With Midnight Madness a few days ago, I decided to make my preseason top 25 list for the 11-12 NCAA season. At the bottom I included the recent big injuries and ineligibilities in college ball.
Pre season top 25
- Ohio St.
- Texas A&M
- Mississippi St
- Florida St
Just missed cut- California, Missouri, Michigan St, New Mexico, Temple
Recent Injury notes
Delvon Roe- Michigan St- career
Maurice Creek- Indiana- Season
DeWayne Denmon- USC- 4-6weeks
Nasir Robinson- Pitt- 3weeks
Scott Suggs- Washington- 3 months
Laurence Bowers- Missouri- Season
Tony Freeland- DePaul- Season
If I forgot any please let me know, I think I got all the recent ones.
Recent Eigibilty Notes
Murphy Holloway- Ole Miss-eligible
Ben Mclemore- Kansas- ineligible
Jamari Traylor- Kansas- ineligible
Amir Garrett- St.Johns- May be 2nd semester eligible
Jakarr Sampson- St. Johns- ineligible
Norvelle Pelle- St. Johns- ineligible
Braeden Anderson- Kansas- ineligible
Macari Brooks- DePaul- ineligible
Kenny Frease- Xavier- indefintiely
Tim Abromitis-Notre Dame- 4 games
Eli Holman- Detroit- Leave of Absence
i have cal winning the pac 12. i thgink the are gonna be very good this year.
Wait you think they'll beat Washington, UCLA, and Arizona?
yes They return all their top players, crabbe who was freshman of the year last season should be good for about 20 a game and will make a run at conference player of the year probably having to beat out his own teammate in gutierrez to get it. Harper kamp has to stay healthy though.
but i do think you could pretty much put cal, zona, ucla and washinton's names into a hat and just pull one, they are very close.
I think Baylor's a bit too high. Going to definitely have to wait and see with them, how they jell. I'm much more confident in Vandy, Louisville, Florida and Memphis over them at least for now.
Leslie McDonald has a torn ACL, but there is no timetable for his return and LaQuinton Ross is also ineligible until the winter semester.
Any news on when Eli Holman is going to be back and does anyone know what Kenny Frease did?
@providencefriars1 or anyone else
Do you have an insights on Louisiville? Only thing I've heard from them is that Peyton Siva has been working really hard this summer and he's becoming a better PG. I wanna see how much he's developed since last season
We have no bench and a starting C who has hardly played. We really only have 2 players Taylor and Robinson who have played big minutes. Releford and Elijah Johnson need to step up huge.
I think this year its those top 6 teams and everyone else.
Never count out Kansas..No matter who leaves they always find a way to turn out good teams...
Last year almost everyone had Michigan St. in the top 3..And they disappointed..This year not many folks have them in the top 20 and this is the year they will surprise..Dispite losing Losing and Roe..They have depth and young players waiting to prove themselves....I'll have them ranked number 16 to start the season...
I never count out Kansas, they are my boys and I think Bill Self gets more out of his playes than most coaches, I just think the ranking is high.
Sammy Buckeye- Baylor has undeniable talent, but they will live and die with Perry Jones and Pierre Jackson. Every good team has a nice PG so Jackson is going to have to play well at the 1. I believe they have AJ Walton at the 1 as well. Perry is their best player if he plays well that will set the tone for their season.
Thanks BasedNeo... I knew I forgot someone also you can add Jio Fontan to done for year list which is a shame because I really like his game. I have no knowledge of the Frease or Holman situation though. There is a freshman for URI who is ineligible but that doesnt really have an impact to their season let alone the draft.
I May Be Based- I posted an article earlier in the summer that had Pitino's early insights for Lville. It basically said Siva is their best player, their starting five as of then was Siva, CSmith, Blackshear, Kuric, Dieng. He said he really liked Behannen but he isnt quite ready for prime time and needs to become more bball aware. For example, he said Behannen didnt call out a screen for Elisha Justice and he got a concussion as a result. Ive heard around that he isnt a big fan of Mike Marra and that Marra wants to transfer to Providence, but cant since you cant transfer to another team in the Big East. ESPN rumors have said recently that Ware's eligibility is in question and their other freshman (whose name escapes me, the other guy besides Blackshear, Ware, and Behannen) has looked very good thus far.
I am a huge KU beiliever because of Robinson who is my pick for B12 POY. In programs like that, the bench players are so talented that they can step in once guys leave and not miss a beat.
2. Ohio St
4. Louisville (Size + Experience + Point play + Shooters + Depth... so why aren't they top 5?)
5. Washington (Louisville of the West)
6. Duke (Starting point guard Seth Curry... eeeehhhh. At least it isn't starting point guard Greg Paulus.)
7. Kentucky (How will they handle the size of UNC, Ohio St, and UConn?)
9. Mississippi State (Sidney and Moultrie are no Melo and Keita)
10. Florida State (Jeff Peterson should be able to replace Kitchen and they lived perfectly well without Singleton last year. They'll still guard everyone.)
11. UCLA (they should be better without Lee at point)
12. West Virginia
15. Kansas (If the frontcourt isn't awful, they'll be good, and it isn't like they haven't reloaded before.)
16. Syracuse (Fab Melo and Baye Keita still stink until further notice, so why the excitement?)
20. Wichita State
24. Vanderbilt (When has that core ever done anything against a good team? 2010-11 Illinois 2.0)
25. Florida (How will they handle SEC? Patric Young showed himself to be really good at picking up two quick fouls, and they don't have anyone else.)
