Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Top Ten Topics: College Basketball

Travel Deals

1. So much for freshman orientation.

The Associated Press preseason all-American team is Tyler Hansbrough of North Carolina, Roy Hibbert of Georgetown, Chris Lofton of Tennessee, Drew Neitzel of Michigan State, and Darren Collison of UCLA. Five fine players, but would anybody pick that group against a five of Michael Beasley of Kansas State, Kevin Love of UCLA, Derrick Rose of Memphis, O.J. Mayo of USC, and Eric Gordon of Indiana?

2. When Villanova is your easy opponent of the week ...

Then you must be the Penn Quakers, who open the Big Five season tonight against 'Nova at the Pavilion, then host top-ranked North Carolina Tuesday at the Palestra.

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Other local games in the next week: Penn State vs. St. Joseph's today at the Palestra, preceded by Philadelphia U. vs Wilmington at 1 p.m.; Holy Cross at St. Joe's on Tuesday. Creighton at Drexel today; Towson at Temple next Thursday; LSU vs. Villanova at the Wachovia Center Thursday, with Providence facing SouthCarolina in the first game of the Big East-SEC doubleheader.

3. Most valuable local newcomer.

Tasheed Carr of St. Joseph's has to get the nod, taking over the point-guard spot for the Hawks, solidifying their starting five. The 6-foot-4 junior transfer from Iowa State is playing 36 minutes a game and averaging 7.2 assists to go with his 10.4 points and 4.4 rebounds. Hawks coach Phil Martelli said he had initially recruited Carr as a point guard out of high school, so this was part of the plan when Carr transferred back to his hometown.

"I always thought his value was going to be with the ball and with the verbal leadership this team needed," Martelli said yesterday. "And I've always felt that Darrin Govens could be developed into an extraordinary shooter if he played off of somebody. If he had the ball a lot, I wasn't sure that he'd be able to shoot the way we expected."

4. Most pleasant early local surprise.

It's not a surprise that Casiem Drummond is contributing as a sophomore for Villanova. Drummond figured to be part of 'Nova's rotation, especially against bigger front lines. But he is averaging 9.8 rebounds a game in 21.6 minutes of playing time, topped by his 17 rebounds against North Carolina State. He's also lost close to 50 pounds since he showed up on the Main Line.

"We went into the season, in our exhibition games, thinking, 'Let's put him in there and see how far he can go.' We knew eventually - next year, whenever - you need a big body in the Big East," Villanova coach Jay Wright said yesterday. "He's just taken every opportunity and gone with it.

"I thought really the key game for him was the Bucknell game, because we thought we weren't going to play him in that game just because all their guys were perimeter shooters. We planned going into that game, 'We'll start him, but he probably won't be able to play [much].' I even talked to him about that. 'It might be tough for you to play in this game.' But he was such a factor on the boards, we figured [it was] better to keep him in there, and he wasn't hurting us defensively."

5. Scoop of the week.

Wright revealed that 'Nova fans won't see him wearing too many more of his trademark four-button suits on the sidelines.

"I'm going a little conservative," Wright said. "My wife's telling me that I've got to tone down a little bit. I'm getting older. So I'm going down to three buttons. All my new suits are three buttons."

6. At a Big Five media day, Martelli praised Wright ...

For his tact after that foul was called on Villanova that cost the Wildcats the North Carolina State game. Martelli said he couldn't have shown that same tact.

"My head would explode," Martelli said.

7. As long as no parts of his head leave the coaching box ...

Thursday night, Temple coach Fran Dunphy was the first Big Five coach to run afoul of the new directive calling for technicals on coaches who leave their designated box. Dunphy said it was only the third T of his head coaching career and the first in a decade.

"No profanity. No nothing," Dunphy said after he protested a call. "He said I was out on the court. I guess my feet were out on the court - stepped across that coaching box, which we do all the time anyway."

One other piece of Temple news: The NCAA Clearinghouse did not grant Temple's appeal of Michael Eric's freshman eligibility for this season, but the NCAA did reverse an earlier decision and allow Eric to remain on scholarship while he sits out this season.

8. What happens when Bob Knight goes hunting with Dick Cheney?

According to an Associated Press account, a neighbor of Knight's said he yelled over to two men on Knight's property on Oct. 21 to stop shooting so close to his house. The neighbor then confronted Knight and took video of their exchange.

Neighbor: "I asked you nicely to move down. You're too close to my house."

Knight: "You didn't ask us to move down. You swore and cussed. . . . I don't need that. If you ask us politely, I'll be glad to do it."

Apparently, that didn't happen, since the neighbor claimed that two shotgun pellets later struck his neck and back while he was cleaning his pool.

9. Creighton may be undefeated ...

But the Bluejays are on the wrong side of Joe Lunardi's bubble. Lunardi has his whole bracket on ESPN.com, with a Last Four In and First Four Out and Next Four Out. We apparently missed his preseason bracketology.

10. If you haven't seen the Palestra documentary on Comcast SportsNet ...

There are two more showings, today at 4 p.m. and Dec. 24 at 9 p.m.

Contact staff writer Mike Jensen at 215-854-4489 or mjensen@phillynews.com.

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