Thursday, November 25, 2010

Get to Know: Missouri

This is the first of a series of posts looking at teams just outside the main contenders. A few of these teams will certainly be national title threats by seasons end. The early struggles of Michigan State and Kansas State even further shows the importance of the second tier in college basketball this season.

So far this season, Missouri is 4-0 with a weak early schedule. Three out of the four wins have been less than 12 points, with the one exception being a 96-58 victory over North Florida. Statistically, the Tigers have continued the play they are well known for. They are currently 20th in the nation in pace (adj tempo of 71.9 possessions) and 9th in the nation at forcing turnovers. Mike Anderson's press has done its job against inferior teams, holding all four opponents under the national average of 1.01 points per possession.

The press makes Mizzou a very interesting team to watch. Coach Anderson keeps his players fresh and stick to his system. Against North Florida, the Tigers showed why the press works so effectively. Three keys really stood out from watching that game:

1) Trap the corners and use the sideline to create bad decisions leading to turnovers.
2) Make the opposition use up time and prevent them from getting into their offense.
3) Rotate to the open man out of the double team to avoid easy shots.

The first key is what most associate with fullcourt pressure defense. Turnovers not only prevent the other team from getting shots, but also lead to transition baskets. In the clip below, Missouri was able to trap right at the sideline immediately after North Florida crossed half court. The Tigers forced a bad pass out that went out of bounds.

The second key is equally as important for Missouri. Teams have to use a fair amount of time and energy to get by the initial pressure. Once the press is broken, the Tigers don't back off and let North Florida relax. Instead, they keep ball pressure and make it hard for UNF to get anything started. UNF is forced to frantically drive to the hoop with 5 seconds left in the shot clock, resulting in a strip and transition basket.

The final key is crucial for Mizzou when the press doesn't create the initial turnover. Everyone knows the old cliche that there has to be someone open when you double team. This is true, but Missouri does a great job of rotating and switching on defense to prevent the opposition from capitalizing. Without proper rotation on the play below, UNF would easily have gotten an open three or a drive. By rotating to the open man in the left corner, Missouri not only stops an easy bucket but then creates a turnover.

Missouri will be a tough out in the Big 12 again this season. The defense has been solid, but they have gotten off to a slow start shooting the ball. Rebounding has been greatly improved from last year, but we will have to see if they can continue to have success on the boards against the bigger and more physical Big 12 teams. November 30th is a date to mark on the calendar. The Tigers get their first big test from Georgetown in Kansas City.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Impossible is Nothing

The Siena Saints have been one of the more successful mid major teams in the last three years. What might have been the best recruiting class in school history (Ronald Moore, Edwin Ubiles, and Alex Franklin) led Siena to two NCAA Tournament victories in the last three years.

This season, much has changed for the Saints. Fran McCaffery has been replaced by Mitch Buonaguro and the three stars have graduated. Clarence Jackson and Ryan Rossiter are the go-to guys and team leaders. The point guard position is the one with the biggest question mark. Kyle Griffin started the first two games, but gave way to freshman Rakeem Brookins in game three.

So the Saints went into their second game of the season (@ Minnesota) with question marks at the point and searching for a new identity. They got off to a hot shooting start early (and by they I mean Clarence Jackson), but cooled off by the middle of the first half. Ultimately, the Saints lost 76-69. The problem for the Saints? Lots and lots of turnovers.

After the game, Coach Buonaguro said:

“It really came down to us turning the ball over,” Buonaguro continued. “I thought we outplayed Minnesota in a lot of areas, but the turnover battle was 24-15 (for Minnesota). You can’t win on 24 turnovers on the road. It’s impossible.”

Impossible is a strong word. I decided to further investigate Buonaguro's claim. Of course, winning with 24 turnovers on the road is not common by any stretch, but not impossible either. In fact, Coach Buonaguro should be very familiar with one game from last year when his claim was proven false. The 2009-2010 Siena Saints defeated Tennessee State on the road despite a ridiculous 29 turnovers. Buonaguro was an assistant coach last season.

The four factors tell the whole story. Despite 29 turnovers, this game wasn't even close. The final score was 85-69. Turnovers are certainly important (and most of the time underrated), but in this case Siena had enough talent to overcome them. Buonaguro's quote is not valid. An added stipulation might have made more sense: "You can’t win on 24 turnovers on the road against a Big Ten team." That could be something to look further into in the future.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Calm Before the Storm

College basketball is back. The beginning of the season provides interesting matchups and early adjustments. Today there are no D1 games on the schedule, but tomorrow the games start rolling in. Teams will be finding out what they have and how they can improve. Here are the games we are looking forward to.

The Potential Red Line Upset

Georgetown @ Old Dominion

KenPom Prediction: 64-63 Georgetown
2010 Interesting Fact: Old Dominion won more NCAA Tournament games (1) than Georgetown (0)

Georgetown kicks off the season with a tough one. Last year, ODU played at a slow pace and grinded out games on defense. The mentality paid off as they defeated Notre Dame 51-50 in the first round of the NCAA Tourney. This is a rematch of the game last year at the Verizon Center. ODU won that one 61-57. Georgetown will not be looking past the Monarchs this season.

The Team with Upside

Seton Hall @ Temple

Kenpom Prediction: 71-65 Temple
2010 Interesting Fact: Seton Hall (32nd in the nation) averaged nearly 10 more possession per game than Temple (336th in the nation).

Seton Hall is a big unknown coming into the season. They have the players to be competitive in the Big East, but don't have program stability just yet. This game is another rematch from last season. In that game, Seton Hall blew an early second half lead as Temple won 71-65. Seton Hall does not have a very challenging non-conference schedule, so this will be one of the best times to get a look at them. However, Lavoy Allen and company are certainly favored at home.

The Player Worth the Price of Admission

Wofford @ Minnesota

KenPom Prediction: 70-61 Minnesota
2010 Interesting Fact: Noah Dahlman was in the top 300 in shooting (eFG), offensive rebounding (OR%), taking care of the ball (TO%), and getting to the line (FTRate). Basically, he's really good.

Wofford will have a chance to start their season with an upset at Williams Arena. Last year Wofford ended the season in the Tourney with a close loss to Wisconsin prior to winning 13 straight SoCon games in a row. Dahlman is excellent and Minnesota is an interesting team themselves. Give the SoCon some love and tune in to watch one of the best players most have never heard of.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Defending a Title

This just in: Duke is good this year. The Blue Devils managed to fly under the radar (well, for Duke) for some of last season. Duke won't be tricking anyone this season. With about 59% of minutes return, Coach K's squad is rightfully the preseason favorite. Let's take a look at the past five championship teams and how many minutes they returned the following year:

This table really highlights the crazy season that was UNC 2010. Anyways, this is reason 3849 that Duke will be good. For the Duke haters, look on the bright side... At least they don't have the number one point guard recruit coming in. That wouldn't be good...

Monday, November 1, 2010

Team to Watch

College basketball offers a diverse range of teams throughout the country. The gap between the rich and the poor is wide. Because of this, team's produce intrigue for different reasons. Duke is trying to repeat, Purdue is a contender already without their best player, Mississippi Valley State's schedule is crazy.

The team of interest in this post is Missouri State. The Bears started and ended the season last year. They started 10-0 with decent wins against Auburn, Tulsa, and St. Louis. They ended by plowing through the CIT field for a postseason championship.

Tempo Free Look

Last year, Missouri State finished a nice 45th in adjusted offensive efficiency and an average 127th in adjusted defensive efficiency. The offense was surprisingly the best in the Missouri Valley, while the defense came in at number four. Yet the Bears finished just 8-10 in the MVC. Seven of the 10 losses were by 6 points or less. Losing close games are somewhat of a debated topic. On one hand, a team who loses in the clutch might not have the "grit" or "determination" to pull out the win. On the other hand, it's certainly takes something to keep the game close. The Bears are almost certain to improve in clutch situations this season and the conference record should improve drastically as a result.

Four Factors Time

The Bears could certainly shoot the ball last year. Kyle Weems, Adam Leonard, and Jermaine Mallet were solid options from downtown. The best aspect of the offense was taking care of the ball. Missouri State turned the ball over on just 17.4% of possessions. Offensive rebounding and getting to the line were not nearly as strong, but not weak enough to bring down the overall efficiency of the offense.

Defensively, the Bears were very average at everything but rebounding. They were the 16th best team in the nation at rebounding on the defensive end. Missouri State would certainly benefit from forcing more missed shots this season. Opposing teams shot 38% from three against the Bears.

