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Original Issue

Seth Davis's Three-Pointer

A look at the Illini's fast start, a bold opening day plan and the top freshman

1. I respect Bruce Weber, but spare me the chatter that the coach, now at Kansas State, should get credit for Illinois's 10--0 start. Yes, Weber recruited most of the players, but this is largely the same team—with the notable exception of 7'1" Meyers Leonard, a lottery pick last June—that went 6--12 in the Big Ten a season ago. Weber's replacement, 41-year-old John Groce, has brought energy and toughness. Groce's up-tempo system has also unleashed 6'4" senior guard Brandon Paul, who scored 35 points last Saturday in a 85--74 win at Gonzaga.

2. I was amazed by the flak Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis caught after he told me about his proposal to open the 2013--14 season with a Veterans Day celebration featuring four simultaneous games at Cowboys Stadium, site of the 2014 Final Four. College basketball lacks a traditional opening day and it has a tough time gaining attention during football season. Hollis's idea addresses both of those issues and honors America's military to boot. So what, exactly, is the downside?

3. We need to move away from the question of whether Anthony Bennett is the best freshman in America and start asking if he is the best player. UNLV's 6'8", 240-pound forward had a breakout game on Sunday, when he had 25 points, 13 rebounds and played tough interior defense in a 76--75 victory at Cal. "He's a man," Bears coach Mike Montgomery said of Bennett, who was averaging 19.5 points (on 54.8% shooting) and 8.3 boards at week's end. "He's got muscles on top of muscles."

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FUN RUN Energized by his new coach's up-tempo style, Paul and his Illinois teammates have won 10 straight out of the gate.