Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Big 10 Exhibition game box-score notes & "Just Saying"


Chester Frazier played capably for 31 minutes, but his shootingjust okay, and then went 1-6 from the FT line. Ouch. Meachem wasn't really impressive either, shooting 2-6 overall (2-5 threes) and 2 assists and 2 turnovers.

Returning big men Pruitt, Carter, and Arnold (& frosh Brian Carlwell) scored but didn't rebound (38 pts, only 9 rebounds), newbies Charles Jackson & Richard Semraurebounded but didn't really score (8 pts, 10 rebounds). The Illini have lots of big bodies,but I'm not certain there's any difference makers here.

Cause for alarm! With Rich McBride & Brian Randle sitting out, the Illini went 3-21 outside the arc, with ace Jamar Smith going 0-8. If the threat of Dee Brown is no longer moving defenses around, the shooters may not be able to get open or even hit the open shots that would enable the bigs to produce down low.

Nonetheless, I have faith that Weber will have these guys playing enough D to ensure
an NCAA bid. But that may be about it.


So many athletes, so much potential. Too bad Michigan didn't drop Amaker a year earlier, 'cause someone else could probably make this team a sweet 16 contender. I think Izzo or Ryan had the reins, we'd be talking about a top 25 team.

The starting five should be Brent Petway, Lester Abram, Courtney Sims, Dion Harris, and Jerret Smith, but there are a couple of problems here. Sims' lost-post presence makes the
offense go, but he tends to disappear against tough foes.
That leaves Dion Harris free-lancing, but he needs someone playing point, which right now is Jerret Smith, who perhaps has even less offensive game than Chester Frazier. Who-dat frosh Reed Baker can hit 3's, but can he against real competition? Can he play point, rebound or pass? Baker will probably come off the bench along with K'Len Morris, Ron Coleman, DeShawn Sims, and Ekpe Udoh. If Frosh Kendric Price could show any productivity, he would probably force Coleman to a permanent spot on the pine, and create a fab (bench) freshmen five.
But the formerly touted recruit Price has unimpressive, and may be the odd man out of the rotation. Also out (probably) are PF Anthony Wright and wing Jevohn Sheppard.

Michigan St.:

Freshman Raymar Morgan may be leading scorer for Izzo. He also may be the key to keeping alive the Izzo tradition of dominant rebounding. But he needs to be able to hit the jumper consistently. The starting lineup of Travis Walton, Drew Nietzel (at off guard), Goran Suton, Marquise Gray, and Morgan seems pretty well set.

Drew Naymick, Idok Ibong, and Tom Herzog will all get some minutes up front, and Maurice Joseph and Isaiah Dahlman should get the backcourt minutes.

They'll probably play hard, and make a bid for the NIT, but that may be as far as they can reach, and honestly, I'm not sure that the Sparties will even earn an NIT spot. They've been far from dominant in their exhibition games, and that's never a good sign.


This may be the most interesting club to watch, as they could range anywhere from a top-four finish to battling Northwestern for last place. Losing do-everything star Vincent Grier will help
nothing, and also losing "mister intangible" Zach Puchtel, whoseinsertion into the starting line-up helped save last season from total chaos.

So, this year, the exhibition box score was as puzzling as could be, even given the resting of probable starting backcourt Lawrence McKenzie and Limar Wilson.

In their first exhibition game, Frosh 6-0 Lawrence Westbrook (who?) scored 21 points, and frosh Engen Nurumbi grabbed 13 rebounds! Nurumbi may be an answer for the loss of J'Son Stamper, but maybe it was the competition, as formerly rebound-averse Dan Coleman
also flirted with a double-double, grabbing 9. Redshirt freshman Kevin Payton had 11 assists, to go along with 10 points and 2 steals. Jamal Abu-Shamala had better watch his butt
or Payton could well send him to the bench.

There's really no telling from this Gopher squad until Wilson & McKenzie play, tho.

Ohio State:

With Greg Oden out for a while, everyone else is getting plenty of PT and shots. Granted, OSU's paper-thin roster will have everyone getting an honest chance anyway.

The dangers of relying on (albeit very talented) freshmen were demonstrated in the night & day play of Daequan Cook in the two exbition games:

13 pts, 8 rbs, 2 assists, 1 block, 1 steal, in 21 minutes
4 pts, 1 rb, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 5 fouls in 16 minutes.

The 3-guard line-up of Jamar Butler, Mike Conley, Jr., & Ron Lewis should be pretty potent, 'though. Cook and Lighty will probably come off the bench, but they need Oden back to
be a special club. Othello Hunter seems capable inside, but Ivan Harris & Matt Terwiliger will produce very little in the paint for Matta's club.

