<
>

Weekly Watch: Kudos to Beasley, Gardner-Webb

Player of the week: Michael Beasley, freshman, Kansas State

Michael Beasley, freshman, Kansas State

We won't start any Kevin Durant talk just yet, but Beasley's debut over the weekend was quite impressive. He started out with 32 points and 24 rebounds in a win over Sacramento State with the Wildcats playing sans Bill Walker, Clent Stewart and David Hoskins, three potential starters who were all injured. OK, so was that a fluke? Not quite. With Walker and Stewart healthy enough to play against Pittsburg State, Beasley put up 30 points and grabbed 14 boards.

OK, I know what you're thinking: Sac State and Pittsburg State? Well, the numbers are still the numbers.

"He's got a great feel, a great mind, [he's] a great kid and he's a winner," said Kansas State coach Frank Martin on Sunday night as he enjoyed what he said was a picture-perfect November evening in Manhattan, Kan.

"He's the best rebounder I've ever seen, and I've seen some great ones," Martin said. "He has the great athletic ability, the feel and he's as strong as an ox. You can't knock him out. Obviously, once we get into the big-boy games, we'll see if he can average 30 points and 15 or 16 rebounds a game. People better be good against him, though."

Beasley is rather efficient, scoring Sunday's 30 points on 12-of-19 shooting. He made 12 of 20 shots in posting the 32 points against Sac State (and the 24 boards was a Big 12 record). He also scored 42 points against Marquette in a scrimmage.

"He's as unselfish a player as I've been around," Martin said. "He only takes big shots. I wish they were all like him. It would be easy to coach."

Team of the week: Gardner-Webb

College basketball got more pop from Gardner-Webb's upset of Kentucky last week than it would have if the Wildcats opened the season with two wins and a trip to New York. G-Webb coach Rick Scruggs was on every ESPN outlet on Thursday. College basketball, on Nov. 8, was being talked about in a mainstream way. So, forget about what the ratings may be for Thursday night's Connecticut-Gardner-Webb game in Madison Square Garden. The Runnin' Bulldogs' win over Kentucky at Rupp Arena was the story of the first week of the season. The Bulldogs dominated Kentucky. This was one of the most impressive nonconference upsets I've seen in years.

Conference of the week: Atlantic Sun

G-Webb won at Kentucky, Belmont won at Cincinnati and Mercer beat USC. The bottom of the A-Sun is going to be bringing down the power rating with Lipscomb, USC Upstate, North Florida, Kennesaw State and Florida Gulf Coast. Still, the wins by Gardner-Webb and Mercer are so outstanding that it's hard to put anyone ahead of the A-Sun, even though there was serious politicking by the Horizon League on Sunday. The Horizon went a perfect 7-0 through Sunday. Cleveland State's win at South Florida (without the Bulls' best player Kentrell Gransberry, who was sitting with a one-game suspension for playing in an unsanctioned summer league) is akin to the Belmont win over Cincinnati since the Bulls will likely scrap with the Bearcats at the bottom of the Big East.

Quote of the week

If you've ever been around Rick Majerus, you know that he is as well-prepared for an opponent as any other coach in the country. He studies in great detail the strengths and weaknesses of every opposing player, no matter the level of the team. So, that's why Kevin Lisch's quote after the Billikens' opening win over North Carolina A&T was classic Majerus-player analysis.

"The coaches did an amazing job of preparing us," said Lisch, in the AP story after the game. "I feel like I could play for North Carolina A&T right now. It was so amazing how we picked up their plays and everything in the second half, and that helped a lot."

New names to know

Grayson Flittner, Gardner-Webb: Flittner scorched Kentucky for 22 points.

Kyle Hines, UNC Greensboro: Good for Mike Dement, one of the real good guys in coaching as he knocked off Georgia Tech behind Hines' 25 and nine spot in the win in Atlanta.

Justin Hare, Belmont: He scored 23 in the win at Cincinnati. Belmont is a two-time defending A-Sun champ, so this team is no slouch. And Hare and Flittner could be in for some interesting shootouts this season.

James Florence, Mercer: All he did was match O.J. Mayo with 30 points in the stunner at the Galen Center.

Biko Paris, Boston College: The freshman point guard was brought in to back up Tyrese Rice. But with Rice ineligible for the New Hampshire game for playing in an unsanctioned summer league, Paris logged all 40 minutes, scored 19 points and dished out five assists in the 10-point win.

