Friday, November 12, 2010

Coaches vs Cancer Recaps

The college basketball season opened up the regular season this week with eight games over three days in Coaches vs Cancer. Three of them stood out for me:

#4 Pittsburgh 83, Rhode Island 75
This game said a lot more about Rhode Island than Pitt. Pitt was playing without the injured Nasir Robinson, but despite that they played well. Ashton Gibbs and Brad Wanamaker form a good and experienced backcourt, and they showed up big here (a combined 46 points on 15-for-28 shooting), and they got a breakout performance from redshirt freshman Talib Zanna (9 points and 11 rebounds in 20 minutes played). The reason this game was close was that Rhode Island looked very good. Delroy James is one of the most talented players in the Atlantic Ten, and he played out of his mind with 5-for-10 shooting behind the arc. And Akeem Richmond looks like a potential breakout A-10 star with his sharp shooting. He shot 38.8% from behind the arc as a freshman last season, but he did it in limited minutes compared to what he'll get this season. One piece of bad news for Rhode Island was an injury to freshman Levan Shengalia, who suffered a torn ACL and torn mieniscus in his right knee. He'll surely get this season back with a redshirt, but he was expected to add a lot of toughness in the paint this season. He will definitely be missed.

Maryland 75, College of Charleston 74
This game will be a very bad missed chance for the College of Charleston. The fact is that other than Maryland's incomprehensible 5-for-18 free throwing shooting, the Terps actually played well in this game. They did a really good job of getting the ball in the paint and taking high percentage shots. Jordan Williams has really improved, and he will be one of the best interior players in the ACC. And freshman Pe'Shon Howard had a tremendous game, and showed clutch ability far beyond his age. Considering how wide open the ACC is after Duke at the top, Maryland is certainly in the mix for one of the top spots. As for College of Charleston, their strength in this game is a testament to the strength that the Southern Conference is going to have all season (I just spoke about this a couple of weeks ago here). As good as the SoCon will be, it's still very unlikely that the conference will earn an at-large bid, so it's not like this loss is going to burst any expectations of an at-large bid for Charleston, but a win here would have given some nice national credibility to the conference, and given Charleston themselves some additional conference in their fight for the conference title.

#25 Texas 89, Louisiana Tech 58
I already talked a little bit about this game here. I was actually a bit disappointed in both of these teams, which just seemed to be playing one-on-one streetball against each other. I expect that type of offense from a Rick Barnes coached team - it's always been his achilles heel as a coach - but it was a little surprising seeing it from a well coached Louisiana Tech team. To be fair to Louisiana Tech, they have a ton of new players that still have to learn the system, and the youngest ones were probably a bit overwhelmed by the program and crowd that they were facing. With the game collapsing into streetball, there was no chance of anything but a Texas romp - the raw talent differential between these two squads is massive. Superfrosh Tristan Thompson did look good, but the shining light (as usual) was Dogus Balbay. In limited minutes he played very efficiently, and he was the one player on the floor organizing the offense and forming a coherent Longhorns attack, and he already looks sharp defensively. The fact that people continue to debate who should be starting at point guard for Texas, particularly after J'Covan Brown seems to have regressed in the offseason, is bizarre to me.

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