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Posts Tagged ‘Drake Bulldogs’

Final Pre-Season Mid Major Top 15

Posted by Patrick on November 12, 2008

Here’s the link to my first Mid-Major Top 15.

(I will not include: Gonzaga, Xavier, C-USA, WAC, or MWC)

The teams are the same but just some rearranging:

1. Davidson- Curry has obviously made a smooth transition to point guard, as expected, scoring 41 in the Wildcats exhibition game. If Curry plays anything like this during the regular season, those supporting players should be enough to keep Davidson rolling.

2. San Diego- I’m still a strong believer that San Diego is one of the better Non-BCS teams out there. They have a senior heavy lineup led by Gyno Pomare and Brandon Johnson, plus sophomores Trumaine Johnson and Rob Jones are studs that can play with anyone in the nation.

3. Siena- Brings back all five starters from the team that made fools out of Vanderbilt in last year’s tournament. They shouldn’t have too much trouble winning the MAAC, but it will be interesting to see how they stack up against the powerhouses in the Old Spice Classic.

4. Saint Mary’s- Patrick Mills, Omar Samhan, Diamon Simpson, and Ian O’Leary will lead a Gaels team that looks to be back in the NCAA tournament.

5. Saint Joseph’s- This team probably has the best chance to upset Xavier and win the A-10. Ahmad Nivins is the best center in the conference and can give any team a headache thats trying to stop him.

6. Virginia Commonwealth- Eric Maynor is certainly up there with the best point guards in the nation, but will this team choke once again when the conference tournament rolls around.

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7. Cleveland State- This team is one of the more athletic teams in the mid-west and should be the favorites to win the Horizon League. Athletic big man J’Nathan Bullock (above) and stellar point guard Cedric Jackson look to lead the Vikings to the NCAA tournament just two years after posting a terrible conference record.

8. Cal State Fullerton- Keep your eye on Josh Akognon (below) all season, he’s a tremendous player that goes unnoticed for playing in a small conference. As for the rest of the team, they bring back a lot of experience from the squad that made the NCAA tournament last season.

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9. Creighton- In my opinion, the Blue Jays are the favorites to win the MVC. A team that just lost three seniors a year ago should be poised to make the NCAA tournament after being routed by Florida in the NIT.

10. Dayton- Also a team that can surprise; London Warren and Chris Wright are two very underrated players that should make some noise in the A-10.

11. Wright State- Vaughn Duggins and Todd Brown will try to bring the Raiders back to the NCAA tournament for the 2nd time in 3 seasons. However, it won’t be easy with Cleveland State in their way.

12. Tennessee Martin- Lester Hudson and Marquis Weddle should easily take control of the Ohio Valley Conference from the get go, as long as these two are on the court they will be a tough game for any team.

13. Belmont- Until they prove me wrong, I have to give the Bruins some love for what they almost did to Duke last season. Plus, they have built a dynasty in the Atlantic Sun and I don’t expect any underdog teams to steal their throne.

14. Oral Roberts- Do these guys ever go away? Not when you have players like Robert Jarvis. I don’t see anyone that can contend in the Summit League.

15. Drake- This will be a very tough season for the Bulldogs. With Josh Young running the offense they should still experience success, but certainly not at the magnitude of last season’s.

Also Considered: Santa Clara, Butler, Vermont, Northeastern, Southern Illinois, UMass

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Posted in Predictions, Team Rankings | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Missouri Valley Preview

Posted by Zach on October 11, 2008

I have to admit I saw Drake coming.

