisconsin thwarted San Diego 64-49. Bo Ryan is still working his magic.

NW Wins Horse-Trailer Player of the Day: James Harden, Arizona State

Posted in The Day After | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

November 21: The Day After

Posted by Zach on November 21, 2008

Michigan UCLA Basketball

Michigan coach John Beilein finally got his signature victory. Upsetting #4 UCLA at Madison Square Garden is a win that could directly alter a program- a win that encourages disappointing Michigan fans to start caring about hoops again, a win that brings back memories of the Steve Fisher glory days, a win that top-flight Detroit recruits will remember when considering the University of Michigan. A floundering program that muddled in mediocrity for the entire Tommy Amaker era finally got its savior in John Beilein, its superstar in Manny Harris, and a signature win to tout.

How did Michigan topple the Bruins? Most will point first to the 1-3-1 zone defense Michigan used for most of the night, befuddling UCLA and taking All-American point guard Darren Collison completely out of his game. To effectively score against a 1-3-1 like the one Beilein employs, the offense must be able to find seams in the defense, something Collison and Holiday struggled mightily with last night. It often seemed as if Michigan had seven players on the court on defense, always swarming the UCLA guard with the ball immediately and preventing them from kicking it out to an open shooter like Dragovic or Shipp. Another way to defeat a zone is feed the ball quickly to a scoring big man who can manuever in the post and finish. With the loss of Kevin Love and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, the Bruins simply lack that type of player. None of the freshmen have emerged yet, and Aboya/Keefe will not place scoring ability at the top of their resume.

The energy and execution of the Wolverines last night was sensational. You saw it when DeShawn Sims finished a dynamite backdoor cut to ice the game under a minute. You saw it when Michigan’s Mike Gansey, freshman guard Stu Douglass, drained a quick catch-and-shoot three in the face of the UCLA defense. You saw the development of Manny Harris, a tremendous scorer who couldn’t escape defensive stud Jrue Holiday (the perfect Ben Howland player) instead find open teammates rather than force off-balance shots down the stretch. Michigan was all about three things last night: 1-3-1 zone, quality possessions and forcing turnovers. UCLA turned the ball over 17 times.

Now the Wolverines have another opportunity to play Cinderella when they face Duke in the championship game tonight in a much more difficult matchup, especially if Gerald Henderson plays with as much fire as he did in the second half of the Southern Illinois game. It may be too much to ask for this young Michigan squad to topple the Blue Devils, but they’ve certainly made quite an impact already. We could look back in January and laugh that UCLA was ever #4 in the nation. It’s possible. But for now, beware Big Ten. The Wolverines are back.

The Other Semi: I remarked to Pat midway through the first half of the Duke-Southern Illinois game last night that Gerald Henderson’s been the type of player who has failed to fully harness his talent in his Duke career, possibly associated with a lack of desire. Henderson managed just 9 PPG in three contests vs. Presbyterian, Georgia Southern and Rhode Island at home and went to the foul line just nine times in those games. Maybe he heard me. Henderson made five shots- including four from behind the arc- in a gigantic second half run for Duke, saying after the game he’s “not sure what happened.” Gerald is one of the most athletic and talented players in the country. With Kyle Singler emerging as a force and Nolan Smith an upgrade at the point, Duke could reach the Final Four if Henderson consistently plays up to his ability. Duke pulled away with a 54-35 second half, made 40 of 47 (!) free throws, and won 83-58.

San Juan Update: Every single year, Sean Miller produces a quality basketball team. They’ll try to topple another major conference foe today in San Juan when they face Virginia Tech after defeating Missouri 75-71 in the first round of the tournament. Terrell Holloway played hero for the Musketeers, sinking 10 of 10 free throws in the second half while Missouri sunk just 15 of 31 from the charity stripe in the game. DeMarre Carroll led the way with 17 points for the Tigers while Derrick Brown finished with 16 for Xavier.

Dick Vitale spent most of the Michigan-UCLA game screaming about how the Big East will be the strongest conference in his thirty years at ESPN. Um, he may have a point. The Seton Hall Pirates, predicted around 12th-14th in the loaded conference by most prognosticators, took down the consensus #3 in the Pac-10 last night in a stunning second half comeback. The halftime deficit was 43-28 and Taj Gibson was compiling easy buckets in the post against the Hall frontcourt minus Robert Mitchell. Eugene Harvey (18/5/5) and Jeremy Hazell (15/4 stl) stepped up in the second half to carry the Pirates into another tough game against Memphis later today. The Trojans have to be the most disappointing team in the nation thus far, struggling in two home games and now laying this egg against Seton Hall. DeMar DeRozan has not looked comfortable (3pts on 1/4) and Daniel Hackett was 0/7 last night. Great win for Bobby Gonzalez and his seven scholarship players.

