Sunday, October 31, 2010

Indiana lands another local recruit

The most important recruiting weekend in Tom Crean's tenure at Indiana is already netting profits.

Just not how Hoosier fans expected.

Cody Zeller, Tyler and Luke's younger brother and a top 25 prospect in the class of 2011, did not commit to the Hoosiers this weekend, but another Indiana native did. Hanner Perea, a 6'8" forward with all the measureables that make scouts drool, committed to Indiana after visiting the campus over the weekend. Perea has a 7'4" wing span, is very athletic, and can run the floor. While he can knock down a mid-range jump shot, Perea is quite raw offensively, but there is enough potential for Rivals to rank him in the top 10 in the class of 2012.

The rest of this post can be read at Beyond the Arc. Continue reading...

Friday, October 29, 2010

No. 5 Pitt Panthers

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Last Season: 25-9, 13-5 (t-2nd Big East), lost to Xavier in the second round of the NCAA Tournament

Head Coach: Jamie Dixon

Key Losses: Jermaine Dixon

Newcomers: Talib Zanna, JJ Moore, Isaiah Epps, Aron Nwankwo, Cameron Wright

Projected Lineup:

  • G: Ashton Gibbs, Jr.
  • G: Brad Wanamaker, Sr.
  • F: Gilbert Brown, Sr.
  • F: Nasir Robinson, Jr.
  • C: Gary McGhee, Sr.
  • Bench: Travon Woodall, So.; Cameron Wright, Fr.; Isaiah Epps, Fr.; Dante Taylor, So.; JJ Moore, Fr.; Talib Zanna, Fr.

Outlook: 2010 was supposed to be a down year for the Panthers, as they lost DeJuan Blair, Levance Fields, and Sam Young. But Pitt, who has officially become the Wisconsin of the East Coast, got some breakout performances and used their typical stingy defense to finish tied for second in the Big East and rack up 25 wins.

This year, Pitt returns just about everyone from last season's team. It starts with Ashton Gibbs, who went from being a spot up shooter off the bench as a freshman to one of the best players in the Big East as a sophomore. An unheralded kid coming out of high school, Gibbs is a knock-down shooter. He has range well beyond the three point line, and he can hit that shot with consistency even when pressured. Joining him in the back court will be Brad Wanamaker. Wanamaker has turned into Pitt's do-it-all player. He rebounds, he scores the ball, he led the team in assists last season. He's not exactly a point guard, as his handle leaves something to be desired, but his ability to create shots, either for himself of for a teammate, is valuable for this Pitt team that can, at times, struggle offensively.

The Panther's third guard this season will be Travon Woodall. Woodall is everything you would expect out of a point guard from Brooklyn. He's quick, he can get into the lane, he finds assists, and he's a pest playing on-the-ball defense. Isaiah Epps and Cameron Wright, two highly regarded freshmen, should see time in the back court as well.

At the small forward, Gilbert Brown should start. Brown is a superb athlete that has begun to show flashes of being more than just a leaper. While he only took 53 threes last season (he missed the first semester with academics, then came off the bench), he hit almost 40% of them. Despite playing just 23 mpg, he was the third leading scorer for the Panthers, and went for 20 three times. Brown is definitely a guy that could have a big season for Pitt in a starting role. Freshman JJ Moore looks to be the guy that will spell Brown.

Up front, Gary McGhee returns to anchor the front line. McGhee never has been and never will be anything special, but he is a big, strong kid that can defend on the block, rebound the ball, block some shots, and finish at the rim. Nasir Robinson, an undersized but scrappy forward, will likely be the other starter at forward, but he will miss about the first ten games after undergoing knee surgery.

That surgery may end up being a blessing in disguise, however. Dante Taylor and Talib Zanna are the two big guys that come off of Pitt's bench. Zanna is redshirt freshman that is big and athletic, but he's raw. Taylor was a top 15 recruit last season, but he never quite found a rhythm. If Dixon can get these two guys minutes, get them some experience, and get their confidence level up, it could be huge for Pitt down the road. Especially for Taylor, a guy who has all-Big East potential.

You know what you are going to get with this Pitt team. Tough defense and aggressive rebounding. Nothing is going to change with Jamie Dixon's system. I don't know how much better Gibbs and Wanamaker can get, but if Brown and Taylor both improve this year, this Pitt team can win the Big East and make it to the Final Four.

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No. 6 Kansas Jayhawks

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Last Season: 33-3, 15-1 (1st Big XII), lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to Northern Iowa

Head Coach: Bill Self

Key Losses: Sherron Collins, Xavier Henry, Cole Aldrich

Newcomers: Josh Selby, Royce Woolridge

Projected Lineup:

  • G: Josh Selby, Fr.
  • G: Tyshawn Taylor, Jr.
  • G: Brady Morningstar, Sr.
  • F: Marcus Morris, Jr.
  • F: Markieff Morris, Jr.
  • Bench: Thomas Robinson, Fr.; Jeff Withey, So.; Elijah Johnson, So.; Tyrel Reed, Sr.; Travis Releford, So.; Mario Little, Sr.

Outlook: Kansas loses as much talent as anyone in the country fro last season. Gone are early entry lottery pick Xavier Henry and Cole Aldrich. Gone, with diploma in hand, is all-american point guard Sherron Collins. But the thing about Kansas, specifically last year's team, is that they were unbelievably stacked. How loaded was their roster with talent? Travis Releford, a top 50 recruit in the class of 2008, was forced to redshirt. Not because he was injurd, not because he needed an extra year to develop as a player, but because there simply would have been no playing available for the 13th man on the depth chart.

So while the three-headed monster of Collins, Aldrich, and Henry will be a lot of replace, there is enough talent on this roster from top to bottom to do it. Its going to start with Marcus Morris, a potential all-american. Marcus is the better of the Morris twins on the offensive end of the floor. He's more of a face-up four at this point in his career. His jump shot forces defenders to play him honest, and he's capable of putting the ball on the floor and getting by opposing big men. When he doesn't get all the way to the rim, he can hit a short runner/jumper that you rarely see out of a big man. Morris is not an incredibly explosive guy, but he is fluid, coordinated, and has excellent footwork. This allows him to be a good finisher around the rim despite having less than ideal athleticism. It also means that, with more post touches expected, he should develop into a good low-block scorer as well. You didn't hear much about Morris last season, but don't be surprised is he averages 18 and 9 this year.

Markieff Morris is a little bigger and a little more athletic than Marcus, but his offensive game is not as polished. At this point, he's more of a defender and rebounder than an offensive threat, but he has the same tools that Marcus does. Thomas Robinson will be a guy to keep an eye on this season. A terrific athlete with a strong frame, the sophomore was a top 30 recruit coming out of high school and should be capable of producing as he gets more minutes. The last member of the Jayhawk front court rotation is Jeff Withey, a 7'0" center and former top 50 recruit that didn't become eligible until last December. He's currently dealing with a broken foot, but when he finally does come back, he can provide shot blocking and rebounding at the least.

The Kansas back court will, once again, be stacked to the brim. Tyshawn Taylor returns, and should be counted on to play an expanded role this season. Taylor is a good defender and a capable play maker. If Josh Selby is eligible (more on that in a second), he'll be a very nice back court pairing, as he was with Collins. If not, Taylor will be asked to take on more of a leadership role, something he has never really done. Even in high school, he was a role player, as he shared a back court with Mike Rosario, Jio Fontan, and Travon Woodall. One thing that seems to be true, however, is that Taylor has grown up from last season's fighting and facebook incident, something that played a role in him coming off the bench for 11 games.

Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed also return. Morningstar is the kind of player every coach wants. He defends well, he doesn't turn the ball over, and he knocks down open threes. Reed, on the other hand, still hasn't quite lived up to his reputation. He's the best returning shooter on the team, but Self has also called him the best athlete on the team, period. The former Kansas state player of the year needs to be more productive and aggressive this season. It will be interesting to see how much time guys like Mario Little, Elijah Johnson, and Travis Releford get. All three are super talented guys that would start at 99% of the other schools in the country. But with as much talent as their is on this roster and in this back court, finding minutes might be tough.

Now, obviously the x-factor is going to be Selby. Will he be eligible? We've talked ad nauseum about Selby's situation, and the only thing that is apparent right now is that Selby has been cleared academically, but Self doesn't expect to hear about Selby's amatuer status until after the season begins. If he does suit up, Selby is going to be the replacement for Collins. He's taller and much more explosive Collins, but he will need to be a leader for Kansas to win games. If he isn't on the court, Taylor will be forced into more of a point guard's role, something I am not convinced he can do.

