Monday, November 16, 2009

Week In Review - 11/16/09

Holy crap dude, how freaking crazy was Belicheck going for it on fourth and two with a six point lead and just two minutes left from his own 30 yard line?  Was that anything other than, "We know damn well if we punt you're going to score and beat us, so we better keep the ball as long as possible?"  Either that or Belicheck has finally lost it.  Just bizarre, but what any entertaining game in general and a great comeback by Manning.  College basketball is finally back as well, and my thoughts on the Gopher hoops game are right here.  If you're looking for Gopher football thoughts, god save your soul.


1.  Evan Turner.  I mentioned this in my Big Ten Preview, but I'll say it again - Evan Turner is ridiculous.  He certainly didn't disappoint in the opening week, putting up a triple-double in the opener against Alcorn State and following it up with 24-17-4 against James Madison.  Sure, the competition wasn't the best, but Turner and the rest of the Buckeyes looked very, very good, winning the two games by an average of 34 points.  I'm telling you, with Turner, David Lighty, and William Buford this team is going to be very tough and Memphis-y.  If Jon Diebler keeps shooting like he did last year (or better so far), this is going to be a really good team.  We'll know more after next week when they play Carolina, but watch out folks.

2. Rotnei Clarke.  Corliss Williamson didn't do it.  Scotty Thurman didn't do it.  Patrick Beverley didn't do it.  Clint McDaniel, Todd Day, and Ronnie Brewer couldn't do it. Hell, not even the great Oliver Miller could do it, but apparently Rotnei Clark can - break 50 points in a game, that is.  Clarke became the first Arkansas player to ever score 50 points in a game, putting up 51 in Friday night's 130-66 win over Alcorn State.  Clarke had 31 at halftime, and hit 13 three-pointers on 17 attempts for the game breaking the SEC record held by former Arkansas guard Alex Dillard.  It's good timing, too.  I had just read an article about how the Razorbacks had a bunch of players suspended (including superstud Courtney Fortson) and would need Clarke to step up in order to take some of the pressure off their star center Michael Washington.  Step up indeed.

3.   Dayton.  There are a ton of really good games starting this week, but over the weekend it was mostly blow-outs or mid-level teams squaring off.  There was, however, one game between two teams that both had NCAA Tournament aspirations:  Creighton vs. Dayton.  Seeing as how Dayton is listed at the beginning of this entry, you would probably guess that Dayton won, and you'd be correct.  The Flyers trailed most of the game, but outscored Creighton by 15 in the second half behind a strong showing by Chris Wright, who scored 25 on 9-12 shooting.  I'm still not entirely sure what to make of Dayton, other than that their fans are deluisonal, but even though they had more trouble with Creighton than they probalby should have, this is still a good win on a resume.

4.  Brandon Jennings.  I've been trying to avoid talking about Jennings' great start to his NBA career since he really pissed me off by skipping college to go play in Europe, but after Saturday night's 55-point explosion, I don't see any way to put it off any longer.  First off, this is a really solid fifty-point game, with a high shooting percentage (21-34 from the floor, 7-8 from three) and some other contributions (5 rebs, 5 assists) - and they won.  Second, something like this probably shouldn't be too surprising, especially since he burst into the league and almost had a triple-double in his first ever NBA game (17-9-9).  Thirdly, everything I'm reading says that this kid is already the quickest guard in the league and is essentially unguardable one-on-one, and compares him to Allen Iverson.  Finally, this really sucks because now I'm going to have to make an effort to watch a Milwaukee game.  Thanks Brandon.

5.  Ekpe Udoh.  Other players may have put up gaudier numbers so far (like Isaiah Thomas's 24.7ppg in three games or Al-Farouq Aminu's 25 and 11 boards per in two games), but nobody surprised me more than Udoh, the former Michigan Wolverine and current Baylor Bear.  Udoh put up 18 points and 11 boards (with 3 blocks) in the opener vs. Norfolk State, and followed that up with 21 and 7 with 5 blocks in game 2 vs. Hartford (Vin Baker U).  I remember Udoh as a all-defense no offense type, like a young Dikembe Mutombo or any of the endless parade of seven-foot "project" from Senegal into the NCAA.  His career average was just 5.5 ppg coming into this season, so either this is merely a case of playing inferior opponents, or Udoh learned some offensive skills.  The Bears play two more cupcakes before taking on Alabama and then Arizona State, so we won't know much until then.  If he has learned to play offense, it's going to torture Baylor fans because this was the exact piece they were missing last year.

