NCAA Daily Links
Welcome back basketball fans! Hope you enjoyed the 24 hour Madness. Seth Sommerfeld stayed in yesterday's chat the entire time, hopefully he is sleeping off his basketball hangover. To those who stopped by last night, it was definitely a good time. Hoping we can have some more in the future. On to the Daily:
Mike Krzyzewski Sets All-Time College Basketball Wins Record
(Dick Weiss/New York Daily News)
The anticipation was indeed part of the two previous Daily columns, but yesterday he finally topped coach Bobby Knight with his win 903. This win is definitely a major accomplishment for one of the most celebrated coaches in the history of college basketball. Along with his 4 NCAA Titles, win 903 just shows the incredible consistency Coach K has brought to the Blue Devil nation. He credits Bob Knight as being his pre-eminent coaching mentor and the coach was on hand announcing the game.
With that out of the way, lets examine the actual game. Duke beat Michigan State 74-69, but they clearly let up at the end of the game. They even gave the Spartans a chance to cut the lead to two with seconds left. Andre Dawkins finished with 26 points and shot 6-10 from 3 while Seth Curry finished with 20 points, 7 boards, 4 assists and 4 steals. Ryan Kelly added 14 off the bench, but the rest of the Duke players kind of came up short. Mason Plumlee did little damage offensively, finishing with 7/5/3 blocks and Austin Rivers had a very off day in his third college game, finishing with 5 points on 1-7 FG and 3-5 FT.
Luckily, they had the combined 10-17 3 point shooting of Dawkins, Curry and Kelly, but Duke definitely seems to be showing some weakness with post scoring, which haunted them last year as well. They also allowed Michigan State PG Keith Appling to go off for 22 points on 8-10 shooting from the field and SG Brandon Wood to score 15 points on 6-12. Mason and Miles Plumlee definitely have length to bother players inside the paint, but they were also outrebounded and did little to use their size to an advantage on offense. Duke has a fantastic coach and a good team, but I do not feel they are a contender for getting Coach K ring #5.
Kentucky takes down Kansas, 75-65
(Rachel Cohen, AP/Houston Chronicle)
The closing game at Madison Square Garden was very close in the first half, until Kentucky went on a 11-0 run in a 3 1/2 minute stretch of the second half. If Dunks counted as an official box score statistic, Kentucky would easily be the nations leader. If alley-oops were an official stat, the nations leader would definitely be Anthony Davis. Davis finished with 14 points, 6 rebounds, 7 blocks and one eye brow (I kid because he is awesome). He shot 6-8 from the field and his athleticism is monstrous and very real. He picked up his 4th foul late in the game, but Kentucky's speed and swarming defense were what put the game out of reach.
The Wildcats struggled in the first half with ball distribution and with Kansas' post duo of Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey. Robinson finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds, but was very much kept in check the second half of the game. Kansas combo G Tyshawn Taylor lead all scorers with 22 points, but his 3-13 shooting from the field was even below par for a night which saw the Jayhawks shoot 34% from the field (I am rounding up for their sake). Kansas has very little depth, definitely hurts that many of their freshman class was declared ineligible. They more than likely will still compete in the Big 12, but they will not be the power house of years past.
Doron Lamb lead Kentucky with 17, Terrence Jones finished with 15 and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist went filled the stat sheet with 12/9/4 and 3 blocks. Marquis Teague really struggled in the first half with 6 TO's, but had none in the second. Kentucky is a team full of athleticism, but they definitely need to play a more structured style of basketball and make better decisions. Their were a number of really poor fouls by Davis and Jones. In the end, however, Kansas could not keep up with these running, dunking Wildcats.
Ohio State beats Florida 81-74
(Michael Periatt/The Lantern)
The Buckeyes were at home and the game was again pretty close for quite a while until Ohio State gained a nice edge. Jared Sullinger looks very much slimmer than last year and has helped his mobility and conditioning a great deal. Plus, he is still big enough to toss people around down low. Sullinger finished with 16 and 6. While Patric Young finished with 14 and 12, still definitely feel that Sullinger's hands and post skill set are far ahead of the Florida big. William Buford paced Ohio State with 21 points and showed his adept shooting range and scoring ability.
Florida is incredibly guard heavy this year, with Bradley Beal leading this game with 17 points and Kenny Boynton chipping in 15. Even PF Erik Murphy chipped in with 14 points while making all 4 of his long distance tries. Florida usually can expect big games from Erving Walker and 6th man Mike Rosario, but they were neutralized by the size of Ohio State. Aaron Craft may not be an elite NBA prospect, but he is a decent college PG and finished with 13 points and 7 assists. DeShaun Thomas of Ohio State also scored 15 points and bullied smaller defenders.
