2021 NCAA Tournament Preview: Friday, Early Afternoon Games

After a year without the Tournament, this is awesome!  So, let’s get right to the games…

#7 Florida (-1) vs. #10 Virginia Tech
12:15 pm, CBS
I love the first game of the Tournament.  It’s always interesting to think of what two teams are gonna tip us off.  And, this year, it’s a pretty good one.  Or, at least a competitive one.

The Gators come stumbling into this Tournament and, I think, are one of the few major seeding mistakes that the Committee made in what was a rather well-seeded tournament, in general.  This team is not a 7-seed especially after losing 3 of their last 4 with that only win a close one over a bad Vandy team in the SEC Tournament that they easily could have lost.  The big story of the UF season is the loss of Keyontae Johnson after he had a TERRIFYING collapse in a game at FSU in November.  Johnson, the preseason SEC POY, was the best and most important player on this team, and their ceiling is definitely lowered without him.  But, most importantly, it looks like he’s going to be okay.  Before the recent swoon, the Gators had been pretty good considering they lost their best player.  They are top-40 in both offense and defense, and have one of the most unsung stars of the SEC in the 6’5” SO Tre Mann (15.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 3.4 apg, 1.5 spg, 45/39/84%), who is a stud on both ends.  He is probably the best player that no one ever talks about.  They also have former McDonald’s All-American in 6’5″ SO Scottie Lewis (7.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.6 spg), but he has been surprisingly slow to emerge in now his sophomore year in Gainesville.  They have a couple of decent wings in Reisterstown’s own 6’3” JR sharpshooter Noah Locke (10.5 ppg, 41% from three) and 6’1” JR transfer from Cleve State Tyree Appleby (11.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.4 apg, 1.6 spg),.  And, losing Johnson has forced Mike White to go big and allowed for 6’11” JR transfer from Michigan Colin Castleton (12.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.3 bpg, 59% FG) to emerge as a really good SEC big.  The Gators are 8-0 this year when Castleton scores 14 or more.

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2010 College Basketball Conference Previews: ACC

Over the next week or two, BSB will be previewing each of the major conferences in the college basketball season.  With the ACC-Big Ten Challenge underway, we figured we’d start with those two conferences.  Hopefully, I’ll finish the Big Ten either tonight or tomorrow morning, so check back.

The ACC has been the best college basketball conference in the country pretty much as long as I can remember.  They might not be the best this year, but they have the best single team, that is for sure, and can still boast some other outstanding programs.  This conference probably does have the best crop of incoming freshmen in the country, led by Harrison Barnes at UNC, Kyrie Irving at Duke, and C.J. Leslie at N.C. State. 

Conference Tidbits 

  • With Duke’s championship last year, the ACC claimed its 12th national title, and its 5th in the last 10 years.
  • Following UNC’s 2009 title, the ACC has now had two seperate schools win national championships in successive seasons FOUR times in the last 30 years.  The Big East is the only other conference to boast such a feat, having done it twice (Georgetown and Villanova in the mid-80’s and UConn and Syracuse in the mid-00’s).
  • The ACC is 347-175 all-time in the NCAA tournament, which is more wins and a higher winning percentage than any other conference in the country.
  • The ACC was 153-39 (.797 winning percentage) in non-conference games last year.  It was the 8th straight year where ACC teams won at least 75% of their games against non-ACC opponents.  Overall, the ACC has a winning record against all 31 other D-I conferences.
  • When the New Jersey Nets selected Georgia Tech’s Derrick Favors as the #3 overall pick, it marked the 22nd consecutive season featuring an ACC player chosen in the first round of the NBA draft.  Over that span, the conference has had 91 first-round picks, or an average of more than 4 per season.
  • As usual, the ACC is full of highly decorated coaches.  Mike Krzyzewski needs 35 more wins to pass Bobby Knight as the all-time winningest head coach.  Gary Williams is #3 on the all-time ACC list, behind Krzyzewski and Dean Smith.  Roy Williams, even with more than 400 wins at Kansas, only needs 26 more wins with UNC to crack the Top Ten in ACC history.
  • Last year, Maryland’s Greivis Vazquez finished his career as the ACC’s 18th all-time scorer and 8th on the all-time assists list.
  • Duke became the first school to welcome in a 10th member to the 2,000-point club, as Jon Scheyer reached it last year.  They will almost assuredly add an 11th member, as Kyle Singler is only about 200 points shy of the mark.
  • Virginia Tech’s Malcolm Delaney should also reach 2,000 points this year, as he enters the season with almost 1,600.

