Northwestern Wins: A College Hoops Blog

An ode to Verne Lundquist’s calls and everything college basketball

Archive for October 14th, 2008

My Top 30 Favorites (Thus Far)

Posted by Zach on October 14, 2008

(Before I get to this post, I have to show this because it’s freaking hilarious.)

Rush The Court (thanks for linking us again…love the top design) is properly ripping off the Reasons Why I Love the NBA promos. You know, the ones where it says Where Game Winners Happen and it shows Ray Allen nailing a three at the buzzer. Anyway, I have a few favorites from their list and thought I’d post them here. That’s right, I’m in a posting mood.

Wayne Ellington silencing the Clemson crowd in one of the best games of the year:

My favorite freshman, DeMar DeRozan, showing why he’s my favorite freshman:

Expect plenty of this from Blake Griffin this season. Especially if the offseason training stories are true:

Posted in Multimedia, Quick Posts | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Breaking: Terrence Williams Sidelined 4-6 Weeks

Posted by Zach on October 14, 2008

From ESPN:

Louisville senior forward Terrence Williams injured his right knee in a pickup game and will be out four to six weeks.

Williams tore the medial meniscus in his right knee and will have surgery in the next few days, the school said in a statement.

Coach Rick Pitino said he was relieved Williams didn’t tear the anterior cruciate ligament and will only be out a short period.

Williams averaged 11.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists last season. He had two triple-doubles as a junior. Williams is 48th on the career scoring list at Louisville with 1,102 points.

Sounds like this could hinder the progress of Williams heading into the season, but it shouldn’t affect the Cardinals all that much. Due to the unprecedented toughness of the conference schedule for Louisville, they went quite soft on the non-conference slate, including getting Ole Miss in the Big East/SEC Challenge while, say, rival Marquette was pitted against Tennessee. Assuming, worst case, Williams is out till the end of November, he’d miss: Morehead State, South Alabama and Western Kentucky (not the same team as a year ago).

There must have been a huge sense of relief in Louisville among the coaching staff when they learned the Williams injury was just a torn meniscus rather than a torn ACL, the second big name college player to dodge the ACL bullet (the other being Austin Daye). The loss of practice/prep time for the season hurts, but Williams should be able to recover and be fine for their real glut of their schedule.

Expect daily posts/updates on here from today and through the end of March.

Posted in Quick Posts | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Chase For Perfection: UNC Tar Heels

Posted by Zach on October 14, 2008

Unlike past Octobers, there is no debate over who should be deemed the preseason #1 team in the nation. In a near consensus for anyone with their head screwed on properly, North Carolina takes the honor.

Most major programs in BCS conferences would kill to have just three or four players on North Carolina’s roster for their own squad. Never before in my short life following college basketball can I recall a team so loaded in every capacity of the game. They tout the reigning national player of the year Tyler Hansbrough, a dominant power forward in Deon Thompson, the best sixth man in the country in Danny Green and two top-15 recruits in Ed Davis and Tyler Zeller. And that’s just the frontcourt. Don’t forget about the best guard duo in the nation- Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington- to go along with former starter and pinpoint shooter Bobby Frasor and, you guessed it, another five-star recruit in Larry Drew. It’s simply unfair.

For a college basketball team so completely stacked, the one question remains: can they do it?

And by do it, I mean finish the regular season undefeated. People thought going 16-0 in the NFL was a near impossibility until the Patriots pulled it off. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that this North Carolina team finishes the regular season with a perfect record. Not when I look at that roster.

Here are some of the roadblocks that UNC might run into on their path to immortality in 2008-09. Since college basketball is so damn unpredictable, this may be a futile exercise (anyone remember a certain Maryland team going into Chapel Hill and stunning these Heels?), but I figure this roster is so talented, a stunning upset at the hands of, say, Boston College or Virginia Tech will likely be avoided.

11/15 vs. Pennsylvania

Don’t underestimate the Quakers. This team can play with anyone in the country.

(Kidding, of course. Just wanted to see if you were still paying attention.)

11/26 vs. Texas/Notre Dame (Maui Invitational)

This is the second stiffest non-conference test for the Heels. They’ll face either a Texas team led by A.J. Abrams, Damion James and Justin Mason or a Notre Dame team with the dynamic inside-outside duo of Harangody and McAlarney. Notre Dame could give them the toughest test if Harangody handles Hansbrough and cancels out North Carolina’s best player. Tory Jackson can also match the speed of Ty Lawson. On the other hand, UNC can put up 100 points on Notre Dame’s often lackluster defense. Both of these finals could be classics, but it’s hard to say either of these teams are great matchups against the Tar Heels, especially on a neutral court.

12/3 @ Michigan State (Detroit)

North Carolina and Michigan State, the respective favorites in each of their conferences, were pitted to face off in the ACC-Big Ten challenge this season. Michigan State will enjoy a home-court feel with the game in Detroit, although the spacious facility (to say the least) may prove any sort of Spartan advantage moot. This game matches the quickest guards in the country, Kalin Lucas and Ty Lawson. Also, with Ginyard injured, Raymar Morgan may have a breakout performance. Still, who is guarding Hansbrough? Freshman Delvon Roe? Goran Suton? I don’t think so. Michigan State will test UNC but falter in the end.

1/11 @ Wake Forest

If everything comes together quickly for the youthful Demon Deacons, they could challenge North Carolina. Wake would need to perform like they did against Duke at home last season. That means depending on their stout freshmen and sophomores for a near-perfect performance. I wouldn’t count on it all coming together against Carolina, even at home and even relatively early in the conference season when Roy Williams may not know the Wake freshman so well. This is a definite test, though.

2/11 @ Duke

As much as the Cameron Crazies would give their future first-born to defeat undefeated North Carolina in Durham and end their undefeated ride (or beat them with one or two losses, like it matters), I don’t feel Duke matches up well with North Carolina at all. Unless Paulus, Singler and Scheyer put on a show from behind the arc like they showed they’re capable of back in Chapel Hill last season, you’ll see this contest finish more similarly to the game in Cameron. Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek are way too soft to handle Hansbrough and Thompson, so they’d have to win in a shootout, which I don’t see happening.

2/15 @ Miami

Miami, usually reserved for the middle ranks of the ACC, are contenders for a second place finish this season. Led by one of the top players in the nation in Jack McClinton and freshman stud Dequan Jones, the Canes have a chance. The depth of the Heels is the difference and the ultimate reason why they’ll take care of Miami.

So, what do you readers think: Which game poses the biggest threat to North Carolina? If I had to choose one loss, I’d say the Spartans. But in the end, my inclination remains that UNC does not lose this season.

The NCAA Tournament? That’s a whole different story.

Posted in Features | Tagged: , , , , , | 12 Comments »

West Coast Conference Preview

Posted by Patrick on October 14, 2008

A conference that had enjoyed little parody in past seasons was chock full of just that in 2007-08. The WCC, which is looked at as a one man race almost every year, had three teams in the NCAA tournament for the first time in its existence (the surprise team being San Diego, who went on to upset Connecticut in the first round). This year it’s very possible that this conference could have those same three teams back in the NCAA, and it will once again be a tight race for the top spot in the WCC.

1. Gonzaga Bulldogs- How do you pick against Gonzaga? Jeremy Pargo is one of the top point guards in the nation. Austin Daye and Steven Gray, both stellar freshman, have another year of experience under their belts. Matt Bouldin is a major force at shooting guard, Josh Heytvelt looks to be back at 100%, and then throw in the supporting cast: Micah Downs, Robert Sacre, and freshmen Demetri Goodson and Grant Gibbs. Not only is this team the cream of the crop in the WCC, but they are also a Final Four candidate.

2. San Diego Toreros- This team didn’t lose one player from last year’s roster that upset UConn in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Led by guard Brandon Johnson and forward Gyno Pomare, I believe that San Diego will sneak into the top 25 throughout the season and probably get an at-large bid to the tourney. Bill Grier showed that he is a great coach, and supporting players Trumaine Johnson, Devin Ginty, and Rob Jones will also be major contributors on the court. San Diego has a hard non-conference schedule: at UNLV, vs. Oregon, at Mississippi State and they will be partaking in the Paradise Jam Tournament.

3. Saint Mary’s Gaels- Don’t sleep on the Gaels. Sure, they started the year strong and wilted at the end but they still are a force to be reckoned with and are returning a large portion of their roster. Patrick Mills, Diamon Simpson, Omar Samhan, and Ian O’Leary are all back and they can lead this team to a possible WCC title. To do that they need supporting players to step up in big games. Some publications have even picked Saint Mary’s ahead of Gonzaga, such as Blue Ribbon which has Saint Mary’s 19th and Gonzaga at 21st. I won’t go quite that far, but I do believe that Saint Mary’s will be back in the NCAA tournament in 2009.

4. San Francisco Dons- This is where you see a major drop-off in terms of depth. The WCC is a three team league, and no other team can contend with Saint Mary’s, Gonzaga’s, and San Diego’s depth. San Francisco is close, but only because they have a stellar player in Dior Lowhorn, one of the most underrated players in the nation. However, he won’t be enough to top any of the top three when it comes to tournament time.

5. Santa Clara Broncos- This team gave the Zags some trouble last season, but they lost a lot of players to graduation. The only player that can make noise on this team is John Bryant, who can be a force in the post.

6. Pepperdine Waves- Led by Sophomore Tyrone Shelley, an explosive guard, this team could upset somebody if they learned how to play defense.

7. Portland Pilots- Once again this proves how bad the WCC is at the bottom. Nik Raivio is the only player that the Pilots have to offer for opposing defenses.

8. Loyola Marymount Lions- Had a very rough season last year, and won’t be anywhere near the top this season.

WCC First Team:

G- Jeremy Pargo (Gonzaga- Player of the Year)

G- Brandon Johnson (San Diego)

G- Patrick Mills (Saint Mary’s)

F- Gyno Pomare (San Diego)

F- Dior Lowhorn (San Francisco)

F- Austin Daye (Gonzaga)

F- Josh Heytvelt (Gonzaga)

F- Omar Samhan (Saint Mary’s)

F- Diamon Simpson (Saint Mary’s)

c- John Bryant (Santa Clara)

Coach of the Year- Mark Few (Gonzaga)

Newcomer of the Year- Roberto Mafras (San Diego)

Posted in Conference Previews | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Top Ten Backcourts/Frontcourts

Posted by Zach on October 14, 2008

Much like Luke Winn and Jeff Borzello have done, here’s my take on the top backcourts and frontcourts in the nation:

Top Ten Frontcourts

1. Louisville- Terrence Williams, Earl Clark, Samardo Samuels, Terrence Jennings
2. North Carolina- Tyler Hansbrough, Danny Green, Deon Thompson, Marcus Ginyard, Ed Davis
3. Pittsburgh- DeJuan Blair, Sam Young, Gilbert Brown, Tyrell Biggs
4. Connecticut- Jeff Adrien, Hasheem Thabeet, Stanley Robinson*, Gavin Edwards
5. Michigan State- Goran Suton, Delvon Roe, Raymar Morgan, Marquise Gray, Idong Ibok
6. Texas- Gary Johnson, Connor Atchley, Damion James, Dexter Pittman
7. Duke- Gerald Henderson, Kyle Singler, Lance Thomas, Brian Zoubek, Miles Plumlee
8. Wake Forest- James Johnson, Al-Farouq Aminu, Ty Walker, Tony Woods
9. Arizona- Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill, Jamelle Horne, Bud Withey
10. Oklahoma- Blake Griffin, Taylor Griffin, Ryan Wright

The call for Louisville over North Carolina was a difficult one. Tyler Hansbrough nearly single-handedly bumps Carolina to #1. I love the overall depth of the Cardinals frontcourt, led by freshman sensation Samardo Samuels, triple-double threat Terrence Williams, and the most complete player of the group- Earl Clark. Connecticut would get a big boost if Stanley Robinson is deemed eligible for the second semester. Pittsburgh has the most dependable player of the entire list- Sam Young. I also can see Texas making a giant leap throughout the year as Damion James emerges as one of the top players in the Big 12. The consensus preseason top Big 12 player, Blake Griffin, bumps Oklahoma to #10 by himself.

Top Ten Backcourts

1. North Carolina- Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, Bobby Frasor, Larry Drew
2. Connecticut- A.J. Price, Jerome Dyson, Kemba Walker, Craig Austrie
3. Gonzaga- Jeremy Pargo, Matt Bouldin, Stephen Gray
4. UCLA- Darren Collison, Jrue Holiday, Malcolm Lee, Jerime Anderson
5. Marquette- Jerel McNeal, Dominic James, Wesley Matthews, Maurice Acker, David Cubillan
6. USC- DeMar DeRozan, Dwight Lewis, Daniel Hackett
7. Memphis- Antonio Anderson, Tyreke Evans, Willie Kemp, Roburt Sallie, Doneal Mack
8. Baylor- Curtis Jerrells, LaceDarius Dunn, Henry Dugat
9. Notre Dame- Kyle McAlarney, Tory Jackson, Jonathan Peoples
10. Duke- Nolan Smith, Greg Paulus, Jon Scheyer, Elliot Williams

It wasn’t easy deciding between those bottom three and teams like Texas, Syracuse and Georgetown. What was easy is North Carolina at #1 and Connecticut at #2. These are my top two preseason teams overall for a simple reason- they both possess top five backcourts and frontcourts this season. I love Gonzaga’s backcourt led by the explosive Jeremy Pargo and Stephen Gray, who I feel could make a huge impact from behind the arc in his sophomore season. Marquette has the most cohesion of any group as the main three have been making plays together for three full seasons. DeRozan has the most potential of any single player and Baylor could be overlooked, but Dunn and Jerrells are true playmakers.

Posted in Team Rankings | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »