Of all the first-year coaches in college basketball this season, Herb Krusen had to have gotten the lastest start in preparing for his rookie year.
Krusen took over the Western Carolina program on Nov. 23, eight days before the first game, when Steve Cottrell resigned after nine years as head coach of the Catamounts for personal reasons. He had compiled a 145-133 record and last year's 10-19 mark was his only losing season at the school.
"I've always wanted to be a head coach and had to take advantage of the opportunity," Krusen, who had been an assistant to Cottrell for three seasons, said Wednesday. "This is a new beginning and the kids are pumped up and behind me. They have pulled closer together."
Krusen was a winner in his first game as a head coach as the Catamounts beat Tusculum 99-72. His second game, however, was at No. 16 Kansas Friday night.
Krusen was originally named interim head coach on a "day-to-day" basis but the school changed that.
"I have been named interim head coach for the season," the former East Carolina and Wake Forest assistant said. "I definitely want the job and I'll do everything I can to get it. That's the approach I'll take this season."
Krusen will have to do it without one of the team's top freshmen, a 6-foot-2 guard who was the third highest scorer in North Carolina high school history and who left the team on Monday -- Mike Cottrell.
"Mike and his father were very close and he felt he wouldn't be comfortable in the situation," said Western Carolina sports information director Steve White.
It seems the administration at Oral Roberts University didn't have much faith in the team's chances to advance to the championship of the Big Apple NIT.
The Titans opened the NIT on the road against UCLA but they also had a game scheduled for the same night the championship game of the preseason tournament would be played in New York.
Well, UCLA did eliminate Oral Roberts 119-79, so the game with North Texas State was a go after all.
North Texas State won 88-80.
Syracuse clinched one NCAA title this year before a ball was even thrown in the air.
More than 24,500 season tickets were sold for Orangemen games at the Carrier Dome before Nov. 21, the date of the first games played this season.
The second largest seating capacity in the nation next to the Carrier Dome used as a homecourt is Kentucky's Rupp Arena and that holds 23,000, so the Orangemen are assured their fourth consecutive attendance title. Kentucky had the held the mark for eight straight years before Syracuse started its run.
Syracuse holds the single-season attendance mark of 498,850 in 19 games in 1985-86, an average crowd of 26,255, and eight of the top 10 regular-season singles-game crowds have been at the Carrier Dome.
So much is always made of the strength, or lack of it, of some early season opponents of Division I teams.
Don't tell that to Billy Hahn of Ohio University or Pete Herrmann of Navy, each of whose teams lost to a non-Division I school last weekend.
Division III Ohio Wesleyan beat Ohio University 122-115, while Division II Slippery Rock needed overtime to beat the David Robinson-less Midshipmen 89-81.
Some schools still prevail easily in those mis-matchups.
Georgetown, ranked 17th, beat Hawaii-Loa 92-41 and 92-39 in the Hoyas' opening road swing. We should be able to see how strong Hawaii-Loa really is though, as it hosts No. 19 Nevada-Las Vegas twice this weekend.
No. 16 Kansas rebounded from a 1-2 performance in the Maui Classic with a 94-38 victory over Pomona-Pitzer.
But the mismatch of them all so far this season came when Idaho beat Northwest Assemblies of God 111-34.
The Vandals set a Big Sky Conference record for margin of victory and allowed the fewest points since 1959.
Second-year head Coach Tim Floyd took the blame for the scheduling of the game.
"I need to take responsibility for that," Floyd said. "It was a mistake and we'll make sure it doesn't happen again."
Idaho ran up the 111 points with 12 of its 14 players scoring, seven in double figures. One of the players who didn't score was the team's leading scorer, Andrew Jackson, who played just five minutes and the only statistics he had in the boxscore were two turnovers.
Northwest Assemblies of God, an NAIA school from Kirkland, Wash., lost two days later to Lewis-Clark, another NAIA school, by 69 points.
"Fortunately, the Seahawks were on TV that night so we only had about 1,000 people in the stands," Idaho sports information director Dave Cook said Wednesday.
Idaho isn't quite done with NAIA schools as Whitworth visits Moscow on Tuesday. The 69-point margin of victory record which was eclipsed by the 111-34 final was set against -- you guessed it -- Whitworth. Whitworth has been getting ready for Idaho as it beat Northwest Assemblies of God 123-66 on Nov. 17.
That should make Idaho a 20-point favorite over Whitworth.
The 64 berths in the NCAA tournament are being vied for by 287 of the 290 Division I teams.
Marist, South Carolina and Virginia Tech are the only schools currently under a probation that would keep a program from participating in the tournament, the 50th staged by the NCAA.