Northwestern Wins: A College Hoops Blog

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

Archive for October 29th, 2008

ACC Preview: #6 Clemson

Posted by Tommy on October 29, 2008

CoachOliver Purnell (5th season)

PG- Demontez Stitt (SO): Stitt experienced his fair share of growing pains during his first year at the point but this kid has a nice upside. He’s a pretty athletic guard and has some nice moves, enabling him to fly right by his defender. In addition, he’s a good defender which really helps Purnell execute his pressure. His 1.09 assist-to-turnover ratio from last season needs to improve and probably will with a full year under his belt. Stitt also needs to improve his 3-point shot after shooting just 27.6% from deep last season. If Stitt solidifies himself as a reliable point guard by making better decisions, it would be a huge addition for Purnell and the Tigers.

SG- K.C. Rivers (SR): Rivers has been the quiet leader for the Tigers for the past couple of seasons. He’s the Tigers’ best player on both the offensive and defensive ends. He can has plenty of size to get to the rim, he has a nice mid-range jumper and he shoots above 40 percent from beyond the arc. I expect him to put up around 15 or 16 PPG and is one of the best rebounders for his size in the country, grabbing 6.3 RPG last season. He also averaged just under 2 steals per game last season and will shut down the opposition’s best backcourt player. Rivers will have to make up for the loss of his long time backcourt-mate Cliff Hammonds and will get plenty of shot opportunities.

SF- David Potter (JR): Although Potter is a junior, he’s not too experienced. I expect Potter to get the starting job at the three instead of putting Oglesby at the two and bumping Rivers down because the combination of Rivers and Potter provides the best defensive lineup possible for Purnell. Potter is a hard-nosed defender and works hard on the boards but will not impress on the offensive end. Clemson has enough weapons in its arsenal to sacrifice the minimal firepower Potter provides to bolster the defense.

PF- Trevor Booker (JR): Booker may be listed at 6-7 but plays much bigger than that. He’s a physical presence in the paint and likes to lower his shoulder into defenders to give him room to get off shots and often give his defender a foul. He uses his great combination of strength and athleticism to out-muscle opponents for rebounds and provides a nice shot-blocking presence (1.9 BPG as a sophomore). Now that he’s an upperclassman, he needs to become a consistent force down low. He has the potential to become one of the best big men in the conference.

C- Raymond Sykes (SR): Like Potter, Sykes found himself coming off the bench last season and isn’t as experienced as most starting seniors are. Sykes is the ideal man to replace the lengthy James Mays who harassed the inbounder for Purnell’s press. He’s long and athletic just like Mays and will certainly give inbounders trouble if Purnell institutes his press again this season. Sykes hasn’t shown that he can fill the scoring column very well, but who knows what can happen with increased playing time.

Bench: One of the best features of last year’s squad was the impeccable depth they had. Purnell was able to substitute liberally and give his guys much needed rest after playing full court basketball and saw little to no drop off in his team’s performance. Unfortunately, Purnell isn’t going to have that luxury this season. Sharpshooting sophomore Terrence Oglesby gives the Tigers a possible lineup with more fire power in case they’re down. After that there really isn’t much. Jerai Grant is a sophomore forward that saw 8.3 MPG last season and will have to step in for either Booker or Sykes if they get into foul trouble. Freshman guard Andre Young and 7-2 freshman Catalin Baciu may be the next options for the backcourt and frontcourt, respectively.

Backcourt: B-
Frontcourt: B
Bench: C-
Coaching: A-

Bottom Line: Purnell seemed to pull all the right strings last season with plenty of substitutions and a press that frustrated their opponents. Purnell is going to have a tougher time pressing after every made basket this season because the starters are going to have to play much of the game. Their starting lineup is a very athletic one, but Stitt, Sykes and Potter have to provide more scoring this season. The Tigers are going to use hard-nosed defense to frustrate their opponents and keep the games within reach. I think they still have enough talent to get into the NCAA tournament but will probably ride the bubble for the entire season.

Key Non-Conference Games: 12/2 @ Illinois, 12/30 @ South Carolina, 1/6 vs. Alabama
Key Conference Games: 1/29 @ Virginia Tech, 2/4 vs. Duke, 2/17 vs. Maryland, 2/25 vs Virginia Tech
Most Valuable Player: K.C. Rivers
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA (one and done)

Posted in ACC Report, Conference Previews | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Abdul Gaddy Commits To Washington

Posted by Zach on October 29, 2008

Following Lute Olson’s abrupt resignation as Arizona head coach last week, point guard Abdul Gaddy has found a new home- the University of Washington.

The highly touted 6’3 guard out of Tacoma will stay in his home state and play for Lorenzo Romar’s Huskies. The decision came late Tuesday night and was originally reported by Scout.com, with multiple sources confirming the commitment this afternoon. To have Gaddy rescind his LOI to Arizona and opt for a rival Pac-10 school must be devastating for Wildcat fans. It may also save Washington coach Lorenzo Romar’s job following a few years of mediocrity. Landing the second best high school point guard in the nation should help.

Olson’s stroke in this past year ultimately led to his resignation just a week into practice and caused three top-100 recruits- Gaddy, Solomon Hill and Mike Moser- to all de-commit and search for new schools. There is a strong rumor that Hill, a Los Angeles native, will commit to Southern California, adding another former Arizona signee opting for a Pac-10 school. Olson’s resignation should have major lingering effects. As if losing Brandon Jennings to Europe wasn’t bad enough.

Gaddy should be Washington’s best player the moment he arrives at campus. He has tremendous point guard instincts similiar to Derrick Rose. His feel for the position is off the charts and can anchor a Washington program in need of a backcourt leader since the departure of Brandon Roy. Most expected Gaddy to head to UCLA when he de-committed from Arizona, but Washington ended up landing the ultra-talented guard.

