With ""Midnight Madness"" coming up, it is time to throw out some thoughts on college basketball:
At Connecticut, Jim Calhoun made a great decision in adding George Blaney as an assistant. The former Holy Cross and Seton Hall coach brings a wealth of experience and great basketball knowledge. He's respected in the basketball community, and he'll be a big-time asset.
Speaking of the Huskies, they will need a big year out of two-guard Tony Robertson. Will this be the season he breaks through? He came to Connecticut with a big-time reputation.
ACC: Hewitt gets high marks
At Georgia Tech, coach Paul Hewitt has continued to shine in recruiting. The ACC has been in the headlines thanks to the job in Durham, N.C., where Duke has assembled one of the top classes ever. Tech has done a very nice job as well.
Hewitt got a solid addition when he secured a commitment from Chris Bosh, a 6-foot-9 big man from Texas. Hewitt beat out Billy Donovan of Florida and Tommy Amaker of Michigan for the talented inside performer. Also joining the Ramblin' Wreck is 6-4 Jarrett Jack, a Baltimore native who scored big-time at Mt. Zion Academy in Durham, N.C. This season, Jack will be playing at Worchester Academy.
Staying in the ACC, there was finally some good news for Florida State coach Steve Robinson. The NCAA clearinghouse granted eligibility to athletic 6-7 wing player Anthony Richardson. He was listed as a partial qualifier but appealed the ruling.
It has been documented that Richardson has a learning disability. The NCAA can make exceptions for students who fall just short on their SAT scores, and that has happened in Richardson's case.
BIG 12: Looking bright for Knight
In a great gesture at Lubbock, Texas, where Bobby Knight is like a little kid, excited about returning to the sidelines, the Texas Tech fans have embraced Knight. You can tell his spirit is up.
There should be a beautiful scene at the school's "Midnight Madness". The entire crowd, with the men's and women's basketball teams, Knight and women's coach Marsha Sharp, will sing "God Bless America." That should be very special.
Another coach doing something special is Ray Martin, the former Notre Dame captain under Digger Phelps. Now the head coach at LIU, the Blackbirds will pass on "Midnight Madness".
Instead, the men's and women's teams will join with local firefighters and policemen to raise money for the families of those who lost their lives in the terrible Sept. 11 tragedy at the World Trade Center.
BIG TEN: Izzo isn't backing down
Michigan State suffered a blow when Jason Richardson and Zach Randolph left early for the NBA. Tom Izzo, who doesn't dodge any opponent and plays the best, a la John Chaney at Temple, put together a tough pre-conference schedule based on having Richardson and Randolph.
This means Marcus Taylor has to develop into a super soph. The Spartans are also expecting big things from experienced big man Aloysius Anagonye.
Michigan State opens with Detroit in the Preseason NIT (the field includes Syracuse, Arkansas, Fresno State, USC and Wake Forest). Izzo's squad also takes on Virginia, Florida, Arizona and Seton Hall before starting the Big Ten schedule.
Illinois suffered a setback when forward Lucas Johnson tore his ACL in his right knee. Yes, the Illini have a lot of talent up front with Brian Cook, Robert Archibald and Damir Krupalija. But Johnson brought a special mentality and toughness when he was on the court.
When you are competing for a national championship, and Illinois figures to be in the hunt, every player in the rotation is important. It is tough to lose a key player.
Johnson claims he will try to be back late in the season, if possible.