Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thursday, Dec. 31 Predictions

Prediction Record: 111-39 (ATS: 73-69-2)

Michigan at Indiana (+4.5): Prediction: Michigan 73, Indiana 67
Ohio State at Wisconsin (-6): Prediction: Wisconsin 62, Ohio State 59
Tennessee at Memphis (-1.5): Prediction: Memphis 77, Tennessee 73
Arizona State at UCLA (+1.5): Prediction: Arizona State 64, UCLA 59
Oregon at Washington State (-7): Prediction: Washington State 91, Oregon 76
Wisconsin-Green Bay at Butler (-13): Prediction: Butler 77, Wisconsin-Green Bay 66
Arizona at USC (-8.5): Prediction: USC 68, Arizona 56
Richmond at Wake Forest (-7.5): Prediction: Wake Forest 74, Richmond 67
St. John's at Georgetown (-10): Prediction: Georgetown 70, St. John's 62
Oklahoma at Gonzaga (-8.5): Prediction: Gonzaga 83, Oklahoma 75
Oregon State at Washington (-12.5): Prediction: Washington 72, Oregon State 58

Game of the Night: No. 14 Tennessee at Memphis

Game of the Night: No. 14 Tennessee at Memphis (4:00 PM, ESPN2)

New Year’s Eve is a special day for everyone – but it is especially exciting in college basketball this season. There are a plethora of marquee games, including No. 15 Ohio State at No. 23 Wisconsin, St. John’s at No. 13 Georgetown and Oklahoma at Gonzaga. However, the most interesting match-up of the day will be No. 14 Tennessee at Memphis. Although Memphis is down this season, the game has become a solid rivalry in recent years, and both teams could use the win. Tennessee has lost two games this season, a one-point defeat to Purdue and a surprising 22-point loss at USC. The Volunteers don’t have any impressive wins on their resume yet, however. On the other hand, Memphis has also lost two games – by a combined three points, at Kansas and at Massachusetts. The Tigers don’t have a marquee – or remotely impressive – win on their resume, either.

Tennessee has plenty of talent on its roster, as the Volunteers can go 10 or 11 deep without too much of a dropoff from the starters to the reserves. Tyler Smith is one of the most versatile forwards in the country, although his numbers are down across the board this season. Wayne Chism is an inside-outside option down low, although he tends to stay on the perimeter too much. Scotty Hopson, Cameron Tatum and J.P. Prince are all solid wing scorers, while Brian Williams is a bruiser down low. The problem for Bruce Pearl this season has been the point guard position. Bobby Maze is talented, but has not shot the ball well, and makes careless mistakes with the ball. Melvin Goins is another player who has struggled to shoot the three, and turns it over too much. They will have to figure it out in order to make a run in March.

Memphis lost a ton from last season, but the Tigers still look like they will contend in Conference-USA. Duke transfer Elliot Williams is averaging better than 20 points per game, and is capable of carrying the Tigers offensively. Doneal Mack and Wesley Witherspoon are both shooting better than 40 percent from three-point range and are averaging double-figures in scoring. Roburt Sallie is another player who can fill it up from distance, while Willie Kemp has handled the point fairly well. Up front, Will Coleman and Pierre Henderson-Niles have split the minutes down low. Coleman has been more effective offensively, defensively and on the glass, while Henderson-Niles has averaged 12.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in the past two games.

Both of these teams are perimeter-oriented groups that like to get up-and-down the floor and shoot three-pointers. Unfortunately for them, neither team is all that consistent knocking down outside shots. The key in this game will be which team can take care of the ball better. Both teams don’t turn the ball over that often, but both teams also love forcing turnovers with their pressure defense. As a result, I think the difference will be the ineffectiveness of Tennessee’s point guards; Memphis’ Elliot Williams will come through down the stretch.

Prediction: Memphis 77, Tennessee 73

2012 prospect has 13 offers

Alex Murphy has a lot of things going for him. The 2012 prospect is the younger brother of Florida freshman, Erik, and has been on the nation’s radar for a couple of years already. He is a versatile forward who is still growing into his skill set, and is a top-three player in a loaded New England class.

As a result, it’s no surprise that he has more than a dozen offers at this point, and even more interest coming his way from national powers.

Murphy told me on Wednesday that he has offers from Arizona, Florida, Kansas, Georgetown, Indiana, Michigan, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Connecticut, Boston College, Providence, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. He also said that he has interest from North Carolina, Duke, Texas and Kentucky.

Murphy has visited Connecticut, Providence and Florida, and plans on checking out another prospective school this weekend.

“I’m actually going to check out Georgia Tech down in Atlanta this week cause my high school team is playing in a tournament down there this weekend,” Murphy said.

Although Murphy has no favorites in terms of schools or conferences, he has an idea of what he is looking for when he makes his decision.

“Obviously academics are number one,” he said. “Next is the relationship with the coach and the ‘family’ atmosphere. Style of play and where I would see myself helping the team, too.”

With his brother already at Florida, many think that the Gators could be one of the favorites land his services.

However, Murphy says that is not the case – he is wide-open despite the family connection.

“Eh, not really,” he said when asked if Erik’s location have an impact on his decision.. “He’s helping me with the whole recruiting process and he’s always here to talk to if I have questions. So he’s been a big part of the process for me, but because he’s at Florida doesn’t have any effect on where I’ll end up.”

The 6-7 Murphy still has plenty of room to grow and develop, as he needs to refine his game and also mature physically. Luckily, he still has three years before he heads to college.

More importantly, Murphy is not going to rest on his laurels – he knows he needs to get better, and is willing to work.

“[I need to work the most on] my strength,” he said. “Speed and quickness, too. But also everything else.

"You gotta keep working on all aspects of your game if you want to be the best player you can be.”

Isaiah Sykes has a favorite

2010 forward Isaiah Sykes is an interesting case study.

He is only rated as a two-star prospect by, and a three-star player by Rivals. However, Sykes has five offers on the table, including ones from some of the top programs in the country.

Right now, Sykes claims offers from Michigan, Tennessee, Okahoma, Syracuse and Temple, he told me on Tuesday.

He also has other schools showing interest, but could not name all of them.

The Detroit native has taken only two visits, to Tennessee and Michigan.

“I’ve gotta visit the rest,” Sykes said, although he did mention that both schools he saw have great programs.

For now, though, one school stands out.

“I like Tennessee a lot,” he said. “They’re my favorite.”

Don’t count out the lone Big East program in the group, though, as he is still strongly considering Syracuse.

“[I like] their style of play, great coaches and the history they have,” Sykes said.

Although he does not have a timetable for his decision, he did say that he is looking closely at style of play and coaching, and will likely pick a school after the season.

It will be interesting to see which is closer to Sykes’ true rating: the high-major coaches offering him or the scouting services potentially underrating him.

Full-Court Press, Dec. 31

New Year's Eve news and notes from around the nation:

- Easily one of my favorite annual articles: Luke Winn of’s “Early Warnings List.”

- Another one of my favorites (and perhaps my favorite annual column): Seth Davis’ “Jigsaw Man” column.

- Indiana State guard Jake Kelly, a former Iowa transfer, will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL.

- Way to be a Debbie Downer, Joe Lunardi. Neither Northwestern and St. John’s – and several other feel-good teams – will make the NCAA Tournament, according to ESPN’s resident bracketologist.

-’s Jeff Goodman writes that West Virginia could have problems in the postseason unless Darryl Bryant and Joe Mazzulla improve at the point. We’ll have more on this in the coming days.

- Perfect example of taking a quote out of context: discussing the shot balance between himself, Jon Scheyer and Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith says that all three are going to get their fair share. The title of the Sporting News interview? “Nolan Smith: ‘I’m gonna take mine.’” The rest of the quote was: “They’re gonna get theirs too.” 

- A day-by-day account of the most important non-conference games thus far and how they will impact the NCAA Tournament, from’s Andy Glockner.