With Selby, Kansas is a team that will be good enough to win the Big XII and make a Final Four, although they won't be the targeted team this season. That may actually be a good thing.
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No. 7 Illinois Fighting Illini

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Last Season: 21-15, 10-8 (5th Big Ten), lost to Dayton in the NIT Quarterfinals

Head Coach: Bruce Weber

Key Losses: Dominique Keller, Jeff Jordan, Alex Legion

Newcomers: Meyers Leonard, Crandall Head, Jereme Richmond

Projected Lineup:

  • G: Demetri McCamey, Sr.
  • G: DJ Richardson, So.
  • F: Jereme Richmond, Fr.
  • F: Mike Davis, Sr.
  • C: Mike Tisdale, Sr.
  • Bench: Bill Cole, Sr.; Brandon Paul, So.; Crandall Head, Fr.; Meyers Leonard, Fr.

Outlook: Illinois was a bit of a conundrum last season. They had the talent on their roster, but they never were quite able to get all the pieces to fit together. Their two stars -- Mike Davis and Demetri McCamey -- both were benched during Big Ten play. They lost to teams they absolutely should not have lost to. And as a result, the Illini ended up being one of the first teams left out of the Big Dance. But this year's squad has as much talent on it as any team Bruce Weber has fielded since the 2005 group that made the national title game.

When you talk about Illinois, the first guy you need to mention is Demetri McCamey. When he wants to be, McCamey is the kind of point guard that can control a game. He changed positions as a junior, moving from playing off the ball to being the floor general, and it resulted in a breakout season where he averaged 15.1 ppg and led the nation by averaging over seven assists per contest. His build will remind some of former Illini point guard Deron Williams, but they have different games. McCamey is no where near as quick as Williams is. Instead, he's a guy that really has a feel for how to get his defender off balance by changing speeds. His game is still centered around his jump shot, but he picks his spots well when attacking the basket. One marked improvement in his game was that he really cut down on the number of ill-advised, quick jump shots he took, although he still has a tendency to take some bad shots. He's also very good in the pick and roll and has great vision, able to find cutters and shooters spotting up off the dribble. His ability to orchestrate the offense and get his teammates quality shots is of the utmost importance for this team to succeed.

While McCamey is the star, there is plenty of perimeter talent surrounding him. DJ Richardson and Brandon Paul both had promising freshmen seasons. Richardson is probably the better of the two right now. He started all but one game last year, and proved to be an excellent spot-up shooter (39% on 177 threes), which is an excellent sign as he was known more for his ability to slash and score in the mid-range coming out of high school. Brandon Paul was a part-time starter, and while he didn't have as good of a year as Richardson, he still showed some promise, like the back-to-back 20 point games he had to start the season. He's a gifted scorer that needs to take advantage of those skills by being more aggressive.

Three freshmen will also see time on the perimeter. Crandall Head, Luther head's brother, was a top 100 recruit coming out of high school. He's athletic and long and should be able to provide a contribution on the defensive end immediately. Joseph Betrand is a talented redshirt freshman that sat out last season after undergoing knee surgery in September. Perhaps the most intriguing player on Illinois' roster this year is Jereme Richmond. Richmond is a super-athletic 6'8" wing. He's a slasher, but he's an excellent passer that can also finish above the rim. Some have even said that Richmond may be the best player on the Illinois roster. While that may be a bit of an overstatement, the fact of the matter is that this is a supremely talented and versatile young man. He's the kind of player that can average 10 ppg, 6 rpg, and 4 apg.

There is a lot to like in the front court as well. The Mike's, Davis and Tisdale, both return for their senior seasons. Davis was the Big Ten's leading rebounder as a junior, but he regressed a bit on the offensive end. He's not as strong as one would like him to be, and while he does have a very nice touch and some quality post moves, it seemed as if he had trouble establishing position inside. As a face-up four he still impressed, showing an ability to knock down 17 footers and above average perimeter skills for a player his size. Tisdale is a legit seven footer with range out to the three point line, which forces centers to guard him, opening up the paint. Hopefully, those two put on some strength in the offseason. Freshman Meyers Leonard and senior Bill Cole will also see time up front. Both Leonard and Cole are forwards with advanced perimeter skills.

I really like the makeup of this Illinois roster. They have a lot of length and athleticism at every position. Last season, the Illini were not as good defensively as you expect out of a Bruce Weber coached team, something I expect Weber to change this year. I also think this team will try and push the ball more. McCamey is an excellent passer, and with guys like Richardson and Richmond running on the wings, the Illini fast break could be exciting to watch.

There are two question marks I have with this team. The first is on the interior. They don't really have a bruiser. I like Davis and Tisdale, but I worry about them going up against a big, physical front line like that of Ohio State or Michigan State. I also think that in order for this team to live up to its potential, Davis is going to have to become more consistent scoring in the low post. The second question mark simply revolves around this group being a team. Its not a good sign when your two best players have to get benched during conference play to prove a point. There is enough talent on this team for Illinois to make a Final Four, but will they be able to turn that talent into W's. Keep in mind, while the Illini return all five starters, those five starters only mustered an NIT appearance last season.
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Friday Morning Dump

- The biggest news of the day was that the NCAA decided that they will not eliminate the July recruiting just yet, instead opting to study the recruiting process for a year. Once again, a great move by the NCAA. I'm starting to think that they intentionally leak news to gauge the public's reaction to any controversial steps they are taking.

- The second biggest news of the day came out of upstate New York as former Binghamton head coach Kevin Broadus received a $1.2 million buyout from the school. Early this month, the Binghamton program was cleared of any major NCAA violations while under Broadus' watch, and part of the reason the buyout was this big was to avoid legal action.

- Adonis Thomas, the top 2011 recruit in the country according to Sporting News, committed to his hometown Memphis Tigers as expected. Maryland scored a huge get with Nick Faust, a Baltimore native, committing to the Terps yesterday. We've always said, the key to Maryland remaining relevant nationally is their ability to lock up local talent; Faust is from Baltimore. The third top recruit that made a decision yesterday was Mike Shaw, a Chicago kid that will be heading to Illinois. Of's top 100 players, only 15 remain uncommitted.

- The new AP rankings were released yesterday. You know it must be college basketball season time if Gary Parrish is doing a "Poll Attacks". God I love these. I think I'm going to make a top 25 that is so ridiculous, Parrish has not choice but to go after me. Yeah ... that's my plan.

- Another good-read on the mental toughness of Weber State, the favorites to win the Big Sky Conference. There have been a couple of articles written in the past month that have documented the team's historical collapse in the second half of last season's Big Sky Championship game, which they ended up losing to an upstart Montana team. Good coaches will always tell you that you always learn more about yourselves from a loss than you do from a win.

- The Pac-10 Tournament will remain in the Staples Center, and will actually be combined with the women's tournament.

- Not really any surprises here -- Michigan State picked to win the Big Ten, Kalin Lucas picked to win player of the year.

- Marquette's off-season recruiting has not exactly gone according to plan. "Disappointing" is one way to put it, but that doesn't mean all is lost.

- A look at the vegas odds for each of the BCS-conferences.

- I'm expecting big things out of NC State this season.

- Mike DeCourcy tells us which freshman will make the biggest impact.

- Dana Altman loses another player from his roster, this one due to injury. This has not been the most ideal start for Altman at his new gig. If this keeps up, Altman himself will be suiting up.

- Without the services of Lance Stephenson or Deonta Vaughn, the Cincinnati Bearcats will need a extra-productive Yancy Gates. After reading this article, you can tell Gates is ready for the assignment.

- At Western Kentucky, the starting point guard position is still up for grabs after losing last season's Atlantic Sun Player of the Year, Orlando Mendez Valdez to graduation.

- Your bizarre hoops-related-link of the day: Former-Kentucky player might be deported.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

No. 8 Baylor Bears

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Last Season: 28-8, 11-5 (t-2nd Big XII), lost in the Elite 8 to Duke

Head Coach: Scott Drew

Key Losses: Tweety Carter, Ekpe Udoh, Josh Lomers

Newcomers: Perry Jones, Stargell Love, Levi Norwood, J'Mison Morgan

Projected Lineup:

  • G: AJ Walton, So.
  • G: LaceDarius Dunn, Sr.
  • F: Anthony Jones, Jr.
  • F: Quincy Acy, Jr.
  • F: Perry Jones, Fr.
  • Bench: Stargell Love, Fr.; J'Mison Morgan, Jr.; Nolan Dennis, So.

Outlook: Just seven short years ago, Baylor's basketball program was effectively dead thanks to Dave Bliss. Today, the Bears are coming off of a run to the Elite 8 and, thanks to Scott Drew, have become one of the best up and coming programs in the country. Right now, however, the issue surrounding the Baylor program is the cost at which that success is coming. There is the connection to the Cliftons, the potential texting violations by an assistant coach, and enough innuendo and rumor to momentarily make one forget about John Calipari.

None of that, however, has much of a bearing on this season. What does have a bearing on this year is the status of LaceDarius Dunn. Dunn is a 6'4" scoring guard that will make an appearance on quite a few first team preseason all-american lists. In a league full of talent, Dunn may just be the potent scorer in the Big XII. His offense centers around his jump shot, which he can hit with range and under pressure. In fact, his ability to hit contested threes may be his biggest fault; he tends to force jumpers early in the shot clock. He's not great when he puts the ball on the floor, but if he is able to beat his man, Dunn is very good at drawing contact and getting to the line. With Carter and Udoh both gone, he will be relied upon even more for scoring as a senior. So why the question about his status? Well, Dunn was accused of punching his girlfriend. He was suspended from school and from team activities, but has since been reinstated for both. There is no word yet on the length of a suspension he would face from the team (although I doubt it will be much more than a few games).

Beyond Dunn, the rest of the Baylor back court will be a bit of a question mark, especially at the point. Stargell Love is a top 100 freshman (and also part of that D-One Sports/Clifton Brothers pipeline that includes Quincy Miller, Deuce Bello, and would have included John Wall) and should see some minutes, but I personally expect AJ Walton to slide in and start at the point. Walton started the first four games of last season when Tweety Carter was out and did an solid job. But regardless of who is running the show, its tough not to envision a serious drop off in production from Carter. Nolan Dennis, a 6'6" two guard, will see minutes behind Dunn. He's a sophomore and a former top 50 recruit that originally committed to Memphis before John Calipari left for Kentucky.

Dunn may be this team's star, but the Bears' strength will be their front court. The guy you absolutely have to mention first is Perry Jones. Jones, a likely one-and-done kid, is 6'11" and a terrific athlete with the ability to score from just about anywhere on the court. He's more of a face-up player than a back to the basket threat at this point in his career, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing given the rest of the Baylor front line. What will be interesting to watch is whether or not Jones can develop on the defensive end. He has the tools to be as effective as Ekpe Udoh on that end of the floor, and if he does it will be a huge boost for this Baylor team defensively. From what I've seen written about Baylor, losing the defensive presence that Udoh provided seems to be a point that is being glossed over.

The other two guys that will see significant minutes in the paint are Quincy Acy and J'Mison Morgan. Acy is a 6'7" junior, an athletic freak, and quite possibly the hardest dunker in the country. His offensive game is not developed much beyond being a dunker, but he can block a few shots and grab a few boards. It will be interesting to see what Morgan provides. A big time recruit coming out of high school, Morgan never lived up to his top 25 billing while at UCLA. Part of it was effort, and part of it was simply being out of shape. He can be a force on the block, but it will be up to him to decide if he wants to be. He will be eligible to play immediately after getting a waiver from the NCAA.

Anthony Jones could be an x-factor on this team. He's a 6'10" lefty with three point range and one of the first blue-chip recruits that Scott Drew landed in his tenure. But Jones hasn't quite developed like people thought he would. He does, however, play the three and have a ton of length. The rest of the front court rotation for Baylor will be filled out by Cody Jefferson and Fred Ellis.

Baylor has a chance to be a very good team this season. They have a star in Dunn and they have quite a bit of size and athleticism up front. They have the kind of roster that, theoretically, will be effective in their 2-3 zone. But there are a number of question marks. How long will Dunn be out? Can Walton and Love replace Carter's production at the point? Will Jones or Morgan develop into a low-post scorer? Or defender? There's quite a bit of potential in Waco, but if Scott Drew can't put the pieces together, this is a ranking that has a chance to look silly come March.
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No. 9 Ohio State

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Last Season: 29-8, 14-4 (t-1st Big Ten), lost to Tennessee in the Sweet 16 on the NCAA Tournament

Head Coach: Thad Matta

Key Losses: Evan Turner, PJ Hill, Kyle Madsen

Newcomers: Jared Sullinger, DeShaun Thomas, Aaron Craft, Lenzille Smith, JD Weatherspoon, Jordan Sibert

Projected Lineup:

  • G: Aaron Craft, Fr.
  • G: Jon Diebler, Sr.
  • G: William Buford, Jr.
  • F: David Lighty, Sr.
  • C: Jared Sullinger, Fr.
  • Bench: Dallas Lauderdale, Sr.; DeShaun Thomas, Fr.; Lenzelle Smith, Fr.; Jordan Sibert, Fr.; Nikola Kecman, Jr.

Outlook: Last season, the Buckeyes were one of the best teams in the country. But an unbelievably large part of that was because they had player of the year Evan Turner on their roster. Turner suffered a fracture in his back midway through the season and missed six games, and in those six games the Buckeyes were nothing more than a thoroughly mediocre basketball team. Now that Turner is in the NBA, the question for Thad Matta is answer is how he will get his offense to move. Who is going to create shots?

The early answer seems like it is going to be Jared Sullinger, a 6'8" freshman that is widely considered to be the best incoming frontcourt player, and possibly the best big man overall, this season. He's got the size and the strength to play immediately in the Big Ten. He's not just big, either. He's skilled. He can score on the low-block, he can get to the rim facing up, and he has range out to 18 feet. He is also a very cerebral player. Sullinger understands angles -- sealing his man when the ball gets reversed, holding position defensively and offensively, boxing out -- which lets him get a lot of easy baskets and a ton of rebounds. Simply put, he's a producer on the block.

Sullinger should be a terrific complement for a guy like Dallas Lauderdale. Lauderdale isn't much more than a dunker on the offensive end, and his rebounding numbers were fairly low (although a lot of that is a result of Turner swooping in for 9.2 rpg), but what he does do well is defend the rim. DeShaun Thomas may end up being an even better complement to Sullinger. The 6'6" freshman is a burly, left-handed combo-forward that was one of the most prolific high school scorers in Indiana history. He's got range on his jumper and can score inside and out. Don't be surprised is Nikola Kecman sees some minutes up front as well.

The perimeter is absolutely loaded for the Buckeyes. You should already know about the three starters -- David Lighty, William Buford, and Jon Diebler. Lighty is a tough, athletic two-guard that does a little bit of everything for this team. He's the ultimate glue guy. Jon Diebler is a big time shooter, a guy that can reel off four or five threes in a row when he gets it going. William Buford is the best of the bunch. He's been mostly a catch-and-shoot, mid-range pull-up player the last two seasons. But with Turner went a lot of point and shot production, and I think Buford is the guy that steps up his game this season. If things go right, I think he could end up being a potential all-american candidate.

The question for this team is going to be who plays the point. I've seen it thrown out there that Lighty, or even Buford, will slide over and play the same role that Turner played last seaseon. Personally, I don't love that option; neither is near the playmaker that Turner was. Freshmen Lenzelle Smith and Jordan Sibert are off-guards. The pressure, it seems, is going to fall square on the shoulders of Aaron Craft. Craft, who is better known as the kid who was in the picture that got Bruce Pearl in trouble, isn't a bad point guard by any means. He's tough defensively, he's very good with the ball, and he is a smart passer that makes good decisions.

But he is not a creator, which is what OSU is looking for. If the Buckeyes are going to have success this season, they are going to need Sullinger to develop into someone that is a reliable scorer on the block that is willing to kick the ball out to open shooters. Sullinger may not be a point guard like Turner, but he's going to need to be able to be the guy that the Buckeyes can run their offense through.
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No. 10 Syracuse Orange

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Last Season: 30-5, 15-3 (1st Big East), lost to Butler in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament

Head Coach: Jim Boeheim

Key Losses: Wes Johnson, Andy Rautins, Arinze Onuaku

Newcomers: Dion Waiters, Fab Melo, CJ Fair, Baye Moussa-Keita

Projected Lineup:

  • G: Brandon Triche, So.
  • G: Scoop Jardine, Jr.
  • F: Kris Joseph, Jr.
  • F: Rick Jackson, Sr.
  • C: Fab Melo, Fr.
  • Bench: Dion Waiters, Fr.; CJ Fair, Fr.; Mookie Jones, So.