Blue Ribbon’s All-Conference Teams
Much of my facts for these previews come from the book I like to call “The Bible” of college basketball, the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, so I’d like to put up in our preview their picks for the all-conference teams:

MVP:  Kyle Singler (Duke)
Malcolm Delaney (Virginia Tech)
Nolan Smith (Duke)
Tracy Smith (N.C. State)
Chris Singleton (Florida State)

TOP NEWCOMER:  Harrison Barnes (UNC)

BSB’s Picks
And, BSB will try and project the standings for each conference before the team-by-team previews:

  1. Duke
  2. North Carolina
  3. Virginia Tech
  4. N.C. State
  5. Maryland
  6. Miami
  7. Florida St.
  8. Clemson
  9. Georgia Tech
  10. Virginia
  11. Wake Forest
  12. Boston College

Lock Tournament Teams:  Duke
Very Likely Tournament Teams:  UNC, Va Tech, N.C. State
Possible Tournament Teams:  Maryland, Miami, Florida St., Clemson, Georgia Tech
Possible NIT Teams:  Virginia
Unlikely Postseason Teams:  Wake Forest, Boston College

The Favorite – Duke
To quote the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook (aka, “The Bible”), “It’s ironic.  Duke might very well be the nation’s most talented team this season, but last year’s Blue Devil team proved that the most talented team doesn’t always win.” 

The Team
This team is absolutely stacked with talent.  Kyle Singler – for some silly reason like “valuing education” – decided to forego a possible lottery selection to come back, get his degree, and try and win another national title in Durham.  Singler, this year, will join with a fellow 17-ppg scorer from last year’s title team, Nolan Smith, to form what will probably be the best duo in the nation this year.  But, that is not all.  They have traded in their unskilled, unselfish bigs for a couple of Plumlees.  Miles Plumlee, the elder, made great strides last year and has the elite athletic ability to dominate on many nights in the ACC.  Mason Plumlee, the younger, was rated by Chad Ford (among others) as a first-round NBA draft pick last year if he were to bolt for the Association. 

Oh, and all of this and we haven’t even mentioned the best (arguably) freshman in the country, Kyrie Irving, who will be running the point for the Devils.  Irving has the potential to be one of the best point guards in the illustrious history of Duke, as he has been compared favorably to the likes of former ACC standout point guards, Jay Williams and Chris Paul. 

Is Kyrie Irving the Second-Coming of Jason Williams?

And, what about the bench?  Well, there have been sources close to the Blue Devils team that said the best guard on the team last year (the title team that included Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith) was Seth Curry.  Who is Seth Curry?  Well, he is the little brother of current NBA sharpshooter, Stephen Curry, and son of former NBA sharpshooter, Del Curry.  He is a transfer from Liberty (where he lit it up his freshman year to the tune of over 20 points per game) that had to sit out the games last year, but was allowed to practice with the team.  So, he’ll be instant offense off the bench.  They also have sophomore Ryan Kelly off the bench, who is a 6’10” forward who WON the McDonald’s All-American three-point contest in 2009, and 6’8″ freshman, Josh Hairston, who started (with Irving) on the U.S. National Under-18 Team that won the World Championships last year.  Ya, like I said, they’re STACKED. 