- Jason King of Yahoo! Sports’ Midseason All-American Team: Damion James, Wesley Johnson, Luke Harangody, John Wall and Sherron Collins with Jim Boeheim as the coach.

- Gary Parrish of’s Midseason All-American Team: John Wall, Wesley Johnson, Da’Sean Butler, Damion James and Luke Harangody.

 - 50 best sports quotes from the past year, per's Page 2.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wednesday, Dec. 30 Predictions

Prediction Record: 105-36 (ATS: 68-66-1)

  • UAB at Virginia (-2.5): Prediction: UAB 67, Virginia 63
  • Duquesne at Old Dominion (-13.5): Prediction: Old Dominion 68, Duquesne 54
  • South Florida at Louisville (-13): Prediction: Louisville 74, South Florida 64
  • Connecticut at Cincinnati (-2): Prediction: Cincinnati 70, Connecticut 66
  • William & Mary at Maryland (-13): Prediction: Maryland 81, William & Mary 71
  • Northwestern at Illinois (-7.5): Prediction: Illinois 66, Northwestern 61
  • South Carolina at Boston College (-5.5): Prediction: Boston College 69, South Carolina 62
  • Providence at Notre Dame (-8.5): Prediction: Notre Dame 91, Providence 80
  • Baylor at Arkansas (+4): Prediction: Arkansas 79, Baylor 75

Full-Court Press, Dec. 30

News and notes from around the nation:

- Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo told Kalin Lucas not to practice on Tuesday. “I just decided there were some leadership issues on this team that I don’t think people are living up to what I need done,” Izzo said. “And what I do tomorrow, I have no idea yet.”

- Can John Wall run an offense and take care of the ball? He seems to have answered that with 16 assists and one turnover against Hartford last night.

- “They treat us like slaves.” A must-read in the Boston Globe about the exploitation of African basketball players in the United States.

- UCLA is going to finish third in the Pac-10? Didn’t the first two months of the season mean anything?

- St. John's forward Justin Burrell has a chance to return Thursday, while Anthony Mason Jr. could come back on Jan. 3, according to Jeff Goodman's Twitter.

- Surprise, surprise: Illinois guard Alex Legion is leaving the program and plans to transfer. Legion originally committed to Michigan before heading to Kentucky and then transferring to Illinois.

- Oregon State freshman Roberto Nelson was partially cleared to play two weeks ago, but head coach Craig Robinson is considering redshirting him.

- Georgia Tech point guard Iman Shumpert is expected to return for the Yellow Jackets on Jan. 2, according to Jeff Goodman of

- Jeff Goodman of reported that former UCLA forward Drew Gordon visited San Diego State on Tuesday and plans on deciding between the Aztecs, New Mexico, Notre Dame and UNLV in early January.

- Looking ahead to Saturday’s contest between Kentucky and Louisville, John Clay of the Lexington Herald-Leader writes that the Wildcats will need to do a much better job defending the three-pointer against the Cardinals.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Justin Coleman tripping to Louisville this weekend

One of the more difficult recruitments to read this year has been that of Justin Coleman.

The 6-5 swingman from Virginia was relatively unknown until he excelled at the NBA Players Association Camp in June and leaped onto everyone’s radar. Since then, there has been little news about his recruitment, and many say it is due to academic troubles.

As a result, most expect Coleman to end up at prep school or junior college next season. He is not throwing in the towel just yet, however. He transferred to Huntington Prep in West Virginia this season and plans on visiting a Big East school in the near future.

On Tuesday, Coleman told me in a text message that he will be taking a trip to Louisville this weekend.

“Yes,” Coleman confirmed.

The Cardinals recently received a verbal commitment from 2011 swingman Wayne Blackshear.

Rhoomes holds four offers, will reclassify

A fast-rising big man in the New York area, Ryan Rhoomes came onto the scene after a strong summer performance at several events, including the Reebok U All-American Camp. 

Not surprisingly, Rhoomes’ school list has grown considerably since July.