Back in November, Drake made their return trip of the Bracket Buster selection from Des Moines to Milwaukee, and I happened to be in attendance along with both Tommy and Pat. Admittedly, I didn’t know that much about the Drake Bulldogs, just that they had two excellent players in Josh Young and Leonard Houston, and they were picked near the bottom of the MVC. After a drubbing in which Drake shot 13-26 from three and 55% overall from the floor, it was impossible not to ask yourself one question: “why isn’t this team considered a contender in the Missouri Valley?” That game didn’t turn out to be a fluke. Drake proved their worth winning the conference and earning a 5-seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Drake hasn’t won back-to-back titles, or even had a glimmer of success, since their Elite Eight run in 1971 before last year. So, are they primed to repeat? Or will a MVC power reclaim their glory? On to the preview…

1. Creighton Bluejays: To answer your question: a MVC power will reclaim their glory. Creighton and coach Dana Altman dealt with an extremely young core last year in Omaha with nine players performing in their first Division 1 action. Still, they managed a trip to the NIT and an impressive 22-win season. They return MVC Freshman of the Year P’Allen Stinnett, who has the potential to explode onto the national scene as an athletic superstar as his game continues to mature. Stinnett has all the ability in the world to win conference player of the year, but to help Creighton he needs to cut back on the turnovers and bonehead plays. Creighton’s strength is clearly with their backcourt. Along with Stinnett, the Jays have Booker Woodfox and Cavel Witter- two players that contributed nearly 10 PPG off the bench last season. Senior point guard Josh Dotzler isn’t a primary scoring option, but plays excellent defense and is smart with the basketball. Dana Altman also put together an impressive recruiting class led by wing Justin Carter. This team has eight freshman and sophomores and yet most agree Creighton is the clear favorite in the conference.

2. Southern Illinois Salukis: You can’t keep the Salukis down very long. Finishing third in the conference and earning a trip to the NIT is a solid year for most MVC schools; in Carbondale, it’s a huge disappointment, one that tested coach Chris Lowery. Losing forward Randall Falkner and guard Matt Shaw, two double-digit scorers and team leaders, will also test Lowery. Bryan Mullins will emerge as the new all-around scorer and passer for the Salukis. Mullins is a smart point guard with range on his jumper and the keen ability to find the open teammate. Seniors Wesley Clemmons and senior Tony Boyle are both strong defenders, tailoring to the clear strength of the SIU program. They need to get back to playing tenacious defense every game before they return to the NCAA Tournament. Lowery also added what he calls the best recruiting class in the program’s history.

3. Drake Bulldogs: New coach Mark Phelps must deal with the losses of point guard and MVC player of the year winner Adam Emmenecker, three-point specialist Klayton Korver and super-athlete Leonard Houston. Phelps, a former assistant at NC State and most recently working under Herb Sendek at Arizona State, loves the three-point shot. In a total coincidence, Drake also loves the three-point shot. So expect plenty of thre pointers from Josh Young, who made 43% of his shots from long distance last season along with a healthy 15.9 PPG overall. Young is the favorite for MVC POY. Jonathan Cox is a phenomenal inside-outside force, one that shoots the three with remarkable efficiency (44%) while also finishing second in the MVC in rebounding (8.6 RPG). Cox continued to improve as the season progressed, ending his campaign with 29 points and 16 rebounds in the shootout vs. Western Kentucky. Phelps will rely on Young and Cox, along with UC Irvine transfer Adam Templeton, in hopes of winning another conference title.

4. Illinois State Redbirds: If not for Drake, the story of the MVC last year would have been Illinois State. Former Kansas assistant Tim Jankovich improved ISU from 15-16 to 25-10 and a win in the NIT, finishing second in the conference behind Drake. Losing four of their top seven scorers from a year ago hurts, but Osiris Eldridge returns- a 15.8 PPG scorer from last year as a sophomore. The loss of point guard Boo Richardson will hinder his ability to get the ball in key spots. JC transfer Lloyd Phillips and freshman Kenyon Smith are hoping to take over at point guard and find Eldridge during big possessions. Illinois State does get a boost with Oregon transfer Chamberlain Oguchi, who led the Ducks in threes back in 05-06, eligible for the season. A potential weakness for the Redbirds could be rebounding where they already lost senior forward Brandon Sampay for the first part of the year recovering from offseason hip surgery. Junior Dinma Odiakosa (6.9 PPG) also returns; it looked like he could become a key component after exploding onto the scene in the NIT.

