Friday, November 25, 2005

Teams 15-11

15. Indiana [Big Ten]: C 6-9 D.J. White, PF 6-8 Marco Killingsworth**, SF 6-6 Robert Vaden, SG 6-2 A.J. Ratliff, PG 6-2 Marshall Strickland:

Bench: 6-10 Ben Allen*, 6-8 Sean Kline, 6-6 Joey Shaw*, 6-4 Roderick Wilmont, 6-5 Lewis Monroe**, 6-3 Earl Calloway**, 6-10 Cem Dinc*, 6-7 James Hardy~

Coach: Mike Davis

Indiana Fan’s take:

Will IU return to competiveness, or will this be Mike Davis’ last year as head coach? Well, I’m thinking both. The Hoosiers have a good combo of experience and youth, and added a couple of instant starters that transferred from Auburn, while also managing to snag a couple of diamonds in the rough with Joey Shaw and Ben Allen. Nothing should be expected of the true freshmen this year except some energy off the bench, but I’m betting they’re going to be pretty good a year or two down the line. Also, Earl Calloway, formerly a back-up point for New Mexico was acquired, but I’m thinking he’s only on so that Davis has an experienced point on the roster at the start of next season. Davis, however, will probably not be around next season as he failed to land the recruits (specifically the Oden & Conley duo out of Indianapolis), and unless he gets to the Final Four again, he’s out and the next hot coach will get a fat contract and IU can start getting recruits again. Davis is a fine coach and good recruiter, but Hoosiers expect a consistent top-5 presence, and he just is not supplying it.

Newcomer to watch: Joey Shaw was a late riser in the recruiting ranks, and Lewis Monroe may finally be the answer to the post-Tom Coverdale question. But the newcomer to watch is Marco Killingsworth, who’s high-post game ought to mesh well with White, and will be a good go-to guy when White’s out of the game. Foreign bigs Ben Allen and Cem Dinc should show some sparks, but probably not consistency.

Top returning players: White (13.4ppg/5.1rpg/2.3bpg), Vaden (10.6ppg/4.4rpg/2apg/1.4s), Strickland (7.2ppg/3.4rpg/3.3apg)

Major Losses: Bracey Wright (18.4ppg/4.9rpg/2.6apg), Patrick Ewing (4.1ppg/3.9rpg)

14. Kentucky [Southeastern]: C 7-3 Shagari Alleyne, PF 6-7 Bobby Perry, SF 6-4 Joe Crawford, SG 6-1 Rajon Rondo, PG 6-0 Patrick Straight:

Bench: 6-10 Randolph Morris (?), 7-2 Lukasz Orbzut~, 6-8 Rekalin Sims*, 6-4 Adam Williams*, 6-3 Ramel Bradley, 6-2 Ravi Moss, 6-8 Sheray Thomas~, 5-9 Brandon Stockton~, 6-2 Preston LeMaster~, 7-1 Jarted Carter*

Coach: Tubby Smith

Indiana Fan’s take:

If Randolph Morris qualifies, and if he is a model citizen that shows some desire to use his god-given size and talent, then KU is a top ten team. I’d split the difference, guessing that Morris gets eligible but still underachieves. Tubby’s coaching, the team defense, and guard depth ought to offset the loss of their two best players. Look for Rajon Rondo to be a household name by the end of the season with his offensive game on display to complement his wicked defense. Bobby Perry and Sheray Thomas will try to fill some of the minutes opened up by Chuck Hayes’ graduation, but the best bet for a season-end starter is Juco Rekalin Sims. Hayes didn’t pile up huge stats, but he just got the job done. It’ll be much harder for Smith to replace the kind of leadership that Hayes brought than the simple athleticism that Kelenna Azubuike failed to take to the NBA.

Newcomer to watch: Rekalin Sims will be asked to produce as the loss of Chuck Hayes will create a huge hole mentally and physically that must be filled.

Top returning players: Straight (11ppg/2.1rpg/3.6apg), Rondo (8.1ppg/2.9rpg/3.5apg/2.5spg), Morris (8.8ppg/4.2rpg)

Major Losses: Azubuike (14.7ppg/4.7rpg/1.5apg), Hayes (10.9ppg/7.7rpg/2.3apg)

13. George Washington [Atlantic 10]: C 6-9 Omar Williams, PF 6-8 Pops Mensah-Bonsu, SF 6-7 Mike Hall, SG 6-5 J.R. Pinnock, PG 6-4 Carl Elliott:

Bench: 6-11 Alexander Kireev, 6-9 Dokun Akinbade~, 6-8 Regis Koundija**, 6-3 Noel Wilmore*, 5-11 Maureece Rice, 6-4 Pat Joyce~, 6-8 Jaz Cowan~, 6-10 Jaaron Greene~, 6-8 Robert Diggs*, 6-7 Montrel McDonald*

Coach: Karl Hobbs

Indiana Fan’s take:

Karl Hobbs is a lucky man. With all of the lame-brained decisions being made in the NBA draft process, he got both Pops Mensah-Bonsu and Mike Hall making the right call to return. Also, guards JR Pinnock and Carl Elliott are both all-conference candidates. The loss of T.J. Thompson may slow down the end-to-end transition game, but Hobbs’ starting five is so talented and versatile that it is hard to imagine this club not getting better anyway. Throw in LSU transfer Regis Koundija, who could be presence for this team like Jack Ingram was for Illinois last season, and coach Karl Hobbs should be dancing in the Sweet Sixteen this spring.

Newcomer to watch: LSU transfer Regis Koundija offers both size and shooting, and could be presence for this team like Jack Ingram was for Illinois last season.

Top returning players: J.R. Pinnock (13.4ppg/5.1rpg/2.1apg/1.6spg), Mensah-Bonsu (12.6ppg/6.6rpg/1.5bpg), Hall (10.6ppg/8rpg/2apg), Elliot (8.2ppg/3.8rpg/4.6apg)

Major Losses: TJ. Thomson (13.6ppg/2rpg/2.9apg)

12. Texas [Big 12] C 6-11 LaMarcus Aldridge, PF 6-8 Brad Buckman, SF 6-5 P.J. Tucker, SG 6-2 Ken Paulino, PG 6-0 Daniel Gipson:

Bench: 6-9 Connor Atchley**, 6-8 Mike Williams, 6-6 Dion Dowell, 5-10 AJ Abrams*, 6-3 JD Lewis*, 6-2 Craig Winder*, 6-6 Chris Price~

Coach: Rick Barnes

Indiana Fan’s take:

The ‘Horns welcome back leading scorer P.J. Tucker who didn’t play in the second half of last season due to academics, and sophomores Gipson, Williams, and Aldridge should be even better with a year of experience under their belts. Still, this looks to be one of the most over-rated teams all year long. The Longhorns will have a talented rotation and will get a lot of wins, but I don’t see them being a legitimate Final Four contender. Outside shooting will be too much of a question, as the strength of Rick Barnes’ offense will be either fast-break points or the missed shot (offensive rebounding). In the later rounds of March Madness, execution always beats athleticism, and there isn’t enough experience or balance here to expect great success.

Newcomer to watch: With the loss of C.J. Miles to the NBA, the pressure is on AJ Abrams to produce in the backcourt. Late pick-ups JD Lewis and Craig Winder should fill some minutes, but I wouldn’t expect a breakout season from any of the newcomers.

Top returning players: Tucker (13.7ppg/8rpg/2.2apg), Gibson (14.2ppg/3.6rpg/3.9apg), Buckman (12.5ppg/8.3rpg/1apg), Aldridge (9.9ppg/5.9rpg/1.1spg/1.5bpg)

Major Losses: Klotz (11.2ppg/5.8rpg/1apg), Taylor (10.6ppg/3.8rpg/2.6apg)

11. West Virginia [Big East]: C 6-10 Kevin Pittsnogle, PF 6-6 Johannes Herber, SF 6-4 Patrick Beilein, SG 6-4 Mike Gansey, PG 5-10 J.D. Collins:

Bench: 6-10 Rob Summers**, 6-7 Alex Ruoff*, 6-7 Joe Alexander*, 6-5 Franklin Young, 6-1 Darius Nichols

Coach: Gale Catlett

Indiana Fan’s take:

The Mountaineers return a lot, and will be very good, but it’s unlikely that they progress to the Final Four. They still have lots of shooters, and Penn State transfer Rob Summers should help hold down the middle, but much-vaunted Kevin Pittsnogle, while a very good 3-pt. shooter, grabbed only 3.7 boards a game last year. How can you be 6-11 and get less than 5 boards a game, much less only 3.7? I still like them, though, as they're all about the zone defense and the run-and-shoot offense, which helps hide their athletic and interior deficiencies.

Newcomer to watch: Can Penn State transfer Rob Summers play the same role that D’Or Fischer did last year? If he can, the party may not be winding down after all.

Top returning players: Pittsnogle (11.9ppg/3.7rpg), Gansey (12ppg/5.1rpg/2.9apg/1.6spg), Herber (8.6ppg/4.3rpg/3.1apg/1.6spg), Beilein (8.3ppg/1.9rpg/1.7apg)

Major Losses: Tyrone Salley (12.2ppg/3.8rpg/1.9apg), Fischer (7.8ppg/4.3rpg/1.9bpg)


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