Veteran reporter Tim Simmons is man of notes ... he's also a man of frequent flyer miles. Between airport stops, he filed a quick notes package on the Puerto Rico Tip-Off and the Wooden Legacy, two of ESPN Events' early season tournaments to which he's assigned. Got an idea for Simmons? Email him at BFISHINC@aol.com.
"10" FOR TOUGHNESS: Will Long Beach State face formidable opponents in its non-conference schedule this season? Without a doubt, maintains ESPN.com’s Myron Medcalf, who rated the 49ers’ non-conference schedule a “10” on the “Toughness Scale.” Medcalf writes that the program “will face national title contender Arizona on the road in early November.” The 49ers open the Puerto Rico Tip-Off with a matchup against Michigan, another national title contender. The tourney also includes VCU and Georgetown. Big East title favorite Creighton travels to the West Coast for a matchup in early December. The slate ends with a matchup against Missouri in Columbia. Now that's a non-conference schedule.
HIGH HOPES FOR VCU: Which teams have the most to prove this season? VCU is in the top 10, according to ESPN's Eamonn Brennan. “Word out of Richmond is that this may well be Shaka Smart’s most talented team,” wrote Brennan about the Rams, which will be competing in the 2013 Puerto Rico Tip-Off.
SEMINOLE STANDOUT: The Sporting News lavished high praise on Florida State senior Okaro White, who was featured in the publication’s college basketball preview. White, who was featured on the cover of the magazine, is “precisely the sort of player head coach Leonard Hamilton has relied upon to build the Seminoles’ program: rangy, athletic, and willing to defend and block shots, all while steadily improving his polish,” noted the editors. “His ability to punish opponents inside and occasionally on the perimeter ensures that he’ll be a centerpiece as a senior.”
100 YEARS OF BASKETBALL IN PUERTO RICO: Led by Northeastern great Jose Juan Barea, Puerto Rico’s national team finished second in the 2013 FIVB Americas Championships in Caracas, Venezuela. Barea, the Northeastern standout from 2002-2006 who is coming off a career year with the Minnesota Timberwolves, led Puerto Rico to the championship game Sept. 11 in the 2013 FIVB Americas Championships in Caracas, Venezuela. Barea, who has scored 140 points and 38 assists in helping Puerto Rico to a 6-3 record in the tournament, dropped a 91-89 decision to Mexico in the finals after advancing to the finals with a 79-67 win over the Dominican Republic. By advancing to the “final four”, Puerto Rico earned a spot in the 2014 World Cup in Spain.
BUILDING A "LEGACY": Led by Doug McDermott of Creighton and Jahii Carson of Arizona State, SportingNews.com highlighted several players and teams that will be participating in the 2013 Wooden Legacy. McDermott was named a first-team pre-season All-American while Carson was named to the second-team. The site noted that McDermott “will be everyone’s preseason Big East Player of the Year." Carson deserves the honor. Some might initially question his ability to produce eye-popping numbers outside of the Missouri Valley Conference, but those questions won’t last long.
As for the top players by position, Marquette’s four players scheduled to compete in the 2013 Wooden Legacy were listed. In addition to McDermott (the top power forward) and Carson (the No. 4 point guard), Marquette’s Jamil Wilson and Davante Gardner were the 10th-rated power forward and center, respectively. San Diego State senior Xavier Thames was featured on the publication’s regional inset. The Sporting News ranked Thamas as “one of the Mountain West’s top-10 players and senior classmate Josh Davis as one of the league’s top-10 newcomers. Coach Steve Fisher, who is considered one of the conference’s top-5 coaches, also brings in the 66th-best recruiting class nationally. Fisher’s incoming class is two deep and ranks 10th nationally among groups featuring two players or less.”
CHARLESTON CHALLENGE: The 2013-'14 Charleston schedule features a season-opening game at Louisville and three games at the Wooden Legacy. Eight other opponents advanced to postseason play a year ago, including San Diego State (Charleston’s first-round Wooden Legacy foe). The Cougars will play either Arizona State or Creighton in their second Wooden Legacy game. “It is a great schedule, especially when you have the defending national champions on the road in Louisville and the defending ACC champions at home in Miami [also a possible Wooden Legacy foe on Dec. 1],” said coach Doug Wojcik. “We will also be tested early with tournament games out in Anaheim with San Diego State and Creighton or Arizona State in the next game as well as Marquette and Miami on the other side of the bracket.”