Northwestern Wins: A College Hoops Blog

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

Archive for November 4th, 2008

ACC Preview #4 Miami

Posted by Tommy on November 4, 2008

Coach- Frank Haith (5th season)

PG- Lance Hurdle (SR): The lack of a quality point guard was the bugaboo of last year’s Hurricanes. Haith gave Hurdle and freshman Eddie Rios an opportunity, but the job ended up going to Jack McClinton because neither provided enough offense. I suspect Haith will give Hurdle the nod to start the season at the point so McClinton can go back to his natural two spot. Hurdle won’t provide as much scoring as McClinton or James Dews in the backcourt, but he turns the ball over much less than McClinton and averaged a solid 8 PPG last year. If the ‘Canes need some extra scoring, look for McClinton to run the point and be coupled with Dews in the backcourt, but because Hurdle handles the ball better he’ll probably start. Good play from the point would be a huge bonus for the Hurricanes who have all the other pieces in place to make a run in the dance.

SG- Jack McClinton (SR): The Baltimore native became nationally recognized after his 38-point game against Saint Mary’s in the first round of the NCAA tournament. McClinton is undoubtedly the go-to guy for the ‘Canes and would really benefit from good play at the point from Hurdle and/or Rios because the responsibility would be taken off of his shoulders, allowing him to focus on scoring. He shot a deadly 42.7% from beyond the arc last season and has a lightning-quick release, but does much more than shoot 3-balls. He’s got a quality mid-range game, drives to the rim with success and if defenders over-commit, he’s pretty good at finding the open man. McClinton’s percentage from beyond the arc may take a hit due to the arc being moved back, but the talented guard has enough talent around him where he won’t draw too much attention. McClinton’s name will be on the First Team All-ACC roster and he could even climb into All-America conversation.

SF- Brian Asbury (SR): Asbury is the most versatile player on the Hurricanes’ roster. At 6-7 he has more size than his defenders, but his outside shot must be respected. While he may not have the most explosive offensive game, his combination of size and athleticism makes him a great defender. His offense came along near the end of last season after scoring double digits in seven of the last 12 contests. If he polishes his offensive game and keeps up his rebounding and defending from last season it’ll be hard to keep Asbury off of the floor for too long.

PF- Dwayne Collins (JR): Collins was a pleasant surprise for Frank Haith last season. Collins is a strong, broad-shouldered post player with plenty of toughness and raw athleticism. He loves to bang bodies down low and excels in rebounding. Although he only averaged 8.6 PPG as a sophomore, he shot .550 from the field and had glimpses of greatness such as his 26 point performance against Duke in which he was 12-14 from the field. Now that Collins is an upperclassman, he needs to not only beat up on weaker frontcourts but needs to perform well versus the tougher frontcourts of the ACC like that of North Carolina. Opponents may implement a hack-a-Shaq policy on Dwayne if he does start to become dominant in the paint because he only shoots 50% from the stripe – an area he must improve on.

PF- Jimmy Graham (SR): Graham has been a good bench player for Frank Haith, but the departure of Anthony King leaves a hole in the frontcourt. He has a very similar game to that of Collins. He shoots just about as well from the field as he does from the stripe, is a strong rebounder and a good defender. Both players are listed at 6-8 but Graham has a more lengthy frame than Collins which means he’ll be guarding the opponent’s tallest player. If Graham improves his confidence with the ball he can become a reliable scorer down low for the ‘Canes.

Bench: Dews, who will probably see as much, if not more, playing time than the starters in the backcourt, was last year’s second leading scorer behind McClinton and gives Haith another deep threat if he needs it. Arkansas transfer Cyrus McGowan is yet another strong physical presence in the paint for the ‘Canes. 6-9 redshirt freshman Julian Gamble will be the other key reserve for the frontline. Gamble, McGowan and incoming freshman Reggie Johnson are the three tallest players on the team and will play significant roles especially with Graham’s tendency to get into foul trouble. Eddie Rios got some time at the point last year but his inexperience made it tough to be a quality ACC point guard. This season he’ll get more chances to prove himself, especially during Miami’s weak non-conference schedule. Overall, Haith has a very nice set of reserves this season and can consistently go ten men deep into his roster with little drop-off.

