College Basketball: 20 Random Thoughts & Observations

December 11th, 2008
20 Random Rants, Thoughts, and Observations from the Week in College Basketball by Editor Shawn Siegel:

1 - Everyone knows the Big East is loaded. This is most unfortunate for Rutgers who will have a hard time winning more than a game or two in league play. The Knights have already lost to Lehigh, Binghamton, and St. Bonaventure (2 of those coming at home.) When they go on the road to face UNC in 2 weeks, the score could potentially be 100-0.

2 - One of the Big East's other 2nd rate teams is DePaul. It's only a matter of time before Jerry Wainwright loses his job. Home losses to Morgan State won't cut it.

3 - Gonzaga is real good.. and whether you like him or not, Josh Heytvelt is going to be on an NBA roster in less than 12 months.

4 - Davidson finally knocked off what will be an RPI Top 100 team for the first time in about 5 regular seasons. Granted, the opponent, West Virginia, was missing their starting backcourt, and it went down to the wire, but still.. a win is a win. Give Davidson a lot of credit for scheduling some tough non-conference games, which still includes Purdue and Duke. The administration was smart to maximize the programs' sudden national TV opportunities.

5 - I was at the Jimmy V Classic last night, and maybe I only saw him at his best, but Davidson freshman Ben Allison has some raw potential to look out for in the future. A lively and physically impressive 6-9 player out of England, Allison could become a top-level SoCo performer.

6 - Whatever happened to.. Scottie Reynolds? Except for a stat-boosting joke win over Houston Baptist, the Nova junior has been highly mediocre. His game has mostly remained stagnant since his breakout freshman season.

7 - On the flip side, Dante Cunningham has made impressive gains each of his four seasons in Philly. His stats have improved across the board (he's now averaging 18 & 8), and his 15 foot jumper is suddenly a weapon.

8 - I mentioned this on the message board, but since when did UMASS forward Tony Gaffney get good? The 5th year senior has been filling the stat sheet with averages of 13 points, 13 rebounds, 5 blocks, and 2 steals per game. Gaffney made another triple-double run tonight with 17, 11, and 8 blocks in a win over Holy Cross. Will NBA scouts begin to take notice of his production?

9 - San Diego is now just 4-5, a weak start for a program some experts felt would make a push for a repeat tourney bid. Don't forget though that if not for hosting the WCC tourney, the Toreros would simply have never made the Dance, and no one would have paid attention to them in the off-season.

10 - Butler's solid start continued with a win at Bradley tonight, which sets up a very intriguing test against unbeaten Ohio State on Saturday. The player to watch is Gordon Hayward, a 6-8 wing who has quietly emerged as one of the country's best freshmen. Hayward's best weapon is his top-notch 3-point shot, but he's surprisingly athletic and can board, defend, and even pass the ball around with ease.

11 - Last week I spoke about Charlotte being a bit unlucky. Equally snake-bitten is Idaho State, who lost 3 overtime games in a row in November (against Hawaii, Boise State, and LBSU). Following an upset win over Utah earlier in the week, ISU almost pulled of a shock upset over Wisconsin last night. This is a dangerous team once Big Sky play takes off.

12 - While Eric Maynor is a lock to win the CAA Player of the Year award, next year's winner might be Hofstra's Charles Jenkins. Following the graduation of Antoine Agudio, the sophomore has emerged as the Pride's go-to scorer and overall leader. He's averaging 22 points, 5 boards, and 5 assists a game, and is one of the most consistent contributors on a night to night basis. Hofstra's 7-1 start has to be considered a surprise.

13 - I thought tonight would be NJIT's big breakthrough, but the winless Highlanders lost to lowly St Peter's at home. I don't see a winnable game on their schedule for almost another month.

14 - One formerly winless team off the hook is Wright State. The Raiders beat Toledo 50-35 to end a 6-game skid. This was a team that was supposed to contend for the Horizon title, but who so far as been a major disappointment. Even in the win, they shot a brutal 1-19 from three.

15 - Every season, I put together a best names in college basketball list.. Creighton's Booker Woodfox is definitely making an appearance.

16 - It boggles my mind that I'm not winning CHN's pickem game yet. You should sign up if you get the chance. (Need to get a little CHN promotion in here each week..)

17 - BYU has played an extremely soft schedule, so you can't get overly excited about their 8-0 start. But the Cougars have been pummeling people all year, and I'm a believer in this team's Top 25 pedigree. They make their debut on the national scene next week when they face ranked Arizona State. Lee Cummard is legit.

18 - For his sake and the female involved, lets hope today's story about Eric Devendorf hitting a student in the face turns out to be false. If it is true, I hope the University takes a firm stance and doesn't relax the rules because he's a basketball player.

19 - Somehow #19 ended up being a copy of #1 in a faulty copy and paste move along the way.. so a day late, here's the new #19: I cried last night knowing that Billy Packer won't be covering any more Final Fours..

20 - Tomorrow night is awful for college basketball fans. Just 8 games, and the lone TV affair (St. Joe's at Villanova) shouldn't be terribly exciting. Saturday's action can't get here soon enough.

- Think I'm wrong? Let's hear it below: