Baylor (4-13, 4-12)(coached by Scott Drew)Projected Rotation:
Jr PG Aaron Bruce
So G CJ Jerrells
Fr G Tweety Carter
So PF Kevin Rogers
So C Mamadou Diene
G Henry Dugat
SG Patrick Fields
F Tim Bush Bears Suddenly a Step Ahead of the Pack...
Believe it or not, Scott Drew is now one of the grizzled veterans of the conference. As numerous traditional contenders began the slide toward rock bottom, Drew was laying the groundwork for a return to respectability. Half of the Big XII brings in a new coach this fall and a good number of those programs will be looking up at the Bears in the standings, probably viewing the Baylor resurgence as a best case scenario for their own. Just one year removed from a crippling, NCAA-imposed non-conference ban, Baylor is suddenly as deep, talented and experienced as just about anybody in the Big XII. This group hasnt proven it is capable of beating anybody yet, but with a dynamic backcourt and enough frontcourt athleticism to get by, wins should be easy to come by against teams going through a rebuilding-from-the-ground-up process that Drew knows all too well. Did anybody expect Baylor basketball to bounce back this fast?
Drew has done a masterful job of recruiting, landing key area targets and also taking advantage of his strong international connections. Junior Aaron Bruce
was the first piece two seasons ago, and the dynamic Aussie floor general looks to bounce back after an injury-marred sophomore campaign. Where Bruce is a constant fast break threat due to his elite vision in the open court, combo guard Curtis Jerrells
, a native Texan, gets it done the traditional way. A blur with the ball in his hands, Jerrells pushes the tempo relentlessly, scores points in bunches from the outside, and gets into the lane with ease. The pair should comprise one of the nations elite backcourts in 06-07.
Of course, Drew has a lot more to work with than his two accomplished lead guards. The program had lacked a legitimate interior presence since Lawrence Roberts
transferred in the wake of the scandal, but that changed last year with the arrival of athletic specimen Kevin Rogers
and 7-footer Mamadou Diene
. Neither player offers much in terms of skill at this early juncture, but few 68 players can run the floor like Rogers and Diene should rank near the top of the conference leaderboard in both rebounds and blocked shots. Senior combo forward Tim Bush has helped the program through the lean years, while his classmate Patrick Fields is the closest thing Drew has to a traditionally-sized wing presence. Sophomore shooter Henry Dugat was beaten out by Jerrells, but will still light it up from the outside from time to time.
The talent continues to roll in with Drew at the helm. He just missed on Darrell Arthur
, but signed his first McDonalds All-American in the explosive Tweety Carter. One of the most accomplished scorers in high school basketball history, Carter is undersized and without a true position but will stretch defenses with almost unlimited range on his jumper. Carter in a 3-guard lineup with Bruce and Jerrells would be quite the show. 610 Finnish import Jari Vanttaja is available after a redshirt season. Top 100 types Josh Lomers and Penny Thiam are also on board. The 7-footer Lomers was coveted by every school in the state. Thiam is a versatile wing out of Senegal.
If this was a normal year in the Big XII, it might be easier to take a wait and see approach with this group. As talented as it appears, Baylor was just 4-13 last year and didnt have to deal with the pressure of winning expectations. That wont be the case in 06-07, as the rebuilding job is over and now Drew must start making his presence felt in the standings not just on the recruiting path. But given the state of the conference and the encouraging signs from last years abbreviated run, a middle of the pack finish seems very likely. Drew kept the reigns on his inexperienced team last season, but certainly has the athletic ability and depth to pick up the pace in 06-07. Even if an NCAA Tournament berth is still a year away, the future is bright. Elite committed shooting guard LaceDarrius Dunn could be the final piece of the puzzle in 2007. Expect to see some exciting basketball in Waco this season.Prediction: 7th Baylor Message Board - BaylorFans
Jr PG Stefhon Hannah
Jr PG Daniel Horton
Fr G Keon Lawrence
Jr SF Marshall Brown
Jr PF Kalen Grimes
Sr SG Marcus Watkins
Jr SF Glen Dandridge
So PF Leo Criswell40 Minutes of Hell, or 40 Minutes of Quinn Snyder?
