Friday, November 16, 2012

SMU Beats TCU... Do We Care?

SMU 64, TCU 61
SMU beat TCU here in the "These are major conference teams? Really?" Bowl. And yes, SMU is still in Conference USA, but they'll be in the Big East next year. And that move not only landed them Larry Brown as a head coach, but Tim Jankovich as an assistant coach. A year ago they couldn't have gotten Jankovich, the Illinois State head coach, to take their head coaching job. But Jankovich jumped at joining Larry Brown's staff, knowing that in a few years he'll get to take over a Big East program. TCU, of course, has already joined the Big 12.

That all said, while these two teams will eventually use their new conferences to get some major conference talent... it's not their yet. Neither of these teams are particularly good. Larry Brown has already brought in a few transfers (and Jankovich took Nic Moore, a young player I really like, with him from Illinois State), but they're sitting out this year. With his name and reputation, I do think he'll at least have SMU competitive for his first season in the Big East. Trent Johnson has had a little bit more trouble at TCU, and you have to wonder if he's the right guy for the job. Just moving to a major conference doesn't automatically make Top 100 recruits show up on your lawn - you can still struggle in a big way without the right coach (just ask DePaul).

SMU is off to a decent start to their season, with this win following a 15 point defeat of Loyola-Marymount. Their next game will be on Saturday at Texas State. And with a very soft non-conference schedule lined up, they could rack up quite a few wins before they lose a game. TCU shouldn't have too much trouble bouncing back on Sunday against Prairie View A&M. Their schedule will toughen up next week, though, when they open up the South Padre Invitational against Northwestern.

Gardner Webb 71, DePaul 59
I was just talking above about how the mere fact of being in a major conference does not guarantee recruiting success, and I used DePaul as the example. And really, their futility in the Big East has been pretty amazing. Five seasons ago was the last time they won more than three Big East games in a season. Three! And things don't appear to be looking up this season, as they got legitimately beaten by Gardner Webb here. And the most startling stat out of this game was the rebounding - Gardner Webb had 18 offensive rebounds (a 48.6 OR%) compared to 7 for DePaul (a 22.6 OR%). And this is a Gardner Webb team that so far this season has had nobody taller than 6'6" among their top seven minute earners. What's going to happen when they face a team like Georgetown that has real size?

Gardner Webb moves to 2-2 with this win, although their other win was against a non-Division I team. Their next game will be a tough one, tomorrow on the road at Iowa. DePaul will play Austin Peay tomorrow. After that they'll head to the Cancun Challenge, where they will open against Wichita State.

Saint Mary's 67, Utah State 58
James Walker transferred from Utah State to St. Mary's, and he made his first return trip count, scoring 14 points on 5-for-9 shooting, and adding 3 steals. Matthew Dellavedova led all scorers with 21 points, and the Gaels did a great job of locking down on defense (a 34.7 eFG% for Utah State). That said, their rebounding was not good at all (a 50.0 DR%). They will need to clean that up for sure, although they have typically been a decent rebounding team under Randy Bennett.

St. Mary's shouldn't have any problems with Eastern Washington on Sunday before heading to the Anaheim Classic. They will open on Thursday against Drexel, and will then play their second game against either Xavier or Pacific. Utah State's upcoming schedule is pretty soft. They'll play Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Saturday, and their only really tough opponent in non-conference play will be BYU, on December 5th. A road game at Santa Clara on November 28th could be tricky as well.

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