What Now?

Nearly everyone is back for Missouri State, including all five starters. The floor for this team is relatively high. The Bears have several known quanitities sure to produce again this season. Kyle Weems is the go-to guy and led the team with an ORtg of 120. He can fill up all categories on the stat sheet. Adam Leonard and Jermaine Mallet fill a dependable backcourt. The frontcourt is nearly as predictable. 6'9" Senior Will Creekmore proved himself last season. 6'11" Caleb Patterson was solid in rather limited minutes last year. His improvement will certainly be helpful up front. Nafis Ricks may be the one unknown for the Bears. Last season, Ricks was high usage and decent efficiency in limited minutes. Ricks has the potential to breakout and could decide the fate of Missouri State in the MVC.

Games to Watch
  1. (Potential Tournament Game) @ Tennessee - NIT Season Tip-Off

  2. Sat, Dec 11 @ Oklahoma State

  3. Sat, Feb 26 (Regular Season Finale) vs. Wichita State

Saturday, October 16, 2010


As you may have noticed, unforeseen circumstances have caused the conference previews to be stopped. However, Hoop Vision will be starting up again November 1. We will have plenty of content leading up to the start of the season from November 1 on. See you then.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Big 12: 2010-11 Preview

A team to review from last year...

The Longhorns began the season 17-0 and national championship contenders. The second half of the season was a huge disappointment. Rick Barnes' squad stumbled to a 7-10 record. However, the bad record can be largely attributed to the strength of the Big 12. Of the 10 losses, seven were to teams who finished in the KenPom top 20. The tempo free gods judged the Longhorns favorably when it was all said and done. They finished with the 25th ranked offense and defense. Texas was a very solid team, but just not the top five team that was perceived early in the season.

A flaw to consider
Missouri's defensive rebounding

Mizzou had a top 15 defense last season despite not being able to end possessions. Opponents grabbed offensive rebounds on 37.7% of shots. Graduate Keith Ramsey was on of the better players on the boards for the Tigers. Of course, Missouri's identity is to get up and force turnovers. However, they can make their life a lot easier by ending possessions that don't end in turnovers at a higher rate.

A team that will get more attention than their body of work merits...

Kansas is going to get tons of attention pretty much regardless of the particular year. Kansas will be Big 12 contenders yet again this season. However, so will non-traditional college basketball powers like Kansas St., Baylor, and Missouri. Despite losing Collins, Aldrich, and Henry, the Jayhawks have been given the best odds of the Big 12 teams to win a national championship. Kansas could very likely live up to these expectations, but is just one of several teams in the Big 12 contending for a league title. (Note: Josh Selby update)

A team that will get less attention than their body of work merits...

Last season, Colorado was great on offense and terrible on defense. The Buffaloes shot the ball extremely well, but so did their opponents. This season, almost all the team is back. Colorado should remain above average offensively in the Big 12. If the defense can improve, Colorado will be knocking on the door of the NCAA Tournament. Whether or not that "if" becomes a reality is something to watch closely.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Jacob Pullen, Kansas State

No surprise here: Jacob Pullen is good. The departure of Denis Clemente should only increase Pullen's importance to K State. Pullen does most things right. He shoots it well from three, gets to the line (and makes free throws), and has a good assist to turnover ratio. Pullen's efficiency did come a little out of nowhere from 2008-9 to 2009-10. Assuming he maintains last year's numbers, Pullen will be the man once again in Manhattan.

Best of the Rest:

1) LaceDarius Dunn, Baylor
2) Marcus Morris, Kansas
3) Alec Burks, Colorado
4) Corey Higgins, Colorado
5) John Roberson, Texas Tech
6) Laurence Bowers, Missouri

BREAKOUT PLAYER: David Loubeau, Texas A&M

The Big 12 is full of potential breakout candidates. Loubeau is one of the best out of all of them. The 6'9" rising junior showed how effective he could be last season for A&M. Loubeau got decent minutes, but will surely see an increase this season. Additionally, Loubeau will be called on to take a bigger role in the offense with Donald Sloan and Bryan Davis gone.

Best of the Rest:

1) Jordan Hamilton, Texas
2) Michael Dixon and Marcus Denmon, Missouri
3) Matt Pilgrim, Oklahoma State
4) David Tairu, Texas Tech
5) Christian Standhardinger, Nebraska
6) Markieff Morris, Kansas

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Big Ten: 2010-11 Preview

A team to review from last year...

The Gophers were quietly a quality team last season. They shot the ball very well and took care of the ball. On defense, they also had success. As a result, Tubby Smith's club had a number of big wins. Minnesota defeated Butler, Ohio St., Wisconsin, Michigan St., and Purdue. Still, they struggled with consistency finish 8-8 in the Big Ten.

This season, the Gophers are a step behind the top heavy Big Ten. A couple months ago, we interviewed The Daily Gopher about Blake Hoffarber and Minnesota. The guys over there summed it up best, "There is the talent to compete for a conference title but the starts kind of have to align for that to be realistic possibility. If guys do not become eligible and Williams doesn't figure out how to get himself on the floor, this team will miss the NCAA Tournament and could finish way down in the Big Ten pecking order."

A flaw to consider...
Michigan State's turnovers

Turnovers and turnovers only are what kept Coach Izzo's club out of the top 20 in adjusted efficiency rankings. They were the problem on both offense and defense. Offensively, only two players had a TO% of under 18%. Defensively, the Spartans only caused their opponents to turn the ball over 18.7% of possessions. Michigan St. rebounded and shot the ball extremely well. However, if the Spartans are a true national title contender the turnovers will have to improve this season.

A team that will get more attention than their body of work merits...

The expectations aren't very high for the Wolverines entering this season. Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims are gone from a team that finished just 7-11 in conference. Ballin' is a Habit has some interesting words about Michigan, "On paper, this looks like a team destined for a rebuilding year. But keep in mind, this is the kind of team that Beilein succeeds with. A bunch of scrappy underachievers willing to buy into Beilein's system." However, scrappiness is sometimes (not always) more perception than reality. Michigan probably just won't be good enough to compete this season.

A team that will get less attention than their body of work merits...

The Badgers are probably the cliche team for this category. Nearly every year they fly under the radar. The Badgers play at a slow pace and are by no means flashy. With the losses of Trevon Hughes and Jason Bohannon, new names will have to emerge. Knowing Bo Ryan's team, however, new players will step up. Jordan Taylor appears ready to breakout in the backcourt. Wisconsin will almost certainly shoot the ball well, take care of the ball, and rebound defensively. With these three attributes, the Badgers seem to be a lock to contend in the Big Ten.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Jon Leuer, Wisconsin

Last year, Leuer had great numbers co-starring with Trevon Hughes. He shot 39% from three and 55% from two. He also had a ridiculous 8.5 TORate. The 6'10" senior will be back for part two, but minus Hughes. Leuer will not only be one of the top players in the Big Ten, but a top player nationally.

Best of the Rest:

1) Robbie Hummel, Purdue
2) Joe Shurna, Northwestern
3) Kalin Lucas, Michigan State
4) Demetri McCamey, Illinois
5) Talor Battle, Penn State
6) William Buford, Ohio State
7) Maurice Creek, Indiana

BREAKOUT PLAYER: Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin

Taylor does not fit the standard definition of a breakout player we have been using throughout the conference previews. He was third on the Badgers in minutes played. However, Taylor's role will go way up with the departures of Trevon Hughes and Jason Bohannon. As Dylan Burkhardt of pointed out, Taylor's sophomore season numbers were very similar to Hughes' sophomore numbers. Taylor is ready to emerge as the go-to guard for Bo Ryan.

Best of the Rest:

1) Rob Wilson, Wisconsin
2) Tyler Griffey, Illinois
3) Rodney Williams, Minnesota
4) Luka Mirkovic, Northwestern

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Big South: 2010-11 Preview

The Teams

Charleston Southern

CSU struggled last season to a 7-11 conference record. They struggled on both offense and defense. However, CSU has their four most important and efficient players back for this season. Jamarco Warren, Kelvin Martin, Jeremy Sexton, and Kenny Mitchell all were used on over 20% of possessions and had ORtg's over 100. Martin and Mitchell can rebound, block shots, and score inside the three point line at a high percentage. Warren and Sexton can both spread the court and hit the three. These four should lead an improved offensive team, but CSU will have to get more stops on defense this year to contend in the Big South.