Outlook: If there is any coach in the country who you can take at their word when it comes to their players and their players' ability, it is Jim Boeheim. This is the guy that told everyone that Wes Johnson was a one and done player before he even coached him in a practice. This is the guy that was scoffed at when he said that his back court was better off with Brandon Triche and Andy Rautins than Jonny Flynn and Eric Devendorf. Both of those turned out to be undeniably true.

This season, the guy that Boeheim has been raving about is seven-foot freshman Fab Melo. Melo, a top 15 recruit nationally, is a guy that is at his best when he is on the block offensively. He has good hands and quick feet, which allow him to be an effective operator down low. He also has a nice little jumper out to about 12-15 feet. Defensively, he isn't known as a shot blocker as much as he is a space eater; 7'0", 244 lb is to a lot deal with in the middle of the Orange's 2-3 zone. Another aspect of Melo's game that has gotten people talking is how good of shape he is in. Listed at over 275 lb while in high school, Melo is now down to a svelte 244 lb.

Joining Melo up front will be Rick Jackson. Jackson is a guy I have always liked as a player. He's tough, scrappy, and workman like. He's not a big time scorer, but he does have a couple of post moves he can go to when necessary. Jackson rebounds the ball, blocks some shots, and posts the occasional 15 point game. After Jackson and Melo, the Orange big men are a bit raw. Sophomores DaShonte Riley, who is injured, and James Southerland, who is 6'8" but wants to be a three point shooter, didn't provide much last season. Baye Moussa Keita may be an option, and while he will block some shots and get some boards, he is still quite raw.

Boeheim's best option if he needs to sit Melo or Jackson may be doing what he did last season and sliding Kris Joseph over to the four. Joseph, who was third leading scorer for the Orange last season, is the guy that everyone is expecting to be the next Syracuse star. At 6'7", he's got the same kind of length and athleticism that Wes Johnson did last year. But where Johnson based his offensive ability off of his jump shot, Joseph is a slasher. He's got a nice first step and can get to the rim using either hand. He's a good finisher, an aspect of his game that will improve even more when he puts on some upper body strength. Once Joseph adds a jumper -- pull-up and three point -- to his repertoire, he will be a first round pick.

If Joseph does end up playing some four, freshman CJ Fair and sophomore Mookie Jones are likely the two guys that will be put in on the back line of that 2-3 zone. Fair isn't a guy with a ton of offensive polish, but he is 6'7" with long arms and some solid athleticism. He will be a nightmare in the zone because of his length, mobility, and athleticism. Jones, who stands 6'6", also has some length and athleticism, but his best attribute as a player is his long range jumper. He's tough to slow down once he's hit one.

The back court is where we will likely see the best positional battle on the Syracuse roster. Scoop Jardine and Brandon Triche, two guys that split time at the point last season, are both back again. Triche is a bit bigger than Jardine and more of a possession point guard, but Jardine -- who actually came off the bench last season while Triche started -- is a better scorer, a better creator for teammates (he was second on the team in assists last year), and takes better care of the ball. They actually would work well sharing a back court. The problem? Dion Waiters. Another top 15 recruit, the 6'4" Waiters has developed into a very well-rounded scorer. He will stick a three if you lay off of him, he can get to the rim and finish if you crowd him, and he has a developed mid-range game. He's also shown unselfishness and the ability to share the ball when he has talented teammates, although most scouting reports said that this deference disappears at the end of a game.

Syracuse lost a lot last season. Johnson, Rautins, and Arizne Onuaku were all very good basketball players. But with the incoming freshmen joining that back court and with Jackson and Joseph returning, the Orange should have a shot at winning this conference.

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No. 11: Purdue Boilermakers

To browse through the rest of our Top 50 Countdown, click here.

Last Season: 29-6, 14-4 (t-1st Big Ten), lost to Duke in the Sweet 16

Head Coach: Matt Painter

Key Losses: Robbie Hummel (injury), Chris Kramer, Keaton Grant

Newcomers: Sandi Marcius, Terone Johnson, Anthony Johnson, Travis Carroll

Projected Lineup:

  • G: Lewis Jackson, Jr.
  • G: E'Twaun Moore, Sr.
  • F: Kelsey Barlow, So.
  • F: Sandi Marcius, Fr.
  • C: JaJuan Johnson, Sr.
  • Bench: Patrick Bade, So.; Terone Johnson, Fr.; Ryne Smith, Jr.; DJ Byrd, So.; John Hart, So.

Outlook: Its unbelievable to me that people are considering dropping Purdue as far down in the polls as I have seen. Jeff Goodman dropped Purdue all the way to 25th. Andy Katz dropped them to the 23rd spot. Gary Parrish says he will probably rank Purdue somewhere in the 17-22 range, while Winn slots Purdue between 15th-18th. Somewhere in the mid-teens I can understand, but 25th? What if I told you that a Sweet 16 team that returned all but two players from their rotation, including their all-american center and their all-american shooting guard? Where would you see that team? Top ten? Higher?

No Hummel hurts, but if there is a silver lining, its that Purdue never got to start the season with him. They don't have to reteach themselves how to play with one of their most important pieces. Matt Painter simply now has two more week to finish building a team without him. And, rest assured, he has the pieces.

JaJuan Johnson may just be the best center in the country. At 6'10", he averaged 15.5 ppg, 7.1 rpg, and 2.1 bpg on a team with two other stars. He's got a very good finesse game in the post -- knocking down turnarounds and jump hooks consistently -- and has range out to 17 feet. Oh, and the kid that was never strong enough is now benching 315 lb.

E'Twaun Moore is arguably the most underrated player in the Big Ten. He's a prototypical four year back court star. He's not a lights out shooter, but he's dangerous enough that you cannot give him an open look at the rim. He's not lightening quick, but he knows how to get by his defender. He's not the most explosive finisher at the rim, but he gets the job done. Its not easy to score 16.4 ppg in the Big Ten.

The diminutive Lewis Jackson will be back, healthy, to run the point. He had a promising freshman season, but struggled with a foot injury last season. Expect big things this year from Jackson. Also returning is Kelsey Barlow, the 6'5" sophomore that played the point while Jackson was out. Barlow showed signs of having the toughness and the moxie to at least partially fill the void Kramer left. Jon Hart, DJ Byrd, and Ryne Smith are all back to provide perimeter depth, while Terone Johnson, a point guard and top 50 recruit nationally, and Anthony Johnson, a top 100 two guard, will provide an infusion of talent on the bench.

The bigger issue may end up being depth behind JaJuan Johnson, as this wasn't a deep front court before Hummel went down. Patrick Bade is a big body and a sophomore that was in the rotation last season. Travis Carroll is a true freshman, although he doesn't seem like he will make an immediate impact. Sandi Marcius, a redshirt freshman that missed last season with a foot injury, may be the best option up front. He was the No. 14 center prospect in the 2009 high school class, and at 6'9", 257 lb, he is strong enough to bang with the Big Ten's big boys.

The Boilermakers may not be the national title favorite that everyone thought they were going to be, but this is still a very good basketball team. This is still a group that will get after it defensively. This is still a team that will execute offensively. There are still two all-americans in West Lafayette. I don't think Purdue will compete for the title in the loaded Big Ten, but I think this group is good enough that they can finish in the top four of that league and should have a very good chance to make it through the NCAA Tournament's first weekend.
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No. 12 Kentucky Wildcats

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Last Season: 35-3, 14-2 (1st SEC), lost in the Elite 8 to West Virginia

Head Coach: John Calipari

Key Losses: John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe, Daniel Orton, Patrick Patterson, Perry Stevenson, Darnell Dodson, Ramon Harris

Newcomers: Enes Kanter*, Brandon Knight, Doron Lamb, Terrence Jones, Stacey Poole, Eloy Vargas, Jarrod Polson

Projected Lineup:

  • G: Brandon Knight, Fr.
  • G: Darius Miller, Fr.
  • F: DeAndre Liggins, Jr.
  • F: Terrence Jones, Fr.
  • C: Enes Kanter, Fr.
  • Bench: Doron Lamb, Fr.; Stacey Poole, Fr.; Eloy Vargas, Jr.; Josh Harrellson, Sr.

Outlook: I'm sure that I am far from the only person that is tired of hearing about the Kentucky Wildcats, John Calipari, and the scandals that come with that territory. And while the start of practice will help to quell some of the off-the-court chatter that filled my reader this summer, one problem that won't be going away anytime soon is the eligibility of Enes Kanter.

