NCAA Daily Links
By Michael Visenberg
Hello everyone, this is Michael Visenberg and I would like to welcome you to what I hope will be the first of many NCAA Daily posts! The goal of this new feature is to help keep you up to date on the latest news stories and issues concerning the teams, coaches, and players of college basketball. With the college season starting, we have a lot of solid items to pick from. If you would like to see something examined, please comment and we will do the best we can. Thank you for reading and for your support, here is the very first NCAA Daily:
The Carrier Classic
I know that Friday was not the first day of the college basketball season, but this was definitely the most anticipated game. With Barack and Michelle Obama in attendance, not to mention two classic college basketball teams in Michigan State and North Carolina, it did not disappoint. The teams, both decked in some commemorative fatigue uniforms and shoes for Veteran’s Day, put on a show for more than 5,000 men and women in military uniform aboard the USS Carl Vinson.
The #1 ranked North Carolina Tar Heels won the game 67-55, with Michigan State playing valiantly and doing a great job on the offensive glass. The slight issue with the game might have been the condensation had that left the hardwood somewhat slippery, but luckily no major injuries were suffered by either team. In fact, the event went so well that they are anticipating more events similar to this in this story taken from the Tucson Citizen and USA Today Sports. Definitely fantastic for troop morale and I am sure it is a fantastic experience for both teams involved as well.
Mike Krzyzewski One Win Away From Breaking Bobby Knight’s NCAA Wins Record
Duke won a pretty close game over Belmont and then shellacked Presbyterian College to tie Coach K with his former mentor, Bobby Knight. I should get this out in the open, that while I am going to be as objective as possible in my posts, I am not a huge Duke fan. Even so, I definitely have respect for what a coach like Mike Krzyzewski has done for the Duke University as a whole and their incredible basketball program. I know that he and Coach Knight are still very close, as the article will tell you. Knight will be on hand Tuesday at Madison Square Garden to see Coach K try to break his record. I could guess he would be there rooting for Tom Izzo and Michigan State, but I might be wrong.
Terrence Jones and Stacey Poole Suffer Minor Injuries in Car Crash
(oregonlive.com/The Associated Press)
This was definitely a shocking development, happening the morning of Kentucky’s season opener against Marist. At 2:30 am Friday, Jones and Poole were driving an SUV that was struck by a drunk driver. Poole was taken to the hospital and questioned by police, while Jones left the scene, fearing an altercation with the driver. He was later taken to the hospital and questioned by police as well, both very luckily only sustaining minor injuries. The driver of the vehicle that hit their SUV is being charged with a DUI and insurance violations. While it is a relief that no one was seriously injured in the crash, the Kentucky team will now have a curfew. I think this is the right move seeing how incredibly serious this could have been.
Big Expectations for Kentucky Basketball
(Larry Vaught/The Advocate Messenger)
After having expectations low enough to say that Kentucky may only finish 5th in the SEC last season, former Kentucky assistant coach and SEC commentator Joe Dean Jr. changed his tune this year. Have to say, after last season’s impressive Final Four run with a team that basically ran 6 deep, I cannot say I disagree with the Wildcats being contenders. They may not have a lot of experience and their muscle down low has been questioned, but they have an incredible amount of speed and talent. John Calipari has always had the ability to recruit, but I felt like he did a fantastic job working with the team he had last year. This year’s team has even more depth and talent, which at the very least Dean Jr. believes, “Big Blue Nation has a right to feel very, very good about their chances to win it all this year.”
Harrison Barnes: Evolution of a Superstar
(Mike DeCourcy/Sporting News)
Kentucky is indeed a team I like, but there is most definitely a reason that North Carolina is the Preseason #1 by the AP and Coaches poll. The Tar Heels bring back their entire starting line-up and with the addition of top notch incoming freshmen James Michael McAdoo and PJ Hairston, they have an unreal 8 former McDonald’s HS All-Americans. UNC definitely seems to have size and experience, two things that are necessary come March for the NCAA tournament. They appear to be deeper than last year’s team, with the only minor issue being a back-up PG for Kendall Marshall (which will more than likely be the job of scoring guards such as Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald once he returns from injury).
