Monday, November 28, 2005

Teams 10-6

10. UCLA [Pac-10]: C 6-11 Michael Fey, PF 6-9 Lorenzo Mata, SF 6-5 Josh Shipp, SG 6-5 Arron Afflalo, PG 6-2 Jordan Farmar:

Bench: 6-10 Ryan Hollins, 6-8 Ryan Wright*, 6-5 DeAndre Robinson**, 6-6 Cedric Bozeman**, 6-0 Darren Collison*, 6-8 Alfred Aboya*, 6-7 Luc Richard Mbaha Moute*, 6-5 Michael Roll*, 6-1 Joey Ellis**, 5-10 Kelvin Kim*~, 5-10 Nican Robinson*~

Coach: Ben Howland

Indiana Fan’s take:

Ben Howland moves into his third season as UCLA coach, and the pieces are there for actual title contention. After an 18-11 season which heavily featured freshmen, then adding another great frosh class and welcoming back redshirt senior Cedric Bozeman ought to add up to a significant leap up the national standings. However, all of this will probably not move the Bruins past Arizona for the Pac-10 title, as the Wildcats return a lot of seasoned talent as well, while Howland’s kids are still quite inexperienced.

Newcomer to watch: Either Ryan Wright or Alfred Aboya are the most likely of this talented class to get a place in the starting line-up, although Collison could carve a small niche in the rotation as well.

Top returning players: Farmar (13.2ppg/3.5rpg/5.3apg/1.4spg), Affalo (10.8ppg/3.3rpg/2.2apg), Shipp (9.3ppg/5.2rpg/1.8apg), Fey (8.6ppg/4.8rpg), Hollins (4.5ppg/3.4rpg)

Major Losses: Dijon Thompson (18.4ppg/7.9rpg/2.3apg), Brian Morrison (7.4ppg/2rpg/1.6apg)

9. Gonzaga [West Coast]: C 6-8 J. P. Batista, PF 6-8 Sean Mallon, SF 6-8 Adam Morrison, SG 6-6 Erroll Knight, PG 6-1 Derek Raivio:

Bench: 7-1 Calum MacLeod~, 6-9 Marnery Diallo*, 6-6 David Pendergraft, 6-4 Nathan Doudney, 6-1 Pierre-Marie Altidor-Cespedes, 6-2 Jeremy Pargo*, 6-5 Larry Gurganious, 6-11 Josh Heytvelt**, 6-2 Colin Floyd~, 6-1 Stephen Gentry~

Coach: Mark Few

Indiana Fan’s take:

Gonzaga is no longer a novelty mid-major team that’s trendy to pick in March as a bracket-buster. Adam Morrison is going to draw all kinds of Larry Bird comparisons, with his shooting, rebounding, and passing (and oh yeah, being a 6-8 white dude), but Bird could break guys down off the dribble, and I haven't seen that ability from Morrison. The return of medical-redshirt shooter Nathan Doudney makes this club even more dangerous than it was last year. The Zags should be Top Ten all year long.

Newcomer to watch: Between the returnees and redshirts, the freshmen aren’t going to play much, but if Diallo’s good enough, he’ll get his shot at the rotation.

Top returning players: Morrison (19ppg/5.5rpg/2.8apg), Raivio (13ppg/2.6rpg/4.8apg), Batista (12.4ppg/6.2rpg), Mallon (7.6ppg/4.2rpg/1.2apg), Knight (6.9ppg/4.6rpg/1.2apg)

Major Losses: Turiaf (15.9ppg/9.5rpg/1.5apg/1.9bpg)

8. Louisville [Big East]: C 6-11 David Padgett**, PF 6-8 Juan Tello Palacios, SF 6-5 Terrence Williams*, SG 6-3 Brandon Jenkins, PG 6-2 Taquan Dean:

Bench: 6-9 Brian Johnson**, 6-8 Chad Millard*, 6-7 Lamar Roberson*, 6-5 Brian Harvey*, 5-10 Andre McGee*, 7-0 Jonathan Huffman*, 6-4 Perrin Johnson~, 6-10 Terrence Farley~, 6-1 Brad Gianiny~, 6-4 Chris Current~, 6-4 Maurice Grinter*~, 5-11 JuJuan Spillman*~

Coach: Rick Pitino

Indiana Fan’s take:

This club will probably not get back to the Final Four this year, but prospects are pretty good for next year. Freshmen and Sophomores will dominate the rotation, but senior Taquan Dean will be the unquestioned leader. The Cardinals should be pretty good, but nothing like last year's club. Taquan Dean will score in bunches, and Kansas transfer David Padgett will open eyes with his ability. The Cardinals have tubs of talent and size and athleticism, but this doesn't seem like the sort of cohesive and experienced defensive club that is the usual Rick Pitino-title threat. Look for this team to be a national title contender in 2006-2007.

