Thursday, November 25, 2010
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
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
Georgetown @ Old Dominion
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
Wofford @ Minnesota
Thursday, November 4, 2010
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
- (Potential Tournament Game) @ Tennessee - NIT Season Tip-Off
- Sat, Dec 11 @ Oklahoma State
- Sat, Feb 26 (Regular Season Finale) vs. Wichita State
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
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
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 umhoops.com 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
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
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.
Sunday, September 5, 2010
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...
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...
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.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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 back 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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%).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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
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