Basketball on the Beach with An Umbrella in Your Drink
When it comes to deciding what preseason tournament to play in, I wonder how difficult that choice must be. You could play in locations you probably already know, scenery that is nothing too exciting, maybe even a little cold. Or you can go to Hawaii. Not much of a choice if you ask me.
Every year the Maui Invitational continues to gives us one really good match—if we are lucky, two. Last night’s marquee matchup featured two highly ranked teams in No. 7 Texas losing to No. 8 Notre Dame 80-81. Each team has its All-American players, but only one school played like a team.
Luke Harangody is a beast on the block who finished with 29 points and 13 rebounds. Texas did not have a player on their roster that could match him. The Longhorns started with 6’10”, 299-pound center Dexter Pittman on Harangody. Pittman’s sorry stat line for the game: five minutes, four points, three rebounds, and four fouls.
Now this is why Notre Dame is such a good team. After getting run over by Harangody, you now have Kyle McAlarney and the rest of the Fighting Irish shooting 46 percent from distance.
From the tip-off, Notre Dame looked more comfortable in their offense. When they needed a bucket, the team knew who needed the ball in what position on the court. Meanwhile, Texas looked sloppy and very unorganized in their efforts.
Their defense has been top-notch, but the major problem spot for the Longhorns is their offense, more specifically at point guard. A.J. Abrams is supposed to be the man for the job, but he finished with zero assists while Justin Mason led the team with seven. I think Mason is the single most important player in a Longhorn uniform.
Abrams shot 9-27 from the field. 27 shots, are you serious? But with all the struggles Abrams and the Longhorns are going through, they were only six inches from winning the game when Abrams’ last-second shot hit the front of the iron.
Jonny Flynn has arrived. Flynn endured a rough freshman year, when Syracuse asked a little too much of the 6’0″ point guard, but now he has led Syracuse to wins over two ranked teams in two days.
After beating No. 18 Florida on Monday, Syracuse needed overtime to drive the point home against the defending champion and 23rd-ranked Kansas Jayhawks 89-81 in the Championship game of the CBE Classic.
To further the theme of team, if you were to compare the Orange from last season to this season, you would see a bunch of individuals who turned into a team. Granted, injuries and inexperience were a big part of the chaos that was the 2007-08 season.
Even losing freshman Donte Greene was a blessing in disguise. Greene was never able to buy into the college game and was only looking to create a highlight reel for draft day.
Syracuse showed a handful of things in the CBE Classic. First, the Big East is by far the deepest conference in the country. Second, the Orange are a solid team with only a few weak spots that can be improved on. Third, they will be in the top 25 come Monday. Last, Flynn has taken over the leadership role for Jim Boeheim.
Flynn looked in control of the offense, and he affects every aspect of this team. He is scoring 21 points per game, dishing out five assists, two rebounds, two steals, and shooting 46 percent from three-point range. He has climbed my All-American list from not appearing on any team in the preseason to my second team.
And he still rocks the headband!
Texas Tech pulled back the offense and only scored 74 in beating Southeastern Louisiana after scoring 167 against East Central. Apparently they only play teams with two directions in the school name.
North Dakota State’s Ben Woodside scored 29 against Northern Arizona in a game where the Phoenix Suns had a scout drive two hours to look at Woodside.
Finally Sam Young decided to play and scored 33 points, shooting 12-17 and grabbing seven rebounds in No. 4 Pitt’s win over powerhouse Belmont.
Stephen Curry scored 0 points and Davidson beat Loyola (MD) 78-48! Yes, you are not going insane—it actually happened. Loyola ran the triangle and two, and Curry sat in the corner, letting the rest of his team play four against three.