Are They Better Than Last Year?
Better?  Can you be a better team than the one that won the ACC regular season, the ACC tournament, and the national championship?  Yes, and they are.  In fact, I might say that they are MUCH better – at least on paper.  Jon Scheyer is a big loss, and Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek are losses because of how well they knew and took to their roles.  But, honestly, when you replace a decent college point guard with one of the best freshman in the country, and you replace two serviceable role-playing bigs with immense talent, you’ve got an upgrade.  Last year’s Duke team never even cracked the AP Top 5 during the regular season, so yes, I’d say that this team is better. 

Question Marks.
Too Much Talent?  Are they going to take a step backwards now that they have SO much talent?  Do you need guys like Zoubek and Thomas to win at the college level?  Maybe. 

Change of Pace?  They are switching from a plodding, half-court style of play last year to an uptempo, pressing, run-and-gun style this year.  Will that lessen the effectiveness of Singler and Smith, who are not the fastest end-to-end guys in the league?  Will that cut back on the minutes of the best starting five in the country? 

Freshman Point Guard? 

Their Ceiling. There is no doubt that this team can repeat as National Champions.  They are the odds-on favorites to do so, and, if Irving is as good as advertised and the Plumlees develop the way most think they will, this could be one of the best college teams in recent memory. 

My Favorite – Virginia Tech
Yeah, I know, this is an interesting team to peg as “My Favorite,” but I really like this team, and the “My Favorite” tag is more of a “no one may know it yet, but these guys are good.”  I’ve used this tag three times now, on a national level, starting with the surprising Tennessee team led by Chris Lofton then the Louisville team led by one of my favorite all-time college players, Terrance Williams, and then last year for Purdue.  This year, I’m going to pick one for each conference I preview, and the ACC tag goes to Va Tech.  With all five starters back (and almost assured to become the program’s winningest senior class), the Hokies shouldn’t have any anxiety on Selection Sunday this year. 

Malcolm Delaney - The first nomination for "Best Player No One's Ever Heard Of"

The Team
It all starts with senior point guard, Malcolm Delaney.  Delaney is a true college scorer, who can score from anywhere on the court.  He has also matured his game to the point where he’s not just a gunner anymore, he has really refined his distribution ability so that he gets everyone involved.  His running mate in what might be the nation’s most underrated backcourt is 6’5″ senior Dorenzo Hudson.  Though you may have never heard of him, Hudson was 10th in the ACC in scoring last year, even though he makes his bread on the defensive end, as a true lockdown defender. 

The frontcourt is a bit undersized, but certainly up to the task.  They are led down low by SR power forward, Jeff Allen, whose off-the-charts athleticism may be indicated by the fact that he is the ACC’s active leader in rebounds, blocks, and steals.  As a more mature player, the Hokies hope that Allen can play with more consistency this year, as he seemed to disappear at key moments last year.  If he does, he might be one of the best bigs in the conference.  The other forward is another senior, Terrell Bell, who is a do-everything, glue kind of a guy.  He hustles for loose balls, is a very good passer and rebounder, and is an excellent defender on the perimeter or in the post.  He also has a knack for taking – and making – the big shots. 

Along with the four seniors, the center is junior Victor Davila.  Davila isn’t going to wow you and will probably be lost at times behind the four stars, but he kind of fits exactly what Va Tech needs to complement the other 4 starters.  With the majority of the shots coming from the backcourt, and the offensive touches in the lane almost all going to Allen, Davila knows his role – rebound and block shots – and he does that pretty well.  At only 6’8″, he may struggle with the legit 7-footers on the league’s top teams, but overall he should provide what the Hokies need. 

Are They Better Than Last Year?
Yes, without question.  Everyone is back from a team that was the last team out of the tournament last year, so you have to think that, barring injury, this team should be a solid NCAA tournament team this year.  Duke is so stacked that it’s hard to imagine anyone will unseat them from the ACC title, but if it’s anyone, it might just be the boys from Blacksburg. 

Question Marks
Depth?  The bench is the issue with this team in that, well, they don’t really have one.  But, that is not as big of a problem because this group of starters is used to playing a ton of minutes and Coach Greenberg is good at monitoring foul trouble. 