Coastal Carolina

The reigning Big South regular season champions were by far the top team in the Big South last season. Defense was the key for the Chanticleers. They held opponents to the worst three point shooting percentage in the entire country. However, Joseph Harris, Mario Edwards, and Logan Johnson are all big losses. Chad Gray will once again be the go-to guy. Along with Gray is a promising sophomore class consisting of Kierre Greenwood, Danny Nieman, and Sam McLaurin. The most important player may end up being Mike Holmes. The South Carolina transfer will have to sit out the first four or five games of the season, but should be a force in the paint. Coastal Carolina will again be in the mix for an NCAA Tournament berth.

Gardner Webb

The Bulldogs finished second to last in conference last year. Most of the minutes from that team are gone. Gardner Webb will certainly struggle again this season. They should be in full rebuilding mode. Senior Jonathan Moore could prove to be a solid go-to guy, but without much around him the Bulldogs will be in the cellar.

High Point

High Point featured a pretty solid offense last year that led to a 10-8 conference record. They lost just one game the whole season at home. Rising sophomore Nick Barbour should be in for a big year. Last season his usage was in the top 50 nationally. He shot 40% from three, got to the foul line, and didn't a good job taking care of the ball. A key for the Panthers will be replacing the rebounding and interior defense of Cruz Daniels. Corey Law, Earnest Bridges, and Jourdan Morris are relatively undersized, but have shown positive signs of being able to take on increased roads. High Point should be about average again.


Another very average team last season was Liberty. Kyle Ohman is no longer for the Flames, but there are some potential candidates to fill his role. Sophomore Antwan Burrus shot over 50% from the floor, rebounded, and block shots in limited minutes last season. He is a potential breakout candidate for Liberty. Fellow sophomore Evan Gordon looks to build on a solid rookie campaign. Gordon shot the ball extremely well, but was very turnover prone. Overall, Liberty has a lot of minutes back and has the talent to take a step forward this season.

NC Asheville

Asheville started the season off 1-12 against D1 opponents. In their last 15 games, they went a solid 11-4. The Bulldogs played fast, with an adjusted tempo of 72.8 possessions per game (11th fastest in the nation). The Bulldogs were also extremely young last season. Now, everyone is back except for Sean Smith. The major problem will be taking care of the ball. Last year Asheville turned it over on 23.2 percent of possessions. The four highest usage players on the team all turned it over at least one in five possessions individually. Primm, Dickey, Stephenson, and Cunningham are all young players with upside, and NC Asheville will depend largely the development of those four.


The stage is set for Presbyterian. The team played with just one player older than a sophomore last season. They were the youngest team in the country. This was actually done by design. Al'Lonzo Coleman, Pierre Miller and Josh Johnson all red-shirted last year in order to retain eligibility for the 2011-12 season: the first year the team is eligible for the postseason. This situation certainly parallels North Dakota St. in some regards. Still, the three of them aren't exactly the next Ben Woodside or Brett Winkelman. Presbyterian will certainly be improved, but we aren't ready to bring back the "Bison Fever" quite yet.


The Highlanders played their way to a 13-5 conference record last season with strong defense. Radford loses a lot from last year, including the dynamic big man Artsiom Parakhouski. Parakhouski carried otherwise bad offensive team last season. Radford will certainly need impact from newcomers to remain a top team in the Big South. An interesting recruit to watch will be 7'1" Martins Abele from Oak Hill Academy.


The Keydets seems to have a perpetual identity crisis. They clearly play fast. In the last four years they have been 1st in the nation in adjusted tempo three times and 2nd in the nation once. The type of pace they play at would seem to indicate an extremely athletic team who probably likes to get out and press. Yet regardless of pace, VMI had the worst defense in the country last season. Athleticism wasn't prevelant on offense either. They had the high opponent block percentage in the nation as well. The one thing that you might not expect from a team with such a frantic pace is ball control. Yet the one thing VMI did well was take care of the ball (17.2 TO%). The Keydets have a lot back and are an interesting team to watch. Defense will have to improve to gain relevancy in the Big South.


The Eagles did something pretty remarkable last season: get to the P.I.G. without being able to shoot. Winthrop shot 26% from three and 43% from two. They could, however, play solid defense and take care of the ball. The Eagles have the core of the team back should once again have the best defense in the Big South, but it is really hard to win without being able to shoot. Expect an overall solid season from Winthrop.

The Players

Player of the Year: Nick Barbour, High Point

The 6'3" junior will be the leader for High Point this season. Last year, Barbour was used on 30% of High Point's posessions and had an ORtg of 106.6. He knocked down the long ball took care of the basketball. Furthermore, he drew 6.4 fouls per 40 minutes. His number one backcourt mate from last season, Eugene Harris, graduated. Barbour could even take a bigger role this season. He has shown he can handle a heavy workload and will be up to the task.

Best of the Rest:

1) Chad Gray, Coastal Carolina

2) Jamarco Warren, Charleston Southern

3) Kelvin Martin, Charleston Southern

4) Austin Kenon, VMI

5) Reggie Middleton, Winthrop

Breakout Player: Antwan Burrus, Liberty

Burrus was excellent in his freshman season for the Flames. Burrus was top 200 in the country in both offensive rebounding percentage and block percentage. He also shot 52% from the floor. The departure of Kyle Ohman will free up both minutes and possessions for Burrus. If he can even just maintain his production from last season with the increase in minutes, he will be one of the best low post players in the Big South.

Best of the Rest:

1) Kenny Mitchell, Charleston Southern

2) Corey Law, High Point

3) Jourdan Morris, High Point

4) Ryan Hargrave, Presbyterian

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Big Sky: 2010-2011 Preview

The Teams

Eastern Washington

The Eagles finished just 5-11 in the Big Sky last year. They had very interesting rebound splits. Offensively, their rebound rank was 330th in the country. Yet the Eagles were the 30th ranked defensive rebounding team. The 300 difference was almost certainly one of the biggest in the country. A pretty strong sophomore class is back for their second year at Eastern Washington. Glen Dean, Jeffrey Forbes, Kevin Moore each played significant visits in their rookie seasons. All three are under 6'0", which will create some problems for Kirk Earlywine's squad. The Eagles will look to Laron Griffin or incoming big men to fill out their frontcourt. Another rebuilding year is probable.

Idaho St.

The Bengals could not get stops last year on defense. Don't let the slow pace fool you, Idaho State's defense was one of the worst in the entire country. To make matters worse, five out of their six most significant players are lost to graduation. Broderick Gilchrest will be the go-to guy for Coach Joe O'Brien. 7'0" Deividas Busma, who started 17 games in 2008-2009, will be back from injury. However, there will be a bunch of new faces for the Bengals. It will be interesting to see the new guys, but expectations are low.


The Grizzlies went dancing after squeaking by Weber St. in the conference finals last season. Then, they managed to give a suspect New Mexico team a scare in round one. They could flat out shoot it last year from two and three. Star guard Anthony Johnson will be greatly missed this season. Ryan Staudacher and his 128.7 ORtg will also be missed. Montana took another hit when wings Michael Taylor and Raason Young both decided to transfer. However, the Grizzlies will still look to avoid a rebuilding year. The froncourt should be exceptional. 7'0" Derek Selvig and 6'11" Brian Qvale form a great duo. Selvig had great percentages from both behind the arc and twos last season. If he can improve his turnovers, he will be one of the top big men in conference. Qvale shot 62% with great rebounding, shot blocking and turnover prevention. The incoming recruiting class will be vital for the Grizzlies. Belgium native Idris Lasisi along with several other new guys will be counted on to keep Montana at the top.

Montana St.

Led by rising senior Bobby Howard, Montana St. shot the ball well and didn't turn it over last season. The Bobcats lose a bunch of key players from that team, but retain a strong backcourt. They do have some experience playing undersized. Montana St. played small for most of the year last season. They managed fairly well on offense, but the lack of size did hurt them on defense. It is hard to see the Bobcats matching their 10-6 conference record from last year.

Northern Arizona

The 8-8 team from last year has just about everyone coming back for more this season. This has caused a few people to get excited about the potential of the Lumberjacks. Cameron Jones is a star, but his per game stats from last year are a bit inflated from the amount of minutes he played. Overall, the Lumberjacks really weren't contenders last season. They shot the ball well and got to line well, but turned the ball over a ton and did not offensive rebound. Defense was not great either. The team will almost certainly improve with another year of experience under their belt and have a couple of guys key additions. First, a healthy Eric Platt is a great breakout candidate. He was both efficient and highly used in limited time last season battling injuries. Second, big man Austin Smith will be eligible this season after sitting out a year transferring from Liberty. Smith posted good numbers in very limited minutes his freshman season. Northern Arizona will certainly be a contender this season, but improvements from last year will need to be established to win a conference title.

