Chris Lofton looked like he was ready to beat Memphis one on five. Tennessee's sharpshooter had 21 points at the half while the #17 team in the country had just 22. Lofton ended with 34 points, including 6 threes, often of the fade-away, off-balance variety. Prior to this game, the Vols had lost to UNC and Butler and their best win of the season was arguably at home over Fordham. This win puts them back in the thick of the nationl picture, though the Top 25 is still probably out of reach.
On a night busy with Top 25 action, everyone else advanced with relative ease. #2 Pittsburgh, #7 Florida, #9 Duke, #10 UCONN, #14 Butler, #22 Maryland, #23 Air Force, and #25 Michigan State all won by double digits.
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.
Well, the 2006-07 season officially began Friday night, when schools across the nation put held their first practice of the season. This probably shouldn't even be called a practice, since it primarily consists of player intros, contests, and a scrimmage run at the pace of a glorified jog. The primary goals of the players and coaches are to avoid injuries and put last year behind them. This is what I saw in watching Florida's event the other night. Dropping the replica Sears Trophy after raising their national title banner was the perfect way to say that last year is over, and there are new things to accomplish. The must see TV takes place the following morning, when the coaches get to do their thing...and run their players into the ground. But this will never be on TV, so the Friday night style will have to suffice.