Friday, November 25, 2005

Teams 35-31

35. New Mexico [Mountain West] C 6-10 Kellen Walter, PF 6-9 David Chiotti, SF 6-5 Tony Dandridge, SG 6-2 Mark Walters, PG 6-2 Kris Collins:

Bench: 6-9 Daniel Faris*, 6-6 Kyle Prochaska*, 6-7 Justin Holt*, 6-5 Anthony Teague*, 6-0 Darren Prentice~, 6-8 Joel Box*, 6-4 Blake Harden~

Coach: Ritchie McKay

Indiana Fan’s take:

McKay is building a monster in the Pit. Yeah, they’ll be decent this year, but just wait until next season as 3 transfers capable of starting become eligible. The Lobos have to deal with some major losses, most notably one of the more talented seniors last year, Danny Granger. But with a decent recruiting class and key pieces returning, look for UNM be atop the Mountain West once again. Forward Joel Box could be the interior athletic presence that adds possessions and frees up shooters again, according to the hype, but McKay snagged a nice recruiting class that should pay off at least next year, if not this one.

Newcomer to watch: All the new recruits will be counted on to contribute as soon as possible, as there’s very little returning depth, but Joel Box may be the most likely to start.

Top returning players: Walters (10.5ppg/3.6rpg/2.8apg), Chiotti (10.4ppg/5.1rpg/1.5apg), Collins (8ppg/2.2rpg/2.9apg), Dandridge (3ppg/1rpg)

Major Losses: Danny Granger (18.8ppg/8.9rpg/2.4apg/2.1spg), DeVries (11ppg/2.4rpg/2.5apg), Neale (10.3ppg/4.4rpg/1.5apg)

34. Creighton [MVC] C 6-9 Jeff Day, PF 6-8 Dane Watts, SF 6-7 Jimmy Motz, SG 6-3 Nathan Funk, PG 5-11 Johnny Matthies:

Bench: 6-11 Steve Smith~, 6-8 Anthony Tolliver, 6-5 Pierce Hibma, 6-4 Brice Nengsu*, 6-0 Josh Dotzler*, 6-4 Thomas Lane*, 6 -3 Nick Porter**

Coach: Dana Altman

Indiana Fan’s take:

The Bluejays are winners, and this tradition should continue. Even without a conference title, the MVC has garnered enough respect over the last few seasons that Creighton should nab an at-large bid. Day, Watts, and Tolliver are a good mix in the paint, and Jimmy Motz and Nathan Funk were coming up last season to be full contributors. Matthies must run the point well, now that last year’s backcourt has graduated, but for Dana Altman, the beat just seems to go on and on. The Bluejays could easily end some higher-seeded team’s NCAA dreams early once again this March.

Newcomer to watch: Brice Nengsu, Josh Dotzler, and Thomas Lane may add some minutes in the backcourt, but it’s doubtful any of the frosh will be significantly needed.

Top returning players: Funk (17.8ppg/5.1rpg/2.3apg), Mathies (11.8ppg/2.8rpg/2.1apg/1.7spg), Watts (6.9ppg/3rpg), Motz (5.7ppg/2.3rpg), Day (5.7ppg/3.8rpg/1.5bpg)

Major Losses: Kellen Miliner (9.4ppg/2.5rpg/1.2apg), Tyler McKinney (6.4ppg/2.6rpg/5.4apg)

33. Pittsburgh [Big East]: C 7-0 Aaron Gray, PF 6-9 Levon Kendall, SF 6-3 Antonio Graves, SG 6-1 Ronald Ramon, PG 6-2 Carl Krauser:

Bench: 6-8 Tyrell Biggs*, 6-6 John DeGroat~, 6-6 Sam Young*, 6-2 Keith Benjamin, 5-10 Levance Fields*, 6-8 Doyle Hudson*, 6-5 Trevor Ferguson*, 5-7 Charles Small~, 6-3 Marcus Bowman~

Coach: Jamie Dixon

Indiana Fan’s take:

If not for the return of Carl Krauser, the bottom would’ve dropped out of this club and the Panthers might have not even have qualified for the NIT. But he’s back, much to the relief of Coach Dixon, and ready to quarterback Pitt through one of the toughest Big East conferences ever seen. Lack of interior depth or experienced wings should keep Jamie Dixon’s job interesting, by I don’t think we’ll get the true measure of Dixon’s worth as a coach until next year when his coach-on-the-floor finally runs out of eligibility. But he’s notched a lot of W’s through the simple art of getting his players to defend.

Newcomer to watch: Tyrell Biggs will have immediate chances to contribute inside since Taft went to the NBA, but Sam Young also has a chance to start if he can defend and hit the open shots.