Northern Colorado

The other UNC was not a fluke last year. They were solid on both offense and defense. Major contributor Will Figures graduated, but basically everyone else is back for the Bears. UNC will miss Figures, but they have plenty of efficient options. Devon Beitzel should be ready to become the go-to guy. In his junior season he posted an awesome 123.5 ORtg with a 20.6 %Poss. He shot the cover off the ball and valued the ball too. Chris Kaba, Mike Proctor, and Taylor Montgomery are all efficient scorers and rebounders. The one wildcard might be Neal Kingman. Kingman struggled from long range last year at just under 30%, but was at 42% the year before. Splitting the difference, Kingman can become yet another efficient scorer. The defense shouldn't be much different from last year: forcing turnovers and rebounding misses well. Northern Colorado may be the Big Sky favorite for the first time in their short history.

Portland St.

Portland St. was an interesting team last year. They had the best offense in the Big Sky and the second worst defense. However, they lose their three most efficient players entering this season. Waters, Jones, and Thomas are all very tough losses. The Vikings have the pieces to keep their offense at acceptable levels. Phil Nelson had a very nice year and could become the go-to guy for Portland St. Phillip Thomas played very well in limited minutes. Melvin Jones and Dane Johnson are too more players with ORtg's well past 100. The defense was so bad last year, however, that Portland St. did not finish over .500 in conference. Losing the three seniors makes it unrealistic to expect much improvement in that record. The Vikings will likely be an average team at best in the Big Sky.

Sacramento St.

Brian Katz's club struggled to a 3-13 conference record last season. It doesn't figure to get too much better this season with the graduation of three relatively good seniors from the squad. Rising senior Sultan Toles-Bey is back with his high usage play. He struggled shooting last year with a 2FG% of just 33%. Sacramento St. will likely remain in the cellar of the Big Sky for another year.

Weber St.
Damion Lillard is as good as advertised for Weber St. He returns with great efficiency and high usage for the defending conference champions. Steve Panos and Nick Hansen are unfortunate losses, as well as the transfering of Franklin Sessions. The Wildcats have competent potential replacements. They will be competing for another conference title. Lindsey Hughey, Kyle Bullinger, Trevor Morris, and Darin Mahoney will be the keys. If one or two can emerge as great second and third options to Lillard, they will be tough to beat.

The Players

Player of the Year: Damian Lillard, Weber St.

Lillard is the defending POY in the Big Sky. This season with the graduations of Panos and Hansen, Lillard will be the absolute go-to guy for Weber St. As a sophomore, he had a True Shooting Percentage of 59.4% (168th in D1). He led his time in ARate and was second in TORate. He was able to attack the hoop and get to the free throw line. Weber St. will be contending for the Big Sky title and Lillard will be by far the biggest reason why.

Best of the Rest:
1) Devon Beitzel, Northern Colorado
2) Bobby Howard, Montana St.
3) Cameron Jones, Northern Arizona
4) Broderick Gilchrest, Idaho St.
5) Chris Kaba, Northern Colorado

Breakout Player: Mathias Ward, Montana

The 6'7" freshman played sparingly last season for the Grizzlies. He is not a sure thing this season by any means, but showed signs that he could be ready to become a key contributor for Montana. When he was in the game he had a pretty big impact last season. He shot the ball efficiently and rebounded well. His flaw last season was turning the ball over. However, one big problem as a young player is fairly normal. Ward can be an average player as is, but with almost certain improvement in the turnover category he can take it to another level. Ward will be interesting to watch this seaosn.

Best of the Rest:

1) Eric Platt, Northern Arizona (22.5 %Min, 112.9 ORtg, 22.7 %Poss)
2) Phillip Thomas, Portland St. (14.3 %Min, 107.4 ORtg, 21.7 %Poss
3) Duro Bjegovic, Sacramento St. (40.9 %Min, 100.7 ORtg, 20.7 %Poss)
4) Phil Nelson, Portland St. (49.4 %Min, 105.5 ORtg, 20.0 %Poss)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Big East: 2010-11 Preview

A team to review from last year:

Once upon a time there was a team who graduated Jerel McNeal, Wesley Matthews, and Dominic James. They weren't supposed to be good. They ended up being good. The end. This story has been on replay since Buzz Williams's team emerged as a contender in the Big East last season. Marquette had a great offense and a pretty good defense. They made shots and didn't turn the ball over. They played in many close games. 17 games were decided by five points or less. The Eagles went 8-9 in those games. Ultimately, they lost an 80-78 battle to Washington in the first round of the Dance.

Once upon a time there was a team who graduated Lazar Hayward, Maurice Acker, and David Cubillan. They weren't supposed to be good (ranked 10th in Big East here). Sounds familiar, right? It will be tough to duplicate last year for Marquette, but I'm not picking against them.

A flaw to consider...
Villanova's fouling

This is not breaking news. Even your little sister knows Villanova fouled way too much last year. Scottie Reynolds was the best on the team at not fouling last year. Without Scottie, the problem is certainly not going to get any better without working on it. Mouph Yarou, Maurice Sutton, and Isaiah Armwood are three young big men who could be called upon to produce more this season. All three, however, showed they too like to foul when in the game. Villanova will know doubt be good, but will continue to beat (foul?) a dead horse.

A team that will get more attention than their body of work merits...

The Huskies got a lot of attention last year for an 18-16 team. ESPN seemed to have them perpetually right on the bubble because of their reputation. Regardless, UConn played solid defense last season. They will likely be worse on defense this season. Calhoun did not use his bench very often and now he has a lot of inexperienced (yet talented) players. With Dyson, Robinson, and Edwards all lost to graduation, it seems like a rebuilding year is probable. Ater Majok, however, will not be part of the process.

A team that will get less attention then their body of work merits...
Seton Hall

The Pirates could score with ease last year. There really is no reason to think that will change this year. Hazell, Theodore, and Robinson are all back with ORtg's well over 100. Seton Hall will be one of the top teams in the Big East when it comes to putting the ball through the hoop. An improved defense would carry the Pirates into the NCAA Tourney. Whether they can improve or not is the million dollar question. Mississippi transfer, Eniel Polynice, should help the defense to some extent. Seton Hall is certainly a team with a high degree of variance, but could turn themselves into Big East contenders in a perfect world.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Tim Abromaitis, Notre Dame

Picking out the top five players, let alone the top player, in a league this good and deep is brutal. Still, someone has to win. In the case Abromaitis's 2009-10 season was too good to ignore. He was one of the best shooters in the nation and didn't turn the ball over. No one can reasonably expect another 127.8 ORtg as the complete go-to guy this season, but he should once again be one of the most efficient scorers in the country. Cases could be made for about ten other guys to win this "award". Tim, make us proud.

Best of the Rest:

1) Corey Fisher, Villanova
2) Jimmy Butler, Marquette
3) Austin Freeman, Georgetown
4) Jeremy Hazell, Seton Hall
5) D.J. Kennedy, St. Johns
6) Kevin Jones, West Virginia
7) Ashton Gibbs, Pittsburgh
8) Scoop Jardine, Syracuse

BREAKOUT PLAYER: Maalik Wayns, Villanova

Wayns showed a lot of promise in his freshman season for the Wildcats. The 6'1" rookie shot 49% from two, 32% from three, and 81% from the foul line. Turnovers bothered Wayns some. He turned the ball over just over 1/5 of possessions. Wayns was a big part of the Nova offense when he was in the game. He had a %Poss of 23.3 and an ORtg of 102.8. A big chunk of Scottie Reynolds' minutes will presumably go to Wayns. He showed last season that he can compete in the Big East. Most importantly, he has plenty of room for improvement. Wayns is an excellent breakout candidate entering his sophomore season.

