It is easy to get caught up in one game. How much do emphasis do we put on a 17-point comeback by Marshall last week? How much do we weigh the great games Charlotte played against WKU? We had concerns about CLT going into this week and they were well-founded. The warm-up game against Belmont-Abbey saw a loss of concentration and a bad loss. Fortunately it was not a conference one, but still. We saw some impressive performances this week and everyone how has tasted the back-to-back. We hear how tiring it is, and saw some poor shooting efforts on day-two in multiple games.
As always, we are ranking these teams on our proprietary formula called “power”
1. La Tech 9-4, 2-2
The toughest schedule thus far and the best performances. Against Marshall this team played winning basketball in about 3/4ths of the contests. Against WKU, this team played better in about 3/4ths of the two games. Two good teams and two wins and two good efforts in the losses. Andrew Gordon was impressive, Kenneth Lofton as well. Kalob Ledoux was in a slump that he seemingly broke but kind of fell off late in the game two. There is a lot to like about this team, but the late-game execution is going to hurt them. They can defend, and have the size to battle with WKU which gives them a chance in the tournament. Ledoux needs to step up and be a play-maker to help out late.
Last week: 2nd
2. WKU 9-4, 2-2
The best, most talented, team in the league has now split both weekends. They played two good defenses and came up short in a couple of big moments in both weekends. Taveion Hollingsworth hit a big shot in game one, and missed in game two. Charles Bassey dominated both games but that was not enough. The modern game requires shooting and WKU is currently second-to-last in 3pt% in the league. WKU is going to get the league’s best shot every weekend and needs to meet that challenge. Rick Stansbury has tried to meet that, by inserting the exciting freshman in the game Dayvion McKnight to little effect so far. I think it will pay off later in the season. McKnight is a talent, and a loss early in the season so he can be ready to shine in the CUSA tournament is a good trade. Of course, there is plenty of concern that we will see another cancelled tournament and the regular season best-record take the entry ticket.
Last week: 1st
3. UAB 9-1, 2-0
The Blazers were higher in the standings before they had to postpone play for a month. They showed they are still a potent team against an athletic USM team. They have showed good things in the non-conference play, and looked good early. Next week they’ll take on Charlotte and that pack line defense.
Last week: 5th
4. Marshall 7-2, 1-1
The Herd did not play because of COVID and contact tracing. We still like their talent and their defense.
Last week: 3rd
5. North Texas 5-5, 1-1
The Mean Green faced their first back-to-back and the played two good games but came up short in execution in the second. They let Jhivvan Jackson get loose and Keaton Wallace hit the game-sealer. The real concern is that Javion Hamlet and Zach Simmons are not playing to their potential. The offense tends to stick at times, and some turnovers when Simmons is doubled fueled some UTSA fast breaks. All told, the play of Thomas Bell helped keep the Mean Green within a couple of made shots of going 2-0 at the weekend. The defense has lot of effort, but the hot shooting from UTSA puts NT a little lower than they are capable of in our eyes.
6. ODU 7-3, 3-1
The Monarchs have a nice defense and as usual, that will need to carry them. I do not know that they have the offensive firepower to overcome similarly quality defenses and that will limit them. The 3-1 record is nice, but it has not come against superb competition and that is a concern.
7. Rice 9-3, 3-1
We elevated Rice not because they have overly impressed but because they deserve some discussion. Travis Evee is right on the edge of being discussed as a POY candidate — something that Bassey will likely run away with this season. Rice will have to show that their up-tempo style can overcome physical, organized defenses but for right now they can enjoy the spot light.
8. UTEP 6-4, 2-2
I like watching UTEP, as their trio of transfers are entertaining. The team, however leaves much to be desired. They can score but the defense is not good enough to make up for the mistakes or lapses by their ball handlers. To be taken very seriously they should be 4-0 in conference. As it is they are 2-2 and can point to some moments in the losses they want back. They probably will not get those moments against NT, et al.
9-14: CLT, FIU, UTSA, USM, MTSU, FAU
We dropped CLT in this group that has major flaws, even though we liked what they did vs WKU. Our concern was their consistency, and well, that loss this Saturday proves they have none.
CLT: See above sentence.
FIU: The Panthers got two splits but one was against MTSU.
UTSA: The Roadrunners escaped with a nice win vs NT at home but they also played poorly enough to lose that one. They played just about their best game and nearly dropped it.
USM: Lot of fight in this team but not enough there to win the games. They’ll pull off an upset but its hard to see a sustained campaign.
MTSU: Middle has a lot of heart and pulled off a nice win vs FIU. I cannot see them doing much against anyone else, however.
FAU: Someone get Jailyn Ingram some help.
Players of the Week, According to CR
- Charles Bassey, WKU 38 points, 30 rebounds, 7 blocks in 2 games
- Travis Evee, Rice 42 points, 8 assists, 3 steals in 2 games
- Jhivvan Jackson, 57 points in two games.
Players That Caught My Eye
- Thomas Bell, North Texas — has the range to shoot threes and score inside. He defended the wing well, and was a rim protector as well. Just a fun player.
- Andrew Gordon, La Tech — Played well against Bassey, even though the stat sheet will say he was dominated. He was all over the place and did so much good stuff.