Yikes!

SMU: The Mustangs opened 0-2 -- against the SWAC! Alabama State and Southern walked into Moody and dispatched the Mustangs by double figures in both games.

Cincinnati: The Bearcats hosted a tourney and left 1-2 with losses to Belmont and Bowling Green.

Northern Illinois: Clearly, Ricardo Patton is in for a major rebuilding job, opening up 0-3 and losing by the following scores at a tourney at Northern Iowa: 75-45 to UNI, 102-87 to UMass and 88-78 to Cal Poly.

Georgia Tech: Nice to see the Yellow Jackets go on the road to a low-major by beating Tennessee State by 14 on Sunday. But that was after the shocker Tech took at home by Greensboro, losing by nine.

USC: Can you say wake-up call? O.J. Mayo scored 32 points in 40 minutes and that's a great line (although he did have to take 27 shots and missed 15 and did have eight turnovers), and the Trojans were without three of their most talented players in Daniel Hackett (jaw), Devon Jefferson (knee) and Marcus Simmons (ankle). Still, USC shouldn't lose at home to Mercer in its home opener, right?

Long Beach State: OK, clearly BYU is better than projected, right? Well, the 40-point pasting on the 49ers in their home opener may be better explained when knowing that Dan Monson took over a team that lost 10 players from the Big West champs.

Kentucky: Gardner-Webb. And, add in 14 days to sit and stew about the loss for Billy Clyde before Liberty comes to town. Can't imagine those practices are too much fun.

Auburn: There was a lot of preseason chatter about the Tigers being much improved. Well, they lost by 15 at Tulane.

What were you thinking?

DePaul: Seriously, two seasons in a row DePaul has opened its season at a Missouri Valley Conference school. Last season, the Blue Demons lost at Bradley; this season they lost at Creighton. What's on tap next season? Southern Illinois?

Rough coaching debuts

Bob Nash, Hawaii: Nash waited decades to get his chance to be head coach. He got the job when Riley Wallace was forced out last season. The home court at the Stan Sherriff Center usually is one of the toughest in the country, and Nash needs to continue that atmosphere on the island. But new San Diego coach Billy Grier was able to escape with a one-point win over Hawaii behind Gyno Pomare's free throw with 2.2 seconds left.

Tommy Amaker, Harvard: Amaker bounced back with a 30-point win over Northwestern State on Sunday, but the first two games -- losing to Stanford by 55 (the Crimson scored 56) and by 18 to UCSB -- had to sting.

Tim Miles, Colorado State: Clearly, Jason Smith meant a lot to this team last season. He went to the NBA draft, Dale Layer got fired and Miles took the job from North Dakota State. Miles opened with a nice 75-39 loss at Montana.

Kudos

Stanford: The Cardinal crushed its competition by a combined 113 points at Maples (that's Harvard, Northwestern State and UC Santa Barbara), all without the ineligible Brook Lopez.

Freshmen phenoms

What a class: Derrick Rose led Memphis to its two wins in the 2K Sports Hoops Classic; the aforementioned Beasley was sensational; Mayo's team lost but he put on a show; Kevin Love double-doubled for UCLA in its opener; so, too, did Austin Daye for Gonzaga over Montana; DeJuan Blair averaged 15 and 10 in three wins for Pittsburgh and Florida's Nick Calathes put up a 21 spot in his debut in the Gators' win over North Dakota State.

What intrigues me this week

Can Gardner-Webb pull a Butler from a year ago (see: NIT Season Tip-Off) and continue this run toward a matchup with Memphis by taking out UConn Thursday night at MSG?

Will Saint Joseph's beat Syracuse in a likely second-round NIT Season Tip-Off matchup on Tuesday night at the Carrier Dome?

Will Alabama regret scheduling a road game at Mercer on Tuesday night?

Will Davidson give North Carolina a legit scare on Wednesday in Charlotte?

Will Providence emerge as the hot team out of Puerto Rico or will it be VCU or Miami?

Will Clemson at Mississippi State be one of the hidden gem early-season games?

Will Illinois regret playing at Hawaii on Friday, just like Michigan State did two years ago prior to playing in the Maui Invitational?

What will Mercer's record be after the week of playing home to Alabama and then traveling to Harvard and Boston College?