Majerus Passing; What a Run for Duke So Far
I remember thinking that the late Rick Majerus looked more like a high school wrestling coach than a big-time college basketball coach but appearances can often be misleading. Fact is, Majerus was one hell of a basketball coach who had just one losing season in 25 years as a head coach covering four different teams.
Majerus’ 1998 Utah team advanced to the National Championship game where the Utes and Keith Van Horn were defeated by Kentucky and then-coach Rick Pitino. The interesting thing about Majerus was that his teams were never loaded with extraordinary talent or tons of McDonald’s All-Americans. What Majerus actually liked was giving his teams a hint of ‘internationalism’ by having players from different parts of the world. His St. Louis Billikens actually had a couple of foreign players on the roster this year.
Majerus’ health was always an issue. Even his fellow coaches would try to urge the rotund hoops’ coach to lose some weight but Majerus knew himself all too well and the fact was that he enjoyed his food and probably enjoyed it too much. Even though Majerus succomed to heart failure this past weekend, his legacy is well-established as a guy who could flat-out coach and was well-respected throughout the game of basketball.
Dookies on a tear
Although the Indiana Hoosiers are undefeated and the number one basketball team in the land right now, you could hardly blame any voter for putting the Duke Blue Devils in that number one position. Duke has started the season 8-0 and three of those wins have come against the 2nd, 3rd and 4th-ranked teams in the country at the time of those games.
Kentucky, Louisville and Ohio State have fallen to the Blue Devils so far this season. Duke is getting an amazing season from Mason Plumlee who is averaging almost 20 points per game and compliments that with 11 rebounds per game as well. Throw in the stellar play of Seth Curry and you’ve got a damn fine team right now. What can’t be lost in the unbeaten start is the Blue Devils’ defense. Often maligned in the past few years, Duke is doing a much better job of pressuring the ball and forcing teams into bad shots. If they can do this throughout the season, another Final Four for Mike Krzyzewski could be in the near future.
Games I like this week
Western Michigan at #3 Michigan – It wasn’t so long ago that Michigan basketball was near the bottom of the Big Ten rankings and when fellow state schools like the Broncos came calling, the Wolverines would actually be in trouble. Michigan has righted the ship but that doesn’t mean they should look past 7-1 Western Michigan. The Broncos are aggressive and will get after the Wolverines, but I still expect a solid UM victory.
#18 NC State at UConn – The Wolfpack are reeling a bit after starting the season in the Top Ten of college basketball and now they have to play the Huskies who are 6- 1. NC State sits at 4-2, but their four wins are not overly exciting while their two losses are to Michigan and Oklahoma State. The Huskies started their season with a nice win over Michigan State and I expect them to win a tight game here as well.
#7 Florida at Florida State – The Gators are 8-0 and their rivals from Tallahassee are just 4-3 but this rivalry is more than just one on the football field so there will be plenty of hustle and aggressiveness. Florida’s last game was an 82-49 pasting of a pretty good Marquette team. The Seminoles have now dropped two in a row after losing to Mercer 61-56 last night. If FSU is going to have any chance they’ll need to start with rebounding. Unfortunately, I don’t see that helping them much as I like the Gators to roll in the second half.