Size?  They are a bit undersized.  Davila is their tallest regular at just 6’8″, so they may have trouble with bigger frontcourts.  But, fortunately, their perimeter starters run 6’3″, 6’5″, and 6’7″ and are all decent rebounders, so that should help out the size problems for Davila and Allen. 

Their Ceiling
As far as the conference goes, I think that their ceiling is probably runner-up, but that would be a nice finish for a football school in the best hoops conference in the country.  As far as the tournament goes, I think that they have an outside shot a seeding as high as 2 or 3, though I expect them somewhere in the 4-7 range.  I could see this team making a run to the Sweet Sixteen, but I’m not sure that they have the firepower to go much further than that.  Even if everything fell completely into place, I don’t see this team as Final Four caliber…as much as I would like to. 

An Elite – North Carolina
It’s not a stretch to say that the UNC basketball team is one of the country’s elite teams, but it would be nice to see a quick bounce-back from a dreadful season last year.  Even though I don’t particularly care for either team, I have to admit that college basketball is better when the Duke-UNC games are meaningful.  They should be somewhat meaningful again this year.   

Exactly who is this Harrison Barnes you speak of?

 The Team
UNC is loaded with talent, we all know that, but is it the kind of talent that they need to rebound from a terrible season?  I think so.  It will all start with super-frosh Harrison Barnes.  Barnes, who elicits Kobe comparisons, is the first freshman to ever be named to the preseason All-American team, and from all accounts, he’s worthy of such high praise.  He should be the top pick in the upcoming NBA draft, but he’s apparently the consummate worker on and off the court.  He has a refined midrange game on the court, and he is a honor roll student and saxophone player off of it.  He seems to be the real deal. 

But, Barnes is not the only newcomer that could shine for this team.  Kendall Marshall, a 6’4″ McDonald’s All-American point guard, who has been favorably compared to past UNC point guards Raymond Felton and Ty Lawson (pretty decent players, huh?).  Marshall may not start right away because the job still belongs to junior incumbent Larry Drew II, who started to play a little better at the end of last year, but may end up backing up Marshall, who was rated the best passing guard in the whole freshman class. 

The other starting guard spot will probably start out going to Will Barnes, a 5th-year senior, but should end up, by the end of the year, going to one of the super-sophs (Dexter Strickland or Leslie McDonald), who struggled last year, but should regain the shooting touches that made them such prized recruits.  Or, there is an outside shot (no pun intended) that highly-touted freshman sharp-shooter and tenacious defender, Reggie Bullock, earns the starting spot. 

And, then there is the frontcourt that was absolutely gigantic, until they took a gigantic hit with the shocking transfers in May of the two 7’0″ Wear twins to UCLA.  That left the frontcourt a big short (in players, but certainly not in height).  Neither of the Wears were going to start because of 7’0″ junior Tyler Zeller and 6’10” sophomore John Henson.  Zeller, if he can stay healthy, could have a breakout season, as he possesses all the skills and, now with 20 extra pounds of muscle, the size to be a dominant force in the ACC.  Henson, who was supposed to be a one-and-done guy a year ago, also put on 20 “good” pounds this offseason and may also be poised for a breakout season.  The frontcourt problem now with the Wear twins departure is going to be depth, so it’s really important that Zeller and Henson stay out of foul trouble.  A welcome solution to the depth problem may come in an underrated addition, Justin Knox, who is a 6’9″ senior transfer from Alabama.  Knox, who has three years of SEC experience under his belt, should be a welcome addition to the UNC frontcourt rotation. 

Are They Better Than Last Year?
Last year’s team only made the NIT because they are “North Carolina.”  Their season was a total loss, so yes, they are a LOT better than last year. 

Question Marks?
Repeat Performance?  Now, we say all of this about how they will definitely be better, but are we sure that last year was such the anomaly and that this year’s squad (which looks scarily similar to last year’s in personnel) won’t suffer the same afflictions?  Are they counting on a freshman point guard to distribute the ball to the bevy of heralded sharp-shooters and talented bigs?  Is there enough defense and selflessness on this roster to overcome the problems that sunk them last year?  All good questions, though I believe that this team will be very good. 

