College Hoops Saturday: Your Commentary

    
December 17th, 2010
Saturday usually marks the transition from the fall semester to winter break for most schools and with that comes the mid-season additions that many like to analyze in regards to their possible impact. And no addition may be bigger than that of freshman guard Josh Selby to the Kansas Jayhawks, who host USC at Noon. Bill Self's team has done fine without him in the win column as they're still undefeated on the season. But a look at their backcourt thus far reveals the need for a player who can make things happen in an explosive fashion, and the Baltimore native fits that role to a T. Coach Self has tried to temper expectations for Selby in the days leading up to Saturday but the hype from the Jayhawks fan base has rivaled that of Chuck Norris (if you're on Twitter then you've likely seen some of the comparisons). But just like Kansas, USC will see their lineup bolstered by a mid-season addition as well.

Jio Fontan, who transferred west after a season and a half of frustration at Fordham, will be handed the keys to the Trojan attack from the opening tip on Saturday and he could have an even bigger impact than that of Mike Gerrity last year. Fontan led the Rams in scoring and assists during his time in the Bronx, and head coach Kevin O'Neill is banking on him being the difference-maker in order for the Trojans to make some noise in the Pac-10. Adding a true point to the likes of forwards Alex Stepheson and Nikola Vucevic and 6th man Donte Smith should make USC a better offensive team, but will it be enough to pull off what would amount to the upset of the season given Kansas' success at Phog Allen Fieldhouse? There will be a lot more in play than to simply have Fontan play well at the point if the Trojans are to do so.

USC is going to need their frontcourt to hold their own on the glass, and the triumvirate of the Morris twins (Marcus and Markieff) and Thomas Robinson will make that a difficult task to accomplish. The Jayhawks, who will be without the indefinitely suspended Mario Little, rank among the nation's best in rebounding margin and in Marcus they've got one of the most talented forwards in the country. The key for those three offensively will be to not settle so easily for mid-range jumpers. While they can knock them down when left open Kansas operates much better when they're attacking the rim. The chemistry of both teams, especially Kansas since many like them to get to Houston, will be key on Saturday afternoon.

While all involved have said that adding Selby won't hurt the chemistry of the Jayhawk backcourt there's a difference between practice and actual games, when guys start losing minutes and shots. So keep an eye on Elijah Johnson, Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed in this one. So long as the play without worrying as to when their opportunities will arise Kansas should be fine. Saturday provides quite the schedule as the last big weekend day of 2010, and Kansas State takes on Florida in the Orange Bowl Classic in a game many will keep their eye on. The Wildcats haven't played their best but they keep winning games, and Frank Martin's frontcourt will meet a physical test especially if guys such as Curtis Kelly aren't ready to go. And with so many athletic perimeter players on the floor it's important that Florida do the job defensively on Jacob Pullen. He may not be knocking down shots at his usual rate but a scorer of his caliber can go off on a moment's notice, but even if his shot isn't falling the senior will step up to make those winning plays late.

Texas and North Carolina get together in Greensboro, and while the Longhorns don't have the tandem of Damion James and Dexter Pittman this time around, Rick Barnes has a number of frontcourt players to turn to against a UNC front line that lacks depth and muscle. If John Henson and Tyler Zeller hold their own this one likely comes down to guard play, which could be an adventure since both have some serious issues currently. Gonzaga takes on Baylor in Dallas in a game the Bulldogs desperately need if they're to have any shot at an at-large berth. The Bulldogs, just like UCLA (who plays BYU in Anaheim), have played some difficult games but that does you little good in the selection room come March if you've lost them all. Elias Harris and Steven Gray will need to be big for Mark Few's team if they're to win, and another scoring option (Robert Sacre) will need to step up as well. Also making mid-season additions is Mississippi State, who adds forward Renardo Sidney (he played in their exhibition against Bellhaven the other night) and point guard Dee Bost for their matchup with Virginia Tech in a game both teams need.

Rick Stansbury loaded the schedule with games so the suspensions ran their course early but a win over the Hokies would make up for the home loss to East Tennessee State. And just as teams such as Gonzaga and UCLA have failed to take advantage of golden resume-building opportunities so have the Hokies, who need to get better play from their frontcourt as well as wing Dorenzo Hudson if they're to be a factor in the ACC. If you're looking for upset possibilities keep an eye on undefeated Cleveland State taking on West Virginia in Morgantown. Gary Waters' team has been playing some very good basketball this season and senior guard Norris Cole is one of the top players in the Horizon League. And the matchup between Iona and Syracuse should also be entertaining as two of the best forwards in America (Iona's Michael Glover and Syracuse's Rick Jackson) face off. Happy Holidays.

