Tuesday, November 10, 2009

College Basketball: Opening Night 09/10

Hi. My name is Andrew. And I'm a college hoops junkie.

I know I'm a junkie, because I know that tonight is the start of the college basketball season and I have actually been looking forward (for weeks even) to such luminous matchups as Florida International at North Carolina, Alcorn State at Ohio State, Albany at Syracuse and Murray State at Cal. Games only a junkie could love.

And yet, I rushed home from work, made myself a quick dinner, poured a beer (okay, three) and took in bits and pieces of those four games. I watched the first three games on that list as long as they were competitive (longer than expected in the UNC, not long at all in the OSU game, and just about as much as expected in the Syracuse game), then thoroughly enjoyed the nightcap as Murray State kept within striking distance throughout against the Golden Bears.

One thing I like to do after watching a game is to figure out what exactly I learned from the game, even if (or maybe especially if) it can be summed up in a sentence or two. And so, without further waste of pixels, my first edition of What I Learned, College Basketball 09/10:

1) FIU @ UNC
--The question for the Tar Heels this season is where they are going to get their scoring from. If there are two minutes left and the game is tied, who is going to be their go-to guy. That question was not answered tonight, and likely will not be answered until the visit Madison Square Garden for the final of the CBE Classic "tournament" they began tonight.
--Larry Drew II is considered a question mark in replacing Ty Lawson. I've counted him as a capable replacement, and he is off to a good start.
--Powerful front line for the Tar Heels, but are there any consistent offensive threats there? Davis looks a little clumsy with the ball, and Thompson lacks explosiveness, but there is a long season ahead for them to improve and show themselves worthy.

2) Alcorn State @ Ohio State
--Having Evan Turner run the point for the Buckeyes seems somewhat risky, but given that the team features several good ballhandlers on the perimeter, the plan could work even if Turner is not a prototypical point. Turner showed tonight that he was able to initiate offense when necessary, without allowing those duties to take away from his aggressiveness and athleticism.

3) Albany @ Syracuse
--LeMoyne was an aberration. This is a good Syracuse team. Good. Not great. Wesley Johnson is able to take up some of the slack for the offensive production that has moved on, Jackson and Onuaku provide a strong inside punch and Kris Joseph looked excellent off the bench.
--The combination of freshman starting point guard Brandon Triche and junior backup point Scoop Jardine will not match the output of departed point Jonny Flynn, but they form a solid duo at the point.
--Andy Rautins turned an ankle at some point tonight. I didn't see if he returned or not. Hope he's okay.

4) Murray State @ Cal
--Far and away, the best game of the night.
--Murray State is going to make some waves in the OVC. Good forwards in strong small forward Danero Thomas and the effective, athletic sophomore Ivan Aska, coupled with some playmakers in the backcourt (junior B.J. Jenkins, freshman Isaiah Canaan).
--Cal is going to need consistent production from senior Jamal Boykin and JuCo transfer Markuri Sanders-Frison. Boykin looked very good tonight.
--Cal’s good, and there are a lot of things I like about them (strength at the wing like Robertson and Christopher, guts in Gutierrez and flash and dash in Randle), but I don’t think they are strong enough inside, nor good enough defensively to be a real contender in March.

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