50 Things We Learned from the Opening Weekend of College Basketball

Josh Schoch@JoshSchochAnalyst IIINovember 12, 2012

50 Things We Learned from the Opening Weekend of College Basketball

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    College basketball's opening weekend is now behind us, with a great many games entertaining college hoops' faithful audience.

    Now that the first week of the season is out of the way, it's time to reflect on what we learned from the contests.

    These are the top 50 lessons learned from the first three days of the college hoops season.

Isaiah Austin Is Even Better Than Advertised

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    Isaiah Austin was Baylor's crown jewel in its recruiting class this season, and he proved to be worth it.

    Austin was spectacular in his collegiate debut, going for 22 points on 10-of-12 shooting in just 17 minutes of action. However, he sprained his ankle, which is why he didn't play more and crack 30 points.

    It doesn't appear to be a severe injury and Austin may not miss much playing time. That's great news for the Bears, because seeing their 7'1" center shooting so well (including 2-of-4 from three) and spreading the floor were two of the team's highlights in its season opener.

Cory Jefferson Can Be an Elite Forward

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    Cory Jefferson never really did much for Baylor in his first two seasons, averaging 1.3 points and 1.2 rebounds per game as a freshman and 3.6 points and 2.6 boards as a sophomore.

    To start off his junior campaign, however, he played 35 minutes, going off for a team-high 26 points and 13 rebounds. On Sunday, he was a great player for Baylor again, scoring 14 points and grabbing seven boards.

    If he emerges as an elite forward for the season the Bears could be well on their way to a Big 12 title.

C.J. McCollum Has Fixed His Woes Against Elite Teams

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    I know that C.J. McCollum's national attention all draws back to him sinking No. 2-seeded Duke in the Round of 64 in last year's NCAA tournament, but he has still struggled against elite teams in the past.

    After beating Duke, he went for 14 points on 5-of-22 shooting, and shot 6-of-18 against No. 20 Michigan State earlier in the season. Even against Duke he only shot 35.7 percent from the floor.

    While McCollum has put up impressive numbers in the past, it wasn't because he was making a lot of his shots.

    Against Baylor, however, he went for 36 points, eight rebounds and four steals, but what's more important is that he shot 14-of-32 from the field—and that number could have been better if he didn't chuck up a few garbage-time threes that missed. In fact, he missed his last five shots.

    It looks like McCollum may be ready to step up against some of the nation's best teams this year, and his next big test will come on the road against VCU.

Pierre Jackson Can Be an Elite Facilitator

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    We knew that Pierre Jackson could be a good facilitator for his team after he averaged 5.9 assists per game last season, but on Friday night he looked like an NBA point guard.

    Jackson scored 14 points, but what was impressive was that he also tallied 12 assists, the second-most in a single game in his career.

    Jackson obviously knows he needs to be a facilitator if he is going to make it to the next level standing at 5'10", and he showed that he can be one on Friday.

    On Sunday he went for 25 points, focusing on scoring instead, but also handed out seven assists in the process.

Shabazz Napier Is This Year's Leader for UConn

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    Two years ago Connecticut was led by Kemba Walker. Last year Jeremy Lamb led the Huskies. This year it will be Shabazz Napier who leads UConn.

    Napier is a quick guard, just like Walker and Lamb. He was lethal on Friday, shooting well from behind the arc and getting out in transition. When it was all said and done, Napier finished the game with 25 points against a talented Michigan State backcourt.

    As I watched Napier, I couldn't help but notice that he resembled Kemba Walker in many ways, and he looked like a leader.

    We thought it might be freshman Omar Calhoun who took this role after he averaged 22.0 points per game in exhibition play, but he only scored one point on Friday.

    It's not completely clear who the leader of this team is, but it looks like Napier could certainly be it.

UConn Is Resilient

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    UConn didn't have much going for it entering the season on Friday.

    With a postseason ban, Jim Calhoun retiring, three players transferring (including Alex Oriakhi) and two players gone to the NBA, the Huskies seemed doomed to a poor season.