I agree with UK as the number Two team and have no doubt they can handle the size of the other team. UNC has Henson and Zeller. Davis is about Henson's size and Jones is 6'10 254 so i don't think size will be much of a issue especially since most teams MIGHT have one good offensive big. I think people think just because a team has a big that means they will be better but fail to think about if the big has much of a offensive game. UK is gonna destroy Louisville once again. People also overrate a big that outweighs another big Henson has showed you can out weigh him but he's still gonna send you're shot in the opposite direction and Davis is built in the same mold defensively yet better offensively( there's a reason the consensus 1 and 2 is UNC and UK
I think Kansas is too high because unlike pass years they lose alot but more question marks coming back and the ineligible players are gonna hurt
Pac-12 is a toss up between about 6 teams. There are favorites but it wouldn't surprise me if a team predicted to finish 6-7 wins it
And if you think Davis is going to live up to the preseason hype then you fully understand that putting Davis at center and having him exposed to getting two quick fouls against Sidney, Zeller, Sullinger, Drummond, etc. is in no way the best interest of Kentucky. If defense was just blocking shots, then the Wizards and Jazz would be good at it. Sam Muldrow was blocking shots left and right last year for South Carolina, it didn't help him against Jared Sullinger. The year Marshall had Hassan Whiteside, they weren't good defensively.
Also, have fun thinking Jones is 6'10.
Jone's height doesn't really matter since he does work down low
Not to worried about Drummond because he isn't known to draw fouls and if you watched him you would know he's not a back to the basket player
No one can check Sully so he will get his regardless
Zeller can score but Davis will score in transition as well. Zeller isn't a shut down player and neither are the players you named so even though they will score they can be scored on as well
Sidney won't be able to play awhole game still (did you watch how he looked at Miss St maroon madness? yeah case closed on that one
I don't expect Davis to score a bunch of point but he showed this summer while checking Sully,Thomas and other good college bigs that his shot blocking and defense is gonna translate to the next level (that seems to be two things as well as rebounding that translates easily to the college game)
i don't agree that Davis is a first team All American on offense because he doesn't have alot of back to the basket moves but he will be able to score because he has a nice mid range game. He can out run the guys on that list so fast break points will be his forte. He will be able to drive pass Sully and Sidney, like i said before neither is know for defense. Zeller is gonna be the one big problem but i suspect Jones check's him.
Don't forget this is a TEAM game so even if a big has a good game doesn't mean that team is gonna win. UK has ALOT of weapons and will have a nice amount of mismatches 6'8 sg Miller,Davis who can take bigs outside,Jones able to take PF out side, Kidd-Gilchrist who is talented,athletic and has a non-stop motor along with Davis which is why there is alot of hype. Like i said there's a reason they are the consensus number 2 team
Forgot to add about the height, just about everyone is shorter than there listed height so even if Jones is shorter than 6'10 it evens out since the other players are more likely than not shorter than their listed height. On top of all that length is much more important than height and his arms are pretty long.
Rutgers will probably not make the NCAA this year, but they will be a tough team night in and out. Mike Rice has those boys ready. Kentucky has a major weakness, that was exposed last year. That is, only one real ball-handler in Teague. Knight got fatigue throught the tournament and you saw a different Kentucy team whenever he wasnt on the floor. I would take Uconn of Kentucky at this point. Uconn has more battled tested players.
Thats the same weakness UNC has. The difference this year is The transfer from Miss is a point guard and there are more options on offense. Knight got tired because he had to score and pass, Teague won't have to score much
Every one always has more battle tested players than UK.UNC had more last year and the year before but UK still made the elite 8 and final four. One thing about Cal's freshmen is they are more than prepared to play college basketball and don't play like freshman but the time the new year roles around. This year will be a little different because now they have good all conference potential players returning as well as two freshmen who are not only skilled but have unmatched high motors (cousins,Wall,Jones were all good but they didn't all have high motors or take pride in defense like Kidd-Gilchrist and Davis)
I wouldn't be surprised if Cal won the Pac-12 next year LLPerez is right about their personnel, they go from losing alot of talent from the 09-10 team to having alot of talent on the team. Allen Crabbe could be a darkhorse All-America candidate on the wing with his smooth shooting stroke, Gutierrez is a very tough competitor who has been an overachiever, Harper Kemp is a solid,solid player, and they have guys like Richard Solomon in the post ready to emerge. Thye might need a distributor/PG to step up, but Gutierrez is adequate if one doesn't emerge. Washington and Arizona don't defend very well on paper (particularly Washington), and UCLA will need a perimeter scorer to emerge (they are my favorite in the league though), but Cal has a VERY legit shot at the PAC-12 title.
I'm interested in the SEC next year though. Kentucky has the horses to win the league, but Vandy has experience and talent, Florida will be able to score and run on any team because of their guards (worried about depth and lack of frontline though), Miss. State has intrigue (Stansbury is a bad coach though) and Alabama has alot of talent, size, athleticism and Coach Grant is a very good coach to me. I'm excited to see what happens!
Yeah i worry about Vandy because they return everyone and have three NBA players on the team.
I'm not as high on UCLA as most because Smith can't play a whole game (out of shape and fouls) and the wear twins are overrated. Also their top guard is still dealing with legal issues isn't he?
Jerime Anderson has legal issues, but he's not their top guard by any stretch. The Wear twins haven't proven anything but early reports were they have been great in practice and that should translate by some point in the conference slate at the latest. And don't forget Reeves Nelson, he was the more productive UCLA frontline guy last year and he's underrated and pretty good. They have pieces at UCLA, Smith's minutes will be limited due to the obvious size and foul factors, but they have pieces outside of him. They have one of the 3-5 best frontline groups in the nation.
as for ucla's jeremie andersen, charges were dropped and his coach said he would miss some games, but he is practicing with the team and it wont be much of a suspension. And i dont think anyone is expecting smith to get much more then maybe 25-28 minutes a game. The bruins have 6 bigs that can play and its more important to keep smith fresh then run him until he's tired.
syracuse at 16??? you are crazy bro...and whats all the excitement about? they are pretty much bringing back the same team (minus jackson) and adding one of the top recruiting classes...
That's good that his legal issues are taken care of. Wear twins are overrated(been thinking that since their Jr year in H.S. And all player look good in practice going against each other. Every report from every team is that every 8th,9th,10th man is looking real good in practice. I'm not high on UCLA but just like i said before 6-7 teams could win it int hat conference. The conference just isn't that good as far as dominate teams. They are better then last year though
"And all player look good in practice going against each other. Every report from every team is that every 8th,9th,10th man is looking real good in practice."
That's not true at all...Every report from every team does not say guys are doing good. The same reports that speak on how good everyone does in practice spoke on how out of shape Josh Smith was in June and July. Coaches like to say things without going in great detail to media in practice, but it does not mean they just say everyone is doing good. The Wear twins were said to have been the best players in the frontline in practices, and that type of praise isn't thrown around just for the sake of being thrown around.
I understand your concerns about Kentucky, truly I do. But, tell me the part about how these do not apply to Washington again? Really want to know. Aziz N'Diaye is big, but he is a foul machine with no offensive game. Than you have Darnell Gant. That is it for experienced big men. Shawn Kemp Jr. is a major wild card, and their freshmen bigs Breunig and Jarreau make Anthony Davis look like Shaquille O'Neal. Tell me how this team is better than Kentucky, I am darn curious. Have to say I wonder how Louisville is better as well. I like Peyton Siva a lot and they have some decent returning players, but why are Gorgui Dieng, Stephan Van Treese, Chane Behanan and Zach Price any better than Terrence Jones, Anthony Davis, Eloy Vargas and Kyle Wiltjer?
Yes, I realize that Davis should probably not be a Center. But, my guess is that when he plays against an Ohio State, UNC or even Connecticut, he is not going to be guarding these guys one on one. Defense is not just about shot blocking, and I think that Anthony Davis does more than just that as a defender. He has quick feet and active hands. Marcus Camby was nearly the same size and build as Davis, he did a pretty good job as a post defender. Not saying that Davis is Camby, but I think that he will have an impact down low. Personally, I like his ability to defend the post. I like Kentucky's ability to do that as a team, as they will have some incredible speed on defense to make post players regret putting the ball on the floor.
Davis may not live up to the pre-season hype surrounding him, but he is an incredibly talented player with some fantastic instincts and ability on both ends of the court. With the returning players for Kentucky along with all of the talent they are bringing in, I do not know how Louisville or Washington are better teams. Seeing what Kentucky accomplished last season, why is this team any worse? The loss of Josh Harrellson? Tyler Zeller killed them last year with Harrellson, but they still had the talent and ability on the rest of the court to stop just about everyone else. I feel this years Kentucky team is better than last years. Maybe it is buying into the hype, but I was just impressed with their freshmen and think they have some solid returning players (Jones, Doron Lamb, Darius Miller, Vargas as a big body). They may not have a great deal of experience, which could hurt, but they had one senior last year as well who played a major impact. I just would like a more clear explanation of why Louisville and Washington are in any better of a position than Kentucky.
BothTeamsPlayedHard pre-season Rankings is Extremely Bold..
But That might be the end of season rankings....lol
And who do the Wear twins have to guard them, over weight Josh Smith, Nelson? Many people can look good in practice but i'm gonna go by how they have performed in the game untill proven other wise. Righgt now all they are are good pratice players. You can look on every college chat board and you will see everyone saying this or that guy is looking very good in open runs( yeas there have only been open runs up untill firday's, other than that it has been drills so the Wear twins have looked good in open runs and drills neither is close to game action because open run is very little defense or structure and drills are just that)
And as far as UK.. Has any top freshman not live up to the hype or surpass it for Cal
Others who weren't ranked as high played beyond what people thought
All of them not only lived up to but surpassed it. I remember people saying Wall wouldn't live up to the hype or Knight was overrated (because he didn't do alot on the end of the year allstar games). Yes we will struggle a tad bit early i'm sure but Cal's freshmen always eventually "gets it" An di think Davis has a better chance against Zeller than Jorts because unlike any other big he can run with him up and down the floor and is as long if not longer(doesn't mean he will stop Zeller but Zeller beats alot of bigs with his quickness)
"And who do the Wear twins have to guard them, over weight Josh Smith, Nelson? Many people can look good in practice but i'm gonna go by how they have performed in the game untill proven other wise."
Yeah because Josh Smith are Reeves Nelson scrubs right? They might not be NBA starters right now, but it is a gauge that 2 transfers are practicing against 2 productive players from a Sweet 16 team. We've seen in recent years that practicing with a team off a transfer year can see players grow up and adapt (Ekpe Udoh, Curtis Kelly for example), I think the Wear twins will be productive down the stretch of the year at the latest given that they have competed at a high level against a good frontline for almost 2 years now. You can't write off a report though, especially if your reason for writing it off has no merit at all.
When Aziz N'Diaye, Darnell Gant, Shawn Kemp, Gorgui Dieng, and the rest are going through offseason workouts, one-on-ones with coaches (or in N'Diaye's case he spent time working with Spencer Hawes), watching film, etc. they are doing so knowing their function as a basketball player to their team. It is not about developing them into Tim Duncan or Pau Gasol. Those teams have their primary and secondary scorers in place elsewhere. In the case of Washington, there is a strong track record under Lorenzo Romar of players developing as they go along. Louisville also has a decent history of player development. Now, in the case of the foul prone big men, why is he picking up fouls? Bad timing, trying to block everything, arriving late on rotations, bad positioning, and jumping over backs basically covers the big man list. Those are things that can be worked on. Not all guys do, but that is a matter of a coach teaching and a player learning. I’m willing to bet that an international big man going from year one to year two with quality coaching and by accounts good heads on their shoulders. Now, the reason I don’t see Melo and Keita grow is that they played internationally in July and August and were still bad. Keita went on some barnstorming tour and struggled. Melo went to play in the World University Games and wasn’t much there. There is also that little domestic charge on Melo that reveals a little about his head. If they didn't grow from March to August, then the September to November leap seems unlikely. Even if I bet wrong and lets say N’Diaye and Dieng do not play smart enough defensively to be on the court for 25-30 minutes in the games that matter, there are those other options who are being taught to play the role he is. So while giving away free scoring opportunities is not ideal, there are still guys behind them. They don’t just have one big body, and the bodies they are putting out there aren't out of position freshmen.
