Thoughts On The First Few Games

Now that everybody in the city has played, it is time for some observations:

* If Dante Cunningham is going to start getting 30 points on occasion, Villanova is going to be even better than I thought. And I always thought the Wildcats would be, at least, top 25 good. Fordham is almost certainly going to be at the bottom of the Atlantic 10, but 107 points is still 107 points. And the Coreys, Stokes and Fisher, each getting 17 in the second game of their sophomore years is a very good sign.

* Should be a nice test for the Cats tonight at the Ski Lodge against Joe Mihalich’s Niagara team in the Philly Hoop Group Classic. Bucks County has produced some very good players in recent years, including Jason Vegotsky (Bucknell), Lavoy Allen (Temple) and Dalton Pepper (West Virginia next year), all from Pennsbury High. But Tyrone Lewis, from Truman, might be the most athletic player in the history of the county. Now a junior at Niagara, he will not be out of place on the floor against all of `Nova’s athletes. And it will be nice to see `Nova transfer Bilal Benn in just his second game for Niagara. Benn did not shoot well in Niagara’s win against Towson, but he filled up the stat sheet with rebounds (11), assists, steals and blocks.

* Temple’s Dionte Christmas and Saint Joseph’s Ahmad Nivins could not have started their campaigns for A-10 and Big 5 Players of the Year with statements much more emphatic than they made on opening weekend. Christmas had 66 points, 23 rebounds and 10 assists in the three games of that South Carolina tournament the Owls nearly won. (Got to do something about those 15 turnovers). Nivins, playing 82 of a possible 85 minutes, shot 15-for-18 (83.3 percent) from the field, 12-for-15 from the foul line, while getting 42 points and 25 rebounds in two games.

* Loved the morning game between Drexel and Penn at the DAC. Wild atmosphere, wild ending. Bruiser Flint is right, of course. If Drexel is to play city teams, somebody has to show up at the DAC every once in a while. The Dragons have won their share of city games in recent years, but they were either at the Palestra or, two seasons ago, at Villanova. Everybody in the city says they want Drexel to be part of everything (except, of course, the Big 5, but that’s another story). If so, play the Dragons at the DAC.

* La Salle was right there for 2-0 before losing at the end to Florida State. Big man Vernon Goodridge has yet to get untracked offensively, but it is very early and, even when he was at Mississippi State, he did not play that much. As he gets more minutes, he figures to get more comfortable. There is nothing in evidence so far to suggest that La Salle is not going to finish much higher in the A-10 than preseason prognostications.