Backcourt: A-
Frontcourt: B+
Bench: A-
Coach: B

Bottom Line: The ‘Canes have a very strong frontcourt and plenty of scoring ability in their backcourt as well as a deep bench to go to in case of injury or foul trouble. Also, having four seniors and a junior in their lineup is a luxury not many teams have. This experience will certainly give Miami an edge over their more inexperienced opponents in ACC and postseason play. If Asbury, Collins and Graham come along offensively, the ‘Canes are probably better than 4th in the ACC, but right now it looks like McClinton and Dews will be relied upon to provide much of the scoring. They lost very little from a team that made it to the round of 32 last season, so I expect them to make a run in the NCAA tournament.

Key Non-Conference Games: 11/21-11/24 Paradise Jam, 12/6 @ Kentucky
Key Conference Games: 12/21 vs. Clemson, 1/17 @ North Carolina, 2/4 vs. Wake Forest, 2/7 @ Duke
Most Valuable Player: Jack McClinton
Postseason Tournament: NCAA (Sweet 16)


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Pac-10 Preview (#6-#4)

Posted by Patrick on November 4, 2008

The teams that are in the “middle of the pack” in any conference are sometimes the most dangerous. They’re often overlooked, but they still have the talent to upset some of the best teams (example: almost Cal over UCLA last season). Here are the schools that could make some noise in the Pac-10 and maybe even the nation, yet they could also find themselves in the NIT/CBI in March.

6. Washington State Cougars– Coach: Tony Bennett (3rd year)

Backcourt: Taylor Rochestie will be running the offense in Pullman, which should run pretty smoothly. Rochestie is a great outside threat, shooting over 40% from three last season. He reminds me a lot of Derek Raivio, a great player at Gonzaga. On top of being a great shooter, he also plays great defense. Mike Harthun was a huge recruit for the Cougars, and should fit in nicely at shooting guard. It will be interesting if he can play “Cougar-level” defense, but what we do know is that he can get to the basket and finish.

Frontcourt: Aron Baynes anchored this team last season, and will probably do the same in 2008. His inside presence is unlike many in the Pac-10; he has a huge frame and has a relentless knack for the ball. I think its easy to say that Washington State will go as far as Baynes takes them. Devin Harmeling will have an expanded role in the offense this season, and despite being 6’7” he shoots the ball relatively well. Klay Thompson was the top recruit in Bennett’s 2008 class, and should make an immediate impact at small forward.

Bottom Line: A team that plays defense as well as Washington State could go very far this season, but like most Pac-10 teams they are missing something, and that something is depth. Once Baynes comes out of the game, whether it be because of fouls or just rest, they don’t have a player that can fill in on offense or defense. Teams will probably attack the basket early to try and get Baynes some cheap fouls, and Bennett needs to recognize that. It will be interesting to see how one of the top coaches in the nation deals with a team that doesn’t have much depth.

Starting Lineup:

PG-Taylor Rochestie (Sr.)

SG- Mike Harthun (Fr.)

SF- Klay Thompson (Fr.)

PF- Devin Harmeling (Sr.)

C- Aron Baynes (Sr.)

Projected Post Season Tournament: NIT

Key Games: Baylor (12/6), Gonzaga (12/10), Washington (1/3), at Arizona (1/31), Arizona (2/26)

5. Arizona Wildcats-Coach: Russ Pennell (1st year)

Backcourt: After losing two amazing point guards in the offseason (Jaryd Bayless and Brandon Jennings), Nic Wise (pictured above) gets the honor of being Arizona’s floor general. People may not know Wise very well, but he is a tremendous player that can shoot the three and find people on the court. Freshman Brendon Lavender will be a key addition to this roster, and if he can score like Arizona recruited him to do so, then the Wildcats could be in very good shape this season.

Frontcourt: Chase Budinger needs no introduction. Everyone that has watched college basketball the past two seasons knows that he is one of the top players in the game. Besides Budinger, Jordan Hill is the most experienced frontcourt players that the Wildcats have. While Hill can score with the best, he got into foul trouble last season (averaged over three fouls per game), limiting his minutes on the court.

