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Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008 at 2:51 pm  |  26 responses

Cub Scouts: The Week That Was

An abbreviated version for the holidays!

by Cub Buenning

Happy holidays from Cub Scouts. With a super busy week ahead, a Friday column is looking pretty doubtful, but fear not; the second half of the college arena bucket list will be back the following Friday. Things are a bit truncated today with the quiet week ahead, as teams gear up for the start of conference play!

1. College basketball (and Cub Scouts) really misses Kenny George.
Last year, the Bulldogs of UNC-Ashville were a bit of a revelation as the “20th-run” team from Carolina had their best season ever. 21 wins; an NIT berth, and their top player returning seemed to predict another strong season. The television powers that be made sure that Ashville was a major player on the national schedule (they have already been on four times this season) but things just haven’t turned out right.

No more bigBulldog faithful, college hoop fans, and the network schedule makers let out a collective groan, when it was learned in the offseason that the 7-8 360-pound behemoth of a center was afflicted with a form of staph infection that forced a partial amputation of his right foot. Since then, Ashville has stumbled to a 4-8 start and have been less than competitive in their major pre-conference match-ups with North Carolina, Tenn., and Duke. (Holy Overscheduling Batman!)

Last night, a certain high-profile freshmen center took advantage of the now extremely height-challenged Bulldogs. Ohio State post man B.J. Mullens had his own individual dunk contest, as the Buckeyes easily cruised to an 83-59 victory. Taking advantage of the huge space vacated by George, Mullens put up 18 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 blocks.

Needless to say, we all miss the gentle giant and hope the best for his future!

2. Teams with legitimate title hopes
As a notorious poll/ranking hater, I will refrain from giving a numerical value to where all college teams are at this point, but I will look ahead a bit.

How many teams can truly vie for a national title come springtime?

I am going to go with just five at this point in the season.

*UNC — This is a no-brainer, as the ‘Heels have proven they are more than “as advertised.” This team is DEEP, has few weaknesses, and it never hurts to have the returning national player of the year. I Price is rightwill also throw out the “revenge factor” as that final four semifinal egg they laid against Kansas last year will be motivation enough.

*Connecticut — I wasn’t entirely sold on this team until seeing their fight, depth, and experience in the gutsy overtime victory over Gonzaga this past Saturday. A.J. Price willed his team to the win (hitting a Mario Chalmers-esque three-ball to send that game into OT) and with a frontcourt of Jeff Adrien and Hasheem Thabeet, coach Jim Calhoun is primed for another title run.

*Oklahoma — I was big on this team to start the season and they have not failed to deliver. Blake Griffin has been a consistent monster, while freshmen Willie Warren has been the Big 12’s top newcomer. However, it is the play of backcourt veterans, Austin Johnson and Tony Crocker that might vault this group into a long postseason.

*Pittsburgh — Veteran backcourt (led by Izzo’s boy Levance Fields), a stud swingman (Sam Young) and underrated post play (smiling sopohomore DeJuan Blair) should help this team erase their embarrassing postseason record over the past. Remember this team has annually had a top seed but hasn’t gotten past the Sweet 16 in the past six years. I’m going to ignore this awful track record and give Head Coach Jamie Dixon the benefit of the doubt. Final Four or Bust.

*Gonzaga — Not surprisingly the ‘Zags are making a Cub Scouts’ list. Despite being the only of the five with a loss (and two at that) Gonzaga is still going to be in a position to get a top seed and vie for the ‘chip. Like I mentioned in my feature (on newsstands everywhere) this team is deep, has experienced guard play that can fill in from 3-point range, and solid frontcourt that can dominate at times.
(Side note: I am little worried about our boy, Jeremy Pargo, who has been negatively instrumental in both of Gonzaga’s losses. Late-game turnovers abound and are completely out of character for this senior leader.)

3. Games this week
After last Saturday’s college hoopsapolooza (didn’t I tell you about those games?) things calm down a bit this week.

Tonight:
Texas, playing ANOTHER tough road game, head to the frozen tundra of Madison to take on the Badgers of Wisconsin (930 PM EST on ESPN2)

If you have ESPNU, you can see a really nice Midwestern Mid-Major Match-up as Butler faces Xavier at 7 PM

Saturday:
UAB travels north to Louisville to take on the Cardinals at 4PM on ESPN2.

CBS has a game tipping simultaneously with West Virginia at Ohio State.

Monday: A nice doubleheader opens the Big East season as Georgetown faces off with UConn at 7PM on ESPN2 followed by former league foes Cincinnati traveling to Memphis.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

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  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Michigan is ranked in the top-25 for the first time in 3 years. Champagne all around!