Would Missouri Tiger fans even know the difference, if the former wasnt a term used to describe Nolan Richardsons brand of full-court defense? Snyder was unceremoniously given the cue to exit stage in the middle of the seasono, with him went heaps of bad press and dysfunction. Enter Mike Anderson, a longtime Richardson assistant who has earned his reputation on making more out of less over a very successful stint at UAB. Anderson has inherited a group of players that should fit well in his pressure-based system and has already won a few victories on the recruiting path. It might be believe after a half decade of Quinn Synder-led underachievement, but Missouri actually has a chance to make some noise this year. It may be a few years before Anderson adds a 4th NCAA Tournament appearance to his resume, but expect this program to bounce back quickly.
Plenty of people want to bring up Missouris lack of a frontcourt as a reason the Tigers will finish in the lower echelon of the Big XII, but if there is one coach in the conference comfortable with going small, it would have to be Anderson. Hes never had a frontcourt with two players as talented as Junior Kalen Grimes and Sophomore Leo Lyons
. Grimes bears an uncanny resemblance to his Tiger predecessors Arthur Johnson and Kevin Young, and could have a breakout season if he can get in better shape in order to keep up with the guards. He has the bulk to get good position, and the touch to convert once he is there. Lyons, cut from the modern long, lanky, athletic mold, struggled in Snyders halfcourt sets as a raw freshman. He could thrive in the open floor, and with an offseason to polish up his game.
The pace is going to be nothing short of full-throttle from day one, and all of Missouris perimeter players will benefit immediately. Junior Jason Horton has the quicks to run the show and was improved as a decision maker last year, but still struggles to shoot it and will have to fend off touted JC recruit Stefhon Hannah
for the role of primary ballhandler. Hannah picked Missouri over an all-out push from Bob Huggins and K-State. Also figuring into the mix is explosive freshman Keon Lawrence, who decided to stick with his commitment to Missouri after Snyder got the axe. Lawrence, who recently finished a prep years, is an accomplished volume scorer who should get plenty of shots.
The returnee that could benefit the most from Andersons system is junior SF Marshall Brown
. Brown has an NBA body and elite leaping ability, but has struggled adapting to a full-time perimeter role. The junior has always been at his best in the open floor, and could be much more effective matched up against opposing power forwards when Anderson decides to go with a 4-in, 1-out lineup. He certainly didnt get to play to his strengths very often under Snyder, and could be on the verge of a breakout season.
One problem in the backcourt is the lack of a perimeter shooter. The Tigers will be able to push the ball and get into the lane, but need somebody to draw defenses and create space for those forays to the basket. Junior wing Glen Dandridge is a smooth operator with a beautiful outside shot, but wasnt able to break into the rotation as an underclassman and will miss a significant chunk of the season after breaking his foot in practice. Matt Lawrence can stroke it, but doesnt offer much else and is a longshot to get on the floor very often. Snyder holdover Marcus Watkins is a defensive specialist, and isnt going to contribute on the defensive end. The same can be said for freshman JT Tiller, who originally signed with Anderson at UAB. JC transfers Darryl Butterfield and Vaidatos Volkus will provide depth in the frontcourt.
Does blame for this programs demise rest upon the players or the coach? This is the question that will be answered in 06-07. The entirety of Snyders final group of elite recruits is still around, and now they must prove why they were so highly regarded. As long as they make it through the conditioning regimen, players like Horton and Brown will certainly look better flying up and down the court than they did in Snyders disjointed halfcourt-based system. Anderson has proven he can develop players past expectations, and has always found a winning talent mix. With six new coaches coming in and many of them attempting to overcome roster holes more extreme than Andersons, this could be an opportunity for the Missouri program to bounce back a bit more quickly than anybody expected.