Ohio State definitely will be a very strong team this year, though I am a tad concerned with depth, as I was last year. Florida has really talented guards, but if one of their bigs gets hurt or in foul trouble, they are really thin up front. This was an entertaining early season game with two highly ranked opponents, but I am thinking that Florida might end up slipping in the rankings, while Ohio State should by no means expect to lose only 2 regular season games as they did last year.
Syracuse Takes Down Great Danes of Albany
(AP/Wall Street Journal)
I still like "Great Danes" over "Orangemen", so I give Albany the nickname battle. Cuse definitely made a case for their ranking, getting the job done to the tune of a 98-74 win. This included 60 points in the paint, 49 points off of the bench and outrebounding Albany 47-29. Seems like this game was out of hand early as Cuse was lead by Kris Joseph's 19, James Southerland's career high 19 and Baye Mousse Keita's career high 14, making all 6 of his FG attempts. Have to say, the early returns on Syracuse are looking pretty postive. Even Fab Melo, a name well known to many Draft.net users disappointed with his freshman year performance, looks to be much better this year. They still have to play against some names, but thus far they are winning games handily.
Tu Holloway Returns From Suspension, Leads Xavier to W
(AP/Spartanburg Herald Journal)
Xavier has been a team that has produced a strong number of prospects and teams with NCAA hopes out of the Atlantic 10 Conference. This years team starts the year at #13 in the nation, with much of their hopes resting on the shoulders of PG Tu Holloway. He made his return to the court yesterday, after being suspended the season opener for "playing too many summer league games". Holloway did not disappoint, dropping 24 points and leading Xavier to a 86-63 over IPFW. Mark Lyons scored 19 in the second half and finished with 21, while freshman Dezmine Wells also had 16. Holloway was definitely on the short list of potential All-American candidates, and Xavier looks like they should again be a team from a smaller conference that should not be taken lightly.
Spotlight on Canadian Big Man Intensifies
(Ray Bala/Globe and Mail)
St. Bonaventure is usually not seen as a major NCAA power, but they have one of the more intriguing NCAA players in Canadian Andrew Nicholson. A pre-season Wooden Award nominee, the 6'9 and 250 pound PF is seen as one of the top senior NBA prospects for the 2012 Draft. He is currently projected to go at the end of the first round, but he seems to be incredibly focused on the task at hand, helping his team win and having a productive senior year. He is a returing All-A10 First Teamer and he started the season off right scoring 24 points on a perfect 10-10 from the line. Ray Bala breaks Nicholson's thought process down with actual quotes from the man himself. Andrew Nicholson is definitely a name to watch and lockout pending, expect him in a NBA Uniform in 2012.
UCLA Gets Trounced by Middle Tennessee
(Vincent Bonsignore/Long Beach Press Telegram)
I think the Bruins easily go down as the most disappointing team in the few games thus far. For the second game in a row, the Bruins have suffered an embarassing home loss. Missing Reeves Nelson, one still would have expected UCLA to put up a fight against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders, but the Bruins got rocked, 86-66. Their defense seems to be in a shambles, as the Blue Raiders shot 71.4% from the field and made 10 of their 11 triples, making their first 9 of the game.
Through two games this season, UCLA has let opponents shoot 77% (20-26). Meanwhile, they have shot 17% (6-35) themselves. Seems like UCLA should have a basket nearer to the beach, but they probably would not be able to throw the ball into the ocean. I had high hopes for this Bruins team, definitely believed that Ben Howland had one of the better front courts in the nation. Now, without Reeves Nelson for an undisclosed period of time, they do not seem as strong as once thought, even with the brothers Wear and Josh Smith. To make matters worse, their perimeter shooting and perimeter defense have been absolutely pathetic.
I am not completely counting out UCLA, it is still a long season and they will eventually be getting a boost at guard from Larry Drew. Still, it seems I overlooked just how abysmal things looked from their stable of guards. This is still a team that could do a bit of damage in Pac-12 play, but they have to get things together. I have to give Casey Versteeg, the Pac-12 blogger, credit for picking the next team I am about to bring up as his pre-season conference favorites.
