The men’s basketball team will play an early-season tournament in Puerto Rico, officially called the O’Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-off.
Eight teams will be in the tourney, which runs Nov. 19-22 and airs on ESPN. Each team is guaranteed three games.
Only seven teams were announced Tuesday, and pairings have not been finalized. It looks like a strong field: Villanova (in the Final Four), Dayton (reached NCAA Tournament second round), Indiana, Kansas State, UAB, George Mason and Tech.
In the 2008 event, Xavier beat Memphis for the championship.
This will be the Jackets’ third tournament off the U.S. mainland in the last four years. They didn’t go to one this past season.
On to football….
The secondary will be a lot more experienced this year, with everyone returning except Jahi Word-Daniels. It also will be deeper. Jerrard Tarrant, a 6-foot, 189-pound redshirt sophomore from Carrollton, is one reason why. Tarrant was impressive last spring and would have had a chance to start had he not been suspended. Here’s the background on that saga.
This spring, he’s shown good hands and a little bit of rust.
“He gives us another player who’s got pretty good skills and ability,” CPJ said after Monday’s practice. “He’s a little bit rusty, but you can watch him go through drills and see that he’s a talented kid…We knew he was pretty good last year. We had him in spring.”
In addition to pushing the starting corners, Tarrant is being tried as a returner.
“We’ll take a good look at him as a returner,” CPJ said. “I think he’s got some ability to do that.”
Couple other notes….We wrote the other day about Tyler Melton’s comeback from a knee injury. He could be the solid receiver Tech needs opposite Demaryius Thomas. When I asked about that, CPJ made an interesting point.
“Nobody double-covered [Thomas] last year anyway. With the nature of what we do, it’s pretty hard to double cover.”
CPJ added, however, that having two “weapons” at wideout would be beneficial. “We might not have to go as much to one side.”
Finally, the coach shed a bit of light on the offensive backfield. He was talking about how he decides who plays where. He said he considers the importance of putting people “where they fit” and at the same time trying to “get the best 11 on the field.”
“I don’t know who’s going to be the three backs,” he said. “I know who one of them (Jonathan Dwyer) is gonna be. I probably know who two of them (Roddy Jones) are gonna be, but then that third spot, if Anthony (Allen) is better, or whoever, or Lucas (Cox) might be a better B-back, you’ve just got to move them around.”