As you are all well aware, Kentucky lost essentially their entire team from last season. Five players went in the first round of the NBA draft, two graduated, and one left school. Calipari went out and got some of the best freshmen in the country to replace those guys, but he is still waiting to receive word on his most valuable piece. We've talked about Kanter's amateurism issues too many times, and I'm sure you are as sick of reading "no one knows when or if Kanter will play at Kentucky" as I am of writing that sentence. But the point that cannot be stressed enough is just how good Kanter is and how important he is to this Kentucky team.

Kanter is a 6'10", incredibly strong, and fundamentally sound in the paint. He's aggressive going to the glass, great at establishing and holding position, and deadly with his back to the basket. Essentially, he is everything that you look for in a post player. While I don't think he will be quite as dominant as DeMarcus Cousins was last season, I don't think it is a stretch to say that Kanter is the only player in the conversation with Trey Thompkins as the best big man in the SEC.

While someone with that amount of talent is clearly a valuable weapon, Kentucky's lack of interior size only makes Kanter that much more important. After Kanter, there are only three big men on the roster. Terrence Jones, another freshman, is easily the most talented of the bunch, but he isn't really a post player. He's a versatile four man, a combo-forward with perimeter skills that get compared to Lamar Odom's. He would be quite effective playing alongside a strong post presence like Kanter. Eloy Vargas played a season at Florida before transferring to a JuCo for a year. He barely saw the floor in his one year in Gainesville, and is not the answer inside. Josh Harrellson is the last option, and while he has been getting first team minutes in practice, it is not a good sign when Harrellson is a starter.

The perimeter is a different story, as there are a number of weapons here. Brandon Knight is the next in line to be a great John Calipari point guard. Knight, however, is a different player than a Derrick Rose or a John Wall. He's more of a scorer, what one might term a combo-guard. I hesitate to call him a volume shooter until I've seen more of him, but he definitely has a shoot-first mentality. With the youth on this team, its not necessarily a bad thing, although he is going to eventually need to learn to lead as a true point guard, not just as a lead scorer. The other two freshmen guards are Doron Lamb and Stacey Poole. Lamb has a bit of a throw back game. He can get to the rim and he can hit a three, but he is going to make a living one day off of his mid-range game. Poole is less polished and more of an athlete. He can defend either perimeter position and attacks the basket, either off the dribble or to hit the glass.

There are two x-factors to this Kentucky team -- Darius Miller and DeAndre Liggins. Miller was mostly forced into a jump shooting role last season, but the 6'7" former top 50 recruit is capable of putting the ball on the floor and getting to the rim. Liggins is the guy that everyone was raving about over the summer. He has the tools to be a very good player in the SEC, it was always a matter of motivation and preparation with him. From what I've read, he has figured that out. He's been the best perimeter defender and finally learning what he is capable of offensively.

Its tough to predict what Kentucky will be this season because no one knows what the outcome of Kanter's eligibility case will be. With him, I think the Wildcats compete with Florida for the SEC crown. Without him, this is still a tournament team, but I see them somewhere around third or fourth in the SEC.

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Thursday Morning Dump

If you joined us for episode #2 of B.I.A.H Live last night, you noticed that we fixed all our techincal difficulties and even got around to talking about some college basketball. Remember, our next show is Monday (11/1) at 7:00PM EST on

- This is a day old, but Dan Wolken put together a really good piece on Jelan Kendrick and what he is going through at Memphis.

- I'm really liking these postcards that SI is putting out. We've already linked Butler and Villanova, and yesterday Luke Winn posted about his trip to Northwestern, where the Wildcats are looking to make the dance for the first time since basketball was invented.

- A good-read on the point guard battle taking place at UCLA. I'm a big fan of when Jeff Eisenberg churns out material like this. Its shine a beacon of light on all us bloggers. "SEE!!! We can write too!!!"

- It looks like Nevada and Fresno State will be staying in the WAC until 2012.

- Gary Parrish breaks down the best of the non-BCS conferences. And don't worry, today's column is much better than that coaches on the hot seat list he put out, right Goodman?

- Speaking of Goodman, this secret scrimmage list he put out is mouthwatering.

- NC State coach Sidney Lowe is a perennial hot-seat-sitter, so he will need his stellar freshman class to be productive in order to keep his chair relatively cool. BIAH is a fan of NC State this year. Expecting a tournament trip out of the Wolfpack.

- Iowa's top returning scorer and arguably their only good player will be out indefinitely after tearing a ligament in his thumb.

- Top 100 point guard Chasson Randle (likely nominee for '11-'12 All-Name Team) committed to Stanford yesterday. Two other big names committed yesterday as well -- Jevon Thomas is headed to St. John's and Rodney Hood is going to Mississippi State.

- Jay Bilas explains (to insiders only, sorry outsiders) why the NCAA needs to reform before it's too late.

- New Club Trillion Post!!! Mark the Shark knows the only way to separate the men from the boys is by a good-ole-fashioned mustache-growing contest.

- You know what isn't smart? Going after your coach on twitter.

- Wait. The SEC had nine players on their preseason first team and eight on the second team? Someone explain that, please.

- Stony Brook guard Marcus Grouse will be sidelined for 3-6 weeks with a hairline groin fracture (Yeah, I imagine it's as painful as it sounds)

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bill Self comments on Josh Selby

Bill Self commented today on the eligibility status of freshman point guard Josh Selby. Here is what he said in full:

Josh's status for competition hasn't changed. While he has met NCAA academic requirements to be on aid, practice and compete this year, we continue to work with the NCAA as we review his amateur status. We will not play Josh in games until that process is complete and a decision is rendered.

We support and respect the process, and hope that it is over sooner rather than later. But we don't expect a decision on this before the regular season begins. We will not comment further until the process is complete.
He can't be much more straight forward than that.

This is the first time (well, first time I have seen, please correct me if I missed something along the way) that Self comments on the duration of this investigation. It has to be worrying to Kansas fans that the release said that Self doesn't expect a decision before the regular season starts. Kentucky fans can feel the pain. They went through this with John Wall last year, but Wall was eventually cleared and suspended for two games.

Renardo Sidney went through this process last season as well. The NCAA took until March to come to a decision, and eventually suspended Sidney for a year and a half.

Self also says Selby has been cleared academically, but the NCAA is still investigating his amateur status.

The issue stems from Selby's relationship with Robert "Bay" Frazier, who is Carmelo Anthony's business manager. Frazier admitted that he was an advisor to Selby during the recruiting process, which in and of itself would -- well, should -- not be a problem. The recruiting process is not an easy one to work your way through, and so long as no money or promises were exchanged, Selby getting advice from a Baltimore native is not a violation.

Complicating that issue, however, was a New York Times article where the reporter saw Selby driving a white Mercedes Benz.

Maybe he should have gotten a ride that day.
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No. 13 Gonzaga Bulldogs

To browse through the rest of our Top 50 Countdown, click here.

Last Season: 27-7, 12-2 (1st WCC), lost to Syracuse in the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament

Head Coach: Mark Few

Key Losses: Matt Bouldin, Bol Kong

Newcomers: Marquise Carter, Keegan Hyland, Mathis Keitha, Mathis Monninghoff,

Projected Lineup:

  • G: Demetri Goodson, Jr.
  • G: Steven Gray, Sr.
  • F: Manny Arop, So.
  • F: Elias Harris, So.
  • C: Robert Sacre, Jr.
  • Bench: Kelly Olynyk, So.; Sam Dower, Fr.; Marquise Carter, Jr.

Outlook: Gonzaga is not only one of the best programs outside of the BCS conferences, they are one of the best basketball programs in the country. Period. How many programs could handle what the Zags have lost the past two seasons -- Josh Heytvelt, Jeremy Pargo, Austin Daye, Micah Downs, Matt Bouldin -- and still put a team on the floor that is good enough to be considered top 15 nationally? It may be obvious to Gonzaga fans, but its a point that shouldn't be lost on a national scale.

The biggest reason that Gonzaga is expected to be this good is 6'8" sophomore forward Elias Harris. Harris is, for lack of a better term, a beast. He's strong and athletic enough to play the four while also being mobile and skilled enough to play the three. He can score on the block, he can finish above the rim, he can knock down a three, and he can put the ball on the floor and get by his defender. The player I like to compare him to is Josh Howard when Howard was at Wake Forest. I wouldn't be surprised in the least if he turned into an 18 and 9 guy this season before becoming a lottery pick next June. The one question I have about Harris is whether he can develop into a go-to scorer, a guy that can create his own shot. He got a lot of points off of offensive rebounds and easy buckets created by his teammates last year.