So PG Austin Johnson
Sr SG Micheal Neal
Jr SF David Godbold
Sr F Nate Carter
So PF Taylor Griffin
Fr G Bobby Maze
Fr SG Tony Crocker
Fr PF Keith Clark
Jr C Longar Longar
Capel Left to Pick Up the Pieces
Who really knew the implications of Kelvin Sampsons improved recruiting pull? While he was racking up blue-chippers from all across the country, he also began to rack up NCAA violations. Pressure began to mount not just over the illegal phone calls but also due to a disappointing 05-06 season, and Sampson flew the coop shortly after the season when he received an offer to take the reigns at Indiana. The recruits he went to such lengths to sign soon followed, with McDonalds All-American Scotty Reynolds headed back east to Villanova, potential future lottery pick Damion James
landing at conference rival Texas, and in the ultimate ironic twist, top 100-level big man Jeremy Mayfield
switched his allegiance to UAB and the coach Sampson replaced at Indiana, Mike Davis
. Jeff Capel did manage to keep several high-level recruits around, and landed on his feet by getting a pledge from likely 2007 McDonalds All-American PF Blake Griffin
. It isnt as if the cupboard is completely bare, but three standout seniors graduated last spring in addition to the recruiting attrition. In the short term Oklahoma fans might have to live without the regular top-tier finishes they got used to at the height of the Sampson era.
Capel has inherited a mix of mostly roleplayers and unproven youngsters, so it should be interesting to see the rotation take shape. Significant development from several key players will be necessary. The most accomplished returnee is long range specialist Michael Neal, who made 3.2 3-pointers per game at a 42% clip, including a torrid 4-game stretch in which he canned a total of 26. But Neal attempted just 46 free throws, shot significantly worse from the floor than he did from behind the arc, and only made 17 2-point shots on the season. He could struggle this year as a marked man, and will need to contribute in other areas as a senior.
The next major contributors should be wings Nate Carter and David Godbold. Carter was compared to Joey Graham
upon his arrival because of his strength, athleticism, and ability to play both forward positions. However, he struggled with injuries and never approached the numbers he put up as an underclassman in the Big West. Capels offensive philosophy should allow Carter the space to operate more effectively on the offensive end. Godbold was a surprise contributor his freshman year and played an even bigger role as a sophomore. He is built like a football and a downright nasty defender, but has plenty of room to improve his offensive game.
Several inexperienced returnees will be asked to emerge as major contributors. The point guard job will be handed to sophomore Austin Johnson, once a highly touted prep recruit who struggled with injuries and shooting touch during his first year at the D1 level. Johnson was supposed to be recovered from a severe ankle sprain that kept him off the floor most of the summer, but recently sprained the other one. Senior Chris Walker was a disappointment out of JC a year ago, but is still around. Two highly regarded prep school standouts figure into the backcourt mix as well, with Tony Crocker
an athletic, top 100-level wing, and Bobby Maze a lightning quick, score-first lead guard.
The frontcourt is perilously thin, with little-used junior Longar Longar
and sophomore Taylor Griffin the only returnees. Longar has immense athletic talent, but has yet to find a way to harness it. An elite leaper, Longer struggles due to a slim frame and poor hands, and once again found himself mired on the bench last season after quickly relinquishing his role to Griffin. He will need to contribute this fall. Griffin played a relatively minor role as a freshman, but isnt going to lose physical battles in the paint, appears to relish contact, and is by far Capels most reliable interior option. Freshman Keith Clark comes in billed as owning elite talent but a poor attitude. He can contribute from anywhere on the floor, whether it is ballhandling, outside shooting, passing, or low-block scoring that Capel needs. He is reportedly getting himself into shape, so Clark may end up in the starting lineup sooner than expected.
