Merry Christmas to all...

    
December 26th, 2006

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.

Is it too early to ask if the Colonial is a two-bid league? The team responsible for this question is Drexel, and when you look at the Dragons' schedule you know why. Drexel owns road wins over St. Joseph's, Villanova, Temple and Syracuse to this point in the season, giving them a ranking of seven in Ken Pomeroy's most recent RPI ranking. While some of the teams in the Colonial are ranked low enough to do some damage to that ranking, there are enough quality wins within the league to put Drexel in a good position come Selection Sunday.

The comeback of the weekend? Rider over Fairleigh Dickinson 74-72. The Broncs trailed FDU 56-35 with thirteen minutes remaining, but came back thanks to a 25-7 run that tied the score at 70 with 1:26 to go. Harris Mansell provided the heroics, nailing a three to give Rider a 73-72 lead with 33 seconds to go. Most people ignored this result, but it should be seen as a good road win for a Rider team that isn't expected to do much in the MAAC (Blue Ribbon picked the Broncs to finish 9th in a ten-team league).

One question: with forward Greg Washington sitting out at Hofstra (they can definitely use this 6-10 freshman's size right now) and Rhode Island forward Delroy James doing the same, can the NCAA Clearinghouse find a way to speed up the process in determining whether or not players not yet cleared can play? I'm sure that there are other cases, but at what point do the coaching staffs say "we won't have this player available this year"? And the players can practice all they want, but at some point the longevity of the process gets to them as well. I know that there are a lot of new athletes to check before the season begins, but there has to be a better way to go about this.

Providence will be without the services of guard Sharaud Curry for their non-conference tilt with Florida State due to a violation of team rules. The interesting thing about this development is the life that this news took on various fan sites, something that the Providence Journal-Bulletin compared to that of chats on SEC football fan pages. Some posters put up that Curry and forward Geoff McDermott would be out 7-10 games each, but that was inaccurate to say the least. McDermott is OK, and head coach Tim Welsh hasn't decided how long Curry will be out. With or without Curry, this is a game to keep an eye on because both teams could use a win over a team from a marquee conference before they head into league play.

In America East, keep an eye on Binghamton. Yes, Albany is the league favorite and Vermont won at Boston College, but the Bearcats are 6-4 after going 2-0 in the State of Florida. North Florida is North Florida (no disrespect) and Miami has been disappointing so far this year (is it me or have Dennis Clemente and Anthony Harris regressed this season? Or was Robert Hite that good?), but those are two good wins on the road for Binghamton. Next up for the Bearcats is an appearance in the Comcast Lobo Invitational in Albuquerque, opening up with Pepperdine. The other matchup is between host New Mexico and Alcorn State.

Hope you all enjoyed your holiday, and Happy New Year.