    However, on Friday the team knocked off No. 14 Michigan State and proved that they aren't going to roll over this season. This was one of the biggest upsets in the first week of play, and now we see just how tough this team can be.

Kevin Ollie Is a Good Coach in Late-Game Situations

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    Kevin Ollie pulled off a big upset in his first game as head coach of the UConn Huskies, and he proved that he can handle this team when it matters most.

    The matchup with Michigan State was lopsided in the first half, with the Huskies pulling away. However, the Spartans battled back, and it looked like they were poised to take the contest in the end.

    When Keith Appling hit a three with 16:12 left in the game, it cut the lead down to three points, and from then on the Huskies were never up by more than four.

    However, with his careful use of timeouts and his ability to keep his guys calm and focused, Ollie proved to be a good leader at the end of games.

Michigan State Has Some Work to Do

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    Tom Izzo must have lost five years off his life from the stress of his team's opening game.

    Michigan State struggled the entire night, shooting just 37.5 percent from the floor (23.5 percent from three) and turning the ball over 15 times compared to just nine assists.

    While the team's backcourt led the way as expected, the group shot poor as a unit, shooting 19-of-53 from the floor.

    MSU has a long way to go, and Izzo has his work cut out for him this season.

Yogi Ferrell Is Already a Good Point Guard

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    Indiana tipped off the season against Bryant on Friday, and the nation's consensus preseason No. 1 didn't disappoint.

    There were a few things that happened that we expected, like Cody Zeller and Christian Watford playing lights out. However, the real surprise came from freshman point guard Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell.

    Ferrell went for 10 points, seven assists and five rebounds in just 24 minutes of action. He looked sharp in his first college game, and he and Jordan Hulls combined for 12 of the team's 16 assists.

    Ferrell was one of the players in the Class of 2012 who looked like he would be hit-or-miss, and he played well in his first game.

Michigan's Backcourt Can Still Exceed Expectations

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    Michigan's backcourt duo of Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. was among the nation's most highly-regarded combos entering the season. Both are both great players, and they found a way to exceed expectations yet again on Friday.

    In the Wolverines' first game of the season, the two combined for 46 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists.

    Hardaway Jr. was especially impressive, going for 25 points on 8-of-10 shooting, including a perfect 5-of-5 from behind the arc. He also snagged 10 boards for a double-double.

    While Burke missed his own double-double, he still recorded 21 points and notched eight assists for the Wolverines.

    These two were sensational, and they have the potential to make up the best backcourt in college hoops this season.

North Carolina State Is Very Balanced

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    North Carolina State looks like the favorite in the ACC this season, and they showed why on Friday night.

    The Wolfpack have one of the top players in the country in junior forward C.J. Leslie, but he didn't have to do much in the first game, scoring just 11 points and ranking fourth on his team in scoring.

    The Wolfpack played all five starters for 20-plus minutes, and all five reached double-digit points, with freshman Rodney Purvis and senior Richard Howell leading the way with 16 each.

    The team also gave considerable playing time to freshmen T.J. Warren and Tyler Lewis, who put up solid numbers themselves.

    This is a deep, balanced team, which is why it is so dangerous.

Jeff Withey Is Ready for a Bigger Role on Offense

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    Jeff Withey was a defensive stopper inside for Kansas last season, averaging 3.6 blocks per game.

    This season Withey looks to take advantage of his bigger role, and he certainly did on Friday. He recorded a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds, and blocked five shots.

    Withey's numbers almost doubled from his 9.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.6 blocks averages from last season. He led the team in scoring, and he proved that he can be potent on the offensive end as well.

Duke Isn't as Deep as We Expected

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    Mike Krzyzewski's Duke Blue Devils made their debut against Georgia State in a laugher, but it was clear in this game that Duke isn't very deep.

