Monthly Archives: May 2010

Uconn violations

The Uconn basketball program has been hit with eight violations that have forced assistant, Patrick Sellers and director of basketball operations, Beau Archibald have now resigned.

According to an official release by the athletic department..

The notice contains eight allegations of violation of NCAA Bylaws including:
-Impermissible phone calls and text messages to prospective student-athletes;
-Impermissible benefits provided to a prospective student-athlete by a representative of the institution’s athletic interests;
-Impermissible benefit to a prospective student-athlete by a member of the basketball staff;
-Allegations against two (2) members of the basketball staff for providing false and misleading information to the NCAA Enforcement staff and to the institution;
-Providing impermissible complimentary admissions or discretionary tickets;
-A failure by the head men’s basketball coach to promote an atmosphere of compliance in the men’s basketball program and a failure to adequately monitor the program to ensure compliance with NCAA legislation regarding telephone calls, text messages and benefits provided by a representative of the institution’s athletic interests;
-A failure by the institution to adequately monitor the conduct and administration of the men’s basketball staff in the areas of: telephone records, representatives of the institution’s athletics interests; and, complimentary admissions or discretionary tickets.

In my opinion, it’s time for Jim Calhoun to take responsibility. But that will never happen.

Early candidates for the open assistant spot are Kevin Ollie and Donyell Marshall.

Baylor and their zone

When Baylor and Scott Drew went exclusively to their extended 2-3 zone late in the 2008-2009 during the Big 12 tournament, the Bears took off going 7-2 in the Big 12 tournament and NIT combined.

They continued the zone this year and saw great success. My question was how much of a factor was their success defensively? The Bears boasted the #3 offensive efficiency in the country. You don’t need a great defense paired with that to become a Top 10.

Was the switch to the zone the reason behind hitting their stride or was it merely a coincidence with the development of Udoh, Dunn, Carter, Acy and more? It is tough to say.

But where I did finally take issue with the zone was against Duke. Baylor was the more athletic, quicker and stronger team and evened the playing field in the zone. More so, Duke was an elite offensive rebounding team and matched against a zone, a good offensive rebounding team will almost always excel. Had Baylor pressured Duke, and sped up the game, I believe they’re in the Final 4. But it never happened and Nolan Smith and Duke eventually rebounded and shot Baylor out of it.

This isn’t to say Baylor should go away from the zone. They still will have grat length this year. And also great athleticism, which I would like to see employed in a man to man defense.

Coaches on the Rise: Cliff Warren

Unlike last year, I’ll leave out rankings for coaches as it just is an ever changing matter of opinion. So we’ll start a new installment of coaches rising up the ranks and some coaches who should be head coaches at a major program already.

First up..

Cliff Warren, Jacksonville

Warren was recently a candidate at Siena before the administration opted to remain within the program and hire Mitch Buonaguro. Warren was an assistant at Siena under Paul Hewitt from 1997-2000 and followed Hewitt to Georgia Tech where he was an integral part of Georgia Tech’s success until leaving to takeover the Jacksonville job in 2005. Warren started his career as an assistant at Mt. St. Mary’s as he is a Maryland native and MSM alum. At age 42, Warren is still in his prime and should be a candidate for any openings on the east coast at a level of a Siena or better.

With familiarity with the Siena program I was aware of who Warren was and later became reintroduced with a Jacksonville/Georgetown match up in the winter of 2007. It was clear Warren had come a long way with the Dolphins program only two years removed from a 1-26 win season. Warren has proved he can add talent and also coach it up.

His first year at Jacksonville he endured the one win season, and since that point, steady progress has been made:

2005–2006 Jacksonville 1-26 1-19 11th
2006–2007 Jacksonville 15-14 11-7 T-3rd
2007–2008 Jacksonville 18-13 12-4 2nd
2008–2009 Jacksonville 18-13 15-5 1st NIT 1st Round
2009-2010 Jacksonville 20-13 14-6 T-1st NIT 2nd Round

Warren has had success with a defensive lead unit in 2010 as well as the offense carrying the load in 2009. Both years resulted in NIT births and to me, that shows an ability to adapt and play different styles. Since Warren has taken over, the program has has also played at different paces, but one constant has shown, that being forcing turnovers.

While it is my belief he is deserving of a job right now, he appears content for the time being at Jacksonville and the administration is absolutely behind him.

As quoted in the Florida Times Union..

