National / Sports / November 16, 2011

Fulton County Haze: College hoops preview

Nate Williams: There is this new thing going on. I’m not sure if you heard of it, but it is called College Basketball.

Gabe Ayers: College basketball is my first love and I’m pretty sure that many people have noticed my intense nature at Knox’s home games. I’m really looking forward to this season.

N: Let us begin with the number one pre-season ranked North Carolina Tar Heels.

G: They are going to be a tough team to play all year; they have an early Player of the Year candidate, Harrison Barnes, as well as one of the best point guards in the nation, Kendall Marshall.

N: You can make a POY argument for another player, that being Tyler Zeller. He is a fundamentally sound big guy who has seemingly been there forever.

G: Zeller is a very UNC type basketball player. He is scrappy, he fights for rebounds, he gets on the floor after loose balls; he is basically a poor man’s Tyler Hansbrough.

N: Now looking forward to the number two team in the nation, the Kentucky Wildcats.

G: They are coached by John Calipari, a man who has a history of recruiting the nation’s best freshman player, getting one productive year out of him and shipping him off to the NBA. This year that player comes in the form of 6-foot 10-inch forward Anthony Davis. I have watched film on him and he is a freak. He runs like a guard and will be more athletic than any other big guy he has to face.

N: In the South Eastern Conference, Kentucky will have to compete against a veteran team in Florida. Coach Billy Donovan has to be expecting another deep run into the post-season this year. Vanderbilt and Alabama are two consistent teams, but Alabama could surprise some people with their length and athleticism. Georgia is a team that I have had my eye on for a couple seasons. They made it to the tournament last year, and I expect them to do the same this year.

G: Now, Nate, what about the number three team, Ohio St.?

N: Definitely one of the deepest teams in the NCAA. Thad Motta has put together some fantastic classes. Those recruiting classes have to be highlighted by the man that wears the number zero on his chest, Jerrod Sullinger. Sullinger could have easily won the national player of the year if it was not for Jimmer Ferdette

G: He is going to be the most dominant big guy in the NCAA this year hands down. The only time he will be challenged in the Big 10 is going to be against Wisconsin who is well known for having good big guys. The crazy thing about Sullinger is that we haven’t even seen the majority of moves that he has. Last year he could just overpower the other teams and didn’t have to use any of his low post moves, plus the rumor is that he has been working on a mid-range game. The sky is the limit for this kid.

N: But in the Big 10 I am curious to see how Nebraska will fair in their first season on Big 10 basketball. Michigan State is always a force to be reckoned with. Even though they are not ranked now, Tom Izzo will have Sparty ready to rock come March.

G: I think a team that could give Big 10 teams a run for their money would be the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Tubby Smith of Kentucky fame is going into his fifth year at the head of this team and they have been steadily getting scarier each year. They run zone defenses very effectively and last year got off to a hot start. Don’t be surprised to see something like that happen again this year.

N: Indiana is a team that I have been watching intently since the Calvin Sampson scandal. I think this will be the year they finally bounce back. I don’t see them getting past Ohio State, but they will definitely be a contending team for a tournament stop this year.

N: Moving to the Big East. There can always be an argument for the Big East having 8-10 teams to get into the NCAA tournament. The Big East has six teams in the top 25. With so many teams in the conference it is insane how good it is. Who do you see coming out on top this year?

G: I think if I had to pick a team to come out of the Big East it would have to be Louisville. Rick Patino always has his team play a tough 2-3 zone — which I personally do not like — and they force bad shots and get out and go. Plus they always have at least two shooters on their team, so you can never count them out of any game.

N: There is an argument that whoever wins the Big East Conference Championship is more impressive than winning the national title. Case and point would be UConn from last year, and I would look for them to do it again this year.

Coach K

G: So recently Mike Krzyzewski tied the Division 1 record for wins as a coach in his career with 902 to equal the immortal Bobby Knight. While he is starting to get up in age, he is 64, it would not be surprising to see him coach for another 10 years easy. If that happens he may very well own one of those records that may never be broken. The thing about Coach K is that he will only allow his team to play the “correct” way, which is with hustle, fighting for rebounds, playing hard on defense and very limited one on one play on offense. There is not a single coach that I respect more than Coach K and that includes the Zen Master himself, Phil Jackson.

N: In my younger days I did not like Coach K or Duke, but as I have matured I have learned to respect Coach K and what he has done. Duke is one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the nation, which makes it difficult to get the players that are required to put together winning programs, but Coach K has been able to do it, and obviously does it best. So congratulations to Duke and Coach K.

Sprint for the Cup Chase Winston Cup Special Medley

N: The Chase for the Cup has come to one race with two drivers separated by only three points. Carl Edwards is up over Tony Stewart, and Homestead Miami Speedway is a very good track for both drivers. What makes this season pretty remarkable is that Carl Edwards would have dominated in the previous format. Edwards has 18 top five finishes and 25 top 10s, which is very impressive. What has kept Stewart in it though is that he has all four of his wins this season have come during the first nine races of the Chase.

G: And the fact that the last three weeks both Stewart and Edwards have finished literally one position away from each other is also increasing the drama. There have been no big point swings. I just don’t see why one of the drivers has one of their buddies wreck the other one so that they are guaranteed the Cup. It makes perfect sense and as long as it looks like an accident NASCAR can’t say anything about it.

N: I am pretty sure that if one of them did get wrecked, the other would also get wrecked in retaliation. So while it would make the race that much more exciting, I hope it doesn’t happen, but we will see.

Gabe Ayers

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