Thursday, October 12, 2006

Just outside the top 25 (2006-2007)

Here's commentary on those teams that (should) find themselves just outside the top 25. There's one team here that you might see covered on this blog a little (hint: it rhymes with zindiana).

Also receiving Votes:


Lots of free-wheeling fun on the attack, but how much defense does the Tide have in it? Ron Steele and Jermareo Davidson are a great inside-outside team, but I’m always wary of teams whose point guard is also their leading scorer. Look for Richard Hendrix on lots of highlight dunk plays this season, and maybe newcomer Juco Mikal Riley can open the offense from the wing.


Coach Stan Heath has done a fine job since he took over, but the question is going to be whether he can take the Razorbacks further than the second round of the NCAA’s. This season will probably be a question of even getting to the first round, so don’t expect an answer there. Juco wing Sonny Weems will provide plenty of highlights in taking over Ronnie Brewer’s starting spot, but guard depth is a huge concern.

George Mason:

George Mason lost some key contributors to graduation after their Final Four appearance, but Folarain Campbell and Will Thomas also had a lot to do with that. So don’t expect this team to disappear from the landscape, especially after getting quality Juco recruits in 6-7 Darryl Monroe and 6-0 Andre Smith. Interior size and depth is a concern, but it was last season, too.


A new coach is town, and hopefully a new era begins for the Hoosiers. I think Kelvin Sampson will not only get a fair shake, but he won’t put any more pressure on himself and his team than what is necessary. If DJ White stays healthy, he’s got enough support with top Juco Mike White, returnees Rod Wilmont and AJ Ratliff, and late-blooming point Earl Calloway for this team to be a Sweet 16 contender.


Great perimeter game, but the loss of Steve Novak may be too much to overcome this year. But there’s still good balance, and overall the Eagles’ future is bright. If Marquette is smart, they’ll lock Tom Crean down ASAP. Watch the perimeter crew, especially Dominic James who is just a player, but 6-9 Dan Fitzgerald might be more crucial to this team's success this season.

New Mexico State:

This will be an interesting squad to watch. They didn’t win a lot of games, but they did have some good pieces in place for the future. Now, Reggie Theus has brought in a mix of quality transfers and recruits that should have the Aggies dancing in March. 6-9 Juco Hatila DeSouza Passos, transfers 6-4 Fred Peete, 6-5 Justin Hawkins, and 6-10 Martin Iti are all capable of starting alongside star Tyrone Nelson. But there is still the question of Nelson’s burgarly charge yet to be settled.

Saint Louis:

6-10 Ian Vouyoukas returned from the NBA draft camp to revitalize the Bilikens’ NCAA hopes. He’s pretty much the only returning SLU player with any size, but there’s a veteran contingent of guards and swingmen on hand. 6-4 Tommy Liddell is especially versatile, and seems to play four positions at different times.

San Diego State:

Brandon Heath returns for his final season, and with Mohammed Abukar creates a powerful offensive punch. With Marcus Slaughter gone in the middle, there are questions concerning defense, however. But 6-10 Jerome Habel may be the top Juco prospect in the country, and should be starting in the middle from day one. Louisville transfer Lorenzo Wade should be a star in his own right, but maybe not until next year.

Texas Tech:

Bobby Knight has a squad worthy of the attention it will get as he captures the all-time record for wins. I don’t really expect this club to get past the NCAA first round, but last year’s inconsistencies should be ironed out by a year of experience and some Juco help. 7-0 Esmer Rizvic & 6-1 Charles Burgess should get some time right away, but still look for Jarrius Jackson and Martin Zeno to get the bulk of the shots.

Wichita State

This is the final MVC team in the national college basketball scene. They basically only lose one guy from last season’s sweet 16 squad, but that guy was Paul Miller. Good things happened when he touched the ball, and I think he’s going to be harder to replace than most folks realize. That said, there’s still a lot of talent here, and the balance shouldn’t be too far off with the addition of Colorado transfer 6-7 Phillip Thomasson. Third place in the MVC still should get this club into the NCAA tournament.


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