Decal dilemma, early season Hoop Thoughts (cont.)
Channeling my inner Peter King: I think I think Dominic Cheek is going to have a big year at Villanova, and I think I think Villanova is going to be better than many people think they think.
Channeling my inner Peter King Part II: If I were a football coach, I would tell my special teams unit that if they're lining up for a critical field goal, and the other team calls timeout before the snap, then the center, holder and kicker should still go through the motions of attempting the field goal. It's a good way to relax the kicker and give him an extra repetition.
How great was it to see Robbie Hummel back -- and looking like the old Robbie Hummel? He only had one rebound in Purdue's win over Northern Illinois, but Hummel scored 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting in his first game back after recovering from two ACL injuries.
Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis, the driving force behind the creation of the Carrier Classic, has been nominated by the Big Ten for a position on the NCAA's men's basketball committee. This is a first-team all-no-brainer. College sports need more innovative thinkers like Hollis.
I feel like Vanderbilt is the Tim Tebow of college hoops. You're either with 'em or against 'em. Put me down as someone who is with 'em despite Vandy's loss at home to Cleveland State on Sunday. (I'm with Tebow, too, if you care.)
Evansville took 19 more free throws than Butler did and outscored the Bulldogs 32-15 from the foul line in their overtime upset win on Saturday. That's not the Butler Way.
I believe I am the only quote-unquote expert predicting that Washington will win the Pac-12.
When I hear people say that Mississippi State forward Renardo Sidney has a lot of "talent," I'm not sure I agree. Yes, he has size, speed and some agility, but discipline is also a talent. The ability to work hard and concentrate for long stretches is a talent. Mental toughness in the face of adversity is a talent. Sidney may yet get there -- and I hope he does -- but so far he has not shown that he has that kind of talent.
I see Gonzaga senior center Robert Sacre is rocking the Telly Savales baldpate. I dig it!
I think it's time to move back the start of practice to Oct. 1. The games are starting much earlier than they used to, and three weeks of practice isn't enough time. Plus, it doesn't make sense that the women are allowed to start two weeks earlier. Frankly, I think coaches should be able to begin practicing whenever they want. The rule is designed to prevent coaches from running their players ragged, but no coach worth his salt is going to wear his guys out before the first game.
(Rank on my preseason ballot in parentheses)
1. North Carolina (1)
2. Kentucky (2)
3. Ohio State (3)
4. UConn (4)
5. Duke (5)
6. Syracuse (6)
7. Pittsburgh (8)
8. Baylor (9)
9. Florida (10)
10. Louisville (11)
11. Memphis (12)
12. Kansas (13)
13. Xavier (14)
14. Gonzaga (15)
15. Vanderbilt (7)
16. Wisconsin (16)
17. Alabama (17)
18. Arizona (18)
19. California (19)
20. Belmont (20)
21. Michigan State (21)
22. Washington (23)
23. Creighton (24)
24. Florida State (25)
25. Cleveland State (NR)
Dropped out: UCLA (22)
The season is only a week old, and already we've had our first two casualties. I wasn't quite as high on UCLA as my fellow voters were -- the Bruins were 17th in the AP's preseason poll -- but the Bruins clearly do not deserve to be in the top 25 after their loss to Loyola Marymount. Vanderbilt, which got thrashed at home by Cleveland State on Sunday afternoon, is a tougher call. The Commodores are playing without starting center Festus Ezeli, who was suspended by the NCAA and then suffered a knee injury that will keep him out the first month of the season. Then again, Cleveland State is a Horizon League team that had to replace a first-round draft pick in Norris Cole. If the 'Dores can't win that game, they should at least make it competitive, and they didn't. So I pushed them to 15.
UCLA's drop opened up a spot at number 25. I was originally going to pick Detroit, but Cleveland State's upset made it easy. Missouri, Marquette, Michigan and Temple all warrant consideration, but you know me -- I'm a sucker for the mid-majors. After Butler lost its opener in overtime to Evansville, it looks like Cleveland State and Detroit are the teams to beat in the Horizon.
I had three teams on my preseason ballot that did not make the AP's top 25: Michigan State, Florida State, Washington and Belmont. I'm pretty sure I ranked the Bruins higher than anyone else did. I also didn't see anything in the Carrier Classic to convince me to bump the Spartans. They're no better and no worse than dozens of teams who could be ranked between 20 and 25. These things have a way of sorting themselves out.
I don't expect much movement this week. Besides the Champions Classic games Tuesday night (Duke vs. Michigan State, Kentucky vs. Kansas), there are no other games scheduled between ranked teams. There will be a lot more action the following week when Thanksgiving madness tips off. I, for one, am thankful college hoops is back.
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