“If somebody wants to buy [Warren] out of his contract, they’re going to have to pay us several hundred thousand dollars,” Alan Verlander (AD) said. “I’m not losing him to just anybody.”

“Why do I need to go anywhere?” Warren said. “If you have 100 percent backing of your administration, that’s a secure feeling as a coach. I’m thankful. I’ve got it good here.”

With three starters returning and all of the bench, Warren should continue his progress and find his next stepping stone rather soon.

Chasson Randle Adds 3

Stud mid west Pg, Chasson Randle has added three power programs to his school list.

Duke, Kansas and Georgetown now enter the race to get a look at the top 40 prospect. Randle plans to visit Duke soon. The rest of school list included Uconn, Florida State, Miami to go along with nearly the entire Big 10.

By the numbers: Who underachieved?

Using kenpom as the reference point, we’ll look at what teams under performed in the W-L categories and could be primed for an improvement this coming year..

To show an example a group of teams that fit this criteria in 2008-2009 were:
http://kenpom.com/rate.php?y=2009
West Virginia, Georgetown, Texas and Wisconsin. Be it a lack of chemistry or a lack of luck, they’re wins and losses did equate to as good of an on court performance would have suggested. They all responded with better performances in the standings in 2010. By using numbers to suggest who can bounce back, the amount of returning players is important, something all of the above named teams had a solid amount of. Which is why a team like Cal had better numbers than W’s and L’s but won’t be poised on improvement with their three best players moving on.

First up,

Minnesota:

http://kenpom.com/team.php?team=Minnesota

Minnesota ended the regular season with an underwhelming 18-12 record and it took a strong Big 10 tournament with a run to the final to get into the NCAA Tournament which resulted in a first round loss to Xavier. The Gophers will return their top leading players in minutes; Lawrence Westbrook and Damian Johnson. However there is room for optimism. They return seven scholarship players that logged extended minutes.

Minnesota proved to be a balanced team ranking 29th in offensive efficiency and 40th in defensive efficiency nationally. With Ralph Sampson JR and Colton Iverson returning up front the defense should remain strong even with their best defender (Johnson) gone. What sticks out is there was nothing Minnesota was terrible at. They were elite in two categories, one being shooting from deep, raking 11th nationally in 3 point efficiency. Returning are Blake Hoffarber, Devoe Jospeh, Paul Carter and Al Nolen. All four shot 39% or better. With that outside shooting coupled with Iverson and Sampson on the interior, the offense should make strides. The other, was blocking shots. And again with Iverson and Sampson back that will remain.

If the Gophers can do what they’re capable of with their size, which is rebounding the ball better (middle of the road offensively and defensively), they are capable of being a Top 20 team according to Kenpom and also likely be that caliber of team on the floor this season.

Herb Pope expected to return next season

According to Adam Zagoria, Seton Hall big man Herb Pope will be able to return to the court next year after collapsing after a workout this spring.

Seton Hall sophomore forward Herb Pope expects to play for the Pirates next season after collapsing April 30 during a workout.

“He was discharged [from St. Barnabas Medical Center],” said a source with direct knowledge who requested anonymity. “He is looking forward to getting back on the court to train. He will be playing for Seton Hall basketball next season.”

Pope averaged 11 and 11 last season with 2 blocks a game, which will automatically make him one of the better big men in the Big East this coming season.

It also makes Seton Hall a legit player in the conference under first year coach Kevin Willard. Jeff Robinson and Jeremy Hazzel also return along with Jordan Theodore and Keon Lawrence to form a solid nucleus.

Bo Spencer ineligible for the fall semester

LSU’s leading returning scorer and point guard, Bo Spencer has been ruled ineligible for the fall semester due to academics.

With the loss of 5th year senior, Tasmin Mitchell the coming season was going to be rough for the Tigers before this loss. Now, only one player, forward Storm Warren will take the floor having averaged over 5 points a game.

What this will create is an early opportunity for both Andre Stringer and KC Ross Miller, two incoming freshmen point guards. I would look for Stringer to gain the starting job and be there until the spring semester gets underway.

Calipari and LeBron together? Doubtful

Last weeks rumor of a potential package deal of John Calipari and LeBron James would make sense on the surface, as their go between is World Wide Wes, who now is becoming an agent for NBA coaches and has led to a friendship between LeBron and Coach Cal. With openings in Chicago and New Jersey it seems like a potential chance Cal bolts back to the NBA after one season, but I’m not buying it..

