Making transition back to basketball

There probably wasn’t much a of a reason to call off work on Tuesday.

Still, to the college basketball fan, Nov. 13 carries nearly as much importance as March 13.

And although it probably was a better idea to save those sick days for the madness in five months, equal thrills were provided earlier in the week.

Monday, well, Tuesday tipped off the start of basketball at universities across the country and ESPN’s 24-hour hoops marathon provided a full slate of games.

It was a “Late Night with Bob Huggins” as West Virginia started the festivities with Gonzaga.

Don’t remind me that the Mountaineers lost by more than 30.

Stony Brook and Rider said, “Good Morning, America” at 6 a.m., while close games with Detroit and St. John’s and Butler and Xavier provided the afternoon soap operas.

The spotlight games — Michigan State vs. Kansas and Duke vs. Kentucky — capped off the day in Atlanta as part of the Champions Classic. Arguably, one of the NCAA’s best ideas. If we have to put up with a bracket field of 68 and “the first four” in order to see these marquee matchups to start the year — I’ll take it.

Tuneups against local Division III teams are for the preseason. It’s great to start with a challenge.

That’s what the Youngstown State men’s team did, while George Washington and Georgia may have thought they were getting a cupcake.

As star junior guard Kendrick Perry continues to impress, freshman center Bobby Hain is really opening some eyes.

The red head from Florida scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in his debut, while fellow big man Damian Eargle scored 10 points to hold off the Bulldogs.

The Penguins begin the home schedule on Friday against Saint Francis and before we know it, the high school docket will be here to warm us through the winter.

Last year, Struthers, Springfield and Warren Harding advanced to regionals and all three are set to rebuild.

The Wildcats lose Jake Jacubec, Dylan Schmidt and Austin Grewe.

The Tigers lose Nick Russell, Tom Mastran and Joe Ohlin.

The Raiders lose a starting lineup of high-flying, fast-dribbling and sharp-shooting seniors. Not to mention Steve Arnold as head coach.

The prep basketball in this area isn’t quite up to the level of football, so players like Jacubec and Russell, Jesse Hardin and Arthur Cook only come around so often.

Even on the girls side.

Harding’s Anita Brown and Ursuline’s Courtney Powell are playing at Akron and Memphis, respectively.

The rebuilding projects remain the same, too, as Tony Matisi has to find Lowellville’s match for its three grand accompaniment of Taylor Hvisdak, Emily Carlson and Ashley Moore. Howland’s tall task is finding a new scheme with the absence of 6-foot-3 Taylor Williams. Now at Princeton, Williams was one of eight seniors who finished 2011-12 with just two losses.

Right now, we’re coasting through a last push of football. Standing on the other side of that Thanksgiving turkey is basketball season in full swing.

Matthew Peaslee is a sports writer at The Vindicator. E-mail him at

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