Saturday, November 19, 2011

Glen Rice, Jr Returns & Leads Georgia Tech To Victory

Georgia Tech 73, VCU 60
Glen Rice, Jr. had been suspended for the first three games of the season for violating team rules, but he returned to the court with a bang here. He had to come off the bench, but exploded for 19 points (on 7-for-11 shooting), 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. Georgia Tech still has ball handling problems, and they don't have a real point guard (Mfon Udofia seems to be acting as an ad hoc point guard, but he would be better at shooting guard), but they do have tremendous athleticism. Bradford Burgess was the only VCU player who seemed to be able to handle the Tech athleticism here.

The problem for Georgia Tech is that they're not going to be able to win too many ACC games by out-athleting anybody. They are going to have to clean things up to win consistently. Georgia Tech moves to the fifth place game at the Charleston Classic, where they'll play LSU. As for VCU, this was always going to be a rebuilding season. They lost almost everybody who was a big contributor last season, after all. But Shaka Smart has good reason to believe the future is bright. His 2010 recruiting class was strong, and his 2011 recruiting class is good as well. They're just very young and learning. VCU will now play in the seventh place game of the Charleston Classic against Western Kentucky. And obviously nobody thought that game might happen, because VCU is scheduled to play at Western Kentucky again only three days later. Bizarre.

Houston 87, Arkansas 78
This Houston team finished narrowly outside the Top 200 by both Sagarin and Pomeroy last season, and then they lost three starters to graduation. But James Dickey, who had a lot of success in the 1990s as head coach of Texas Tech, has been off to a good start in his second season at Houston with a pair of really nice recruiting classes. I don't think Houston will get too close to the top of Conference USA this season, but they have a very young and talented squad that looked feisty here. They were sloppy with the ball (12 steals allowed), as young teams often are, but they attacked the rim fearlessly and collected perhaps their best win in the Dickey era (they did beat Tulsa last season, but that was at home).

Arkansas is struggling on offense this season, and it's not a surprise after star Rotnei Clarke left the program to play for Butler. They just don't have anybody who they can really lean on when they need a basket. Mike Anderson is an outstanding coach, and I'm sure he'll eventually get his guys in place, but it might take a few years. If you recall when he took over Missouri, he had his fearsome full court defense in place almost immediately, but his offense was a mess for a few years until he got guys who could play efficiently on offense at that frenetic pace. The Razorbacks will now play three easy games before heading to UConn on December 3rd. Houston is 3-0, but this is their only win over a decent team. They now play a few decent teams in a row (Oakland, TCU and LSU), which will give them a good opportunity to prove themselves.

Holy Cross 86, Boston College 64
Obviously Holy Cross wasn't particularly good last season. It's impossible for a "good" team to go 8-21 overall and 7-7 in the Patriot League. But it's worth nothing that, for what it's worth, Holy Cross had horrible luck last season. In games decided by four points or less they went 1-10 last season. That earned them last place out of 345 Division I teams in the Pomeroy Luck factor. Luck didn't play a factor in this game as they outrebounded Boston College, took care of the ball and shot 11-for-21 behind the arc to win by 22 points. Devin Brown led the way with 32 points on 11-for-19 shooting.

While I'm sure Holy Cross fans are excited to beat big brother Boston College, this win needs to be put in perspective. Boston College isn't going to be particularly good this season, and Holy Cross was coming off losses to Harvard and College of Charleston. They're going to be a player in the Patriot League, but they're still a long way from being a Top 100 team and a serious contender to a good Bucknell team. They have a tough road game tomorrow at Fairfield - let's see if they can follow this up with another good performance. This was always going to be a long season for Boston College. They lost all five starters - including star Reggie Jackson to the NBA. Steve Donahue is a good coach, but his 2011 recruiting class is his first full recruiting class at Boston College and his team is very dependent on freshmen. They should get better as the season goes along, but not good enough to finish much above last place in the ACC. They'll play UMass on Monday, and then head to the 76 Classic where they'll open up on Thanksgiving against Saint Louis.

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