5. Bradley Braves:
Not many know that Bradley played into April last season. Sure, it was the CBI, but coach Jim Les will take the extra month of games and practices in preparation for this season. Losing 15.8 PPG scorer Jeremy Crouch and point guard Daniel Ruffin stings. Luckily for Coach Les, the reigns to the high-tempo Bradley offense will be handed to Andrew Warren, a 13+ PPG scorer from last year who shot effectively from the outside. Warren teams up with sophomore Sam Maniscalco. As a freshman, Maniscalco took over for the injured Ruffin and finished with an impressive 114 assists. Theron Wilson is another returning double-digit scorer. Bradley should be an exciting, guard-oriented, push-at-every-chance team to watch this season, and quietly the Braves are looking for their fourth consecutive 21+ win season. Rather than playing deep into March in the CBI, Les now hopes to sneak into the NCAA Tournament.

6. Northern Iowa Panthers: I also was able to see Northern Iowa in person last year and two things stuck out for me: 1) they play phenomenal defense and 2) they have a real difficult time scoring the basketball. Eric Coleman led the Panthers in scoring, rebounds and blocks last season. He’s gone. This means two key post players must take over the scoring load- Adam Koch and Jordan Eglseder. Eglseder literally just stands in the paint at 7’1 and is able to score at will against most teams when he feels motivated, but he needs to stay out of foul trouble and be more aggressive fighting for rebounds. Koch is a talented player who has a better shot at making The Leap over Eglseder. The return of injured point guard Kwadzo Ahelegbe should help UNI move up the offensive charts; they finished ninth in the MVC in scoring average last season and lost Coleman.

7. Indiana State Sycamores:
The Sycamores return three starters, notably sophomore Isiah Martin to boost interior defense and junior guard Harry Marshall for scoring. Marshall can play both guard positions and needs to take over as team leader after the Sycamores went 2-13 on the road last season. Coach Kevin McKenna hopes to gain contributions from two junior college players: former Iowa Hawkeye Josh Crawford, who averaged 4.5 BPG in JC, and Rashad Reed, who looks to replace Gabe Moore. Moore started all four years for Indiana State and will be a key loss on both ends of the floor. Newly added height should help Indiana State move up the rebounding charts in the MVC where they finished last in both offense and defensive rebounding.

8. Wichita State Shockers:
The Shockers and coach Gregg Marshall could go either way. There is a ton of uncertainty around the program after a hugely disappointing 2007-08 loaded with injuries and bad luck. Only one starter returns for this year, meaning it could be another struggle. Ramon Clemente is a breakout candidate after improving mightily as last season progressed. Sophomore J.T. Durley can explode at any point with his knack for scoring the basketball in bunches.  This team is hard to predict because of all the new additions: JC transfers Reggie Chamberlain and Kelvin Hannah, 7-foot freshman Garrett Stutz, and St. Bonnie’s transfer A.J. Hawkins can all make immediate impacts.

9. Evansville Aces:
The Aces avoid the basement because they return all five starters from their last-place finish of 2007-08. In fact, Evansville hasn’t finished with a winning record in eight seasons. The backcourt is strong with Jason Hoslinger shooting from behind the arc and small forward Shy Ely (I swear, the MVC has the best names of any conference) can play with anyone, finishing with 14.4 PPG and 5.1 RPG last season. The weakness for Evansville will be inside. They play North Carolina in November in what could be an ugly bloodbath.

10. Missouri State Bears
: Finishing behind Evansville is not something new coach Cuonzo Martin wants to place on his resume, but it could very well happen. This program is currently in disarray. The Bears are moving into a brand-new hoops facility for this season, which may be just about the only bright spot in what could be a last-place campaign. They return zero double-digit scorers and fell behind dramatically in recruiting with the coaching switch. Several newcomers such as Isaiah Rhine at forward have a chance to emerge.