    Only eight players stepped on the court in Friday night's 74-55 rout, and all five starters played at least 30 minutes. These early games are supposed to be when you let everyone play and figure out which combinations work, but it looks like Coach K is going to let the starters lead this team.

    With Austin Rivers departing for the NBA, Andre Dawkins redshirting and Marshall Plumlee out until as late as mid-December, it looks like the team will be thin this year.

Duke Still Loves the Three

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    One trend in Duke's first game was that the Blue Devils were shooting from behind the arc...a lot.

    Duke took 47 shots on Friday night, 24 of which were threes. This continues a trend from last year when the team chucked up 713 threes, which was nearly 40 percent of the team's shots (via ESPN). On Friday, over half of the team's shots were from long range, and this came against a team that the Blue Devils could have beaten inside.

    This stat should worry Duke fans, as the team took 26 threes against Lehigh in its first game of the NCAA tournament last season, missing 20 and ultimately losing the game.

    Duke needs to get the ball inside, and this first game didn't reveal any plans to do so.

James Michael McAdoo Can Carry North Carolina

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    James Michael McAdoo finally got his chance at North Carolina, and he took full advantage of it, going for a career-high 26 points and 14 rebounds in his 31 minutes of action.

    McAdoo was forced to sit the bench last season behind Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Tyler Zeller, but this season he is the leader for UNC.

    He didn't get much help on Friday night, with his teammates shooting 1-of-12 from three and Dexter Strickland being the only other player to score more than six points, but he led the team to victory.

    Again on Sunday he led the team in scoring, with the Tar Heels winning yet again to start the season at 2-0.

Jordan Adams Will Get His Chances

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    With Shabazz Muhammad being declared ineligible on the day the college hoops season started, UCLA loses its top player (and one of the best in the country) indefinitely.

    Now the Bruins need help from different places, and Jordan Adams proved that he can be the team's small forward.

    Coming off the bench, Adams went for 21 points and snagged seven rebounds in 22 minutes of action, leading the Bruins to victory. He was very impressive in his collegiate debut and was the best freshman on the team, surpassing Kyle Anderson and Tony Parker on Friday.

    Adams is going to get his chances with Muhammad out, and if he continues to produce like this he could earn a permanent starting role very quickly.

UCLA Won't Rely on Freshmen as Much as Expected

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    With the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation, you would expect a team that missed last year's NCAA tournament to rely heavily on freshmen.

    However, with Muhammad being declared ineligible and Anderson only taking five shots, two of the top freshmen in the nation did little to nothing for the team.

    While Adams stepped up in a big way, Tony Parker hardly played, as the team relied heavily on the Wear twins to score down low (combining for 30 points) and Larry Drew II to lead the team in assists.

    UCLA doesn't look as dependent on freshmen as we expected, which is great news for Bruins fans, considering the recent setback of Muhammad.

Mark Few Wants to Develop Przemek Karnowski ASAP

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    Gonzaga coach Mark Few looks like a genius right now.

    He knows that he is going to get most of his offense from his all-sophomore backcourt of Gary Bell Jr. and Kevin Pangos, and that Elias Harris is an elite forward. He knows these things from the last two seasons, so he is more concerned with developing his big men.

    Sam Dower got his chances in Friday's matchup with Southern Utah, and his development looks like it's coming along nicely.

    The big thing for Few is developing 7'1", 305-pound big man Przemek Karnowski into an elite player. We didn't know what to expect from the big man, but in his first collegiate game he went for 22 points in just 20 minutes, as the Zags kept feeding him the ball for 16 shots.

    While he's still a very raw player, this game has to boost Karnowski's confidence to kick off the season.

Florida State Can't Win Without Michael Snaer

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    Well, so much for Florida State coming out strong.

    The Seminoles lost an embarrassing game to Southern Alabama in the team's season opener. Michael Snaer didn't have a great game, going for just 10 points of 2-of-11 shooting and seven assists in the game. However, what's truly worrying is that his teammates couldn't step up.

    No one on Florida State scored more than 11 points, proving that if Snaer struggles the team is in serious trouble.

