1. National Hoops Report college player of the week: Wesley Johnson, Syracuse. If you saw him against North Carolina, you know why he is here. The Texas native was amazing against the Tar Heels.
2. National Hoops Report freshman of the week: Rodney Williams, Minnesota. Surprised? I get it. He’s not the sexiest of picks and sure, he was great against a couple of cupcakes last week. But understand this – Minnesota started the season with major question marks and distractions off the court. The bouncy Minnesota native scored 31 points in two games and was Tubby Smith’s best player in the two wins. The true test awaits him this week with games against Butler and Miami.
3. National Hoops Report win of the week: Boston over Indiana, Syracuse over North Carolina, VCU over Oklahoma. Take your pick. Boston’s win is important for a program that is lead by a great, young head coach in Pat Chambers. Think that’ll help with recruits? Syracuse’s win over UNC has been hashed over a million times since it happened last week. You should know what it is a big win by now. Finally, how about Shaka Smart, the latest Boy Wonder to take over the Rams, beating former VCU head man Jeff Capel in Richmond? The Rams still have the punch against the big boys.
4. You hear coaches say this all the time: “Pre-season polls don’t mean anything.” Boy, are they right. The preseason top 25 poll is a hot mess. Here is my attempt at nailing down a Top 15 after the first full week of hoops.
5. Michigan State
10. West Virginia
12. North Carolina
5. N.C. State doesn’t have Lorenzo Brown on its roster this year because of academic issues. Brown is now spending a season at Hargrave in Virginia and quickly becoming one of the most talked about players in the nation. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see the former Roswell (Ga.) Centennial crack into the top 10 of the high school player rankings in the class of 2010. He and Ryan Harrow will be one of the top backcourts in the ACC next year despite the fact the two are freshman. Sidney Lowe needs that, too.
6. Keep an eye on these two international freshman: Gonzaga’s Elias Harris and St. Mary’s Matthew Dellavedova. The two rookies have caught the West Coast by surprise and by storm. Harris, a 6-7 20-year-old German, is Gonzaga’s top rebounder and third best scorer. Dellavedova, a 6-4 Aussie, is his team’s top scorer and the most impressive two guard on the West Coast so far this season.
7. When my wife perks up and says something during a basketball game, I tend to listen. You see, she’s not a big fan of the game. Maybe because it consumes my time. Whatever, the case, she’ll watch on occasion. This week she said “Why are all of these games empty? No one is going to games.” She is right. No one is going to games early this season. Hardly anyone was in Puerto Rico. No surprise there, really. No one really attended games during the 24 hour marathon. Few were at the Coaches Vs. Cancer event at Madison Square Garden. Hawaii will certainly be packed. But the gym is smaller than my office. I saw a Duke game against UNC Greensboro and there were plenty of seats available on the rackety bleachers at Cameron Indoor. Remember the Final Four in Detroit? Michigan’s paradise was empty this year. Hopefully things will change and the gyms will have more spectators. The game needs it.
8. Oh boy, the Pac-10 is horrible. I heard that a lot this weekend. But is the conference really that bad? As a conference, the Pac-10 is 23-10.
UCLA isn’t up to UCLA’s standards. Stanford is a mixed bag. But is Cal as bad as everyone thinks? They lost to Syracuse and Ohio State without Theo Robertson. Oregon State is that bad, however. Little to debate about that. Oregon lost to a very good Portland team that is well coached by Eric Reveno, who could eventually be the next head coach in the Pac-10. I digress.
But Washington is very good. Arizona State is much better than what people think. Washington State is still a question mark early in the season. Arizona has talent and a good, young, aggressive coach in Sean Miller.
By comparison, the SEC is a combined 33-10 with some of those losses coming to Wofford, Rider, Cornell, Missouri State, Central Florida and UAB.
The Big Ten is a combined 28-9 with some of those losses coming to UT-San Antonio, Duquesne, UNC Wilmington, Tulane, Boston and George Mason.
9. So what now? With the early signing period now over, the dominoes have tipped and some decisions have been made easier for some prospects and harder for others. Tobias Harris picked Tennessee on the final day of the early period. His decision caused Jayvauhn Pinkston’s decision to be put on hold. On the public forum, there are those that say Tennessee is still very strong with the New Yorker. But my belief is Villanova will still be the winner.
When Harrison Barnes picked North Carolina, Duke immediately turned it’s attention to Roscoe Smith.
Everyone turned to C.J. Leslie despite the commitment. He’s one of the few uncommitted guy that is truly leaning in one particular direction.
Terrence Jones of Portland will be the most coveted player on the West Coast.
And what domino will Doron Lamb push over? His recruitment may be the toughest one to truly figure out.
10. Linkage: Andy Katz's Weekly Watch...Allow me to play Santa for a moment (save "Well, J, your gut is certainly big enough" jokes). Face it. Men are tough to shop for, right? Admit it. We are. If your wife or girlfriend or mother or someone that needs a buy a gift for an un-shoppable male, take heed. Try the Tony Ingle book "I Don't Mind Hitting Bottom, I Just Hate Dragging" or the ESPN Encyclopedia of College Basketball...Dave Telep spent the weekend in New Haven, Connecticut for the National Prep Showcase. Here is his coverage (sub required): Day 1, Day 2, Day 3...Eric Bossi was also in New Haven…CBS Sports' Gary Parrish released his top 26 teams in the country...Jeff Goodman of Fox released his top 25.
11. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
12. Here are my 12 football thoughts from the weekend:
A. Dear Santa, I’d like a watch and some common sense for Christmas. Thanks, Les Miles.
B. Dear Santa, I’d like an offensive coordinator’s position in the NFL. Thanks, Charlie Wies.
C. Was it me or did a lot of teams both in college and the NFL go for it on 4th downs on Saturday? Trickle down effect?
D. The BCS computers are on the brink of blowing up Y2K style. Six teams remain undefeated. At least five will remain undefeated by Sunday.
E. What an effort from Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli in Tucson on Saturday night. The double overtime thriller was all about the 5-11 junior from San Francisco. He ran for three touchdowns and passed for three touchdowns. I’m surprised the effort wasn’t fawned all over by national analysts like Tim Tebow. It was a 2008 Tim Tebow-like effort.
F. Speaking of Oregon, it is time for Kellen Clemens, a former Duck, to take over the Jets offense. Mark Sanchez hasn’t just hit the wall. He’s stuck under the rubble of bricks.
G. After starting 6-0, Denver will probably finish 9-7. If the NFL Playoffs were like the NCAA tournament, the Broncos would certainly be on the last four out list.
H. So the Browns and the Lions played in the best game of the year on Sunday, huh? The NFL is the best sports product on the planet. You never, ever know who or what will happen.
I. Ricky Williams should be the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award winner this season. If you saw him on Thursday night (and few of you did), Williams looked like the old Ricky Williams en route to his three touchdowns for the Dolphins.
J. I’ll be playing defensive tackle, tight end, full back, linebacker, long snapper, coach and pain inflictor on Thanksgiving morning at Lassiter High School in Marietta, Georgia. Feel free to join the world’s greatest Turkey Bowl. Bring some ice and band-aids.
K. Who is the Heisman leader right now? I am full steam ahead for Stanford’s Toby Gerhart. He’s a man amongst boys as a runner and has a very mediocre team playing well above their expectations this season.
L. Who is the NFL MVP leader right now? You can make a strong case for Brett Favre this year. He’s having one of his best years in his 87-year career. The Vikings are playing on another plain compared to the rest of the league because of his energy. Favre moved up to my second place spot behind Peyton Manning.