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The Morning Dish – Sunday, November 12, 2017

November 12, 2017 The Morning Dish No Comments

If Friday’s open of the college basketball season was a celebration (even if a somewhat unsatisfying one, with its smorgasbord of lousy guarantee games and non-Division I opponents), then Saturday must’ve been the hangover.

At the least, the second day of the season was once again a reality check. A reminder of not only how poorly college hoops starts its year, but also how a current attempt to address it gets it all wrong.

As was mentioned this past spring and summer, there’s a movement in college basketball looking seriously at starting the season even earlier than it already does. As if opening barely 10 days after Halloween isn’t already early enough.

For some reason, though, some have posited that Friday is the real problem with college basketball’s open, and it would just be better if it was moved to, say, Tuesday. You know, the same night attention-starved leagues like the MAC and Sun Belt stage football games, wearing their very best uniforms to confuse you about exactly what the schools’ colors actually are.

An earlier start does zilch to address the ridiculous number of buy games and schools hosting lower-level competition. Moreoever, it deflects from a real issue to the start of the season: namely, that it arrives too soon.

Take a look at Saturday’s schedule. The premier game of the day coming in-and the only one on national television-was Notre Dame at DePaul, a contest more noteworthy for nostalgia of a once-thriving rivalry and for the Blue Demons opening their new home arena, than for being two quality teams. (Not surprisingly, the Fighting Irish spoiled DePaul’s opener, with Bonzie Colson going to work for 18 points and 13 boards).

The actual best matchup might’ve been Illinois State at Florida Gulf Coast, and those two put on a high-scoring show with the Eagles outlasting the Redbirds 98-87. A third notable game? Maybe Saint Joseph’s/Toledo? (The Rockets also won 98-87 with Jaelan Sanford’s career-high 31) Maybe?

(We know which one it wasn’t-Appalachian State’s 135-34 win over Toccoa Falls, that is more of an embarrassment than anything else, even if such games are the trickle-down product of the sport’s environment of buy games.)

Of course, the reason for the light schedule is college football. Put simply, schools have little desire to go up against it. And that’s exactly why college basketball-as we’ve suggested before-should be moving its open to the day after Thanksgiving.

By that time, many college football schedules will be finished, or very close to it. Tourney basketball has long had an association with Thanksgiving, at the college and high school levels. Shoot-Turkey Day weekend used to be college basketball’s traditional start.

If the sport is looking to create some kind of buzz around its early season, playing on Saturday in early November isn’t going to do it. Playing on a Tuesday certainly won’t do it. Playing Toccoa Falls might do so, but not in a good way. Certainly there are better ways for college basketball to put forth a better early-season product than these.

Side Dishes:

  • Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski picked up his 1,000th career win as the Blue Devils pulled away from Utah Valley to win 99-69. Marvin Bagley starred with 24 points and 10 rebounds and Trevon Duval added 15 points and 12 assists.
  • Saint Mary’s started off with a solid 85-68 win over St. Francis (Pa.), one of the presumed favorites in the Northeast Conference. Calvin Hermanson’s 24 points led a typically smooth offensive performance for the Gaels, who shot 53.8%. Also: 24 points from the bench is a good sign for SMC.
  • Michigan pulled away late to defeat North Florida 86-66 in a game much closer than the final score. The Ospreys were playing for the second time in two nights, having lost at Michigan State barely 24 hours earlier.
  • Texas-Arlington got a battle before finally putting away Loyola Marymount 88-80. Kevin Hervey is already off to a great start-28 points.
  • Road wins are valuable no matter the opponent, especially this early in the year. On that note, a salute to Stephen F. Austin for a decisive 74-61 win at Longwood.
  • Another Big West team getting off to a good start is UC Santa Barbara, which handled North Dakota State 85-68. Max Heidegger was shameless, scoring 33 points and hitting eight three-pointers in a terrific showing. Five Big West teams have won their openers, a good (very) early sign for the league.
  • Finally, in a city rivalry out West, Portland State scored the final 12 points of the game to stun Portland 80-75, a good win for the Big Sky Conference, which also has had a solid first couple days.

Today’s Menu: Busier again.

  • The day starts with Patrick Ewing making his debut as the coach at his alma mater, as Georgetown hosts Jacksonville.
  • A more intriguing game involving a Big East team tips 90 minutes after that one, with Monmouth-coming off a satisfying last-second win over Bucknell-getting a crack at Seton Hall (1:30 p.m. Eastern, FS1).
  • Speaking of Bucknell, the Bison are on the road again to face Arkansas (6 p.m., SEC Network), which was very impressive in destroying a presumably very good Samford team in its opener.
  • David Padgett debuts as Louisville coach with what could be a tricky game against George Mason if the Cardinals aren’t at attention.
  • After a shaky start in its opener in which Utah Valley was a handful, Kentucky gets to face an even more experienced and better (albeit much shorter) team when it hosts Vermont (3:30 p.m., ESPN).
  • It’s a big day for the Ivy League with arguably its top three contenders with chances for name wins. Harvard gets to host Massachusetts, Yale is at Wisconsin (6 p.m., Big Ten Network) and Princeton goes to Butler (6 p.m., CBSSN).
  • Empowered with one win over an ACC school already, Navy takes a shot at a second when it faces Miami (Fla.).
  • Tennessee-Martin-which let a big lead slip away in an overtime loss to Marshall in its opener-now goes to Illinois, which already lost to an OVC team (Eastern Illinois) in an exhibition.
  • Coming off its ugly season-opening loss to UC Riverside, California faces another second-division Big West team in Cal Poly.
  • Texas Southern hits leg two of its 43-day, 13-game road trip to start the season, taking on Washington State.
  • Eastern Washington tries for an in-state statement win when it goes to Washington.
  • Fresh off a 41-point masterpiece in his team’s opener, Geno Crandall takes North Dakota into a meeting with Hawaii on the road.

Enjoy your Sunday.


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