    Hopefully this will just be a fluke for the Seminoles, but it is a truly worrying sign that the team can't beat a team like Southern Alabama when Snaer isn't playing well.

Jack Cooley Is a Stud

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    We knew Jack Cooley was a good player after he averaged 12.5 points and 8.9 rebounds per game last season, but he was incredible on Saturday, helping Notre Dame open its season with a victory.

    Cooley went for 19 points, 11 boards and six blocks. Sixth-year senior Scott Martin also led the way to victory for the team, but it was Cooley who was the team's top performer in just 28 minutes of action.

Phil Pressey Has Become Elite

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    Phil Pressey has always been talented, and last season he proved that he could be a good point guard by averaging 10.3 points and 6.4 assists per game.

    However, on Saturday he proved that he has become an elite point guard, racking up 19 points while dishing out nine assists in Missouri's first game of the season.

    Pressey is the best returning player on the team, and he stepped up to be the start that the Tigers needed. This seems like typical production from him now that he is being given the chance to shine, and I expect him to be among the nation's top point guards at the end of the season because of it.

Alex Oriakhi Still Needs to Improve on Offense

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    Alex Oriakhi's transfer to Missouri seemed like it would be a huge shot in the arm for a depleted Tigers team, but he didn't produce much on the offensive end in his first game.

    He's never been a dominant scorer, averaging 9.6 points per game in his sophomore season, but that dropped to just 6.7 last season.

    On Saturday he scored just eight points, two of which came from an offensive rebound of his own shot and four more from easy dunks.

    He needs to work on getting his own shot, especially in games when he has the clear height advantage, like on Saturday.

Michael Carter-Williams Is Ready to Be a Star

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    Michael Carter-Williams had one of the best games of his collegiate career on Sunday against the No. 20 San Diego State Aztecs in the Battle on the Midway.

    Posting 17 points, four rebounds, four assists and five steals, he was key in Syracuse's season-opening victory.

    MCW has never had his chance to be a star for the program, but he'll get it this season.

C.J. Fair Will Play a Vital Role for Syracuse This Season

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    C.J. Fair was the top performer in Sunday's Battle on the Midway, posting 17 points and getting a double-double with his 10 rebounds.

    Fair came out hot, scoring nine quick points, and he continued to impress all afternoon. He showed that he is/will be an important player for this team this season.

DaJuan Coleman Has Some Work to Do

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    DaJuan Coleman was one of the top prospects in the Class of 2012, but he struggled in his first game with Syracuse.

    Coleman scored two points off a tip-in that put the Orange ahead 6-2, but after that he didn't score again. He finished the game with two points, two rebounds and two fouls.

    For a center who was supposed to anchor Jim Boeheim's 2-3 zone, we found out that he still has a lot of work to do.

San Diego State Needs to Play Inside

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    The San Diego State Aztecs entered the season ranked 20th in the country, but they struggled versus the Orange.

    It was a windy day on the USS Midway, and it affected San Diego State's shooting. The team shot a pitiful 27 percent from the field (including 5.6 percent from three), with almost all of their baskets coming inside.

Jamaal Franklin Finds Ways to Score

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    That's the number of field goals Jamaal Franklin made in the first 30-plus minutes of action in the Battle on the Midway.

    Franklin struggled to score for the entire game, finishing 3-of-12 from the field. However, he still scored 11 points and led San Diego State in a game when the team scored just 49 points.

    While he struggled mightily, he still found ways to score, which was very impressive in harsh conditions against a tough zone defense. Don't doubt this kid's potential.

Peyton Siva Remains Among the Nation's Best Point Guards

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    Peyton Siva led the No. 2 ranked Louisville Cardinals on Sunday, and he showed off just how good of a floor general he is once again.

    Siva finished the game with 10 points and 10 assists, but what's more impressive is how he controlled his teammates. He is an incredible leader, which is why this team is ranked so highly.

