A COUPLE OF kids figure to add even more juice to the North Carolina-Duke rivalry, a Hurricane hit the Great Wall of China and the Wall hit back, and does anybody know how to get to Iowa City? Watch those elbows, fellas. The annual college basketball primer is coming through.
1. Brandon Knight steps in as Kentucky’s point guard in place of star John Wall. Enes Kanter, a center from Turkey whose eligibility remains in limbo, would be another key component. The Wildcats had a record five players drafted in the NBA’s first round, including No. 1 overall pick Wall.
2. Though the competition will be much stiffer, new Boston College coach Steve Donahue should enjoy working with a bit of a margin for error. When he was at Cornell, more than one regular-season loss would threaten NCAA Tournament hopes. Donahue’s plan for the Eagles is to run, run, run.
3. “We’ll be happy if we win, 120-115,” said BC shooting guard Reggie Jackson. “We want to play the least amount of halfcourt offense that’s possible.”
4. Perhaps a new home court will help the Oregon basketball team keep up with the football team. The $200 million Matthew Knight Arena will open Jan. 13 (against USC) and replace venerable McArthur Court. It is named after the son of Nike co-founder and Oregon benefactor Phil Knight. Matt Knight died in a scuba accident while on a philanthropic mission in El Salvador in 2004.
5. The final game at McArthur Court, which opened 2 weeks after the Palestra in January 1927, is slated for Jan. 1 when Oregon hosts Arizona State. The Ducks’ highest-scoring game at the Mac was a 116-77 pasting of Villanova in 1974. Perhaps it’s only a coincidence that the Wildcats never went back.
6. Louisville likewise has opened new digs, moving from Freedom Hall into the KFC Yum! Center. Yum! is the parent company for a bunch of fast-food joints and not necessarily an adjective describing KFC. Regardless, it’s a stupid name.
7. To generate an even more up-tempo style, Louisville coach Rick Pitino had his players practice with a 24-second clock and required them to get the ball past halfcourt in 3 seconds or less.
8. Bradley guard Dodie Dunson has overcome severe dyslexia to become an honor student with a 3.69 GPA entering the fall semester. He broke two bones in his left forearm in a game early last season and is a redshirt senior.
9. The NCAA has upped the penalty for elbowing, specifically blows to the head. Previously, such contact could be ruled a common foul. Now, refs will assess at least a flagrant foul (two free throws and the ball) and could issue ejections. Also, an arc will be painted on the court 2 feet from the center of the basket during some preseason tournaments to help the zebras determine the restricted area for defenses to take charges.
10. North Carolina forward Harrison Barnes is the first freshman to make Associated Press preseason All-America since the voting began in 1986-87. This indicates that Barnes is very good and that a lot of top talent keeps slipping away to the pros each year.
Ed Barkowitz – Philadelphia Daily News