Feast Week an appetizer to Challenge duels
Team of the Week: Duke
-- Andy Katz
Editor's note: This edition is for games played from Sunday, Nov. 18, to Saturday, Nov. 24.
Five more that impressed us
Indiana: The Hoosiers won the Legends Classic with a gritty overtime win over Georgetown after falling behind in the second half (as well as beating Georgia the previous night despite being down at the half). Indiana is still not whole with Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Peter Jurkin not eligible yet. But IU dealt with foul trouble and found other ways to score in Brooklyn, even relying at times on Jordan Hulls, which worked out quite well.
-- Andy Katz
The Weekly Starting Five
As Andy Katz denotes in the video at the top of this page, Brandon Paul of Illinois was our Player of the Week. Here are five more players who stood out during the week that was:
-- Myron Medcalf
Old Spice Classic Title Game:
Gonzaga 81, Davidson 67
Duke's Quinn Cook
Three Things I Took Note Of
Missouri might be the most intriguing team in the countryThe Tigers lost to Louisville but left Atlantis 2-1 with wins over VCU and Stanford. Phil Pressey made key shots late to beat the Rams and Laurence Bowers continued to be a dominant presence in the paint. All of this occurred without starting guard Michael Dixon Jr. If he returns, the Tigers will be even more formidable offensively. And the bench scoring has a chance for an even bigger lift when Oregon transfer Jabari Brown is eligible next month. Second-year coach Frank Haith has a chore ahead to blend so many transfers together for one significant run. So far he's off to a solid start, even with the distraction of Dixon's suspension. Oregon is a team to watch in the Pac-12 The Ducks aren't a great defensive team -- that's safe to say. But this team can get up the court and produce. And it's hardly a finished product. There are still a lot of moving parts, as Dana Altman is trying to get Arsalan Kazemi fully engaged after becoming eligible. He had 15 boards in the tournament title loss to Cincinnati on Saturday night. The trio of guard/wings Carlos Emory, Damyean Dotson and Dominic Artis will continue to mesh. They were the more poised group in Oregon's upset of UNLV in Vegas. The Pac-12 is deeper than it was a year ago, and the Ducks have every reason to believe they can be a factor in the race. UCLA has a lot of work to do The Bruins have the pieces in place with loads of talent. But the sense of urgency has to increase on a daily basis from practice to games. Shabazz Muhammad will continue to feel comfortable in the offense. Kyle Anderson is still finding his footing as a point-forward who plays multiple positions (he brings up the ball quite a bit). Larry Drew II has fit in well and does seem to be leading this crew. Josh Smith should be used in short bursts for full effectiveness. Jordan Adams can be a star for this group. Tyler Lamb isn't himself yet, due to an injury. The main thing is for this group to play with purpose and passion. If that happens, UCLA can be a major player during the season.
-- Andy Katz
Sean Woods Suspended
Three Things I Learned
Duke is still DukeThere was some talk before the season that the Blue Devils were about to suffer a rare slide into something resembling mediocrity, or at the very least, they were outclassed by more talented NC State and UNC teams. If you bought into this, be advised: It was wrong then, and it looks especially so now. Duke is still Duke, which means the Blue Devils still have a talented, versatile group of players, with a bunch of really good guards (including freshman Rasheed Sulaimon, who is as adept a scorer as Austin Rivers without needing to dominate the ball for huge stretches), glue guys such as Ryan Kelly, bench bodies and a much-improved Mason Plumlee on the interior. The Devils are smart, they run their stuff, they're defending better than in 2011-12 and they just win games. There is no reason to expect anything else this season.
VCU is the nation's best 3-3 team, and it's not even closeThus far, the Rams have played Wichita State -- a 53-51 loss to an underrated team that is already getting great things from Malcolm Armstead -- Memphis, Duke and Missouri. They toppled the Tigers with relative ease, pushed Duke for all 40 minutes and (thanks to Flip Pressey) just missed their chance to upset No. 13 Missouri in a 68-65 loss Saturday night. That is a brutal schedule, but the Rams look great -- probably more talented and versatile than the legendary Final Four team, with even more ball pressure and interchangeability. It's going to be fascinating to see what that team can do in the Atlantic 10. I'm anticipating big things.
UNLV is a work in progressLike the two items above it, this is not some new revelation. It's an affirmation of something we already assumed to be true, as borne out by facts on the ground throughout Feast Week. Entering the season, UNLV appeared set to field one of the most talented frontcourts in the country. But it wouldn't be available right away -- center Khem Birch won't be eligible until late December -- and even then it would require some rejiggering. Guards Anthony Marshall and Justin Hawkins are taking on a much larger share of the load than ever before, forward Mike Moser will play less around the rim than last season, and freshman forward Anthony Bennett will come along eventually. The result is that you'll get stretches like we saw this week, when UNLV lost to Oregon on its own court but followed it up with a pretty resounding win over Iowa State. The Rebels' ceiling remains very high, but it may take a while before we start to see it.
-- Eamonn Brennan
They Said It
"We don't know if [his wrist is] broken yet. If it's broken, you'll get me disappointed. I don't want to know. I want to stay in an upbeat mode. Just tell me tomorrow."
-- Louisville coach Rick Pitino when asked about the status of injured center Gorgui Dieng following his team's 76-71 loss to Duke.
"This definitely [is] a great feeling. It is my hometown team. I won two state championships with a couple of the other guys on Memphis. It was a great feeling to win against guys I used to play with."
-- Andre Hollins, who scored 41 points in Minnesota's 84-75 victory over Memphis in the Battle 4 Atlantis. Hollins grew up in Memphis.
"I just saw a little opening and took it. It's just a learning process this early in the year. Most of our guys never had that much experience."
-- Georgetown's Otto Porter after he scored a layup in the final seconds of regulation in his team's 82-72 overtime loss to Indiana.
"It was really exciting to get down to the court for the first time. I just finally was getting the jitters out and playing college basketball for the first time and hopefully I'll get better. I think a lot better. I didn't do a lot well tonight."
-- UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad after his first collegiate game, a 78-70 loss to Georgetown. He registered 15 points.
-- Myron Medcalf