- I actually believe this is Cal’s last stop. Kentucky he has said over and over again is it for him, and why shouldn’t it be? He failed in the NBA and Kentucky can be argued as the premier job in college basketball.

- Talent at Kentucky. He has the best or at worst, second best class in the country on board this season and already the top two players in the 2011 class on board. Why leave that behind?

- It can’t be money, he’ll always be paid well and given job security at Kentucky as long as he wins.

- Does LeBron actually want John Calipari as his coach? I’m doubtful of this. He at this stage of his career wants to win and can’t afford to have a friend coaching him, he needs someone to push him.

So why the rumors? Why not?

It’s a subject nobody wants to speak on, mostly because nobody knows exactly what World Wide Wes does or how Cal gets his players. Do I think Cal has played dirty before? Yeah and there is enough supporting evidence out there to show it, even if he hasn’t taken the fall.

But now? No, I don’t buy it and fans of other programs just like to throw it out there that he’s cheating and always will be. Would he really be that bold knowing the NCAA is breathing down his neck in the spot he is in now? Tough to say, but he has also branched out and recruited kids that if ended up at any school but with a head coach of John Calipari, nobody would think twice about it. Knight and Jones are solid kids who value education. Why was there a lull in Kentucky’s recruiting earlier this year? Who knows, perhaps it’s because he has to play by the rules now. No gray areas, no shady dealings, no WWW. Is the Enes Kanter situation somewhat shady? Perhaps, but was it when he was committed to UW? I didn’t hear that.

So back to the topic at hand, if the best player in the world is perceived to have interest in being coached by John Calipari, why shouldn’t an 18 year old trying to get to the NBA? Think that’s not a nice recruiting pitch for Cal to use now? What about LeBron showing up at UK games? Drake traveling the country with the team? Think that resonates with high school kids a little bit? How are these appearances orchestrated? I have no idea, but they’ll work and I’m sure they’ve already worked to Kentucky’s benefit to an extent.

What does LeBron get out of this favor? His marketing firm is in the business of attracting young clientele, the best of the best in college basketball. Who is going to be possessing this talent? Calipari and Kentucky. More press, more notoriety, more players. While John Wall may have gone opposite and signed with Dan Fegan, but down the road with this friendship, we’ll see it come to fruition.

So, Terrence Jones…and what it means…

Terrence Jones changed his mind (which he has every right to do so) and now will attend Kentucky.

Jones has faced criticism for this and I only take issue with having a press conference to announce originally. If he truly was unsure, why rush it? (which he said he didn’t do, but well, he changed his mind, so I’m assuming he did rush). In the end, he’s a kid that had a very important decision to make. He changed his mind. It happens.

Now as far as on the court, it drastically changes the fortunes of Kentucky and Washington and maybe the Pac 10 and SEC titles next season.

For Kentucky:

It gives Calipari another star studded class and could likely start four freshmen this coming year. It also gives UK another much needed forward, even though Jones may be a hybrid four, he is 6’8 and can help out on the glass and with interior defense and rebounding. UK will be able to rotate a trio of; Jones, Kanter and Vargas, which is a much better scenario then they were faced with two days ago.

It likely makes UK the odds on favorite now ahead of Florida to win the SEC. However, this class is not last years class, at least in terms of star power. Could anyone envision Knight and Kanter going in the Top 5 next season? Possibly, but it’s doubtful. And I don’t expect Doron Lamb to be a first round talent as Bledsoe was or for Stacey Poole to go from the bench to the lottery as Daniel Orton might. It might be a better class down the road as I would bet 2 out of the 4 stay for more than one season.

For Washington:

It’s a killer. It has to be incredibly tough for Lorenzo Romar to invest so much time in a recruit, have him commit and then change his mind in the 11th hour. The Huskies now become rather thin up front and will have to rely heavily on their group of guards (Gaddy, Thomas, Ross and Overton). It also creates a gaping void that Pondexter left behind at the 4 spot. It may knock UW down into the 20-25 range, if not out of the Top 25 altogether.

Post Deadline Top 25

Freshmen noted by italics.


1. Duke


Losses:
Brian Zoubek, Lance Thomas, Jon Scheyer

Projected Lineup:
Kyrie Irving
Nolan Smith
Kyle Singler
Mason Plumlee
Miles Plumlee

No sense in going against the grain here. I doubted them all year and they just kept on winning. Smith and Singler give them two viable All American candidates and the praise for Irving appears to be warranted. Their recent weakness over the years, their big men, actually could prove to be somewhat of an advantage this year as there are virtually no big men in college basketball after everyone declared for the draft. The only concern for Duke is the depth of the post position. Singler likely will have to log a lot of minutes at the 4 spot, which made his return a curious one to me. The back court is loaded and that would probably push Singler over even if they had depth up front. I see an 8 man rotation with Hairston, curry and Dawkins making up the bench.

