Tourneys, Tourneys, Oh My Stars!
by Adam Shandler
Seems like the college hoops season starts earlier and earlier every year. Pretty soon, you’re going to have to bring your kids back just a little earlier from trick or treating just to see that first game. This Thursday, November 14, the 2002-03 season tips off with the Coaches Versus Cancer Classic at Madison Square Garden. Here’s what you can expect from the first two nights of action, plus a peek into some of the more hyped-up contests in November.
Coaches Versus Cancer
November 14, 7 PM ET
Syracuse versus Memphis
Our first look at super-frosh Carmelo Anthony, one of the nation’s Top 5 recruits. He’s expected to fill the gap left by Preston Shumpert. Anthony will most probably match up with another rookie, Memphis’s Rodney Carney. Carney was all-Indiana in high school. Anthony is all-that. We’ll see if the Tigers can be a competitive ballclub without Dejuan Wagner.
November 14, second game
Oklahoma versus Alabama
The Sooners, ranked in the Top 3 in many polls, look to show that they have what it takes to return to the Final Four. The Erwin Dudley-Jabhari Brown matchup won’t be Russell-Chamberlain, but it could be a showcase of two of the best centers in the college game. These are two experienced teams that return all but one major player.
November 15, 6:30 PM ET
Villanova versus Marquette
Everyone wants to know if McDonald’s All-America Jason Fraser is the best thing since Grimace. (FYI–Grimace was a punk. Big purple whatevers are soft in the paint.) Fraser’s just the tip of the iceberg regarding Jay Wright’s recruiting class. Wright brought in five new players, a veritable who’s-who of basketball players’ relatives. Each might see time in this early season game. Marquette is scattered about in many Top 25 polls, but they have their critics. Sophomore Travis Diener might be out of his element as a starting point guard but should show the leadership expected of him over the course of the game.
November 15, second game
Texas versus Georgia
A game that rings of the same competitive bells as Oklahoma-Alabama. The Longhorns’ three guard tandem of TJ Ford, Royal Ivey and Brandon Mouton make up one of the most potent backcourts in the game. But Georgia hasn’t lost a productive player either and, if not contained, will use their high-flying offense to get out to a big, early lead. The Bulldogs’ Ezra Williams can guard anybody, so you’ll see him square up on all of Texas’s guards comfortably.
Other Tournaments To Make Your November More Enjoyable
The Preseason NIT, November 18-29
Top 25ers Xavier, Florida and disputed number one Kansas highlight a slate that features 2002 NCAA tourney participants Boston U. and Holy Cross. Are the Crusaders ready to give KU another scare? The two meet in Lawrence on November 19.
Guardians Classic, November 17-26
A Creighton-Notre Dame final (both schools are opening round hosts) is what fans should expect from this tourney. Kyle Korver and Creighton want to prove that their Sweet 16 appearance was no fluke. Notre Dame, second in the Big East in scoring last year, will give them that test. Brown is the dark horse of this tourney, which culminates in Kansas City’s Municipal Auditorium.
Maui Classic, November 25-27
Host school Chaminade continues their role as Glutton for Punishment. Indiana, Kentucky and Gonzaga, come on down.
The Great Alaska Shootout, November 27-30
As if East Lansing wasn’t cold enough at this time of year. Michigan State, Oklahoma State, and tourney team Wyoming visit Anchorage. Villanova makes another big tournament appearance.