This much became painfully obvious in Maryland's 69-57 loss to Cincinnati in the Maui Invitational on Tuesday: Greivis Vasquez needs another consistent offensive option to step up. The senior guard from Venezuela is still going to take the majority of the shots and he should. But for no other player to score more than nine points when Vasquez finished with nineteen won't get it done against the level of competition the Terps will have to beat to make a second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.
A champion will be crowned out in Maui when Gonzaga takes on Cincinnati on ESPN. Both teams played well in semifinal wins on Tuesday, and there are some intriguing matchups to be seen. Matt Bouldin and Steven Gray going up against Deonta Vaughn and Cashmere Wright, Yancy Gates and Robert Sacre banging inside and a pair of talented freshmen (Lance Stephenson and Elias Harris) can all be seen in this one.
The game of the day lived up to the hype as Purdue beat Tennessee 73-72 in the title game of the Paradise Jam. E'Twaun Moore led the Boilermakers with twenty-two points while Tennessee's Wayne Chism led all scorers with twenty-four. Tight throughout, the game changed in tempo from the first half to the second. Purdue led at the half 42-41 but the fast tempo made that lead a bit of fool's gold; a game in the eighties wouldn't bode well for the Boilermakers.
Tuesday will offer some intriguing matchups with the marquee game likely being Maryland taking on Cincinnati in a Maui Invitational semifinal. The Bearcats were able to use their quickness to disrupt Vanderbilt on Monday, winning 67-58 thanks to sixteen points from Yancy Gates and a defensive effort that held the Commodores to 27.5% from the field. Deonta Vaughn played just fifteen minutes in the win but they're going to need more from him and the other guards (Cashmere Wright was 2-for-13 from the field) if they're to take care of Greivis Vasquez and company.
One tournament concludes (Paradise Jam) while other either move on to the next stage (CBE Classic in Kansas City) or tip off (Maui Invitational). The game of the day on paper is Purdue taking on Tennessee in a matchup of contrasting styles in the Paradise Jam final. The Boilermakers will look to do things out of the halfcourt while the Volunteers want to speed things up with their full-court pressure. Bruce Pearl and Matt Painter are two of the better coaches in the game and the matchup between Tyler Smith and Robbie Hummel should be a treat.
Purdue got off to a slow start on Sunday night in the second semifinal of the Paradise Jam against Saint Joseph's due to some cold shooting and the Hawks finding open areas of their own on offense. But things took a turn about halfway through the first half with the Boilermakers harassing the young SJU guards into turnovers and rushed possessions, eventually resulting in Matt Painter's team going to the locker room up 31-30 at the half. Saint Joseph's had fifteen turnovers in the first twenty minutes and the game had the feel of one that was soon going to get out of hand.
Sunday will offer up more tournament action with events in Puerto Rico, Charleston and St. Thomas returning to action following a day off to accomodate the college football schedule. There are a pair of Big East/SEC matchups with Villanova taking on Ole Miss for the Puerto Rico Shootout title while Tennessee faces surprise winner DePaul in the Virgin Islands in a semifinal. Miami (FL) will take on South Carolina in the title game of the Charleston Classic, finishing off a weekend of appetizers leading up to the annual hoops feast that comes on Thanksgiving Week.
Despite nearly 100 hundred games on the schedule college basketball took a back seat on Saturday. Such is life during college football season but there were some talking points to be had. I'm sure there are some who wonder why a ranked team such as Oklahoma would take on a challenging road trip such as the Sooners' voyage to Richmond and there's an answer. VCU had it written into former head coach Jeff Capel's contract that the school that if he were to leave for a BCS job he'd agree to a home-and-home series.
This is the time of year when college basketball takes a step back in terms of nationally televised games in favor of college football, but there are some intriguing games on the schedule. Kentucky, who's been lights out offensively but hasn't defended at the level that John Calipari desires, hosts a dangerous Rider team licking its wounds following a 79-46 beating at the hands of Virginia. Duke hosts the defending Big South champions in Radford and big men Artsiom Parakhouski and Joey Lynch-Flohr will look to hang with the deep Blue Devil frontcourt.
For the first half, the championship game of the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament between North Carolina and Syracuse was a competitive affair that promised to go down to the wire. That's when Syracuse flipped a switch, going on a 22-1 run that removed any doubt in regards to the result and ultimately winning 87-71 in front of a pro-Syracuse crowd at Madison Square Garden. Wesley Johnson scored twenty-five points and added eight rebounds while Andy Rautins posted one of the better overall stat lines of his career with 11 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists and 7 steals.