First off, basketball is back! A full slate of games last evening was thoroughly enjoyed by all.
Well, except for Memphis. If you haven’t been following, Memphis was a few players shy of a full squad for their season-opening 81-80 OT loss to Austin Peay. The Tigers had Antonio Burks sitting out from Avis-gate, freshman guard Jeremy Hunt was out with a stress fracture in his foot, and four additional players off the squad this week (1 injury, 1 family matter, 2 suspensions). So John Calipari pulled a “Hoosiers” and said “My team’s on the floor.” That team apparently included a former team manager, a basketball office worker, and a redshirt quarterback from the Tiger football team.
It was this special blend of talent that got taken to OT by the Austin Peay Governors, who clearly came to play. Guvnuh Corey Gipson scored 19 points, 15 of which came from the arc, and Rhet Wierzba, Josh Lewis, and Anthony Davis all scored in double digits, and Wierzba registered the put-back that sent the game to OT.
The Tigers were led by Earl Barron (26 points), John Grice (18) and Anthony Rice (a 15/10 split). Barron scored seven of his digits in the overtime. The Coach Calipari and the shorthanded Tigers will be sure to include the NCAA on their Christmas list.
Saturday Special – our Discipline Buffet
Buffalo Stance: An expected contributor to the Colorado backcourt has been ordered to stand trial on burglary and unwanted sexual advance charges. James “Mookie” Wright, a senior, allegedly let himself into a sleeping freshman woman’s room and crawled into bed with her. He can still practice with the squad, but Coach Ricardo Patton suspended the Big 12’s 5th-leading assists man from competition. The Buffs now enjoy that awkward waiting period that’s sure to improve team chemistry.
Someone Call Majestic Mapp: Due primarily to the lack of a map, and administrative oversight, four Jacksonville Dolphin hoopsters will at least the first two games this season. It all has to do with those darn sanctioned summer leagues. Stay with me here. The NCAA won’t let players play in anything but sanctioned summer league. The NCAA won’t let players play in summer leagues more than 100 miles from school. The closest sanctioned summer league to Jacksonville is in Tallahassee, 150-plus miles away. See the problem yet? Here’s the kicker – no one played in Tallahassee anyway. The Dolphin Four, guards David Lee and Riley Didion, and forwards Antwan Robertson and Calvin Warner, played in sanctioned leagues in Philadelphia and Atlanta, and a non-sanctioned one in Wisconsin. The cartographically-challenged are awaiting an appeal with the NCAA on Monday, otherwise they could be out up to seven games.
Mountaineer Volunteers? West Virginia just can’t keep them on the farm. Back in April, the Mountaineers lost two players, centers Alex Chan and Chris Garnett, following the hiring of head coach John Beilein. Jabbar Young, a signed recruit, was let out of his national letter of intent. Earlier this year, guards Tim Lyles and Jonathan Hargett were booted off the team, Hargett because of an investigation into his amateur status, and Lyles for violating team rules. Now on the eve of West Virginia’s season opener, two more depart the squad – this time voluntarily. Projected starting guard Jay Hewitt has taken a leave of absence, and Tobias Seldon quit the team. This leaves WVU with only one experienced guard, sophomore Drew Schifino. Good luck, Coach Beilein!
Jayhawks Roll: Kansas advances to the NIT Semifinal next week against North Carolina by cruising to a 105-66 win over UNC-Greensboro last night. It was one of those personal-stats nights, as Nick Collison (25 points), Keith Langford (24), Kirk Hinrich (23), and Wayne Simien (18) all breathed easy against the Spartans. The night wasn’t without fireworks from the UNCG side, however, as Jay Joseph tallied 27 points, including sinking his first 9 field goal attempts. Next closest Spartan, however, was James Maye, with 9 points.
• All the ranked teams won last night, with Gonzaga having the closest shave, winning 69-61 over the always dangerous Hofstra Pride.
• New Arkansas head coach Stan Heath won his first game as a Razorback, toppling Jackson State 81-44.
• The battle of Loyolas ended up with Loyola winning. (See Johnny Camponera’s skit on the CFL – a radio announcer in the Roughrider-Rough Rider matchup). Loyola-Marymount defeated Loyola-Chicago 85-79. No word on whether Loyola-Maryland has the winner.
• LSU defeated Nicholls State 68-24 in the opener of the Hispanic College Fund Classic. The Colonels notched 12 in each half, made only 10 field goals, shot 21% from the field, including 16% in the second half. Anthony Wilcher led the Colonels with 7 points and 4 boards. Every player on LSU’s bench saw playing time. Nicholls State faces Southern in the consolation game. LSU will meet South Alabama on Sunday.
• No. 1 Arizona opens the season with a ranked challenger – 21st-ranked Western Kentucky, also the Hilltoppers’ opener, at Arizona.
• The Black Knights of the Hudson (that would be Army) head down to Cameron Indoor, as Coach K and No. 7 Duke extend a nice gesture to his alma mater in their opener.
• No. 14 Mississippi State gets the season underway with Mario Austin still ineligible against Louisiana Lafayette.
• Other ranked squads starting the season include No. 4 Pittsburgh, No. 12 Connecticut, and No. 23 Cincinnati.
That’s it for Saturday. Enjoy!