[UPDATE:  Found this on ESPN:

When he decided to transfer from Michigan, Baylor's Scott Drew thought he was going to get a super-defensive stud in Ekpe Udoh. He didn't know that Udoh would also be an offensive threat.
Udoh saved the Bears from falling to Hartford yesterday, hitting a 20-foot fadeaway game winner. In addition to his five blocks, Udoh scored 21 points and is now averaging 19.5 ppg through his first two games.
Udoh worked exclusively on his offense during his redshirt season and over the summer. Besides Kevin Rogers, Scott Drew has never really had an offensively-dominating big man. He normally runs the offense entirely through his guards. While this still shouldn't change, it should be nice to have a threat down low in Udoh.]



1.  Mississippi State.  I read in a couple of places that Miss State was a "dark-horse" final four contender.  I love Jarvis Varnado more than I love my wife, but I wasn't quite ready to buy that - at least not until they figured out who they were going to get their offense from.  Still, I expected good things.  Well, they are not off to a very good start, losing their opener at home to Rider 88-74.  Two major issues:  three-point defense and scoring.  They allowed Rider to shoot 10-16 from three-point range, which is tough to overcome for anybody, particularly when nobody can throw the ball threw the hoop on your own team.  Pimp-Daddy Varnado was 8-8 (complete line:  22pts, 14 rebs, 7 blocks - such a stud), but the rest of the team shot just 18-54.  The three point defense could jsut be a fluke, but perimeter scoring will need to greatly improve.  They run a three guard offense, and the three starters shot a combined 9-31.  Varnado deserves better.  Pick it up, jerkstores. 

2.  Utah.  The Utes lost their top four scorings from last season, but still had three starters back as well as a bunch of talented new comers, so I don't know if anybody knew what to expect from them this season.  I feel reasonably confident, however, in saying that nobody expected to see a team that would lose to Idaho in their season opener, the Vandals first win over Utah since 1938.  Now, Idaho is actually a better team this year than most people think, but this game is a stinger for the U of U, and I have a feeling this is going to be a very frustrating year in Mormonville.  Special shout out to the Utes two best players, Carlon Brown and Marshall Henderson for shooting a combined 9-27.    

3.  Jay Cutler.  LOL.  Nice job Cutty, five interceptions against the 49ers (17 for the season, , including two in the red zone, one of which was in the end zone at the end of the game.  The game that the Bears lost 10-6, meaning if they manage even just two field goals or a TD out of those trips, they win.  Oh, and also the niners scored all 10 of their points off two of his other picks, with both drives starting in Bears territory.  Is it really fair to say he single-handedly lost that game for the Bears?  Yes.  Yes it is.

4.  Timberwolves.  Ok, I think we all knew it was going to be bad, but did we know it was going to be this bad?  After winning the opener over a hapless New Jersey squad, they have now lost ten straight, including a brutal 0-4 this week that inluded a loss to Memphis who had lost seven straight of their own prior to beating the Wolves.  Earlier in the season they were at least putting up a fight - the loss to Boston was a great game - but now they're just getting killed.  Their four losses this week were by 41, 23, 12, and 10, with only the 12 point loss to Dallas being in the realm of respectability (the 10 point loss was the Memphis game, and might be more embarrassing than the 41 pointer against Golden State).  I know Love is out and now Jefferson is out, but *newsflash* Jefferson was in the lineup for both the Golden State and Portland games, and trust me, it's not just him.  Flynn, Love, and Jefferson are the only players who should ever see a starting lineup in their careers, everybody else is a role player at best.  Still, better to be a Wolves fan than a fan of Iowa.  

5.  Iowa.  Seriously, you guys are embarrassing the conference.  You lost to Texas-San Antonio.  AT HOME!!  BY TWELVE!!!  Good lord, they're a middle level Southland Conference team.  They're called the Roadrunners for god's sake, and they had never beaten a Big Ten team.  I know they lost a couple pretty good players to transfers after last season, but Anthony Tucker, Matt Gatens, and Jarryd Cole + filler should be enough to beat damn UTSA.  I guess when Tucker and Gatens shoot 2-15 from three for the game, it's tough to win.  Well, way to go Lickliter, your dismantling of the Iowa basketball program is nearly complete.  Honestly, it's like the guy is a double agent.  He's my new favorite coach.

As for me, there will be a preview of Stephen F. Austin up shortly, then I'm going to be in New Jersey the rest of the week.  I'm sure they'll be a post or two, because what else am I going to do?  Until then......

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