Russ Smith Is a Lethal Scoring Weapon

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    Russ Smith showed flashes of brilliance last season, including when he dropped 30 points off the bench against Kentucky in the first meeting between the two teams.

    In his season debut Smith went for 23 points, showing that he can be one of the top scorers for Louisville. He led all scorers in the game and proved why he deserves to start for the team.

Louisville Needs to Rebound Better

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    Louisville is ranked No. 2 in the nation, but the team's big men disappointed on Sunday.

    It's not that the team didn't score, it's that they failed to outrebound the Manhattan Jaspers. The Manhattan Jaspers.

    Louisville needs to crash the boards better if it is to beat elite teams, or else this could be a very disappointing season for the Cardinals.

Aaron Craft Can Light It Up from Three

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    We know that Aaron Craft is arguably the best defender in the nation. We know that he is a great facilitator. What we didn't know was how he would fare on the offensive end, but he proved that he can be elite there too.

    Craft scored 20 points on Sunday, including 15 points from behind the arc on 5-of-7 shooting. He chose his shots in a very selective manner, shooting 6-of-9 from the field and dropping 20 on Albany. If he emerges as a scoring threat he will be unstoppable.

DeShaun Thomas Is Still the Centerpiece of Ohio State's Offense

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    While Aaron Craft had a great game and led the Buckeyes in scoring, it doesn't mean that he's the new centerpiece for Ohio State on offense.

    Although he only scored 19 points, that role still belongs to DeShaun Thomas. While he shot poorly for the game (7-of-17 from the field), he is still going to lead the Buckeyes in shots and points this season.

Florida Has Finally Found Balance

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    In recent years Florida has relied heavily on its backcourt for offensive production, while big men were playing to simply fill the paint and play defense.

    Not anymore.

    In its first game, Florida showed a balance that we haven't seen recently. Of the 66 points scored by starters, 36 came from guards and 30 from big men.

    That is much better than in years past, which makes this year's team dangerous.

Kenny Boynton Will Always Be an Elite Scorer

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    Kenny Boynton's 22 points on 8-of-10 shooting shouldn't surprise anyone. He's been a source of offense for three years at Florida, but this proves that he always has been and always will be (even in a balanced offense).

    Boynton scored at least 14 points per game in each of his first three seasons at Florida, and now he will continue that trend. His 22 points led the team on Sunday, and it looks like he will be the team's leader on offense.

Wisconsin's Defense Is Still Pretty Darn Good

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    Wisconsin has always had a good defense, and this year is no different despite the loss of point guards Jordan Taylor to the NBA and Josh Gasser to injury.

    Either way, the Badgers held Southeastern Louisiana to 35 percent shooting for the game and just 47 points.

    Talk about a stingy defense.

Sam Dekker Needs to Prove Himself

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    Sam Dekker has the potential to be the leader of Wisconsin this season. He is a very skilled wing with a lot of potential, but he played just 17 minutes in Sunday's season opener, scoring eight points on 3-of-5 shooting.

    As we saw on Sunday, Dekker still needs to prove himself to coach Bo Ryan before he can earn the role of leader.

Jared Berggren Can Be a Good Scorer

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    Jared Berggren needed to step up this season with the loss of leading scorer Jordan Taylor to the NBA, and he did so in a big way on Sunday.

    Berggren went for an impressive 19 points, leading the Badgers to an easy victory. He shot 6-of-10 from the floor and 7-of-7 from the free-throw line, emerging as a legitimate scoring threat.

Justin Jackson Can Be a Good Rebounder

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    After losing big man Yancy Gates, Cincinnati needed to find other forwards and centers to step up in his absence.

    Enter Justin Jackson.

    The Bearcats forward led the team with 11 rebounds, making sure that his team won the battle on the boards handily. The team needs him to rebound well all season, and he showed that he can do it on Sunday.

Cashmere Wright and Sean Kilpatrick Can Be Enough Offense for Cincy

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    Cashmere Wright and Sean Kilpatrick proved to be great sources of offense yet again on Sunday, combining for 30 points on 11-of-21 shooting.