Bench: Josh Hairston, Seth Curry, Andre Dawkins, Ryan Kelly, Tyler Thornton, Carrick Felix.


2. Michigan State

Losses: Raymar Morgan

Projected Lineup:
Kalin Lucas
Chris Allen
Durrell Summers
Draymond Green
Delvon Roe

Bench: Adreian Payne, Keith Appling, Korie Lucious, Derrick Nix, Austin Thornton, Garrick Sherman, Russell Byrd, Alex Gauna

This is, to me, the most impressive and complete roster in the country. The guards are elite and plentiful, up front you have one of the smartest, toughest and ballsiest players in Draymond Green. You hope Roe can be healthy and that Adreian Payne can come along strongly, which given Izzo’s ability to get the most of his team in the rebounding department, Payne will contribute in that area immediately. They have a great coach and the kids have been to the big stage. This squad is deep, talented, tough, with shot makers.


3. Purdue

Losses: Keaton Grant, Chris Kramer.

Projected Lineup:
Lewis Jackson
E’Twaun Moore
Kelsey Barlow
Robbie Hummel
JaJuan Johnson

Bench: DJ Byrd, Patrick Bade, Ryne Smith, John Hart, Terone Johnson, Anthony Johnson, Donnie Hale, Travis Carroll

I’m not sure there is a better team at the top than this Purdue team. Moore, Hummel and Johnson all could vie for All American honors if they weren’t all on the same team. Hummel, in my opinion has as good a shot as anyone in the country to win POY. This team was playing great and peaking at the right time before he went down. The concerns I have would be the quality of depth on the roster. The bodies are there, but what do they offer? I will give Painter credit for playing the younger guys last year so they will be better equipped to offer production this year. I think they are missing the pure talent Duke and MSU possess but the top of the roster will play with anyone.


4. Villanova

Losses: Scottie Reynolds, Reggie Redding

Projected Lineup:
Maalik Wayns
Corey Fisher
Corey Stokes
Antonio Pena
Mouph Yarou

Bench: Dom Cheek, Javaughn Pinkston, James Bell, Isiah Armwood, Taylor King, Maurice Sutton

I will be interested to see what Jay Wright does with the lineup. Last year he went away from playing small and tried to force Yarou into the lineup. I do not like Villanova playing two bigs together when they such good guards. In particular when they have shown the ability in the past to play bigger than their size. I think you could potentially see Cheek be inserted for Stokes and Pinkston/Armwood for Pena to create more match up problems. Perhaps the two bigs (Pena and Yarou) should be split and that will make for less reliance on King or Sutton. Villanova has to defend, they struggled defensively last year and relied on holding and grabbing to ugly the game up as games turned into wars of attrition. You can’t win at an elite level playing that way. If they defend, it’s a top team in the country and tops in the Big East.


5. Kansas State

Losses: Denis Clemente, Luis Colon, Chris Merriweather

Projected Lineup:
Jacob Pullen
Dominique Sutton
Jamar Samuels
Wally Judge
Curtis Kelly

Bench: Shane Southwell, Martavious Irving, Will Spradling, Rodney McGruder, Jordan Henriquez Roberts

First without looking at things closely, I felt this was a team that was a Top 5 lock. Upon further review, I became a little less optimistic. The Clemente loss is a big one, he was a primary ball handler and shot maker. Dominique Sutton is a great defender and glue guy but offers little offensively. One of the guards off the bench (Southwell, McGruder, Spradling) is going to have to provide an offensive punch to go next to Pullen. I would make Southwell the odds on favorite. The reason why K State is here is they play harder than anyone in the country and the front court is loaded. Samuels, Judge and Kelly is as good of a front line as you can find.


