By Jon Rothstein
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1. MARKEL’S MAGIC
A year ago, Markel Starks was a standstill shooter. Now? He’s a legitimate point guard. Georgetown’s junior floor general has drastically augmented his game from a year ago, and in turn he’s given the Hoyas a playmaking option that they didn’t have last season in the backcourt. If Starks continues to play this efficiently, Georgetown will be right there once again at the top of the Big East standings.
2. TEXAS’ TROUBLES
Would Texas be better if they were at full strength and had Myck Kabongo and Jaylen Bond? Absolutely. Would they be significantly better? We’re not so sure. The Longhorns were completely out of sync in their 23-point loss to Georgetown on Tuesday night, and that game was really a microcosm of how they’ve been all season. Texas lacks chemistry, leadership and quality role allocation. The worst part? They still have to play UCLA, North Carolina and Michigan State before they begin play in the Big 12.
3. PACK POWER
NC State may still have plenty of things to refine if they’re going to wind up competing for an ACC title, but the Wolfpack’s power forward/center combo of C.J. Leslie and Richard Howell is as good a frontcourt as there is in the country. The duo combined for 29 points and 23 rebounds in NC State’s 69-65 win over UConn on Tuesday night. Leslie is a lottery pick in waiting while Howell might be one of the least appreciated players in the country. Steady, tough and consistent, the 6-foot-9 Howell is a rock inside for Mark Gottfried.
4. WOLF’S TOUCH
Enosch Wolf? You better believe it. Often thought of as a massive project since he arrived at UConn, the 7-foot-1 Wolf was terrific for the Huskies in their loss against NC State. In 21 minutes, Wolf was 6-of-9 from the floor, scored 12 points, and grabbed nine rebounds. If this type of production continues on a semi-regular basis, it will be a massive coup for UConn.
5. OLLIE’S WAY
It’s tough to understand why UConn hasn’t made a commitment to Kevin Ollie. Once again on a national stage, the Huskies competed with one of the best teams in the country and nearly came away with a win. There are several qualities to becoming a successful head coach. Ollie has already proven that he can be a capable recruiter and can work effectively with people. Now he’s showing that he can lead the Huskies against top competition on big stages. It’s time for the UConn administration to give Ollie a long-term extension. Immediately.
BY THE NUMBERS:
29 and 23: The number of points and rebounds for NC State big men C.J. Leslie and Richard Howell.
THEY SAID IT:
“We’re not going to hang our heads. We’re going to go back to Storrs, get back to work and start preparing for a great Harvard team on Friday.” – UConn coach Kevin Ollie