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

Big East Preview: #3 Notre Dame

Posted by Zach on October 29, 2008

3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish– Coach: Mike Brey (8th season)

PG- Tory Jackson (JR)
: Tory Jackson is the quarterback for the Irish. His quick speed and passing ability plays perfectly into Mike Brey’s fast-paced system and he’s the most reliable defender Coach Brey has. Jackson is a penetrating guard who could find Kyle McAlarney for an open three or Luke Harangody in the low block with his eyes closed. His tenacious style of play is infectious and he’s molded into the Irish floor leader.  Jackson is also a strong rebounder for a point guard, grabbing 13 boards against a tough Pitt team. The one weakness for Jackson is a porous outside jump shot and struggles from the charity stripe. He only shot 30% from three and a terrible 52% from the line last season- these obviously need to improve because Jackson cannot beat a defender off the dribble every single time. He comes about as close as anyone, though.

SG- Kyle McAlarney (SR): After a suspension for marijuana possession kept McAlarney off the sidelines for the second half of 2006-07, he made absolutely sure he was going to return to the Irish stronger than ever. His three-point shot might be the best in all of college basketball, and he’s certainly the head marksman from deep in the Big East. He notched 32 points against Connecticut, 30 against Syracuse and 30 vs. Villanova, eventually leading the conference in three-pointers made and three-point field goal percentage. McAlarney came alive around December and never looked back, forming a dynamic inside-outside duo with junior Luke Harangody (focus too much on Luke and Kyle will torch you from outside). His clear weakness is defense and McAlarney is often beat by quick and athletic 2-guards. Many pegged Tennessee star Chris Lofton as the top three-point shooter in the nation before last season and he struggled mightily. Whether that’s the case with McAlarney is yet to be seen, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

SF- Ryan Ayers (SR): Ayers is the type of complimentary piece that every championship team needs. He plays off McAlarney, Jackson and Harangody exceptionally well by taking what he’s given and making smart plays. Ayers came to South Bend with an extensive high school resume and failed to live up to lavish expectations before his junior season. Ayers made definite contributions during Big East play last year with an accurate three-point shot (45%) and peaked with 17 points against defensively-tough Louisville. Whether Ayers can improve rebounding the basketball and playing consistent defense is certainly a question mark. Brey knows the importance of Ayers as a role player in this type of fast-paced offense and may be asked to shoot even more.

PF- Zach Hillesland (SR): Much like Ayers, Hillesland is an important cog for Brey and the Irish. He’s a multi-dimensional player who can mix it up down low with his 6’9 frame while also showing quickness running the fast break effectively with Jackson and McAlarney as a three rather than a four. He possesses a great feel for the court (third on the team in assists last year) and may mature into the senior leader the Irish need this season on and off the floor. He’s the likely candidate to replace the production of Rob Kurz (12.5 PPG) and will be asked to compliment Harangody in the paint, mainly by providing another option for Notre Dame should Harangody face a fierce double team. Unlike Ayers, Hillesland isn’t any three-point threat, but shot 50% from the floor last season, taking shots within his range and within the offense.

C- Luke Harangody (JR): When Luke Harangody arrived in South Bend as a freshman, many viewed him as nothing more than a promising, rugged post player who can provide key minutes, some inside scoring and grab a few offensive rebounds. He was somewhat hyped, but not even Mike Brey could tell you with a straight face he thought Luke would lead the Big East in scoring and finish second in rebounding in his sophomore season. You saw the progress in Madison Square Garden when he dropped 19 and 14 on Beasley. You saw the stardom emerge with his 40 points in Freedom Hall and his 32 and 16 against Connecticut. Harangody has progressed into one of the most efficient and productive players in all of college basketball: scoring, rebounding, hook shots, short jumpers, dunks, everything but threes. Harangody is even an above-average passer for a big man, capable of finding McAlarney outside when the double team arrives. Brey doesn’t mind that NBA scouts don’t see the Irish star oozing with potential. He’s more than happy to have his own Tyler Hansbrough for four years.

Bench: Luke Zeller is the unquestioned sixth man, providing yet another forward who can shoot from outside. He’s slightly behind the depth chart because of his lack of rebounding and aggressiveness down low, but those areas are progressing rapidly for his senior season. A former McDonald’s All-American, Zeller is looking to silence some critics in his last campaign at Notre Dame. Jonathan Peoples is a valuable third guard with an average shot and great passing instincts on the floor. Tyler Nash is a breakout candidate. The 6’8 sophomore will need to blossom from a player who provides key rebounding and grabs the occasional loose ball, possibly providing more replacement for Kurz in the post.

Backcourt: A
Frontcourt: A-
Bench: B
Coaching: A-

Bottom Line: I really like this Notre Dame team offensively. They led the nation in assists last season and can top 90 points on any given night. Tory Jackson is the perfect component to run the offense and Brey can tout the strongest inside-outside duo this side of Lawson and Hansbrough. You also know they’ll protect their home court. The question for the Irish is defense. Other than Jackson, they’re a below average defensive team who will find it difficult to win if their shooters and/or Harangody have a rare off-night. Believe me, it’ll happen in this conference. A stronger defensive effort is the difference between a Sweet 16 and National Championship team this season.

Key Non-Conference Games: Maui Invitational, 12/6 vs. Ohio State, 2/7 @ UCLA
Key Conference Games: 1/12 @ Louisville, 1/24 vs. Connecticut, 1/31 @ Pittsburgh, 2/28 @ Connecticut
Most Valuable Player: Luke Harangody
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA (Elite Eight)

(#2 team tomorrow afternoon)

Posted in Big East Report, Conference Previews | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »