Editor’s note: It’s time to reveal the fields for some of college basketball’s biggest early season tournaments. Follow along as we break down the tournaments. All previews can be found here.
Tournament: Puerto Rico Tip-Off
When and where: Nov. 20-21, Nov. 23, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Teams involved: Connecticut, West Virginia, Dayton, Texas A&M, Boston College, George Mason, New Mexico, College of Charleston
Initial thoughts: This could be renamed the question-mark tourney because virtually every team in the field has big questions to answer. Fortunately, these early-season tournaments are almost like retreats -- getaways that allow coaches to tinker and figure out what they’ve got, what they need and how to fix what isn’t quite right.
For Archie Miller, it’s not necessarily a matter of fixing what’s wrong as much as trying to handle what’s right. The Flyers' surprise run to the Elite Eight put the proud program back on the national map, and now it’s a matter of managing expectations. That sounds easy, but the road back to the NCAA tournament has been littered with roadkill teams that failed to handle success well.
Texas A&M, West Virginia and George Mason would love to have such problems. Theirs are far more complex. All three are trying to regain their footing and relevance in the national scene, and for the Aggies that could be especially tricky. Leading scorer Jamal Jones announced via Twitter that he was leaving the program and intimated it was because of frustrations with how things were run.
Meantime, Boston College has a new coach, former Ohio University coach Jim Christian, and College of Charleston might be working with an interim coach. Doug Wojcik is under investigation for allegations of verbal abuse, and according to a local TV station, newly hired assistant Antonio Reynolds-Dean will act as the team’s interim coach.
In his first year as a head coach, Craig Neal enjoyed a 27-7 record, though he couldn’t get the Lobos over the second-round NCAA tournament hump. Now Neal will be in rebuild mode and working without Cameron Bairstow, Alex Kirk and Kendall Williams.
Finally, there is the biggest question of all: How will the Huskies do in their first year A.S. -- After Shabazz?
Why you'll want to watch: Dayton was a surprise Elite Eight team this past season. What better way to prove that run wasn’t a fluke than by tangoing with the defending national champions? The Flyers and UConn could meet on Day 2 in San Juan in what could be a very good game for so early in the season.
Miller loses leading scorer Devin Oliver, but Dyshawn Pierre, Scoochie Smith and Jordan Sibert are more than enough with which to reboot. Although everyone rightly will talk about what UConn lost -– all-everything Shabazz Napier –- Kevin Ollie doesn’t exactly have an empty cupboard. Not with Ryan Boatright, Terrence Samuel, Phillip Nolan, Amida Brimah and NC State transfer Rodney Purvis.