6. Pittsburgh

Losses: Jermaine Dixon, Chase Adams

Projected Lineup:
Ashton Gibbs
Brad Wanamaker
Gilbert Brown
Nasir Robinson
Gary McGhee

Bench: Dante Taylor, Travon Woodall, JJ Moore, Cameron Wright, Isaiah Epps, Lamar Patterson, JJ Richardson, Dwight Miller, Talib Zanna

Pitt’s greatest strength with this roster is continuity. I’m just not sure how much overall talent is on the roster and if that makes their ceiling a little bit limited when out of the Big East. They are likely the only team in this Top 10 without a sure fire NBA player. But to Jamie Dixon’s credit his teams just win, and win in conference. Gibbs and Wanamaker form a very nice back court with shot making and play making ability. The X factor on this team is Gilbert Brown. The most talented player on the team but also the most inconsistent. Some nights you feel you’re watching an NBA swing man, others, you’re watching a middle of the road Big East forward. Where Pitt goes will ultimately fall onto the talented pieces of the roster; Brown, Taylor and freshmen JJ Moore. They offer the greatest potential to get Pitt over the hump and into a Final 4.


7. Ohio State

Losses: Evan Turner, Jeremie Simmons, PJ Hill

Projected Lineup:
David Lighty
Jon Diebler
William Buford
Jared Sullinger
Dallas Lauderdale

Bench: Kyle Madsen, DeShaun Thomas, JD Weatherspoon, Aaron Craft, Jordan Sibert, Lenzelle Smith

Another year, another year with point guard concerns. Unfortunately, for Thad Matta there is no Evan Turner hanging around for another year. Here is my concern; even if one of the freshmen guards prove capable, and that’s a big if..who do you sit? Buford is playing 30+, same with Diebler and Lighty is a lock for those minutes at well. So do you try to go small and leave out your best defender in Laurderdale? I doubt it. Ohio State is going to be as good as Lighty, Buford and Diebler can be for each other. They have to make plays, they can’t rely on Turner to open things up for them this year. It will be an interesting story line to follow on the court next season. Why they are here, is that they are uber talented and have great size.


8. Baylor

Losses: Ekpe Udoh, Tweety Carter, Josh Lomers

Projected Lineup:
AJ Walton
Lace Dunn
Anthony Jones
Perry Jones
Quincy Acy

Bench: Nolan Dennis, Fred Ellis, Stargel Love, Bakari Turner

At this stage the teams start to distance themselves into tiers. Baylor will once again be a talented team but Udoh and Carter are two big missing parts at two critical positions on the floor. Lace Dunn can challenge not only for B12 POY but also on the National level. The bench concerns me, there isn’t much depth nor size. We may see Anthony Jones move into a 6th man role. But this again, is a big, and supremely athletic team. I have faith in AJ Walton and believe he is solid, the biggest question will be how good is Perry Jones? If he fulfills his potential it could be an Elite 8 caliber team again.


9. Illinois

Losses: Dominique Keller

Projected Lineup:
Demetri McCamey
DJ Richardson
Mike Davis
Bill Cole
Mike Tisdale

Bench: Brandon Paul, Myers Leonard, Jereme Richmond, Crandall Head, Tyler Griffey, Jeff Jordan

Bruce Weber will have no excuses to not get this team into the tournament. The Illini have size, depth, guards, scorers and athleticism. And a nice balance of experience and quality freshmen to boot. It may be beneficial if McCamey can be moved off the ball more this season as he struggles with consistency at that spot. Richardson and Paul with another year should offer an increase in production and Mike Davis is a versatile, athletic player on both ends. A very solid and balanced freshmen class adds great depth.


10. Kansas

Losses: Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich, Xavier Henry

Projected Lineup:

Tyshawn Taylor
Josh Selby
Brady Morningstar
Marcus Morris
Markief Morris

Bench: Thomas Robinson, Elijah Johnson, Tyrel Reed, Jeff Withey, Mario Little, Royce Woolridge

Perhaps this is a bit too high, but I’m going off the strength of Bill Self here. He is proving to be as good of a winner in the regular season as any coach in America. The addition of Josh Selby certainly helped out in the late singing period after KU lost their trio to the NBA. Selby and Taylor with Johnson forms a solid back court with a lot of ability. With increased roles on this team that consistency might be an issue for the Jayhawks early on as they sort out roles. The two glue guys on team will be Morningstar and Marcus Morris to help things stay intact and keep KU rolling. Thomas Robinson is one to watch off the bench.


