Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tuesday Morning Update

Virginia 90, Vermont 72
I have been skeptical at how Virginia could play without one half of its dynamic duo. As I said in my ACC preview, they could be a Sean Singletary injury away from last place in the ACC. But I was impressed at how a few of the second tier players from last year's team stepped up and had good performances against a decent Vermont team. Adrian Joseph profited from some Singletary assists for 19 points and 6 boards. Mamadi Diane went for 10 and 8. One thing to wonder about is that lack of freshman production, as only one (Jeff Jones) got anything but garbage minutes. Still, if so many of their returning players improved over the offseason, Virgina could be a pretty good team this season. Don't count them out in this year's at-large battle.

Northern Iowa 75, UMass 68
Yet another good win for Northern Iowa. They had homefield advantage for this BTI Tip Off Tournament, but had to play three pretty good teams. Northern Illinois and Cal Poly are decent teams, though nothing for a Missouri Valley team to write home about. But UMass is a pretty good team this year, and UNI dealt with them pretty handily. The star of the show was Eric Coleman, a 6'6" inside man for the Panthers. He concluded a solid tournament with a 21 and 13 on 8-for-10 shooting from the field.

#8 Indiana 99, Chattanooga 79

Yet another in a line of star freshmen with a huge day on opening night. Now, some of these freshmen haven't really earned the hype so far, because some are just taking all the shots. OJ Mayo obviously thought he was still in high school, taking nearly half of his team's shots. We'll see if Tim Floyd can get him under control, because he does have some very talented teammates. Eric Gordon, on the other hand, was simply spectacular. Not many freshmen have their names chanted by the home crowd on opening night, but Gordon deserved it. He scored 33 points, but only on 15 shots from the field. He was a remarkable 7-for-11 from beyond the arc, with a very smooth-looking shot. There have been a lot of impressive freshmen in the early start of the season, but Gordon and Kevin Love have looked the most impressive. We'll see how that holds up as these guys play more games.

#10 Duke 86, New Mexico State 61

An impressive start for the Blue Devils, who look a lot better than last year. This team was really devoid of playmakers last year, and this year they suddenly have too many. DeMarcus Nelson was good as usual, and there was also improved play for Greg Paulus and Gerald Henderson. With a good opener from Kyle Singler, and 22 points from Jon Scheyer off the bench, they almost have too many good players. You also saw hints that Brian Zoubek could be a good player on the inside, especially as a large presence on the defensive end. New Mexico State looked pretty good in front of the Cameron Crazies, but they were no match for Coach K's latest ACC powerhouse. The defense was great last year, but now they have the offense to match it.

Syracuse 97, Siena 89
A decent opener for the Orangemen. Yet another big freshman performance, this one from Syracuse's Jonny Flynn. He was simply on fire from downtown, shooting 6-for-7. In all, a Syracuse freshman premier record of 28 points. Certainly, that was the good news for Syracuse. The bad news was a swiss cheese defense that allowed 89 points to Siena. It's still early in the season, we'll see how things improve. I still think Syracuse will be a very good and motivated team this season.

Ohio State 91, Wisconsin-Green Bay 68
A good start for the Buckeyes, with solid performances all around. Everybody knew that Jamar Butler (17 points and 10 assists) and Othello Hunter would be stars, but David Lighty clearly looks like he's made the leap as well. After spending most of last year on the bench, he erupted for 21 points and 8 boards, and looks extremely athletic and energetic. In addition, Greek 7-footer Kosta Koufos welcomed himself to Columbus with 18 points in 18 minutes, doing a good job of filling Greg Oden's very large shoes. He's not the overall athlete or player that Greg Oden was, of course, but he is more polished on the offensive end. He had a few good post moves, and was clearly too much for the undersized Phoenix. There aren't a lot of big, defensive post players in the Big 10 this year, so Koufos could be a powerful offensive force even during conference play.

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