The Mount has one more closed door scrimmage with Towson this weekend. I'm sure they'll be trying to improve on last weekend's effort with Coppin State. Things didn't go exactly as hoped for the Mount. But you try to get different things out of a scrimmage and I'm sure it gave the Mount coaching staff plenty to work on during this week of practice. The rumored Mount start five during the scrimmage was Lamar Trice, Julian Norfleet, Pierre Brown, Raven Barber and Shawn Atupem. One of my big question marks going into the season has been how the team will rebound and I don't think that was really an area of concern on Saturday, but most of the other areas were. Lots of room for improvement. We'll see if any of that comes over this weekend at Towson. After that they'll have another week or so of practice before heading to Ohio to open the season with games at Dayton and Cincinnati. The game in Cincinnati will be available courtesy of the Big East Network on Fox Sports Ohio.
The NEC preseason coaches poll came out this week and there was still a lot of respect for the Mount with its fifth place prediction. Might show that once again nobody is quite sure what the conference is going to look like after the first few. Obviously, everyone thinks Quinnipiac is the top dog. 11 first place votes and QU thinks Long Island is its stiffest competitor. The Blackbirds got the other first place vote - can't vote for yourself. But the rest of the conference wasn't ready to write to off Robert Morris. The Colonials still finished second. Preseason predictions don't mean a lot, but I thought it as a bit of a snub for Shawn Atupem not to be mentioned on the All-conference team. He'a quality up-front. I agree its a guards league. But that makes him more dangerous. And there is no arguing either Rutty or Ken Horton, but how Horton recovers from a year on the bench is going to be interesting to watch. Still Atupem showed he's virtually impossible to stop without the double team in the low post, and he can step outside as well. Now the Mount needs to find a way to get him more than 6 shots a game.
Louisville is next on the agenda for the Syracuse football Orange. It's November and we're still talking football in upstate New York. How about that? The Orange has gone 3-1 in both 4 game segments of its schedule. I think they'd take another 3-1 to finish 9-3. The middle segment with 3 road games was supposed to be the difficult one. But they won all three away from the Carrier Dome. Road wins at West Virginia, South Florida and Cincinnati are good wins for this program. They'd like a mulligan on the defeat to Pittsburgh, but they'll take where they are right now. Finish strong against Louisville, Rutgers, UCONN and Boston College and call it a rebirth of some sorts.
It's going to be Villanova and TCU when the dust settles on Big East expansion. Notre Dame isn't going to happen. If the Irish would decide to give up independence, they'd seek out the Big 10. The only crux would be in 'Nova decides to stay 1-AA or whatever three letters they call it at the time. I just don't see that happening. Central Florida could make a case since it actually is East by some standards, but TCU is the only school that offers any hopes of football credibility, and would open up both new recruiting and TV markets for the conference. If 'Nova says no, I'd expect Houston would get an invite before Central Florida. But then it could get interesting. I would expect we'd know something about this somewhere in the near future.
College basketball season officially begins Monday at 7pm at the Pete in Pittsburgh. The Panthers host the Rams of Rhode Island. Pitt seems like they should be good, but I have trouble calling them a Top 5 team.
I've started the new book from John Grisham and am about one quarter of the way through it. I like it thus far. If you like Grisham, I don't think you'll be disappointed.