Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Conference Play Commences

b-ballContrary to a national consensus, the scariest big nationally in intercollegiate basketball is neither Jahlil Okafur nor Willie Cauley-Stein.

Imposing as they might be, the large presence that overwhelms them and all others is Bob Huggins, especially roaming the sideline in black suit and vest.

The vision, seen yesterday during the first half of West Virginia’s W over previously unscathed TCU was enough to cause double dribbles, errant passes, air balls and, if one wants to take it to the most absurd end, projectile vomiting.

I’ve said it before. Off the court, Bobby Huggs is not the fire breathing beast that roams in front of the Mountaineer bench, but a nice fellow. Still, the guy in a suit, uh, no. A haberdashery faux pas of the highest order. Fortunately, he had the good sense at halftime to change his apparel, donning what has been his go to get up in recent times, what the announcer referred to as a “wind shirt.”

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Pop Quiz, my fellow hoopaholics.

What schools play their home games on 1) Bob King Court, and on 2) Robert Hughes Court?

No fair looking. Your mind is either filled with such ridiculous hoop-infused minutiae, or it isn’t. Answers below.

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It’s that time of year when we’re reminded early and often of one of the college game’s most daunting situations.

Conference games on the road.

Villanova — formerly undefeated and former resident of Today’s Final Four — meet Seton Hall. The Pirates captured their league visitors like just another Captain Phillips off the coast of Somalia, despite the best individual peformance of the season. Wildcat Daniel Ochafu scored 19 and grabbed a Chamberlainian 24 boards.

It was the second top 15 W of the week for Kevin Willard’s surprising New Jerseyites. Though a victory over St. John’s really doesn’t count. Anybody who ever thought the Redmen were legit contendas, either in the league or after, needs to make an appointment with his internist for a full checkup including blood work.

The Hall does stand 12-2 (2-0) atop the BEast standings, along with — Are you sitting down? — upstart DePaul. The Blue Demons also own a couple league Ws, including yesterday against visiting Xavier, and no league loss. Seton Hall is now a legit Top 25 team.

Conference games on the road.

You needn’t remind Larry Eustachy’s resurgent Colorado State Rams.

They journeyed up the hill to The Pit in Albuquerque while owning the country’s longest win streak, and left with its first L of the year, its first L in the Mountain West in its first conference encounter on the road. They’re not the first team to leave New Mexico less than happy.

And San Diego State, say buh bye to Fresno.

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Virginia, the nation’s stealth national contenda, on the other hand, proved its mettle with double OT escape in Coral Gables.

Up 19 in the first half, they allowed the Canes to catch ’em at the buzzer, thanks to stellar FT shooting by Angel Rodriguez, who proved he has no inner Darius Washington, by canning three FTs after being fouled in Treyville as the horn sounded.

Miami led in both OTs, but couldn’t hold off the steady Cavaliers, whose Justin Anderson proved he’s learned a lot from his friendship with whisper counsel Reggie Miller. Anderson kicked his foot out while attempting a critical 3 late in the second OT, and went down when brushed by a Miami defender.

He drained the trio of charity tosses, then a three itself and unlocked the gates for UVa’s escape.

Another Cav whose name you need to remember: London Perrantes. He was 5/7 from downtown yesterday against the Hurricanes.

Tony Bennett’s squad remains undefeated. The guy is obviously a great coach, his teams having increased their number of Ws each year during his tenure at Monticello. I’m impressed not only by how he gets his ballers to play, but how calm he stays on the sideline, even in a second OT with his team behind.

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While he still needs to move beyond his rookie announcing exuberance, Shane Battier is a very astute observer of the game. I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t move up the announcing ladder in years to come.

His play by play guy Mark Jones is also pleasant to listen to.

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Speaking of announcers, ESPN studio host Zubin Mehenti fell into a trap oft heard this college athletic season.

He referred to Maryland as a member of the ACC.

Uh, no. Mark Turgeon’s team toils in the Big Ten now, and bested Richard P’s Golden Gophers yesterday in College Park. The Terps, by the by, are 14-1 on the year.

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Baylor and Oklahoma, both in the Top 25, played a key early Big 12 contest yesterday in Norman. The Sooners prevailed by 10 in front of a lot of fans cleverly disguised as empty seats.

Watching games like these at traditional football powers always gives me pause to wonder: How do these schools recruit any good players, when they play home games in empty gyms?1

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How and why did South Carolina and Iowa State find themselves playing a game in, uh, Brooklyn?

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In the ACC’s first Double OT game of the day, Georgia Tech learned that Notre Dame tends to win these affairs at home.

Because, well, that’s what happens in South Bend, where most visiting teams leave, feeling they’ve just experienced a Chain Saw Massacre.

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Matt Painter’s Purdue Boilermakers had a pretty ordinary pre-league campaign, but now stand 2-0 in the Big Ten after besting reeling Michigan.

I love that funky gym where Portland’s Pilots play. The environment didn’t help against beat the Zags though.

Josh Pastner now sits atop the Dead Man Walking list, after Memphis State’s home L to Tulane.

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Today’s Final Four: Kentucky, Duke, Virginia, Gonzaga.

Quiz Answers: The Horned Frogs of TCU play on Robert Hughes Court. The Lobos of New Mexico play on Bob King Court.

— Seedy K

2 thoughts on “Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Conference Play Commences

  1. Maryland is quite legit, a benefit of playing in the Big Ten. Melo Trimble, and the overlooked Jake Layman, are fun to watch. And keep an eye on (uhhhh) the Hoya’s troika of freshmen, led by LJ Peak. Remember that name. Very overlooked frosh.

  2. Let’s talk Huggie Bear.

    I played golf last winter in FL with a guy from Cincy. He owns restaurants and bars. He was partner’s with Huggins in a sports bar. The deal was he got to use Huggins’ name and Huggins got a % of the gross. He told me he has been in the bar business for over 30 years and met a lot of sleazy, no good people but Huggins was the worst ever. He ended up tearing up the contract and ending the relationship.

    His mental health was more important than money.

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