Their Ceiling
Honestly, this team is really hard to figure (mainly because they are going to be so reliant on guys who haven’t ever really done it on this level).  I think they will probably struggle early working out the kinks and allowing Barnes to be the superstar, but in the end, I can see this team being really, really good.  They should push Duke, at least a little, for the ACC title, and I think they even have an outside chance to cut down the nets as National Champions.  

The Team to Watch – N.C. State
Yes, Sidney Lowe’s squad is really, really good this year.  I couldn’t quite call them “elite,” but I was close.  This is, BY FAR, Lowe’s best recruiting class, and if the freshmen are as good as advertised, this could be a big-time contender come March. 

The Team
The Wolfpack have four of last year’s starters still on their roster this year, but only one of them, Tracy Smith, will start, and he was more a role player at power forward than anything else last year (though, this year, he may blossom into an all-ACC performer).  And, it is not because of anything that the starters did or didn’t do last year.  Javier Gonzalez did an admirable job at the point (10 ppg, 3 rpg, 4 apg), but will most likely come off of the bench for his senior year.  Scott Wood was a lights-out streaky shooter last year for the ‘Pack, averaging almost 8 ppg as a starting freshman, but he is on the bench this year.  C.J. Williams was a high-energy, junkyard dog kind of a guy last year at small forward, who will now provide that energy off the bench.  This is all because of Coach Lowe’s dynamic freshman class. 

C.J. Leslie is the most highly-touted of the bunch, as a McDonald’s All-American and a high school teammate of John Wall at the Word of God Academy in Raleigh.  The best recruit NC State has landed in quite some time, Leslie can score from anywhere, at any time, against anybody and could be one of the best offensive players in the ACC immediately.  Not exactly the easiest to handle off the court, however, as questions about Leslie’s game have always seemed to center around shot selection and defensive intensity, so he might be a major challenge for Coach Lowe…you know, when he’s not dropping 30 on Wake Forest. 

Never heard of C.J. Leslie? You will...

With the 6’8″ Leslie at the small forward position, the backcourt will be two fellow freshmen.  Five-star recruit, Ryan Harrow, was rated as the #7 point guard in the nation.  Harrow is strongly considered one of the best “true point guards” in this freshman class, even though he averaged over 31 points per game in high school in Marietta, GA.  His backcourt mate this year is another freshman from Georgia, Lorenzo Brown, who actually was named GA’s Mr. Basketball two years ago (he took a year off to go to prep school for academic eligibility purposes).  Brown is another dynamic scorer and should team incredibly well with fellow freshmen Leslie and Harrow. 

The fifth starter, to go along with the three freshmen and Smith will be one of two sophomore bigs.  6’8″ Richard Howell, another Georgian, was a pretty decent recruit in last year’s class, but was hobbled most of the year from an early-season injury.  He’s back and healthy and they expect him to put up some numbers this year.  6’9″ DeShawn Painter was also considered a very good recruit last year, having originally committed to Florida, but struggled adjusting to the speed and tempo of the ACC.  With a year under his belt, the ‘Pack expects more from Painter this year. 

Are They Better Than Last Year?
5-11 in conference play last year?  Yes, I think that N.C. State should be better than that this year.  In fact, as you can see, I have them as one of the four best teams in the conference. 

Freshmen?  How quickly are these freshmen going to gel? 

Coaching?  Many people question the competency of Sidney Lowe.  I am not one of those people, but I am still waiting for him to put together a solid season in Raleigh. 

Their Ceiling
There is no doubt that this team, especially with Leslie, has tournament talent, so anything less than a tournament appearance will be a disappointment.  If everything comes together, I think this team may even win a couple games in the tournament.  Freshmen get better as the season goes on, so it wouldn’t completely shock me to see this team as a 6- or 7-seed and pull off an upset or two and find themselves in the Elite Eight.  Call me crazy, but I like this team. 

