The first college basketball weekend of 2007 has delivered some interesting results. First off, how many people expected Hartford and Maryland-Baltimore County to be on top of America East after the first weekend of play? The Hawks, led by first-year head coach Dan Leibovitz, won a 62-60 thriller at Maine on opening night, then followed that win with an 80-75 double-OT home win over Boston University. The Hawks only have two seniors on the roster, so it would be understandable if people looked to their future instead of the present. Of course the two seniors, forwards Bo Taylor and Alex Zimnickas, are important contributors, but the Hawks also have some solid youngsters playing a part in their success. Freshman guard Joe Zeglinski is the team's second leading scorer, and sophomores Jaret Von Rosenberg, Michael Turner and Fabrice Tafo combined for 26 points off the bench in their win at Maine. A young team has its bumps in the road, but the future could be now for the Hawks.
Saturday signaled the beginning of the Christmas break for college basketball, with everyone pretty much taking off the following three days for time with family and friends. One result from Saturday that surprised me was Kansas 84, Boston College 66. The result wasn't a surprise, but the margin was, as the Jayhawks took over from the start. But the biggest loss for the Eagles may have been the services of star forward Jared Dudley, who aggravated a lingering left foot injury in the loss. Dudley may sit out BC's next two games, Duquesne and Northeastern, in order to regain his health in time for then ACC schedule. Add this injury to those of John Oates and Akida McLain, and you have a frontcourt that's paper-thin behind Sean Williams and Shomari Spears. Also, the injury bug puts even more emphasis what I think is the key to the Eagles' success this season: the shot selection of guard Tyrese Rice.
Maryland's win in the Coaches vs Cancer Classic finals should catapult them into the top 25 for the first time this season. I dont necessarily know if Maryland will be better than Michigan State or Texas at the end of the season.. but this shows you what a team with three senior starters can do to start a season. For the Terps, like Texas and Michigan State as well, point guard play will go a long way in determining future success. Greivis Vasquez, Drew Neitzel, and DJ Augustin all impressed this week. The freshman Vasquez was perhaps the most surprising and ultimately got the W's. Neitzel is the veteran of these three, and looks noticeably stronger and more mature this season. Augustin in the end might be the best of those three. The high school All-American often dribbles around too much and needs to do a better job running the offense, but his ability to get into the lane and finish is simply unteachable and gives Texas an edge on most teams.
Maryland Advances to the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic Semifinals