John Calipari has on multiple times said that he looks at his role as to get his guys ready for the NBA. Anthony Davis is not an NBA center. He has talked about Davis being willing to play the center position if asked, but also said that playing him in the post is not what he does. Am I supposed to believe that Davis is being coached to understand how to handle 280 lbs bigs with post moves as well as the ability to move and rebound? If they are coaching him as a projected forward that won’t be what they are doing, and if they are looking at him as one of their major sources for offense then what possible sense would there be to putting him out of position and exposing him to possibly getting in early foul trouble? Their center, whether they like it or not, is Eloy Vargas. Now, if he makes the Harrellson leap, then Kentucky is probably right up there with UNC. He didn’t exactly inspire confidence when he was working out with the DR team this summer, so I am not betting on it working. Sure, there are only going to be 5-10 games this year where that is going to matter, but those ten games are where titles are won. Of course they will be able to beat Marist, Radford, and Lamar, but those games really don’t matter. Beating the brains out of Auburn and whatever is left of Tennessee really has no bearing on how they’d fare against someone who is good. Baylor beat bad teams with Acy and Jones playing out of position, it didn’t work against the better teams in the Big XII. Those Duke teams with no big men got out and ran like crazy and looked solid in home games, but they’d got beat when teams had the size and athletes to attack their middle. There was no safety net. J’Mison Morgan and the first three years of Brian Zoubek didn’t get it done. If I am measuring against the barometer of competing against UNC, Ohio State, and UConn, I'm not going to be impressed with a failed blueprint just because people who watch AAU basketball like their collection of individuals and place no value on whether the freshman are being put in a position to succeed against similarly talented but more experienced and physically superior big men.
Davis doesn't have to be a conventional back to the basket center in order to out play other big centers. All you need you're bigs to do is defend and rebound and Jones, Davis will be able to do both. TEAM DEFENSE is the key word here, ust like Cal's Umass team with a Skinny camby and a 6'4 2010 pound Donte Bright at PF
Melo was a PF in college and Roscoe Smith was the same yet both teams won the title. Davis doesn't have to deal with any unstoppable big man in college (Jones will check Sully if they play Ohio St)
As far as the Wear twins YOU can keep believing the hype but imma go by what they have PROVEN until they prove other wise and what they have PROVEN is they aren't that good
Still have questions as to how they are "The Louisville of the West". They lost 3 major seniors (Justin Holiday, Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Venoy Overton), not to mention their heart and soul (Isaiah Thomas). I am guessing you made this before finding out Tony Wroten had arthroscopic surgery, which I suppose he can still come back from relatively soon. But, Scott Suggs is sidelined for a few months, and his not being around definitely hurts their depth. Plus, while I am sure Terrence Ross will have a big improvement on his freshman year, he played HS with Terrence Jones, who is a pretty good player in his own right. Now, I have a feeling, and correct me if I am wrong, but Kentucky would more than likely be able to defend Ross with better success than UW would have at defending Jones.
I think Lorenzo Romar is a great coach and I do like the UW stable of guards, but I am not convinced that this means they should be ranked ahead of Kentucky. I know that you have your worries about Kentucky's defensive abilities with Anthony Davis in the middle, but they do after all have Vargas, who I think is probably about as competent as Aziz N'Diaye and Gorgui Dieng. I know he did not make the DR's roster, but going through the process must not have hurt. Plus, how exactly do they stop Kentucky? That is my biggest question. Both Louisville and Washington, if anything, are two teams that Kentucky would more than likely excel against due to their lack of interior scoring. If you are worried about interior players like N'Diaye or Dieng messing with a guy like Davis offensively, well, I think that Anthony Davis will manage. I think he is incredibly quick and crafty, not to mention aggressive. He is not Kevin Garnett, and I am not saying he is an All-American lock like many others, but the guy is a gamer, who should make an impact. He is not Terrence Jones, and I am thinking his FG% and hopefully not falling in love with the 3 point shot will show this.
The thing I am wondering the most with Washington and Louisville, is how is their firepower any greater than Kentucky? Kentucky has a couple incredibly talented sophomore players returning who were big time scorers as freshman in Doron Lamb and Terrence Jones. They have a long and talented senior who was a starter on a Final Four team last year in Darius Miller. The freshman are all incredibly talented as well. I do not think that Marquis Teague is necessarily the equal of Brandon Knight, but he is incredibly fast and a solid distributor. I know that Anthony Davis and Mike Kidd-Gilchrist are freshman, but I for one think they bring a very strong look at the defensive end with their speed and aggression, even with their lack of girth. Kentucky was a team that got to a Final Four with ONE real big man in Josh Harrelson last year. Not to mention, they survived a drubbing at the hands of Jared Sullinger and Tyler Zeller to do so, by playing great perimeter defense, which I think they will definitely have the ability to do this season.
There are things about Kentucky that are worrisome, a lot of it is indeed guess work with how Davis will respond to be pretty much the man in the middle. But, I think they will be a very tough team to stop offensively, and I will be surprised if they are not a team that gives teams fits on defense, especially teams lacking a Tyler Zeller, Jared Sullinger or Andre Drummond. Last time I checked, that was just about everyone outside of UNC, Ohio State and UConn. Also, last time I checked, they got by two out of the three in the NCAA tournament directly last season. I do realize that the two teams they got by Ohio State and UNC, are a year older and have a solid group of returnees. But, Kentucky has some big time returnees and some very interesting new players as well. I know that experience tends to win NCAA championships (among other things), but I think in some cases, talent does indeed trump experience. I certainly did not think Kentucky would get by Ohio State and UNC, but they did. I think this group might be even more talented. I really do not know that Washington or Louisville have the fire power to best a team like Kentucky come March. It is certainly possible, but I see them having issues as well, particularly in a lack of low post offense. Wayne Blackshear and Tony Wroten seem to be a large part of why one would think they might be better, and they are wild cards as well. I just want to know, when you match these teams up, what makes you believe that Louisville and Washington are better than Kentucky, because it has to be more than just experience and it has to be more than REALLY not liking Anthony Davis playing Center.
