Northwestern Wins: A College Hoops Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘LSU Tigers’

SEC Report

Posted by Patrick on December 1, 2008

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Southeast Conference Power Rankings (Next three games and predictions):

1. Tennessee (5-1)- 12/3 UNC Asheville (W), 12/13 at Temple (W), 12/16 Marquette (W)

2. Florida (5-1)- 12/2 Florida A&M (W), 12/7 at Florida State (W), 12/10 Florida Gulf Coast (W)

3. Louisiana State (5-0)- 12/2 Cal State Fullerton (W), 12/13 Grambling (W), 12/17 Nicholls State (W)

4. Kentucky (4-2)- 12/3 Lamar (W), 12/6 Miami FL (L), 12/7 Mississippi Valley State (W)

5. Mississippi State (5-2)- 12/6 Alabama State (W), 12/10 Charlotte (W), 12/13 South Alabama (W)

6. Ole Miss (5-1)- 12/3 West Virginia (L), 12/6 at New Orleans (W), 12/13 at New Mexico (W)

7. Vanderbilt (5-1)- 12/3 Illinois-Chicago (W), 12/6 at Georgia Tech (W), 12/10 Alabama A&M (W)

8. Georgia (5-1)- 12/2 at Western Kentucky (L), 12/6 at Illinois (L), 12/9 Virginia Tech (L)

9. South Carolina (4-1)- 12/2 at Princeton (W), 12/5 Furman (W), 12/16 North Carolina Central (W)

10. Arkansas (4-1)- 12/3 Texas Southern (W), 12/10 North Carolina Central (W), 12/17 Austin Peay (W)

11. Alabama (3-2)- 12/2 Alabama A&M (W), 12/6 at UL Lafayette (W), 12/13 Texas A&M (L)

12. Auburn (3-3)- 12/3 at Xavier (L), 12/6 Louisiana Monroe (W), 12/17 Tuskegee (W)

Final Four Contenders:

Tennessee Volunteers: The Vols are a long way from a trip to the Final Four, but with Coach Bruce Pearl, and great players like Wayne Chism, Tyler Smith, JP Prince, Cameron Tatum, and Scotty Hopson it is still possible that Tennessee could turn it on in March. Holding them back are a lack of size- as we saw in the Gonzaga game they had problems stopping the Bulldogs’ big men- and the SEC being on a down year hurts their overall resume. They have some big tests coming up-  a game against Marquette at home and then a rematch with Gonzaga in Knoxville.

Star Player: Tyler Smith- 18.3 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 3.5 APG

Sweet 16 Contenders:

Florida Gators: Billy Donovan and the Gators suffered their first loss in the semifinal round of the CBE Classic, but they won’t have any trouble bouncing back because their next tough game will be during the Southeastern Conference season against Tennessee. Nick Calathes, Alex Tyus, and Dan Werner round out Florida’s strong frontcourt, but their lack of great guard play will affect them later in the season.

Star Player: Nick Calathes- 16 PPG, 6.3 APG, 39.3 3 PT%

Tournament Hopefuls:

Louisiana State Tigers: Trent Johnson is off to a great start in his inaugural season with LSU, but they may be this year’s Mississippi (or Clemson two seasons ago) and just be benefiting from a very easy non- conference schedule. This team could be very exposed when they start to play quality opponents.

Star Player: Marcus Thornton- 15.8 PPG

Kentucky Wildcats: That was a huge win over West Virginia in Las Vegas. Hopefully for the Wildcats it will spark some consistent play, and they will be able to forget those early season losses. The Wildcats are still very much alive despite being embarrassed once again early in the season on their home court. Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson are one of the best 1-2 combos that this conference has to offer, and maybe Billy Gillespie can get off the hot seat with a good SEC run.

Star Player: Jodie Meeks- 25.5 PPG

Mississippi State Bulldogs: Jarvis Varnado is probably the best big man in the conference and can really help the Bulldogs, especially against great forwards in the SEC like Wayne Chism and Patrick Patterson. Mississippi State has a relatively tough non-conference schedule, which will help them when they are looking to get back to the NCAA tournament and sitting on the bubble.

