NCAA: Duke's Jabari Parker and Opening Day Takeaways

Now that college basketball has begun there are always going to be impressions from games. Whether it’s who look great or who really struggled, it’s always nice to take a minute and process all of it.

Have no fear, I have done that for you. With so many games on throughout the day and numerous different channels and streams, I’ve taken the biggest notes and combined them for one big takeaway for the day.

Florida Gators

Florida is in trouble with its suspensions, depth problems. (Image: sports-logos-screensavers.com)

Florida Gators will continue to struggle 

The season didn’t exactly start the way they had hoped for the Florida Gators. It all began with the suspension of Scottie Wilbekin earlier this summer. Then earlier this week it was announced that Dorian Finney-Smith would also be suspended for an unspecified amount of time.

Right out of the gate Florida was down two starters and about 20 points per game of production. With a team looking to fill voids in their scoring already (losing Kenny Boynton, Mike Rosario and Erik Murphy from last season’s Elite Eight squad), losing those two put the Gators in a tough situation.

North Florida didn’t’ help matters any. The Gators got out to an early lead but North Florida slowly chipped away and would not relent, crawling to within single-digits before dropping the game  77-69. Florida looked like a shell of the team they could be when fully equipped with their full roster.

To make matters worse, Florida is scheduled to travel to Wisconsin for a clash of two ranked teams on Tuesday. After Friday’s game, coach Billy Donovan announced Wilbekin and Finney-Smith would not play against the Badgers. It’s hard enough to win in Wisconsin but to go there and expect to win with a depleted roster is downright insane.

Until Wilbekin and Finney-Smith are reinstated and eligible to play in games, expect the Gators to board the struggle bus and take a long ride.

Duke is as dangerous as ever and Jabari Parker is a star 

I already picked Duke to win the national championship, citing their depth and three-point shooting so winning against Davidson at home was not a surprise. What was a surprise was just how well the team flowed offensively the entire game Friday night. The Blue Devils put up 111 points against the Wildcats in their 33-point victory.

Duke shot 61 percent from the 3-point line against Davidson (13-for-21) and only committed four turnovers the entire game. They are already disciplined and work well together. They are fast, they are dangerous and they have Mike Krzyzewski.

Another aspect to the Duke game was the great play from freshman Jabari Parker. Parker finished with 22 points on 8-of-10 shooting (3-for-3 from 3-point range) and six rebounds. He played with poise and was calm under pressure. Andrew Wiggins might get the attention, but Parker just made a bold statement against a good Davidson team.

New defensive rules may be annoying now, but it’s for the good of the game

One of the biggest points of emphasis this offseason came from officiating. New rules were put into place to allow offensive players more freedom. This came into play after last season’s overall scoring was nearly at an all-time low across the country.

The biggest key to these new rules is for defenders to play on the ball without hand checking. Most saw this as a way to slow down the game with excessive foul calls more than anything else. While that is going to be a big factor in the first few weeks of the season, teams will eventually catch on to the new rules and the fouling with decrease. At least that’s the hope.

To put things into perspective, scoring is already on pace to be higher than last season. On Friday night alone there were incredible. Before the conclusion of games that started at 10 p.m. EST, there were 62 teams that scored more than 80  points in a game and 12 that scored 100-plus. While you do have to factor in who scored the points and who their opponent was (some were against Division-II and NAIA teams), you can’t take away the fact that the points are there.

Maybe this will help you out a bit. One of the teams that scored more than 80 points was Wisconsin. Yes, Wisconsin. Bo Ryan teams are never known for their offensive skills as they rely on timely shooting and solid defense each year. If a Bo Ryan Badgers team can score more than 80 points in a game, the new rule changes are working to better the game.  Think of it as an improved delay of game penalty the NBA is currently trying to install.

North Carolina avoids potential upset, finds new leaders in process

The Tar Heels came into Friday without P.J. Hairston (the continued suspension process that the NCAA still, somehow, hasn’t weighed in on yet) and playing a talented Oakland team. Luckily the lack of Hairston didn’t result in a lack of offense. North Carolina opened up a whopping 58-21 halftime lead against the Golden Grizzlies before putting it on cruise control to an 84-61 victory.

James Michael McAdoo was far more athletic and powerful than anybody Oakland could’ve possibly thrown at him. McAdoo finished with 21 points and nine rebounds. Roy Williams had the dilemma of filling out the starting five without Hairston and that required him to start a true freshman at point guard (Nate Britt) and move last year’s point guard to the off-guard (Marcus Paige). Paige would finish with 14 points and five assists while Britt did a nice job of dictating the pace for the Tar Heel offense, who ran Oakland out of the gym for that big lead.

Another key factor in the game was the development of Joel James and Kennedy Meeks. Neither lit up the stat sheets but both made their presence felt on the court. Have those two in the front court rotation is a huge boost for the Tar Heels. Isaiah Hicks only played 11 minutes in the game so his contributions were limited in this game.

Once North Carolina gets Hairston back (whenever that is; getting real tired of you crap, NCAA) they are going to be a lot of fun to watch. They have the talent to make a serious run at the ACC Championship. One thing is for sure: the three-way battles between UNC, Duke and Syracuse are going to be worth the price of admission.

Buckle up, folks. This season is just getting started and we’re in a slobber knocker, roller coaster, knock your socks off season.

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Tags: Duke Blue Devils Florida Gators Jabari Parker Men's College Basketball

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