Skip to content

College Hoops Week in Review: Five Thoughts

Dec 3, 2012, 11:00 AM EDT

Paul Hewitt, Patrick Holloway

Is the CAA now overrated?: ‘Overrated’ might not be a fair term to use here, as most expected the CAA to take a hit with VCU leaving for the Atlantic 10 this season. ‘Incapable of getting two teams to the tournament’ is probably the better descriptor here. Only three teams in the league having winning records, and none of them have fewer than three losses less than a month into the season. The two favorites in the conference, Drexel and Delaware, are a combined 4-11, and while a number of those losses have come against good competition — Delaware made it to the semifinals of the Preseason NIT, but they’ve lost five in a row, including a game at Lafayette, while Drexel recently lost to Rider, the fifth school outside the BCS leagues they’ve dropped a game against — simply playing a tough schedule won’t get you a trip to the Big Dance.

George Mason may now be the one team that can potentially carry the torch for the conference, but they failed to follow up their season-opening win over Virginia with wins against Bucknell, New Mexico or, on Sunday, against Maryland. With Northern Iowa being the only quality non-conference opponent left on the schedule, there likely isn’t going to be enough there for the Patriots to earn an at-large bid. League play will only hurt, as the CAA is currently 1-20 against RPI top 100 teams.

Two years ago, three CAA teams made the NCAA tournament. But two of those three — VCU and Old Dominion — have left the conference. We knew there was a chance this would happen, but that doesn’t reduce the sting of one of the nation’s most entertaining mid-major leagues losing some of their pluckiness.

What’s up with Kentucky?: After losing two straight games last week, which included the first loss at Rupp Arena in the Calipari era, the Wildcats are going to likely see themselves fall out of the top 25. And that’s probably fair; they lost to two unranked teams, including one that was coming off of a loss at home to Charleston. But I must stress to you that how good Kentucky ends up being is still a complete unknown. This team is very, very young and in the midst of trying to find an identity and pinpoint individual roles while getting on-the-job training for how to play college basketball. Most importantly, Ryan Harrow is still a long way from 100%. The Wildcats ceiling is simply unknown at this point.

But that’s not necessarily a positive thing, because the simple fact of the matter is that this team could end up simply OK. What happens if Harrow never figures out how to play the point for Coach Cal? And what happens if Kyle Wiltjer never learn how to play defense, or Nerlens Noel and Willie Cauley-Stein can’t figure out a way to share the front court without being massive liabilities offensively? What if Alex Poythress never becomes ‘The Man’? Most importantly, what happens if this team simply doesn’t have the mental toughness and leadership to perform under the pressure of Big Blue Nation’s expectations?

At the end of the day, my point is this: for better or for worse, Kentucky is still a complete question mark at this point.

The nation’s most underrated freshman: Xavier is 6-1 on the season, including a dominating win over Butler and a win at Mackey Arena over Purdue, which is a far cry from what was expected of these Musketeers heading into the season. The biggest reason for their improvement has been the play of freshman Semaj Christon. After sitting out the opener and despite scoring just two points in the win over Butler — his first game of the season — Christon is now averaging 16.0 points and 6.2 assists on the season. An athletic, 6-foot-3 freshman, Christon excels at using a crafty handle, long strides and an explosive first step to get to the rim. Did Chris Mack have a feeling that Christon would be this good? I wonder if that played a role in Mark Lyons’ departure.

In San Diego State the best team in California?: At this point, there really is no way to argue that fact. It’s certainly not UCLA, who not only was beaten by SDSU on Saturday, but who lost to another California school in Cal Poly. It’s not USC, either, as the Trojans lost at home to the Aztecs despite the absence of Deshawn Stephens and Chase Tapley. And to think: this team is only going to get better when James Johnson gets eligible.

If someone can figure out Florida State, do share: Nothing surprises me about Florida State anymore. Is there a program in the country that is more capable of pulling off thrilling upsets and head-scratching, you-gotta-be-kidding-me losses? Last season, Florida State lost to Harvard, Princeton and Clemson (by 20!) while going 4-1 against North Carolina and Duke. That included a 33 point home win over the Tar Heels, a win at Cameron and the ACC tournament title. This season, they won the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at the Barclays Center, but have now lost to South Alabama, Minnesota and, on Sunday, Mercer.

The Seminoles are at their best offensively when they have Ian Miller, Michael Snaer and Devon Bookert on the floor together at the same time, but that takes away from their ability defensively. Leonard Hamilton is still trying to figure out his rotations — Where does he fit in Montay Brandon? How many minutes should Terrence Shannon play? — so that might have something to do with it. Regardless, this group has proven to be Team Schizophrenic.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Latest Posts
  1. Former Boise State forward Joey Nebeker disputes school statement regarding his departure

    Apr 24, 2014, 11:13 PM EDT

    rice Getty Images

    Boise State announced Wednesday that two players were leaving the program. Thursday, one of those players stated that he was forced out.

  2. Lawsuit filed by Dez Wells against Xavier settled Thursday

    Apr 24, 2014, 9:47 PM EDT

    wells Getty Images

    Maryland’s Dez Wells and Xavier settled a lawsuit filed by Wells with regards to his expulsion from the school in 2012.

  3. Former Maryland center Shaquille Cleare completes transfer to Texas

    Apr 24, 2014, 8:23 PM EDT

    Wake Forest v Maryland Getty Images

    After spending two seasons at Maryland, big man Shaquille Cleare has decided to transfer to Texas.

  4. UNLV junior forward Khem Birch to enter 2014 NBA Draft

    Apr 24, 2014, 7:14 PM EDT

    Khem Birch AP

    UNLV junior forward Khem Birch has decided to enter the 2014 NBA Draft.

  5. San Francisco sophomore guard Avry Holmes to transfer

    Apr 24, 2014, 5:56 PM EDT

    WCC Basketball Tournament - Semifinals - San Francisco v Brigham Young Getty Images

    After averaging 12.5 points per game as a sophomore, San Francisco guard Avry Holmes has decided to transfer.

  6. Arizona State lands junior college forward Willie Atwood

    Apr 24, 2014, 4:49 PM EDT

    Herb Sendek AP

    Arizona State lands its seventh newcomer for the 2014-15 season as forward Willie Atwood picked the Sun Devils over Florida State and Iowa.

  7. NCAA waves goodbye to hardship waivers; ‘Big Five’ leagues a step closer to autonomy

    Apr 24, 2014, 4:13 PM EDT

    NCAA_Logo AP

    The NCAA’s Board of Directors released some key decisions on Thursday.

  8. Colorado junior guard Spencer Dinwiddie enters 2014 NBA Draft

    Apr 24, 2014, 4:12 PM EDT

    Spencer Dinwiddie AP

    Colorado junior guard Spencer Dinwiddie has decided to enter the 2014 NBA Draft.

  9. Report: Marshall to hire Dan D’Antoni, brother of Mike D’Antoni

    Apr 24, 2014, 3:12 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Dan D’Antoni spent 30 years as a high school coach in South Carolina.

  10. Jabari Parker on a potential move to two-and-done: ‘I think that’s ridiculous’

    Apr 24, 2014, 2:23 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Parker is not a fan of forcing players to stay in school for two years.

  11. Larry Eustachy: ‘My feeling is Chane is going to go pro’

    Apr 24, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT

    Larry Eustachy

    There are reports he’s already signed with an agent.

  12. Amida Brimah out four-to-five months with shoulder surgery

    Apr 24, 2014, 12:35 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    The seven-footer will miss some time getting a torn labrum repaired.

  13. Marcus Paige, Roy Williams dance to Pharrell’s ‘Happy’ (VIDEO)

    Apr 24, 2014, 11:56 AM EDT

    marcus paige Getty Images

    Roy Williams is not the world’s greatest dancer.

  14. Skal Labissiere is back from his back injury (VIDEO)

    Apr 24, 2014, 11:25 AM EDT

    Skal Labissiere, Denio Chirindja

    Kentucky, Kansas and just about every elite program in the country is on the trail of the Haitian.

  15. Former Georgetown forward Moses Ayegba will transfer to Nebraska

    Apr 24, 2014, 12:57 AM EDT

    Moses Ayegba AP

    According to multiple reports, former Georgetown big Moses Ayegba has decided to transfer to Nebraska.

  16. UConn center Amida Brimah to undergo shoulder surgery

    Apr 24, 2014, 12:17 AM EDT

    NCAA Men's Final Four - Championship Getty Images

    According to a report, UConn center Amida Brimah will need to undergo surgery on his left shoulder.

  17. Shaka Smart adds former Vanderbilt assistant David Cason to VCU coaching staff

    Apr 23, 2014, 10:38 PM EDT

    Shaka Smart Getty Images

    Shaka Smart filled a vacancy on his staff Wednesday, hiring former Vanderbilt assistant David Cason.

  18. Has Top 100 forward Malek Harris committed to Kansas State?

    Apr 23, 2014, 9:04 PM EDT

    Bruce Weber AP

    Less than a week after making an official visit to the school, it was reported that Malek Harris had committed to Kansas State. But that may not be the case.

  19. Tulsa head coach Frank Haith announces coaching staff

    Apr 23, 2014, 7:49 PM EDT

    Frank Haith AP

    Frank Haith announced his coaching staff Wednesday, with the trio combining to have more than 90 seasons of coaching experience.

Featured video

Derrick Gordon says 'Why not me?'