Around the Big East - reviewing the competition's opening games

Otto Porter got to play a half of basketball, at least. - Mike Ehrmann

Cancellations mar the aircraft carrier games against marquee opponents; two Big East teams lose their opener; one Big East team may have lost their star.

Nine of fifteen Big East teams have played games that count in the first two days of college hoops, and a great many of us who spend too much time thinking about the game are overjoyed.

Two more teams tried to play games that counted were thwarted by Mother Nature. Both Marquette (vs. Ohio State) and Georgetown (vs. Florida) had big matchups on a aircraft carriers cancelled by condensation. Condensation hates court sports and wood, loves grass and football. Alas, two of the more intriguing teams in the Big East were sidelined...

But a number of other teams earned easy wins, while others showed their true flaws.

German quickness.

Connecticut hung on to defeat Michigan State 66-62 with a hot start and transition quickness. Shabazz Napier scored 25, slipping around Spartan defenders with ease.

Slip-sliding delay, slip-sliding away.

Georgetown/ Florida - the Hoyas were down four points at halftime, but on-court issues and an interest in not seeing a player in orange or gray camouflage slide his way to injury convinced the coaches and referees to call the game. Nate Lubick got off to a fast start, but that might have been the court speeding him up.

Marquette/ Ohio State - a condensation issue that had been discovered two days before rose up from the maritime mists again. After the players and coaches kneeled on the court, swiffering the wetness for their own protection, the game in South Carolina was also called.

These gimmicky aircraft carrier games have likely seen their end. Hardwood basketball - and basketball as we know it on television - is an indoor sport. The Hoya/ Gator game, played to the half, was a sloppy affair, as last year's Michigan State/ North Carolina contest was. Players aren't used to playing the formalized game outside. And just because the military is invoked doesn't make the game a good idea. We love the troops. They - and we - can watch the game indoors.

Still, college basketball's various idea people had a good idea to increase exposure of basketball. As we know from the media rights discussions and from television ratings, early-season basketball draws die-hards, and not enough casual fans to make it a cultural or moneymaking force.

Encouraging

Seton Hall overpowered Missouri-Kansas City, 75-36. Newcomers Eugene Teague and Brian Oliver combined for 27 points, and freshman point guard Tom Mayaan got the start while Aaron Cosby recuperates from injury; Mayaan had 5 points, 5 steals, 6 assists. The Pirate defense looked as good as it ever has.

Pittsburgh's Talib Zanna went for 20 (12 in the first ten minutes) in an 80-48 beating of Mount St. Mary's. A new-look roster found veterans JJ Moore and Dante Taylor started on the bench in favor of two talented freshmen. Steven Adams was agile and found himself in the right places, and freshman James Robinson looked unfazed by his first collegiate game.

DePaul demolished UC-Riverside, and showed a balanced game. The Blue Demons shot over 50% on their threes and allowed the Highlanders to rebound less than 30% of their misses - big improvements from last year.

Cause for concern

In their opener, Notre Dame defeated Evansville 58-49, but turned the ball over 13 times - four by center Garrick Sherman in 15 minutes.

Villanova needed a second-half surge to knock off Division II University of the District of Columbia, 78-58. Ryan Arcidiacono was sharp in his debut for the Wildcats.

Danger! Danger! Warning signs

Providence squeaked by NJIT, 65-64, in a game that saw Vincent Council carted off five minutes into the game with a hamstring injury. He is going for an MRI today.

Rutgers lost to a tough St. Peter's team at home 56-52. The visiting Peacocks played tough defense, but the Scarlet Knight's proclivity for me-against-the world play led to hurried shots, bad ideas, and a disjointed offense. Some bonus quotes that may or may not indicate fundamental issues with the Knights (transcribed by Jerry Carino):

Coach Mike Rice: "A lot of negative characteristics of last year’s team reared its ugly head, whether it was selfish plays, guys taking it upon themselves to do something, or softness . . . This was a shocker . . . Mentally and physically, they dominated our players.

"There will be some bench time obviously (for those who won’t listen). If you can’t go and run a play that we talked about doing in the huddle, then you’re not with us. We’re going to have to find out who’s with us."

Wally Judge: "We have to find a leader . . . Somebody has to take ownership for the lack of effort, for the lack of discipline."

In a game that may actually indicate the team's true level, South Florida was flattened by the Central Florida Knights. The best game in the Bulls' non-conference slate, UCF dominated the Bulls inside - who have one returning post presence and an up-transfer from Florida Atlantic - showing that there is a real difference from last year's defense to this year's. And for good measure, Victor Rudd took bad shots, as he is wont to do. Never change "@IamLeagueRudd" on Twitter, never change.

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