Currently, he has offers from St. John’s, West Virginia, Virginia Tech and Cincinnati, with interest from Pittsburgh, Marquette and Iowa State.

“I had two home meetings with St. John’s and Virginia Tech,” Rhoomes said. “And West Virginia came to my school.”

Furthermore, Rhoomes told me that he plans on reclassifying to the class of 2011.

“[I need] to develop more,” said Rhoomes, who will attend South Kent (Conn.) next season.

With his college decision pushed back for another year, Rhoomes does not have a timetable for when he will pick a school.

“I want to [choose a school this year],” he said. “But I don’t really know what I want in a school yet.”

Jelani Hewitt awaits offers

As the number of available 2010 point guards diminishes, one player who expects his recruitment to pick up is Jelani Hewitt.

The 6-3 Florida native is an explosive scorer who can fill it up in a hurry. His offensive ability has led to plenty of interest from a variety of schools.

“My recruiting is going to increase a lot as the season goes on and as my team keeps winning,” Hewitt told me on Tuesday.

Right now, he has offers from James Madison and Nebraska, but he says that more are on the way.

“Schools like Georgia, Fresno State, UCLA and Alabama are about to offer,” Hewitt said.

He added that he has no visits planned, but will make a decision in the spring.

Players of the Week: Mike Gerrity, Devin Ebanks

Co-Players of the Week: Mike Gerrity, USC and Devin Ebanks, West Virginia 

A holiday-shortened week that featured zero games on Thursday, four games on Friday and only one game on Saturday had no shortage of outstanding games and performances across the country. There were upset-spurring showings from Brett Harvey of Loyola (Md.) (25 points in a win at Indiana); UAB’s Aaron Johnson (12 points and 10 boards against Butler); South Alabama’s Tim Williams (21 points and seven rebounds at Florida); and Oral Roberts’ Michael Craion (18 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists vs. New Mexico). There were standout individual performances from Charleston Southern’s Jamarco Warren (37 points), Hawaii’s Dwain Williams (58 points in two games), Lipscomb’s Adnan Hodzic (34 points and 13 boards) and Morgan State’s Kevin Thompson (23 points and 25 rebounds). Don’t forget about big-time weeks from Georgia’s Trey Thompkins, Louisville’s Samardo Samuels, Alabama’s JaMychal Green, Missouri’s Kim English, UTEP’s Randy Culpepper, Maryland’s Greivis Vasquez, BYU’s Jimmer Fredette, Georgetown’s Chris Wright, Texas’ Damion James – and Seton Hall’s Jeremy Hazell and his 41 points in a losing effort.

When it came down to it, the last two finalists for Player of the Week were Mike Gerrity of USC and Devin Ebanks of West Virginia – and we couldn’t separate the two. Gerrity, a transfer from Charlotte who became eligible just four games ago, has completely transformed the Trojans. They have not lost since he arrived, and they went to Hawaii for the Diamonds Head Classic and won the title. In the three games in Hawaii, Gerrity averaged 15.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. Sure, the numbers aren’t All-American quality, but the way USC has gone from Pac-10 cellar dweller to potential conference contender under his leadership has been tremendous.

Ebanks came into the season expected to have a breakout season, but those plans were derailed when he missed the first three games due to a personal leave of absence. However, he showed his lottery pick potential this past week in two wins over Mississippi and Seton Hall. Ebanks went for 14 points, 13 rebounds and four assists against Ole Miss, but followed that up with 22 points, 17 rebounds and seven assists in an overtime win at Seton Hall to open Big East play. Furthermore, he played all 45 minutes and was essentially the point guard for WVU at Seton Hall.

It’s not protocol to select co-Players of the Week, but it felt necessary to give coverage to both Gerrity’s impact on USC and Ebanks’ dominant statistics. On the season, Gerrity is averaging 14.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists, while Ebanks is putting up 13.2 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.8 assists.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Jimmer Fredette drops 49 on Arizona

In what might be the most impressive individual performance this season, BYU guard Jimmer Fredette finished with 49 points, seven rebounds and nine assists to lead the Cougars to a 99-69 win at Arizona.

