Decal dilemma, early season Hoop Thoughts (cont.)
John Calipari doesn't have many problems, but it will be interesting to watch him manage his lineup this season with respect to Darius Miller. From a basketball standpoint, it's an easy call: Miller is not as good as the other frontcourt players, freshmen Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and sophomore Terrence Jones. But Miller is a senior and a good leader, so Calipari is leaving him in the starting lineup -- for now. Of course, starting is not nearly as important as finishing, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Miller on the bench down the stretch of close games.
The best-case scenario for Michigan State would be to have freshman Travis Trice emerge as a starter. That's because Trice is the only pure point guard on the roster. Sophomore Keith Appling starts at that position, but he's really a converted shooting guard forced into action because of the absence of Korie Lucious, who was dismissed last year. Trice just looks like a point guard out there, and he's cocky in a good way, but he has a lot to learn regarding shot selection.
Here's another major gift the NBA lockout has delivered: Mike Breen calling college hoops games. I don't think we should ever give him back, do you?
Kemba Walker was a national player of the year runner-up, he led UConn to a national championship, and he was selected with the ninth pick in the NBA draft. But Jeremy Lamb is a much better player. Just wrap your head around that for a second.
Louisville forward Chane Behanan is going to mount a serious challenge to be the Big East's Freshman of the Year. At 6-foot-7, 250 pounds, Behanan is strong and sturdy, but he also has great footwork and is highly skilled. He had a nice debut last week. He made all six of his field goal attempts to finish with 14 points and 12 rebounds in just 23 minutes against Tennessee-Martin. He followed that up with 10 points and 13 rebounds in 32 minutes against Lamar.
If Tray Woodall shoots like he did against Albany, Pittsburgh is going to be better than I thought. A 5-11 senior, Woodall has been a serviceable, but unspectacular reserve point guard during his first three seasons, and he came into this season as a career 27 percent three-point shooter. In the opener he erupted for a career-high 25 points and made five of his seven attempts from behind the arc. I know it's only one game, but my goodness.
Here's another line that grabbed me over the weekend: Notre Dame sophomore point guard Eric Atkins went 12 for 12 from the foul line and scored 27 points to go along with six assists in the Irish's win over Mississippi Valley State. That's a good sign.
This excellent idea for a rule change comes courtesy of my friend Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News: Timeouts should only be permitted to be called during a dead-ball situation, as is the case in international play. Allowing a player to stop the action when he's in a tough spot is like having a quarterback call time as he's about to get sacked.
In our SI.com crystal ball predictions, I tabbed Xavier guard Mark Lyons as my under-the-radar player to watch. Well, Lyons won't stay under the radar for long. With All-America candidate Tu Holloway sitting out because of an NCAA suspension, Lyons poured in 22 points in the Musketeers' opening win over Morgan State.
Speaking of Holloway's suspension, I would love to see the NCAA relax its rules prohibiting outside competition in the summer. Every other college student is allowed to take an unpaid internship to learn about his or her future profession. Why not athletes? Moreover, the formula has already been established with respect to foreign players. Those guys are allowed to play with pros as long as they are not paid above necessary expenses. I believe college athletes should be allowed to play as unpaid interns with pro teams under the same guidelines.
Attention, broadcasters. I present to you my first grammatical pet peeve of the new season: The often-botched uses of the words "who" and "that." It's incorrect to say someone is "a player that shoots well." The correct way to say it is: "He's a player who shoots well."
Also, you can't revert back to something. You just revert.
Yes, there's no excuse for losing at "home" to Loyola Marymount, but UCLA's desultory performance in the season opener underscores the challenge the vagabond Bruins will face this season. With Pauley Pavilion closed for renovations, this game was played at the L.A. Sports Arena, which is essentially on USC's campus. Barely 5,000 fans turned out. People in L.A. expect UCLA to compete with the likes of Kentucky and Kansas, but can you imagine those teams ever playing a home game in front of 5,000 people? You could put them in the middle of Montana, and their fans would fill up the place and turn it into a party.
Speaking of UCLA, remember my burning question about who would win the Tyshawn Taylor Social Media Award? The early leader is Bruins sophomore Josh Smith, who tweeted after the game "Just lost to some straight bums lol..." The tweet was deleted, but give credit to Ballin' Is A Habit for getting a screengrab of it. Smith has all the talent in the world, but he is overweight and lacking discipline. Maybe he should refrain from calling someone else a bum for a while.
Give me a choice between a great athlete and a great shooter, and I'm almost always going to go with the shooter.
It sounds like it's not a big deal -- and I hope it never becomes one -- but Roy Williams is having consistent problems with lightheadedness and vertigo. Over the years he has had several instances where he became so dizzy during games that he had to take a knee for a few moments. Williams experienced another brief spell during the second half of the Carrier Classic. He said after the game that he takes vertigo pills and consults North Carolina's team doctor about how to handle it. It would be a good idea for Roy to dial back his intensity during games, but that's not in his nature.
Just so you know, when you hear a player has been suspended for a "violation of team rules," about 75 percent of the time that means he has failed a drug test. If anything, that estimate might be low.