11. Florida

Losses: Ray Shipman, Dan Werner

Projected Lineup:
Erving Walker
Kenny Boynton
Chandler Parsons
Alex Tyus
Vernon Macklin

Bench: Erik Murphy, Patric Young, Casey Prather, Will Yeguette, Cody Larson, Scottie Wilbekin

All five starters return for Billy Donovan which should offer him a little breathing room come selection Sunday this year. I would like to see Chandler Parsons take on more of a role on this team from Boynton and Walker, two guards who are not at all shy. Parsons had made steady improvement each year and became clutch for the Gators on different occasions. The front court of Tyus and Macklin leaves a little to be desired, it’s not the toughest and most physical duo. The Gators have added solid depth off the bench with Prather and Young to go with sophomore Erik Murphy. You would imagine that will be their 8 man rotation. If Boynton and Walker can find more efficiency in their games, this is a team very capable of winning the SEC.


12. Gonzaga

Losses: Matt Bouldin, Will Foster

Projected Lineup:
Demetri Goodson
Steven Gray
Bol Kong
Elias Harris
Robert Sacre

Bench:
Kelly Olynyk, Mangisto Arop, Grant Gibbs, GJ Vilarino, Keegan Hyland

I’m still waiting for Steven Gray to break out and be a great mid major player. How his shooting numbers have dipped each year is a mystery to me. His shot looks as pure as anyone’s. The front court will be a strength with Harris, a future pro, and Sacre, who can at times look like a future pro, there aren’t many big man with his size and strength left around this year. It will be another year atop the WCC for the Zags but do they finally break through in March? Not sure the roster quite sets up for it.


13. Temple

Losses: Ryan Brooks, Luis Guzman

Projected Lineup:
Juan Fernandez
Ramone Moore
Rahlir Jefferson
Lavoy Allen
Michael Eric

Bench: Craig Williams, TJ DiLeo, Scootie Randall, Aaron Brown, Anthony Lee

Most people will look at the loss of leading scorer Ryan Brooks at more than what it is. To be honest, Ramone Moore may just be the more talented player and he can fill it up. Juan Fernandez, his back court partner really played strong last season and should continue to improve. The strength of Temple lies within coach Fran Dunphy, their team defense and rebounding. The latter two brought by Lavoy Allen and Michael Eric. Allen, is back from testing the NBA waters and should be the favorite to win A10 POY. Aaron Brown is a solid incoming freshmen that adds versatility to the back court.


14. UNLV

Losses: Matt Shaw, Darris Santee, Steve Jones

Projected Lineup:
Oscar Belfield
Derrick Jasper
Tre’Von Willis
Chase Stanback
Brice Massamba

Bench: Anthony Marshall, Kendall Wallace, Justin Hawkins, Henry Buckley

There is a ton of perimeter talent here at Lon Kruger’s disposal. This is the same UNLV team that narrowly lost to Northern Iowa in the NCAA Tournament and they are poised to return. The loss of Matt Shaw to a failed drug test is a big blow up front but if Brice Massamba can continue to improve and be a presence, the guards should carry this team a long way. Tre’Von Willis is a stud and top player in the MWC and a match up nightmare for opposing guards. Derrick Jasper is a do it all wing that was enjoying a solid year until he went down. Belfield and Wallace both can dial it up from long range. The Rebels should be the favorite to win the MWC and a threat to break into the Sweet 16.


15. Virginia Tech

Losses: Lewis Witcher

Projected Lineup:
Malcolm Delaney
Dorenzo Hudson
Terrell Bell
Victor Davila
Jeff Allen

Bench: Erick Green, JT Thompson, Benn Boggs, Manny Atkins, Cadarian Raines, Tyrone Garland, Jarell Eddie

Like Billy Donovan, all five starters return for Seth Greenberg and that should make Greenberg’s bubble nightmares disappear. Delaney returns as one of the top players in the ACC, and should challenge for conference POY honors. Dorenzo Hudson offers another big time scoring option in the back court. A lot of Va Tech’s success this season will depend on Jeff Allen. The big man has regressed this past season and has not improved on an impressive freshmen campaign in 2007-2008. For the Hokies to break into the tournament and hang around for the weekend, the front court will have to complement the back court much better than this past season.


16. Georgetown

Losses: Greg Monroe

Projected Lineup:
Chris Wright
Jason Clark
Austin Freeman
Nate Lubick
Julian Vaughn

Bench: Hollis Thompson, Jerrelle Benimon, Vee Sanford, Henry Sims, Markel Starks, Aaron Bowen, Moses Abraham

The loss of Greg Monroe to the NBA, dropped Georgetown from likely a top 5 lock back into this area. There will be no doubt this year on whose team it is and that belongs to Chris Wright and Austin Freeman. It will be interesting to see how JTIII’s offense continues to evolve and spread into the open floor without a top big man for the first time in his tenure. The trio of Wright, Freeman and Clark should keep them towards the top of the Big East and from there, the growth will fall on the shoulders of Julian Vaughn, freshmen Nate Lubick and Henry Sims. For the first time in over two years, the Hoyas will not be short on bodies with four incoming top 150 players to go along with 8 scholarship players returning.


17. Washington

Losses: Quincy Pondexter, Elston Turner

Projected Lineup:
Abdul Gaddy
Isaiah Thomas
Terrence Ross
Terrence Jones

Matthew Bryan-Amaning

Bench: Venoy Overton, Justin Holiday, Tyrese Breshers, Scott Suggs, Darnell Gant, Desmond Simmons, Aziz Ndiaye

This is under the assumption that Terrence Jones will stick with his pledge to the Huskies. If he does, it is a deep, talented team. Abdul Gaddy had a disappointing freshmen year and he has to improve and do a better job running the show for the Huskies to improve on last years late run. They should have little trouble scoring with Thomas, Ross and Jones being the beneficiaries of Gaddy’s distribution. UW’s big man started to come along late last year and this year they will have increased depth. Nobody will replace Quincy Pondexter’s shot making from last season but it should prove to be a better team.


18. North Carolina

Losses: Ed Davis, Deon Thompson, Travis Wear, David Wear, Marcus Ginyard

Projected Lineup:
Larry Drew
Drexter Strickland
Harrison Barnes
John Henson
Tyler Zeller

Bench: Reggie Bullock, Kendall Marshall, Leslie McDonald, Will Graves

Not quite as high on the Tar Heel’s as others. I think it’s a bit optimistic to just believe they will be ‘back.’ Kind of like they were just going to reload last season. There are big question marks and they surround the bigs. Only Henson and Zeller are on the roster right now, while they are expected to add another (Justin Knox, Kadeem Jack) it still will be an area of concern. The guards are talented and there are many, but the Carolina offense struggled greatly at times last year and Larry Drew was the focal point of most criticism. I do not believe Kendall Marshall is ready to play many minutes next year so Drew again will be counted on. Carolina will be more athletic and more talented with Dexter Stricland in an increased role and with the additions of Harrison Barnes and Reggie Bullock. UNC will be back, and they absolutely will be better, but I don’t think it’s a given they reemerge as a Top 15 team.


19. Missouri

Losses: JT Tiller, Zaire Taylor, Keith Ramsey

Projected Lineup:
Phil Pressey
Marcus Denmon
Kim English
Justin Safford
Laurence Bowers

Bench: Tony Mitchell, Michael Dixon, Steve Moore, Rickey Kreklow, Kadeem Green, Ricardo Ratliffe, Matt Pressey

Mike Anderson will have a nice blend of experience and youth on this years Tigers team. He has done a terrific job of targeting kids that will excel in his system. Freshmen Phil Presey and Tony Mitchell will do just that as well as JUCO big man Ricardo Ratliffe. There is a solid nucleus returning with English, Denmom, Safford and Bowers. It is balanced team inside and out that will play hard every night. Missouri will have to improve on the glass and Ratliffe and Mitchell should help in that area.


20. Syracuse

Losses: Wes Johnson, Andy Rautins, Arinze Onauku

Projected Lineup:
Brandon Triche
Scoop Jardine
Kris Joseph
Rick Jackson
Fab Melo

Bench: Dion Waiters, CJ Fair, Mookie Jones, Dashonte Riley, Bay Keita

It’s quite possible that Syracuse lost their three most important players. However as Jim Boeheim noted last year, they really had 7 starters and that was tough to argue with. A lot of talent returns and there also is a very solid incoming class on the way. My biggest concern for Cuse would be the shot making of Rautins and Johnson is gone and also Rautin’s play making is now absent as well. Brandon Triche must evolve as a point guard and Kris Joseph will have to continue to work on his game and not be a one trick pony. The development of this team will be how quickly Fab Melo can grasp the back end of the 2-3 zone and what type of presence he can become. Based on his spot minutes last season, I would not enter the year with too much faith in Dahsonte Riley.


