Nothing like a 54-51 snooze fest to highlight Tuesday's ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Duke eeked out an ugly victory over an Indiana team that deserves credit for hanging in there despite a very poor first half. This game featured a complete lack of frontcourt offense: Duke's three starting forwards combined for 3-12 shooting (Remind me again why McRoberts is a lottery pick?) while Indiana's two bigs were 4-17.
Glad to see Kelvin Sampson's decision to start playing the freshmen Shaw and Bassett more and more. In the long run, this should be a major help for the Hoosiers. Bassett had a career high 16 points, though he showed his inexperience in the closing minutes with one poor shot and then one poorer lack of shot. The lanky Shaw has played 24 minutes the last two games after being a non-factor in the first few.
Has there been a more unpredictable start to the season in recent memory? A Preseason NIT final of Butler and Gonzaga...how many people picked that one? Butler, in wins over Indiana and Tennessee, has played stifling defense and got some timely baskets when needed. Their best offense of the three-game run to the final was in their overtime win against Notre Dame, a game in which the Fighting Irish shot 48% from the field themselves. Maybe being able to see that they can beat solid competition with offense and defense can be seen as a positive for the Bulldogs. As for the Bulldogs from Spokane, is Josh Heytvelt something else or what? He missed a lot of games the past two seasons due to injuries, so many people don't know of his actual skill set. Yes, a lot has been mentioned about him (especially early last season), but the average fan probably lost sight of him after he hurt himself in the Maui Invitational final against UConn. Well, he's back and healthy. Brandan Wright was able to do some things for UNC in the semifinal Wednesday night, but the Heels play as well as Tyler Hansbrough does, and Heytvelt did an excellent job of containing the preseason National Player of the Year candidate.
College basketball likes to ease itself into the season.. kind of like a shy guy trying to ask out an attractive girl. But when Duke plays on national tv, its an unoffocial point in this writer's mind that the season has finally begun. Enough with the previews, the predictions, and the prognostications.. on to the Monday morning, Tuesday morning, Wednesday morning, you get the point Quaterbacking.. BC losing to Vermont made some headlines last night.. perhaps this is a sign that the loss of Craig Smith will mean more than most anaylsts originally thought. Vermont can play some ball though. This is a team that improved by the day last year, and has a core that could be due for a couple of NCAA Tournament bids over the next handful of years. Also in the ACC, Duke struggled early but pulled away for an easy win over Georgia Southern. Despite the 24 point margin of victory, it was hard to be that overly impressed with the Blue Devils. Josh McRoberts is no longer a big man prospect, and he's not even a power forward either.. the 6-10 former post player has basically become a wing player. Even better (or worse depending on how you think of it), McRoberts seems to have taken a liking to bringing the ball up the court. I'm no Coach K, but seeing big Josh move the ball up the court made me cringe every time.
Hofstra's Loren Stokes might be the best player in the Northeast..
Raphielle Johnson previews the 14 team NYC Metro Region. #2 Marist.
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