Best of the Rest:

1. Casey Mitchell, West Virginia (18.5 %Min, 102.8 ORtg, 24.3 %Poss)
2. Dominic Cheek, Villanova (33.5 %Min, 109.9 ORtg, 18.2 %Poss)
3. Mookie Jones, Syracuse (12.8 %Min, 118.2 ORtg, 22.4 %Poss)
4. Dalton Pepper, West Virginia (14.8 %Min, 112.5 ORtg, 20.3 %Poss)
5. Augustus Gilchrist, South Florida (38.1 %Min, 104.8 ORtg, 25.3 %Poss)**

**Gilchrist missed significant time last season due to injury.

Tiered rankings sure to be wrong:

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Atlantic Ten: 2010-11 Preview

The Contenders
Dayton, Xavier, Temple

These three teams are yet again expected to be at the top of the A10. Yes, Dayton finished 8-8 in conference last year. However, their per possession numbers were excellent. Yes, Dayton didn't make the NCAA Tournament last year. However, they won the NIT in rather convincing fashion beating Illinois St., Cincinnati, Illinois, Mississippi, and UNC.
Xavier loses the most out of the trio. Star players Jordan Crawford and Jason Love are both gone. Dayton also has some graduation to recover from, but not players as important as Crawford and Love. Temple is losing Ryan Brooks and Luis Guzman, but retain Lavoy Allen and Juan Fernandez.

A couple top recruits will be making the rich richer. Xavier reeled in a top 50 recruit in Justin Martin. For Dayton, top 100 recruit Juwan Staten should make an impact. Aaron Brown may be Temple's top recruit and will be a nice role player.

The A10 title will most likely come down to the wire this year. All three of the teams will be hard to knock off at home. Temple has some difficulties on offense, Xavier has the tough task of replacing their two best players, and Dayton may lack some depth with the graduation of five seniors. However, with Chris Wright, Chris Johnson, and a solid defense I would have to give a very slight edge to the Flyers.

The Next Best Things

Richmond, Rhode Island, St. Louis, Charlotte

Richmond overachieved to a 13-3 conference record last season. They were solid on defense, but only 67th in offensive efficiency. Kevin Anderson is obviously the man for the Spiders, but David Gonzalez and Ryan Butler are both big losses. I expect Richmond to stay pretty steady in efficiency from last year, but get worse results in conference play.

Rhode Island could light it up on offense, but was just 110th in defensive efficiency. URI faces a tough task in replacing their three highest usage players. However, every single significant player on their roster had an ORtg over 100. If a few of their extremely efficient role players can keep their efficiency and step up their involvement, Rhode Island will remain in the upper half of the A10.

Charlotte and St. Louis are in fairly similar situations this season. Both were so-so last year, but have a lot coming back. One difference between the two is balance between offense and defense. Charlotte is fairly balanced on both sides of the ball. St. Louis, however, was great on defense and brutal on offense. Defense alone will keep St. Louis in a lot of games. The offensive development of players outside of Kwamain Mitchell and Willie Reed will be crucial for the Billikens.

The Potentially Decent

George Washington, St. Bonaventure, Duquesne, UMass, St. Joe's

St. Bonaventure's is an intriguing team due to Andrew Nicholson. Nicholson was used on the most possessions for his team and had the best ORtg. He will certainly need help this season. Jonathan Hall and Chris Matthews are both unfortunate losses. Nicholson's supporting cast is questionable, but if a couple guys can step up the Bonnies will be interesting this season.

Duquesne returns just about everyone from last season, but likely doesn't have the talent to be anything but decent. 6'7" Damian Saunders is an interesting player. Saunders was used on nearly a quarter of Duquesne's possesions with an ORtg of 98.9. Saunders was great inside the arc, but brutal from outside. The rising senior shot just 19% from three, but still attempted 95 of them.

George Washington and UMass both have something in common: they lost their most important players (Damian Hollis and Ricky Harris) but have just about everyone else back. Both teams have a bunch of question marks, but could put together nice seasons. UMass also adds talented recruits Jesse Morgan and Maxie Esho.

Taking a look at St. Joe's season and players returning, they probably don't belong in this tier. However, Phil Martelli is bringing in a nice recruiting class this season. Incoming freshman are tough to get a feel for, but expect C.J. Aiken, Daryus Quarles and Langston Galloway to at least be given the opportunities to make impacts right away.

The Probably Bad

La Salle and Fordham

La Salle is a 4-12 conference team losing their go-to guy and an extremely efficient role player. It will be tough for the Explorers to improve offensively. Worse yet, La Salle struggled most on defense last year.

It's hard to expect much from a team who didn't win a conference game last season. There most likely won't be much noise made from Fordham again this season.

The Players

Player of the Year: Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure

Let's be serious, Nicholson isn't going to get the attention going into the season that will be given to Lavoy Allen, Kevin Anderson, Terrell Holloway, and Chris Wright. We picked Nicholson for two reasons. First, we like to stray from the mainstream pass when possible. Second, Nicholson is really, really good. The big man shot 56.4% from the floor, blocked shots, took care of the ball, and drew fouls extremely well in his sophomore season. The result was an ORtg 112.5 on 24.2 %Poss. Nicholson will be a force in the paint for the Bonnies.

Best of the Rest:

1) Terrell Holloway, Xavier

2) Lavoy Allen, Temple

3) Shamari Spears, Charlotte

4) Kevin Anderson, Richmond

5) Chris Wright/Johnson, Dayton

Breakout Player: Ramone Moore, Temple

Moore had a successful rookie campaign last year in somewhat limited minutes. Moore shot a scorching 56% from two. He took care of the ball, drew fouls, and rebounded fairly well for his size. The one area with plenty of room for improvement in Moore's game is shooting from deep. Moore was just 5-40 last year from three. Moore was actually used on a team best 25.6% of possessions when in the game for the Owls. Moore will be ready to slide into a starting job this year. Expect big things from him.

Best of the Rest:

1) Akeem Richmond, Rhode Island (44.8 %Min, 117.5 ORtg, 19.7 %Poss)

2) Jamel McLean, Xavier (59.2 %Min, 113.1 ORtg, 18.9 %Poss)

3) Will Martell, Rhode Island (57.4 %Min, 109.4 ORtg, 16.2 %Poss)

4) Gokhan Sirin, Charlotte (10.6 %Min, 103.3 ORtg, 22.4%Poss)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Atlantic Sun: 2010-11 Preview

The Teams

The Bruins were a young team last year that was supposed to be rebuilding. However, Belmont exceeded expectations and was the top team in the Atlantic Sun. Now everyone is returning except for Keaton Belcher. The Bruins are led by rising sophomore Ian Clark. Clark had an eFG% of 55.6 in his rookie year. He shot the ball over 40% from three and over 50% from two. Clark's achilles heel was a high turnover rate, but improvement in that area will make him one of the best options in the conference. Clark's supporting cast features two outstanding juniors. 6'9" Mick Hedgepeth can score with efficiency, get to the foul line, block shots, and rebound. The other junior is Drew Hanlen. He had a great sophomore season and distributed the ball well. Kerron Johnson and Scott Saunders are two more guys who should see an increase in minutes. Both struggled with efficiency on offense, but have the talent to be big time contributors for the Bruins. Belmont will certainly excel on defense. As long as they can keep their turnovers down (23.6% last season for 319th in the nation) their offense will also be near the top in the A-Sun.


Last year, Campbell finished 14-6 in conference largely due to defense. Now they have just four major players back from that campaign. All four are under 6'5". Junard Hartley was fourth in the nation in assist rate and and third in the nation in steals percentage. However, Hartley struggled shooting the basketball. Lorne Merthie is another defensive stopper with an outstanding ability to get steals. Merthie mad 69 threes last season on 41% shooting. Preston Dodson is the closest thing Campbell has returning that is a big man. Dodson is a decent rebounder and scorer. Campbell will have to look to newcomers for size. Among the newcomers is 6'8" transfer Keishawn Mayes. Mayes was named to the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference All-Rookie Team as a freshman at Maryland-Eastern Shore and should be a factor down low. Campbell will certainly be a different team this season, but if they can remain solid on defense they will be able to stay very competitive in the Atlantic Sun.

East Tennessee St.

ETSU had an inconsistent season that ended with an NCAA Tourney loss to Kentucky after winning six straight games. The team will be led by three seniors. Tommy Hubbard, Justin Tubbs, and Micah Williams all have fairly similar skill sets. None of them are particularly great three point shooters, but finish inside the arc well. All three take good care of the basketball, but don't have good assist rates. Hubbard played the most minutes last season, but only posted an eFG% of 46.2. However, Hubbard is a great rebounder for his size on both sides of the ball. The main threat inside for ETSU is Isiah Brown. Last year Brown shot the ball well and blocked shots. ETSU could still probably use a long range shooter, but this is pretty much the same team that went to the NCAA Tourney last year.

Florida Gulf Coast

The Eagles won just five conference game last year, but amazingly swept Belmont. 6'1" Reed Baker is still around for his senior year and will be the Eagles go to guy. Anthony Banks is also a very good low post option despite being undersized. Banks was 38th in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage. Last year the Eagles really struggled shooting and taking care of the ball on offense. They forced a lot of turnovers on defense, but didn't rebound or force missed shots. FGC should just be focused on getting better in what will again be a rebuilding year. The Eagles will again likely be towards the bottom of the totem pole in the A-Sun.


Ben Smith is a huge loss for the Dolphins. Smith played 93.7 percent of Jacksonville's minutes (third in the nation). He did so with high usage and great efficiency. Travis Cohn and Ayron Hardy will be trying to replace him this season. Cohn was a significant contributor last season, but had a bad turnover problem. Hardy was more of a role player, but had great efficiency in his role. Hardy was also a solid defender and accumulated a bunch of blocks and steals. Down low the Dolphins will be undersized. Jacksonville could have some trouble finishing at .500 in conference this season.

Kennesaw St.

The Owls were very streaky last year. They lost five conference games in a row, then won six in a row, then lost seven more in a row. Markeith Cummings freshman year was successful. The 6'7" Cummings had an ORtg of 104.1 and was used on 27.6% of possessions. The Owls have two other decent bigs down low. LeDaris Green and Matt Heramb make Kennesaw St. one of the bigger teams in conference. Last year Green was a very good rebounder and shotblocker. Both Green and Heramb shot too many threes for the Owls. The shot just 26% and 33% respectively from behind the arc. Kevin McConnell and Spencer Dixon are the best two options at guard for Kennesaw. Both had ORtg's just above 100 last season. The Owls will be competitive in the A-Sun if they can maintain some consistency.


The Bisons had a solid 14-6 season last year and have everyone back. Last year, however, the 14 conference wins were due to offense and some luck. Lipscomb had the best offense in the conference, but also one of the worst defenses. Adnan Hodzic will certainly get his fair share of publicity entering his final season and deservedly so. Hodzic was a very efficient and very high volume scorer. The 6'9" big man shot 60.4% from the floor, rebounded, drew fouls, and took care of the basketball. Fellow senior Josh Slater is nearly as important. Last year Slater had a phenomenal assist to turnover ratio and shot the ball at 37% from deep. It doesn't end with just those two. Jordan Burgason shot 44% from three last year. Brandon Brown and Michael Taylor both had ORtg's of 107.5. Lipscomb will potentially have one of the best offenses at the mid major level. Defense will prevent the Bisons from running away with the A-Sun. Unless drastic improvement can be made on the defensive side of the ball, Lipscomb should be behind Belmont and ETSU for conference supremacy.


Last year Mercer could score, but couldn't stop their opponents from scoring. This year they no longer have (arguably) their two best offensive players in James Florence and Daniel Emerson. They still have a good amount of offense left. Jeff Smith is an experienced guard and Brandon Moore should be in for a breakout season. 6'7" Brian Mills shot a ridiculous 68.3% from two and is back for another year. Basically, the Bears will still be a solid offensive team. If they can't improve on defense they will almost certainly be in for another average season in conference.

North Florida

The Ospreys did not have much offense last year. Only one player on the team, Jerron Granberry had an ORtg over 100. Turnovers were a big problem. Three key guys returning are Andy Diaz, Brad Haugabrook, and Matt Sauey. All three were used on a high percentage of possessions last season, but weren't efficient. Diaz and Sauey are both 6'7" with some potential. Bringing down their turnovers would be a big help for the Ospreys. North Florida will still be relatively young and will need to use this as a learning experience most likely.

South Carolina Upstate

USC Upstate is losing their two most used players from a 6-23 team. This, of course, is not good news for the Spartans. Last year they were led by 7'3" (not a typo) Nick Schneiders. The big man was a big time shot blocker and anchored a decent defensive team. With Schneiders gone the Spartans will presumably take a big step back on defense. Offensively, not one player for USC Upstate had an ORtg over 100. Coach Eddie Payne has eight new recruits coming in, but this year should be a big time rebuilding year for the Spartans.


The Stetson Hatters were really bad last year. Expectations have to be low again this season. However, Coach Derek Waugh may have the program on the right track via recruiting. Corey Walden, Luis Jacobo, and Steven Forbes are three high school recruits who will play in 2010-11. Additionally, Liberty transfer Chris Perez and Delaware transfer Adam Pegg will be ready to go for the Hatters in 2011-12. Stetson isn't close to competing in the A-Sun, but look to be on the right track.

The Players

Player of the Year: Adnan Hodzic, Lipscomb

The 6'9" junior can do it all for Lipscomb. He shoots well, draws fouls, rebounds the ball, takes care of the basketball. He was used on nearly 30% of Lipscomb's possessions and had an ORtg of 114.8. Expectations are high for the Bisons and Hodzic is the biggest reason why. Coach Scott Sanderson himself has said, "The message I sent [to the team] is that I hope their minds are refreshed and renewed and that they are ready to have a banner year." Hodzic has the skills to lead Lipscomb to that banner year.

Best of the Rest:

1) Josh Slater, Lipscomb

2)Markeith Cummings, Kennesaw St.

3) Ian Clark, Belmont

4) Justin Tubbs, ETSU

5) Anthony Banks, Florida Golf Coast

Breakout Player: Brandon Moore, Mercer

The 6'5" senior plays bigger than size for Mercer. He is a well above average offensive rebounder and shotblocker. He gets to the line very well and shot 56% from two. Moore even made nine of 18 threes last season. Turnovers are a weakness, but he should be able to improve in the area. With the graduation of James Florence and Daniel Emerson, Moore will become a much more featured player. As long as he can keep his efficiency up he will be one of the top players in the A-Sun.

Best of the Rest:

1) Brandon Brown, Lipscomb (43.8 %Min, 107.5 ORtg, 20.3 %Poss)

2) Tevin Galvin, Jacksonville (51.4 %Min, 101.6, 17.4 %Poss)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Atlantic Coast Conference: 2010-11 Preview

Boston College

Before last season, I talked to my friend who happens to be a BC fan. We talked about realistic expectations for BC. They had everyone baAlign Centerck except for standout guard Tyrese Rice. Interestingly enough, he told me he expected BC to take a step forward in 2009-10 while getting worse results. How does this make sense? Well, BC was coming off an odd season. They beat eventual national champions UNC and lost to Harvard. When the season was all said and done they collectively had gotten pretty lucky. Results were good, but they only ranked 69th in Ken Pomeroy's rankings. Well, said friend turned out to be completely right. BC saw modest improvements in the rankings (62nd overall), but finished the season 15-16. Back to present day. Joe Trapani, Corey Raji, and Reggie Jackson are all great pieces. The extremely efficient role player, Tyler Roche, is lost to graduation. Rakim Sanders has transferred to Fairfield, but may actually help BC's offensive efficiency. Depth and defense will be the problems for the Eagles. A tourney bid is unlikely, but the "big three" will make BC dangerous when on their game.


The Tigers will be a different team this season with the departures of Trevor Booker and Oliver Purnell. Demontez Stitt will lead a talented backcourt. Stitt, Tanner Smith, and Andre Young need to do a better job taking care of the basketball. Each player turned the ball over on over 22% of possessions last season. On the bright side, Stitt and Young both shot the ball really well last year. 6'8" Jerai Grant will provide solid efficiency, rebounding, and shot blocking for Clemson. Devin Booker may be the X Factor here. Booker showed promise in limited minutes last season and will be a big part of the ultimate fate of the Tigers.


Coach K's squad will once again be the team to beat in the ACC. The national champs are loaded once again with parts. Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith are the known quantities for the Blue Devils. Both will surely provide the team with superb offense. Kyrie Irving takes over for Jon Scheyer. Much has been made of Irving, and we have no evidence to disagree with the public sentiment. Miles Plumlee will presumably take over Zoubek's role. Plumlee may not approach Zoubek's offensive rebounding, but will be more than competent underneath. Seth Curry, Andre Dawkins, Ryan Kelly, Mason Plumlee, Tyler Thornton, and Josh Hairston will make the Blue Devils as deep as they come.

Florida St.