Top returning players: Krauser (16ppg/4.8rpg/5.9apg/1.8spg), Graves (7.8ppg/2rpg/2apg), Ramon (6.8ppg/1.7rpg/1.8apg), Gray (4.3ppg/2.8rpg), Kendall (3.5ppg/2.5rpg)

Major Losses: Chevon Troutman (15ppg/8rpg/1.5apg), Chris Taft (13.3ppg/7.5rpg/1.7bpg)

32. Arkansas [SEC]: C 6-11 Steven Hill, PF 6-10 Darrian Townes, SF 6-7 Ronnie Brewer, SG 6-4 Jonathan Modica, PG 6-2 Eric Ferguson:

Bench: 6-10 Vincent Hunter**, 6-9 Cyrus McGowan**, 6-7 Charles Thomas, [6-6 Ryan McBride*], 6-1 Sean McCurdy*, 6-6 Dontell Jefferson**, 6-6 Marcus Monk~, 6-1 Sam Munsey~, 6-6 Preston Cranford**

Coach: Stan Heath

Indiana Fan’s take:

The loss of Olu Fatutimi hurts, but shouldn’t stop Heath’s rebuilding job. The Razorbacks should rise to be a NCAA tourney-qualifying team, whether they’ll be good enough get past the first round is entirely up in the air. Ronnie Brewer does it all, guards Modica & Ferguson should see their scoring numbers bump up a little with more shots available on the wing. Some twosome of Townes, Hill, and Hunter needs to be able to play on the floor together to maximize the talent inside. The Razorbacks should rise to be a NCAA tourney-qualifying team, whether they’ll be good enough get past the first round is entirely up in the air.

Newcomer to watch: If Sean McCurdy is ready for solid minutes and can create shots for the returning high-octane wings and long-armed bigs, Hog fans will be saying “Olu who?” Ryan McBride is redshirting this season due to academics.

Top returning players: Brewer (16.2ppg/4.8rpg/3.4apg/2.5 spg), Townes (10.2ppg/4.6rpg), Modica (9.6ppg/2.8rpg/1.6apg), Ferguson (8.8ppg/2.7rpg/4.3apg)

Major Losses: Olu Fatutimi (9.4ppg/4.2rpg/1apg), Michael Jones (4ppg/1.7rpg)

31. Virginia Tech [ACC]: C 6-9 Coleman Collins, PF 6-7 Deron Washington, SF 6-5 Marcus Sailes**, SG 6-2 Zabian Dowdell, PG 6-2 Jamon Gordon:

Bench: 6-8 Allan Calloway~, 6-7 Chris Tucker~, 6-6 Wynton Witherspoon, 6-4 Shawn Harris, 6-3 Marcus Travis~, 6-9 Hyman Taylor*, 6-8 Terrance Vinson*, 6-8 Cheick Diakite*, 6-6 AD Vassallo*, 6-11 Rob Krabbendam~, 6-5 Jeff King~, 6-5 Bob Ritchie~

Coach: Seth Greenberg

Indiana Fan’s take:

The Hokies were impressive in their inaugural season in the ACC, and appear to be a program surprisingly on the way up. I thought the move to the ACC might’ve been a death blow to both Tech and Miami, but both were very competitive in the last season’s best conference. Now, if it wasn’t for the three former Big East teams (Boston College included) the ACC would have real trouble fielding even five NCAA tournament-quality teams. Anyway, coach Greenberg has most of his weapons back from last year, and juniors Zabian Dowdell & Jamon Gordon should only be better with a year of ACC seasoning. Redshirt swingman Sailes ought to replace some of the minutes lost by Carlos Dixon, if not the production. There’s enough firepower, experience, and depth combined with a decent recruiting class (look for A.D. Vassalo to get some minutes, too) that Tech should enjoy an even better season than last.

Newcomer to watch: Probably A.D. Vassallo, but Taylor, Vinson, and Diakite could all get a crack at some minutes during the season as the Hokies need more beef up front.

Top returning players: Dowdell (14.4ppg/3.1rpg/2.7apg), Collins (11.4ppg/7rpg/1apg), Gordon (10.4ppg/5.1rpg/4.1apg/2.3spg/1.1bpg), Washington (7.9ppg/4.6rpg/1apg/1spg/1bpg)

Major Losses: Carlos Dixon (13.8ppg/4.5rpg/1.8apg), Marquie Cooke (3.6ppg/1.6rpg/1.6apg)

30. Xavier [Atlantic 10]: C 6-9 Brian Thornton, PF 6-8 Justin Doellman, SF 6-6 Justin Cage, SG 6-3 Stan Burrell, PG 6-1 Dedrick Finn:

Bench: 6-9 Will Caudle, 6-8 Josh Duncan, 6-4 Keenan Christiansen~, 6-2 Dupree Lucas~, 6-0 Brandon Rice~, 6-8 Brandon Cole**, 6-9 Boubacar Coly**, 6-7 Derrick Brown*, 6-6 BJ Raymond*, 6-2 Johnny Wolf*, 6-7 Kevin Waymire~, 6-10 Adam Simons**

Coach: Sean Miller

Dev’s take:

Xavier was a minor disappointment last year, but still, they managed 18 wins and finsished as m one of the better teams in a surprisingly competitive Atlantic Ten conference. Also, I imagine the difficulties were a result of fitting together new personnel such as former Vandy starter Brian Thornton and getting the new point guard Dedrick Finn on the same page with a freshman in the backcourt. That freshman, Stan Burrell, was also the leading scorer, and I’m guessing the Musketeer’s are going to demand inclusion into this year’s field of 65. All the major questions are answered, and depth and recruiting look to be good enough, it’s just up to Miller to make sure that the talent is maximized to its full potential.

Newcomer to watch: There’s not much room for any freshmen (or North Carolina State transfer Adam Simons, for that matter) to contribute as the veterans should eat almost all of the minutes, but Johnny Wolf may get some time in the backcourt.

Top returning players: Burrell (12.7ppg/3.2rpg/2.1apg), Cage (11.1ppg/5.6rpg/2.1apg), Doellman (10.9ppg/6rpg/2.8apg/1spg/1bpg), Thornton (10.7ppg/5.8rpg)

Major Losses: Will Caudle (6.1ppg/3rpg)


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