21. Kentucky

Losses: Pat Patterson, John Wall, Eric Bledsoe, Daniel Orton, Ramon Harris, Perry Stevenson

Projected Lineup:
Brandon Knight
Doron Lamb

Darius Miller
Eloy Vargas
Enes Kanter

Bench: Darnell Dodson, Stacey Poole, DeAndre Liggins

Could UK have lost anyone else? Thankfully all hope is not lost as Calipari was able to reel in Knight, Lamb, Vargas and Kanter, likely four starters, along with another Top 50 recruit in Stacey Poole. Terrence Jones is still unknown and he is a need to add talent and also to stretch the depth of this roster. There is not much left on the roster and we could see Coach Cal forced to go small to split Vargas and Kanter in the front court. The freshmen are going to have unfair comparisons thrown on them. Nobody should expect Knight to be Wall or Kanter to be Cousins, and nobody should expect Lamb to even be Eric Bledsoe. It’s a talented team, and likely a good one, but I don’t think just because Cal brought in new, talented faces it’s a shoe in to be a top team again. There is no Pat Patterson hanging around this year to be consistent, veteran leader.


22. Tennessee

Losses: Wayne Chism, JP Prince, Bobby Maze

Projected Lineup:

Melvin Goins
Scotty Hopson
Cameron Tatum
Tobias Harris
Brian Williams

Bench: Trae Golden, Jordan McRae, Kenny Hall, Steven Pearl, Renaldo Woolridge, Skyla McBee

I seriously questioned if Melvin Goins should have been logging major DI minutes last season, but he started to play better down the stretch. He does not have to do much, just be solid. He is a major key to how good Bruce Pearls’ Vols can be as Trae Golden, a talented freshmen is still more of a small two guard. Scotty Hopson has to take a step forward and capitalize on his talent and lead this team, there is no one left to defer to, although McDonald’s All American, Tobias Harris should prove to be a capable number two option. Up front, Brian Williams showed marked improvement last season and you have to had liked the athletic ability Kenny Hall brought off the bench.


23. Butler

Losses: Gordon Hayward, Willie Veasley

Projected Lineup:

Ronald Nored
Shelvin Mack
Shawn Vanzant
Matt Howard
Andrew Smith

Bench: Zach Hahn, Garret Butcher, Chase Stigall

The Hayward loss was a killer for Butler. It goes from a Top 10 team to a team that now suddenly has a lot more question marks. It decreases their overall size and length greatly now, as Brad Stevens likely will have to start three players 6’3 and under. Matt Howard will be the key to this season. He had an underwhelming season to go along with a disaster of an NCAA Tournament. He is capable of getting back to being POY in the Horizon. The back court, while small, is very capable and will carry the load. With Hayward, Butler had a trump card as a mid major. He was as talented as nearly anyone they would face, now without him, their knocked down a few notches.


24. San Diego State

Losses: Kelvin Davis

Projected Lineup:

DJ Gay
Chase Tapley
Kawhi Leonard
Billy White
Malcolm Thomas

Bench: Tyrone Shelley, Brian Carlwell, LaBradford Franklin, Tim Shelton

Love, love, love this team. They are experienced, they are athletic, they are tough, they are balanced and they are talented. It is a team that could likely challenge for a Pac 10 title next season. Kawhi Leonard will likely generate a lot of buzz this year and rightfully so. The 6’6 freshmen posted 13 and 10 a game last year. He plays up front next to two athletic, long players in Billy White and Malcolm Thomas. Both who also posted double figures in scoring. The back court of Gay, Tapley and Shelley is solid and they all mesh well together. Steve Fisher has done a fantastic job here and this will be his best team yet. This Aztec team lost narrowly to Tennessee in the NCAA Tournament and surely will be back again.


25. Memphis

Losses: Elliot Williams, Roburt Sallie, Doneal Mack, Willie Kemp

Projected Lineup:
Joe Jackson
Will Barton
Jelan Kendrick

Wesley Witherspoon
Will Coleman

Bench: Angel Garcia, Tarik Black, Chris Crawford, Hippolyte Tsafack, Antonio Barton, DJ Stephens

I can’t buy this team as a Top 15 caliber team as some prognosticators have and the main issue is depth to go with inexperience. Yes, there are bodies, but 7 of those are freshmen. So how good will the depth be? Witherspoon again will have to log minutes out of position at the 4 and Angel Garcia, who has battled injuries is going to be called upon to be a key contributor, is he capable? It maybe tough for everyone on the team to settle into roles early on, but by the end of the year I may have sold the Tigers short in this last spot.

Standing on the Outside: BYU, Xavier, Richmond, Texas, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Utah State, Northwestern, Saint Louis, Georgia, Old Dominion. St. Mary’s, Vanderbilt, Florida State, St. John’s.

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