Newcomer to watch: Any of this amazing freshman class could earn a spot in the starting five next to Taquan Dean & Juan Tello Palacios, the only guaranteed starters from last year. But the bet here for an impact is on Kansas transfer David Padgett.

Top returning players: Dean (14.4ppg/4rpg/2.4apg), Palacios (9.7ppg/6.5rpg/1apg), Jenkins (5.2ppg/2.2rpg/1.4apg)

Major Losses: Francisco Garcia (15.7ppg/4.2rpg/3.9apg/1.7spg/1.5bpg), Larry O’Bannon (15.2ppg/3.5rpg/2apg), Ellis Myles (10.4ppg/9.2rpg/3.4apg)

7. Boston College [ACC]: C 6-9 Sean Williams, PF 6-8 Craig Smith, SF 6-7 Jared Dudley, SG 6-5 Sean Marshall, PG 6-3 Louis Hinnant:

Bench: 6-10 John Oats~, 6-7 Akida McClain, 6-3 Marquez Haynes*, 6-7 Evan Neisler*, 6-0 Tyrese Rice*, 6-3 Ted Dunlap~, 6-3 Tyler Neville~, [6-11 Tyrelle Blair**]

Coach: Al Skinner

Indiana Fan’s take:

Boston College would’ve been in pretty good shape for their inaugural ACC season had center Sean Williams not gotten himself suspended for the first semester. Now, if he’s in shape and sync with his teammates when the ACC schedule begins, the Golden Eagles will be competing with Duke for the conference crown. The starting five will be that good. Craig Smith is the best power forward in America, and Jared Dudley plays a great Scottie Pippen. Wing Sean Marshall is a solid shooter and Louis Hinnant has been through the Big East trials at point and will not shrink in the ACC. Only interior depth could hold them back.

Newcomer to watch: Evan Neisler could end up starting quite a bit if Craig Smith has play center and Jared Dudley ends up spending all of his time at Power Forward. Marquez Haynes is probably a more talented recruit, ‘though.

Top returning players: Smith (18ppg/8.5rpg/1.7apg), Dudley (16.5ppg/7.5rpg/3.2apg), Marshall (11.8ppg/2.7rpg/1.8apg), Hinnant (5.3ppg/2.3rpg/4.8apg), Williams (4.1ppg/3.5rpg/2.3bpg)

Major Losses: Jermaine Watson (9.6ppg/3.3rpg/1.5apg), Nate Dooornekamp (5ppg/5rpg/2.3apg)

6. Michigan State [Big Ten] C 6-10 Paul Davis, PF 6-7 Matt Trannon, SF 6-5 Maurice Ager, SG 6-3 Shannon Brown, PG 6-0 Drew Nietzel:

Bench: 6-10 Drew Naymick, 6-8 Delco Rowley, 6-8 Marquise Gray**, 6-4 Maurice Joseph*, 6-2 Travis Walton*, 6-10 Goran Sutic**, 6-9 Justin Ockerman~, 6-11 Adki Adong*, 6-2 Anthony Hamo~, 6-6 Jason Aerts~

Coach: Tom Izzo

Indiana Fan’s take:

Four starters return from a Final Four team, and yet one has to really look for any mention of the Spartans in the top 25. When speaking of the Big Ten, everyone’s excited about Illinois (who loses 3 starters and 5 of their top 7 players), Ohio State (um, their big recruiting class is eligible in 2007?), Iowa (the worst team in the 2005 NCAA’s?), and Wisconsin (Who lost 5 seniors and return no proven inside players or point guards). That’s all probably fine with Coach Izzo, who’ll beat the “no respect” drum until he’s got yet another Big Ten Championship trophy. The prospects for a repeat Final are probably 50-50, as four starters return, and even though Drew Nietzel often sat in favor of lost senior Chris Hill, and also departed Alan Anderson often initiated the offense, Nietzel was brilliant in transition and one of the best passers in the conference. His sophomore year should be substantially more productive than his freshman one. Redshirt freshman Marquise Gray was perhaps the Spartans’ best recruit last year, but has droipped off most experts’ radar. Look for him to possibly earn starter’s minutes at forward, lessening the loss of Anderson.

Newcomer to watch: Travis Walton will probably get a place in the rotation as a back-up lead guard, but redshirt frosh Marquise Gray could end up as one of the starters.

Top returning players: Davis (12ppg/7.1rpg/1.5apg/1.2s), Ager (13.7ppg/3.9rpg/2apg), Brown (11ppg/3.2rpg/1.8apg/1.4s)

Major Losses: Alan Anderson (12.1ppg/5.1rpg), Chris Hill (10.1ppg/1.6/rpg/4.4apg), Kelvin Torbert (9.7ppg/2.9rpg/1.3apg)


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