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    LeVance Fields is really good; however, i’m not sure he has much of a chance at the next level due to his diminutive stature. Shame.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    TAD, i agree about Fields, although I am sure our Irish friend would beg to differ.

    Glen Rice, Loy Vaught, Sean Higgins, Rumean Robinson, Terry Mills….. loved that team

    I may grow my hair out like Antoine Joubert.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    Rumeal, obviously.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Cub: I emailed you last week asking if you knew anything about Laval Lucas-Perry, a PG for Michigan who was just cleared to play after transferring from Arizona last year. Did you follow this kid or know anything about him?

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    In an article, they compared Lucas-Perry to Rumeal and said he was the most pure point UM has had since Rumeal.

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    its fun how nobody likes to give ku credit, esp against davidson, unc, and memphis. everyone says ku won it for lots of reasons other than they were a great team that beat other great teams. curry had an off night, unc laid an egg, memphis choked, blah blah blah… hansbrough got DOMINATED by cole aldrich, etc……with that said, this is a strange year as a jayhawk. every year we are a legit title contender. while i believe we can repeat, we are obviously not a favorite. ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!!!!!

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    TAD, my bad, i meant to holla back at you… I do not know that cat, but if he is anything like Rumeal, then the Wolverine’s backcourt will be ridiculou. MICHIGAN AND MINNESOTA RANKED?!?!?

    Tarzan, i am a life-long KU fan and the idea of them “repeating” seems wierd considering their entire starting line-up got drafted.

    I’m up for anything, but even a title run by that young team seems doubtful. I may have to scan my Denver Post sports page from KU’s 88 win into an upcoming column. I may even have the Michigan one from the following year! Think the shot was of Rumeal driving on Andrew Gage, i think…..

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    The game-winning shot? Michigan actually won that game at the free-throw line. I wanna say it was either Glen or Rumeal who hit the free-throws.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    Could have been..

    I, for some reason, remember Rumeal at the line late in that game. I had SI photos of that game and the 88 one taped above my bed in high school. Loser.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Yeah, it was Rumeal who sealed it at the line. But why do you call him a loser, Cub? No love?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    That was self-aimed.

    I used to play nerf hoop in my room against my older brother and would play “as” Rumeal. Mad love.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Oh….my bad. I’m coming down with a cold and hopped up on cold meds.

  • Corey L

    Cub, great read, first of all (even though it was somewhat short in length), but I was just as surprised as you with Pargo in the Arizona and UConn games. What’s going on???

  • Corey L

    Oh, and what do you think of Duke’s chances? They definitely have more experience, and with Zoubek playing well and Singler adding much-needed muscle to bang inside, they aren’t too bad down low. (Is it the live-by-the-three-and-die-by-the-three thing?)

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Izzo

    I agree about Fields.But if Travis f*cking Deiner can find a job in the League…..

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    Corey, Duke is the head of the “next five.” I agree with all of that, including the Liveby3dieby3. They have such a nice mix of youth and experience and that Xavier win was really impressive.

    Izzo, Diener could get 30 on any night while in college. That makes him relevant in his current NBA role.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Izzo

    But his haircut is far too efficient to warrant a spot in the NBA.(My LeVance Fields mancrush has nothing to do with logic,fact or reason.)

  • http://slamonline.com Tzvi T

    @Cub Where do you see ‘Nova? I think they got alot of guards who can ball. There gonna be a tough 5-8 seed tourney team to play in March. No?

  • http://www.ballislife.com Justin Walsh

    interestingly enough, Pitt didn’t play so hot against Florida State last night. The seminoles led for about 2/3′s of the game, and Pitt was confused with Florida’s inside zone. Willie Warren pouring in 31 last night was fun to watch as well, but everybody knows Austin Johnson owns that backcourt. Gonzaga losing doesn’t scare me at all- one loss was to Arizona, the other to UCONN in OVERTIME. I am merely worried about Pargo. He needs out of that slump. It’s possible that Goodwin, his freshman backup needs to be prepared to go in for him in certain situations if this continues. UNC and UCONN are who we thought they were.

  • Corey L

    And we let ‘em off the hook!

  • RM

    GON-ZAHHHH-GAAAAA

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    I’m not getting the game, but it looks like Gonzaga is going to now lose to Portland St?!?!

    I got love and respect for Port. St., but…..

    I need a replay feed of that game.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    Nice RM.
    These losses will just keep the Zags from getting a top seed; thus making their trip to a Final Four all that more difficult.

  • Hansosword

    kenny george :(

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    The Zags play better from a lower seed anyway.

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