You've probably heard that new Texas A&M Coach Billy Kennedy has been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease and is taking a leave of absence. I don't have much to add, because it would be callous to talk about the basketball implications at the moment. I'm sure we all wish Kennedy and his family the best, and it's terrible that he might never be a head coach again. The team should be in solid hands with Glynn Cyprien, a long time assistant under a number of good coaches. It will be interesting to see how the team responds mentally. Their first real test will be November 17th against Mississippi State in Madison Square Garden as part of Coaches vs Cancer.
Maryland's Pe'Shon Howard will be out for up to three months with a broken foot. I'm not sure what to make of Howard, honestly. If you recall, he opened up last season with a bang when as a true freshman he absolutely took over a game against College of Charleston in a Coaches vs Cancer game. But after that? He really didn't do much the rest of the season. He finished with 5.4 points per game with a 50.4 eFG%. By the end of the year it was Terrell Stoglin who was the hope of the future as Maryland enters the post-Jordan Williams era.
Maybe Pe'Shon Howard needed to figure out something mentally and is going to be one of the top players in the ACC this season. But if he is, he isn't going to have the non-conference slate to work the kinks out. Maryland will begin ACC play before Howard comes back. I already thought this was going to be a re-building season for Maryland, and this certainly doesn't help.
Vanderbilt's Festus Ezeli is out six-to-eight weeks with a sprained knee. This is a situation that could have real long term implications. Remember that this is probably the most hyped that any Vanderbilt team has ever been preseason. They have been picked by some to be the SEC favorite and to be a true Final Four contender. I've got them third in the SEC, and a borderline 3/4 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Vandy has a tough non-conference schedule, and Ezeli will miss almost all of it. He will definitely miss the games at the Legends Classic against NC State and against either Texas or Oregon State. He'll also miss home games against Xavier and Indiana State, as well as road games at Louisville and Davidson. Depending on how long he's out, he could also miss a true road game at Marquette on December 29th.
The reason Vanderbilt is getting so much hype is because they have a tremendous starting five. And while Ezeli is not the best all-around player (that would be Jeffery Taylor or John Jenkins), he's the team's interior defensive presence. That will be a huge problem against Texas, and potentially against Xavier and Louisville. He's such an intimidating presence in the paint.
We know Lance Goulbourne can handle the paint (he's arguably a better rebounder than Ezeli is, though he's nowhere near the shot blocker). But who else will step up? I'm definitely curious to find out.