College Hoops Monday: Your Commentary

November 14th, 2011

ESPN's 24-hour college hoops tipoff marathon will get off to a good start at midnight as rivals Washington State and Gonzaga meet at The Kennel in Spokane. The Cougars have embarked on life without Klay Thompson and DeAngelo Casto, and while that means they've got a lot of scoring to account for Ken Bone's got some established returnees back to lead a solid recruiting class. As for Gonzaga, the best news for them may be the health of junior foward Elias Harris. Harris, who was unable to get healthy last season, is 100% and his game should at the very least reach the level it was at as one of the best freshmen in America two seasons ago. 

Harris scored 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the Bulldogs' 77-69 win over Eastern Washington on Friday night while Robert Sacre (22 points, 10 rebounds) and guard Marquise Carter (17 points, five steals, four assists) led the way. Mark Few's team is deep and talented, boasting a good mix of youth and experience with freshmen such as Gary Bell Jr. and Kevin Pangos factoring into the rotation. At the point the Zags are better from a scoring standpoint with Carter taking over for Demetri Goodson, who's now a defensive back at Baylor.

Two things that Gonzaga did well in their season-opening win were rebounding (50-29 edge) and getting to the foul line, where they attempted a staggering 51 free throws. Therein lies what Washington State will need to do in order to have any chance of winning at McCarthey Athletic Center: hold their own on the glass while limiting Gonzaga's trips to the charity stripe. In Marcus Capers the Cougars have one of the best defensive players in the country, and it's going to be interesting to see who his assignment is. Senior point guard Reggie Moore runs the show but he along with scoing guard Faisal Aden and forward Abe Lodwick missed their final exhibition due to nagging injuries.

That gave the newcomers more time to shine, something that will have to happen if Washington State is to make a push for the bottom of the top half of the Pac 12. De'Vonte Lacy scored a game-high 21 points against Lewis-Clark State College and Mike Ladd added 14, and they're likely to come off the bench tonight with Moore and Aden back. The good news in that exhibition was Washington State's rebounding, as they held a 43-17 edge, but they're up against a much stiffer test in Spokane. Given the newcomers this season in addition to a good 2012 recruiting class many expect this to be an "in-between" season for Wazzu. They can change that perception with a win tonight.

Also of interest on the slate is the return of Ed Cooley to Fairfield, where he led the Stags to a regular season MAAC title last year before taking the Providence job. The good news for Cooley is that he's back in his hometown. The bad news for tonight is that he left a loaded Fairfield team for Sydney Johnson, and players such as Derek Needham and Rakim Sanders are more than capable of sending the Friars home with a loss. The point guard matchup between Needham (who had to deal with second half foul trouble against Quinnipiac on Friday) and Vincent Council (who struggled from the field against FDU on Saturday) will be a good one, and will likely determine the outcome as well.

UCF makes the trip north to take on Michael Snaer, Bernard James and the Seminoles, who play some of the best defense in the country. It could be tough sledding for Donnie Jones' team if they don't answer the physical challenge that's bound to come. And there's a good matchup of sophomore point guards in South Bend as Ray McCallum Jr. leads Detroit against Eric Atkins and Notre Dame. Atkins was outstanding in the Irish's season-opening win as he scored 27 points, helping to make up for the suspension of senior forward Tim Abromaitis. And there's also a pair of rivalry matchups on deck as Temple visits the Palestra to take on city rival Penn and Nevada visits UNLV.  

Top 25
7:30 PM Wagner at (4) Connecticut
7:00 PM Manhattan at (5) Syracuse (ESPNU)
8:00 PM Oakland at (17) Alabama
8:30 PM Towson at (18) Michigan (ESPN3)
7:00 PM Norfolk State at (21) Marquette
12:00 AM Washington State at (23) Gonzaga (ESPN)
8:00 PM Mercer at (25) Missouri (Full Court)

NCAA Division I Games
4:00 PM Brown vs. Albany*
7:00 PM UNC Greensboro at Georgetown
7:00 PM Washington Adventist at Howard
7:00 PM Stetson at Florida A&M
7:00 PM UCF at Florida State (ESPN3)
7:00 PM Marist at USF (Full Court)
7:00 PM Delaware State at Georgia Tech (ESPN3)
7:00 PM New Hampshire at Boston College
7:00 PM Northeastern at Massachusetts
7:00 PM Furman at Columbia
7:00 PM Binghamton at Cornell
7:00 PM Radford at Penn State
7:00 PM Temple at Pennsylvania
7:00 PM Monmouth at Virginia Tech (ESPN3)
7:00 PM Long Island at Old Dominion
7:00 PM Maine-Machias at Maine
7:00 PM Central Connecticut State at Niagara
7:00 PM East Carolina at Campbell
7:00 PM Florida Atlantic vs. Georgia State*
7:00 PM American at Maryland-Eastern Shore
7:00 PM Murray State at Morgan State
7:00 PM Savannah State at North Florida
7:00 PM Eastern Kentucky at Presbyterian
7:00 PM Lafayette at St. Francis (PA)
7:00 PM Liberty at William & Mary
7:00 PM Penn State Abington at NJIT
7:00 PM Piedmont at USC Upstate
7:05 PM Ave Maria at Florida Gulf Coast
7:30 PM Providence at Fairfield
7:30 PM Coppin State at Loyola (MD)
7:30 PM High Point at Purdue
8:00 PM Kennesaw State at Auburn
8:00 PM SMU vs. Colorado State*
8:00 PM Tennessee State at Western Kentucky
8:00 PM South Dakota State at Minnesota
8:00 PM Grambling State at Ole Miss
8:00 PM Utah Valley at Houston
8:00 PM East Texas Bapt at Texas-Arlington
8:00 PM Denver at Texas A&M-CC
8:00 PM Talladega at Alabama A&M
8:00 PM North Carolina A&T at Iowa
8:00 PM Loyola (IL) at Kansas State (FSKC)
8:00 PM Indiana State at Louisiana-Monroe
8:00 PM Concordia College at Nebraska-Omaha
8:00 PM Milwaukee at Northern Illinois
8:00 PM Harris Stowe at Southeast Missouri State
8:05 PM Bethune-Cookman at Houston Baptist
8:05 PM Holy Cross at Valparaiso
8:15 PM Richmond at Davidson
8:30 PM Mississippi Valley State at DePaul
8:30 PM SIU-Edwardsville at Illinois
9:00 PM Detroit at Notre Dame (ESPNU)
9:00 PM University of Great Falls at Montana
9:00 PM Idaho State at North Dakota
9:00 PM San Diego Christian at Utah
9:00 PM Austin at TCU
9:30 PM FIU vs. George Mason* (ESPN3)
10:00 PM UC Irvine at San Jose State
10:00 PM Concordia (OR) at Idaho
10:00 PM West Alabama at Oregon State
10:00 PM Portland at Washington (RTNW)
10:00 PM Stephen F. Austin at San Diego
10:00 PM Nevada at UNLV (CBSN)
10:30 PM Nebraska at USC (Prime Ticket)
11:00 PM Fresno State at Stanford
2:00 AM Northern Iowa at Saint Mary's (ESPN)
4:00 AM Cal State Northridge at Hawaii (ESPN)