SU's Flynn keeps the Year of the Freshman streak going
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Player of the Week
By Andy KatzThis could turn into a freshman of the week award at this rate. Kansas State's Michael Beasley took the honor in Week 1. Syracuse guard Jonny Flynn, though, has the signature moment of this young season with a 3-pointer with five seconds left to lift Syracuse past Saint Joseph's to advance to the NIT Season Tip-Off semifinals later this week in New York. Flynn began the event with a 28-point debut in a win over Siena; he had nine assists and five turnovers in that opener. He didn't bother to shoot as much against Saint Joseph's, instead focusing on being a playmaker (with a sweet no-look dish on a fast break to Donte Greene during this game, too) with six assists and one turnover. His only bucket versus the Hawks was the game-winning trey. Flynn showed no hesitation in pulling up and making that shot in the final seconds.
Team of the Week
Andy KatzThe Hurricanes were a trendy pick for last in the ACC. Yet Miami coach Frank Haith scoffed at the notion that he was coaching a Hurricanes team banished to the basement. Miami had to make a slow, steady climb to respectability. And, so far, the Canes are making enough waves to be noticed early, posting solid wins to start the season. Miami won the Puerto Rico Classic with a convincing win over Marist, a solid six-point W over VCU and a six-point title game victory over Providence. None of those teams may end up in the NCAA Tournament in March, but the Canes played the hand they were dealt and won. Oh, and by the way, the Canes also introduced us to a new name: James Dews, a 6-foot-3 sophomore guard, led Miami in the title win with 17 points off the bench, including three 3s.
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Sean Singletary and the rest of the Virginia shooters tore up Arizona's defense.
It is clear from watching Arizona closely that the Wildcats have a long way to go to become a good defensive team. One thing is clear: You don't just bring in a new assistant and all of a sudden become a stellar defensive team. For five to play as one on the defensive end, it takes a collective commitment, and the will to stop somebody. Against Virginia, Arizona gave up 51 percent shooting from the field, including allowing a frightening 12-of-21 from beyond the arc. The Wildcats did not pressure the ball, did not rotate, did not communicate and did not play with the mind-set to stop anyone. Some Wildcats defenders have had no earthly idea where they are supposed to be relative to the ball and how to close out under control to a shooter. In its two games, Arizona has allowed its opponents to shoot 48 percent from the field, including 19-of-39 on 3s. The numbers look bad, and the Wildcats defense on film looks even worse. Arizona needs the stability of coach Lute Olson, who is on an indefinite leave of absence, but also needs the resolve to get down and guard somebody. Arizona could easily be 0-2 right now. Doug Gottlieb
The Green is really mean. North Texas whipped my alma mater, Oklahoma State, and is now 3-0 after dismantling Indiana State on Saturday night. Mean Green guard Josh White, to quote several other Big 12 coaches, "abused Byron Eaton," Oklahoma State's junior guard, in what was just another family Bedlam tradition (that is, the Oklahoma-OSU series; White's brother Quannas helped lead Oklahoma to an Elite Eight). White, a freshman from Baton Rouge, combines with Collin Dennis to form a lethal duo that could make North Texas this season's Northwestern State. For the experts' full 3-point takes, click here.
By Reggie RankinScouts Inc.'s Reggie Rankin takes a look at five upsets that could happen this week:
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Can Tajuan Porter keep the Ducks from falling in Moraga?
• Tuesday: St. Mary's (Calif.) over No. 13 OregonThe high-powered Ducks are led by returning leading scorer and 3-point specialist Tajuan Porter, who connected on a Pac-10 freshman record 110 3s last season. He is joined by the highly productive senior class of guard Malik Hairston, forward Maarty Leunen and guard Bryce Taylor. Oregon will be in for a major test when it travels away from the great home-court advantage of MacArthur court and heads down the coast to face coach Randy Bennett's St. Mary's Gaels, who will challenge Gonzaga for the West Coast Conference title. Preseason all-conference first team forward Diamon Simpson is the go-to guy who leads guards Tron Smith and Todd Golden. Inside, the Gaels feed the 6-11, 265-pound mountain of a man, Omar Samhan. The Ducks can score, averaging more than 90 points per game. But St. Mary's, averaging more than 80 points per game, will push it right back at them. • Thursday: Western Kentucky over No. 14 Gonzaga The Hilltoppers, the preseason favorite in the Sun Belt, take on Gonzaga in the Great Alaska Shootout with senior scoring-machine guard Courtney Lee, who has demonstrated he can take over games. Lee will match up against high-energy Gonzaga guard Jeremy Pargo. The Zags are loaded with 6-10 freshman combo forward Austin Daye, sophomore guard Matt Bouldin and forward Larry Gurganious accounting for the majority of the scoring until big man Josh Heytvelt returns from foot injury. Western Kentucky is a solid defensive team and will play with toughness. Senior point guard Tyrone Brazelton will get Lee touches and can call his own number when needed. With good guard play and solid defense, the Toppers have a chance. • Friday: West Virginia over No. 7 Tennessee When the Vols hear that musket shot into the air right before tip-off in Morgantown, they better be ready for a tough-minded, well-prepared Bob Huggins team. Tennessee is well-coached and talented enough to win without Chris Lofton getting 30 points, but he will need to get his numbers in order to get out of the WVU Coliseum with a win. Huggins inherited four returning double-figure scorers, led by senior guard Darris Nichols. Add three redshirt players and two hyped freshmen (guard Will Thomas and forward John Flowers), and Huggins has