Last year, Harrison Barnes came in with unreal expectations as the nations #1 recruit from the 2011 HS Class. He did not necessarily live up to his pre-season expectations, which saw him as an AP All-American before ever playing a college game. However, as the season progressed, Barnes did as well. He ended last year as a 2nd Team All-ACC performer, making the All-ACC tournament team after breaking the ACC record for points in a tourney game with 40 and then went on to score more points in the NCAA tournament than any freshman in UNC history. Harrison appears to be back and ready to go this year, and this article breaks down his huge transformation by Barnes from his early season struggles to his breakout performance against NC State which had him averaging 19.9 ppg over the last 17 games.
Jared Sullinger: Lean, Mean, Not Worried about NBA Green
(Zac Jackson/Fox Sports Ohio)
Harrison Barnes was the talk of the pre-season last year, but Jared Sullinger proved to be the one worth the hype from a college basketball perspective. Sullinger was seen as the closest competition to Barnes as far as ranking #1 in the 2011 HS Class and he took no time living up to big expectations. Sullinger led the Ohio State Buckeyes to a 34-3 record and the overall #1 seed heading into the NCAA tournament. They bowed out in the Sweet 16, but Sullinger was clearly the freshman of the year and made just about every All-American first team one could imagine.
Like Barnes, he decided to come back to try and win a ring this season rather than enter the draft. This proved incredibly wise, not only due to the lockout, but it gave him a chance to work on his physique before having to face NBA competition. If there is one complaint about Sullinger, it was his not so svelte physique. This summer, Sullinger appears to have done wonders in that category. Apparently lowering his weight from over 280 pounds to around 265, Sullinger should see that pay off as far as improving his quickness and stamina. Not to mention, he will still have the size that made him an absolute force last year near the basket. It will be interesting to see who wins a game between Barnes’ UNC and Sullinger’s Ohio State, but I am choosing Sullinger as my pre-season Player of the Year choice.
UCONN Looks to Fix Frontcourt Against Wagner
(David Borges/Journal Register News Service)
The returning champion Connecticut Huskies are definitely news worthy on many fronts. Whether it was Jim Calhoun’s reported recruiting violations, their amazing 5 day stretch of the Big East tournament or their even more improbable run during March Madness under the guidance of Kemba Walker, UConn was one of last year’s major stories. This year, they will undoubtedly be major news again with a strong team that will need to find a new leader with Kemba Walker having moved onto the NBA.
They seem to have a good idea who the teams’ leader will be, as Jeremy Lamb was Kemba’s trusty sidekick with his amazing length and athleticism. Lamb also lead Team USA’s U-19 team in scoring this past summer, so it looks like he is a natural fit. However, the job of sidekick is still up for grabs. Shabazz Napier seems to be a major talent, but I believe most Huskies fans were looking to junior Alex Oriakhi and surprise freshman commit Andre Drummond to both provide a major role next to Lamb. Thus far, they have both struggled, being outplayed by unassuming sophomore Tyler Olander. This article points out that tonight against Wagner, UConn would like to fix their frontcourt problems of their exhibitions and first games. No one would like to see this more than Andre Drummond, wearing a protective mask for his broken nose and claiming that Friday’s season opener was the first time in his career he has been held scoreless.
Cleveland State Upsets #7 Vanderbilt
(Detroit Free Press)
After handily defeating my beloved Oregon Ducks, Vanderbilt decided to do a complete 180 and lost at home to Cleveland State. Cleveland State may not be a total pushover, after all Vandy coach Kevin Stallings’ points out that they did win 27 games last season. Still, Vanderbilt had high hopes, home court and they were not able to live up to their high pre-season billing. Cleveland State has 4 seniors back from last year’s Horizon League championship team, though were of course missing last year’s star player and 1st round draft pick Norris Cole.