Last season, FSU was really, really good defensively and really not good offensively. In the end, it resulted in a first round exit to Gonzaga. Solomon Alabi and Ryan Reid are both gone. With these two out, FSU's interior defense will take a bit of a hit. Still, the Seminoles have competent replacements coming in. Xavier Gibson returns for the Seminoles and newcomers Okaro White (top 100 prospect), Jon Kreft, and Bernard James will provide an abundance of size. The development of Michael Snaer and Chris Singleton will be crucial for FSU. Both featured very inefficient offensive production last season. Other guards, Kitchen and Dulkys, provided much better efficiency albeit in a smaller offensive role. The Seminoles defense should keep them competitive alone, but improvement on offense would turn them into a legitimate contender in the ACC.

Georgia Tech

Paul Hewitt's club should be in for a rebuilding year this season with the losses of Lawal, Favors, Peacock, and Bell. Iman Shumpert will be the established go to guy for the Yellow Jackets, but needs to bring up his efficiency. Brian Oliver and Glen Rice both showed great signs last year to indicate they are ready to break out. The former shot 38% from three while the latter shot 47%. Still, the problem will be the frontcourt for GT. Kammeon Hosley, Daniel Miller, and Nate Hicks will form an extremely inexperienced frontcourt. The young Yellow Jackets will most likely be on the outside looking in at the NCAA Tourney, but gaining experience will be crucial down the road for a team with a fair amount of talent.


The Terps had the 5th offense in the nation last season. In fact, not one player on the team had an offensive rating below 100. Unfortunately for Maryland, they are losing three key starters. Vasquez, Milbourne, and Hayes all provided efficient offense with high usage. Sean Mosley and Jordan Williams will both see greatly increased roles. If both players can keep their efficiency at last years levels, they both are excellent breakout candidates. The supporting cast of Bowie, Tucker, Padgett, and Gregory are all efficient options. The Terrapins should remain efficient on offense if one or more of those four can step up. Six more recruits will also enter the mix for Gary Williams. Maryland could find themselves on the bubble, but have the pieces to get back to the NCAA Tourney in what should have been a rebuilding year.


The U had a tough conference season last year. The 4-12 last place finish was not indicative of Miami's true talent level. Dwayne Collins and James Dews are unfortunate losses, but talent is still around. Durand Scott had a solid freshman campaign, but also has plenty of room for improvement. Scott and Malcolm Grant will form a great backcourt for the Canes. Adrian Thomas' ORtg of 122 and 3P% of 42% make him the perfect role player on offense. 6'9" Reggie Johnson is a breakout candidate in the frontcourt. As a freshman he was extremely effective in limited minutes. Miami could be a big surprise in the ACC.

NC State

Team defense was a strength for the Wolfpack last year, but offensively they really struggled. Apart from go to guy Tracy Smith, NC State only has one player returning with and ORtg over 100 (Scott Wood). On the bright side, Sidney Lowe was able to land top recruit CJ Leslie. This team has gotten a lot of early hype, but I am taking a more cautious approach. The Wolfpack will be deep and have a solid distributor in point guard Javier Gonzalez, but a wait and see approach should be used for a team that has big expectations.

North Carolina

Many words have been written on UNC. Potential is the key for most of the Tar Heels. From a statistical standpoint, Tyler Zeller and Will Graves are Roy William's best offensive options. Zeller is one of the best big men in the ACC when healthy and Graves is a solid shooter who can take care of the ball. Harrison Barnes will improve UNC right away. The Heels have a solid foundation with those three. John Henson, Lesile McDonald, and Dexter Strickland are the unknown returners for UNC. All three had not so great freshman years, but have talent. Reggie Bullock and Kendall Marshall will enter with plenty of talent as well. Production will be needed from a couple of these young, talented players to return UNC into a conference contender once again.


UVA will probably once again be near the bottom in the ACC. Sylven Landesberg is now in the rear view mirror after getting kicked off the team towards the end of last season. Jeff Jones and his solid ORtg are also taking their talents elsewhere this season. Mike Scott should be the team leader underneath. He can rebound and score very well. Sammy Zeglinski and Mustapha Farrakhan both return and will need to make big strides for UVA to be competitive. Tony Bennett's first recruiting class will also be entering. UVA will most likely be fighting to get out of the ACC cellar this season.

Virginia Tech

VT did virtually everything well last season except shoot. Everyone is back this season, and shooting will probably still be the achilles heel. However, the Hokies are still a legitimate contender in the ACC. Heck, College Gameday even made the decision to visit for the Duke game. Malcolm Delaney is the real deal. He can get to the line really well and has a solid assist to turnover ratio. Still, he hasn't been able to shoot consistently (like most of the Hokies). Dorenzo Hudson is being acknowledged as one of the most underrated players in the conference, but he too has struggled shooting. In fact, Hudson did not break 30% from three last year despite taking 120 attempts. VT will be one of the top defensive teams in the conference again this season. Offensive consistency and shooting will be what prevents Tech from challenging Duke for conference supremacy.

Wake Forest

The Deamon Deacons will be a different team in Jeff Bzdelik's first season. The team could be led by two rising sophomores: Ari Stewart and C.J. Harris. Harris posted an impressive ORtg of 107.7 in his rookie campaign. He gets to the line well and is an excellent foul shooter. Stewart struggled last season, but still has potential. Tony Woods and Gary Clark were both also useful options in limited time last season. The real key for Wake will be the incoming recruits. ESPN ranks Bzdelik's class as 12th in the nation with four top 100 recruits. If the class is as good as advertised Wake Forest should be in line for another NCAA Tourney berth, but the margain for error is pretty slim.


(Note: Incoming freshman were not considered)

Player of the Year: Kyle Singler, Duke

Singler was used on a higher percentage of possessions last year than any of his other teammates. Many players have this distinction, but Singler is the only one who did it on the national champions. He also took full advantage of his opportunities. He shot the three ball well, got to the line, and took care of the basketball. The result was an ORtg of 116.2. The only flaw in Singler's game was shooting two's. He only shot 42% from inside the arc in 2009-10. In his freshman and sophomore years, that number was significantly hire. The two point shooting will almost certainly improve and Singler will be the best player on the best team in the ACC.

Best of the rest:

1) Malcolm Delaney, Virginia Tech

2) Nolan Smith, Duke

3) Tyler Zeller, UNC

4) Corey Raji, Boston College

5) Jordan Williams, Maryland

Breakout Player: Reggie Johnson, Miami

As a freshman, Johnson did hardly anything wrong in limited minutes. He shot over 50% from the floor, blocked shots, took care of the ball, rebounded on both sides of the floor, got to the charity stripe, and shot 78.5% from the line. This resulted in an ORtg of 122.4 while being used on 23.2 percent of possessions. Now Johnson will see regular playing time. With the increase it is unrealistic to expect Johnson to maintain this unbelievable efficiency, but he should be one of the top big men in the conference.

Best of the Rest:

1) Brian Oliver, Georgia Tech (2009-10 stats: 41.2 %Min, 20.1 %Poss, 105.7 ORtg)

2) Miles Plumlee, Duke (2009-10 stats: 40.9 %Min, 17.1 %Poss, 107.2 ORtg)

3) Sean Mosley, Maryland (2009-10 stats: 66.3 %Min, 18.7 %Poss, 116.6 ORtg)

4) Devin Booker, Clemson (2009-10 stats: 28.9 %Min, 20.7 %Poss, 100.1 ORtg)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