Cal Cruises to 3-0
(AP/The Washington Post)
Cal definitely seemed like one of the stronger teams in the Pac-12 conference this year. I knew that Jorge Gutierrez, Harper Kamp and Allen Crabbe were probably the best trio in the conference. What I did not know is whether they would have the inside play and depth to back those players up. After their strong 3-0 start, I have to say my thinking has changed. They rolled over Austin Peay last night, 72-55 and have been looking very much in synch so far this season. They have veteran leadership from Gutierrez and Kamp, one of the conferences top scoring threats in Crabbe, while their bench looks scrappy and solid. Freshman David Kravish looks to have some upside for developing at the college level, while transfer Justin Cobbs should help out as well. So far, Cal is looking like the definite favorite in the Pac-12. I have been wrong before, definitely was about UCLA, but I think that Casey and many other people who favored Cal definitely were onto something.
J'Covan Brown on Early Scoring Tear
I want to give props to another NBADraft.net regular, Taylor Condrin, who clearly saw something I missed. Taylor made an early season prediction that junior guard JCovan Brown would be a big time scorer for the Longhorns. I was definitely unsure of whether he possessed the ability to average around 20 points per game. Well, thus far, I again have been wrong. Brown set a couple career highs in his first game of the season with 28 points and 8 assists. Yesterday, in a 100-90 win over Rhode Island, he torched the Rams with 35/6/6. Brown will probably not be averaging near the 31.5 ppg clip over his first two games, but he definitely seems to be a big time scorer and the Longhorns go-to guy. With freshman PG Myck Kabongo and a number of other Texas freshman playing significant minutes, looks like Brown could be hovering around that 20+ ppg mark this year. Have to give props to Taylor for his bold prediction. It isn;t out of the realm of possibility that Brown could lead the nation in scoring, or at least contend due to the lack of offensive weapons on Texas.
Cincinnati Cruises Past Jacksonville St.
The #20 ranked Bearcats of Cincinatti beat the Jacksonville St Gamecocks., 73-59. After gaining a 23 point cushion over the Gamecocks, Cincinatti let a lot of that slip away, although still maintaining a healthy victory. Junior PG Cashmere Wright lead the way with 23 points (9-14 FG), 6 rebounds and 4 assists, though he committed 5 TO's. Dion Dixon chipped in with 20 and Yancy Gates had 8 points plus 9 boards, though shot poorly from the field. The Bearcats are yet another Big East team in the Top 25 and they have a nice balanced roster. Yancy Gates have been on Draftniks radars for quite a while, but never seems to truly breakout like many expected. He is a senior this season, so this is definitely his chance to do so. Either way, the Bearcats are looking like they may be a top 25 staple this season.
Baylor Bears Best Aztecs
(Daniel Wallace/Baylor Lariat)
The Lariat paint a rosy picture of the win, but I heard a different account on the chat last night. I was unable to watch the game, in which Baylor won 77-67 over Steve Fisher's SDSU squad, but many did not come away overly impressed with Baylor's prospects. Quincy Miller was once again solid, putting up 20 points, but the account I received was that the Baylor distribution (PG play) needs a lot of improvement. Indeed, AJ Walton and Pierre Jackson look much more like scorers than floor generals. Brady Heslip scored 16 points, but he appears to be in the same boat, albeit at a more efficient rate than the aforementioned players. I wrote yesterday that Baylor has a world of talent, but it is hard to get a feel as to whether they can compete as a team.
Chase Tapley of SDSU had 28 points, on 8-10 shooting from long distance. This was only one three pointer behind KEVIN PANGOS. If you were not in the chat last night, you might not get the reference, but it was a really good time. Nonetheless, fantastic shooting by Tapley in the loss and KEVIN PANGOS in Gonzaga's win over Washington St.
Villanova Survives OT with LaSalle
In what turned out to be one of the closer games last night, Villanova got a boost from PG Maalik Wayns in OT to squeeze by the LaSalle Explorers, 76-69. Wayns only shot 5-16 for the game, but made all 10 of his FT attempts, also pulling down 9 boards. Dominic Cheek had 18, James Bell finished with 15 and Mouphtaou Yarou had a solid 10/14 performance.Tyreek Duren paced the Explorers with 24 while Sam Mills had 19 in the loss. They both shot over 80% from the FT stripe, though the whistles definitely seemed to be in Nova's favor with a 41-11 disparity in attempts. Nova really struggled shooting the ball, but Wayns seemed to make shots when they needed them most. Nova is outside of the Top 25 for now, but will be another Big East team challenging for the tournament, with a close early season win hopefully lighting a fire under some of their players.
Thank you for reading and I will have more for you soon!