Pac-10 offers fascinating conference race and more notes (cont.)
All the love being showered on Duke's Jon Scheyer has overshadowed the fact that Kyle Singler is not having a great season. I don't know if the move to small forward is throwing him off or if he's just in a slump, but Singler simply has not shot the ball well. His three-point percentage has sunk from 38.3 percent last season to 34.7, and his overall field goal percentage has gone from 44.1 percent to 41.0. Singler had his worst performance of the season in Saturday's loss to Georgia Tech, going 2-for-13 from the field and finishing with nine points. It's nice that Scheyer is playing like an All-American, but for Duke to be at its absolute best, Singler, not Scheyer, needs to be its best player.
I realize teams need to make their own luck, but my goodness Marquette is snakebit. The Golden Eagles' 78-76 loss at Villanova was their fifth loss by five points or fewer, and their fourth by two points or fewer.
That was obviously a terrific win by Georgia Tech, but the Yellow Jackets still suffer from their guards' inability to properly feed the post. That's why Derrick Favors has so much trouble scoring in the half court. Even while upsetting Duke on Saturday, the Yellow Jackets only had seven assists on 22 made field goals.
I knew Ben Hansbrough's scoring ability would help Notre Dame after he transferred from Mississippi State, but I had no idea he was this good of a passer. Hansbrough had 10 assists in the Irish's upset of West Virginia to raise his season average to 5.2 per game, which ranks fifth in the Big East.
You're gonna hear it a hundred times this week, and each time it will be true. Jerry Wainwright is one of the smartest, coolest, most likeable, most honest and above all funniest men in the coaching profession. I'm sorry to see his tenure at DePaul end like this, but nobody can say they are surprised.
Tennessee pulled of the big upset over Kansas, but now comes the hard part. Emotion can carry through a game or two, but not over the long term.
Ole Miss is not blessed with great size, so the Rebels' speedy guards need to do a better job driving to the basket instead of settling for threes. They took just 13 free throws in Saturday's loss to Mississippi State, compared to 33 for the Bulldogs. No way a team should suffer that kind of disparity playing at home.
Me to Big East head coach: "What is Seton Hall's biggest weakness?" Big East head coach to me: "They give up a lot of points."
I think it's silly when coaches complain about being forced to begin league play with a tough stretch of road games. These things always balance out. If you have a tough stretch early, you'll get a break later on -- and vice versa.
I hope Wake Forest coach Dino Gaudio changes his mind about wanting to alter the format of the Skip Prosser Classic. The first installment of the 10-game series was indeed a classic, with Wake prevailing over Xavier in double overtime 96-92. Given the close ties between the two schools, Gaudio wants to create a doubleheader where they both play other teams from the same location. Gaudio says Prosser would have wanted it that way, but if that's true, then Skip would have been wrong. The game may be hard on the coaching staffs who are good friends, but it's great for the fans.
I give Kansas State coach Frank Martin enormous credit for doing something Bob Knight has never done: apologize in front of a bunch of sportswriters. Martin slapped the wrist of one of his players in anger towards the end of K-State's loss at Missouri, but the coach did not even wait to be asked about it afterwards. He began his postgame press conference by apologizing for what was really a minor transgression -- literally a slap on the wrist. Even more revealing was the fact that the player involved, Chris Merriewether, referred to his coach as "Frank." Seems you can be an old-school taskmaster and still make your players feel like you're their friend. Bravo, coach.
Just once -- once! -- I'd love to see a guy block a shot towards a teammate instead of batting it 20 feet out of bonds.
Illinois' biggest problem is that its players are not defensive-minded enough. That's understandable for the freshmen or the muscle-deficient big men, but there's no excuse for Demetri McCamey not to be a better defender. I know it's driving Bruce Weber mad.
Another Illinois-related thought: I feel badly for Alex Legion, the Illinois guard who announced that he was transferring to Florida International, but this is clearly a young man who has made a lot of bad decisions (and no doubt gotten some bad advice) during his brief career. As a highly regarded high school player, Legion originally committed to Michigan, then backed out and committed to Kentucky. He didn't even stay in Lexington for a full semester before he transferred to Illinois. Now he's off to FIU. That's four schools in three years if you're keeping score at home. Here's hoping young Alex has learned some lessons and can finally just settle down and play some ball.
Got a sleeper freshman for ya: Rutgers 6-foot-6 swingman Dane Miller. He won't grab many headlines this season because his team is struggling, but he's a gifted athlete who can really pass the ball.
Two things I never thought I'd see: 1) The Virginia Tech-Seton Hall game in Cancun was played without time clocks over the baskets. So while the game was being played, the players had no way to tell how much time was left because they couldn't see the overhead scoreboard; 2) When UTEP forward Derrick Caracter stepped to the free throw line with his team trailing Texas Tech by five points with 34 seconds left, he made the first free throw and then asked his coaches if he should miss the second. Even the refs got a chuckle out of that one.
How's this for an idea. Hold an exhibition game between two decent teams and let the players make their own calls. Just for fun.
I was watching a game from the early 1990s on ESPN Classic recently, and I was amazed how much I missed having a scoreboard on the screen at all times. Instead, the network just put up a quick graphic each time the score changed. My recollection is that there was much hand-wringing when networks started putting the scores up all the time, but now you wouldn't want to watch a game (especially a basketball game) without it.
It is truly a pleasure to watch Cornell run their half-court offense.
I find it ironic that South Florida junior center Jarrid Famous is not very well-known.
It's may be a cheesy gimmick, but I have to say I like it when coaches put the names of their school on the back of their jerseys instead of the surnames of their players. Two coaches I've seen do that for this year are UAB's Mike Davis and Texas Tech's Pat Knight.
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