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The Morning After College Basketball: Andrew Jones ovation, Maryland zone, Kerry Blackshear everything

The 2019-20 college basketball season, at least so far, can be summed up by a Stephen King passage in his novel 11/22/63. “But stupidity is one of two things we see most clearly in retrospect. The other is missed chances.”

This has less so to do with the stupidity aspect, though everything in the James Wiseman situation might fall under that category, but missed chances are all over the place. For every major Division I college basketball program trucking along, there’s another losing buy-games to schools people didn’t even realize existed.

While it’s only early November, losing games to the University of Broken Dreams and Club State Pool Cleaners will have real ramifications for teams wanting a pair of those elusive dancing slippers come March.

Andrew Jones Is Clutch

Joseph Nardone (@JosephNardone): Texas Longhorns stud Andrew Jones, who previously whooped leukemia like it owed him money, only had seven points against the Purdue Boilermakers. He did, however, hit a few timely free throws in the closing seconds to snag the victory for the Longhorns.

In the game prior, the season opener against the Northern Colorado Bears (real team!), he scored 20 points.

Everything Jones has done, and will do, will likely be viewed though the lens of him overcoming a serious illness. It’s a sincerely touching story of a kid (and he was a kid when diagnosed) getting back to the sport he loves while attempting to secure the bag.

Even opposing fans, as witnessed on Saturday, want to give the kid love.

As time goes on — and this 100 percent depends on how he prefers to be viewed — it will be nice when we stop trying to define Andrew Jones through his battle with leukemia. Furthermore, despite my previous wording as such, when we no longer act as though one can “overcome” or “work hard enough” to stop medical happenings from running their course.

This isn’t a knock on Jones or his story. Everyone in this country has been touched by cancer in one way or another. Those who didn’t survive were not people who failed because they were unwilling to fight hard enough. Cancer is a medical illness, not something one can overcome by willpower alone.

Andrew Jones can be defined however he wants. If he wants his arc’s key passage to contain his long, brutal road while dealing with leukemia, I’m not here to argue against it. Nevertheless, when speaking on his voyage, remember there’s more to the man than just what he’s dealt with.

There’s what’s still to come.

College Basketball Makes No Sense

Blake Lovell (@theblakelovell): Comparing results between teams can be fun to do, but it’s not always the best way to know exactly how certain matchups will unfold.

If you don’t believe that, see if this one makes sense.

Penn was the talk of opening night in college basketball, as the Quakers traveled to Tuscaloosa and earned an impressive 81-80 victory over Alabama, who is projected NCAA Tournament team.

Meanwhile, Rice also started its season against SEC competition, but to stay that it went poorly would be an understatement as the Owls lost by 48 points at Arkansas.

If you just compared results, you would’ve expected Penn to take care of business in Saturday’s road game at Rice, right? Not so fast, my friends. The Owls not only won the game but did so rather convincingly in a 19-point victory.

So, to recap: Penn goes on the road and beats an Alabama team that’s picked to finish in the top half of the SEC, while Rice goes on the road and loses by nearly 50 to an Arkansas team that is picked to finish No. 11 in the league. And then Rice turns around and beats Penn by 19.

College basketball is just the best.

Maryland Terrapins Zone Everything

Joseph: When you hear about how athletic a team is, the upcoming sentence doesn’t usually follow: According to Maryland Terrapins stud Aaron Wiggins, the Terps went zone on Rhode Island because they are athletic.

“Coach put it in because he loves our length and he loves our athleticism,” Wiggins said after the Terps beat Rhode Island on Saturday. “Putting that 1-3-1 in, we saw it kind of messed with them a little bit. I used my length and just tried to affect the guards who were handling the ball up top. I was able to get a few steals, Ant got a big steal. That fast break, it kind of changed the game for us.”

Zones are for cowards?

Usually, at least from the most simplistic point of view, if a team is measurably more athletic than another, it will go man-to-man on defense. The theory is simple, as a coach would just want to out-athlete the lesser talents on the other team.

However, at least for Maryland’s game against Rhode Island, the young Terrapins players were obviously a bit all over the place, possibly anxious and jittery due to the atmosphere of the game.

“We were panicking a little bit — let’s just be real,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “There was a lot of energy in the building, and maybe that had a little bit to do with it. I tried to play a lot of guys early and some of the young guys weren’t quite ready for the pace and physicality of that game. We were just out of sync.”

What will be interesting moving forward, though, is just how often Turgeon relies on the zone. Furthermore, if he eventually tightens up his rotation. Maryland played 11 different players on Saturday. While a few of them were just getting a couple minutes of run, especially thanks to the game becoming a blowout near the end, one has to assume the Maryland Terrapins run with a set of guys no longer than eight deep.

Rivalry Games Are Good

Blake: Since we don’t do our usual Afternoon Before College Basketball series on the weekends, let’s use this section to highlight what is always a fun rivalry game.

Florida and Florida State will meet in Gainesville on Sunday, and the game will look a little different than it has in recent seasons.

The Seminoles started their season with an ACC loss at Pitt, who followed that up with a loss to Nicholls on Saturday. I told you college basketball was wild.

As for the Gators, they were impressive on the defensive side of the court in their season-opening victory against North Florida, and Mike White should once again have one of the better teams in the country when it comes to frustrating opponents on offense.

But obviously, this Florida team is much more than they. Kerry Blackshear Jr. had a double-double in his first game with the program, and he’s going to have a great shot at SEC Player of the Year honors. Around him, the Gators have a versatile guard group that’s young but extremely talented.

Both teams play a lot of underclassmen, but Florida seems to be further ahead after Florida State lost so many key contributors from the Sweet 16 team a season ago.

I’ll lean on the Gators to get the win here.

Blake’s SEC picks

  • Florida 72, Florida State 62
  • South Carolina 82, Wyoming 63

In Closing Anthony Mathis Did THINGS

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Blake Lovell is a national writer for ClutchPoints. He’s also a contributor for the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook and Athlon Sports College Basketball Preview magazine. He hosts two podcasts: Marching to Madness (CBB) and Establish the Pass (NFL). 

You can follow him on Twitter @theblakelovell.

Joseph Nardone has been covering basketball for nearly a decade for various outlets in a variety of ways. He currently contributes to Forbes and Clutchpoints. You can follow him on Twitter @JosephNardone.

Also, be sure to follow the ClutchPoints NCAA Facebook page for more great basketball, Kerry Blackshear, Texas Longhorns, Andrew Jones, Aaron Wiggins, Maryland Terrapins, recruiting, original analysis and whatever other kinds of discussion. We’re also on Twitter over here. Give us a follow. Kerry Blackshear, too?