Other Games of Note: Illinois scored a difficult road win against Vanderbilt 69-63. Super soph Demetri McCamey sunk 5/10 threes in the contest, while senior Trent Meachem chipped in with four triples of his own. Oklahoma State and new coach Travis Ford haven’t had much trouble scoring so far this year. They dropped 91 points on a quality Tulsa squad in Stillwater with Byron Eaton (7/13 FG, 11/14 FT, 26/7/5) leading the charge. #12 Memphis pulled away from Chattanooga and won 83-71 behind five Doneal Mack treys. #19 Florida has played awesome basketball so far this year, winning 64-50 over Southern Utah behind 18/7/4 from Nick Calathes, one of the best all-around players in college hoops. Florida State narrowly avoided what would have been a horrid upset for Leonard Hamilton, beating Stetson 79-77 at home.

Upset Special: What the hell happened to George Mason?? After an intensely contested road win against NCAA contender Vermont up in Burlington, Mason faltered 50-44 to Hampton last night. They made just 33% of their shots, 2/17 from deep, turned the ball over 23 times, and compiled just four assists. Four assists! A bad, bad loss on the resume of George Mason.

Craziest Score Ever: When I saw this score for the first time on ESPN’s Bottom Line last night during the Michigan-UCLA game, I honestly thought it was a mistake. East Central Oklahoma has allowed over 100 points in each of their two games this season (D2’s VMI?), so maybe we should have seen this coming: Texas Tech winning 167-115, shattering the school record for points in a game. The Red Raiders certainly built some confidence on his squad as ten, TEN!, Tech players scored in double figures. They made 67/113 FG, 13/25 3pt attempts and compiled 35 team assists. Probably should have taken the over. Your move, Graham Harrell.

NW Wins Horse Trailer Player of the Day: Marshon Brooks, Providence- 30 points, 5 steals, 11/15 FG, 5/8 3PT, 3/3 FT

On The Tube Today:

  • Xavier vs. Virginia Tech, 130pm (ESPNU)
  • Southern Illinois vs. UCLA, 5pm (ESPN2HD)
  • Chattanooga vs. USC, 5pm (ESPNU)
  • Akron @ Pittsburgh, 7pm (ESPN FC)
  • Duke vs. Michigan, 730pm (ESPN2HD)
  • Memphis vs. Seton Hall, 730pm (ESPNU)
  • Pepperdine @ New Mexico State, 930pm (ESPN FC)
  • North Carolina @ UC-Santa Barbara, 10pm (ESPNU)

Posted in The Day After | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

November 20: The Day After

Posted by Zach on November 20, 2008

Quick recap of last night’s events in the world of college basketball….

Upset Avoided: After thoroughly dominating their opposition in exhibitions and first game against Idaho, the Spartans probably didn’t expect to be trailing IPFW midway through the second half. It seems like the Spartans are prone to struggling with teams that slow the pace (Iowa last year and even Wisconsin in the Big Ten tournaments) and with 10:47 to go in the second half, IPFW led 45-44. Tom Izzo’s crew then went on a 13-0 run and pulled away behind Raymar Morgan (22/6).

SEC Killer: I know the rivalry is more intense on the gridiron, but surely there were a fair number of Auburn fans mocking Alabama fans for losing to Mercer at home in their first game. Oops. The SEC killers and new coach Bob Hoffman has led a team that won 11 games last year to consecutive wins over SEC opponents on the road. Quite impressive. Anyone else want to jump on the bandwagon with me?

Mid-Major Superstar: Al Fisher was single-handedly responsible for Kent State picking up a nice road win over Saint Louis last night. He scored 26 of his team’s final 27 points, 16 of 17 in overtime, and sunk the game winning layup with under three seconds to play. All with a high ankle sprain. Fisher is someone who could emerge with Curry, Mills, Maynor, Martin, Young and others as a top mid-major player in the country.

Young Wake: Wake Forest scored 120 points against UNC-Wilmington. You can look at that (and Jeff Teague’s 31 points) and be encouraged about the young Deacs. Or look at the fact they gave up 88 points. Their defense will have to improve if Wake wants to reach greater heights. Al-Farouq Aminu also piled up a double-double in the contest.

NW Wins Horse Trailer of the Day– Al Fisher, Kent State

On The Tube Tonight

  • Fairfield vs. Virginia Tech, 11am (ESPNU)
  • Missouri vs. Xavier, 1pm (ESPNU)
  • Chattanooga vs. Memphis, 430pm (ESPN2)
  • Duke vs. Southern Illinois, 7pm (ESPN2HD)
  • USC vs. Seton Hall, 7pm (ESPNU)
  • Illinois @ Vanderbilt, 8pm (ESPN FC)
  • Southern Utah @ Florida, 8pm (ESPN FC)
  • Stetson @ Florida State, 8pm (ESPN FC)
  • Tulsa @ Oklahoma State, 8pm (ESPN FC)
  • UCLA vs. Michigan, 9pm (ESPN2HD)

Posted in The Day After | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »