Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The rest of the Big Ten & updates

Here are the three remaining Big Ten Basketball teams that I think will not make it to any sort of postseason.

Big Ten Remainders:


What to like: The Hawkeyes made a great offseason coaching hire in Todd Lickliter, and return the most productive per-possession player at the point guard position in Tony Freeman.
Weaknesses: The lack of returning experience would beg the question of where the points will come from? The departed Adam Haluska & Tyler Smith did everything for this team.
Who to watch: Justin Johnson will be the first option on offense, as he shot 46% on threes, but a head-scratching 22% on two's. He doesn't seem good at creating his own shot, and most of the bigs don't seem great at back-to-basket work (with the possible exception of Cyrus Tate). Kurt Looby has NBA potential-athleticism, but little polish, while Seth Gorney is an up-and-coming center, & 6-7 frosh Jarryd Cole and transfer 6-9 David Palmer pack the paint. But starting unhyped, untested freshmen 6-5 Jake Kelly or 6-1 Jeff Peterson at the other wing spot? That's asking for trouble.


What to like: The best offseason hire in all of Division-I was UM's getting John Beilein. Also, a couple of promising frontcourt freshman now become sophomores.
Weaknesses: Beilein's approach might not fit this group's talents. The turnover rate was appalling last year, but then again, so was the 3-point FG shooting percentage.
Who to watch: 6-5 freshman wing Copperyale "Manny" Harris. Beilein needs him to play 30 minutes/game. If Harris can't shoulder the load, then Jevohn Shepard will have to step up, and he has showed neither offensive nor defensive ability. The above-mentioned turnovers will probably be a problem again, but the three least likely to turn it over were DeShawn Sims, Ekpe Udoh , and Ron Coleman, all of whom figure to join Harris and returning point guard Jerrett Smith in the starting five.


What to like: Kevin Coble is the top returning sophomore in the conference, and some of the new faces and redshirted forwards look poised to surprise foes.
Weaknesses: Uh, everything to do with offense? No rebounds, no outside shooting, and no playmaker or big man on hand. Coble also is out indefinitely. Yikes.
Who to watch: Redshirts 6-7 Nikola Baran and 6-8 Ivan Peljusic have been working hard by all accounts, and may take over starting duties in the paint while Coble is out. Also, 5-11 freshman Michael Thompson may surprise as a playmaking point guard, and could supplant the scrappy senior Jason Okrzesik, who sent Craig Moore to the bench. Moore gets pub off of a decent freshman season, but last year he couldn't hit his threes. Jeff Ryan has some ability on the wing, but I thought reserve Jeremy Nash should've been getting more time there.

Late updates: SEC takes a hit

Auburn (my #25) lost starters 6-8 Quan Prowell and 6-7 Josh Dollard for the beginning of the season. Dollard is out for the year with a medical redshirt, which hurts as he was the best interior defender on the team. Prowell is suspended for the fall semester due to athletics, but will have a chance to come back for most of the season and help to the postseason. I'm guessing that's what happens.

Georgia (my #39) dismissed star forward Takias Brown. This might send them into the NIT, but I think the team will pull together,play tough, and squeak their way into the NCAA's. The nice recruiting class of big men helps, but reserves 7-0 Rashaad Singleton, 6-10 Dave Bliss, and 6-8 Albert Jackson will have to do more as well. I think this also secures a starting place at the 3-spot for Terrance Woodbury, who was the team's best per-possession rebounder.


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