Some Thoughts On College Basketball’s Opening Night

Duke: How ’bout those freshman, eh?

-Coach K decided to start three freshman, and the they didn’t disappoint. Jahlil Okafor’s scored 19 points and had his way in the post all night. Grayson Allen scored 18 off the bench. Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones each pitched in 15 points– the former flying all over the court and the latter running the team with great efficiency. Duke matches Kentucky with 9 McDonald’s All-American’s on its roster and also appears to be adopting the platoon substitution scheme to accommodate the large amount of talent.

-It’s only been one game, but Rasheed Sulaimon looks like he’s embracing his role as point guard for the second unit. He was very quick and decisive, and most importantly, competed on every defensive possession. Look for him to have a big year if he continues to buy into his role.

-Duke’s ball movement was exquisite. Jahlil Okafor smartly passed out of post double teams, and the guards crisply swung the ball around the perimeter to the tune of 30 assists. Despite playing an extremly fast pace, Duke only had 9 turnovers.

-Coach K is back to his full court pressing ways, and tonight the Blue Devils suffocated the Presybyterian offense. Overall, Duke was very solid. They play tomorrow against Fairfield, but the real test will be on Tuesday against Michigan State.

Louisville: Montrezl Harrel just keeps getting better

-The Cardinals don’t have Russ Smith anymore, but Montrezl Harrell appears ready to step into the star role. There were rumbles in the off-season that Harrell expanded his range, and tonight he showed that, hitting 3 of his 4 attempts from deep. He also made 9 of his 10 free throws, which is surprising considering he was a sub-50% shooter from the line last year. He also had a career-high 30 points.

-Louisville has yet another dynamic duo in the backcourt. Former JUCO player Chris Jones didn’t have a good shooting night, but he played tough defense and led the team on offense. The most important thing is that he looks more comfortable than last year. Terry Rozier had 18 points, 6 rebounds,  4 assists and 4 steals. Need I say more?

Goodness, gracious, me oh my!

-This block by Brandon Bolden on John Marshall is absolutely crazy!

 Too close for comfort: Ranked teams play tight games

-Despite winning 23, Arizona was only up by 7 points midway through the 2nd half. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson came off the bench, presumably for spacing purposes. But if the team continues to shoot 25% from beyond the arc and 48% from the line, does it even make sense to have RHJ come off the bench? We’ll see how that materializes as the season goes on.

-Villanova struggled for much of the night against Lehigh, only breaking away towards the end of the second half. The team experienced one of their poor shooting nights that plagues them from time to time. They shot 8-33 from beyond the arc. Jay Wright’s team cannot get three-happy if they want to go further in the tournament. It cost them last season and will do the same if they don’t make a more concerted effort to maintain offensive balance.

-Iowa State got a scare from Oakland, as they won 93-82. Neither team played much defense, as they both shot over 50% from the field. The Cyclones were able to get to the line more often, which was the difference. Transfer Bryce Dejean-Jones  had 20 points and 11 rebounds for Iowa State, which is a great sign for Coach Hoiberg. But the Cyclones must put forth a better defensive effort on Monday night, when the Ryan Harrow, R.J. Hunter, Kevin Ware, and the Georgia State Panthers come to town.

-The defending champs UConn Huskies got all they could handle in a 66-53 win over the Bryant Bulldogs. The huskies’ defense eventually slowed the Bulldogs down, as they stretched the lead during the tail end of the 2nd half. Their struggles were likely due to the pre-game championship ring ceremony as well as the developing chemistry.

-Michigan State is looking forward to Tuesday’s blockbuster matchup against Duke, but they nearly lost to Navy, only to secure a 64-59 win. Coach Tom Izzo was not happy with Branden Dawson’s effort despite his 12 points and 8 rebounds. Coach Izzo has to be happy with point guard Tavis Trice, who scored 25 points, pulled down 5 rebounds, and recorded 5 assists. We’ll see what Michigan State is made of on Tuesday.

Kelly Oubre and Cliff Alexander: A combined 16 minutes?

Now I don’t know what Coach Self told Oubre and Alexander when he was recruiting them, but for Oubre to play 4 minutes and Alexander to play 12 is a head scratcher. That’s not typical for two top-10 recruits, but we’ll see how the freshmen respond.


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