Monday, October 15, 2007

New Season Update

Midnight Madness has come and gone and a new season is upon us. I wasn't going to write too much until the games actually got started, but I feel compelled to say something. The traffic is already starting to pick up (no more of those 25 visitor days from the summer), so it would be lame if I didn't offer you anything other than 6 month old conference previews. So, a few news items from around the country:

ESPN's ShootAround Archive
Many of you have probably seen this already, but it's a great set of previews for every conference. The "Blue Ribbon" previews by team are only for ESPN Insider's, but this preview is free for all.

Kelvin Sampson Not Learning Any Lessons
After all of his previous rule-breaking in regards to making too many recruiting phone calls, you'd think Sampson would be the world's expert on phone call rules. There's no way he'd break the same rules again... would he? Yep. So Indiana loses a scholarship for a year, an assistant joins Sampson on the Cannot Call List, and the NCAA investigates to see if they want to go further. Sports columnists in Indiana are already calling for Sampson to be fired, and for an entire house-cleaning in Bloomington. Now we all know that no top program is going to be perfect, but there's something to be said for Indiana's disastrous basketball program over the last few years. Bob Knight may have been rough on his kids, but he would never have broken any recruiting rules. He ran a clean ship and kept his kids on the up-and-up. The University of Indiana basketball program has always had a great image. They can clean house and fire everyone involved, and still hire a new premier coach and get a bunch of great recruits. It will mean a couple of down years, but it might be worth it. Indiana will be a good team this year, but will a good year or two be worth so much bad press and damage to their reputation?

Georgia Loses Three to Suspensions
Bad news for Georgia fans. The biggest loss here is starting forward Takais Brown. This team was already going to struggle in a talented SEC, where I predicted them to finish 10th. Even if these players return for conference play, a bad out-of-conference stretch could doom any hopes the Bulldogs had at an at-large bid.

Heytfelt Finds a New Reason Not to Play
This looks like a minor injury, so it shouldn't affect the Gonzaga season too much. Heytfelt is a talented kid with NBA written all over him, but he's going to have to play a complete solid season to have a shot at fulfilling his potential.

Juan Palacios Possibly Out for Season
This could be a devastating injury for a Louisville team that has to be entering this season thinking Final Four. According to the article, Pitino says he'll redshirt Palacios if the injury will be for two months or more, but I'm sure that's just a suggestion. If Pitino thinks that Palacios can return and be an important part of conference play, it's hard to imagine Pitino will waste one of his stars on a team that is probably better than his '05 Final Four team. Especially if Kentucky starts playing well again.

OJ Mayo. OJ Mayo. OJ Mayo.
Get used to it. And it wouldn't be an OJ Mayo article without a quick reference to Kevin Love. The dualism between Mayo/Love, black/white, selfish/team player, et cetera is going to be the dominant story of this season. The over/under on Outside the Lines episodes related to this is 5.5. The only reason there will be less is if something big happens on the Title IX or too few blacks in baseball front. The bigger question in my mind is how the rest of each team will fair. It seems to me that UCLA has a better set of returning starters and overall talent, as well as the superior coach. UCLA will surely be an elite team, and USC will have to find a way to be one also if OJ Mayo is really going to dominate national headlines like Durant and Oden from a year before.

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