College Basketball Omnibus Thread

Well, that time is upon us again: it’s basketball season.

My Kentucky Wildcats kicked off their exhibition season this evening against Pikeville College, featuring former Kentucky walk-on Landon Slone. For those of you who don’t remember, Slone was the player who got asked about Calipari coming to coach and said, “I’ve left messages for him, but I haven’t heard from him.”

Based on what I saw, we’re incredibly young and rough around the edges, but there’s a lot of potential. Brandon Knight is going to be great by February, Liggins and Miller are stepping up to fill the leadership void and if we can score second-chance buckets and finish at the rim, we’ll be OK. Getting Kanter eligible changes this entire program if it happens (sadly, not holding my breath yet) but without him, we’re going to be good but not great to start the year.

My three questions for the season:

  • Will Bruce Pearl survive the year as coach at Tennessee in the wake of lying to the NCAA about recruiting violations?

  • Will UNC continue to be as bad as they were last year, and can Duke be as good as they were last year?

  • Which team in the top 25 will be much, much worse than everyone expects?

“Rough around the edges” at Kentucky means only 26 wins and a mere Final Four appearance. At Illinois, I’d take your “rough around the edges” anytime.

ETA: Yeah, I’m excited. U of I opens at home against UC Irvine next monday. Hopefully an ESPN game.

How many “One and Dones” will be at UK this season?

Note: Kentucky has not been to a Final Four since 1998.

The Florida Gators are ranked highly to start the season, but I personally do not expect us to finish anywhere near the top ten. We have almost all the same players we had last year, but we weren’t all that great last year. I am sure these guys will be improved, but depth at guard will still be a problem. If we manage to get a top six seed I will be very happy.

A top-6 seed? Did Donovan decide to give a crap again over the offseason?

I think this is going to be a slightly down year for my Wisconsin Badgers, especially given that the Big Ten is ludicrously stacked this year, but they should still be a top 25 and tourney team (although, being in the top 25 may only mean being the fourth or fifth best Big Ten team this year). A lot will depend on the point guard position. Trevon Hughes is gone and while his replacement, Jordan Taylor, looks rock solid, I’m not sure there’s any depth behind him, so if he goes down, watch out. I’m hoping one of the freshmen will step up and be a surprise there.

The Badgers do have one of the nation’s best big men in Jon Leuer, so the NCAA tourney streak should stay alive (11 years, good for fifth longest in the nation).

And Mince, the Illini should be really solid for this year and the next several. Their recruiting has been great lately and I think Weber is pretty solid as a coach.

I too like the Illini’s talent, and if the young guys round into form they’ll be excellent. I’m still not old on Weber as a coach though. His recruiting has improved in recent years but he doesn’t seem to develop those young guys as well as I’d like and freshman have a nasty habit of gathering dust on the bench even when the veterans in front of them aren’t exactly performing. Plus I wish Weber would learn to mix up the man-to-man and zone defensive schemes, there have been games where we were getting burned by one player in the man-to-man and it killed us. That contributes to those freshman and sophomores developing slowly since they tend to be poor defenders when they enter the system and they get no help from a zone scheme.

It’s time for Weber to string together a few truly dominant seasons and make deep, deep tourney runs or else. Being a 6-8 seed and a 2nd or 3rd place conference finish isn’t what we signed up for.

I doubt you’re going to get your wish on this point. Weber, like a lot of coaches, treats the zone with disdain. Wisconsin never plays it either. Bo Ryan has pretty much said he played zone once, for one possession, got scored on, and never intends to use it again.

And your last sentence is interesting given the interview I just heard with Ryan talking about our incoming freshmen. Basically, he said they all looked really good on O, but that offense is easy to find. Defense is where they all have a lot of growing up to do and will have to prove themselves to see time on the court.

I guess you can argue the point either way, but for both of our programs, and probably most of the top programs in the country that don’t rely on one-and-dones, you get your playing time on D.

Yup, agree completely. Hardly anyone plays zone in the Big Ten, especially among the top teams. I think Izzo works in a decent mix, but I’m not positive. Come tournament time that tends to be a big factor. Big Ten teams often give other conferences fits with their fierce man-to-man but when they come up against a really good 2-3 zone team like Temple and it’s spawn they can go totally quiet.

Maybe it’s asking too much for a coach to actually not be dogmatic and play the matchups. Though I suppose I shouldn’t complain too much considering how much success guys like Weber and Ryan have had doing what they do.

The Gators are ranked 9 and 11 in the polls, so voters are assuming a top three seed. As much as I’d love for that to happen, I just don’t see it this year. But I will extremely happy if we don’t have to hear the word “bubble” in March this year.

And I don’t think Donovan not giving a crap is the cause of our problems over the past three seasons. We had our entire national championship team leave at once, then had to deal with a couple other early exits and a missed recruit or two. Without much depth, and a couple players not ending up quite as good as we might have hoped, we tended to struggle, especially late in the season. But here’s hoping we are back to Florida basketball this year.

The Big XII looks formidable again this year with:

  1. Kansas State
  2. Kansas
  3. Missouri
  4. Baylor

Baylor would be ranked higher, but their leading SG is currently suspended. If that situation works itself out, I would expect them to be in the top 10.

the biggest question is what ACC team is going to win the Nat’l Championship this year?

OK, the outlook from Tar Heel Land -

Once again UNC is very young and small. Two junior starters (Zeller and Drew), one junior reserve (Justin Watts - a very athletic 6’4" who may play power foward some (Did I mention small?), and a Senior transfer from Alabama (J. Knox).

The remainder of the scholarship players are Sophomores and Freshmen, headed by Harrison Barnes, the number one recruit in this year’s freshman class. Barnes is a 6’8" forward who purportedly is blessed with an incredible basketball IQ. He does nothing spectacularly, but does everything well, and is focused on making his teammates better.

Frontcourt - C Tyler Zeller 7’ 0" Jr.- Runs the floor well, is an acceptable defender. Excellent passer from the post. Has had injury issues his first two years - a broken wrist his Fr year suffered in the UK game when fouled from behind on a breakaway, and ankle issues (I think) last year. So although he’s been injured, they are the repetitious injuries of a problem area. More of a bad luck type of injury.

PF - John Henson - So. 6’ 10" Really thin last year, has bulked up some. Henson will probably still get shoved around by bigger stronger post players, but he has very good shotblocking skills due to his quick leaping and 7’6" wingspan. His development will be key to UNC’s interior defense. Still needs to develop a post-up move.

Main reserve - Justin Knox 6’ 9"-ish transfer from Alabama. Transferred in as a 5th year senior/grad student. Will provide a body to practice against and 10-15 minutes of rest time per game for Zeller and Henson.

SF - Harrison Barnes 6’8" Fr. - He’s the first freshman in a long time to be a Pre-Season First Team All American. As mentioned above he has the reputation of being a team-first guy. His ability to come in and play well will determine how far the Tar Heels go this year. Barnes will probably be called upon to play some PF this year at times, much like Kyle Singler does over at That School In Durham (aka dook) if Zeller/Henson/Knox get into foul trouble.

SG - Dexter Strickland 6’5" So - Fast and explosive, Strickland spent most of last year trying to be the back-up PG, which didn’t work out that well. The arrival of Kendall Marshall frees him up to move back to his natural position of SG. Reports are that he is one of the most improved players on this year’s team.

PG - Larry Drew II 6’4" Jr. - Son of NBA’er Larry Drew, Drew II is in his third year at UNC. Not the fastest Tar Heel PG, he did display an ability to penetrate the lane and finish at the rim along with a frustrating tendency to commit bad turnovers. Having a great facilitator like Barnes on the team may relieve some pressure on Drew. Can knock down open threes, followed immediately by bricking open threes.

Key Reserves

Leslie McDonald - 6’4" So. SG - Not the quickest SG. Balances that out by shooting having a poor 3FG %. Will need to overcome his poor shooting - had a rep as a good shooter coming into UNC.

Kendall Marshall - 6’4" PG Fr. - UNC’s heir appearent at PG. A pass first player, who won’t score many points, but may wind up with an Ed Cota like career. Like most freshman PGs under Roy Williams, he may be overwhelmed at first.

Reggie Bullock - 6’7" SG Fr. - From the same Kinston high school that produced Jerry Stackhouse, Bullock has the rep of an awesome three point shooter. Has the length to present match up problems with most any team’s two guard, can he defend well enough to satisfy Coach Williams? Will get plenty of run at the SF backing up Barnes.

Justin Watts 6’4" Jr - Will play some minutes at SG-SF-PF. Raw, very athletic. Has been compared to former Tar Heel David Noel in terms of athleticism.

UNC is very thin at the post, with only Zeller, Henson, and Knox. Although the Heels can go with a ‘big’ lineup of two of the three post players, Barnes and Bullock, and a 6’4" PG in Drew or Marshall. This team is probably too young to be a serious title contender this year. And with Barnes being rumored to be the No. 1 NBA pick in next year’s draft, there probably won’t be a year two.

If Barnes doesn’t enter the draft, whether he’s concerned about a potential lockout or he pulls a Hansbrough and wants a title, then UNC could be the favorite for the 2012 NCAA tourney. But, that’s probably a pipe dream at this point.

Anyway, the Heels should be MUCH better than they were last year.

One shoe drops: Bruce Pearl suspended for half the SEC conference season over the NCAA violations. The fact that he’s still employed is amazing to me.

The Cats have already opened the season with a W, and as I write this, they’re putting on a pretty good show in Portland as they make a pit stop on their way to Maui.

If you’re scoring at home, incidentally, we’ve already had a Jon Hood sighting in the first half. Josh “Jorts” Harrellson is also playing WAAAAAAY over his head.


Terrance Jones and Brandon Knight looked pretty good last night. On to kick some Husky ass!

Well, since I last checked in here, we got blown out by UConn, beat the living hell out of Boston U and we’re on a collision course with Harrison Barnes and Ol’ Roy tomorrow.

Rumor has it we’re getting a decision on Enes Kanter within days, and if they rule him ineligible when Josh Selby and Cam Newton were found eligible, it’s about the clearest example of NCAA bias on the planet. Selby’s so dirty, I’m not sure he’d be eligible in the NBA.

Goddamn Tar Heels! Fucking foul trouble!

The thread has gone quiet, but the conference schedules have started heating up and the Illini are hosting Sparty in The House of Paign tonight is a monster Big Ten match-up. The Orange and Blue are coming off a pair of painful road losses and need this win to get back on track and avoid falling in a hole in the quest for a conference title.

Go Illini!

These officials are complete crooks. What an embarrassment.

John Calipari apologizes forcursing out one his players.