Joining Harris inside will be Robert Sacre. Sacre is a bit of a conundrum, and has to be frustrating for Gonzaga fans to watch. He's a legitimate seven footer with a soft touch inside and some nice post moves, but he never really asserted himself last season. He's a good shot blocker, but he needs to get tougher in the paint -- as both a post scorer and a rebounder. Kelly Olynyk will likely be the first big off the bench. Olynyk is a lanky, 6'11" power forward that showed some promise as a freshman last season. He played well with the Canadian national team over the summer, and I am expecting a good year out of him. Sam Dower will likely round out the front court rotation. A redshirt freshman, Dower is an athletic big man with impressive tools that spent his redshirt season learning how to use them. At worst, he should be able to provide some defense and rebounding this year.

Gonzaga's front court will be their strength this season, which is atypical for a program usually known for their back court stars. But that doesn't mean the perimeter is devoid of talent. Steven Gray is probably the best of the group. One of the most underappreciated players out west the last few seasons, Gray is an athletic two-guard that is at his best when he is attacking the basket. He's a capable shooter, but he needs to push his percentage (33% last season) closer to what it was when he was a freshman (46%). Demetri Goodson may end up being the x-factor for this team. He's a talented kid with great tools to be a point guard -- he's super-quick and can beat his man off the dribble -- but he is still learning how to use those tools to be a leader on the floor. He'll need to be more of a creator this season in Bouldin's absence.

Manny Arop seems like the guy that will slide into that third perimeter spot in the starting lineup. An excellent athlete, Arop is known for his ability to defend and will likely draw the assignment of guarding an opponents' best perimeter scorer. He hit 47% of his threes last year, and while he probably isn't that good of a shooter (he only took 17), if he can consistently knock down open looks, it will give the Zags a second shooter on the perimeter. JuCo transfer Marquise Carter seems like he will be the first back court option off the bench. Carter was a big time recruit and will remind some people of Bouldin. He's a bigger point guard and can create and score the ball, and should be able to play on or off the ball offensively. Other guys -- Keegan Hyland, Mathis Monninghoff, Mathis Keita -- may see some minutes on the perimeter as well.

This looks to be a different Zags team than we are used to. They should be much better defensively, as they have a number of athletes that can pressure the ball on the perimeter and the size to block some shots inside. Offensively, their strength will be on the interior instead of on the perimeter, which is the norm for this program.

The way I see it, there are two issues that could haunt this team. The first is perimeter shooting. Gray is supposed to be a sharpshooter, but he has hit under 34% of his threes the past two seasons combined. Goodson is no a good perimeter shooter, while Arop is unproven. If this team can't hit threes, will there be enough space inside for the bigs to operate? I also worry about the Zags finding a star. Can Elias Harris be that guy? Can he carry the team when things get bogged down offensively? Who does Mark Few give the ball to when his team needs a basket?

If those two questions are answered, Gonzaga has the make-up of a team that make a Final Four.
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Pitt's Nasir Robinson out for six weeks

Pitt basketball has quite a bit of expectation heading into the season. That's what happens when you were a team that was good enough to earn a three seed in the NCAA tournament that returns basically everyone.

But the Panthers will be shorthanded to start the season as news came out today that Nasir Robinson, a 6'5" junior that started 34 games and averaged 6.6 ppg and 5.6 rpg, will be out for up to six weeks after undergoing surgery to repair torn meniscus in his knee. If Robinson does miss the full six weeks, he will be out for as many as ten games.

This could end up being a blessing in disguise, however. Robinson well be healthy by the time Big East play rolls around, but while he is out redshirt freshman Talib Zanna will likely slide into the starting spot. Getting Zanna some experience, and some confidence, early in the season could pay major dividends at the end of the year.
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No. 14 Wisconsin Badgers

To browse through the rest of our Top 50 Countdown, click here.

Last Season: 24-9, 13-5 (4th Big Ten), lost to Cornell in the second round of the NCAA Tournament

Head Coach: Bo Ryan

Key Losses: Trevon Hughes, Jason Bohannon,

Newcomers: Duje Dukan, Ben Brust, Josh Gasser, Evan Anderson

Projected Lineup:

  • G: Jordan Taylor, Jr.
  • G: Ryan Evans, So.
  • F: Tim Jarmusz, Sr.
  • F: Jon Leuer, Sr.
  • F: Keaton Nankivil, Sr.
  • Bench: Mike Bruesewitz, So.; Ben Brust, Fr.; Josh Gasser, Fr.; Rob Wilson, Jr.

Outlook: Wisconsin is one of those teams where it never really matters who they lose and who they bring in. The Badgers always seem to win. They may not blow you out, and they may not be the prettiest team in the country, but in a conference that preaches defense and execution, Wisconsin has been the standard bearer for the duration of Bo Ryan's tenure.

This season, the Badgers are going to be a team centered around a pair of quality big men. Jon Leuer is on a short list of players capable of winning the Big Ten player of the year award. Offensively, he's about as complete of a package as you are going to come across at the college level. He scores in the post with a variety of hook shots and turn around jumpers, he has range out to the three point line, and, being a kid that hit his growth spurt late, he has an impressive handle for someone 6'10". He's a smart, efficient player that can score in a variety of ways. If it sounds like he is a perfect fit for Wisconsin's offense, its because he is.

Joining Leuer up front will be senior Keaton Nankivil. Nankivil really showed how good he was when Leuer went out with a wrist injury last season, averaging 11.9 ppg and 6.0 rpg in the games Leuer missed. Like Leuer, Nankivil is an inside-outside threat as well, although he is more of a strictly jump shooter on the perimeter. He rebounds the ball well, especially on the offensive end, and while he has shown the ability to be a scorer when needed (remember, he also went for 25 points against Purdue last season), he's also the kind of player willing to defer. Again, an excellent fit for Ryan's system.

After those two, the front line will be a bit more of a question mark. Senior Tim Jarmusz is your prototypical Wisconsin role player. He can knock down a three, defend in the post and on the perimeter, and may end up leading the country in floor burns. Mike Bruesewitz is a sophomore that proved to be a scrappy defender and aggressive rebounder in limited minutes. Jared Berggren is a 6'10" redshirt sophomore that has now been in the system for three years. Evan Anderson is a 6'11" center, although Ryan normally a year or two to acclimate his big men.

The back court has some shoes to fill as Trevon Hughes and Jason Bohannon both left Madison with their diplomas. While those two will be tough to replace, one guy I expect to have a big season in their stead is Jordan Taylor. Taylor was essentially the starting point guard for the Badgers last season, but a lot of the time the ball found its way into the hands of Hughes. Taylor, a junior, was impressive nonetheless. He can score and he can create, and while his low turnover numbers (118 assists, just 39 turnovers in 33 games) can be attributed to the lack of having the ball in his hands, he is a pretty good decision maker as well.

It will be interesting to see who emerges as the back court partner for Taylor in crunch times. Ryan Evans seems like a good candidate. Evans, a sophomore, impressed last year as a defender, but his offensive game still needs to develop, especially his perimeter shot. Rob Wilson is a similar player to Evans, a big, athletic perimeter player that is, at this point in his career, better defensively. Three freshmen are in the mix as well. Ben Brust and Josh Gasser are both combo guard that can run the point if needed and also have range on their jumper, something that will be needed with Bohannon gone. Hell, even 6'8" freshman Duje Dukan could see some time.

Whoever ends up playing the majority of the minutes in that position, the bottom line is that the Badgers will once again be atop the Big Ten. They have their star in Leuer. They have secondary scoring options in Taylor and Nankivil. They have their typical cast of tough, scrappy role players. Once again, don't be surprised when Wisconsin is underrated in the preseason only to finish at or near the top of the league.
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Kansas may owe their 2008 national title to Isiah Thomas

If I were to tell you that the New York Knicks, while being headed up by Isiah Thomas, violated NBA bylaws by illegally working out potential draft picks, would you be surprised?

DePaul's Wilson Chandler and Dar Tucker, Notre Dame's Tory Jackson, Kentucky's Joe Crawford, and Baylor's Ekpe Udoh are the players that Adrian Wojnarowski mentions in the article.

The most interesting player mentioned, however, is former Kansas star Brandon Rush. Rush was all set to leave Kansas and enter the 2007 NBA Draft before he popped the acl in his right knee. The injury forced him to miss six months and pull out of the NBA Draft. Guess when he injured himself?

During one of the illegal workouts.

