ESPN.com Teams of Week
Updated: February 26, 2004, 5:07 PM ETESPN.com
Here is a look at the teams that have earned ESPN.com Team of the Week honors during teh 2003-04 season:
Week 14: Feb. 9-15
Stanford and NC State
It was a tough call between these two. Stanford played one game and won. No bid deal? Just No. 21? Well, it was the one game (at Cal) that appeared to be the one it would lose during its run toward an undefeated regular season. Stanford's defensive effort was so impressive in the second half that anyone who was watching that might wonder if Stanford can be derailed to the Final Four. The Cardinal continues to show incredible patience on offense and remain one of the most selfless teams in recent memory. NC State beat Florida State and then came up with one of the biggest wins in Herb Sendek's coaching tenure by beating Duke on Sunday night in Raleigh. The Wolfpack stayed with Sendek and rightfully so. The spacing in his offense is clicking like no other time under his tenure. He's got players who believe in him and the system, and desperately want to be the team everyone along Tobacco Road is talking about at season's end. NC State doesn't just want national respect, it would like some more in its own area code
Week 13: Feb. 2-8
Washington State There were a number of candidates this week. Stanford's thrilling win over Arizona gave the Cardinal a home sweep of the Arizona schools. Duke won a dramatic overtime game at North Carolina and then beat Clemson. Southern Illinois beat SMS at home and then won at Creighton. Kentucky won at Florida and held off South Carolina. But Washington State's week was maybe the most impressive. The Cougars won for the first time ever at Pauley Pavilion and then won at USC. Washington State's Dick Bennett has turned this program around in just a few short months. The Cougars are now in the middle of the muddled Pac-10, but they're just as tough a team to beat as Oregon at home or on the road. The Cougars are scoring well enough to win, and playing pretty tough defense. Bennett's staff is doing a remarkable job of making this team a factor in the Pac-10. The Cougars should be a postseason team within a year or two, and that alone would be a major accomplishment. Washington State moved to 5-6 in the league, and 11-10 overall, which means the NIT isn't out of the question for this season, either.
Week 12: Jan. 26-Feb. 1
Stanford The Cardinal continues to amaze everyone. The comeback at Oregon was one of the best of the season. Sure, Florida State deserves plenty of points for beating North Carolina after being 24 down. But the Seminoles were at home, and they should come back on teams at home. Stanford's comeback came at Mac Court where the Ducks were 36-2 in the past two seasons was more impressive and more significant. The only teams to win at Mac Court in the Pac-10 had been Arizona and Cal the past two years. Stanford's comeback without Justin Davis (knee) and Rob Little (foul problems) was even more impressive. Matt Haryasz (19 points) inside and Chris Hernandez (all 22 points coming in the second half) at the point was as good a tandem as we've seen this season. Stanford is looking like it may win the national title, not just the Pac-10 or go undefeated in the regular season. Sure, the Cardinal could get beat at home by Arizona or at UCLA, USC or Cal. But the Cardinal continues to handle adversity, and respond without any hesitation. Oh, by the way, they also won at Oregon State after tailing early.
Week 11: Jan. 19-25
Florida State The Seminoles beat two top-25 teams last week, but were a tough choice for team of the week, which says something about the weeks enjoyed by Providence, Mississippi State, Louisville and Richmond. But the Seminoles changed the outlook of their season by beating North Carolina and Wake Forest at home. The comeback against the Tar Heels from 24 down may become one of the best wins this season in the ACC. Florida State went from simply being a spoiler in the ACC into being a legit contender to finish as high as second. Leonard Hamilton has this team believing it can be a factor in the ACC. The euphoria in Tallahassee shows that this school can be a basketball power. The interest is definitely there and Hamilton is on his way to making the Seminoles a team to be reckoned with in the ACC at the right time -- just as it is expanding to 12 teams over the next two seasons.
Week 10: Jan. 12-18
Syracuse The Orangemen looked beatable at home, and did lose their opener to Charlotte. The questions were could this team win on the road? The answer is a resounding 'yes'. Syracuse picked up two quality wins at Missouri and Notre Dame last week. Syracuse continues to play with poise, and confidence throughout the game. Syracuse closed out both opponents rather handily. The Orange is getting solid veteran play and starting to get the necessary bench help. Syracuse is looking more and more like a team capable of returning to the Final Four. Defending its national title was supposed to be unrealistic without Carmelo Anthony. That's not the case any more.
Week 9: Jan. 5-11
Stanford The Cardinal pulled off the two best wins of the week by clipping Arizona State in the final seconds in Tempe and then soundly beating Arizona in Tucson on Saturday. Stanford's sweep of the Arizona schools kept the Cardinal undefeated and on track to win the Pac-10 title. Stanford continues to look more impressive with each passing game.
Connecticut The Huskies are hard to ignore after escaping from Rutgers by a point, and then putting together the most impressive single-game performance of any team this season in its win Sunday over Oklahoma. The Huskies were more dominant than Duke was at Michigan State. If Connecticut can bottle how it performed against the Sooners and play that way the rest of the season ... it will be hard to touch the Huskies.
Week 8: Dec. 29-Jan. 4
Belmont Quick, name the last time an Atlantic Sun team beat a potential Final Four team in its own barn? Not sure? Neither are we. The Bruins win at Missouri goes down as the biggest shocker of the season, so far. But the key was that Belmont didn't wilt after the win (see: UMKC). Belmont returned home to Nashville and beat Jacksonville by 16 points. Belmont (7-3, 2-1 in the Atlantic Sun) deserves national attention for beating Missouri. It was one of those rare low-major victories at a high-major school in a guaranteed game ("Sure, we'll show up, and likely take our lumps, as long as the money is right ..."). Uh, not so fast. Belmont ade 13 3s in the game and shot 45.5 percent overall. The Bruins committed only nine turnovers, while Missouri stumbled over itself with 15 turnovers. Belmont ended up shooting more 3s (35) than two-pointers (20). Belmont's win brought boos from Missouri's hometown fans. But they should have applauded Belmont for a marvelous job of pulling off the stunning upset.
