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Mike and Mike: Coaches vs. Cancer is a special way to start the college basketball season, but shame on St. John's fans for not showing up, shouts Dick Vitale.

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Jameer Nelson, Saint Joseph's nab honors


Jameer Nelson
Jameer Nelson

Senior guard Jameer Nelson is on my preseason All-Rolls Royce Second Team as one of the the top 10 players in the nation -- and he showed why with a 20-point, 10-assist, eight-rebound performance as the Hawks beat Gonzaga 73-66. Nelson is an electrifying player who has such energy and passion for the game. Nelson also did a great job defensively, showing quick hands while applying pressure to the Zags' backcourt.

After recently celebrating his 38th birthday, Dixon also celebrated his first victory as Pittsburgh's head coach. The Panthers got past Alabama at the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic behind Carl Krauser's 21 points (19 in the second half). Dixon took over the Panthers' program, replacing Ben Howland, who went to UCLA. I love Dixon's enthusiasm -- he can flat-out communicate with his players. Remember, those young men lobbied for Dixon to get the job as head coach after Howland left.

Normally this honor goes only to teams that pull off a Shock City upset (and I'll mention one below). But this time, it also goes to a player who came through in surprising fashion. Just eight days after undergoing an appendectomy, guard Taron Downey was expected to play limited minutes against Memphis. Instead, due to foul trouble plaguing Justin Gray, Downey went out for 29 minutes and scored a career-high 20 points, including 4-of-7 trifectas.

The team Shock of the Week award goes to UTEP, which stunned the Harlem Globetrotters in an exhibition game. The Globetrotters had defeated powers Michigan State and Syracuse earlier in their tour.

Playing before plenty of hometown fans at Madison Square Garden, 6-10 Chris Taft of Xaverian High School (which also produced Chris Mullin) posted 12 rebounds and eight points in the win over Alabama.

Hooray for the team from Hawk Hill! They had great fan support, selling over 4,000 tickets to the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. Coach Phil Martelli's Hawks gave those fans plenty to cheer about, going on a 15-2 run early in the second half to seal a big W over Gonzaga. Keep an eye on the Hawks, the team to beat in the Atlantic 10 this season!

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