the pieces to mold into his image. Tennessee is scoring about 90 points per game because of the intense pressure and talent, led by guards JaJuan Smith and Ramar Smith. If the press is not effective and Lofton has a bad night, anything can happen. • Friday: Montana over No. 9 Washington State The Grizzlies are poised for a run at the Big Sky Conference. They are led by two preseason all-conference first-teamers, Jordan Hasquet and Andrew Strait, who has been mentioned for conference player of the year honors. Senior guard Matt Martin and sophomore point guard Cameron Rundles work the perimeter and give Montana a balanced and experienced attack along with Hasquet and Strait. On the Cougars' side, senior guard Derrick Low is tough and can create shots for everyone on the floor (including himself). Senior guard Kyle Weaver can score and is a lock-down defender. The Cougars' biggest area of concern is in the post. Senior forward Robbie Cowgill can flat-out play. He can score in the lane, rebound and block shots, but junior center Aron Baynes and junior forward Daven Harmeling must play more consistently. Coach Tony Bennett's pack defense is as good as any in the country, but Montana's inside-out attack puts the Grizzlies in the game. • Saturday: Delaware State over No. 18 Arkansas Do-it-all sophomore guard Patrick Beverley had a great freshman season and should be at least as good in new Arkansas coach John Pelphrey's up-tempo system. Beverley will get support from seniors Darian Townes, Gary Ervin and Sonny Weems, who can score from all over the court. The question marks are point guard depth and consistent play from Ervin. Meanwhile, Delaware State has been the class of the MEAC the past three years and is picked to win it again. Even in Wal-Mart land, the Hornets can hang with the Hogs because of preseason conference player of the year Roy Bright. The Cincinnati transfer can score inside and out and can take over the game. Coach Greg Jackson's Hornets will be young and will try to slow the Hogs, but Bright will have a green light to shoot.
As ExpectedChris Douglas-Roberts, Memphis: CDR shouldn't be pushed to second-class status with Derrick Rose on the team. He grabbed back the spotlight with 33 points in a 2K Sports College Hoops Classic title effort over Connecticut on Friday in New York. Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina: The preseason favorite for national player of the year lit up Iona for 27 and nine Sunday. -- Andy Katz, ESPN.com
Hidden GemsJon Brockman, Washington: Brockman isn't the same type of player as Hansbrough, but both are lunch-pail types who don't mind slogging through the lane. Brockman had a sensational week, scoring 31 points in a win over Utah in the NIT Season Tip-Off quarterfinals and followed that up with 26 points on Sunday in a win over Eastern Washington. Leon Williams, Ohio: Look out for the Bobcats in the MAC, largely because of Williams. He isn't Gary Trent or Brandon Hunter, but he's a solid power player in this league, and he scored 28 points and grabbed 15 boards in a win over Cornell. -- Andy Katz, ESPN.com
Welcome BackShawn James, Duquesne: He was the nation's top shot blocker at Northeastern two years ago, was one of five Dukes who was shot after a campus dance in September 2006, and with the wound in his foot healed, James is back to being dominant. He put up 19 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and had four blocks in a rout of Winston-Salem and followed that up with an 18-point, seven-assist, four-block effort in a rout over Rice. DeVon Hardin, Cal: Hardin missed all but 11 games last season with a stress fracture in his foot. He then declared for the NBA draft, only to pull a surprise and return to school. Well, Hardin was quite impressive earlier this week with 18 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks in the Bears' win over Southern Miss. -- Andy Katz, ESPN.com
More FreshmenAustin Daye, Gonzaga: He's on his way to having a major impact this season after scoring 18 points in a win over Idaho and 16 points in a win over UC Riverside. Terrence Oglesby, Clemson: He scored 17 for the Tigers in a road victory at Mississippi State, easily one of the best wins early in the season. -- Andy Katz, ESPN.com
These Wins Have Shelf LifeAlabama at Mercer: Even though the Bears followed up the win at USC with three straight losses -- to the Tide, at Harvard and at Boston College -- Alabama gets plenty of credit for going on the road and winning at a low-major. Baylor vs. Notre Dame: For three years, all we've heard about is coach Scott Drew's recruiting. For the first time, Baylor may have results on the court to tout. Virginia at Arizona: This was as big a road win as coach Dave Leitao has had at UVA. A year ago, beating Arizona to start the season at home was a confidence boost. This should have the same effect. Illinois at Hawaii: Playing a true road game before Maui, and winning, should help the power rating come March. -- Andy Katz, ESPN.com
Missed OpportunitiesVCU: The Rams left Puerto Rico without a big-time win, losing to Miami and Arkansas in San Juan. The Rams have only one more game against a high-major this season -- at Maryland on Dec. 2. Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets lost to Winthrop in the Paradise Jam semifinals, losing out on a confidence-boosting title in the Virgin Islands and having to play Notre Dame in a third-place game on Monday. Tech already lost at home to UNC Greensboro this season. -- Andy Katz, ESPN.com
Mid-Major Top 10We have a new feature beginning Mondays in the Weekly Watch and on "SportsCenter." Every team in the country is eligible for the mid-major poll except those in the Big Six conferences (ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC and Pac-10) as well as Gonzaga (WCC) and Memphis (C-USA). Here are the results for the first week (records are through Sunday, Nov. 18): 1. Butler (3-0)
2. Southern Illinois (1-0)
3. Davidson (1-1)
4. Brigham Young (3-0)
5. San Diego State (4-0)
6. UNC Greensboro (2-1)
7. Saint Joseph's (2-1)
8. Miami (Ohio) (1-0)
9. Saint Mary's (3-0)
10. Rhode Island (5-0)