It took one week.. heck… one game before Zion Williamson was built up as the second coming of LeBron James, Len Bias and Larry Johnson all wrapped up into one. Though Williamson’s performance on the national stage was huge, lets pumped the brakes a bit. Duke’s March success will be based on whether the other freshmen, RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish have room to grow.
The Wolfpack started off the season with a couple of solid wins. Caleb Martin and Jordan Caroline are off to good starts. The danger for Nevada is not getting complacent until the get to the game against USC. They would’ve benefited from a game against a Power 5 in the first five games. This would make sure Musselman has everyone’s attention early on. That’s important when you have a program that isn’t used to having expectations heaped upon them.
Somewhat unfair to drop the Jayhawks a spot but this column isn’t the place to worry about that. The Jayhawks have a solid win over the notoriously slow starting Michigan State Spartans. As said last week, Kansas should be able to get Udoka Azubuike the ball more this season. He went for 17 on 10 shot attempts. He only had double digit shot attempts nine time last season. The one drawback was his struggle from the free throw line. Something he’ll have to fix by conference season.
Two opponents. Two 100+ scoring performances. And keep in mind, they don’t have Killian Tillie yet. In wins over Idaho State and Texas Southern, Rui Hachimura is averaging 25 points in the 22 minutes and Brandon Clarke is averaging a double-double. Yes, their opponents might not be ones people take seriously but credit the Bulldogs for being focused early on. This week the schedule will present Texas A&M and Illinois. Over the next few weeks they’ll see Creighton, Washington, Tennessee, and North Carolina.
We’ve already addressed the Williamson hype but the Blue Devils is a lot more than that. Against Army both Barrett and Reddish scored in double-digits. Unlike last season’s team, the freshmen doesn’t have an upperclassmen to get the ball too. This is a good thing. Everyone knows the three freshman are the goods. Out of the 72 shot attempts, Williamson, Barrett and Reddish combined for 54 of them. Reddish and Barrett were a combined 10-22 from the three point line. Coach K’s commitment to the freshmen being front and center can only benefit this team.
Not ready to move the Cavaliers out of the number one spot. Home wins over Towson and George Washington aren’t beating John Wooden’s UCLA teams but they showed no hangover from their season ending loss to UMBC. The Pack Line defense will always be there and effective. The season’s success will ride on the offense of Ty Jerome, Kyle Guy and De’Andre Hunter.