Thursday, January 14, 2010
Updated: January 15, 3:08 PM ET
By Dick Vitale
Each week I'll talk about the sport I love, college basketball:
Wisconsin suffered a major blow when junior forward Jon Leuer had surgery to repair a fractured wrist. He suffered the injury when the Badgers beat Purdue. Leuer started all 16 games for Wisconsin and was the team's second-leading scorer (15.4 ppg) and top rebounder (6.2 rpg).
I hate the NBA mentality of schools making a coaching change during the season. De Paul's Jerry Wainwright became the third coach to be fired in-season, along with Fordham's Derreck Whittenburg and Glen Miller of Penn. A fourth, Dartmouth's Terry Dunn, opted to resign.
Congratulations to Texas star Damion James. The double-double man became the all-time leading rebounder in the Big 12. He helped the unbeaten Longhorns to the winner's circle in Ames, Iowa. Trust me, my friends, it is not easy to beat the Cyclones on their home court.
Pitt has been unreal on the road in the Big East. Jamie Dixon got a super W at Connecticut! The Panthers also got a huge victory at Syracuse a few weeks back. This young team is playing with a lot of confidence. Remember, Dixon's club was not even picked in the first division of the Big East's preseason poll!
Tony Bennett has been getting the last laugh on the critics who did not feel he fit the profile for the Virginia job. The Cavaliers have been hot, winning six in a row with a victory over Georgia Tech!
John Calipari said he is upset that his young Wildcats do not apply the knockout punch. That is why he is a winner; he always looks for ways to motivate his squad. It also helps having players named Wall, Patterson, Bledsoe and Cousins on your roster! The Kentucky players have bought into his defensive system and it has shown in crunch time of several Maalox Mashers this season.
I recently spoke to Chris Mack of Xavier about the toughness of life on the road in the A-10! To me, the A-10 is the best non-BCS conference! With Xavier, Dayton, Temple, Rhode Island, and others, this is an underrated league.
Connecticut's Stanley Robinson is a very athletic player. One thing he has improved on is his long-range shooting, and that has his draft stock going up and up. Last year, the book on Robinson was to let him shoot the trifecta. This season, you have to throw that book away, baby!
It has been a rocky season for UCLA. Ben Howland's team suffered another blow when sophomore back-up center J'mison Morgan sustained a partially torn quadricep in his right leg during practice. He is slated to be out for 2-3 weeks.
When you talk about Arizona State head coach Herb Sendek, realize he has quite a list of men who worked for him and later became head coaches. The eight with ties to Sendek are: Jim Christian (TCU), Charlie Coles (Miami of Ohio), John Groce (Ohio), Larry Hunter (Western Carolina), Ron Hunter (IUPUI), Thad Matta (Ohio State), Sean Miller (Arizona), and Mark Phelps (Drake).