We're finally settling in here in college basketball land, no it's not a real place but Ben Miraski is the mayor. Last week was jam packed with a marathon and plenty of other goodness so here are my observations from the week that was.
- The ESPN College Hoops Marathon.... I can't decide if I love this thing or I hate it. I like waking up to the thunderous dunks of John Brown in Hawaii but I also feel like I'm missing out on some things. I think the worst part of the college hoops marathon is that no one knows when it is. Everyone assumes it's the first day of the season and then people just totally miss it when it's already passed. I'd also like to see some diversification of the teams, maybe I'm wrong but isn't it always Gonzaga, Iona, UMass, South Carolina, and Baylor! Mix it up! Let's see some places and atmospheres that we haven't seen before.
- I know the NCAA has a lot on their hands but sooner or later there has to be an ugly court mandate. I watched Longwood at JMU this week and I still can't get over that court. I guess there goal was to get people talking and here I am.
- I don't think there is any better recruiting story out there than Shaka Smart and Briante Weber. Smart basically went out and found a limited offensive player that not many people wanted but saw that he was perfect for their HAVOC system. I got to see Weber really go to work last Tuesday against Toledo where he posted 18 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, and 9 steals. That's just an incredible line for a player that plays with no shortage of energy.
- I'm a little spoiled mainly watching the Big South and Southern Conference Networks. The Big South Network has incredible quality and best of all it's FREE. I paid $11.95 to watch the Eastern Michigan Showcase this weekend and man was that brutal. If EMU wasn't playing then you didn't have announcers and you couldn't hear the PA announcer. At one point a UNCG player got injured and I had no idea who it was, I still don't. Also, there were no commercials during breaks or timeouts, which sounds good but then you realize maybe it wouldn't be $12 if they lined up some sponsors! The best was that the score line at the bottom of the page was about 30 seconds faster than the game itself, so no bucket was a surprise. And finally the grand finale was when the feed just died in a 2 point game with 2 seconds left in overtime. COME ON! These low quality PPV sites just need to go.
- St. Francis- Brooklyn seems to be one of those teams that I always bump into on TV. Last week I railed on Manhattan about their new UnderArmour jerseys (man the gray ones are even uglier) and this week it's St. Francis who needs a refresh. The amount of text that St. Francis has jammed on the front of their jersey in unmatched and there just has to be a better wordmark out there somewhere.
- The environment at these various "preseason" tournaments seems to continually get more and more sterile each year. I don't know why, maybe it's ESPN buying a lot of them, but it kind of stinks. I wish there were a few communities around the US, like Dayton with the First Four, who could really add some energy in these arenas.
- O how the mighty have fallen... I caught George Mason a couple of times in the Puerto Rico Tipoff and this has to be it for Paul Hewitt. The Patriots are now 1-4 and just look really bad. It's crazy to see how some teams parlay their postseason success into a sustainable program while others just let the momentum slip. I think this really also shows you what a special coach Jim Larranaga is.
- Don't look now but the Black Knights of the Hudson are 4-0 thus far this season. No one is really talking about Army but Kyle Wilson's squad could be 5-0 heading into a road match up with Duke on Sunday if they beat Binghamton Tuesday.
- You can't read into stats too much this time of year but it's always fun to look at the various leaders anyways. Mid-Majors dominate the top 10 scorers right now.
- Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! Enjoy the holiday hoops!