Roundball Chalk Talk | Feb. 10, 2006
Each Friday, I share my thoughts on the world of college basketball
• Wow, what a great week. On Tuesday, I saw Duke's J.J. Redick battle at Chapel Hill, N.C. On Thursday, it was a physical contest, with Pittsburgh handing West Virginia its first Big East loss. Saturday, I get to see Gonzaga's Adam Morrison in person against Stanford. A lot has been said about the Redick vs. Morrison battle for Player of the Year. Honestly, it is sad that one has to win over the other. I hope they can split some of the major awards, like the Wooden and the Naismith. They both truly deserve honors as both have been super, scintillating and sensational!
• Bruce Pearl has done an outstanding job at Tennessee. Remember, this team was picked to finish fifth out of six teams in the SEC Eastern Division. The Vols enjoyed a big win at Lexington, Ky., on Tuesday. This Kentucky squad is simply not a vintage Wildcats team, but Kentucky fans should calm down. Tubby Smith will find a way to get enough victories and advance to the NCAA tournament.
• Congratulations to Gary Williams on passing Lefty Driesell to become Maryland's all-time winningest coach. The emotional leader has been so passionate and enthusiastic in leading his alma mater. He gives every ounce of energy to his team. Another passionate leader who enjoyed a recent milestone was Michigan State's Tom Izzo, who celebrated his 250th career win.
• Speaking of the Big Ten, Saturday's showdown in Bloomington is a must win for Indiana. Coach Mike Davis has to be feeling some pressure as his team has struggled lately, dropping four out of its last five. The Hawkeyes won the first meeting this season, 73-60. The Hoosiers shot less than 30 percent from the field in a loss at Wisconsin earlier in the week.
• I did not agree with the ACC's decision to suspend three officials for an error in the Florida State-Duke game. It was a judgment call, and these officials will now be chastized by fans because their suspension was announced publicly.
• USC suffered a tough break when guard Gabe Pruitt was injured. His absence was felt as Washington beat the Trojans easily on Thursday.
• It's nothing new in the Ivy, as Penn and Princeton sit 1-2 in the standings. What is different is the way the Tigers struggled in nonconference play, scoring 21 points against Monmouth and losing to Division III Carnegie Mellon. The bottom line is Joe Scott's team is back in contention in the conference.
• I love the Missouri Valley Conference this season. Northern Iowa had a big win over Wichita State earlier in the week. A number of teams are in the hunt for NCAA berths, and it will be interesting to see how many make it. The games at BracketBusters may have an impact.
• If you want to see the importance of point guard play in college basketball, just look at Wake Forest and Georgia Tech this season. The Demon Deacons minus Chris Paul and the Yellow Jackets without Jarrett Jack are very different, struggling squads. You just can't replace players like those two easily.
• I really miss coaches like Dean Smith, John Thompson and Louie Carnesecca!
• A lot has been said lately about Duke getting to the foul line so often. Some have considered conspiracy theories ... give me a break! They attack the basket and draw fouls, and when teams get into trouble with players having three or four fouls, the Blue Devils go even harder to get to the line.
• How about a salute to the NIT and the committee that has been assembled to select this year's field. Wow, names like Dean Smith, CM Newton, Reggie Minton, Carroll Williams and Jack Powers -- they will do a terrific job! Wouldn't it be ironic if a team like Notre Dame failed to make it to Madison Square Garden for the Big East tournament, but got there and won the postseason NIT?
• Watching West Virginia forward Mike Gansey in person is a treat because of the little things he does. He is exceptional without the basketball, cutting and working off of screens. He is a very underrated player who could challenge for Big East Player of the Year honors.
• I'm surprised more teams don't use the zone defense, since a lot of clubs really struggle shooting outside.
• As of Friday, six schools remained unbeaten in league play in Division I -- Duke in the ACC, Memphis of Conference USA, Bucknell of the Patriot League, George Washington of the Atlantic 10, Penn of the Ivy and Gonzaga of the WCC.
• Georgetown deserves a lot of credit, as coach John Thompson III and his squad have built on their win over Duke. I would not want to face the likes of Brandon Bowman and Jeff Green come March Madness.
• Two assistant coaches who deserve a lot of credit for a job well done are Pittsburgh's Barry Rohrssen and LSU's Butch Pierre. Rohrssen was on the bench for Pittsburgh Thursday, despite suffering a knee injury in practice, prior to the West Virginia game.
• Cal forward Leon Powe is healthy and is a workhorse for the Golden Bears. He had 32 big points as Cal knocked off rival Stanford Thursday night.
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.