We all know the end of that story. Rush and company rolled through the competition, winning the national title when Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts could not hit a free throw down the stretch of the 2008 title game. If he hadn't injured his knee in the workout, Rush would have gone pro, and Kansas may not have won that title.

Bill Self should send Isiah Thomas a thank you card.

One other note from this article -- as you read on, Woj gets into the relationship between the guy running the workouts and an agent from Detroit. Hopefully, that agent didn't pay Rush's way to and from Atlanta (where the workouts were held) because Rush thought for sure he was going to be a pro.

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Wednesday Morning Dump

- I'm liking this Dave Telep to ESPN move. Here is Telep with a great read on what leads to a decommitment.

- Gary Parrish on which coaches have the hottest seats.

- In honor of the NBA season tip-off, Dan Hanner put together a fantastic list of former college players currently on NBA rosters.

- Mike Miller provides a fantastic list of 15 freshman that will have an impact AND stick around more than one season.

- One quick note about Memphis guard Jelan Kendrick -- there is a report out there that Kendrick is considering transferring. Well, he's not. This report also says his suspension was a mutual agreement.

- The 2011 NCAA Tournament seems like ages away, but that doesn't mean we can have an early tournament primer. Chris Dobbertean breaks down this season's tournament info.

- The official unofficial 2010-2011 NCAA All-Name Team (Wait, that's our own link! We are allowed to link to our own site? Right?)

- John Brady, the head coach of Arkansas State, is not exactly a fan of the new Sun Belt scheduling policy.

- Roy Skinner, the all-time winningest coach in Vanderbilt history, passed away this week at the age of 80

- Speaking of NBA rosters, Jeff Eisenberg takes a look at the top college stars from a season ago that were left off on NBA rosters. And on that same note, Scottie Reynolds has left his team in Italy.

- It's no shock that Wichita State was picked to win the Missouri Valley Conference.

- Part six of Rush The Court's series on the life of a Mid-Major

- Hey, remember when Matt Howard, not Gordon Hayword was suppose to be the star player for the Butler Bulldogs? Well, with Hayword gone to the NBA, Howard will once again be the team's front-court focal point.

- Duquesne guard Eric Evans broke his foot this week during practice and will be out for the first two months of the season

- After a hot start the pre-season recruiting period, West Virgina is starting to go in the opposite direction. Still, the program did get two players back into the fold yesterday, as Casey Mitchell was reinstated and walk-on Johnnie West was allowed to rejoin the team.

- Durrell Summers, Michigan State's resident-aviator, is looking to build off of past post-season success.

- Emmanuel Negedu is getting a second second-chance at hoops at New Mexico.

- You know what? Marty Simmons might be the head coach of a team picked to finish dead-last in the Missouri Valley Conference, but he is more of a man than I will ever be.

Equal parts impressive and adorable:

I'm not going to lie, I've never really liked the Big Blue Nation. I haven't hated them, but I certainly haven't liked them. That's why I'm kinda happy-slash-ecstatic that this Big Blue rap video is so terribly awful

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

2010-2011 B.I.A.H All-Name Team

The Naismith Watch List has been released, as have the Preseason All-American teams and most conference polls. So it makes obvious sense that now is the perfect time to present our 2010-2011 B.I.A.H All-Name Team.

Here at B.I.A.H, we consider ourselves masters of the unnecessary. I might not be able to tell you what Butler's RPI was last season nor can I decipher the Sagarin or KenPom rankings. But I can tell you that the mascot of Mississippi Valley State is the Delta Devil, and that Chief Kickingstallionsims is a proud graduate of Alabama State University.

Last year's B.I.A.H All-Name Team was pretty fantastic, but I still feel as though I left out a bunch of names that just shouldn't go unmentioned. I scoured every D-1 roster and this year we've upped the ante, with close to 150 names that will make you chuckle every time you look at a stat sheet.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, the 2010-2011 B.I.A.H All-Name Team Selections

B.I.A.H. All-Name First Team

  • Bracken Funk – Fresno State
  • Ivory McGilvery – Texas Pam-Am
  • Orion Outerbridge – Rhode Island
  • An’Juan Wilderness – Charlotte
  • Bak Bak - California
  • Hippolyte Tsafack - Memphis*
  • Alibaba Odd - Delaware State*
You know there's more after the jump. (Ed. Note: The *'s = BIAH Fails. Who else did we miss?)

B.I.A.H. All-Name Second Team
  • Brockeith Pane – Utah State
  • Claybrin McMath - Bryant
  • Elhanan Bone – UNC-Greensboro
  • Gideon Gamble - Winthrop
  • Jabs Newby – Eastern Kentucky

B.I.A.H. All-Name Third Team
  • Antuan Bootle – Sam Houston State
  • Delrico Lane – Tennessee-Martin
  • Antonio Bumpus – Utah State
  • Levi Knutson - Colorado
  • Onochie Ochie - Southeastern Louisiana

B.I.A.H. All-Name Fourth Team
  • Junior Treasure - Texas Southern
  • Kanbunga Tshinga Kasamba – Chicago State
  • Keaton Nankivil – Wisconsin
  • Beloved Rogers – Prairie View A&M
  • Hugh Mingo – Louisiana-Monroe

B.I.A.H All-Name-Team Honorable Mention
  • Daquan Brickhouse – Central Connecticut State
  • Rakeem Buckles - Louisville
  • Junior Cadougan – Marquette
  • Robo Creps - Illinois-Chicago
  • Mick Hedgepeth - Belmont
  • Cart Kincade - Army
  • Dallas Lauderdale - Ohio State
  • Skylar McBee – Tennessee
  • Shabazz Napier – Uconn
  • Cephas Ogelsby – Towson
  • Bubu Palo - Iowa State
  • Casper Ware – Long Beach State

All-That's-Not-A-Real-Name First Team
  • Gertavian Blake – Jackson State
  • Savalance Townsend – Arkansas-Pine Bluff
  • Quintarious Hutchinson – Alabama A&M
  • Dundrecous Nelson – Ole Miss
  • Shaunvanta Ingram – Alcorn State

All-That's-Not-A-Real-Name Second Team
  • LaceDarius Dunn - Baylor
  • YonDarius Johnson – Grambling State
  • Pendarvis Williams – Norfolk State
  • Bryquis Perine – UW-Green Bay
  • Mardracus Wade - Arkansas

All-That's-Not-A-Real-Name Third Team
  • Alwayne Bigby – Northeastern
  • Dartave Ruffin – Drexel
  • Vertrail Vaughns – George Mason
  • Leventrics Grey – Jacksonville State
  • Jimmer Fredette – BYU

All-That's-Not-A-Real-Name Fourth Team
  • Falando Jones – Mississippi Valley State
  • Amaryus Fermin – Cal-Ploy
  • Junard Hartley - Campbell
  • Verkeneo Mann – Tennessee State
  • Lavoris Weathers – Arkansas-Pine Bluff

All-That's-Not-A-Real-Name Honorable Mention
  • Latreze Mushatt – Murray State
  • Kyheim Hall – St. Francis (PA)
  • Quinard Jackson – UNC-Ashville
  • Crandall Head – Illinois
  • Zavion Neely – Illinois-Chicago
  • Dytanya Johnson – NJIT
  • Kraidon Woods - Drake
  • Benzor Simmons - Tennessee-Martin
  • Alzee Williams - North Texas
  • Charvez Davis - Alabama

All-Alliteration First Team
  • Blondy Baruti - Tulsa
  • Holton Hunsaker - Utah Valley
  • Dustin Dibble – UMKC
  • Lekendric Longmire - Oregon
  • Steadman Short - Ole Miss

All-Alliteration Second Team
  • Davante Drinkard - Southern Illinois
  • Dodie Dunson - Bradley
  • Orin O'Bryant - Hampton
  • Hector Harold - Pepperdine
  • Rupert Rose - Grambling State

All-Alliteration Third Team Team
  • Johndre Jefferson - South Carolina
  • Preston Purifoy - UAB
  • Perry Petty - Texas Pan-Am
  • Paris Paramore - Central Michigan
  • Heath Houston - Virignia Commonwealth

All-Alliteration Fourth Team
  • Luke Loucks - Florida State
  • Chase Creekmur - Arizona State
  • Mikhail McLean - Houston
  • Preston Purifoy - UAB
  • Matt Milk - St. Francis (NY)
  • Coy Custer – Lamar

All-Apostrophe First Team
  • Sai'Quon Stone - Southern Mississippi
  • Jer'Vaughn Johnson - Cal-State Fullerton
  • De’Mon Brooks – Davidson
  • Pe’Shon Howard – Maryland
  • Ja’Rob McCallum – UW-Milwaukee