It has been awhile since Oklahoma basketball has been in this position. Little production returns, and the recruiting class has been marginalized due to Sampsons skipping town at the last minute. Capel was a revelation at VCU, and he has inherited enough to compete in the bottom half of the conference. However, he doesnt have a point guard or much of a frontcourt presence. If Crocker and Maze arent ready, this roster is lean on dribble penetrators as well. Expect this group to play harder than they did under Sampson, whose ability to keep his kids playing tough seemed to be decreasing as the Final Four run become more and more just a distant memory. He would like to put a more offense-oriented team on the floor, but this is a group built to play in Sampsons slow-paced, defense-dominated program. Blake Griffin
s arrival next fall could change things in a hurry, but a top-half finish this year would be somewhat of a surprise. Prediction: 9th Oklahoma Message Board - Sooners Illustrated
Jr PG Corey McIntosh
Jr SG Shawn Taylor
Jr SF Rashon Clark
So PF Ross Marsden
Jr C Jiri Hubalek
Fr G Dodie Dunson
Fr PF Corey Johnson
Sr PF Jessan GrayMcDermott to Bring New Persona to Cylclone Hoops
Apparently, the Iowa State administration was tired of their basketball coaches thinking off-the-court issues came hand in hand with winning. Tim Floyd rejuvenated Cyclone hoops, but did it with a somewhat shady cast of characters. Eustachy found success as well, but would eventually bring shame upon everyone involved with the program. Yes, it was a disappointing season for Iowa State basketball. But was it really a coincidence, then, that Wayne Morgan was abruptly canned just days after the reporting of his ties to a shady junior college coach that was being paid for the services of his players? Dont get me wrong, Iowa States program took a dramatic turn for the worse in 05-06. Despite returning two of the top lead guards in the country and reeling in a stellar recruiting class, Morgan couldnt control his team on the court. The Cyclones mustered just 6 conference wins, slipping from the 4th best defensive team in the nation down to 110th despite losing just one significant player. It turns out that the timing was just right. Northern Iowa coach Greg McDermott had just led UNI to another NCAA Tournament appearance, and was sure to be in high demand from a variety of appealing programs as soon as the 2006 Tourney was completed. Iowa State decided to move fast, and got their man.
While many bemoan the quick turnover seen within the coaching profession these days, it is hard to argue with what happened in Ames. Not only is McDermott an elite basketball coach, he also runs a very tight ship. His players are disciplined, play hard on both ends, and generally dont get in trouble. If the program was not only headed in the wrong direction in the standings but also making the wrong types of headlines, Iowa State couldnt have made a better hire. Mass roster attrition soon followed after Morgans abrupt dismissal, and it wasnt all bad. Stinson and Blalock, after a year of slippage on the defensive end, both declared for the draft. Tasheed Carr, already a problem child, exited for Saint Joes. Lesser-known players Farnold Degand (NC State) and Mike Evanovich (Fairfield) also headed for greener pastures. Unfortunately, talented sophomore big man Shawn Taggart
(Memphis) skipped town as well. It isnt clear if McDermott will be able to turn this group around in 06-07, but with standout upperclassman Rashon Clark around for one more season and a stellar 2007 recruting class nearly completed, fans have reason to be excited about the near-term future of Cyclone basketball.
With nearly every one off his fellow contributors from a year ago having moved on, junior wing Rashon Clark really has a chance to emerge. You wont find many more athletic players on any level, and Clark does a great job of running the floor to maximize his finishing opportunities. He is a decent shooter, but McDermott needs him to emerge as an all-around offensive threat this year. Clark is not a good ballhandler for a perimeter player, and has to find a way to create his own offense. There could be some ugly moments along the way, but if Rashon Clark ends up as a legitimate go-to option for this team, the NBA will likely be waiting with open arms.
The returning help is all in the frontcourt. Slender junior Jiri Hubalek
was physically overmatched when attempting to guard most of the leagues 5-men, but should offer a serviceable offensive presence in the middle. Hubalek will miss the first six games of the season to an eligibility issue, during which time McDermott will likely turn to scrappy sophomore Ross Marsden. Marsden isnt going to blow anybody away, but is the perfect McDermott roleplayer always giving full effort, and nearly mistake-free.
The rest of the team is almost completely unknown. Jessan Gray is an athletic big that can shoot, but the senior will be pushed by freshman Cory Johnson, an undersized banger out of Minnesota. The backcourt rotation will be entirely new faces, with JC transfers Corey McIntosh and Shawn Taylor being thrown into the mix as starters and promising Brewster product Dodie Dunson backing up both spots. Depth on the perimeter is a serious concern.
The coaching change robbed the current roster of almost all of its pop, so that even with the bottom of the Big XII quite weak, nobody knows what McDermott will have when his team steps on the court for the first time this November. Nonetheless, the future is bright for this program. McDermott has already hit paydirt with his 2007 class, reeling in heralded PF prospect Craig Brackins
, Milwaukee-area PG Diante Garrett, and German wing sleeper Lucca Staiger. McDermott stole area native Alex Thompson back from the Hawkeyes, and appears to be on the verge of receiving a commitment from talented combo guard PAllen Stinnett.
