College Basketball: Week in Review

    
December 3rd, 2008

Rob Carpentier's "Seven Day Stretch" is a whirlwind tour around every corner of college basketball nation:

 

Seven Day Savior (Team): Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Sooners have started the season 6-0 and although four of those wins have been against inferior competition, two of the wins have come against a very good Davidson team and a Purdue squad that will be one of the favorites to win the Big 10 (despite the Duke loss).  Star forward Blake Griffin is averaging 19.2…REBOUNDS per game.  That’s astonishing regardless of whom the Sooners have played.  Oh, by the way, he’s scoring at a 25.7 per game clip.  Against Purdue, Griffin “only” scored 18 points, but he hauled in 21 boards.  It’s not just Griffin, though.  Blake’s brother Taylor and super-frosh Willie Warren are both scoring in double figures.  It’s early, but Jeff Capel is starting to look like the most successful Coach K protégé out there.  The Sooners have a couple of tough contests this week, with USC coming to town for the Big 12/Pac 10 Harwood Series and then having to travel to take on a tough Tulsa squad.  Win those two games and the Sooners will probably be a top five team.

 

Seven Day Savior (Player): David Holston

Senior David Holston, Chicago State Cougars.  CSU hasn’t shocked anyone, but they did play Marquette tough and beat Central Michigan.  This is big for a school that has no winning tradition whatsoever.  The Cougars sit at 3-3 and although they won’t get an NCAA bid, (they’re an independent after spending years in the Mid Continent Conference), they are much better than in the past.  The biggest reason why is the 5’8” Holston. He is second in Division 1 scoring at 25.7 PPG, and even that doesn’t tell the whole story.  He has scored in the 30’s four times, including a 33 point effort at Marquette, and has already attempted 70 three point shots.  The fact that he’s hitting on 4% of those shots helps, but he is also an unselfish player, averaging almost 6 assists per game.  He’ll have a couple more shots at getting on the highlight shows this season as the Cougars still play at Illinois and at Kansas State.

 

Game of the Week (The one you DON’T know about): ASU vs Nebraska

Since there are no “big” mid-major conference games this week, let’s look at one of the intersectional games between two BCS schools.  Arizona State is supposed to be one of the teams that should give UCLA a serious run for the Pac 10 crown, while Nebraska has started the year at 5-0 including a big win against Creighton this past weekend.   Both schools should be in the mix for a bid to the Big Dance in March and winning this game will go a long way to getting one of those programs to go “dancing”.  It will be an interesting match-up as Nebraska has relied very much on its defense to start the season, (no team has scored more than 57 on the Huskers this year), while ASU has one of the best individual offensive players in the country in sophomore James Harden.  Both teams like to slow it down a bit and run very structured offenses.  While games like UNC/MSU may get the bulk of the media coverage, its games like this that are often more intriguing and more entertaining.

 

Seven Days Under the Radar: Charleston

VMI defeated Kentucky in Lexington and Western Kentucky beat Louisville, (but was crushed earlier by Murray State), but the team that really should be raising eyebrows if you’ve been paying attention has been the College Of Charleston.  They’ve started the year 5-1 and the one loss was a squeaker at Temple, (who should be pretty good this year), and they just defeated South Carolina. With all due respect to Davidson head coach Bob McKillop, the only current Southern Conference coach to get to a Final Four is Charleston’s Bobby Cremins.  Granted, that was with Georgia Tech, but Cremins knows what he is doing.  The Cougars play the same pressure defense that Cremins made famous during his days in Atlanta, and they rebound very well, (they essentially played the Gamecocks to a draw on the boards).  It’s a young team, (only two seniors), but they play with a lot of confidence.  Sophomore guard Andrew Goudelock is the go-to guy for the Cougars.  But he isn’t it; Charleston has five players at least 6’7” tall, which is a lot for a mid-major program, and they are very athletic.  Junior guard Tony White, Jr. is a defensive wiz, utilizing his quickness to harass opposing guards.  Perhaps most importantly, Charleston takes care of the ball.  As a team, they average only 11.7 turnovers per game.  That means that Charleston doesn’t give up big runs to opponents.  Circle December 29; Davidson comes to Charleston in what may be the first of three meetings this season.  If Charleston wins, they won’t be under the radar anymore.

 

Seven Days on the Hot Seat: Billy Gillispie

Billy Gillispie is in trouble.  His Kentucky team has rattled off five straight wins, including wins over Kansas State and West Virginia.  Those wins were just in time, too.  That’s because the Wildcats lost at home to VMI, (much like last season’s home loss to Gardner-Webb), and then got hammered at North Carolina 77-58, a score line that was in now way indicative of how thorough the beating was that Kentucky took.  The natives are restless in Lexington and Gillispie will need a big season from here on out to defuse the perception that he is vastly underachieving.  Gillispie’s offense has been suspect and he has yet to fully get his players to completely buy into his defensive concepts.  The Cats still get Miami (Fla.), and Louisville out of conference so the sour taste of the VMI loss still can be purged, but Heaven forbid that Kentucky losses to Indiana…then Gillispie’s backside will really get warm.

 

Seven Days of Head Scratching: Kelvin Sampson

The NCAA finally came down with its ruling in the investigation of Kelvin Sampson and Indiana.  Sampson, by all accounts, was justifiably hammered.  He essentially won’t be able to coach in the college ranks for the next 5 years as he has been placed on a show-cause restriction, meaning that any college that wants to hire him has to show cause as to why.  Okay, I think most people feel that’s a justified penalty, (one of the harshest that the NCAA can levy against an individual), as Sampson, basically, was stupid.  I want even get into the “slime” factor.  The head scratcher, though, is the fact that Indiana got off with three years of probation. No post-season ban, no loss of television.  Normally this would be fine as Sampson was the real culprit here, as well as members of his staff.  But it was shown that Indiana had some knowledge of his wrongdoing and didn’t jump to correct it.  That’s an oversight issue and schools have been trashed by the NCAA for doing that.  In short, the NCAA, once again, has shown no consistency in determining penalties for institutions.  The fact that colleges and universities haven’t moved to form their own governing body is a head scratcher as most schools know that the NCA A is one of the most arbitrary bodies in existence.