Day 1 is in the books for opening night of college hoops and what a day it was. We saw one game played in Germany, in an Air Force hanger, another cancelled at halftime on a Naval battleship, a Top 25 upset and plenty of top prospects in action. Here are several instances of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly from college basketball's opening weekend.
C.J. McCollum of Lehigh is ready to finish his education and show become a household name this year. McCollum, the 6'3' combo-guard and two-time Patriot League Player of the Year does not have the support to lead the Mountain Hawks to a national ranking, but McCollum himself is a one-man show, scoring 36 points and grabbing 8 rebounds against Baylor.
Speaking of Baylor, head coach Scott Drew has another roster of great big men. Isaiah Austin, the freshman 7-footer, displayed his versatility and athleticism, scoring 22 points, including two 3-point makes, in just 17 minutes before leaving with injury. That allowed junior forward Cory Jefferson to take over and dominate with 26 points and 13 rebounds. Jefferson struggled to find minutes the past two seasons behind Baylor bevy of talent and depth, but now he shows why is a future draft pick.
Kevin Ollie officially began his legacy on Friday night as the next protégé to legendary Jim Calhoun at UConn. With the recently-retired Calhoun in attendance, Ollie masterfully utilizing a duo of guards- Ryan Boatright and Shabazz Napier and a wing now living up to potential- DeAndre Daniels- to overcome the Huskies' lack of size and experience in upsetting Michigan State.
Think Pittsburgh is due for another disappointing season? Think again! The Panthers shot 70.8 percent from the field, despite hitting just 1-of-6 from behind the arc. Frontcourt starters Talib Zanna and Steven Adams combined for 28 points on 14-of-17 shooting in the win over Mount Saint Mary's.
Similarly, think Xavier is due for a down year after losing Tu Holloway, Mark Lyons, Dez Wells and Kenny Frease? The Musketeers put up a ridiculous 117 points, shooting 70.5 percent from the floor and outrebounded Farleigh Dickinson by 33! Sophomore point guard Dee Davis had 22 points and 15 assists in the blowout win.
Lorenzo Brown, the leader of the NC State attack, is flying under the radar. This point guard has great size, court vision, leadership and a nonstop aggressive attack with the ball in his hands. Brown is one of our top three contenders for National Player of the Year as the stat sheet stuffer showed why in the season-debut: 15 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists in just 26 minutes. He needed just 8 shots to impact the game more than any other player.
Kansas' Jeff Withey is another serious Player of the Year candidate out of the Big 12. If Kansas is going to win the conference for the ninth straight regular season, they will ride the 7-footer all the way. He scored 17 points, albeit on an ineffective 5-of-12 shooting for a true center (especially against Southeast Missouri State), but recorded 12 rebounds, 5 blocked shots and the ability to convert from the foul line (7-of-10).
Take early note of a mid-major to watch: Davidson. This Wildcat team is more talented top-to-bottom than the famous Stephen Curry teams with 6'10" 4-man Jake Cohen, versatile small forward De'Mon Brooks both heading to the pros in the future, but also the sweet-shooting Chris Czerapowicz at guard. Davidson put up 93 points in their opener, hitting 10 3s, dishing out 21 assists and turning the ball over just 6 times in their win. It will not be long before this team is nationally ranked.
Jarnell Stokes could lead Tennessee to the SEC Crown this year. The 18 year-old youngster is already a sophomore after graduating high school this past January, but is as physically mature as many NBA-ers. Stokes was 5-of-7 from the floor to finish their opening night win with 10 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals and 3 blocks.
Creighton's offense can roll, but it was their defense that was particularly impressive in their 20-point win over North Texas. Tony Mitchell got his points and rebounds (18 and 7), but the rest of the Mean Green were neutralized. We'd be remiss to mention Creighton without mentioning Doug McDermott's game highs of 21 points and 11 rebounds.
Ole Miss could sneak up on some teams this year. They return the dynamic frontcourt duo of Reginald Buckner and Muphy Holloway, who combined for 25 points, 16 rebounds, 5 steals and 3 blocks in the opener, but the real key here is last season's JuCo Player of the Year, Marshall Henderson, hit five 3s and raced out to 22 points.
Kentucky's freshmen looked worst-case scenario against a less-superior Maryland team. Nerlens Noel was dominated inside by Alex Len and actually was outplayed by his own teammate, a still very talented Willie Cauley-Stein. Alex Poythress looked lost and failed to show the fire, aggressiveness and motor we had seen of him in the past. Wing Archie Goodwin looked the best of the bunch, getting to the foul line 11 times with his unrelenting attacking of the basket, but really could have made much more of an impact overall.
This could be a long season for the Texas Longhorns if the NCAA does not clear Myck Kabongo. Texas was expected to compete for a Big 12 crown this season, but the Longhorns instead could find themselves at the bottom without their point guard. They barely edged out Fresno State, recording just 3 assists and 13 turnovers.
Duke has a surprising lack of depth for a Top 10 team. Point guard play is still a major question mark with Tyler Thornton and Quinn Cook rotating time. Marshall Plumlee is out with an injury in the frontcourt and Andre Dawkins redshirt means the Blue Devils may not have the ability to compete for 40 minutes in the long run, especially if foul troubles strike.
We thought Rutgers could resurge in the Big East with all of their returning talent (10 of 11 atop their depth chart), while also adding former top recruit, Wally Judge. But the Scarlet Knights dropped their home opener to St. Peter's, despite outrebounding the Peacocks by 21.
After being voted by plenty of coaches around the conference as the best shooter, Baylor's Brady Heslip went just 1-of-7 from 3-point range against Lehigh. Of course, it's just one game and Heslip's trigger is expect to regain form. He is a crucial part to the offense, spreading the floor when Pierre Jackson penetrates and opening up the paint for Cory Jefferson and Isaiah Austin inside.
Top 25, yes, Top 25 ranked Florida State, was upset by South Alabama in the season opener making them the top team to fall. Their normally stingy defense allowed the Jaguars to shoot 60 percent from behind the arc and come away even on the boards, despite FSU's massive size advantage. Meanwhile, Michael Snaer, the self-proclaimed best guard in the country, was just 2-for-11 from the floor.
UCLA guard Shabazz Muhammed has officially be declared ineligible, for now, by the NCAA Clearing House. It took the NCAA excessive amounts of time to bring down this undetermined penalty for Muhammed, one of the top expected players in the country, yet it took them one day to bring down the hammer on USC Football for deflating game balls over the weekend? As we reported months ago, Muhammed is likely not to play for quite some time as he had some questionable relationships and received improper benefits prior to his freshman year.
No disrespect to any of our country's Armed Forces, and we get it, player safety comes first, but this is why basketball is played indoors. Excessive floor moisture ended the highlighted matchup of Florida-Georgetown at halftime and allowed for the postponement of Syracuse-San Diego State in its entirity. The games aboard Battleships are a great idea in theory, especially in entertainment for our troops, but there has to be some better options here.