College basketball season has begun. Life is good.
Unfortunately, though, it didn’t take long for something bad to happen. In VCU’s 85-69 win over Tennessee in the first game of the Veterans Classic in Annapolis, a scary moment came almost 12 minutes into the game. VCU guard JeQuan Lewis went for a rebound and collided with Tennessee big man Dominic Woodson, who is not a little guy at 6’10” and close to 300 pounds. Lewis slammed his head onto the court, and it could be heard pretty well.
I didn’t see it live, as I was covering another game at the time, but it was all over Twitter when it happened. The sense I got from what I read was not good, and I wondered if I was going to be horrified later when I saw any footage that might be available of the incident and/or the aftermath.
Lewis was out cold at first, but when he came to it was a scary scene. He appeared to suffer a seizure right on the court. Gary Parrish of CBS Sports, who was covering the game, described it: “His eyes rolled back into his head. His body seemed to convulse briefly.” Looking at some video, it’s amazing that Lewis eventually returned to the bench, even though he did not return to the game.
Nowadays, we know more about concussions and head injuries as a whole, and are naturally very sensitive about it. Seeing something like this only reinforces that.
Lewis was diagnosed with a concussion. We will surely find out more about his condition later, in the event that there is anything more to it. Let’s put basketball aside and hope Lewis, the Rams’ starting point guard, is ultimately okay and hasn’t sustained a life-altering injury.
There were a number of ugly scores on Friday, as often happens to start the season. But a few close calls and surprises resulted, too.
- Defending national champion Connecticut got a good battle from Bryant before pulling away for a 66-53 win behind 24 points from Ryan Boatright.
- A double-double from big man Alan Williams helped UC Santa Barbara give Kansas all they could handle before succumbing 69-59.
- Villanova needed to rally past Lehigh 77-66.
- Michigan State had to hold off Navy 64-59 in the second game of the Veterans Classic.
- In an indication that Bruce Pearl’s first year at Auburn won’t be easy, Milwaukee gave the Tigers all they could handle, even leading by double digits in the second half, before the Tigers won 83-73.
- Fairleigh Dickinson beat Saint Joseph’s 58-57.
- UMKC beat Missouri 69-61.
- And in the stunner of the day, Charleston Southern beat Ole Miss 66-65 in overtime on a stickback dunk at the buzzer.
A game that got a big build-up because of the coaches went about as expected. With Rick Pitino coaching Louisville and son Richard on the opposing bench for Minnesota, the Cardinals won 81-68 in the Armed Forces Classic behind 30 points and seven rebounds from Montrezl Harrell.
What might have been the most entertaining game of the day was BYU holding off Long Beach State 95-90.
The marathon game of the day was the middle game of the Connecticut 6 Classic. Yale and Quinnipiac needed two overtimes before Quinnipiac prevailed 89-85. Zaid Hearst had a huge game for the Bobcats with 34 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.
And as a mere footnote, Eastern Washington won the first game of the season, blowing out Texas Southern 86-62.
Pittsburgh suspended Durand Johnson for the entire season, without giving a reason. The Panthers figured to count on Johnson for a significant contribution after a torn ACL ended his 2013-14 season in January.
Iowa extended head coach Fran McCaffery’s contract through 2019-20. He led the Hawkeyes to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in eight years in March.
The NCAA announced several future Final Four host cities on Friday. Phoenix will host in 2017, followed by San Antonio (2018), Minneapolis (2019), Atlanta (2020) and Indianapolis (2021). They will announce the sites for earlier rounds of future tournaments on Monday.
The second day of the season is a bit lighter than the first, with just 41 Division I games on tap after 157 on Friday. Here are some notable ones.
- Florida State hosts Manhattan in a game that is part of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off.
- Fairfield will be among the first Division I teams to play two games, as they follow up Friday’s win over Central Connecticut State with a matchup at Duke this evening in a game that is part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.
- Providence hosts America East contender Albany in the season opener for both.
- Tulsa heads across town to take on Oral Roberts in the PSO Mayor’s Cup game.
- The LMU Classic continues with a doubleheader that starts with Southeast Missouri State taking on San Diego, then finishes with Boise State taking on host Loyola Marymount.