The big word last night was “stunned”, as in I’m “stunned” that more people are making such a big deal out of this “upset”. No. 11 Xavier was unseated in the Preseason NIT Quarterfinals by Stanford. By one. At Stanford. A day after flying cross-country. So you can see that being stunned (to daze or render senseless), isn’t quite the right phrase. The kids from Xavier played well, and actually rallied to make it close (the final was 63-62) after being down by nine at intermission.
Give credit to a disciplined Stanford team, who overcame the loss of two first-round draft picks from last year’s decent, but certainly not outstanding, squad. The Musketeers’ Romain Sato had a 15/10 double-double, and 2003 Lottery Pick David West had a 19/8 split. Perhaps Xavier was travel weary, having played Monday night and forced to travel cross-country on Tuesday. Perhaps Xavier was plain unlucky that their last bucket was a two instead of a three to tie. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.
Stanford’s Julius Barnes made two free throws with 30 seconds left to give the Cardinal a three-point advantage. When the clock struck zero, the fans rushed the court – which is interesting for two reasons. First, Adam Shandler wrote a great column on crowd control – look for it a few inches to the right – there you go. And also this weekend is the 20th anniversary of The Play – the Stanford-Cal matchup that was a cautionary tale for rushing the field/floor/(ice?).
So now Stanford, after two wins with a total margin of 5 points, moves on to the Preseason NIT Semifinals next Wednesday against the Eastern Illinois/Florida winner. Xavier cashes in some frequent flier miles, and prepares for Sunday’s game against Florida A&M, with an eye towards the December 7th showdown at crosstown rival Cincinnati.
Told You So, Almost: Well, New Jersey’s team, the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers, certainly made it interesting on the ol’ UNC bandwagoneers. Rutgers was up by three at the break, but poor clock management hamstrung the Knights as the clock wound down with no time outs. Another stellar effort was logged by freshman Rashad McCants, who had 4 buckets in the final stretch drive as UNC pulled off a 23-8 run to win 71-67. No word yet on the Converse commercial for McCants, as mentioned yesterday.
Memphis Tryouts Starting: With Antonio Burks still sitting out from Avis-gate, Memphis was dealt another blow when it was discovered that freshman guard Jeremy Hunt will be out until the New Year with a stress fracture in his foot, requiring surgery and a pin. Hunt had dialed in a 19/7/7 effort against Syracuse last week. With four additional players off the squad this week (1 injury, 1 family matter, 2 suspensions), the Tigers are going to have only two reserves for this weekend’s game against Austin Peay. Just like the Hickory Huskers.
Getting Worse: No one knows, but it can’t be good. The NCAA has now said that it “erroneously declared center Mario Austin eligible to play as a freshman”. Which would be fine, as he’s sitting out. But he’s a junior. So there could be some serious problems in Starkville, the worst of which would be forfeiting every game he’s played in, even with the NCAA making this mistake. Given the way things have been coming out of NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis, they’ll probably get the death penalty.
Gift Idea for the Holidays: Books are always good gifts, for they can be re-gifted after they’ve been read, so long as you’re careful with your Harry and David’s Moose Munch. However a new tome has been released that you just might want to keep around – “Bravehearts: The Against-All-Odds Rise of Gonzaga Basketball”. Since I have not reviewed it, I won’t add it to the Hoopville bookshelf, but the nuggets mentioned on the wire about it made it seem interesting.
• The Preseason NIT continues with a Second-Round matchup of Eastern Illinois against No. 6 Florida
• The Paradise Jam gets underway in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. BYU, Kansas State, Michigan, St. Bonaventure, Toledo, and Virginia Tech plan on having fun in the sun.
• The Top of the World Classic gets going late tonight as Wisconsin-Green Bay faces host Alaska-Fairbanks in one of the few places colder than Green Bay this time of year. Nebraska faces Centenary afterwards.
That’s it for this Thursday. Enjoy!