On the eve of first official practices, programs around the country have question marks.
In no order, Here are 10 problems that must be solved for the success they wish to attain.
Texas Finds their Point Guard? Whether it be Balbay, Vardez Ward, Justin Mason, Avery Bradley, Jai Lucas or a combination of a few of those names, Texas will need a reliable one. Their frontcourt can be as good as any, and likely will be. My vote would be to just stick Mason and Bradley back there and see what they can do. At the very least, they would be a terror defensively. My guess is Bradley goes a long way in solving this question mark.
Michigan State fills Suton’s void? Goran Suton will not be replaced entirely, at least not on the offensive end where he added much needed balance. I do believe Tom Izzo, given bodies, will make rebounders and defenders out of what he has to work with; Draymond Green, Tom Herzog, Derrick Nix and Garrick Sherman. While it’s very possible and likely Izzo goes small often with the perimeter talent in store, to advance deep in March yet again, the big guys will need to contribute and keep getting better.
Kansas gets its act together?
Cal has an inside presence? Jerome Randle, Patrick Christopher and Theo Robertson would have a chance to win the NCAA Tournament in a 3 on 3 under 6’6 league. To take the next step, Mike Montgomery must get the best out of his big guys. Harper Kamp and Jamal Boykin are solid but limited in what they can bring to the table. A guy to watch is Max Zhang a 7’3 big man from China.
Renardo and Riek? I am a fan of Mississippi State this year, even if they do not have either. If they do have these two to plug into the frontline along side Varnado and Osby, watch out. Sidney’s issues are eligibility, Riek’s injury related. Hasn’t been much news on either front, yet.
Just how good is Evan Turner? We know he is one of the elite wings in the country, now can he handle playing point guard? My guess is he can manage, with Buford and Diebler at his side to take some pressure off. Turner does a very good job in picking his spots and getting his teammates involved as is, it should not be that difficult of a transition. If he can pull it off, he will be in the hunt for NPOY.
Kentucky and Chemistry? It’s not a case of the old meshing with the new (Patterson and Miller with the froshies) but rather, can all the young talent just come together? How do the 3 big man coexist inside? Is Cousins up to the challenge from Coach Cal to be a banger inside? Calipari has always had assortments of talent recently at Memphis and has molded teams together well, my guess is by March this team will flourish. The question then is, who makes shots?
Rebounding at Louisville? Samardo Samuels and Terrence Jennings are in the fold, why is this a question? Well, Earl Clark and Terrence Williams depart with a combined 17 rebounds. Samuels, who has the look of a bruiser inside, averaged a disappointing 3.6 rebounds in Big East play, Jennings was hardly a rebounding force in his limited time, specifically on the defensive end at just a rate of 11%. Jerry Smith, Preston Knowles, Reginald Delk and others will have to put their noses and make it a collective effort on the glass.
Just how good is Wesley Johnson? “A lottery pick”. “Will be one of the best foward’s Boeheim has coached.” “Not over hyped.” All are words you could here being uttered by those in and around the Syracuse basketball program. Johnson and Iowa State transfer is a natural three with, an ability to do just about everything well. But can he be great? With a year off, it’s tough to gauge just where he is at right now and the answer won’t come until he hits the court for real.
Duke’s depth? Let’s be honest, there is little. Scheyer, Singler, and Smith will be good enough to keep them afloat in the ACC and into March. From there, where does the team go? Andre Dawkins will need to mature in a hurry and the front court of old faces, Zoubek and Thomas must come along with the new faces, Plumlee’s and Ryan Kelly. An injury to Scheyer or Singler would be a disaster, barring injury, they still will be called on to go the distance in almost any competitive game this season.