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The depleted Shockers were expected to tumble this year, but they have two quality wins already (at VCU, over Iowa at the Cancun Challenge), and juco transfer Cleanthony Early is a big reason for their early success. In the 75--63 defeat of Iowa in the Cancun final, the 6'8" small forward had 25 points and nine rebounds.
Trevor Releford and Trevor Lacey—both guards—are 23 of 45 from deep through five games, with Lacey hitting a game-winning trey against South Dakota State and Releford going 5 for 5 in a 77--55 romp over Villanova. Releford's marksmanship earned him MOP honors at the 2K Sports Classic. The Tide made just 28.9% of its threes last season.
Freshman 6'4" forward Breanna Stewart has not only taken over the post—89 points in the first five games—but also established herself as a player of the year candidate. Stewart was named MVP of the Paradise Jam tournament after putting up 57 points in the Huskies' three wins.
A floor general
Junior Keith Appling (team-leading 16.4 ppg, 49.2 FG%) has emerged as the Spartans' latest star at the point. "I'm putting about as much on his plate as he can handle," said coach Tom Izzo after Appling's clutch shooting helped avoid an upset against Oakland last Friday. "I'm not an easy guy to please, but I'm really proud of him."