Monday, November 11, 2019 2:23 PM | CBN
Written by Liam Blutmanfollow me on Twitter @Blutman27
College basketball is back! All is right with the world. Week one is in the books and as expected, we saw a multitude of quality games. Or maybe only I did while many of you watched football and the NBA.
I’m excited to bring to you this series of articles dubbed, “Mid-Major Spotlight” where the focus will be on one Mid-Major team that I came away impressed with and one top performing player of the week! I'll roll with a Mid-Major team of the week and the Mid-Major star of the week!
Let us begin with Colgate. There is certainly a lot to love about this team from the Patriot league. America rooted hard for C’Gate last March as they nearly knocked off Tennessee in a 15 vs 2 seed game. There’s plenty of buzz surrounding Colgate this season and I eagerly tuned into both of their week one games. The Raiders came away with a 1-1 record after clashes with NJIT and Clemson. They played a solid game against a feisty NJIT team and Colgate was able to pull away when the 2nd half began and they quickly reached a 19 point lead. As the game got out of reach so did the Raiders focus and NJIT climbed all the way back into this one by taking a 69-68 lead with 4:14 to go. But C’Gate rebounded quickly and retook a 73-69 lead before winning 80-75. In game one, they did everything right aside from preserving their large lead late. They shot 50% from the floor, made 8 threes, got to the free throw line 21 times and out rebounded NJIT. It was a sound performance against a solid team and if not for the blown lead... it’s a perfect game for Colgate. Next up they traveled to Clemson for a bout with an ACC school. The opportunity was here for Colgate to grab a high quality win. Colgate was neck and neck with Clemson near the entire game and I think it was fairly reasonable to say, Colgate was the better team most of the day! Unfortunately, Clemson pulled away late and escaped with an 81-68 win. The game was much closer than the final score indicated and Colgate did nearly everything a Mid-Major needs to accomplish to slay a giant. They shot 45.6%, made 11 threes and they forced 12 turnovers. What they didn’t do was take care of the ball. 18 turnovers, many of which were critical to the outcome. They turned it over a few times trying to rush things after Clemson retook the lead, just uncharacteristic mistakes. I came away impressed with Colgate, I came away impressed with other members of this team that I didn’t know much about. Sophomore, Tucker Richardson was excellent. He was a knockdown shooter and it didn’t matter where he was firing from, he was a walking bucket. 6-9 from the field and 4-7 from three, 16 points for Richardson. This is a kid that’s going to knock down some big shots for Colgate come March. If the Raiders make it back to the big dance, pay attention to Tucker Richardson, he’ll be in the corner catching and shooting for three quite a few times. Will Rayman, a senior stretch four was also fantastic. He collected 15 points and 5 rebounds, shot 6-7 from the field and 3-4 from three. There were a few tough buckets inside that Rayman finished, and then he’d step outside and cash a three. He’s another reliable shooter for Colgate, a deadly weapon. So, while I really didn’t know much about those two, both impressed me plenty and helped show why Colgate can make noise in March. Now, Jordan Burns actually struggled in this Clemson game and a solid performance from Burns and C’Gate might just have won this thing. He totaled 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 dimes but turned it over 7 times and missed a few open threes as well. It just wasn’t his day and that’s ok. Burns is a stud and will be much better going forward and this game might just make him better in the long run. As for the previous Patriot League Player of the Year, Rapolas Ivanauskas. Wow. He’s a really tough guard for any big in the country. The 6’10” Ivanauskas bullied Clemson inside. He scored 14 and shot 6-13. He’s a skilled passer at 6’10” too, a huge positive. Rapolas can shoot the three too but struggled Sunday with a 1-5 mark. Colgate’s really good and that 13-point loss could’ve easily been a win. Credit to Clemson for prevailing. Again, shooting 45.6% from the field, making 11 threes, and forcing 12 turnovers is a recipe for success. Sunday was an odd day where that didn’t matter. The refs didn’t call many fouls, Colgate fouled 16 times and Clemson just 9, Clemson had 18 free throws and made 13, Colgate had 5 free throws and made them all. That right there is the game, eh? 13 free points for Clemson in a 13-point victory.Colgate is going to be really good y’all. They move the ball well, have five reliable shooters on the floor at all times, can play inside or out, and play some stingy defense. They can and they will compete with a top ranked team in the NCAA Tournament. But first, Colgate travels to Syracuse on November 13th and Auburn on November 18th. Two more chances for a high quality win! Then there’s a doozy as Colgate faces Siena where Jordan Burns and Jalen Pickett will go at it! And December 14th is Colgate’s last chance for a big non-conference win as they meet up with Cincinnati. I thought Colgate was going to beat Clemson, I was wrong but they will beat one of Syracuse, Auburn, or Cincy. I think Syracuse and Cincy are both on high upset alert, so don’t sleep on Colgate!
And for the best week one performer in not just Mid-Major basketball but all of D1 hoops... Jordan Roland of Northeastern! This is a kid I really liked last year and he was a big part of why I thought Northeastern could challenge Kansas in the NCAA Tournament. Last year Roland averaged 14.6 PPG and shot 45.1% and was named to the All-CAA team as well. This year is different, much different. Following a few departures including fellow guard Vasa Pusica, Roland has simply taken over. In Northeastern’s 72-67 win over Boston, Roland scored 39 points and shot 15-24 from the field. He did not turn the ball over once. He only shot 2-7 from three but that was still good enough to get him to 39 points! Jordan didn’t need the three! So, how do you follow up a 39-point win over a rival? You score 42 and beat your other rival! Northeastern beats up Harvard 84-79 behind Roland’s 42 points! Jordan played all 40 minutes of the game and was simply locked in. He shot 13-19, was 6-9 from three, added 6 rebounds. The young man is just on fire. Northeastern’s 100th season is off to a historic start thanks to Jordan Roland so let’s see if he can continue his scorching hot start as Northeastern faces UMass on November 12th. Another local rival for Roland to feast on! The December 7th game between Northeastern and Davidson has become appointment television. Kellan Grady and Jon Axel Gudmundsson vs Jordan Roland… You know I’ll be glued to my TV watching that one! Jordan Roland’s averages after two games are silly. 40.5 PPG and shooting a ridiculous 65.1%
Hope you enjoyed reading this weeks Mid-Major Spotlight. I’ll keep a tally of which team and player I spotlight every week!
Week 1Team - ColgatePlayer - Jordan Roland