One of the things I dislike about Thanksgiving -- besides turkey, which is the most overrated food on earth; I don't understand why we have two holidays devoted to eating the bird, particularly when chicken is so much better -- is how people constantly ask what you're thankful for because I never have a good answer. My instincts are to go with good health and family and stuff like that, but it always seems clichéd. So I instead mumble words like wireless internet and pay-at-the-pump gas stations, and then people look at me like I'm nuts.
|Now Chase Budinger, he would have been a good choice for a final shot. (AP)|
But I finally figured out what I'm thankful for late Sunday.
After watching Southern California dominate Southern Illinois, I decided I am thankful that I got all my O.J. Mayo jokes in the past two weeks, because it's pretty clear the Trojans -- with Davon Jefferson and Daniel Hackett healthy -- are going to be a serious team going forward. I mean, how many programs have three players more talented than Mayo, Jefferson and Taj Gibson?
Not many, I think.
And that's no joke.
Anyway, here's the rest of the Monday Look Back.
Best game of the weekend: It was sloppy considering there were a combined 40 turnovers. But Kansas' 76-72 win in overtime against Arizona was still an exciting and competitive contest Sunday night, not to mention wacky. How wacky? Despite being on a team with Chase Budinger and Jerryd Bayless, Bret Brielmaier -- a senior who has never scored double-figures in his career -- somehow ended up shooting an 18-footer out of a timeout to try to give Arizona the win in regulation, and I'm guessing even the Brielmaier family is wondering what happened. Then on the subsequent possession, Brandon Rush nearly sank a shot from beyond halfcourt at the buzzer for the victory, but that it missed was inconsequential because the Jayhawks jumped to an early lead in the extra period and cruised without ever giving Brielmaier an opportunity at redemption. And just so we're clear that I'm not picking on Brielmaier, here's interim coach Kevin O'Neill's quote following the loss: "We certainly didn't want Bret Brielmaier taking the last shot. ... I love him to death, but ..."
Worst game of the weekend: There was little doubt Oregon would rebound with newfound focus following that loss to Saint Mary's, and San Francisco was the victim. The Ducks scored 62 points in the first 20 minutes and held USF to 29 in the final 20 minutes. Those two variables will almost always lead to a blowout, so Saturday's 110-79 final shouldn't be a surprise.
Win to brag about: Lots of schools have big wins already, but it's doubtful any have one as meaningful as Texas' 97-78 blowout of Tennessee because it confirmed that Rick Barnes didn't lose everything from his 25-win team. Sure, Kevin Durant is missing, and that's a huge loss. But Texas is more balanced with D.J. Augustin -- man, is he always in control on the court or what? -- and A.J. Abrams leading the way, and that the Longhorns made Tennessee look like anything but the best team in the SEC opened eyes from coast to coast in advance of this Sunday's showdown with UCLA.
Loss to hide from: Penn State entered the season with relatively high expectations thanks to one preseason magazine -- not ours, by the way -- predicting the Nittany Lions to finish fourth in the Big Ten. I didn't think it was happening then, and I know it's not happening now, not after Ed DeChellis' team lost 70-59 to Central Florida on Sunday. Truth be told, there's nothing terribly wrong with losing to UCF in Orlando; the Golden Knights seem capable of finishing second in Conference USA. But that loss was Penn State's third loss in three games, and the others were to South Carolina (perhaps the worst team in the SEC) and Rider (a decent team, though one from the MAAC). Bottom line, Penn State is in bad shape, and it's hard to envision things improving to the point where an NCAA Tournament appearance is even a remote possibility.
Player who deserves improper benefits: Far as people named Rush go, Steven Rush ranks somewhere behind Brandon Rush, Rush Limbaugh, Geoffrey Rush and that Canadian band called Rush that wrote Tom Sawyer. Still, it's doubtful folks in Chicago will ever forget his name following the North Carolina A&T star's 40-point effort Saturday that led the Aggies to a 96-93 win at DePaul. Rush was 13-of-23 from the field, including 10-of-17 from 3-point range and can best be described -- by that other Rush, at least -- as a modern-day warrior/mean, mean stride.
Player who should lose his scholarship: I suspect Jon Diebler will eventually be just fine at Ohio State. But the transition to college has been anything but smooth for the heralded freshman, who is "one of the best shooters in his class." Those aren't my words, by the way. That's straight from the scouting report on Scout.com, and I'm not even disputing it. I like Scout.com. I'm just relaying the information to make it clear how shocking it is that Diebler was a combined 1-of-17 from the field -- including 0-of-11 from 3-point range -- this weekend in a loss to Texas A&M and win over VMI. On the season, Diebler is now 4-of-35 from the field and 2-of-24 from 3-point range, meaning he's shooting 11.4 percent from the field and 8.3 percent from 3-point range heading into Wednesday's game against North Carolina. And for those who thought things couldn't get worse, you should know that Upper Sandusky High in Ohio -- coached by Keith Diebler, Jon's father -- lost its season opener Friday night by a 101-76 margin. So it's bad times all around for the Dieblers, and here's to hoping things get turned around quickly.