If you need an example of how much Iowa State basketball is going to change under McDermott, consider the fact that he recently suspended crucial backcourt component Michael Taylor for not keeping up academically. He will stay involved with the program, but see no game action until he gets back on track. Think this would have happened under Floyd, Eustachy, or Morgan? There are teams with less talent in the Big XII this year, and almost every lower-tier program would trade their lead returnee for Rashon Clark. Iowa State cant afford to be without Taylor this season, as backcourt depth was critically low before his suspension. If Hubalek can offer a bit more of a physical presence and Clark has polished up his offensive game, Iowa State can be quite a bit better than most pundits are predicting.
Experience: C-Prediction: 10th Iowa State blog - CrossCyed
Colorado(20-10, 9-7)(Coached by Ricardo Patton)Projected Rotation
Sr G Dominique Coleman
Jr SG Richard Roby
Fr SF Xavier Silas
So PF Jermyl Jackson-Wilson
Sr PF Marcus King-Stockton
Fr PG Kal Bay
Fr F Jeremy WilliamsBottom Drops Out For the Buffaloes
His team underachieved with David Harrison
manning the middle. He couldnt get it done last year with an NBA prospect on the wing and an entire roster of senior experience at his disposal. Finally, Patton saw the writing on the wall and announced 06-07 would be his last season as head coach at Colorado. So just how is Ricardo Patton supposed to lead a team largely comprised of inexperienced returnees and under recruited freshmen back to the NCAA Tournament? As if Patton needed one last sign, senior PG Marcus Hall was recently declared ineligible for the fall semester and has decided to take a redshirt season to get his academics in order. Richard Roby
is back for his junior season, but that is about the only good news coming out of Boulder these days.
Robys outstanding sophomore campaign was overshadowed by his teams collapse down the stretch, but the versatile shooting guard returned to Boulder to polish up his game and add strength to his slim frame. He will now now have to carry the Buffaloes even more than he did a season ago. Roby is a smooth, crafty offensive player and one of the better rebounding guards in the country. He anticipates well on the defensive end, and can guard multiple positions. Almost impossible defend when his outside shot is falling, he can lock up a spot in the first round of the 2007 draft by knocking down jumpers with more consistency.
With Hall gone for the year, life could get very difficult for Roby. The other returning guard is senior Dominique Coleman, who found consistent minutes hard to come by in his first season out of JC. Coleman was billed as a scorer upon arrival, but will probably have to run the team for large chunks of time this year. The only other returnee with any sort of playing experience is senior PF Marcus King-Stockton, who can compete physically at the Big XII level but will have to prove that he can do more than rebound.
Patton will rely on a large group of newcomers for the rest of his rotation.
Sophomore Jermyl Jackson-Wilson will likely start next to King-Stockton after transferring in from Ohio State. Jackson-Wilson is undersized for a PF and didnt get a chance to prove himself as a Buckeye, but will bring power, toughness, and intensity to a frontcourt in dire need of those things. The early favorite to contribute off the bench would be athletic Memphis product Jeremy Williams, out of Memphis. Also available are freshman big men Sean Kowal, Marc Van Burck, and Trent Beckley.
The backcourt is similarly muddled, with Patton really hoping to get an early contribution out of freshman PG Kal Bay. Bay is an accomplished shooter and floor general, and his ability to play right away would allow Coleman to move back to his natural off-guard position. Xavier Silas is an athletic wing who prepped last season at Brewster and will likely play right away, perhaps even next to Roby. The rotation is unsettled, so fellow freshmen backcourt members Dwight Thorne and James Inge will get their chances.
It could be a long year in Boulder, if the last several seasons are any indication of what Patton can bring in terms of molding a team together and getting the most out of his players abilities. Outside of Roby, perhaps the most accomplished returnee in the conference, Patton has almost nothing to hang his hat on. At least this team could be fun to watch at times, especially with athletes like Williams and Jackson-Wilson up front. With Hall running the show, Colorado had an outside chance to make a run for middle of the pack. But now it will come down to whether or not the freshmen are ready, and that is almost always a dicey proposition. Ricardo Patton isnt likely to go out on a positive note.
