1. Memphis coach Josh Pastner has the most well-known trainer in the college basketball in Frank Matrisciano, who is now allowing more media into his world. I can relate to the author of the piece after only gaining access to Matrisciano’s workout with then No. 1 draft pick Blake Griffin. I, too, carried a medicine ball up the sand hills of San Francisco (at least four times). That’s why Pastner is not fretting the shape of his team heading into this season. He said Sunday that sophomore Adonis Thomas was in phenomenal shape and is ready for a breakthrough season (as in off to the NBA in June). The question for the Tigers is overall skill. Athleticism and conditioning won’t be an issue. But if this team can shoot and defend then it has a real shot to make a deep run.
2. Virginia coach Tony Bennett is exhibiting patience in dealing with a point guard situation completely in flux. Senior Jontel Evans (stress fracture in his right foot, surgery in early October) is out for another month. Sophomore Malcolm Brogdon is his replacement, but he is still out from foot surgery in the spring. So, for now, less than two weeks into practice, the Cavaliers are going with a point-guard by committee approach leaning on freshmen Taylor Barnette, Teven Jones and at times junior Joe Harris playing the position. “It will be very interesting,’’ said Bennett.
3. In previous years, putting together a top 50 for the preseason Wooden Award has been a chore. There have been so many worthy candidates, even with the odd stipulation that you can’t put a freshman or junior college transfer on the preseason list. But coming up with 50 was a bit more difficult this season. There isn’t as much separation going into the season as we’ve seen in years past. That means the player of the year race is as wide open as I can remember the past 20 years. And that is good for the game because nearly all of them could emerge from a list of 50 and become a first-team all-American.