America East: 2010-2011 Preview

The Players
Player of the Year: John Holland, Boston University
Holland led the conference in points per game last year and earned a spot on the America East first time. He was obviously a big part of the offense for BU, but will carry an even bigger load with the graduation of Corey Lowe. Losing Lowe and his exceptional assist rate may hurt Holland. His decision making ability will be put to the test and could play on the ball much more. Holland's sparkling efficiency suggests he will be ready to step up to the test.
Best of the Rest:
  1. Gerald McLemore, Maine - McLemore was Maine's leading scorer last year as a sophomore. He took the most shots for the Bears and posted the best effective field goal percentage. However, he was pretty one dimensional. Shooting the ball at nearly 40% from three is nice, but we would like to see him improve in other areas entering his junior season.
  2. Joe Zeglinski, Hartford - Zeglinski was a top scorer in the conference last year. He emerged last season as the featured player, but as you might expect saw a drop in efficiency. Zeglinski does a great job taking care of the basketball, but like McLemore needs to expand his game.
  3. Evan Fjeld, Vermont - The big man did it all for the Catamounts in a somewhat limited role last year. He led the team in eFG%, took great care of the ball, rebounded well, and was a solid shot blocker. With Blakely and Joseph gone, Fjeld should be the big man on campus in Burlington.
  4. Bryan Dougher, Stony Brook - Dougher was a prolific three point shooter last season and will be counted on more with the departure of POY El-Amin. Dougher can take care of the ball and will almost certainly be an extremely efficient player again next season.
  5. Greer Wright, Binghamton - Wright was the clear go to guy for Binghamton last season. The 6'7" rising senior led the team in assist rate and getting to the line. He finished extremely well at the rim, but probably took a few two many threes (30.8%).
Breakout Player: Tommy Brenton, Stony Brook
Tommy Brenton was clearly a solid player for Stony Brook last year. It is probably a reach to make him the breakout player, but we did it anyway. Brenton was named to the America East All-Defensive Team. He was a monster on the boards and got to the line well. So how can he possibly be a breakout candidate? Usage. On offense, he simply was not a top option for Stony Brook. He was only used on 15.7% of possessions and took a shot on only 11.1% of possessions. If Brenton can increase his impact while staying steady, then he could reach Marqus Blakely levels in terms of production across the board.
Other Breakout Candidates:
  1. Ben Crenca, Vermont - The 6'10" freshman got very limited playing time for the Catamounts last season. The big man did post an ORtg of 106.4 and was a great rebounder and good shot blocker. He will need improvements, but he will be important for UVM this season.
  2. Mahamoud Jabbi, Binghamton - Jabbi was very similar to Crenca in terms of production last year, but with an even more polished offensive game. However, Jabbi saw a lot of minutes for the Bearcats and was unable to assert himself in the offense. Jabbi may not have great upside for a breakout candidate, but he is an efficient big man with little downside.
  3. Mike Black, Albany - The freshman guard was a big part of the Great Danes offense when in the game last season. Black's three point shooting and assist rate both look very promising. If he improve his ball control and two point shooting from his freshman year he could have a true breakout season for Albany.

The Teams


Will Harris was the best player for Coach Will Brown last season. His departure is unfortunate for the Danes, and it will be interesting to see who steps up. Tim Ambrose is back with his comprehensive but mildly inefficient play. Ambrose featured an excellent assist rate, but did not shoot the ball well or take great care of the basketball. Still, he is a very interesting piece to have given his ability to be a tremendous focal point in the offense. Mike Black and Logan Aronhalt both have potential for the Great Danes. Black featured an excellent assist rate and three point shooting. However, turnovers and two point shooting were weaknesses. Aronhalt took a plethora of shots when in the game last season. Results were not good, but the ability to be used on a high percentage of possessions is the first step in becoming a go to guy. Fran Urli and Billy Allen were both efficient role players last season and are looking to build. However, the Great Danes still have a long ways to go on offense and defense to get back to the Jamar Wilson days.

Key Recruits: Luke Devlin (6'8") "He has a tremendous skill set for a big man and likes to play physical," [Coach Will] Brown said. "He has range to the three-point arc and is very clever in the low post. He possesses a very strong feel for the game, plus can pass the ball."

Binghamton has everyone back from a surprisingly decent offensive team. 1.01 points per possession in confernece play was not bad, but defensively they struggled giving up 1.05 PPP. Greer Wright was the clear go to guy for Binghamton. The 6'7" rising senior led the team in assist rate and getting to the line. He finished extremely well at the rim, but probably took a few two many threes (30.8%). He will certainly be the player with the biggest impact this season. Kyrie Sutton is a young player with high volume and low efficiency on offense. Sutton's rebounding and shotblocking presence alone makes him a useful piece. He has some severe warts, but is oozing with potential. Mahamoud Jabbi is a great mid major big man. He rebounds, takes care of the ball, and blocks shots. A 113.1 ORtg and solid defense makes him an excellent low post threat. Moussa Camara and Umur Peten were the other two players on Binghamton with an ORtg over 100.

Key Recruits: Rob Mansell and KJ Brown per RecruitRecon

Boston University

B.U. will be undergoing a makeover this season. John Holland is a very good start. Our pick for Player of the Year will be in for a nice season. Jake O'Brien is the other useful offensive piece back. At 6'8" he can step out and hit the three and should be ready to take a larger part. The only other (significant) guy back is Jeff Pelage. He is a great rebounder and shot blocker, but badly inefficient on offense. These three are not a bad start, but obviously B.U. will need to get production from incoming recruits. They have seven guys coming in per ESPN. Head coach Pat Chambers has said here, "We're really fired up about this year's incoming freshmen class. They have big shoes to fill with what the nine seniors accomplished last season, but I know they will continue to carry the torch and take pride in BU basketball."

Key Recruits: (see above)


Hartford was just another young team in the America East. Everyone is back for the Hawks, but they will need major improvements. Neither offense nor defense were good for Hartford. Joe Ziglinski is a solid foundation, but the players around him need to step up. Anthony Minor and Kevin Estes were the only two players with ORtg's above 100, but neither got many minutes. Andres Torres (no, not the baseball player) is an interesting piece. He hesitantly shot the ball at a high percentage and had a great assist rate. Turnovers were his main problem. He provides some upside for the Hawks. Without dramatic improvemnt it should be much of the same for Hartford.

Key Recruits: Mustafa Jones


Maine is, you guessed it, another young America East team. Only one player is lost from last year from graduation. Maine should once again be in the upper half of the conference due to good, solid defense. On offense, Maine will be led by Gerald McLemore. Murphy Burnatowski will be looking to build on a solid freshman year. At 6'7" he was a presence on defense. Improvement on offense by Burnatowski would be great for a Maine team looking for scorers. Shooting will continue to be a problem. McLemore was the only player last year with an eFG% over 50%. However, defense is the key for the Bears. Stony Brook, B.U., and Vermont are all losing key guys. Slight improvement from Maine could put them in the hunt for an America East Title.

Key Recruits: Alasdair Fraser


Yet another team with just one senior gone from last year. Unfortunately, UMBC doesn't have much to build on from last year. Their defense was awful and their offense was decent at best. Shooting last year was a big problem for UMBC and should continue to be. Chris De La Rosa, the Siena transfer, will be entering his second season with the program. He distributes the ball extremely well, but does not shoot the ball well enough. With better shooting, De La Rosa could be a top point guard in the America East. It sure does look like another sub par season could be in store for UMBC. (Edit: It has been brought to our attention that former GW member Travis King will use his final year of eligibility at UMBC this season. Thanks neilballofrubber.)

Key Recruits: Chase Plummer and Matt Conway

New Hampshire
New Hampshire is another young team that can't shoot. Unlike most of the bottom teams from last year, New Hampshire played solid team defense. They have a year to get better and something to build on. Alvin Abreu is their go to guy. His wart, like the rest of the team, is shooting. New Hampshire, in fact, did not have a single player with an eFG% over 50%. Russell Graham is coming off a season where he was 5th in the nation in assist rate. His 33.5 eFG% negates the great job he does distributing. The good news for New Hampshire is the defense should be there again. It is hard to place who is going to step up on offense, but New Hampshire looks like they will be an average team in conference.
Key Recruits: Jordan Bronner, Scott Morris, and DeAndre Buckley
Stony Brook
One would figure Stony Brook would be taking a step back after the graduation of Muhammad El-Amin. However, Stony Brook has the parts to stay very competitive in conference. Chris Martin should be used on many possessions, but the Seawolves have a three head monster to go along with Martin's high usage. Bryan Dougher, as described above, will be a top shooter and scorer. Brenton will also be a solid offensive contributor. On defense, Brenton and Joyner are both active. The two are also solid offensive and defensive rebounders. The seawolves have the pieces to stay at the top of the conference. If everything goes according to plan, then Stony Brook should be competing for a second conference title in as many years.
Key Recruits: David Coley, Anthony Jackson, Al Rapier
The America East Conference Champions have a lot to replace coming into this season. Evan Fjeld should be the go to guy for the Catamounts. I already discussed above the potential of Ben Crenca. Other than that, UVM mainly has a bunch of role players who will need to adjust to a new role. It is hard to picture Vermont not taking a step back. Vermont has been the class of the America East in recent years, but it seems unlikely another trip to the NCAA Tournament is in store for the squad from Burlington.
Key Recruits: Josh Elbaum, Brian Voelkel, Sandro Carissimo, and Ryan McKeaney