The three players who played the best for UK in the tournament are no longer on their roster. Josh Harrellson was their only big man, but when he was playing 34, 35 , 37, and 38 minutes that wasn't an issue. Do I think a freshman small forward that you seem to want to believe can play center as competently as a senior who had always been a center? No, no I don't. Please look to last year's Baylor team for the reasoning. Do I see DeAndre Liggins on the roster to lock down Will Buford. No I don't. Do I think Doron Lamb or a freshman can do that? No I don't. The only reason to like Kentucky is if you think AAU ball can win in the NCAA. That is it. Talent matters, but there are plenty of teams in the top ten with the same level of talent in their rotation and actually have all their spots manned by people who know how to play them. This isn't the 2010 team with Cousins and Patterson up front with Wall at the point. The only way to luck into what they had last year with Harrellson is if Eloy Vargas can step up. It is possible, but I am not betting on it. They simply don't have the bigs. Duke couldn't win without them. Baylor couldn't win without them, and I am not exactly breaking news that it isn't going to happen this year.
Louisville has the point guard set. He is an upperclassman playmaker who doesn't make mistakes. Kuric, Smith, and Marra are excellent shooters. Kuric could easily be this year's Jon Diebler. With a dynamic point guard those shots will be a plenty. They have a multitude of different options in their frontcourt with long and athletic in Swopshire and Buckles, a DeJuan Blair wannabe in Benahan, old school big body in Price, a true defensive center in Dieng, and a big upperclassmen body in Van Treese. I see four big men who know their function when they are on the court. Their presence is not unimportant, and when facing a lean team that can get beat on the offensive glass I expect them to fare well. I basically can repeat what I wrote for Louisville about Washington. Ross and C.J. Wilcox (who played well in the time he had last year) are not a downgrade on the wings. Abdul Gaddy was not a bum prior to getting hurt. He is back, and if the knee isn't right they have the freshman as well. This is also a team that is not lacking for big men who know their function.
Oh by the way, Cuse had a frontcourt of Melo, Hakim Warrick, and Craig Forth, so who was the 4? UConn was starting Okwandu, Giffey, Olander, Coombs-McDaniel, and just about every other big man on their roster in an attempt to get another big man next to Oriakhi. I guess March was such a long time ago.
Kentucky's Blue-White basketball scrimmage could have been billed as the Terrence Jones Pre-season Showcase Wednesday night.
Jones, who was a star from the get-go as a freshman last year and could have jumped to the (locked-out) NBA, made an impressive sophomore debut in Rupp Arena.
As Coach John Calipari has been saying for the last month, Jones seems to have ratcheted up his game considerably from last season.
The Blue-White hoopalooza gave a glimpse of the beast the 6-foot-9, 250-pound Jones has become.
It was just a scrimmage and Jones was going against freshmen defenders, but his numbers were jaw-dropping — 52 points (26 in each half), 24-for-31 shooting, 16 rebounds and six assists — as he led the Blues to a 126-104 victory in front of 12,134 fans.
"He changed his habits, he changed his body, he changed his skill set, he changed his approach toward practicing and conditioning," Calipari said. "That's why you see the change.
"He's on a mission."
Jones said the focus of his off-season work was "just being stronger, working on my handle and shooting, and trying to become an all-around better player."
Anthony Davis, a 6-10 freshman, had the unenviable task of defending Jones most of the first half. Kyle Wiltjer, a 6-9 freshman, had no better luck. It was no contest as Jones, looking quicker and more explosive than last season, attacked the rim for an assortment of dunks and finger-roll layups.
Davis said Jones "has 20 or 25 pounds on me, and he used that strength a lot to go to the basket and body me for layups.
"It shows me what I need to work on to guard bigger guys."
Davis had his moments, gliding like a gazelle and showing a nice touch around the basket. He finished with 27 points and 13 rebounds.
Wiltjer displayed a sharp long-range eye. He hit three threes in a row during a stretch of the first half. He wound up with 27 points and 11 boards.
But neither Wiltjer nor Davis showed much in the way of a strong post presence in their coach's view.
"Kyle and Anthony aren't tough enough," Calipari said.
But he did like the effort from 6-11 senior Eloy Vargas, even though he was only 3-for-11 shooting.
"He missed a ton of shots, a bunch of one-footers. But he battled and fought and that's all we're going to ask him to do," Calipari said.
Even though veterans Doron Lamb and Darius Miller combined for 55 points, Calipari wasn't thrilled with the way they shot the ball. He noted they stuffed most of their points into the closing minutes when the scrimmage turned into a free-wheeling offensive exhibition.
"Everybody's excited because you saw a lot of high-flying dunking, blocking, tipping," Calipair said. "That doesn't win, though.
"We've got to play basketball."
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, a 6-7 freshman, took a while to find his rhythm but got into the flow midway through the first half with three consecutive baskets — a spin-move layup, a drop-in-the-bucket dunk and a driving layup. He finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
Most of the starters went the full 40 minutes, this after going through a shoot-around earlier in the day. That contributed to the lack of intensity down the stretch.
"They were exhausted," Calipari said.
Even though the Cats are just 13 practices into the pre-season, Calipari admitted he likes this team's makeup.
"We're pretty athletic, we're pretty long," he said.
He also liked his team's unselfishness in the scrimmage, reflected in a combined 46 assists.
"We're trying to play together," he said.
Still, Calipari knows the Cats have a long road ahead.
"If you know basketball, and we have four million people in this state that do, you're saying, 'Wow, he's got a ways to go with this team."
Getting this team pointed in the right direction on the court will fall to freshman point guard Marquis Teague.
With his predecessors Brandon Knight and John Wall in attendance, Teague showed some of the skills and savvy needed for the job.
He had 19 points, including 9-for-10 free throws, eight assists and two turnovers.
Calipari said Teague's top priority is learning the pace of the game.
"He needs to know when to go, when to pull, when to fly and when to pull back.
"He's got a team full of guys he's gonna have to keep up with in balanced scoring, a lot of guys who can put it down."
But, Warrick was indeed a 4 for the most part in college. Kueth Duany also played a nice role as a PF as well. March was not that long ago, but did it seem like UConn's front court was the end all be all for their championship? Plus, I guess March must have been quite a while ago if you are calling Giffey a "big man". Dude, Olander and Okwandu were both experiments, but they played a combined 21 minutes against Kentucky in the Final Four. They played 20 in the National Championship. They were the only real "Center" possibilities on UConn besides Oriakhi. Giffey is a tooth pick and Coombs-McDaniel was 6'7. Add to the fact, the latter two were a freshman and a sophomore.
