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, 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.