First Team All-Missouri Valley:

G- Josh Young, Drake
G- P’Allen Stinnett, Creighton
G- Osiris Eldridge, Illinois State
F- Jonathan Cox, Drake
F- Adam Koch, Northern Iowa

Coach of the Year-
Dana Altman, Creighton
Newcomer of the Year- Chamberlain Oguchi, Illinois State
Sleeper Team- Wichita State Shockers
NCAA- Creighton
NIT- Southern Illinois, Drake

Posted in Conference Previews, Predictions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

2008 Top 15 Mid-Majors

Posted by Patrick on July 19, 2008

(I will not include Gonzaga, C-USA, WAC, or MWC. I will be including A-10, and MVC.)

1.

The Toreros graduated no players in 2007, and they are ready to make another run at a WCC title. Last year’s win against UConn was certainly no fluke and this team is locked and loaded for next season. Led by seniors Brandon Johnson and Gyno Pomar and Coach Bill Grier, don’t expect anything less than an NCAA tourney run from San Diego in ’08.

Projected Starting Lineup:

PG- Trumaine Johnson ( 5.7 PPG, 2.7 APG) So.

SG- Brandon Johnson (16.9 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 3.5 APG) Sr.

G- De’Jon Jackson (7.6 PPG) Jr.

PF- Rob Jones (9 PPG, 5.8 RPG) So.

C- Gyno Pomare (14.1 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 1.3 BPG) Sr.

2.

The reason Davidson isn’t my choice for the number one mid major team is because they lost their point guard in Jason Richards. Of course, they still have Stephen Curry who will be making the transition to point guard this season and probably for the rest of his life as he will pursue an NBA career. This team will rest on Curry, and while that can be a good thing, it can also cause major problems. We’ll see if they are able to build on last year’s success and make another deep tournament run under a very good coach in Bob McKillop.

Projected Starting Lineup:

PG- Stephen Curry (25.9 PPG) Jr.

SG- William Archambault (5 PPG) Jr.

SF- Max Paulhaus-Gosselin (3.5 PPG, 3.6 RPG) Sr.

PF- Stephen Rossiter (3 PPG, 3.3 RPG) Jr.

C- Andrew Lovedale (6.8 PPG, 5.4 RPG) Sr.

3.

Dayton certainly exceeded expectations last year, but as soon as they were looked at as a tournament team their performance began to drop whether it was due to injury or that the A-10 was very underrated last season. They had a great NIT run but this season they should be the favorites in the A-10 and look to get to the NCAA tournament. The loss of Brian Roberts will take its toll on this team, but  have a great coach, so as the season progresses it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Projected Starting Lineup:

PG- London Warren (4.3 PPG, 1.9 APG) Jr.

SG- Marcus Johnson (10.1 PPG, 5.1 RPG) Jr.

G- Paul Williams (24 PPG at Renaissance High School in Detroit) Fr.

PF- Chris Wright (10.4 PPG, 5.7 RPG) So.

C- Kurt Huelsman (5.9 PPG, 4 RPG) Jr.

4.

Siena had a great start to last season when they beat Stanford, and then they also had a great end to the season when they destroyed Vanderbilt in the first round of the tournament. This team reminds me of Bucknell the year after they beat Kansas. Siena returns all five starters led by Edwin Ubiles and will look to have an even better season and maybe a Sweet 16 appearance.

Projected Starting Lineup:

PG- Ronald Moore (8.6 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 5.3 APG) Jr.

SG- Kenny Hasbrouck (16.1 PPG, 3.3 RPG) Sr.

SF- Edwin Ubiles (17 PPG, 4.4 RPG) Jr.

PF- Alex Franklin (15.1 PPG, 7.8 RPG) Jr.

C- Josh Duell (5.5 PPG, 3.3 RPG) Sr.

5.

Saint Mary’s didn’t have a great end to the season when they lost two straight games, but they did make the NCAA tournament and they return a lot for next season. Led by Diamon Simpson, and Aussie phenom Patrick Mills, the Gaels look as if they will have another NCAA tournament run.