I am not "playing AAU ball", and I agree that Kentucky's lack of size could hurt them. They had the same issue going into last year, however, and they turned out to be much better than expected. I am not seeing a team that steam rolls the competition, just a team full of talent that will be very difficult to match up with. I know how valuable DeAndre Liggins was as a defender, but I think Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, while only a freshman, is a very advanced defensive prospect. To me, that is the upside he brings to the table much more so than anything he does on the other end of the floor.
Now, I am actually not to against your decision of Louisville at #4. You made a point with it, and while I think they will still have some questions to answer, and do not necessarily think that Chane Behanan is the second coming of DeJuan Blair right now, that seems to be legit. But, calling this years UW team the Louisville of the West seems crazy. You barely even go into what they have down low, and quite frankly, I think you just were looking for a team to rank in front Kentucky out of spite. There, I said it.
I remember that Syracuse was not ranked in the Pre-Season Top 25 prior to winning the tournament in 2003. But, they had Carmelo Anthony. Terrence Ross is definitely a great player, but I doubt he is Brandon Roy, much less Carmelo Anthony. Not to mention, I have serious reservations about their front court. Their expected starters both averaged 8 ppg per 30 minutes. They may "know their roles", not to mention more than likely improved, but I have a hard time really fearing a team with that type of production up front. Gaddy was not a "bum", but has not exactly lit things up. Why this years UW team is "the Louisville of the West", I have little idea, even less with your description of them. Still, anything is possible. Just keep in mind, Josh Harrelson averaged 4 mpg as a Junior on a team that made the Elite 8 and than went on to average 28.5 as the primary big man on a team that made the Final Four last year. Also, I have just as much faith, if not more, in Eloy Vargas, than I do in N'Diaye. Again, you may be right about Louisville, but I think you are out on a gigantic limb with this years UW team, especially in thinking they will be a better team than Kentucky.
If you think spite has something to do with my reservations about Kentucky, then do you also think I put those words in the mouths of Calipari and Davis? Am I editing the Lexington Herald? Their lack of bulk in this year's NCAA matters. They can see it. Terrence Jones was a 42 percent shooter in the SEC last year, and the Davis-Wiltjer combo were completely overwhelmed. If you want to buy Kentucky as someone who can legitimately win the title, then you must also buy Seth Davis' argument that Baylor is top eight good. See, he must have missed last season where Baylor got shredded on the glass in the Big XII. A front line of Perry Jones, Anthony Jones, and Quincy Acy is going to fare better this year because? It won't. The Kyle Singler-Lance Thomas 4-5 didn't win Duke a title. I never said Kentucky will be bad. It is nice that they have big name recruits, but so do the teams in the top 20 and many of the others actually have all their positions manned. There is not one Josh Harrellson or Alex Oriakhi on that roster. All that came out of that scrimmage were quotes from the coach and team to back my sentiment. Please try to explain to me why you think this Kentucky team will do any better than similarly constructed teams in the past. You just seem to want to brush it aside.
The Washington thing isn't complicated. I thought Gaddy took a step forward last year before getting hurt. The injury didn't make him dumber. He can create and properly run the offense without making mistakes. I like that in a point guard. It is the same reason I am optimistic about Peyton Siva. Terrence Ross and C.J. Wilcox weren't bad last year. Having a lesser role and being effective in it shouldn't keep me from thinking that they can step up. Then there is the freshman Romar beemed about and foolishly compared to Magic. He won't be Magic, but he should do some nice things for them. If he is great, then all the more reason to believe they will have plenty of offense from their perimeter players. I think they not only fill the roles left by Thomas and Holiday, but are more efficient in the way Notre Dame was after Harangody left. Up front, I think Aziz N'diaye will take a step forward. He is a huge man who is an international player in his second year in the NCAA. Is it a leap of faith? Yes, but it is grounded in the history of player development in Lorenzo Romar's system as well as that of international big men like Bryan-Amaning, Thabeet, Hamady N'diaye, Nikola Vucevic, etc. The game slows down for everyone as a sophomore, but by year two the international players it is often even more pronounced. By the way, this is also why I think Gorgui Dieng will have a good year. Both Dieng and N'Diaye weren't bums. They fouled too much. I am betting that they will cut down on them due to the mental game slowing down and physically being better conditioned. If Fab Melo hadn't established himself as a fool and played less than impressively over the summer, I would give him the same benefit of the doubt. The problem for him is that there is actual information that gets out about his play over the summer. Even if I am wrong that Dieng and N'diaye make big second year leaps, I like the fact that Washington has more big bodies. Gant, Kemp Jr, Jarreau, and Simmons can play the 4 and 5. Louisville has Price, Van Trease, Benahan (I didn't say Benahan was the second coming a Blair wannabe would seemingly be different in my eyes, but he is similar in that he is a wide bodied big man who should be able to use that big butt to work the middle effectively), and Swopshire for the 4 and 5. Those aren't small forwards who will have to be out of position trying to guard Renardo Sidney and Tyler Zeller or attempt to keep Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey off the offensive glass.
Not brushing anything aside. Just wanting to know why that makes Aziz N'Diaye and Darnell Gant suddenly become Renardo Sidney and Tyler Zeller. Just because Calipari is commenting on what it takes to play winning basketball, that now means that Davis is a lost cause for the year? Come on, man. He is stating that they do indeed need to get better and get tougher. I believe I have been addressing this. I just do not think it is out of the question that it could happen. What I do find a little surprising is that UW's group of guys who know their roles will beat out players who are flat out better than them. I think you could see this as a possibility. I have a hard time believing UW is the class of the Pac-12 (Clearly think UCLA is going to be better), much less a team that I see beating Kentucky.