The Relevants
There are a couple more ACC teams that are certainly relevant in the context of the national college basketball landscape this year, but I don’t expect major things from these teams.  Tournament appearances would be successful seasons for these middling teams this year, though I do expect at least one, if not two or three of these teams to put it together and qualify. 

Like last year, when the Tigers leaned on senior star, Trevor Booker, they will have to do it again this year with a senior star, Demontez Stitt.  Stitt, a 6’2″ point guard has all the makings of a big-time ACC guard, he just has yet to put it together, and he’s down to his final chance this year.  Stitt will be joined by a couple of junior guards, 6’5″ Tanner Smith, who is a “glue guy,” and 5’9″ Andre Young, who, if not for his size, might be a pro-caliber 2-guard.  But, alas, he’s 5’9″.  The frontcourt is also pretty solid, led by the nephew of Horace Grant, Jerai Grant, and the little brother of Trevor Booker, Devin Booker.  

Gary Williams’ team has seen some difficult times recently, and though they may not be returning to the national championship picture, they are regaining some of their relevance and have a decent shot to return to The Dance this year.  Their frontcourt should be the strength of the team this year, with two sophomores that might take off into superstardom, Jordan Williams and James PadgettDino Gregory provides strength and defense, while senior leaders, Sean Mosely and Adrian Bowie will man the backcourt.  Cliff Tucker could be a real X-factor for the Turtles, as he can score in bunches off the bench.  Though he lost Greivis Vazquez, Williams may have a team that more suits his style this year, as they are deep and athletic, so he can get them running again.

Durand Scott, just another in the long line of NYC point guards

Miami finished in last place in the ACC last year and lost their two two scorers and rebounders, but actually should be better this year.  That is because of the progress of sophomore playmaking point guard, Durand Scott.  Scott, a prototypical NYC point guard took off in the ACC tournament last year and might carry that momentum into this year, where he might become one of the better PGs in the country.  The ‘Canes should run at least three guards, including two point guards, as Scott will probably be joined by fellow point guard (and Villanova transfer), Malcolm Grant.  Scott and Grant could form one of the better backcourt tandems in the league. 

Florida St.
They still have some size and skill, but they don’t really have a complete team.  Chris Singleton, the 6’9″ junior small forward was the ACC’s defensive player of the year last year and is back to lead this team.  The Seminoles will go as far as he can take them, being a former McDonald’s All-American with future NBA aspirations.  They also have a decent point guard in 6’4″ senior, Dervin Kitchen, but Kitchen, like the rest of the ‘Noles really struggles from outside. 

Georgia Tech
This team probably just lost too much to the NBA recently, but they should be okay this year, and have an outside shot at the postseason.  Point guard Iman Shumpert is the leader, as he can score and distribute as well as anyone.  He just lacks consistency and turns the ball over way too much.  Shumpert is joined in the backcourt by two energetic playmakers, Mfon Udofia and Mo Miller, who should help out with ballhandling and penetrating.  The frontcourt, while very small, is incredibly talented and athletic, with some deft shooting touches.  Glen Rice, Jr. could be a star in the making, following in the footsteps of the Old Man.  Brian Oliver is also a gifted scorer who is very versatile.  Jason Morris, though he has the furthest to go of these three, may end up being the best of the bunch. 

The Irrelevants
The three bottom-feeders of the ACC are rather irrelevant this year. 

  • Virginia.  They are certainly on the road back with a GREAT coach Tony Bennett and three good starters returning (Moustafa Farrakhan, Sammy Zeglinski, and Jontel Evans), but they are still a couple years from Bennett’s “plan.”
  • Boston College.  Not a very good team that is really hurt by being so far away from the rest of the conference, geographically.
  • Wake Forest.  6’3″ sophomore C.J. Harris is a star, but the rest of the team is not very good.  They may be good in a couple of years, but the death of Skip Prosser is still causing major pain to the program.

