The first college basketball weekend of 2007 has delivered some interesting results. First off, how many people expected Hartford and Maryland-Baltimore County to be on top of America East after the first weekend of play? The Hawks, led by first-year head coach Dan Leibovitz, won a 62-60 thriller at Maine on opening night, then followed that win with an 80-75 double-OT home win over Boston University. The Hawks only have two seniors on the roster, so it would be understandable if people looked to their future instead of the present. Of course the two seniors, forwards Bo Taylor and Alex Zimnickas, are important contributors, but the Hawks also have some solid youngsters playing a part in their success. Freshman guard Joe Zeglinski is the team's second leading scorer, and sophomores Jaret Von Rosenberg, Michael Turner and Fabrice Tafo combined for 26 points off the bench in their win at Maine. A young team has its bumps in the road, but the future could be now for the Hawks.
Saturday signaled the beginning of the Christmas break for college basketball, with everyone pretty much taking off the following three days for time with family and friends. One result from Saturday that surprised me was Kansas 84, Boston College 66. The result wasn't a surprise, but the margin was, as the Jayhawks took over from the start. But the biggest loss for the Eagles may have been the services of star forward Jared Dudley, who aggravated a lingering left foot injury in the loss. Dudley may sit out BC's next two games, Duquesne and Northeastern, in order to regain his health in time for then ACC schedule. Add this injury to those of John Oates and Akida McLain, and you have a frontcourt that's paper-thin behind Sean Williams and Shomari Spears. Also, the injury bug puts even more emphasis what I think is the key to the Eagles' success this season: the shot selection of guard Tyrese Rice.
If you're wondering what game I am referring to in the title, that would be the overtime thriller between Utah and Rhode Island, won 85-84 by the homestanding Rams on Saturday. What could possibly taint a game like this? For starters, the game was nowhere to be found on television. Of course, a game between these two programs would be left off the major networks schedules, but shouldn't the game at least be televised locally? I don't live in either state, so I had to refer to the NCAA's TV schedule (http://www.ncaasports.com/broadcast/schedule/divi-m-basketball) to figure this one out. Had this game been on TV, we all would have some visual evidence to see whether or not the second negative was justified.
First off, I just wanted to get some things off of my chest regarding the BCS.
1. The system is an absolute joke. Champions should be decided on fields of play, not by voters or computers. I'm not sure who should be playing Ohio State in the title game, but I'm not sure that the voters who picked Florida were either. How do you separate Florida and Michigan? Yes the Gators won their conference, but if this is going to be a deciding factor then why not put that into the rules regarding who can qualify for the title game?
2. Why does Notre Dame, despite being ranked 10th in the standings, get a spot in the BCS? I know that you can't have three teams from one conference in the BCS because it's not fair or something like that, but is it fair to give the Irish special rules because they're Notre Dame? I don't think so.
Has there been a more unpredictable start to the season in recent memory? A Preseason NIT final of Butler and Gonzaga...how many people picked that one? Butler, in wins over Indiana and Tennessee, has played stifling defense and got some timely baskets when needed. Their best offense of the three-game run to the final was in their overtime win against Notre Dame, a game in which the Fighting Irish shot 48% from the field themselves. Maybe being able to see that they can beat solid competition with offense and defense can be seen as a positive for the Bulldogs. As for the Bulldogs from Spokane, is Josh Heytvelt something else or what? He missed a lot of games the past two seasons due to injuries, so many people don't know of his actual skill set. Yes, a lot has been mentioned about him (especially early last season), but the average fan probably lost sight of him after he hurt himself in the Maui Invitational final against UConn. Well, he's back and healthy. Brandan Wright was able to do some things for UNC in the semifinal Wednesday night, but the Heels play as well as Tyler Hansbrough does, and Heytvelt did an excellent job of containing the preseason National Player of the Year candidate.
Well, Vermont takes on Maryland in the regional final of the Coaches vs. Cancer (the proper name is the "College Hoops Classic benefitting Coaches vs. Cancer")tonight, and this is a game that I'm really looking forward to. Why? Well, Maryland head coach Gary Williams had quite a few things to say in the aftermath of his team being left out of the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year. Of course, it would make more sense to have the Terps play a team from the Missouri Valley, but we won't get that chance this year. So Mike Lonergan's Catamounts will have to do, and they have a shot at this one. Freshman Joe Trapani dropped 20 on New Orleans last night, quite an awakening for someone such as myself, who looked at the season opener as a chance to see UNO star Bo McCalebb play for the first time since the 2004-05 season (he sat out last year with a knee injury). Vermont will challenge for top honors in America East this year, and a win tonight could really get things going. As for Maryland, this game along with a home date down the road with Winthrop will be watched intently by fans of conferences thought to be "inferior" to the BCS leagues. But if there are people out there with that same narrow view of college basketball after last season, then maybe they should tune into something else.
Well, the 2006-07 season officially began Friday night, when schools across the nation put held their first practice of the season. This probably shouldn't even be called a practice, since it primarily consists of player intros, contests, and a scrimmage run at the pace of a glorified jog. The primary goals of the players and coaches are to avoid injuries and put last year behind them. This is what I saw in watching Florida's event the other night. Dropping the replica Sears Trophy after raising their national title banner was the perfect way to say that last year is over, and there are new things to accomplish. The must see TV takes place the following morning, when the coaches get to do their thing...and run their players into the ground. But this will never be on TV, so the Friday night style will have to suffice.
Hello, and thanks for checking out my blog. I'm Raphielle, and the purpose of this blog is to write primarily about the smaller conferences of the Northeast corridor. The Northeast, Metro Atlantic, America East, and Ivy leagues will get the majority of the attention, with a little Atlantic 10 and Big East sprinkled in from time to time.
The idea for this first entry came from two sources: "The Miracle of St. Anthony" by Adrian Wojnarowski, and an article in the September 19th issue of ESPN The Magazine by Bill Simmons. In the article, Simmons brought up some valid points as to why Joe Dumars shouldn't have been enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame. His resume isn't better than say, an Adrian Dantley or Sidney Moncrief, and Dumars was never a franchise player. I had no problem with Dumars getting into the Hall, and maybe his work as an executive influenced a vote or two.