Hear me saying anything about Baylor's dominance? Nope. Because I believe it is a clearly different situation with Kentucky. Their could indeed be parallels, but I think this team has reloaded pretty darn well, and that UW will miss their lost pieces more than Kentucky will. You know what would have made UW 5th. If Terrence Jones had gone there instead of Kentucky. Than, go nuts if he had stayed for his sophomore season. I could end up eating my hat, but I am going out on a limb and saying that even if it was not out of spite, it was out of you expecting far to much out of UW's big men. The UW backcourt is excellent, but I think they will struggle to score inside and that their bigs may know their role, but that does not necessarily translate to elite status. If they play Kentucky, I do not think either throws Davis or Jones around. Call me crazy, but that is how I see it. Did you think Josh Harrelson would be pretty much the only prominent big man on a Final Four team? Did you see the same thing with Alex Oriakhi? Nope. But, they were. I for one do not see that in N'Diaye and Gant. Davis and Jones, for all the problems they may have, I think will have what it takes to make Kentucky one of the better teams in the nation, whereas Washington, while more than likely under ranked by most, will not be on their level.
UCLA does not appear to have much in the way of perimeter shooting. I like their front court and feel the losses of Lee and Honeycutt won't be particularly hard, but I don't think they can shoot the 3 effectively and that is a must in college basketball.
If you want to question my pick off Washington, fine. I've been wrong before, I'll be wrong again, but there is nothing bold about thinking that team is going to be good. Unlike what seems to be in vogue now, I don't rank college teams and college players solely on prep and NBA Draft lists. They are different creatures. Yahoo ranked Anthony Davis as being a better center than Tyler Zeller. That is ungodly stupid if what they are ranking is projection this season's play. Anthony Davis is a twig who is going to struggle if he plays the 5 in real games because he doesn't have the body, strength, experience, or coaching to make it work at this time. The fact that Kentucky might put someone like him out of position out of necessity tells me that they are not going to be able to win the title in this year's NCAA. Aziz N'diaye has 40 lbs and an additional year of high level coaching to play his position well. I trust that to win games far more than makeshifting.
That is fine, I guess. I think that teams makeshift quite a bit in college basketball, especially as of late. You keep saying that Anthony Davis has been playing SF his entire life, but he looked pretty good playing Center to me at the Hoop Summit. He was active, incredibly fast and despite playing against much larger opponents, he held his own. True, he was playing against HS level players (Though Bismack Biyombo is probably in his 30's. Plus, you could mention his production in that game, but I recall very little of it being against Davis), but I feel like many teams have been trying to make up for lack of a "true" Center for quite a while.
I know how valuable big men are to winning games. I agree that Duke could not win with Lance Thomas and Kyle Singler playing 5/4, and were much better with big Zoubek and the brothers Plumlee providing some length and bulk. But, while you may see Anthony Davis as being overrated, I think he is an incredibly talented player who should bring a lot to the table. Is he a guy who is a lock for an All-American team? I would say no, but he should have a major impact with his size and length, I do not think he backs down. Terrence Jones played the 4 spot all of last year, and seeing that Kentucky usually played a 6 man rotation, took time at the 5 spot as well.
The Yahoo rankings always leave a lot to be desired, and I have no clue in hell what they are based on. But, while I think Tyler Zeller would more than likely take it to Kentucky again, I think you leave out the likely impact a guy like Davis could make on the other end as well. It is not purely about NBA potential, I think that he is a gamer. He played against top notch guys all summer, and from what I heard he held his own. He may not have been coached as a 4/5 until just a short while ago, but he seemed to pick things up pretty quickly. I think he is much more ready to play a post position than Perry Jones was last season, not to mention I believe he will have a better shot selection.
I am sure you know by now that I am a huge Oregon Ducks fan. My team may have never won a championship, but we have been competitive for a long time, and we won the CBI last season. We even made the Elite 8 in 2007, losing to the amazing, stacked front court of Florida (who had much more size than Kentucky or UNC, as far as combination of strength with guys like Al Horford, Chris Richard and Marreese Speights, even Noah had bulked up slightly). But, if their is one thing I can tell you, we have to make due all of the time. Maarty Leunen was our Center. He had little to no post game. Both members of our back court were under 6 feet tall (Tajuan Porter was 5'6 if his hair is sticking up and Aaron Brooks is probably 5'10 at the most), we had a 6'4 SG playing SF and a 6'6 SF playing PF. But, we made due, and we beat a Georgetown team I thought would crush us early in the year with 7'2 Roy Hibbert, as well as Jeff Green and DaJuan Summers. We focused on our strengths, which were shooting and pushing the pace. We lost games, but we ended up having a pretty amazing season. Have to say, Kentucky has a lot more size than that team had.
Post play is huge for post season play, so is the luck of the draw. Did you think UConn had the post play necessary to win in the title? Did Butler or VCU with Matt Howard and Jamie Skeen. Did you not think that Kansas would crush VCU with the Morris' and Thomas Robinson holding it down? I sure did. But, it did not happen. What is your answer to how Kentucky made it to the Final Four last year? What is your answer to you knowing that Josh Harrelson, who played 4 minutes per game as a junior, would play 28 as a senior and be the only "true" big man on the team that played meaningful minutes? It certainly, at the very least, appears Kentucky is deeper than last year. So are Ohio State and UNC, but they did indeed beat both of those teams and came within one point of beating the eventual champions. You make it seem like Lorenzo Romar is the only coach who helps his players improve and that John Calipari is just trying to stack the decks. Kentucky is a much bigger program than Washington as far as basketball goes, but were you not at least the slight bit impressed that Calipari got that team to the Final Four last year? I was, and I am not even a huge backer of Calipari, but his coaching was every much a part of it as Lorenzo Romar's.
