Santa has given college hoops a number of talented diaper dandies this season. So far, I feel the best of the best has been Anthony Bennett of UNLV, who is avergaing 19.4 PPG, 8.6 RPG, while shooting 54.7 FG pct. There have been a number of other impact diaper dandies. Go out to Stillwater, where Travis Ford’s team is ranked. Marcus Smart of the Cowboys is a key reason why as he is averaging 12.7 PPG, 6.6 RPG and 5.2 APG. Ben McLemore of Kansas is a legit pro prospect and he has been impressive, averaging almost 16 ppg. On a team with Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford and Jeff Withey, McLemore may be the most talented. Jordan Adams and Shabazz Muhammad make a solid 1-2 diaper dandy tandem out at UCLA. Kentucky has a super pair with Nerlens Noel and Archie Goodwin. Rasheed Sulaimon has been a factor for the top rated Dukies. JaKarr Sampson has been super on the glass for St. John’s and Steve Lavin. Nik Stauskas has been a super outside shooter for the Wolverines. Isaiah Austin had a big game for Baylor in a over Lamar recently. Freshman do not play like newcomers because they have had so much time with AAU teams, high school squads travel a lot, and summertime action. They have made a splash already this season.
Like all Americans, my heart was broken with the news that came out of Newtown, CT. I think everyone feels that way. The senseless act of violence caused so much pain across the nation. I send my sympathies to the families and friends of those who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It is still a time of grieving.
There was a moment getting away from media coverage of the tragedy, watching the Indiana-Butler contest. What an incredible basketball game! You had two schools playing with a lot of pride, heart and passion. Both coaches had their squads prepared for this one. Brad Stevens’ Bulldogs found a way to win. The last hoop came from a guy you would not have expected to take it, Alex Barlow. He was the big man on campus Saturday night, a former walk-on turned star! This Butler team has showed it can flat out play, beating North Carolina in Maui. The two losses this season came against Illinois and Xavier. It was an outstanding win for the Bulldogs, a team which has scored a number of big victories over the years under Stevens. The Hoosiers and Tom Crean will learn from this and use it as a chance to grow.
I am having a great time in Tampa shooting a commercial for Wendy’s. I love working with the advertising agency of Ron Foth. The creative director, Ron Foth Jr. and executive producer, Marty Nowak are absolutely super to work with. I had a chance to share a moment with some executives from Wendy’s including; Katie Goodhew, Ray Arruda, Anie Valdez and Adrianne DeVille. As I say in the commercial, Wendy’s is Awesome Baby with a capital A! It’s the BACON BABY!
Congratulations to Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel on becoming the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. Johnny Football certainly had great numbers this season and showed tremendous versatility this season. The Aggies made big noise when they won at Alabama and played very well in year one in the SEC. However, I thought that linebacker Manti T’eo of Notre Dame deserved the honor. The only defensive player to win the Heisman was Charles Woodson of Michigan and he played some offense and returned punts. T’eo has been the key to an Irish defense which has enjoyed a 12-0 season to date. Let’s face it, the Heisman is really an offensive award as we saw once again on Saturday. Manziel had a super season and I do not want to take anything away from him.
Ben Howland’s team needed a big win on Saturday and the Bruins walked out of Reliant Stadium with that victory. It did not look good until the final few minutes, when the Bruins had more urgency and the defense finally came through against a Texas team which is struggling. At least Texas could get Myck Kabongo back from an NCAA suspension and Jaylen Bond from a foot injury. UCLA is shorthanded with Joshua Smith and Tyler Lamb leaving the team. Now the Bruins get to play six straight games at home. Perhaps the win over the Longhorns will provide some momentum.
There was sad news from the world of college basketball over the weekend. I was sad to hear about the passing of former college basketball coach and ESPN colleague, Rick Majerus. He was so respected in the basketball coaching fraternity and he will be missed by many. So many guys sought him out for advice, and he was always there to talk hoops. He was a guy who ate, drank and slept basketball. Majerus was an old-school coach, brought up as a long-time assistant under the legendary Al McGuire at Marquette. He had a special bond with Milwaukee. He later moved on to being the head coach of Utah, getting all the way to the NCAA championship game before losing to Kentucky in 1998. He was very special in St. Louis. Look what he did last year when his Billikens took Michigan State to the wire in the NCAA tournament. He was so emotional after that game, little did we know that would be the last one he ever coached. I loved his knowledge of the game. He was a fun guy to be around, so passionate about life. I know people at ESPN loved his approach to life. Rick, may you RIP. You will be missed!