Sixty-Five Things You Need To Know (Part III)

Sixty-five things you need to know about the upcoming college basketball season




 
 

Oct. 12, 2006

By Bryan Armen Graham

CSTV.com

 



BRYAN GRAHAM

Bryan is a basketball editor for CSTV.com and contributes on a regular weekly basis.
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33) Sixty years ago this season, a sophomore named Bob Cousy joined a Holy Cross team that included Joe Mullaney and Andy Laska, a group that had been thrown together after World War II in a combination of chance and circumstance. The Crusaders would come out of nowhere to win the national championship with a 58-47 decision over Oklahoma at Madison Square Garden, signaling the arrival of college basketball in New England. Penned college hoops writer Jim Savage: "The Crusaders' deadly combination of speed, guile, and ball-handling ability proved, once and for all, that the game was not just for tall westerners. It was a city game, too."

 

34) With a five-man recruiting class ranked in the nation's Top 20 joining five returning starters -- including native Gothamites and rising seniors Daryll Hill and Lamont Hamilton -- this could be the year that Norm Roberts-led St. John's breaks through in a down-as-it's-ever-going-to-get Big East.

 

35) Transfers of Power: A number of players that sat out the 2005-06 season after changing schools are eligible to play this fall. Among the additions most likely to make an impact are Toney Douglas (from Auburn to Florida State), Patrick Ewing, Jr. (from Indiana to Georgetown), Gary Forbes (from Virginia to Massachusetts), J.R. Giddens (from Kansas to New Mexico), Drew Lavender (from Oklahoma to Xavier) and Dameon Mason (from Marquette to LSU).

 

36) Speaking of transfers, Gonzaga reeled in the program's first-ever McDonald's All-American -- albeit indirectly -- when combo forward Micah Downs transferred to Spokane from Kansas. The Washington state native, part of the recruiting class that brought Mario Chalmers and Julian Wright to Lawrence, should help compensate for the losses of standout forwards Morrison and J.P. Batista.

 

37) Kentucky's Randolph Morris is back for a full season in Lexington after serving a 14-game suspension last season for his botched attempt to turn pro. The 6-foot-11 rising junior is the top returning scorer and rebounder for the Wildcats, and provides Tubby Smith one of the conference's premier post threats.

 

38) College trivia buffs are familiar with Oregon State's Terry Baker, the only student-athlete in history to win the Heisman Trophy and play in the Final Four. Four decades later, another Beaver State product is making his mark on multiple fields of play. Jordan Kent, son of Oregon coach Ernie Kent, plays forward for the Ducks during the winter, wide receiver for the football team during the fall and sprints for the track team.

 

39) The most common nickname among four-year colleges is the Eagle, which is the mascot for 74 different schools. Tigers (46) and Bulldogs (39) rank a distant second and third.

 

40) Just two seasons into his head coaching career, Marist coach Matt Brady has assembled a contender from a team that sputtered to a 6-22 record the year before his arrival. The former Saint Joseph's assistant -- and so-called "shot doctor" credited with fixing Jameer Nelson's jump shot on Hawk Hill -- has groomed another do-everything point guard from the Nelson mold in rising senior Jared Jordan. Jordan dished a Division I-best 8.5 assists as a junior and is considered an early frontrunner for MAAC Player of the Year. Look for the Red Foxes to return to the NCAAs for the first time in the two decades since Rik Smits manned the paint in Poughkeepsie.

 

41) The record for the most schools from a single state in one NCAA tournament belongs to California. The Golden State sent seven schools to Big Dance in 2002: California, UC Santa Barbara, Pepperdine, San Diego State, Southern California, Stanford and UCLA.

 

42) This summer, Duquesne transfer Shawn James has found his name in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. But last winter while attending Northeastern, the then-sophomore led the nation with an eye-popping 6.53 blocked shots per game, eclipsing Adonal Foyle's NCAA single-season record and garnering CAA Defensive Player of the Year honors. Only 10 schools in Division I recorded more rejections this past season as a team than did James, who swatted 196 shots on his own.

 

43) What's more, though James still has two entire seasons of eligibility remaining, the Brooklyn native has already also has matched Jason Kidd's NCAA record for triple-doubles in a career (four).

 

44) These days, the ceremony is commonplace. But the first coach to cut down the nets following a championship victory was North Carolina State's Everett Case, who snipped the twine after the Wolfpack won the Southern Conference title in 1946.

 

45) Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan had the best winning percentage of any coach in any division during the 1990s. The Chester, Pa., native led Wisconsin-Platteville, a Division III school, to a 266-26 (.908) record during the decade.

 

46) The big story in the Southern Conference during the offseason involved the return of Bobby Cremins to college hoops, as he takes over at College of Charleston. The former Georgia Tech coach inked a six-year pact in early July and inherits a team ready-built for a run at the league title. Among the four returning starters are senior scorer Dontaye Draper and sophomore swingman Jermaine Johnson, who averaged 8.9 points and 7.5 boards during his first season on his way to SoCon Freshman of the Year honors.

 

47) Over the last 14 seasons, no team in college basketball has won its conference's automatic bid more often than Ivy League stalwart Penn. Will the program's dominance of Ancient Eight competition continue with former Brown coach Glen Miller at the helm? With reigning league Player of the Year Ibby Jaaber and dependable four-year starter Mark Zoller leading a healthy group of returnees, prospects for a third straight Ivy title look bright. 

 

48) Missouri State made national headlines on Selection Sunday when the Bears missed the NCAA Tournament despite the best RPI standing (No. 21) of a non-invitee in history. But Barry Hinson's club wasn't the team with the best record not to make the Big Dance. That dubious distinction belongs to Howard, which finished with a mark of 26-5 (.839) in 1987.

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