Monday, November 28, 2005

Teams 5-1

5. Arizona [Pacific 10]: C 6-10 Kirk Walters, PF 6-10 Ivan Radenovic, SF 6-4 Hassan Adams, SG 6-3 Chris Rogers, PG 6-3 Mustafa Shakur:

Bench: 6-9 Isaiah Fox, 6-9 Mohammed Tangara~, 6-6 J.P. Prince*, 6-5 Jawan McClellan(?), 6-4 Jesus Verdejo, 6-7 Fendi Onobun*, 6-6 Marcus Williams*, 6-4 Daniel Dillon~, 6-6 Bret Brielmaier~

Coach: Lute Olson

Indiana Fan’s take:

The Wildcats were oh-so-close to the Final Four last year, crumbling at the end of the semifinal game with Illinois that they had dominated. But they acquitted themselves well as a true title contender. Unfortunately for coach Lute Olson, he has lost both his best perimeter player and interior player to graduation. Fortunately, he has a ton of talent to call on to hold onto the top slot in the Pacific Ten conference. Hassan Adams is just one of the multi-dimensional weapons in Olson’s arsenal, and look for more scoring this season from Chris Rodgers and Ivan Radenovic. Jawan McClellan is likely out for the year due to academic issues, but freshman J.P. Prince ought to pick up his minutes without skipping a beat. Probably the Wildcats won’t get to the Final Four this year either, but they’ll be closer than most experts are giving them credit for.

Newcomer to watch: J.P. Prince is the top of the newcomers, and will get minutes even with the absurd amount of perimeter talent Olson possesses this year.

Top returning players: Adams (12.7ppg/6rpg/2.8apg/1.9spg), Radenovic (8.6ppg/5.5rpg/1.6apg), Shakur (8.1ppg/3.6rpg/4.5apg), McCellan (5.8ppg/3rpg)

Major Losses: Salim Stoudamire (18.4ppg/2.3rpg/2.2apg), Channing Frye (15.8ppg/7.6rpg/ 1.9apg/2.3bpg)

4. Oklahoma [Big 12]: C 6-9 Taj Gray, PF 6-8 Kevin Bookout, SF 6-7 Nate Carter**, SG 6-5 David Godbold, PG 6-4 Terell Everett:

Bench: 6-10 Longar Longar, 6-7 Taylor Griffin*, 6-4 Mike Neal*, 6-3 Austin Johnson*, 6-3 Chris Walker*, 6-0 Scott Reynolds*, 6-1 Kellen Sampson~, 6-4 Michael Ott~, 6-4 Aaron Foster~, 6-5 Tony Crocker**, 6-8 Damion Jones*

Coach: Kelvin Sampson

Indiana Fan’s take:

Big, strong, deep, and with seemingly limitless potential, Kelvin Sampson has put together a team that has a good shot of taking home all of the marbles. Taj Gray is a legitimate player of the year candidate, and Terrell Everett has turned into one of the best all-around guards in America, to boot. Lots of experts love the Longhorns, and I think perhaps they were spooked by the departure of former starters Lawrence McKenzie & Drew Lavender, but Everett had already taken over the point slot, and transfers Nate Carter and Mike Neal were probably going to grab at least one other wing spot. Bookout & Gray are a great combo inside, and if Longar Longar develops, the Sooners may leave no doubt in a March to the Final Four.

Newcomer to watch: Transfers Nate Carter and Mike Neal will get a lot more shots and playing time than they probably thought when they committed. But it’s Kelvin Sampson who should be happy when they provide the perimeter Tongs to Gray & Bookout’s Hammer.

Top returning players: Gray (14.6ppg/8.2rpg/1.5apg/1.2spg/1.8bpg), Bookout (11.5ppg/6.6rpg), Everett (12.5ppg/4.8rpg/5apg)

Major Losses: Lavender (9.7ppg/1.5rpg/3.2apg), McKenzie (9.5ppg/1.6rpg/1.2apg)

3. Villanova [Big East]: C 6-10 Jason Fraser, PF 6-7 Curtis Sumpter, SF 6-3 Randy Foye, SG 6-2 Allan Ray, PG 6-0 Michael Nardi:

Bench: 7-0 Chris Charles~, 6-9 Will Sheridan, 6-7 Dante Cunningham*, 6-5 Baker Dunleavy~, 6-5 Dwayne Anderson*, 6-2 Michael Claxton~, 6-0 Kyle Lowry, 5-11 Ross Condon~, 7-0 Robbie Jackson*, 6-8 Frank Tchuisi*, 6-5 Bilal Benn*

Coach: Jay Wright

Indiana Fan’s take:

These Wildcats are built much like a typical UConn team. Amazingly talented wings, savvy points getting the fast break offense rolling, and athletic big men who can run are ingredients that make for a Jim Calhoun-esque team. But they could drop very quickly if Curtis Sumpter and Jason Fraser are still in poor health this season. Loads of athleticism and talent, but this senior class has been plagued by injuries and weird stuff all along. But, if the wheels don't come off, they should finally bring Villanova back to the basketball's finest weekend for the first time in over 20 years. Look for one of the roads to the Final Four to run directly through this team.