The Cleveland State Vikings had 15 steals and forced 21 turnovers, while shooting 50% from the field and holding the Commodores to 35%. Vandy’s star during Friday night’s game, Jeffery Taylor, was held to 9 points and 6 TO’s, outplayed by Cleveland State’s star D’Aundray Brown who had 18 points and a whopping 7 steals. Big win for Cleveland State coach Gary Waters and the Vikings!
Jim Boeheim Becoming Media Darling
(Bud Poliquin/The Post Standard)
Heading into his 36th season coaching the Syracuse Orangemen, for most of his career has not exactly been mellow with the media. At the ripe old age of 67, coaching a team many have ranked near the top 5, Boeheim has definitely become much more media friendly and an ambassador for the game. Boeheim has gone 856-301 as the Cuse’s HC (Jim Calhoun of UConn has won 855, so that may be a battle to watch closely), he will need only 21 wins to top legendary Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp and 24 to pass Tar Heel great Dean Smith. Look for him to pass both this season and that would place him only behind Mike Krzyzewski, Bobby Knight and (Possibly) Jim Calhoun. Syracuse has a lot of depth on the wing, and will definitely be in the mix for a high seed come March.
Frustration overcomes UCLA team, fans during first season game against LMU
(Eric Peck/The Daily Bruin)
Another major upset after the first weekend of college basketball was UCLA’s opening night loss to Loyola Marymount. The #17 ranked Bruins got off to a decent start, but were visibly outplayed in the 2nd Half by Loyola Marymount, losing 69-58. The interior heavy Bruins were out of synch defensively and stars Reeves Nelson and Joshua Smith were held at bay by LMU’s interior defense. The Bruins shooting was also incredibly poor, a weakness the team will definitely need to work on come Pac-12 season.
On a positive note, the Wear Twin’s, David and Travis, both seemed to make an impact and give the Bruins some major height as they are both 6’10. I for one have high hopes for the Bruins as far as being one of the best, if not the best, teams in the Pac-12. I simply think their size will be too much for most teams to handle. Still, this has to be a disheartening loss and major wake-up call. I am sure the Bruins are counting down the days they finally have former Tar Heels transfer Larry Drew as part of their back court.
Butler loses 70-67 to Evansville, with a Trademark Controversial Finish
Butler has become synonymous with being the marquee Cinderella team in all of NCAA Basketball. They had two incredible runs to the NCAA Finals in 2009 and 2010, not to mention have played in numerous heart pounding close games. Last year, Butler had an incredibly controversial foul call against Pittsburgh, which lead them to a major 2nd round upset of a #1 seeded team.
This year, in their season opener to Evansville, there was more famous of that famous controversy at the finish. Butler blew a 12 point lead in the 2nd half, Evansville ended up tying the game on free throws (and a controversial foul call) with 0.9 seconds left. Butler ended up throwing a cross court pass to center Andrew Smith, who actually made the shot with 0.2 seconds left. However, the refs claimed to have call a foul before hand, and Evansville’s head coach, Marty Simmons, claimed the shot had gone in after time expired.
What ended up happening (not sure even I am following here) is that Andrew Smith missed both FT’s and the game was sent into OT, with Evansville winning 80-77. Still, I know somewhere there are some really happy Pitt fans. With this loss, and a pre-season loss to Division II school Northern State, it appears that this season might be a rebuilding year for Brad Stevens and the Bulldogs. While the Bulldogs may indeed be happy with even making tournament this season, they gave us an incredible ride the past couple of years. Definitely do not expect this to be the end of Brad Stevens and that program, though we may get to see a team other than Butler in the Finals for the first time in a while.
Thank you for the support and thank you for reading!
Mickey V aka Bubbles(on the streets atleast)
Im so proud of you
And im not saying this because that geriatric suck up asked us too..but because you and NoLunchMoney do good work...Kind of like Jay Cutler on Sundays
I had to do it.....
Call me Mickey instead of Mikey. That was a low blow McJulian :)
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