Star Player: Jarvis Varnado- 10.4 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 6.1 BPG

The Rest of the Conference:

All of the teams that are not in the top five of the SEC would probably finish last in the Big East this season and have a lot of trouble just treading water in any conference. Vanderbilt can be great next season, but this year they are rebuilding, and Georgia is looking to surprise once again. But the bottom line for the SEC middle of the pack teams is probably the NIT or CBI in March.

Posted in SEC Report | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Analyzing the Top Three Coaching Changes

Posted by Patrick on September 30, 2008

One of the more interesting parts of the college basketball offseason is to see all of the changes that are made at head coach from school to school. At 46 schools this season there will be a new face calling the plays on the sidelines. However, I will only look at the “top three”.

Lately, as college basketball has become more popular, the pressures of winning (especially at major schools) are enormous, and sometimes just absurd. Don’t believe me? Just ask former Louisiana State coach John Brady who was fired after making the Final Four just two seasons prior. Now Brady is coaching at the somewhat less prestigious Arkansas State University. Long gone are the days when a coach goes out on his own terms. It’s a win-now mentality for most schools and its causing the coaching carousel to become much more interesting in the offseason.

Here’s a look at how I grade the top three offseason coaching changes (of course this is all speculation, just like trying to grade the NFL draft in May):

Providence College: Tim Welsh (215-148, 145-126 with Providence) = Out

Keno Davis (28-5)= In

Keno Davis was the AP National Coach of the Year in 2008 after leading Drake to an MVC regular season title and MVC tournament championship in just his first year of coaching (The Bulldogs were picked to finish 10th in the MVC preseason poll). Davis takes over for TIm Welsh, who failed to lead Providence to an NCAA appearance despite being the head coach for 10 seasons. Its tough to say how Davis will handle all of the pressure of coaching in a major conference (no more Evansville/Indiana State twice a year), and if he can reel in big recruits to a school in Rhode Island. However, I think Davis will eventually get things under control especially if he can continue to stress defensive play and shooting the three consistently. Without a doubt he will have better athletes available at Providence, so it shouldn’t be long before the Friars are dancing once again. Grade: A-

Oklahoma State University: Sean Sutton (39-28) = Out

Travis Ford (123-116) = In

After Bill Self turned down a ridiculous amount of money to stay at Kansas where he had just won a national championship, Oklahoma State was forced to look elsewhere for a head coach. Enter Travis Ford, an experienced coach from the Northeast that almost led UMass to an unlikely NCAA tournament bid.  UMass eventually went on to lose the NIT championship game to Ohio State. The thing that many people are wondering is why did Ford get so much money when really his coaching resume isn’t that impressive. He brings a defensive attitude to Oklahoma State which definitely had problems on the defensive end, but I wouldn’t say Ford was worth the money. Grade: C+

Louisiana State University: Butch Pierre (5-5) = Out

Trent Johnson (159-122)=In

Louisiana State lost a lot of my respect when they fired John Brady just two years after making a Final Four, but they definitely made great choice when they hired Trent Johnson, former Stanford coach. Johnson was a big question mark when he came into Stanford but he proved everyone wrong, landing big recruits and leading the Cardinal to the Sweet 16 in 2008.  If Johnson can recruit as well as he did in the Pac-10 he should have no problem turning the Tigers program around and getting them back into the NCAA tournament. Grade: A

Posted in Coaching | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Summer SEC Report

Posted by Tommy on August 27, 2008

Last year the SEC experienced somewhat of a down year when compared to years past. SEC play was fun to watch at times, like when Shan Foster and Chris Lofton, two of the conference’s greatest shooters of all time, faced off. And who could forget Georgia’s improbable SEC tournament victory last year after going 4-12 in SEC play. Unfortunately, a lot of the teams are losing some of their best players from last season, whether it be to graduation or other reasons. The SEC is going to experience another down year, probably even more so than last season, but hey, college football season is right around the corner so SEC sports fans should get their boasting done while they can.