Projected Starting Lineup:

PG- Patrick Mills (14.8 PPG, 3.5 APG) So.

SG- Carlin Hughes (5.9 PPG, 2.4 APG) Sr.

SF- Ian O’Leary (7.6 PPG, 4.8 RPG) Sr.

PF- Diamon Simpson (13.4 PPG, 9.6 RPG) Sr.

C- Omar Samhan (10.5 PPG, 7.3 RPG) Jr.

6.

Cleveland State took a huge step in the right direction last year when they made the NIT, but this year they are looking for an NCAA tournament birth. Being the favorite in the Horizon League isn’t something CSU fans are used to saying about their team, but in 2008, led by J’Nathan Bullock and Cedric Jackson, there is no reason that the Vikings shouldn’t be Horizon League champions in March.

Projected Starting Lineup:

PG- Cedric Jackson (13.9 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 4.9 APG) Sr.

SG- Joe Davis (8.4 PPG) Jr.

SF- George Tandy (4.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG) Sr.

PF- J’Nathan Bullock (14.8 PPG, 6.6 RPG) Sr.

C- Chris Moore (4.9 PPG, 2.7 RPG) Sr.

7.

Creighton certainly put up a good fight in the Valley last season, and had some games come down to the wire that they couldn’t quite pull out. They had a very rough outing with Florida in the NIT, but when a young team (graduating just 3 seniors) comes off of a 22 win season usually big things are expected next season, In a down year for the MVC, the Blue Jays look like the favorite.

Projected Starting Lineup:

PG- Cavell Witter (9.1 PPG, 2.6 APG) Sr.

SG- P’Allen Stinett (12.6 PPG) So.

G- Booker Woodfox (9.6 PPG) Sr.

PF- Chad Millard (4.1 PPG, 3.2 RPG) Jr.

C- Kenny Lawson Jr. (5.9 PPG, 4.2 APG) So.

8.

VCU definitely didn’t live up to its high expectations last season, but Eric Maynor should send them back in the driver’s seat in the CAA for the 2008-09 season. The only question is if Maynor’s supporting cast can be any good. If they are, VCU has a chance to surprise some teams next season. However, if the rest of the players play like last season VCU may have trouble even winning the CAA.

Projected Starting Lineup:

PG- Eric Maynor (17.9 PPG, 5.5 APG) Sr.

SG- Joey Rodriguez (5.1 PPG) Jr.

SF- Lance Kearse (3.9 PPG) Jr.

PF- Larry Sanders (4.9 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 3 BPG) Jr.

F- T.J. Gwynn (3.4 PPG, 2.8 RPG) Sr.

9.

Some people might be asking why I have the Titans so high, but the play of Josh Akognon last season speaks for itself. He had an amazing game against Wisconsin in the first round scoring 31 points, and averaged over 20 points per game over the course of the season. This kid is probably the most underrated player in the country, and I think he is rivaling Stephen Curry for the best Mid-Major player. This team will ride Akognon to the tournament and maybe even make a good run, but it will be hard as they lost 7 seniors last season and don’t return a lot of good players other than Akognon. They have some solid JUCO prospects that I think will make the transition and play well for CSF.

Projected Starting Lineup:

PG- Marcus Crenshaw (8.6 PPG) Sr.

SG- Josh Akognon (20.2 PPG) Sr.

G- Marcio Lassiter (3.3 PPG) Sr.

SF- Gerard Anderson (DNP last season) Sr.

C- Eddie Lima (1.5 PPG) Sr.

10.

Wright State came very close to another upset over Butler for the Horizon league title, but their play at the beginning of the season was pretty lousy. This year they will be back and trying to pull an upset over Cleveland State by winning the HL. The core of their lineup returns but the main concern will be picking up the rebounding slack left by seniors Scottie Wilson and Jordan Pleiman.

Projected Starting Lineup:

PG- Will Graham (5.9 PPG, 3.5 APG) Sr.

SG- Vaughn Duggins (13.8 PPG) Jr.

