The overriding theme of what I learned on night two of the 09/10 College Basketball season is that I am ready for some more evenly matched teams to play. While it was nice to begin to get reacquainted with some of the teams on opening night a few nights back, this second night was more or less drudgery to get through. At least Detroit kept things interesting in Berkeley up until the start of the second half, but all in all, another snoozer of a night in college hoops.
That being said, I did watch all three games tonight and gleaned a bit from each.
1) Robert Morris @ Syracuse
--Syracuse lost Eric Devendorf and Paul Harris early to the NBA draft in the offseason (although I suppose that phrase "to the NBA draft" is overly kind to those players, given that they never got so much as a sniff from NBA teams), and while that leaves the Orange with some uncertainty at the start of the season, it may well turn out to be the classic case of addition by subtraction. While this will not be a deep Syracuse by any stretch, this seems to be a more coherent unit than we have seen in past years.
--Robert Morris got dominated inside. Too small of a sample size to determine if that is due to the strength of the Syracuse big guys or the weakness of the Robert Morris players, but the fact remains. Early guess? Strong Orange frontcourt, and the Colonials should be fine when they match up with teams in their own relative talent range.
2) North Carolina Central @ North Carolina
--I'll admit I couldn't bring myself to be overly interested in this game, beyond the first 6-8 minutes or so while Central kept things tight. I'm very interested to see UNC play OSU next week in order to get a good glimpse at this young Tar Heel team against some quality competition.
--Could the freshman guards on UNC (Strickland and McDonald) be the keys to the season for the Tar Heel? In early looks this week, both look to be capable scorers who could improve drastically over the season. However, both are inconsistent this early in the season.
3) Detroit @ California
--I'll get this out of the way early: do the announcers really need to say Bak Bak every time that guy touches the ball? I thought there were chickens loose in Haas Pavilion. Perhaps you could just use one of the Baks? (And this reminds me: my god there was some bad announcing tonight and even Monday. Perhaps I'm spoiled having grown up listening to Chick Hearn announce basketball games, but please, if the game is going on, tell me about what is happening, even if I am watching it. I'm not particularly familiar with North Carolina Central or Detroit, even if I do have their names and numbers nearby. Don't make me look down at my notes to figure out who just shot that ball or who just made that steal. You're the freaking announcer, you tell me. Now, things will get slightly better as the season goes on, but at the same time, once I have to start listening to Vitale again, things will get worse. Can't wait for that point in the season when I am watching games between two teams who I know well and can just watch the game with the sound off and not feel like I am missing any information that the announcers should, even if they don't, provide).
--Okay, with my first rant of the new season out of the way, onto the game. I'll start with Detroit, since this will be one of a very few (if not the only time) I see them this year. I like that Woody Payne kid. That guy has got to be your starting point guard Coach McCallum. Sure, he doesn't provide an outside threat, but he is a pest defensively and runs the show nicely offensively.
--Cal has athletic wings and if they get into a run and gun game, they will be tough. However, if teams are able to slow things down against the Bears, it looks like they will be a live-by-the-three/die-by-the-three half-court offense. That is not the way championship teams are made. That being said, I may just buy another TiVo and set it up right now to record the two Washington/Cal games this season. Those will be fun.