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SCS.com Jonathan's Journal SCS.com

By: Jonathan
SouthernCollegeSports.com Editor
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Jonathan's Journal Jonathan's Journal makes its return this week and takes a look at happenings in both college football and basketball. Included is a glance at the firing of Frank Solich, an update on the Purdue hoops squad, and much more!...

[ Updated December 18 ]

HUSKERS HUNKER DOWN

Former Nebraska Head Coach Frank Solich - courtesy huskers.com
Frank Solich
Frank Solich's final gatorade shower came at Colorado as his Huskers knocked off the Buffs 31-22.
courtesy Huskers.com
Not satisfied with the direction of their football program, the Nebraska athletic department fired football coach Farnk Solich about two weeks ago. Even after a 9-3 season that saw the Huskers improve in many areas after the previous year's 6-7 campaign, the administration at the university felt that firing Solich was in their best interest. In the end, they may be right. But the way I see it, Nebraska is sending an extremely negative vibe to any recruits who may be considering NU. To most people, 9-3 is a good season. You won't win the national championship, but it means a pretty good bowl and a top 25 ranking for most Big XII teams. But for a high school star looking at the Huskers, it would be hard to get excited about playing for a university that sees 9-3 as not very good. Now, of course, there could always be things going on behind the scenes that are sending the program in the wrong direction, but if that is the case, none of it has been brought out to this point.

One of the main factors most high school players look at when deciding on a college is the coach: has he been successful and is he going to be there for me? When asking those questions about Solich, one would have to answer "yes" to the first but obviously "no" to the second, since he was terminated by the school. Young athletes are going to make mistakes and will not be perfect. By firing a coach who went 9-3, Nebraska is sending a nation-wide message that not perfect is not good enough. Maybe that's good; maybe it's not. Maybe the university will figure out which it is on National Signing Day.

BOILER BALLERS BANGING HEADS WITH BIG BOYS

Purdue G Kenneth Lowe - courtesy purduesports.com
Purdue G Kenneth Lowe
Lowe is sixth in the Big Ten averaging 16.0 PPG on the season.
courtesy JSOnline.com
Though it's early in the season and no conference games have been played yet, Purdue's basketball squad of 2003-2004 looks as impressive as any other in the Big Ten. The Boilers opened the season with a couple of easy wins before claiming impressive victories over a good Seton Hall team and fourth-ranked Duke in Alaska. After a few days off, the Boilers returned home and handled Clemson and Chicago State with relative ease to take their record to 6-0 on the season.

One of their latest tests came at Oklahoma against the Sooners who were just coming off an impressive win of their own at Michigan State. Purdue hung right with the Sooners the entire way and gave Kelvin Sampson's club a huge scare. It took a lay-up from freshman PG Drew Lavender for OU to get past Purdue, who is led by guard Kenneth Lowe. He is the only player averaging double-figures on a team centered around defense. Averaging more than 16 points per game and shooting over 40% overall and from the 3-point line, Lowe will be the leader on this Purdue squad as they move towards Big Ten play. Though they aren't flashy, this team is now sitting at 7-1 after smashing Central Michigan 80-39 (an NCAA Tourney team from a year ago) and has shown very early in the season that they will be a force to be reckoned with in the Big Ten in 2003-2004.

MUSICAL CHAIRS AT NUMERO UNO

Connecticut F Charlie Villanueva - courtesy huskers.com
UConn F Charlie Villanueva
In just two games back, Villanueva is shooting 67% and averaging 15.5 PPG.
courtesy UConnHuskies.com
With the parity in college basketball becoming increasingly obvious with each passing season, ranking the teams has become more difficult. The top spot in the polls in a prime example of that so far this year. To begin the season, it was Connecticut who claimed the top spot in the major polls. But true freshman Charlie Villanueva had questions raised by the NCAA about his elibibility and was held out for a period of time. While he was out, the Huskies were upset by Georgia Tech, allowing the Duke Blue Devils to take control of the number one position. But it didn't take long for the Devils to falter and lose their hold on the top spot. While playing in Alaska, the Purdue Boilermakers slipped past Duke on their way to the tournament championship. That loss allowed Kansas to overtake the polls. But like Duke and UConn before them, the Jayhawks stumbled as well. Their loss came on the road at Stanford as they fell 64-58 in Palo Alto. That loss gave way to the SEC's Florida Gators, making UF the fourth team from four conferences in as many weeks to be ranked #1. But the Gators out-did the three before them. Billy Donovan's team dropped an overtime game to Maryland at home on Wednesday and then proceded to lose a road game at Louisville on Saturday. And then finally with this last week's poll, a split decision went to Connecticut and Kentucky, though it was the Huskies gaining the most first place votes in each poll.

So who really is number one? Not Kansas. The Jayhawks have a good team but aren't the nation's best. Same for Duke. Florida couldn't defend their home court so they can't be considered the top dog. Kentucky hasn't really been tested as of yet as that Michigan State victory looks less and less impressive as of late. So I would go with Connecticut, my (and almost everyone's) preseason favorite. The Huskies' only loss came to a Georgia Tech team that has been extremely impressive this season, and UConn was also without Villanueva that day. Look for UConn to spend its fair share of weeks atop the college basketball polls this season. Connecticut should still be once-beaten when the Oklahoma Sooners visit Storrs on January 11.

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