Week 7: Dec. 15-Dec. 21
Louisville The Cardinals picked up one of the best wins of the season for any team, beating No. 1 Kentucky in Rupp Arena, 65-56. Louisville had substantial wins over Seton Hall and then-No. 1 Florida at home, but hadn't yet proven itself on the road. The only other time they went away from Louisville, the Cardinals lost to Iowa in Indianapolis to start the season. This game showed how much poise the Cardinals have learned to play with, and that they don't have to rely on Francisco Garcia. He was a non-factor for most of the game until he scored 10 points late to help seal the win. Louisville's defense was critical in the victory by cutting out the fast-break points and limiting Kentucky's offensive rebounding. Rick Pitino is setting up one heck of a race in Conference USA with the Cardinals, Cincinnati, Marquette and Memphis.
Week 6: Dec. 15-Dec. 21
Wake Forest The Demon Deacons started the week by going into what has become suddenly a difficult road stop and beat SMU. Then, in easily the game of the season to date, Wake Forest outlasted North Carolina in triple overtime in the ACC opener for both teams in Chapel Hill. Wake Forest hasn't missed a beat since losing Josh Howard to graduation and the NBA last spring. You could make an argument the Demon Deacons are even better this season that last year when they won the ACC regular season title, with more quickness and even more balance. Playing what amounts to three point guards at a time makes Wake fleet a foot at both ends of the court and Eric Williams' development as a major power player changes the dynamics of this team. Wake Forest should be in the top five this week and is now a legit Final Four contender.
Week 5: Dec. 8-Dec. 14
Arizona The Wildcats had the two best wins this week by beating top 25 teams Texas in New York at the Jimmy V Classic and disposing of Marquette Saturday in Tucson. The Wildcats were the aggressor against the Longhorns for most of the game. Against Marquette, Arizona had to mount a serious double-digit comeback. Arizona lost a one-point game to Florida, but since that loss and a one-point win at Saint Louis, this team is figuring out how to play selfless basketball. If they continue to play with unbelievable activity, size won't matter, as Arizona will continue to be one of the toughest outs in the country.
Week 4: Dec. 1-Dec. 7
Stanford The Cardinal (4-0) continue to play without Josh Childress and keep on winning. Stanford pulled off one of the best wins of the week by beating Kansas at the John Wooden Classic in Anaheim. Stanford has received tremendous leadership from Chris Hernandez and Matt Lottich in Childress' absence. If Stanford can continue to find ways to win without Childress, it should be the favorite going into the Pac-10 ... yes, over Arizona, when the Cardinal do get Childress back in the lineup -- whenever that may be in late December or January.
Week 3: Nov. 24-Nov. 30
Georgia Tech If you're going to beat the No. 1 team in the country, you might as well win the title that goes along with it. The Yellow Jackets' Preseason NIT triumph ranks as possibly the biggest shocker of the week. Georgia Tech took out Connecticut and then crushed Texas Tech for the title. Paul Hewitt has reshaped this team -- minus big men Ed Nelson and Chris Bosh -- to be quicker, and even more dangerous defensively because of the speed. Isma'il Muhammed, B.J. Elder and Jarrett Jack will be tough to keep up with at this rate in the ACC.
Dayton Brian Gregory's Flyers are one of the surprise teams this early season. But the most impressive win thus far might be the one at Pepperdine. Dayton beat the Waves on the way out to winning the Maui Invitational. Pepperdine beat Colorado on that same court after the Flyers came through last week on the way to the island. Dayton's Keith Waleskowski, Ramod Marshall and Sean Finn should be in the top three at their respective positions in the A-10.
Purdue The Boilermakers got an early start on the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, playing tenacious, physical defense in winning the Great Alaska Shootout. The win over Duke should have tremendous shelf life throughout the season. Beating Seton Hall will also certainly give Purdue a lift in power rating points. Purdue hosts Clemson on Wednesday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, but its late-night win over Duke on Saturday will do more than a likely win over the Tigers. The Boilermakers should be a top 25 team and now look like a Big Ten title contender.
Week 2: Nov. 17-Nov. 23
Texas Tech The Red Raiders won three games at home. So what, right? Well, it's how they won the games. Texas Tech was extremely impressive. This team is more athletic than Bob Knight's previous two in Lubbock. Andre Emmett has more help, especially at the point with Jarrius Jackson. Texas Tech's 40-point whooping of Massachusetts in the second round of the Preseason NIT might have been the nation's most impressive early win. The Minutemen aren't expected to be a player in the Atlantic 10, but they shouldn't get run out of West Texas by 40! Knight didn't need to land big-time recruits for the Red Raiders to make a splash. If this team continues on this run, regardless of what occurs in New York this week, the Red Raiders will be hanging around the top five in the Big 12 throughout the year.
Week 1: Nov. 13-Nov. 16
Saint Joseph's The Hawks were clearly the best team in New York during CVC. Saint Joseph's, slotted 18th by the coaches in the preseason top 25, should leap just inside or outside the 10 with the win. The Hawks have a handful of nationally televised games, but Gonzaga and an upcoming Cal game (Dec. 20) at the Pete Newell Classic in Oakland were the highlights. The Hawks got the first one, and if they can get Cal, they would have knocked off the two toughest teams on their non-conference schedule.