    These two need to lead Cincy in scoring night after night, and it looks like they can do it.

Ryan Arcidiacono Can Be a Star

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    Ryan Arcidiacono stepped up big in Villanova's first game of the season, dropping an incredible 25 points on 6-of-11 shooting to lead the Wildcats in scoring.

    Arcidiacono is only a freshman, but he already leads the Wildcats and appears to be a star in the making for 'Nova.

Ryan Anderson Can Keep Boston College Competitive

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    Ryan Anderson proved that he can be a scoring threat for Boston College, dropping 29 points and leading the Eagles to an easy victory Sunday.

    Anderson shot 9-of-16 from the floor and 11-of-14 from the free-throw line, which ended up with him scoring an impressive 29 points.

Mark Lyons Is Still a Score-First Point Guard

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    Despite Mark Lyons' intentions to become a pass-first point guard, he still led Arizona in scoring in his Wildcats debut.

    Lyons shot the ball 14 times, finishing with 17 points to complement his six dimes. He's still a work in progress, but for now the Xavier transfer is still a score-first combo guard, rather than a point guard.

Kaleb Tarczewski Is a Work in Progress

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    Kaleb Tarczewski is a seven-foot freshman with seemingly unlimited potential for Arizona, but he is still a work in progress.

    Tarc only played 16 minutes versus Charleston Southern, scoring four points and grabbing four rebounds. He wasn't even the best freshman on the floor in this game, but he soon will be.

Brandon Ashley Is a Scorer at Any Level

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    Since Tarc wasn't the best freshman for the Wildcats, it turned out to be Brandon Ashley.

    Ashley is known as an elite scorer, scoring 15.3 points per game in his senior year in high school and produced 12 in his freshman debut.

    Ashley didn't take many uncontested shots, shooting just 2-of-3 from the floor, but he made eight free throws to get up to a dozen points. Turns out he's a scorer no matter what level he plays on.

Otto Porter's Season May Not Go According to Plan

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    Otto Porter was selected as a preseason honorable mention All-American, but his debut was a bad one.

    After missing his first two shots Porter was hit in the eye and missed the rest of the game due to the injury without scoring a single point.

    Porter is supposed to be a star this season, but he got off to a rough start, and we don't have a timetable for his injury.

Georgetown Can Play Without Him

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    While Otto Porter's debut is bad news for Georgetown, they don't need him just yet.

    Georgetown still won its first game, thanks to Mikael Hopkins and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera. The team doesn't need him just yet, but it will in its Nov. 19 matchup with No. 13 UCLA.

Reggie Johnson Is a Beast

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    At 6'10" and 292 pounds, Reggie Johnson is a big dude. Throw in his basketball skills and we have ourselves a beast in South Beach.

    Miami's big man proved his worth in the team's first game of the season, scoring 22 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. He is going to dominate for much of the season and will be the key to Miami's hopes this season.

Alex Len Is Emerging as an Elite Big Man

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    Maryland's seven-footer, Alex Len, has become another elite big man. He was a very raw player when he first got to College Park, but after going for 23 points and 12 rebounds against Kentucky, Len is now an integral part of Maryland's game plan.

    He has the potential to be among the nation's top big men this season.

Outside Games Don't Always Work

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    It was a tough weekend in terms of weather, with the Florida-Georgetown game being canceled and the Battle on the Midway being pushed back two days due to condensation.

    Even when the Battle on the Midway was played it was too windy for teams to make a jumper, with the final score being Syracuse 62, San Diego State 49.

    We learned that outside spectacles don't always work after North Carolina-Michigan State was such a success last season.

...But They're Totally Worth It

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    While playing games outside for our military doesn't always work, it will always be worth it.

    By supporting our troops and making an event of a few basketball games every year, college hoops remains a great show.

    While they weren't the best games, they were certainly worth hosting and viewing.