We’ve got you covered. College basketball may not be your top priority right now. Maybe you forgot the regular season started over the weekend. Or maybe football still has control of your remote control.
Whatever the reason, we’re here to get you up to date. A lot happens in one weekend, but every Monday we will be here to review the weekend with five things you should know -- the most important developments in college basketball.
1. Maybe boats aren’t the best idea
|Syracuse and San Diego State had a sunny day, but the weekend's other outdoor games weren't so lucky.
Before we address the problems presented by playing basketball on the deck of aircraft carriers, allow me one personal observation: Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim looked so cool wearing sunglasses during a game. I’m not saying Boeheim could play the role of Maverick in Top Gun Part 2, but it was a different look and he pulled it off well. Those shadows on the court during the Battle on the Midway were extreme. Back in Syracuse, no one will see their shadow until Groundhog Day at the earliest.
Everything about the start of college basketball season on Veteran’s Day weekend was well intentioned and some of it was well executed. But the boats didn’t cooperate. In fact, the three games on boats encountered so many problems it seems certain college basketball must review the entire idea.
Actually, the boats weren’t to blame. But weather, forecasts, and condensation played havoc with the games in Jacksonville, Charleston and San Diego. Playing outdoors means dealing with weather and, really, weather never was meant to be a consideration for basketball.
Friday night brought the cancellation of two games –- No. 4 Ohio State vs. Marquette and Georgetown vs. No. 10 Florida. The Hoyas and Gators were called at halftime. The Buckeyes and Golden Eagles were never cleared for takeoff. Boeheim got the chance to coach his team under a blue sky and bright sunshine Sunday after a forecast of rain and wind forced organizers to move the game from Friday.
Syracuse and San Diego State got their game in (and the Orange impressed with a 62-49 win), but the logistics of staging these games became obvious and distracting. The best event among the tributes to our troops took place in Germany, where UConn upset No. 14 Michigan State. Playing the game inside an airplane hanger on an air base with a lot of troops –- and military activity -- was a beautiful thing. No weather concerns.
Fortunately, player safety prevailed this weekend. No one was hurt. But we simply can’t take the chance of that happening again. It’s too risky.
2. Kevin Ollie can coach
Before Michigan State opened the season against Connecticut on the Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Friday, Tom Izzo joked about making his coaching debut with Jud Heathcote and Magic Johnson sitting behind him. Izzo said that was a pressure-packed way to begin his Michigan State career. But Izzo told first-year UConn coach Kevin Ollie he might have a tougher situation because Jim Calhoun travels with a cane these days.
The most striking element about Ollie’s official debut was how dominating the Huskies were in a 66-62 victory over No. 14 Michigan State. Since replacing UConn’s Hall of Fame coach in September, Ollie has been asked over and over how he would motivate a team that is ineligible for postseason play in 2013. Ollie’s answer has been just as constant: He would demand hard work, no days off, and “10 toes in, not five.”
The Huskies did that and more against Michigan State. It isn’t easy to outwork, outhustle, or outplay an Izzo-coached team, but UConn came out with all the energy and made the Spartans look flat. UConn made nine of its first 10 shots and jumped to a 20-6 lead, then held on in the second half, demonstrating a chemistry that the Huskies never established last season.
Ollie received a seven-month contract to replace Calhoun. The short stint is handcuffing Ollie in the recruiting process. In two months, Ollie has shown he can get in the front door of many top players, he has earned the trust of his players, and he has handled the media. It’s never wise to make decisions based on one game, but it seems Ollie has what it takes to keep UConn’s program thriving. Take off the handcuffs and let the man do his job.
When the game was over, Ollie got an emotional hug from Calhoun, who was working the game on the UConn radio network. No cane necessary.
3. Indiana had a very good weekend
|Cody Zeller's big night was one of the highlights of Indiana's weekend.
The Hoosiers are the popular pick to win it all this season. There is plenty of evidence to support that prediction. Hoosier fans can sense the return to glory days. And things simply got better over the weekend with a 97-54 victory over Bryant, a contract extension for coach Tom Crean, and a commitment from a big-time recruit.
A sellout crowd was on hand at Assembly Hall in Bloomington as Cody Zeller began his pursuit of national player of the year honors with 18 points and 10 rebounds in the victory. Christian Watford, the Hoosier legend who hit the buzzer beater to beat Kentucky last season, added 15 points and contributed a career-high 15 rebounds. It was the first time in 33 years the Hoosiers were playing with the preseason No. 1 ranking and Indiana celebrated by shooting 55.6 percent from the field.
Athletic director Fred Glass was given a standing ovation before the game when he announced that Crean had agreed to a two-year contract extension that will run through 2019-20. Crean, of course, is responsible for cleaning up the mess left behind by Kelvin Sampson. And now the Hoosiers are back where their fans expect them to be on an annual basis.
To top things off, the Hoosiers got a commitment Saturday night from forward Noah Vonleh, the No. 8 prospect in the country according to Scout.com. The addition of Vonleh will lift Indiana’s recruiting class into the top five nationally, according to Scout.com national recruiting analyst Brian Snow. And now Crean has someone to replace Zeller down the line.
Everyone suspected this was true, but McAdoo has taken an enormous step toward proving it in the first two games of the season. He is now the main man for coach Roy Williams. North Carolina, after all its roster losses from last season, will rely heavily on the 6-foot-9, 230-pound sophomore forward. It seems he is prepared for that.
North Carolina is 2-0 after victories over Gardner-Webb on Friday and Florida Atlantic on Sunday. McAdoo has scored 45 points and grabbed 25 rebounds in the first two games. He was 18-for-37 from the floor (48.6 percent). McAdoo set career highs with 26 points and 14 rebounds in the 76-59 victory over Gardner-Webb.
Surrounded by four future NBA picks last season, McAdoo averaged 6.1 points and 3.9 rebounds. As a freshman, he played like a guy struggling to adjust. He seemed stunned by the size and speed of the other people on the court. McAdoo has admitted he was just along for the ride with the talented 2011-12 Tar Heels.
“I was just trying to get a ring out of it,” he told Sports Illustrated for the magazine’s college basketball preview issue.
This year is different. He’s making that clear quickly.
5. Larry Brown is back in the groove
The last time we saw Larry Brown patrolling a college basketball sideline it was 1988 and he was leading the Kansas Jayhawks to the national championship over Oklahoma. Remember Danny Manning and the Miracles?
After the passage of time and so many NBA jobs, the 72-year-old Brown officially made his return to college basketball Sunday and led SMU to a 73-58 victory over Loyola Marymount. The Mustangs are 1-0 and hoping Brown will guide them to more success but it won’t be that easy every night this season. Will it?
Brown returns to the college game as a Hall of Fame coach. He’s the only coach to win both an NBA championship (with the Detroit Pistons in 2004) and the NCAA crown. Perhaps no one has had a more nomadic career than Brown. This is his 14th job over his four-decade career, but the first time he has been on the bench since his December 2010 departure from the Charlotte Bobcats.
Can Brown handle the grind of college coaching and recruiting? We are about to find out. His challenge is to lead SMU back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1993. That will require many more wins. Brown also has to get SMU ready for the move to the Big East. If all this sounds crazy, don’t worry. It’s just the Larry Brown show -- and that’s always a tad crazy.
Information from Associated Press wire stories has been included in this report.