Alabama: After losing double-double machine Richard Hendrix as well as their second leading scorer in Mykal Riley, Tide fans have to ask themselves who is going to replace their production. High-flying guard Alonzo Gee brings his 14.5 PPG and 6.8 RPG back for the 08-09 campaign and fellow senior guard Brandon Hollinger will be back as well after scoring 6.3 PPG and dishing out 3.2 APG last year. These two aren’t quite as powerful of a combo as Hendrix-Riley, but I think their complementary styles will really help the Tide. The big weakness for the Tide will be the play of their frontcourt after losing Hendrix from a small team from last season. They do bring in explosive power forward JaMychal Green who can contribute right away for the Tide but is a bit undersized at 6-7.5. If Bama finds some contributors from down low, I think they could surprise some people in the SEC, but right now it looks as if the guards will have to carry this team. The NIT looks like the likely final destination for the Tide.

Arkansas: The Razorbacks lost a lot of talent from last year’s team that made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Who’s coming back to the Razorbacks for this season? Let’s see… Sonny Weems? Gone. Darian Townes? Gone. Gary Ervin? Gone. Steven Hill? Gone. Patrick Beverley is the only player of note coming back, that is until he was declared ineligible to play in Fayetteville for the 08-09 season. John Pelphrey is going to have his hands full coaching this Razorback team that has next to no experience aside from Stefan Welsh and Michael Washington who combined for 9.6 PPG last year. It’s needless to say that any postseason hopes Razorback fans had were dashed by the loss of Beverley.

Auburn: After going 14-16 last season and losing star players Quan Prowell and Frank Tolbert, times will be tough for the Tigers for 08-09. They do return Korvotney Barber, a forward who averaged 13.8 PPG and 6.9 RPG last year, along with guard Rasheem Barrett who averaged 13.6 PPG, 4 RPG and 2.2 APG over the course of last season. Auburn is going to have to improve their effort on the defensive end if they want to win games in the SEC. The scoring ability is there, especially in the backcourt, but they don’t quite have the firepower to outscore teams. If they do decide to play defense, they could take advantage of a weak SEC and surprise some people by moving up the ranks, but I can’t see anything above a .500 finish in the conference.

Florida: The baby Gators experienced growing pains last season and missed the tournament after winning back-to-back national titles. They lost athletic F/C Marreese Speights to the NBA Draft but leading scorer Nick Calathes is returning for his sophomore season. Guards Walter Hodge and Jai Lucas make up a good backcourt for Billy Donovan who brings in a pretty deep freshman class including 6’10” center Kenny Kadji who may have to be a contributor right away. They may only have one senior on the roster, but the Gators have a lot of players with one or more years of experience under their belt. Donovan will bring the Gators back to the tournament this year, but don’t expect them to make any national title runs yet.

Georgia: Despite going 17-17 last year, the 07-08 campaign was unforgettable for Georgia basketball fans because of the improbable SEC tournament victory that gave them an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. UGA fans are going to have to savor that moment over the course of the entire 08-09 season and probably longer because the Bulldogs lose some key components from the tournament team. The departures of Sundiata Gaines and Billy Humphrey will hurt the Dogs, but Terrance Woodbury and Jeremy Price return in hopes to prove the nation that they are capable of repeating. Coach Dennis Felton brings in a big-time recruit in Howard Thompkins to help bolster a frontcourt that definitely needed some help. I think Bulldog fans know not to expect another SEC tournament victory, but I think an improvement on the 4-12 record within the SEC is a definite possibility.

Kentucky: As the only school in the SEC that has more tradition in their basketball program than in their football program, Kentucky finds themselves around the top of the SEC nearly every season. The roller coaster of a season last year for the Wildcats was the first for new head coach Billy Gillespie. The Cats had a terrible non-conference season with losses to Gardner-Webb, Houston, San Diego and UAB. Despite those bad losses, the Wildcats were granted a tournament berth after going 12-4 in SEC play. As far as the 08-09 campaign goes, it’s going to be very tough to replace the contributions of Ramel Bradley and Joe Crawford who combined for 33.8 PPG. The Cats do return Patrick Patterson down low, who averaged 16.4 PPG and 7.7 RPG as a freshman, as well as Jodie Meeks and Ramon Harris. Gillespie is bringing in a couple of four star freshman as well as a couple of JuCo transfers. This team will built around the post play of Patrick Patterson, and if he can stay healthy and other people can step up around him, the Cats have a good chance of returning to the dance, especially coming from a weak SEC. Right now I see them as NIT-bound.

