3-point shot: Early starts diminish madness

1. College basketball teams are allowed to start practice Sept. 27, but not everyone is enamored with the new schedule that opens up 30 practice days in a 42-day window before the first game. "We are really easing in to the start of practice, so we will be doing a ton of skill work," said Creighton coach Greg McDermott. "I'm not convinced the early start is a great idea. It's already a long season, and we have to make sure we have some legs in February." McDermott said he won't have the team practice three consecutive days until Oct. 11.

2. A number of schools will sprinkle in "Midnight Madness" events earlier than Oct. 18. The purpose has been to build these around important official visit recruiting weekends, and that won't change with the new early start date. The uniformity of some sort of special tipoff now with practice and/or an event is gone. Hoop teams will be sporadically starting and having madness-type events on random weekends throughout October.

3. UTEP lost Isaac Hamilton to UCLA (although Hamilton can't play this season), but the Miners still have some potential pop and can't be counted out in bloated CUSA. UTEP coach Tim Floyd said he has seen "lots of potential and lots of intrigue with this team." Floyd said 7-foot-1 freshmen Matt Wilms and 6-8 Vince Hunter could play on most teams. He likened 6-7 point McKenzie Moore to former USC point guard Daniel Hackett, who played for Floyd with the Trojans. And he expects Julian Washburn to have an all-league type season again. Floyd showed reciprocal loyalty to Bob Cantu in hiring the former USC assistant coach in a similar role. Cantu was faithful to Floyd throughout his USC tenure and never disparaged him during any of the NCAA investigation. Cantu stayed on with Kevin O'Neill, then replaced him as the interim coach last season.