Each week I'll write about the sport I love, college basketball:
• I am excited about the new idea to create an early-season buzz in college basketball. Four of the elite programs in the sport have agreed to compete in a special event called the Champions Classic. Duke, Kentucky, Kansas and Michigan State will participate over the next three seasons in the event, which will debut at the Mecca of collehe basketball, Madison Square Garden in 2011. Then it will go to the Georgia Dome in 2012 and Chicago the following year. It will cut back on bargain basement goodies and cupcake city as these marquee matchups will give the coaches an idea of where their teams are with an early-season challenge.
• I have said it before and will say it again ... athletes have to make wise decisions or pay a penalty. At Villanova, diaper dandy power forward JayVaughn Pinkston learned that the hard way. An off-court incident has left Pinkston sidelined for the rest of the season. Hopefully he will learn from his mistake and be a better person in the future.
• Purdue coach Matt Painter's team has been like a M*A*S*H unit. First Robbie Hummel was lost for the season with another knee injury. Now guard John Hart is expected to miss at least a month with a stress fracture in his right foot. He was third on the team in scoring at the time of his injury, averaging 8.4 points.
• Ben Howland has to have the same concern. Last season, his team was plagued by injuries, and now Malcolm Lee was hurt. His knee injury happened when he was fouled in a loss to Montana.
• I understand Tom Izzo was upset and disappointed by the showing at the Jimmy V Classic loss to Syracuse. Part of the problem early in the season was the schedule. This was a tired team in the Big Apple after playing at Maui and a late game at Duke. Trust me, the Spartans will get better and better. Kalin Lucas is still rehabbing after his Achilles injury in last season's NCAA tournament. He will probably not be at full speed until the Big Ten schedule, or even in January. This team will still be heard from.
• There are some people surprised with Connecticut's early-season success. Hall of Famer Jim Calhoun is always going to put a competitive team on the court, so seeing the Huskies picked 10th in the Big East preseason poll was the real surprise. Connecticut will always be competitive.
• I was sorry to learn of the passing of former Marquette coach Hank Raymonds. He was a longtime assistant under legendary coach Al McGuire before taking over as head coach, replacing McGuire until 1983. He also served as the school's athletic director. Raymonds was a different personality than Al, but he also had success at Marquette. Hank was a basketball purist who had great knowledge of the game. He was also a super human being. RIP, Hank.
• I just want to thank all of you that sent a tweet about my speech at halftime of Michigan State-Syracuse game at the Jimmy V Classic. You are all so kind and you can help by calling 1-800-4-JIMMY V to help beat this dreaded disease. Or you can get more information on the Dickie V Gala at dickvitaleonline.com.