Penn State:

The big news, as far as I can discern, is that the Nittany Lions have decided to solve their 2 David Jacksons' problem by designating sophomore wing as "Mooch" Jackson and
frosh power forward as "DJ" Jackson. With this out of the way, it appears that Mooch will be moving to the 3-spot until star Geary Claxton's finger heals, with red-shirt Brian Morrissey taking over Mooch's spot. Jamelle Cornelly will now be the focal point of the offense.
Also, Ed DeChellis needs soph center Milos Bogetic to hold down the middle, but frosh DJ and Andrew Jones both look like they may be able to handle some minutes in the paint, which would be depth that just didn't exist last year. DJ especially has exhibited anose for the ball, which could only improve their terrible, terrible defense.

Of course, they just went out and lost to Shippensburg (D-II) in their final exhibition game, and granted they were without Mooch and Claxton, but they shot 38% in the second half, and allowed a Division-II team to shoot 10 points higher against them in that same half. Not good. Also not good was the inside play, as Cornelly was off, and Bogetic and Brandon Hassell could score some points, but noone could rebound, the freshmen were terrible, and the post players combined for 12 of PSU's 20 turnovers (and also 15 of their 22 fouls). Penn State, just tumbling down the preseason picks.


Small-ball approach, eh? Get used to it, Boiler watchers. There's only four players 6-6 or taller on this squad, and one of them is a guard (transfer Gordon Watt). Watt will probably back up undersized post-monster Carl Landry, who is a slender 6-7, but plays like Karl Malone.
The other two are freshman, Jonathan Uchendu & DavidVandervieren. In the exhibition game Watt & Vandervieren did not play (I didn't find any notes about it) and Uchendu played 23 minutes, but only got 6 pts and 2 rebounds, and shot 4-10 on FTs. Carl Landry started with four guards, which may have been why North Dakota State outrebounded them 35-29.

David Teague shot badly (3-12, 1-7 on 3s), but Landry destroyed the opposition. Freshmen guards Chris Kramer and Keaton Grant started, and while Kramer played well (check out this line: 12 pts, 6 rbs, 4 assists, 4 steals, 1 TO, no fouls in 23 minutes), Grant didn't show anything that Painter didn't have last year. Hyped newbie point Tarrance Crump scored 10 points, but showed neither outside shooting or ability to notch assists.

Starting Guard Chris Lutz fouled out in 17 scoreless minutes, but by all accounts, the whistles were tight (41 fouls in the first half alone!). I gotta say, this looks like a NIT squad to me.


Wisconsin played everyone they could against D-3 UW-Stout, noone more than 20 minutes, and in fact, only two players got as many 19 or 20 minutes.
This is a game to take nothing from, except that everyone's healthy and that maybe Ryan feels comfortable with his depth. Still the front-runner.

Not mentioned:
Indiana: see previous post
Iowa: One thing to note in going over the Stats (I'm trying to put together my own semi-scientific projection, which will be basically bullshit, but scientific bullshit) is that Iowa has had a really great defense of the last couple of years. But with Erik Hansen's intimidation gone and Greg Brunner's rebounding also out, where do the stops come from? I would venture that Iowa will probably have at least an average, if not slightly above average defense again, but I don't think it will be enough to carry them to the NCAA's like last year, and unless the offense is outstanding (and there's no reason to think it will be), I truly doubt they'll even get that far.

Northwestern: not yet played; but there's a couple of notes. NU will be the Big Ten's worst team, but they may not be the game off they would first appear to be. First of all, Carmody's a fine coach, not genius, but comes out with some really solid gameplans. And second, they've filled out their roster nicely this summer after having a couple of devastating offseasons.

Ivan Tolic returns to back up Vince Scott at Center, as someone once said about another center, it's not like he does anything while he's out there, but he plays like he belongs out there, and you wouldn't be surprised to see him produce. Also Rice transfer Jason Okrzesik will take the back-up minutes at point when Craig Moore needs a rest, and should be capable in that regard. He averaged over an assist per game for Rice two years ago. Bigger things are expected of Luxembourgian athlete Jean-Marc Melchior, who probably has more physical ability than anyone else on the team.

An interesting freshmen class comes into town, Croatian sleepers are 6-7 center Nikola Baran and 6-8 guard Ivan Peljusic. 6-8 Kevin Coble, 6-8 Jeff Ryan, and 6-3 Jeremy Nash should be able to provide some support as well, but may need a year of seasoning mentally and physically before really being able to help Carmody out.

Real-time rankings from ESPN fans leave the bottom six teams (of 30 available) at the time of writing as follows:

My rankings of these teams are in [brackets]

#25 Wichita State [34]
#26 Gonzaga [10]
#27 Illinois [19]
#28 Creighton [NIT]
#29 SIU [12]
#30 Nevada [23]

To me, Southern Illinois and Gonzaga seem criminally underrated. Just saying.
Also, I still think Missouri State is getting a raw deal. I think they'll be good. Also getting a raw deal in my eyes are:

Air Force
Virginia Tech
Saint Louis

Keep an eye on these teams as the season goes on. Just saying.


Post a Comment

<< Home