The first Thursday of the season, was also the day with the least amount of games, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t eventful. JP Moorman drilled a 70-foot game-winning three to lead UC Riverside to an upset win over Arizona State, while in other action, Maryland and Creighton struggled. With the Day 3 results in the books, it is now time for some takeaways from the first Thursday of the season.
UC Riverside is the team to beat in the Big West
With a three-team race for the Big West crown, UC Riverside seems to have moved into the driver’s seat for the team to beat in that league. UC Riverside’s 70-foot shot of luck by JP Moorman is the headline of the game, but don’t let that distract you from the fact that UC Riverside is a great team. Moorman was solid on a night where he didn’t have it, Flynn Cameron stepped up big with 6 threes, while Zyon Pullin looks to be the next great mid-major guard. UC Santa Barbara and UC Irvine will make formidable challengers in their league but until they can get this type of signature win, they should remain competing for second place.
Leave Bobby Hurley off the hot seat, Arizona State will be just fine
Obviously, losing any buy game is not ideal and leaves some cause for panic but I would advise staying away from that thus far. UC Riverside is a really good team, which probably will only make this a quadrant 2 loss at the end of the season, and not negatively impact Arizona State’s analytical ranking that much. Furthermore, Arizona State has things to fall back on, Marcus Bagley has clearly taken the step forward that he needed to, Kimani Lawrence is all of a sudden playing fantastic basketball. While Marreon Jackson has struggled, give him time and he will be a productive piece, although he was less than good in that game. Last year was a disaster, but Bobby Hurley has done a good job of making Arizona State a relevant program, so let’s hold off on firing Hurley.
Can Maryland’s guard play keep up with Wahab’s production inside?
This is more of a question than it is a takeaway but there is something to take away from Maryland’s game against George Washington. Eric Ayala was bad, while Fatts Russell was his usual inefficient self, which leaves some room for concern. Sure Ayala will probably play more like he did a season ago, but will Fatts Russell be able to be more of a passer? I’m not sure of that. Maryland will make the NCAA Tournament but unless Ayala can improve from a season ago, this will be a team exiting in the Round of 32.
Northern Iowa is not a good basketball team
Yes, it’s only three days into the season but Northern Iowa has been arguably the most disappointing team of this young season. Vermont’s star Ryan Davis missed this game and it didn’t matter, Vermont still ran Northern Iowa out of their own gym, while Northern Iowa looked uninspired at best. This team just isn’t good, AJ Green played better in this game, while Austin Phyfe is solid but that’s it. Pickford and Berhow have done the Harry Houdini challenge and the defense is uninspiring.
Creighton needs time to be good
The Blue Jays will be good in the future, with this talented young core, the pieces are there for Creighton to be good, you can see players like Nembhard, Kalkbrenner, and Kaluma making good plays but this team just isn’t ready. Give the Jays a couple of months and they could be a dangerous team in the Big East but they are going to take time to develop first, and in the process, they will likely be on their way to missing the NCAA Tournament