Relatively Encouraging Start for the Owls

I know the baseball season just ended, but it’s college hoops already (I guess World Series trips don’t give us nearly as much of a “break,” huh?).  Everything is different under Dunphy than it was under Chaney.  Under Chaney, the Owls were almost always the last team in the country to start their season, and often didn’t play a home game until around Christmas.  Under Dunphy, they play early and often, including the requisite mid- and low-major teams as “warm-ups” (I’m not opining either way on Chaney’s schedule decisions versus Dunphy’s, just making observations).  Well, it’s only November 18, but the Owls are already two games into their season.

Now with back-to-back NCAA tournament trips under their belts, the Owls should return to, at least, a class of team that handles mid-majors early in the season.  Well, they did just that in their season-opener at the Carpenter Center in Delaware.  The Owls put up 76 points in a 20-point victory over the Blue Hens.  Ryan Brooks had 23 points, and Lavoy Allen pulled down 15 rebounds.  If this Temple team is going to secure its first at-large bid in recent memory, they are going to have to be carried by those two because the depth on this team is a bit questionable.  The newest Owl starter is Juan Fernandez, who is going to be a special player, and could be complete a solid three-man nucleus.  Fernandez, who is so calm and collected on the floor, added 14 points and 5 assists in 29 minutes.  The other two starter, Michael Eric (the big, raw Nigerian) added 7 points, and Luis Guzman chipped in with 8.  Two freshman, Rahlir Jefferson (a pure freshman from Chester) and Ramone Moore (the 2007 Public League MVP, who had an academic redshirt in ’07-08 and a medical redshirt last year) both played a solid 14 minutes.  Personally, I think that both are pretty decent options off the bench, with Moore being a potential starter by conference play.

Then yesterday, the Owls got to tussle with the nationally-ranked Georgetown Hoyas, down in DC.  Temple struggled to get going in the first half (as did the Hoyas–it was 19-13 at the half), but played a really solid second half.  They outplayed the Hoyas for much of the second half.  “Big Smooth” Craig Williams hit a game-tying three-pointer with 4:52 left, and it looked like the Owls were going to pull this one out, as they took and extended their lead in the closing minute.  But, back-to-back three-point plays by G’town’s stud sophomore, Greg Monroe, pulled the game close again.  The Owls did have the ball and a 1-point lead with :23 seconds left, when Ramone Moore was sent to the line for a one-and-one.  Moore missed the front end, and Monroe drove the length of the floor for the go-ahead basket.  The Owls got one last chance, but a Guzman turnover ended the upset hopes.

As good as Brooks was against Delaware, that is how bad he was yesterday, scoring just 6 points on 2-14 from the field.  Allen, however, had another big day on the glass, with 14 more rebounds (and 12 points).  Guzman didn’t score in 36 minutes, but Moore picked up some slack with 8 off the bench.  All in all, it was a solid effort for the Owls, but they will not be beating any good teams on the road with only 2 FGs from Ryan Brooks.

I would have to say that most encouraging thing about the first two games is the play of Lavoy Allen.  Now, a junior, he can no longer be talked about as “going to be good;” he has to be “good.”  And, he has been really good in the first two games.  One knock on him has been a bit of a lack of aggression on the glass, but he has 29 rebounds in two games, so maybe he’s solved that problem.  Allen has the talent to be a first-team all-A10 performer, so maybe this is the year he shows it.  The Owls will need that because you can expect Brooks to be streaky, and there is no way they can rely on Fernandez just yet.  Allen has to be the rock on this team this year.

It should be interesting in the next week, as the Owls come home for 4 games in an 8-day span.  They host two really good mid-majors, Siena (Nov 21) and Ball St. (Nov 24), before hosting the Philly Hoop Classic at the Palestra on the 27 & 28.  The Owls drew two big-conference teams with the ACC’s Virginia Tech on Friday and St. John’s, from the Big East, on Saturday.  If the Owls can take care of business (no small task) this week and enter the weekend 3-1, they can really put together a nice non-conference resume with wins in either or both of the games at the Palestra.