Daily Dribble: 1/05
What a fun night of games.. thank goodness conference play is in full swing. I dont even know where too begin, too many good games to discuss.
Big day for USC, escaping with a 84-82 over previously unbeaten Oregon. A lot of weird stuff going on at the end of this game. Ernie Kent calling a horrific timeout right as his team was about to score the game-tying lay up. Then ESPN, who was covering the end of the game instead of Memphis-Cincy, cuts back to the studio and misses the ensuing basket. Is there really a need to cut back to the three shmos in the studio when the two local announcers were doing a fine job. Then you have a bad charging call called on Maarty Leunen driving to the hoop, followed by bad clockwork which favored the home Ducks. Finally, a horrible foul in the final second by USC against Aaron Brooks shooting a desperation three, but Brooks misses his 2nd of three free-throws which could have tied it. Despite the miss, can't blame the loss on Brooks, who had 27 points and a huge-NBA range three in the final minutes. For USC, its now 3 wins in the last two weeks over ranked teams (Oregon, Washington, Wichita State) and a 12-4 record. For Oregon, it was the type of close loss that plagued them all last year..
Iowa picked up a nice 62-60 home win over #24 Michigan State. Couldn't figure out what the Spartans were doing in the final minute. After Mike Henderson missed 1 of 2 fee throws, MSU was down 3 with 28 seconds to go. This is plenty of time to go for an easy two and then fouling again (if not repeating this cycle twice).. but Izzo decided to let Drew Neitzel dribble around for 15 seconds before shooting a three. Despite the missed free throw I mentioned, give credit to Henderson for hitting 5 of 6 ft's in the final 1:30 after not scoring in the previous 38 minutes..
How bout Levance Fields going off for a career-high 24 points as #10 Pitt picked up a big conference road win at Syracuse. In the first 10 games, Fields went over double-digits just once, but he's hit that mark in six straight including the big 24. This was definitely their best win of the season, and gives them momentum going into games against weaker South Florida and DePaul.
You like the MVC? How bout Indiana State knocking off Creighton. Indiana State, with big wins against #13 Butler and Purdue, is now a surprising 9-4, despite starting two freshman guards. Royce Waltman's squad is now 2-1 in what will be a wild conference race.
If offense is your thing, then Washington-Arizona is the game for you. Its half-time as I'm writing this and the Huskies have a 51-48 lead on the Cats. Freshman Quincy Pondexter, removed from the starting lineup, has an inspiring 21 points at the break. But to my eyes, Spencer Hawes was still the most impressive guy in the game despite a seemingly mediocre box score (6 points, 4 boards, 2 assists). He had a couple sweet low post moves and he's passing on the perimeter like an NBA small forward. Not to be outdone, Chase Budinger has 14 at the break including two long-range threes. The problem with the Wildcats is that their bench simply stinks at this point.. Hill, Brielmaier, Dillon.. these guys bring nothing to the table. Also gotta give some love to the Washington crowd. Don't think of Seattle as Durham, NC.. but these fans were passionatly loud from the tip.
Nice win for Providence over #23 Marquette in their Big East opener. Geoff (I apologize for writing Greg, the coach of UNI, earlier) McDermott almost had his 2nd triple-double of the season (he went 12, 11, 10 against Harvard earlier).. and had 11, 11, and 9 boards on Thursday. The Friars were embarrassed by crosstown Brown in the season's 2nd game, but have bounced back to an 11-3 record. It should be noted that Jerel McNeal missed the game after butting heads with Wesley Matthews in practice.. but he should be back for Marquette's next game.
What's happened to Bobby Lutz's Charlotte program? Lutz was always a guy who you figured would have his team around the 20-win mark and surprising the Conference USA standings. Things have gone sour since joining the A10 though. The 49ers lost their conference opener against Dayton, and are just 6-7 overall. I shouldn't exaggerate the team's problems, they're still decent and all their losses have come agaisnt decent teams on the road.. but I guess I just have higher expectations for a Lutz team.