Curing a Case of the Mondays: College Hoops Recap, 1.5.09

Tim PollockSenior Writer IJanuary 5, 2009

Featured Games

Georgetown vs. Notre Dame

As a self-proclaimed SEC homer, I know I am sinning by writing this, but my love affair with Georgetown continues.  

Yes, Notre Dame pulled out the win over the Hoyas Monday night en route to their 44th home victory in a row, but Georgetown certainly didn’t make it easy for them.  It’s amazing that a team this good is 1-2 in conference play.  

More importantly, is there any doubt that the Hoyas’ freshman big man Greg Monroe is the real deal? 

A legit 6'11", 250, this kid is smooth.  He has a good-looking left-handed jumpshot, passes well, doesn’t force things, and plays completely within himself.

He also leads the team in rebounds, steals, and blocks while shooting 74 percent from the FT line.  The kid has a good handle, as he goes between his legs like a guard—and he even penetrates and dishes to the open man in the corner. 

The big man has faced three very formidable frontlines in his first taste against Big East action, but last night’s performance is his best so far: 21 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, and two steals. 

Monroe has a tendency to post too low on the block, and he could be more aggressive on the defensive end, but for an 18-year-old, this kid is insanely talented. 

Or maybe Bill Raftery’s voice has hypnotized me into drinking some serious Greg Monroe Kool-Aid.  Regardless, let’s hope Monroe sticks around the college game for another year or two. 

South Carolina vs. Wofford

I know what you are thinking: This is anything but an elite game.

Let me explain.

Monday’s convincing 78-61 win is enough for me to predict an SEC Coach of the Year award for Darrin Horn this season.  And not because Wofford is a world-beater; far from it, actually.  It’s that this was the ultimate trap game, sandwiched between an away game at 20th-ranked Baylor and the Gamecocks’ SEC opener against Auburn.

Speaking of that Baylor game, just three days ago, the Gamecocks beat the 12-2 Bears on their home court in a down-to-the-wire, 85-84 shootout.  For a team that virtually discovered 10 new heartbreaking ways to lose close games last year, that victory was huge for the Gamecocks, especially considering the roster is essentially the same as last year’s.

In just one offseason, Darrin Horn has completely changed the mindset of his team.     

Remember, too, that Baylor’s only other loss is to fourth-ranked Wake Forest, and the loss to South Carolina was Baylor’s only home loss of the season.   

All this with key reserve Sam Muldrow still out and 6'1" junior Robert Wilder playing shooting guard for injured 6'2" senior Branden Conrad, who is out with a foot injury.  Under Dave Odom last year, Conrad and Wilder were walk-ons, with Conrad playing sparingly and Wilder getting nothing more than mop-up time in blowouts. 

Horn has somehow taken these two kids and made them integral parts of the team.    

With Odom at the helm, South Carolina was 9-23 in conference play over the last two years. 

Look for the Gamecocks to notch at least nine conference wins this season alone and be on the bubble for a tournament appearance.  As for Horn, he might just be hoisting an SEC Championship trophy in a year or two.  Athletic Director Eric Hyman hit the jackpot with this hire.

With football season over, look for angry Gamecock fans to pack the Colonial Life Arena this Saturday and watch their Gamecocks tear into Auburn for their first SEC win.  

Stock up       

Kurt Rambis jerseys: Rambis’ college jersey at Santa Clara was recently retired.  Make your bid on eBay before it’s too late.


Stock down    

Long-sleeved undershirts: Seriously, are you that cold, Tony Crocker?  Isn’t this like the guy in sweatpants during a local pick-up game? 

Syracuse’s form fitting tops and clamdigger shorts combo is awful, but the long-sleeved undershirts should be saved for outdoor wear only—or as a nightie.  Good grief. 

Diamond in the Rough

VMI is 12-2 and lighting opponents up on the scoreboard.  But last night’s gutty 93-90 win over Charleston Southern might be their best performance yet.  Missing their two leading scorers, seniors Travis and Chavis Holmes, VMI still put up 93 points and pulled off a close win—on the road, no less. 

With super-sub Keith Gabriel (16.4 ppg) struggling from the field, sophomore southpaw Hunter Houston, playing in his first game of the season, went off for 18 points in 23 minutes, shooting 6-9 from the field and 5-8 from three-ball. 

Resident three-bomb artist Austin Kenon led the Keydets with a career-high 26 points, including six treys on nine attempts.

VMI seems dead set on a tournament appearance this year.


The best-laid plans

Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel was hospitalized with a stomach virus and did not coach the Sooners' Monday night game against 1-9 Maryland-Eastern Shore.

A loss to Arkansas, the SEC’s finest to offer at this point, will do that to you, I guess. 

In all seriousness, though: What happened to the days of taking a Tums and getting some sleep? 

Let’s hope fellow OU coach Bob Stoops has packed his medication to Miami...