Sr PG Charlie Richardson
Fr G Sek Henry
So SG Jamel White
Jr SG Marcus Perry
Jr C Aleks Maric
Fr SG Ryan Anderson
So PF Kyle Marks
Fr PF Kris DouseSadler-Ball in Lincoln - A Good Thing!
Lets not sugar coat anything. Nebraska basketball was headed nowhere fast. Barry Collier had a chance headed into last season, but couldnt get the Cornhuskers back to the tournament. His roster had already started to fall apart. Rumors began over the summer, and the Husker faithful should be thankful that he decided to step down. Nebraska landed on its feet with the hiring of Doc Sadler, who followed Billy Gillispie in success at UTEP and will now attempt to perform a similar kind of shocking first-year turnaround in his first Big XII season. While this conference appears to be wide open, Sadler doesnt have an Antoine Wright
to turn to. It could take some time for Nebraska basketball to emerge, but dont bet against it happening eventually.
After graduation and transfers, just four contributors return from last years NIT team. Sadlers last-ditch effort to get junior C Aleks Maric
back on campus was successful, but he took a hit when promising sophomore combo guard Marcus Walker decided to go the JC route. The roster is quite unbalanced, with Maric probably the only Big XII-quality post player on the team. There is a bit more to talk about in the backcourt, but not much in terms of size or perimeter shooting.
Nebraska fans were looking forward to the presence of former Washington commit Roburt Sallie, an accomplished, mature wing scorer. But Sallie was denied eligibility by the NCAA Clearinghouse, and is enrolled at Nebraska awaiting the result of an appeal. The loss of Sallie wouldnt have been mourned by the fans of many high-major programs, but for Sadler, it is a major blow. He is now likely to go with an undersized, 3-ballhandler lineup.
Some good news did come in September, when Sadler managed to land well-travelled prep lead guard Sek Henry. Henry originally committed to Arizona State, but managed to qualify this time around. He might be the most talented player on the team, and should fit in well as a volume scorer for this rebuilding program. He is joined in the backcourt by sophomore guard Jamel White, who finished his first season as a Husker on a roll. While he is hobbled with a collarbone injury right now, he will probably lead the Huskers in scoring this year. White doesnt always get it done efficiently, but is athletic, can handle it a little, and heats up in a hurry. Diminutive senior Charlie Richardson will likely run the team from the point guard spot. Richardson does a good job of running the offense, but his lack of size and poor outside shooting leave have left Richardson somewhat limited up to this point.
If Maric were to go down, this team would be in serious trouble. As it stands, the Cornhuskers are still missing a real offensive threat in the post. Maric is big enough to get position at will, but he struggles to get his shot off against more athletic defenders and doesnt finish well at all. Teams will be able to collapse around him this year, and that isnt a good thing for a player who doesnt have the greatest feel with his back to the basket. Maric is one of the top rebounders in the country, however.
Depth is really an issue. Up front, sophomore Kyle Marks probably has the inside track on the PF job if he can bounce back from offseason surgery. He played only limited minutes as a freshman, but Marks is all Sadler has to go with. Freshman Kris Douse may be the next in line, as returnees Chris Ballham and Jim Ledsome dont offer much. All four of the backup post players are undersized and unproven. In terms of guard depth, senior Marcus Perry has the ability to stroke it, but not to stay healthy. He struggled with injuries last year, and is out with a stress fracture at the moment. Freshman Ryan Anderson
should contribute eventually, but needs a year or two to develop his body. Also around are freshmen Mike Smith
and Jay-R Strowbridge.
It is hard to see Nebraska making much noise in the Big XII this year, even with all the programs in flux. Sadler is a great starting point for getting the ship turned around, but he has inherited the most difficult roster situation of any of the new coaches. There are a few nice pieces, but the roster attrition and the rash of preseason injuries make it difficult to expect anything other than a bottom two finish headed into the season. At the same time, Sadler is clearly an excellent program leader. His practices have earned a national reputation for their intensity, and an outstanding recruiter. It might take him a bit longer than it took Gillispie, but Sadler is more than capable of building a competitive Big XII program in Lincoln over time.