By the way, our CBI team last year had negative size. We were ranked in the bottom few teams in the NCAA in average height. The tallest guys on our team included a 6'10 German who did not play, a 6'8 PF/C who was injured for most of the year and our Center was a 6'8 JUCO SF, who is not much bigger in stature than Anthony Davis. Well, we lost to UW twice (once in the conference play-offs), but we also beat UW. Their size was apparently not to much for us. Matthew Bryan-Amaning killed us inside, as he usually would. We got outrebounded and they shot a good percentage from the arc as well. What did we do? We drew fouls and forced turnovers. I think Kentucky will be fantastic in these two areas. If you are going to beat them, than you will REALLY have to kill them inside and just hope that Abdul Gaddy makes no mistakes. Peyton Siva averaged 2.9 TO's per game last year, but I guess you are thinking he will cut that down. I know that Kentucky is a young team, they may have guys playing out of position and they may lose to some surprising teams, definitely expect them to lose to some in the SEC. But, come March, I see this team being a very tough out and I am guessing that they would take both Louisville and Washington. I may indeed be wrong, have been, will continue to be. But, I do not think it is as black and white as you are making it with the huge issue being Davis playing Center and Calipari playing AAU ball. The guy figured things out pretty well last year, he may not have a Harrelson, but I think they will still be a very dangerous team, and that the front courts of Louisville and Washington do not particularly scare me if they came across each other.
I am sure if we talked it out it would be a lot quicker, though maybe more heated. Still, I was just trying to see where he was coming from with UW being ranked ahead of Kentucky. He tried to tell me, I think that his reasoning is flawed, he thinks I am not looking at the big picture and we are where we are now. I still do not in the least buy how Washington is "the Louisville of the West", at least not this year. They have talent, but I think their big bodies are not exactly part of that equation, which is why I think Kentucky will more than likely be a better team.
He thinks that Anthony Davis would be thoroughly overmatched against UW's plethora of big men (Aziz N'Diaye and Darnell Gant, throw in some freshmen), I think that this would be a situation where Davis would actually excel. I don't know, I guess we can agree to disagree and just see what happens. But, I still am thoroughly unconvinced that UW is a better team than Kentucky, much less many of the other schools he has it ranked ahead of at #5 in his poll. He still is thoroughly unconvinced that Kentucky should be ranked ahead of Washington. I just find that calling the Huskies the Louisville of the West and his reasoning behind doing so, leaves me unconvinced that he truly thought it through and looked into it deeply. They could indeed be better than a 24-11 school that lost 4 key players (Isaiah Thomas, Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Justin Holiday and Venoy Overton), but I do not think they will necessarily have the means to be the #5 team in the country. I can never be certain, but I can be highly sceptical, which leads me to write even more about why I am.
Have fun believing what you want. If you want to criticize me for not putting thought into what I wrote, then you ought to at least have enough sense to know that back end of road trip weekends in college basketball are supposed to be losses. Most of the big boy conferences have gone away from that way of scheduling for a reason. At Arizona on 1/28 and at UCLA on 3/3 are almost certainly losses for Washington. It is not all that different from the midweek road games in the Big Ten, SEC, and Big East. There are a handful of dreg teams that will lay down, but any sort of live team can be competitive with that kind of advantage. Kentucky is almost certainly going to lose to Mississippi State on 2/21. Duke has at OSU, at UNC, at FSU, and at Va Tech in midweek. I think Duke is a top 6 team, but I think they'd be happy with winning more than one of those four. It has little to do with the fact that when I look at teams I want a playmaking point guard who won't screw up, shooters on the wings, someone or multiple players who can get easy points, big men who protect the paint and clean the glass, a teamwide effort to defend, and a quality coach. I see that in OSU, UNC, UConn, Louisville, and Washington. Duke is barely a half step back because I am not sure about Curry at the point and don't know if the freshman is healthy. I don't see size on Kentucky. You don't see it either, but you just don't care. UCLA doesn't appear to have the perimeter shooting. I don't trust the size on Syracuse. It isn't complicated stuff, but it certainly isn't thoughtless.
That is the team I feel like you did not necessarily put thought into when ranking them #5. You definitely know your stuff, and I know about weekend road trips and how tough they are. Still, do not have a lot of belief in UW being better than Kentucky with their size. Guess you do, but remember, you ranked Kentucky's lack of size 2 spots below them, so do not act like I just flat out do not care. I have UNC #1 as well, but I think you and I both know that in the tournament, anything can happen. Yes, their is usually a formula to who wins, and that usually includes necessary size and experience, but did you think UConn was going to win last year? Did you see Kentucky beating Ohio State and UNC?
These are questions you seemed to flat out ignore, or maybe addressed with Harrelson having played major minutes, but I do not think that was the primary reason. Can I not find it complicated that you would rank UW, an unranked team in the pre-season, at #5 in your poll over Kentucky? I apologize if I did indeed call your process thoughtless, because I have respect for your basketball knowledge, but I have a hard time trusting UW's size and just saying you have more faith in it than teams like Kentucky and Syracuse. I guess we will just agree to disagree, but I am not necessarily satisfied with you saying the reason you like Louisville and UW's Centers are because "they are not bums". They may not be, but I do not think they are the difference makers you make them out to be by having them ranked that highly. But, again, maybe I went to far, and for that I apologize if I insulted your process. You never seem to have the same regard for someone else's process either, with the whole "flat out don't care" comment, but, you stand by your predictions, which I respect.
So does that mean UNC has less of a chance as well with 250 Zeller and 220 Henson?? (UK 252 Jones and 225 Davis). Didn't UMASS make it to the title game starting a 225-230 Camby and a 6'4 Donta Bright at PF? How many bigs are as good as T.Jones on offense? Sully and........................on top of that how many teams have 2 bigs that can dominate a game? You can easily put Jones on the one good big and the other I'm sure isn't much as far as offense (UCONN,OHIO ST,CUSE). Also take into account that same big man has to run up and down the floor with Davis and Jones, yeah it doesn't just go one way on the court the big also has to check the guy that runs like a guard. The "no team wins with out a power big" isn't something that is a lock like "no human has ever jumped over a building" type thing. A team can win without a physical big if you have the right players just like
No Olympic team had beat a team of NBA players
No Team has won a NBA finals without a Hall of Fame lock or number one option player (Det did it)
No team has ever one with just one All star on their roster (Dallas)
Also UK matchs up with Miss St pretty well (Jones on Sidney and Skinny Jones on Skinny Moultrie). Miss St will have problems with Hood trying to guard Kidd-Gilly. Bost and Lamb should be a good battle though