Bottom Line: This team has had very rough off-season. Losing their best player to the draft, having their best recruit leave for Europe, and having three different coaches in three seasons. Russ Pennell has a great team to work with, but it will be a very tough job and in order to get this team to play to its potential he needs veteran leadership from the likes of Nic Wise, Jordan Hill, and Chase Budinger. Arizona has the talent to win the Pac-10, but do they have the desire?

Starting Lineup:

PG- Nic Wise (Jr.)

SG- Brendon Lavender (Fr.)

SF- Chase Budinger (Jr.)

PF- Jordan Hill (Jr.)

C- Jeff Withey (Fr.)- may transfer

Projected Post Season Tournament: NCAA

Key Games: at Texas A&M (12/5), Gonzaga (12/14), Kansas (12/23), Arizona State (1/21), UCLA (2/14), at Arizona State (2/22)

4. USC Trojans– Coach: Tim Floyd (4th year)

Backcourt: Once again USC has a freshman phenom that will lead their team to the promised land. This year it’s DeMar DeRozan, and he may even be better than O.J. Mayo. He has the ability to take over games and may be the most athletic guard in the nation. Having Daniel Hackett at point guard is going to help this team tremendously because he is one of those players that you want to have the ball in key moments. Dwight Lewis will also anchor the Trojans strong backcourt.

Frontcourt: Taj Gibson has been a star for USC since he arrived on campus, and this season should be no different. Gibson loves to eat up rebounds and will be the backbone of this basketball team. Gibson also plays great defense, but like many big men runs into foul trouble and for USC to be an elite team they need Gibson on the court. Junior Alex Stephenson (if his waiver is accepted to play this season) and senior Keith Wilkinson will be the duo trading off time at the other forward spot.

Bottom Line: USC is a great team and could very easily contend for a Final Four, but last season it seems that this team doesn’t take care of the ball and had trouble controlling their star players. If DeRozan listens to the coaching staff and plays team basketball he could lead them very far (like Derrick Rose), but if he doesn’t USC will be another one-and-done in the tournament.

Starting LIneup:

PG-Daniel Hackett (Jr.)

SG- Dwight Lewis (Jr.)

G/F- DeMar DeRozan (Fr.)

F- Taj Gibson (Sr.)

F- Alex Stephenson (Jr.)- waiver under review

Projected Post Season Tournament: NCAA

Key Games: at Oklahoma (12/4), UCLA (1/11), at UCLA (2/4), at Arizona State (2/15)

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Preseason Bracketology

Posted by Zach on November 4, 2008

Channeling my inner Joe Lunardi here as we gear up for the season:

Note: conference champion in bold

16 seeds- Jackson State, Morgan State, Radford, Stephen F. Austin, Mount St. Mary’s

15 seeds- Tennessee-Martin, Cornell, Cal State Northridge, American

14 seeds– South Alabama, Portland State, Oakland, Belmont

13 seeds- Vermont, Cleveland State, Providence, VCU

12 seeds- San Diego State, Temple, UTEP, Southern Illinois

11 seeds- Kent State, Nevada, Arizona, Alabama

10 seeds- Xavier, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, LSU

9 seeds- UAB, Ohio State, Creighton, BYU

8 seeds- Siena, San Diego, Villanova, Kansas

7 seeds- Davidson, UNLV, Syracuse, Kentucky

6 seeds- Wisconsin, Florida, Georgetown, Saint Mary’s

5 seeds- Marquette, Miami (FL), Baylor, Memphis

4 seeds- Arizona State, Tennessee, Wake Forest, Southern Cal

3 seeds- Duke, Pittsburgh, Texas, Gonzaga

2 seeds- Michigan State, Notre Dame, Purdue, Oklahoma

1 seeds- North Carolina, Connecticut, Louisville, UCLA

Last Teams In: Providence, Alabama, Temple, UTEP

Last Teams Out: Texas A&M, Washington, Massachusetts, Missouri

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