After both schools had to travel over 9,500 air miles, plus traveling another 9 1/2 hours from Tokyo and a short bus ride to arrive at one of the nine Marines bases in Okinawa, Japan–the game was cancelled shortly after halftime.
Gonzaga and Pittsburgh’s players were constantly slipping on the special court surface put together by Marines personnel and those coordinating from ESPN Events. Even one Pitt player hit his head so hard on the extremely slick court surface that blood was gushing out of his right cheek. It was a good thing many Marines were there alongside some of Pitt’s assistant coaches to help assist in getting the blood to temporarily stop. It also didn’t help having the area outside the military bases experience a bit of rain several hours before the Saturday morning tip-off (since Gonzaga is 14 hours and Pittsburgh is located 17 hours east of Japan time).
But I can only imagine how uncomfortable that flight home to the United States will be. Pitt will play host to the St. Joseph (Indiana) Pumas on Tuesday, while Gonzaga returns to The Kennel as they take on Northern Arizona on Wednesday night.
Next year’s game should be instantly gripping–with Veteran’s Day 2016 falling on a Friday. Navy will be headlining a field with Indiana, Kansas, and Michigan State as they will play games at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Honolulu just weeks before the 75th anniversary of one of America’s darkest days in history.
Season begins with many of the top flight teams winning
Last spring’s Most Outstanding Player at the Final Four, Grayson Allen picked up right where he left off at Lucas Oil Stadium. Duke won 92-74 over Siena as Allen led the way with 20 points, including one dunk where he took off from just in front of the free-throw line and jammed it with his right hand.
Ben Simmons is for real
He came to LSU as advertised. I said in my season preview that he might be the second coming of Shaquille O’Neal, but this freshman sensation is doing some good things with and without the ball.
As LSU easily beat McNeese State 81-70, Simmons’s stat line through 32 minutes was a nice 4 of 6 shooting, 3 of 4 from the free throw line (11 points) to go along with 5 offensive rebounds and two blocked shots.
Other key games of note:
Steve Prohm won a close game in Sioux Falls, as Iowa State overcame some erratic shooting to edge out the Buffaloes 68-62.
Duke, Kentucky, Indiana, Purdue, Notre Dame, Valparaiso, Wright State, Louisville, Vanderbilt, Cincinnati, and Virginia all coasted to easy victories.
Belmont and Marquette were locked up in a close game in Milwaukee.
The first upset of note was William & Mary winning at North Carolina State, as the Tribe used a team high 19 points from junior Daniel Dixon as this is a major head scratcher losing 85-68. Caleb Martin scored a game-high 21 to lead the Wolfpack.
Sure, they are the first STOCK DOWN team in this very young season. But remember, the Wolfpack did reach the Sweet 16 as an 8 seed last March.
This type of loss will knock them down a couple of seed lines at least, but the sky is more than the limit for William & Mary. This will be one of those types of games where the Selection Committee will have highlighted on their spreadsheets when it comes time to comparing at-large teams.
Hope to provide my first grouping of teams in the STOCK UP category next week after the 24 hour Tipoff Marathon which will conclude in Chicago’s United Center with Duke matching up with Kentucky and Kansas squaring off against Michigan State. Enjoy your weekend.