“Consider this season as a diet before beach season. There will be strict discipline and a steady diet of kale and arugula required to reach beach season. And nights like tonight will make us wonder if we ever get there, as we got nothing more than a winter’s chill at the thought of a season full salads. If we’re going to hold the dressing, pass the whisky. This could be rough.”
Pete Thamel of SI examines the new rules in college basketball. He paints a gloomy picture for the season. But I’m holding out hope.
I watched Creighton Monday night, Nebraska last night, followed by KU-Duke. No doubt the officials are wearing out their whistles. But there’s a chance that players will adjust before conference play. (I also think the further we get into the season, the more officials will relax those whistles.)
There is one point of emphasis I hope they don’t change. The block/charge call has long been a pet peeve of mine — I blame Shane Battier! In my opinion, 50 percent of charge calls the past 10 years should’ve been blocks.
Officials finally appear to be giving preference to the offense, forcing defenses to rethink throwing their bodies to the floor at the first sign of contact.
Racing to the block and taking a dive just as an offensive player jumps is a chicken’s way to defend. The hand-checking changes are good. But even if we can turn the tables on block/charge, it will do wonders for offense.
>> I really expect the new rules to help Creighton. For two reasons.
One, the Jays don’t play defense with their hands anyway. They’re not physical enough on the perimeter to get whistled for many hand checks. They prefer more finesse and flow and they’ll get it with these rules.
Two, the Jays have depth. And all these fouls are bound to put teams in a bind with foul trouble. (If we’re gonna lower the standard for “what’s a foul,” then we might also want to reconsider giving players a sixth personal.) The teams that will struggle most with the new rules are rugged defenses with short benches. That’s not Creighton.
>> I took in my first game at Pinnacle Bank Arena Tuesday night. The atmosphere wasn’t nearly as enthusiastic as Friday’s season opener. But the experience blows away the Devaney Center.
I love the scoreboard and the court and the lighting. I wish the lower-bowl seats were closer to the floor — it feels a bit cavernous. But it won’t be a problem as long as the Huskers are drawing 10,000-plus — state-tournament games, on the other hand, will lack intimacy.
As for Tim Miles’ team, I wish he could clone Leslie Smith. The juco big man, who played really well Tuesday, is NU’s only big body. The Huskers will be hard to guard because of their perimeter athleticism, but I fear they’ll get punished on the boards.
I look forward to seeing the rotation with Deverell Biggs and Ray Gallegos. I don’t expect many shot-clock violations!
>> Who am I picking Saturday in the Legends showdown at Memorial Stadium? I’m leaning Nebraska, partly based on history.
The toughest home game of the 2008 homestretch was Kansas. Nebraska came in 5-4 — a 1.5-point favorite — and won. In 2009, it was Oklahoma. 5-3 Nebraska came in a 4.5-point underdog. And won.
In 2010, it was Missouri. Nebraska, an 8-point favorite, won it. In 2011, it was Michigan State. Nebraska, a 4.5-point favorite, won. In 2012, it was Penn State. Nebraska, an 8-point favorite, won.
Point is, you put the Huskers in a “big” game late in the season in Memorial Stadium and they typically don’t lose.
(The only home game Bo Pelini has lost in November was Northwestern in 2011 — as a 17-point favorite. It doesn’t fit the profile of this Saturday at all.)
>> If you missed this interview with Hondo Carpenter on Nick Bahe’s “Game Time” Tuesday, check it out. It’s rare to hear an outsider take such a bold position on Husker football.
>> Is Nebraska a tough place to play because fans are too nice? Michigan State says so. Weird story.
>> Occasionally this season, I’d like to add a new feature to the Chatter — “McDermott McDispatches.” Creighton’s two-time All-American is brilliant for many, many reasons. I’ll pick out one and focus on it. Today it’s shot selection.
In Monday’s win over UMKC, McDermott got into a very early rhythm, leading to 37 points — he didn’t even score the last 12 minutes.
How did he do it? He went 15-for-25 from the field, including five 3s. But one key to his big night was shot selection.
Typically when a scorer goes off for 37, he takes a few bad shots. Heat checks. And when he misses, the conscience usually kicks in and he decides, “OK, I better get my teammates involved. I better wait a few possessions to take another shot.”
McDermott doesn’t have to worry about his conscience because he so rarely takes a bad shot. Of the 25 he attempted Monday, I’d say 22 were no-brainers. As a result of good shot selection, it’s easier for him to find a rhythm.
I’m curious, when you watch McDermott, what characteristics most stand out to you?
>> I wish there were a local game on this list. Good news is Creighton-Marquette would be pretty appetizing if it happens in the Wooden Legacy championship on Dec. 1.
With Miami struggling, Nebraska’s biggest non-con games are all away from home — Creighton, Cincinnati and the Charleston Classic.
>> Michigan State and Kentucky played a heckuva game Tuesday night in Chicago. And it’s rare when a 1 vs. 2 matchup isn’t the “big game.” But Jabari Parker vs. Andrew Wiggins lived up to the billing.
College basketball’s new crop of freshmen is worth the hype, writes Gary Parrish. Stop comparing them and just enjoy them. (If I were a KU fan, I’d feel great about Wayne Selden and Frank Mason, too.)
>> Just in case you wondered if Big Ten hoops was gonna drop off from its signature 2012-13 season, Michigan State beats Kentucky and Wisconsin beats Florida. Good luck, Coach Miles. At least Indiana showed weakness, nearly losing at home to LIU-Brooklyn.
>> Read this story about a guy in St. Louis who’s selling the shoes Michael Jordan wore in the “flu game.”
>> A football player at a D-III school in Maryland died because of concussions. But it took an anonymous letter for his parents to pursue litigation. Sad and alarming.
>> The NCAA’s latest eligibility fiasco. Ruling BYU cross-country runner Jared Ward ineligible for competing in a fun run.
In September 2009, “he traveled to California to watch his younger brother compete in a regional cross-country race. Just for the fun, as a prelude to the real race, there was a recreational race for coaches, parents and other supporters of the athletes. It is a just-for-fun event whose entrants range from teens to 70-year-olds. The race is so lighthearted that some of the entrants wear costumes.” Details.
>> Why aren’t more women coaching men’s college basketball? A fascinating issue worthy of attention.
>> In case you missed it, check out the SI story about Sam Hurd’s cocaine bust.
>> Clay Travis says Johnny Manziel should win the Heisman — again. I think he’s college football’s most outstanding player. But unless Jameis Winston slips in the final month, it’s not gonna happen for Johnny Football.
>> For all you football coaches out there drawing up plays in the dirt, do you have the guts to call this?
>> What’s missing from the Nadal-Djokovic rivalry? Jon Wertheim tries to put his finger on it.
>> Yahoo Sports pitches a 30-for-30 on Space Jam. Hilarious.
>> Finally, you thought Tom Osborne and Bo Pelini were mad at Dan Beebe for babying Texas? Well, Mike Leach called the commish during Texas Tech’s 2007 loss to the ‘Horns and said “You better watch my postgame press conference because I’ve got some stuff to say.” And then he did. Classic.