Top 25
2:00 PM South Carolina at (2) Ohio State (CBS)
12:00 PM USC at (3) Kansas (ESPN)
7:00 PM Iona at (5) Syracuse (ESPN3)
3:30 PM (6) Kansas State vs. (24) Florida*
7:00 PM Maryland-Eastern Shore at (8) Pittsburgh (ESPN3)
4:30 PM Gonzaga vs. (9) Baylor* (ESPN2)
10:00 PM UC Santa Barbara at (10) San Diego State
7:30 PM Delaware at (11) Villanova (ESPN3)
8:00 PM Central Arkansas at (12) Missouri (ESPN3)
12:00 PM Loyola (MD) at (13) Georgetown (ESPN3)
2:00 PM (14) Illinois vs. Illinois-Chicago* (BTN)
6:30 PM Prairie View A&M at (15) Michigan State (BTN)
8:00 PM Mississippi Valley State at (16) Kentucky (ESPN3)
4:05 PM Indiana State vs. (17) Purdue* (BTN)
5:30 PM (18) Brigham Young vs. UCLA* (FSN)
3:30 PM Gardner-Webb at (21) Louisville (ESPN3)
10:00 PM Southern Utah at (22) UNLV (The Mtn.)
4:00 PM (25) Texas vs. North Carolina* (CBS)

NCAA Division I Games
12:00 PM Arkansas State at Georgia (ESPN3)
12:00 PM Oakland at Michigan (ESPN3)
12:00 PM Belmont at Troy
12:30 PM East Carolina at Coastal Carolina
1:00 PM UCF vs. Miami (FL)*
1:00 PM Drexel at St. Francis (PA)
1:05 PM North Dakota at UMKC
2:00 PM Ohio at St. Bonaventure
2:00 PM Northern Illinois at Temple
2:00 PM New Hampshire at Rhode Island
2:00 PM Arkansas vs. Texas A&M* (ESPN2)
2:00 PM Centenary at Marquette
2:00 PM Cleveland State at West Virginia (ESPN3)
2:00 PM Loyola (IL) at DePaul (ESPN3)
2:00 PM Bethune-Cookman at Akron
2:00 PM Cornell at Binghamton
2:00 PM Stanford at Butler (CBS)
2:00 PM Fairleigh Dickinson at St. Peter's
2:00 PM Tulane at VCU
2:00 PM South Dakota State at Western Michigan
2:30 PM South Alabama at Georgia Southern
2:45 PM Long Beach State vs. Saint Mary's*
3:00 PM Asbury at Samford
3:05 PM Middle Tennessee at Evansville
4:00 PM East Tennessee State at Mississippi
4:00 PM UMBC at Morgan State
5:00 PM Cal Poly at California
5:00 PM Richmond vs. Georgia Tech*
6:00 PM Florida A&M at Georgia State
6:30 PM Alabama vs. Oklahoma State* (ESPN2)
7:00 PM James Madison at South Florida
7:00 PM Eastern Washington at Nebraska
7:00 PM Southeastern Louisiana at Vanderbilt
7:00 PM Radford at North Carolina-Wilmington
7:00 PM Mount St. Mary's at Albany
7:00 PM Robert Morris at Appalachian State
7:00 PM Detroit at Central Michigan (ESPNU)
7:00 PM Western Carolina at Dayton
7:00 PM IUPUI at Duquesne
7:00 PM Sam Houston State at Florida International
7:00 PM William & Mary at Liberty
7:00 PM Hofstra at Manhattan
7:00 PM Rutgers at Monmouth
7:00 PM Furman at North Florida
7:00 PM Florida Gulf Coast at Toledo
7:00 PM High Point at Wofford
7:00 PM Miami (OH) at Wright State
7:00 PM New Orleans at Southeastern University
7:30 PM George Washington at Oregon State
7:30 PM Northern Colorado at Denver
8:00 PM Presbyterian at Auburn
8:00 PM Wichita State at LSU
8:00 PM Virginia Tech vs. Mississippi State*
8:00 PM Bowling Green at Milwaukee
8:00 PM Houston at Texas A&M-CC
8:00 PM Eastern Kentucky at Austin Peay (ESPN3)
8:00 PM Iowa at Drake
8:00 PM Texas-Arlington at Louisiana Tech
8:00 PM Jarvis Christian at Stephen F. Austin
8:00 PM Saint Louis at Missouri State
8:00 PM IPFW at Valparaiso
8:00 PM Wake Forest at Xavier (CBSC)
8:05 PM Idaho State at Creighton (ESPN3)
8:30 PM Western Kentucky at Murray State
8:30 PM Southern Methodist at McMurry
9:00 PM Pacific at New Mexico State (ESPN3)
9:00 PM Cincinnati vs. Oklahoma* (ESPNU)
9:00 PM Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Air Force
9:00 PM Utah State at Utah Valley
9:05 PM Occidental at Cal State Fullerton
9:15 PM Kennesaw State at Lipscomb
9:35 PM Southwest at Weber State
10:00 PM San Francisco at Washington
10:00 PM North Dakota State at Fresno State
10:00 PM UC Irvine at Pepperdine
10:00 PM Texas Tech at UTEP
10:00 PM Cal State Northridge at Cal State Bakersfield
10:05 PM Montana at Idaho
10:05 PM Portland at Portland State
10:10 PM San Jose State at Seattle
11:00 PM Florida State at Loyola Marymount (ESPNU)

Other Events
Hoop Group Tip-Off Showcase (Plainfield (NJ) HS and Seton Hall University)
City of Palms Classic (Fort Meyers, FL) *.pdf file*
Randy Foye Foundation Classic (at Villanova)