G- Todd Brown (12.7 PPG) Jr.

G- Troy Tabler (5 PPG) So.

PF- Cooper Land (3.2 PG) So.

11.

Tennessee-Martin has one heck of a player in Lester Hudson, and will have a good chance to pull some upsets and win the Ohio Valley Conference this season. If they want to have any chance of winning a tournament game they have to play good defense, and that was something that the 07-08 Skyhawks struggled with. That team came within a point of making the OVC finals last year, and are easily the favorites coming into this next season.

Projected Starting Lineup:

PG- Marquis Weddle (17.1 PPG) So.

SG- Lester Hudson (25.7 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 4.5 APG) Sr.

G- Benzor Simmons (5 PPG) So.

PF- Olajide Hay (4.5 PPG, 4.6 RPG) Sr

C- Djero Riedewald (5.3 PPG, 4.4 RPG) Sr.

12.

Drake had an amazing season last year. They were picked 10th in the preseason MVC poll and ended up winning the league and garnering a 5 seed in the tournament only to lose a heartbreak game to Western Kentucky. The Bulldogs lost a lot including their coach Keno Davis, but they do return stellar guard Josh Young who is primed to make another run at the conference title and probably MVC player of the year.

Projected Starting Lineup:

PG- Josh Young (15.9 PPG) Sr.

SG- Jacob Baryenbruch (2.2 PPG) Sr.

SF- Alex White (3.7 PPG, 2.9 RPG) Sr.

PF- Brent Heemskerk (4.7 PPG, 3.3 RPG) Sr.

C- Sean Jones Fr.

13.

Oral Roberts has been a pretty successful basketball program in the last few seasons, and it looks like next year they should make the tournament once again as Summit League favorites. They lost some key seniors but will most likely bounce back on the play from Robert Jarvis. This team has pretty good defense and they won’t run into much trouble in the Summit.

Projected Starting Lineup:

PG- Kelvin Sango (3.8 PPG, 1.3 APG) Sr.

SG- Robert Jarvis (16.1 PPG) Sr.

SF- Marchello Vealy (4.6 PPG, 4.8 RPG) Sr.

PF- Marcus Lewis (8.6 PPG, 5.5 RPG) Sr.

F- Andre Hardy (4.1 PPG, 3.6 RPG) So.

14.

This team is pretty much a lock for winning the Atlantic Sun every season, and last year they almost took it a step further when they played in one of the most thrilling games in the tournament, losing to Duke 71-70. This team will most likely rely on Shane Dansby for the most of the scoring, but usually Belmont is prided on playing great defense and if they continue to play great defense maybe it won’t be long before we see them pulling an upset in the tournament.

Projected Starting Lineup:

PG- Andy Wicke (9.3 PPG, 3 APG) Sr.

SG- Shane Dansby (13.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG) Sr.

SF- Jordan Campbell (7.2 PPG, 5.2 RPG) So.

PF- Matthew Dotson (11.4 PPG, 3.6 RPG) Sr.

C- Will Peeples (4.1 PPG, 3 RPG) Sr.

15.

The reason I don’t have Saint Joseph’s higher is because I think the loss of Pat Calathes will really hurt them. The return of Ahmad Nivins will be key, but this team is really a toss up. They looked as if they weren’t going to make the tournament because they were in that mess that was the middle of the A-10. Then with a high RPI, they got what some people thought was a terrible snub of other teams like Arizona State, and Syracuse. They had a very up and down season and it will be interesting to see if this year’s senior class steps up to the plate and takes on a good leadership role.

Projected Starting Lineup:

PG- Tasheed Carr (10.8 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 5.6 APG) Sr.

SG- Garrett Williamson (5.3 PPG, 2.7 RPG) Jr.

G- Darrin Govens (9.8 PPG) Jr.

PF- Bryant Irwin Fr.

C- Ahmad Nivins (14.4 PPG, 5.8 RPG)

Also Considered: Butler, Robert Morris, William & Mary, South Alabama, Valparaiso, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Temple

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