Newcomer to watch: Dante Cunningham and Dwayne Anderson could add some size to the small wings. It’s a great position for a newcomer to be in, to be able to get some minutes and experience on a National Title contender, yet without a real pressure to produce.

Top returning players: Sumpter (15.3ppg/7.2rpg/1apg), Foye (15.5ppg/5rpg/3.1apg/2.1spg), Ray (16.2ppg/2.8rpg/1.8apg), Nardi (8.2ppg/2.1rpg/3.6apg), Fraser (6.4ppg/6.7rpg/2.4bpg)

Major Losses: none of significance

2. Connecticut [Big East]: C 7-0 Josh Boone, PF 6-8 Ed Nelson, SF 6-8 Rudy Gay, SG 6-4 Rashad Anderson, PG 6-2 Marcus Williams:

Bench: 6-9 Hilton Armstrong, 6-6 Jeff Adrien*, 6-5 Denham Brown, 6-3 Craig Austrie*, 6-1 AJ Price** (?), 6-1 Robert Garrison*, 6-0 Martin Gagne**, 5-11 Leeshan Reid**, 6-6 Marcus Johnson*, 6-6 Ryan Thompson~, 6-4 Nick Forostoski~

Coach: Jim Calhoun

Indiana Fan’s take:

Jim Calhoun has his Huskies positioned very well for a third ring. I don’t think he’ll get it, even though this may be one of his most talented teams. I think he needs a steady senior to come up huge (a la Rip Hamilton or Emeka Okafor) in the National title game. And I think other clubs are going to be better prepared for his relentless attacking style, and to some extent, the other top clubs are just due some luck and/or calls in crucial situations. If point guard questions continue (currently Marcus Williams & AJ Price are suspended) the Huskies could fall into another season of rebuilding rather than dominance. But I’m guessing Williams just gets suspended for the first semester, at most, and quarterbacks this club to another Final Four. Josh Boone and Rudy Gay have no lack of athleticism, and Rashad Anderson and Denham Brown are solid wings, to boot. But so much of this just comes down to the simple question of who will be the Huskies’ point guard in March?

Newcomer to watch: Craig Austrie and Jeff Adrien should both get a spot in the rotation, but Austrie and Robert Garrison could be thrown into the fire if both Williams & Price are suspended for the whole season.

Top returning players: Boone (12.4ppg/8.4rpg/1.2apg/3bpg), Gay (11.8ppg/5.4rpg/1.5apg/2bpg), Anderson (12ppg/3.4rpg/1.1apg), Brown (10.4ppg/4rpg/1.5apg), Williams (9.6ppg/3.8rpg/7.8apg)

Major Losses: Charlie Villanueva (13.6ppg/8.3rpg/1.3apg/1.8bpg)

1. Duke [Atlantic Coast]: C 6-9 Shelden Williams, PF 6-10 Josh McRoberts*, SF 6-6 Lee Melchionni, SG 6-4 J.J. Reddick, PG 6-2 Sean Dockery:

Bench:7-0 Eric Boateng*, 6-6 Jamal Boykin*, 6-5 Martinas Pocius*, 6-3 DeMarcus Nelson, 6-1 Greg Paulus*, 6-9 Patrick Johnson~, 6-2 Joe Pagliuca~, 6-1 Patrick Davidson~

Coach: Mike Krzyzsewski

Indiana Fan’s take:

Duke was supposed to be rebuilding last year, and all they did was snag a #1 seed in the NCAA tourney due to their winning the nation’s toughest conference tournament. All they were going to lose for this year was senior wingman Daniel Ewing, but then Shavlik Randolph lost his mind and went pro. Randolph’s loss doesn’t hurt a lot offensively, but he was a solid lost-post defender who’s depth will be missed as only freshmen are available to fill the gap. Nonetheless, Shelden Williams is a wicked interior defender. The nationally top-rated recruiting class should help with the personnel losses, as both Josh McRoberts and Greg Paulus should be ready to start. But the unfairly maligned Sean Dockery may not be ready to give up his spot in the line-up so easily. Depth will be a concern, especially with the redshirting of sophomore forward David McClure. But with the new recruits, Coach Krzyzsewski still has more depth than he did last season, and that’s enough to ensure a pole position that’ll probably last all year long.

Newcomer to watch: Josh McRoberts. You will be sick, sick, sick of hearing of this guy by the end of the season. Greg Paulus, Jamal Boykin, and Eric Boateng will play less than one might guess hearing with all of the hype they’ll receive throughout the year.

Top returning players: Reddick (21.8ppg/3.6rpg/2.5apg), Williams (15.5ppg/11.2rpg/ 1.3spg/3.7bpg), Dockery (6.2ppg/2.8rpg/2.3apg), Nelson (6.2/4.5)

Major Losses: Daniel Ewing (15.3ppg/3.2rpg/4apg/2spg), Shavlik Randolph (4.4ppg/4.3rpg/1spg/1bpg)


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