Thursday night didn’t exactly have the best college basketball games of the season, but at least we learned Taylor Swift would be going to the Final Four before anyone attempted to shoot a ball through a cylinder.
Nevertheless, it’s a brand new day in the sport we all love as if it came out of our wombs. That means it’s time for a new edition of The Morning After College Basketball.
It’s a column where my bearded friend and I talk about what’s what in the realm of shooty hoops and the things happening around it.
Desmond Bane Is Your Heart’s Desire
Joseph Nardone (@JosephNardone):
The TCU Horned Frogs were projected by many to finish in the Big 12 Conference cellar. For the majority of that college basketball program’s history, such an expectation was the opposite of shocking. Since Jamie Dixon took over, however, things have been mostly different.
It’s why — likely with only ignorance as my ally — this handsome Internet Scribbler refuses to believe it. A coach as good as Dixon finishing last in the Big 12? Never!
Anywho, it’s not only due to a trust Dixon has instilled into this scribe over years with quality coaching and solid teams, it’s because of Desmond Bane, who went absolutely bonkers in TCU’s win over the famed Southwestern Pirates (real school!) on Thursday evening.
By the time it was all said and done, Bane scored 26 points on 63% shooting from the floor. Furthermore, he made five of his 10 attempts from beyond the arc. For those unaware of how this newfangled math works, that’s 50 percent!
Naturally, the level of competition does matter. The TCU Horned Frogs don’t have a true test for a few more games; though it’s a positive sign to see Bane’s play hint at an upward development.
He’s unlikely a 26 point per game scorer. He doesn’t need to be that regularly, though. Just slightly better than his 15 points per game he averaged last season.
Again, call me naive, but I’m not betting against Jamie Dixon or Desmond Bane. As for the other members of TCU, a college basketball loving nation needs more proof, even if it was great to see Kevin Samuel and RJ Nembhard play above board on Thursday night.
Washington State Impresses In Kyle Smith’s Debut
Blake Lovell (@theblakelovell): Washington State vs. Seattle was supposed to be the game of the night in college basketball on Thursday. Instead, it wasn’t even close, as the Cougars led by 22 points at halftime and kept the momentum going by earning an 85-54 victory.
CJ Elleby led the way with 27 points on 12-of-18 shooting, and from a team standpoint, the most impressive stat was Washington State having just three turnovers in the game. For a team that ranked 214th in total turnovers a season ago, that’s quite a start.
And it’s not as if the Cougars did it against a bad team. I picked Seattle to finish third in the WAC in my season preview for the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, and Jim Hayford has enough quality talent to make a run at an NCAA Tournament bid.
Of course, this type of performance is what Washington State fans want to see with Kyle Smith in charge. Smith was one of the best coaching hires of the offseason after having success at San Francisco, and he’ll try to make these impressive outings a regular thing at his new school.
The program hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since Virginia coach Tony Bennett was roaming the sidelines in 2008, and while getting there will be a challenge this season, fans have to be thrilled with Smith’s first game in Pullman.
Taylor Swift Now Owns College Basketball’s Soul
Joseph: Listen, last night’s slate of games wasn’t exactly the Wrestlemania of college hoops. Instead, it was the leftovers following the first two days featuring a billion good contents. Meaning, you know, it was a pretty iffy night.
Digressing here a bit because Taylor Swift and her Swifticles — assuming that’s what her fans are called — will be heading to Atlanta with some Bad Blood so the pop star can perform at the Final Four.
Bad Blood… get it? Haha, is what I say! HAHA!
A 10-time Grammy Award winning artist, whatever the hell that means, Swift will bring her ability to have pop songs and lip sync to the Final Four for a set of fans who are there to watch college basketball and otherwise not care about who is doing what before games.
Honestly, that’s all I got. I’m not here to bash Taylor Swift. I have two daughters. They love her. Hell, I find some of her music catchy.
Seriously, I’m now over 100 words on Taylor Swift. She’s contagious. Why am I still going…
As Cool As The Other Side Of The Pillow
Blake: I’m sure Idaho State guard Tarik Cool has heard it all when it comes to nicknames, but more clever ones may be needed after what he did in his team’s surprising 89-79 win at Air Force on Thursday.
The Falcons were projected as 15-point favorites according to KenPom, and it appears that prediction was not cool with Mr. Cool. Why? Well, he posted a career-high 41 points in just 27 minutes of play, which included hitting all 15 of his free throw attempts. As if that wasn’t good enough, it was the first 40-point game for an Idaho State player since 1979, according to Madison Guernsey of the Idaho State Journal.
Speaking of cool, that scoring outburst also helped Ryan Looney earn his first-ever Division I win after compiling an incredible resume at the Division II level, which included leading Point Loma to the national title game last season.
The Bengals were picked last in the Big Sky in pretty much every preseason projection, but it’s clear that Cool and company were not cool with that.
In Closing Never Trust A Cat Video
I love cats. I have one. His name is Domino The Cat Nardone. Still, don’t trust cats.
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, TCU Horned Frogs, Taylor Swift, Desmond Bane, Kyle Smith, recruiting, original analysis and whatever other kinds of discussion. We’re also on Twitter over here. Give us a follow. TCU, too?