LSU: Last year was a tough year for LSU basketball. The talent was there with Anthony Randolph and Marcus Thornton but things just never seemed to come together for the Tigers. They lost Randolph to the draft, but many of the same faces are returning to Baton Rouge including Thornton, last year’s leading scorer. Center Chris Johnson will be back along with forward Tasmin Mitchell who missed all but three games last year, guard Terry Martin and leading assist man Garret Temple. New head coach Trent Johnson arrives at LSU to a pretty nice roster for the 08-09 season, and I think Johnson will have the Tigers playing more as a team. There’s no way this team should have been 13-18 last year with that kind of talent so I think this coaching change will be great for the Tigers. I think 20 wins is a realistic goal for this team, especially with a pretty weak schedule.

Mississippi: After starting out 15-1, with the only loss being @ Tennessee by 2, the Rebels looked to be heading for the dance, but their 7-9 record in the SEC didn’t impress the selection committee. Things are looking pretty bright for Ole Miss in 08-09 as freshman star Chris Warren returns to lead Ole Miss once again along with David Huertas, Eniel Polynice and Trevor Gaskins. The loss of big man Dwayne Curtis leaves a big hole to fill in the paint, but I think the skill of their guards is enough to propel Ole Miss into the dance.

Mississippi State: Rick Stansburry and the Bulldogs had a great season last year with a 23-11 record and a 12-4 record in the SEC. Stansburry loses one of the best one-two punches in the nation in Charles Rhodes and Jamont Gordon who averaged 17.4 and 17.2 PPG respectively. Shot blocking phenom Jarvis Varnado will be back along with guard Barry Stewart. Those two will have to account for a lot of the scoring for the Bulldogs, but will get some help from freshman Romero Osby and redshirt freshman Phil Turner. MSU fans shouldn’t expect the same accomplishment as last year for these Bulldogs, but Stansburry will have a pretty good team in the SEC.

South Carolina: Last year guard Devan Downey burst onto the scene for the Gamecocks after transferring from Cincinnati. Downey, along with backcourt mate Zam Fredrick, carried South Carolina last year combining for 33.2 PPG and 8.6 APG, meaning a lot of scoring was created by this duo. Both Downey and Fredrick are back again for the 08-09 season and look to improve on last year’s 14-18 record. New coach Darrin Horn returns the top six scorers from last year’s squad so they should have no trouble improving on their sub .500 record. I think this South Carolina squad will surprise a lot of people next season and the Downey-Fredrick combo will become nationally recognized.

Tennessee: Last year’s SEC winners are the heavy favorite to repeat. They did lose sharpshooter Chris Lofton and spark plug JaJuan Smith, but return all their other key components from last year’s Sweet Sixteen team. Tyler Smith and Wayne Chism make up a good, athletic frontcourt for Bruce Pearl, but the big question for the Vols is at the point guard position. JP Prince had a terrible time trying to run the point last year so their starting point guard could very well be JuCo transfer Bobby Maze who decided to come to Tennessee after committing to Maryland. They aren’t as good as they were last year, but the Vols have the players to win the SEC once again and will probably get around a 5 seed in the tournament.

Vanberbilt: The Commodores ended the year on a bitter note after getting thrashed by Siena in the first round of the tournament. Go-to guy Shan Foster is gone along with Alex Gordon and Ross Nelter, three of the four leading scorers from last year. Sophomore A.J. Ogilvy is going to have to do a lot on his own if this Vandy squad is to be successful. Jermaine Beal, who only averaged 7.6 PPG last year, will have to take on a much bigger role this upcoming season as well. Vandy is going to struggle next season and the departure of Foster will be felt throughout the year.

Predicted Standings (Postseason Prediction)

East:

  1. Tennessee (NCAA)
  2. Florida (NCAA)
  3. South Carolina (NCAA – bubble)
  4. Kentucky (NIT – bubble)
  5. Vandy (CBI)
  6. Georgia (none)

West:

  1. LSU (NCAA – bubble)
  2. Ole Miss (NCAA – bubble)
  3. Alabama (NIT)
  4. Mississippi State (NIT)
  5. Auburn (none)
  6. Arkansas (none)

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