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Hoopla: Home of the Hilltoppers

Welcome to the first edition of Shoot Hoops, Not Guns, a weekly column meant to provide you, the college basketball fan, with everything you don't really need to know about college hoops, but might find interesting. As the Plaxident has taught us, the world would be a much safer place if more kids were shooting threes instead of Glocks.

[Editor's Note: Due to our effort to limit the gun-related humor on our site, we're going to call this column Hoopla instead. Jacob knows this, but insisted on calling the inaugural column Shoot Guns, Not People anyway. He's a stubborn man.]

I'm not really sure why a player would decide to transfer five games into a season. Seems like a decision that should be made at the beginning of the season. OK, the announcement that Wake Forest forward Jamie Skeen will transfer wasn't that big of a surprise. Skeen was already ineligible for the fall semester after violating the school's academic policy and decided it wasn't worth appealing for reinstatement. But what about junior center Casiem Drummond, who informed the Villanova coaching staff he'd be transferring after playing in two games this season? Apparently, Casiem wants more playing time, which is understandable. What's harder to understand is how it took until December for Casiem to realize his playing time would be an issue.

To date, the season's biggest stunner has been Western Kentucky's upset of Louisville. While the Big East is getting more hype than Lindsay Lohan's sexuality, the Hilltoppers quietly dismantled their in-state "rivals" 68-54. The game wasn't even close. WKU guard A.J. Slaughter penetrated at will on his way to 25 points and forward Steffphon Pettigrew (bonus points for spelling) dominated inside with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Louisville got worked so badly, coach Rick Pitino apologized to the fans for his team's performance. But is an apology necessary for a defeat to a solid basketball squad? On Tuesday, the Hilltoppers marched into Athens and beat Georgia 67-63, and despite losing their coach and two best scorers after last season, they might be the best team in the state of Kentucky.

They say you mature a lot in college. Sometimes, as in my case, the maturation process isn't so obvious. But other times, it is. Contrast, for example, the behavior of Duke point guard Greg Paulus and Kentucky point guard DeAndre Liggins, two players at opposite ends of their collegiate careers. Paulus, a senior who started his first three seasons in Durham, has been relegated bench duty in favor of a younger, quicker point guard. But so far, Paulus hasn't complained, and because of this team-first attitude, Duke seems to be a stronger than last season. Liggins, on the other hand, is a freshman and still learning that there is no "I" in team (although there is a "me"). Upset that he didn't see more playing time in Kentucky's victory over Kansas State last Friday, Liggins refused to play when coach Billy Gillispie tried to put him back in the game. Liggins later apologized to the team and was allowed to play in the following game against West Virginia. We'll just chalk that one up to the learning curve.

Should college basketball institute mandatory head gear? Twice in the last week, a college basketball player has been removed from the court on a stretcher due to a head or neck injury. First, Indiana guard Verdell Jones III ran hard into a screen set by Cornell center Jeff Foote and nailed his head on the floor as he went down. Jones lay motionless on the court for a few minutes before being removed on a gurney. Then, in Wednesday's game between Kentucky and Lamar, two Wildcat players ran into each other, knocking both out of the game. While going for a loose rebound, Ramon Harris and Michael Porter collided at the top of the key. The collision opened up a gash over Porter's eye that required 10 stitches to close, but Harris was even worse off. The junior forward tried to stand back up before dropping to the court like a sack of rocks. He lay motionless on the floor for close to eight minutes before being taken to the hospital, where he remains for observation.

On Tuesday, The Miami Herald declared, "Miami Hurricanes ready for prime time." With nationally televised games this week against Ohio State and Kentucky, the hope was Miami would prove itself in "living rooms across this country." One game in, it hasn't really worked out that way. Shortly before the Hurricanes took the court against Ohio State on Tuesday, the team announced sophomore point guard Eddie Rios was suspended indefinitely for violating team rules. Then, halfway through the first half, Miami's best player, Jack McClinton, was ejected for slapping an Ohio State player across the face. Despite leading when McClinton was kicked out, the Hurricanes went on to lose 73-68. The good news is, the ACC will not hold McClinton out of Saturday's game against Kentucky. The bad news is, Miami basketball still isn't ready for prime time.

Stephen Curry's younger brother, Seth, plays for the Liberty Flames. Just like his older brother, Seth was not recruited by the big-time basketball programs. And just like his older brother, Seth is exceeding expectations. So far this season, he's averaging 22 points per game. He dropped 26 points on Virginia as the Flames beat the Cavaliers 86-82. Seth's next big test comes at Clemson on Sunday. Now he's only a freshman, but if Seth can keep this up, we just might see his jersey hanging from the Vines Center rafters along with the only other jersey Liberty has ever retired -- Dr. Jerry Falwell's.

Bad things happen when you hide a gun in the waist band of your sweatpants.

Contact Jacob Osterhout at Jacob.Osterhout@gmail.com.

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