All-Apostrophe Second Team
  • La’Ryan Gary – Louisiana-Lafayette
  • J’Covan Brown – Texas
  • Du’Vuaghn Maxwell – High Point
  • D’Walyn Roberts – Texas Tech
  • A’uston Calhoun – Bowling Green

All-Apostrophe Third Team
  • D’Aundray Brown – Cleveland State
  • La’Shard Anderson – Boise State
  • J’Hared Hall – Loyola (MD)
  • Toure’ Murry – Wichita State
  • Tre’Von Willis – UNLV
  • De’Angelo Speech – CCSU

All-Misspelled-Name First Team
  • Chehales Tapscott – Portland State
  • Justan Banks – Alabama A&M
  • Stephawn Brown – Alabama State
  • Jazmonn Major – Jackson State
  • Raymoan McAfee – Bethune-Cookman

All-Mispelled Second Team
  • Tyreak Johnson – Howard
  • Kregg Jones – CS-Bakersfield
  • Julyan Stone – UTEP
  • Kamyron Brown – Nebraska
  • Markeys Deans – Central Connecticut State
  • Erique Gumbs - Towson

All-Prefix First Team
  • JerShon Cobb – Northwestern
  • LaShay Page – Southern Miss
  • LaBradford Franklin – San Diego State
  • DuShawn Brooks – Youngstown State
  • TeAllen Price – Texas Southern

All-Prefix Second Team
  • DaMetrius Upchurch – North Carolina A&T
  • JaMychal Green – Alabama
  • DeAntre Jefferson – Chattanooga
  • JohnTavious Rucker – Georgia Southern
  • LaMarcus Lowe – Detroit

All-It's-Too-Bad-he-Wasn't-A-Pro-Wrestler-Or-Pornstar First Team
  • Howard Hurt - East Carolina
  • Stargell Love – Baylor
  • Cadarian Raines – Virginia Tech
  • Carter McMasters – Liberty
  • Scott Wood – North Carolina State

All-It's-Too-Bad-he-Wasn't-A-Pro-Wrestler-Or-Pornstar Second Team
  • Genesis Maciel – Hartford
  • Rayne Hage – Fordham
  • Booker Hucks - Long Island
  • Storm Warren – LSU
  • Cor-J Cox – Mississippi Valley State
  • Raven Barber - Mount St. Mary's

All-His-Parents-Never-Gave-Him-A-Chance First Team
  • Isaac Butts – Appalachian State
  • Stephen Lumpkins – American
  • John Peckinpaugh – IPFW
  • Deverin Muff – Eastern Kentucky
  • Keith Shamburger – San Jose State

All-His-Parents-Never-Gave-Him-A-Chance Second Team
  • Kazadi Nyanquila – New Hampshire
  • Givon Crump - Fresno State
  • Dwight Tarwater – Cornell
  • Eric Rippletoe – Southern Utah
  • Finis Craddock – Central Michigan

All Last-Name-First-Name First Team
  • Cleveland Melvin – DePaul
  • Wakefield Ellison – East Carolina
  • Carrington Tankson – Southern Miss
  • Dockery Walker – Brown
  • Sterling Melville – Colgate

All Two-Last-Name-First-Name Second Team

  • Langston Galloway - St. Joseph's
  • Holden Mobely - Belmont
  • Ridge Graham - Stetson
  • Chalmers Rogers – USC-Update
  • Kerwin Dunham - Northern Iowa

All-Juan Team
  • Jawan Nelson – Texas A&M CC
  • Juwan Staten – Dayton
  • Ja'Juan Johnson - Purdue
  • Jauwan Scaife – Ball State
  • Jawaan Alston – Buffalo
  • Jewaun Long – Murray State

All-Amalgomated Team
  • JohnMark Ludwick – William & Mary
  • Markeith Cummings – Kennesaw State
  • Kieondre Arkwright – Texas-Pan-Am
  • Denderek Washington – Alabama State
  • Julysses Nobles – Arkansas

All-NBA Team
  • Tim Hardaway Jr. - Michigan
  • Juwan Howard Jr. - Western Michigan
  • Emeka Okafor Jr. - Western Illinois
  • Glenn Rice Jr. - Georgia Tech
  • Isaiah Thomas - Washington
  • Avery Johnson - San Fransisco

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No. 15 Missouri Tigers

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Last Season: 23-11, 10-6 (5th Big XII), lost to West Virginia in the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament

Head Coach: Mike Anderson

Newcomers: Tony Mitchell*, Phil Pressey, Matt Pressey, Ricardo Ratliffe, Kadeem Green, Ricky Kreklow

Key Losses: JT Tiller, Zaire Taylor, Keith Ramsey

Projected Lineup:

  • G: Mike Dixon, So.
  • G: Marcus Denmon, Jr.
  • G: Kim English, Jr.
  • F: Laurence Bowers, Jr.
  • F: Ricardo Ratliffe, Jr.
  • Bench: Justin Safford, Sr.; Matt Pressey, Jr.; Ricky Kreklow, Fr.; Steve Moore, Jr.; Phil Pressey, Fr.; Kadeem Green, Fr.; Tony Mitchell, Fr.*

Outlook: Just two years ago, the Missouri Tigers were an Elite 8 team. So when I say that this is the most talented roster that Mike Anderson has had in his time in Columbia, MO, know that praise like that doesn't come likely. That talent isn't because the Tigers are loaded with first round picks and early entrees to the NBA Draft. Its because this roster will be capable of going 10 or 11 deep. And having a rotation of 10 or 11 players will be a key in the "40 minutes of hell" system that Mike Anderson runs.

If there is a star on this Missouri roster, it is Kim English. As a sophomore, English -- who is a gym rat of the highest degree -- worked his way into the starting lineup after coming off the bench early in the season. At 6'6", he has great size for the perimeter. He's probably the most potent offensive weapon at Anderson's disposal, with his game centering around his jump shot. He has range on that jumper and has spent the offseason developing the rest of his game -- pump fakes, mid-range, handle attacking the basket -- to keep defenders off balance. Defensively, English's length makes him ideal for the pressure and trapping that Missouri likes to apply.

As I said before, Missouri's lineup is quite deep. Joining English on the wing will be Marcus Denmon, who was Mizzou's second leading scorer despite being their sixth man. Denmon is one of these lightening-in-a-bottle kind of scorers, a kid that can hang 20 on you when he gets it going. Ricky Kreklow, a sharp shooting freshman, and Matt Pressey, a junior college transfer, will also see time on the perimeter.

The most interesting positional battle here will be between sophomore Mike Dixon and freshman Phil Pressey. Dixon was a part-time starter last season, but as a freshman he proved to be a capable scorer and creator, a very good defender, and the kind of player that will thrive in this system. Pressey, albeit a bit smaller than Dixon, is that same kind of player. A highly-regarded recruit (and along with Matt, the sons of Anderson's college roommate and former NBA player Paul Pressey), Pressey loves to play an up-and-down tempo and is an excellent athlete. It is going to be difficult to keep him out of the paint.

Up front, there is a lot to like on this team even if Tony Mitchell, the crown jewel of Anderson's recruiting class, isn't allowed to suit up this season (academic issues from high school). Laurence Bowers, the team's third leading scorer last season, is a versatile, 6'9" power forward that is a bit reminiscent of Leo Lyons and DeMarre Carroll. Expect a boost in his numbers this season. The likely starter in the middle will be Ricardo Ratliffe, who was arguably the best prospect in the JuCo ranks last season. He's a 6'8", 240 lb bruiser that will eat up space inside and help relieve pressure on the guards when the Tigers don't score in transition.

Senior Justin Safford, who should be fully recovered after partially tearing his acl last season, is another versatile, 6'9" forward that will compete with Bowers for minutes at the four. Junior Steve Moore is another big-bodied center that will see minutes this season. Freshman Kadeem Green, who is not quite 100% after rupturing his achilles in January, will only help to provide more depth when he gets healthy (provided he isn't redshirted).

Perhaps the best sign of the success this Missouri team will have is what the rest of the Big XII looks like. Kansas State really has one ball-handler in Jacob Pullen. Kansas may be without Josh Selby this year. Baylor will be dealing with replacing Tweety Carter. Texas will likely have freshman Cory Joseph running the point. None of those situations are ideal when you're going to be forced to deal with a defense that is pressuring and trapping with fresh bodies for 40 minutes. Missouri is a sleeper team to win a very good Big XII this season, and should be expected to make noise come March.
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