College basketball begins with many changes

A showcase in Madison Square Garden lifted the curtain on the men’s college basketball season on Tuesday night, with No.9 Duke beating K...


A showcase in Madison Square Garden lifted the curtain on the men’s college basketball season on Tuesday night, with No.9 Duke beating Kentucky, 79-71, and No.3 Kansas ahead of Michigan State, 87. -74, in front of a large crowd.

“To be on that stage, to be in this moment, to lead my team to a win – that’s why I came back,” said Ochai Agbaji of Kansas, who led the Jayhawks with 29 points after passing part of the game. off season wondering whether to get into the NBA Draft.

The games start a 2021-22 season which will likely be very different from last season due to the changes in the game and the change of team of players.

“We’re 1-0 now, so let’s see what we can do now,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said, who retires after this season, his 42nd at Duke.

Here’s a look at what teams will need to navigate as they pursue a championship.

The Bulldogs’ only loss last season came in Baylor in the NCAA Championship game.

Despite the loss of Final Four hero Jalen Suggs, Corey Kispert, and Joel Ayayi to the pros, Gonzaga is again the No. 1 of the preseason in the Associated Press poll and in Ken Pomeroy’s ranking.

The Bulldogs fire talented forward Drew Timme (and his mustache) and veteran point guard Andrew Nembhard. They added Chet Holmgren, a 7-footer ranked No.1 in his class by ESPN, five-star guard Hunter Sallis and Rasir Bolton, who transferred from Iowa State after averaging 15.5 points and 3.9 assists last season.

Circle the Zags game with Duke in Las Vegas on November 26 on your calendar.

Several key players and coaches were not on the pitch at the start of the season.

Gonzaga coach Mark Few served a one-game suspension for the Bulldogs’ opener Tuesday against Dixie State after being cited in September for driving under the influence in Idaho. An assistant, Brian Michaelson, guided the Bulldogs to a 97-63 rout.

Few people pleaded guilty last month to impaired driving and are fined $ 1,000 instead of spending four days in jail, according to court documents obtained by The Associated Press.

Kansas forward Jalen Wilson, a red-shirted sophomore, has been suspended for the team’s first three regular-season games after being arrested for drunk driving. The games included Kansas No. 3’s victory over Michigan State.

Illinois center Kofi Cockburn, the Big Ten Conference preseason player of the year, has been suspended for three games by the NCAA for name, image and likeness violation. Cockburn will miss the games against Jackson State, Arkansas State and Marquette. Cockburn, a 7-foot center, was suspended for selling “institution-issued clothing and memorabilia” before July 1, when rules were passed allowing college athletes to enjoy their fame.

Texas Tech will be without goalie TJ Shannon, a junior, while college revises eligibility rules after going through the NBA draft process over the summer before returning to campus. Shannon, named to the preseason All-Big 12 squad, averaged 12.9 points and 4.0 rebounds last season and is the team’s top returning scorer.

Men’s college basketball numbers will once again be dominated by veteran teams, especially after the NCAA a year ago granted winter sports athletes an additional year of eligibility in the aftermath of the pandemic.

The Big East Conference, for example, has 28 fifth-graders among its 11 schools, with each team having at least one. Butler has six, Providence five.

At No.4 Villanova, point guard Collin Gillespie and forward Jermaine Samuels are back for a fifth year and eager to help new Hall of Fame coach Jay Wright compete for the program’s third national title since 2016.

At 24th in UConn, forwards Tyler Polley and Big East Co-Defensive of the Year Isaiah Whaley are back for a fifth season.

“There are a ton of guys now who are fifth year guys,” said Gillespie, a pre-season first team all-star. “I think it’s going to be good for college basketball. It will be really competitive in the league and across the country.

And there are a lot of transfers. Almost 1,800 Division I male college basketball players were transferred after last season, a third of all players.

Kansas, No. 5 Texas and No. 8 Baylor in the Big 12 loaded up through the transfer portal, with Kansas adding guards Jalen Coleman-Lands and Remy Martin. Coleman-Lands is an extreme example of how older players could impact college basketball. The 6-foot-4 goaltender is 25 and is now in his fourth school after previous stops at Illinois, DePaul and Iowa State.

Chris Beard, the new Texas coach, used the transfer portal to revise his roster by adding a host of skilled and experienced players, including guards Marcus Carr (Minnesota) and Devin Askew (Kentucky); and forwards Timmy Allen (Utah), Dylan Disu (Vanderbilt), Tre Mitchell (UMass) and Christian Bishop (Creighton).

Kentucky, the Southeastern Conference powerhouse that has traditionally relied on single freshmen, dove into the portal and fixed last season’s shortcomings, including shooting, leadership and a presence. physical down. The Wildcats added guards Sahvir Wheeler (Ga), CJ Frederick (Iowa) and Kellan Grady, a 2,000 point scorer in Davidson, as well as a bruised forward Oscar Tshiebwe (West Virginia).

“I love it,” Kentucky guard Jacob Toppin, the younger brother of Knicks forward Obi Toppin, told the SEC network. “The transfers are going to be important for us. We have a group of guys where everyone has to figure out what they need to do to bring to the table and I feel like we have different weapons.

Emoni Bates, the Memphis freshman who upgraded for a year to go to college and has been compared to a young Kevin Durant, announced in September that he had signed with Roc Nation and Raymond Brothers to represent him in NIL transactions.

Hunter Dickinson, a sophomore center in Michigan, said the new rules helped him return to college instead of turning pro because he can now earn money while still in school .

“The NIL stuff really helped to be able to bake bread on the side,” Dickinson noted during the Big Ten media days. “I don’t have to go to Chipotle and wonder if I can still have double chicken any more. I’m pretty good at it.

Kentucky coach John Calipari said players should now learn financial literacy in addition to the nuances of pick-and-roll.

“They are meeting money for the first time,” Calipari said in October. “I ask some of you, how many of you knew anything about taxes when you graduated from college?” How many of you knew anything about reviewing a contract? He added, “Well that’s life skills through that.”

Credit…Robert Johnson / Getty Images

There was a time when great men like Patrick Ewing, Hakeem Olajuwon and Alonzo Mourning dominated college basketball then played in the NBA.

But the days of 7-foot dynamics roaming the paint and feeding off the basketball with every offensive possession are long gone with pay phones and going to the mall to shop for clothes.

Now the NBA is prioritizing mobile and athletic frontcourt players who can stretch the floor with 3-point shots like Durant, Kristaps Porzingis and Joel Embiid. That, in turn, means college greats like Dickinson from Michigan, Cockburn from Illinois and, to a lesser extent, Timme de Gonzaga aren’t as popular coming out of college. All three returned to campus after receiving predictions that they would not be drafted early.

Credit…Gerry Broome / Associated Press

After becoming the first conference cancel their post-season tournament in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic, the Ivy League did not participate in the 2020-21 season, meaning its players haven’t played games for over 18 months.

Harvard coach Tommy Amaker expects players in the league to be rusty and fears they will try to do too much in a short period of time.

“I guess we’re all going to be a little bit on the lookout for the health of our players because we’re already screwed up and I’m sure that will be the case for a lot of us throughout this year trying to strike a balance with whatever we can do and bring these guys over the course of a season, ”Amaker said in a phone interview.

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