Fredette's 49 points set both a BYU single-game record and a McKale Center record. He was 16-for-23 from the field, including 9-for-13 from three-point range. 

"It's an amazing feeling. It's not like any other," said Fredette, who added that he knew what was in store once he hit two threes in a row to put BYU up 22-5.

"At that point I was looking at the basket and it was looking pretty big. I just had a good stroke tonight, and that's kind of when I thought it could be a pretty good night.”

The win improves BYU to 13-1, while Arizona falls to 6-6. For the season, Fredette is now averaging 21.6 points, 3.1 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game.

For Arizona, the loss marks the first time since 1983 that the Wildcats have lost two home games in December.

Sitting at only .500 with no wins over any potential postseason teams, we could be witnessing the end to Arizona’s 25-year streak of consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. The young Wildcats will need to turn things around in Pac-10 play in order to have a chance.

For BYU, the Cougars are coasting despite a disappointing season from swingman Jonathan Tavernari, who is averaging just 9.5 points and 4.4 rebounds per game after putting up 15.7 points and 7.2 rebounds a year ago. Along with New Mexico, they are the Mountain West favorites.

Maurice Creek likely done for season

An Indiana team that can ill-afford a loss of talent will likely be without its best player for the rest of the season. 

Freshman guard Maurice Creek fractured his left knee on Monday while driving to the basket against Bryant. Indiana head coach Tom Crean said after the game that Creek would undergo surgery on Tuesday and miss the rest of the year.

"My initial hope before I spoke with Dr. Rink was that it would be a dislocation, but I knew that would be the best-case scenario," Crean said. "But that wasn't the case. It turned out to be the worst case scenario."

Creek, one of the best freshmen in the country, was leading the Hoosiers in scoring, averaging 17.6 points per game. He was shooting 53 percent from the field and 45 percent from three-point range.

In his absence, expect Jordan Hulls, who started his first game of the season against Bryant, to take Creek’s spot in the lineup, while Jeremiah Rivers will likely be moved back to starter after coming off the bench on Monday.

The Week Ahead

The last few days of December and the first weekend of the New Year is always an exciting one for college basketball. It still features some marquee non-conference games that could not fit in the previous calendar year, but it also marks the first full week of conference play for nearly every conference around the country. It is the week where teams begin to show their true colors – if they are a contender or a pretender. This year is no different, as this week is absolutely loaded with must-watch games, both inter-conference and intra-conference. Also, don’t look now, but there’s just ten weeks until Selection Sunday – the stretch run starts now.


  • Rutgers at No. 10 North Carolina (Monday, 8:30 PM, ESPN2)
  • BYU at Arizona (Monday, 9:00 PM, Regional TV)
  • Portland at Nevada (Monday, 10:05 PM)


  • Cornell at La Salle (Tuesday, 4:00 PM)
  • Long Beach State at No. 7 Duke (Tuesday, 7:00 PM, Regional TV)
  • Marquette at No. 6 West Virginia (Tuesday, 7:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV)
  • LSU at Xavier (Tuesday, 7:00 PM, ESPNU)
  • Northern Iowa at Creighton (Tuesday, 8:05 PM, Regional TV)
  • Wichita State at Illinois State (Tuesday, 8:05 PM, Regional TV)
  • No. 9 Syracuse at Seton Hall (Tuesday, 9:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV)
  • Penn State at Minnesota (Tuesday, 9:00 PM, ESPN2)
  • No. 22 Texas Tech at No. 13 New Mexico (Tuesday, 9:00 PM, CBS College Sports)


  • UAB at Virginia (Wednesday, 7:00 PM)
  • Duquesne at Old Dominion (Wednesday, 7:00 PM)
  • South Florida at Louisville (Wednesday, 7:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV)
  • Connecticut at Cincinnati (Wednesday, 7:00 PM, ESPN2)
  • William & Mary at Maryland (Wednesday, 7:30 PM, Regional TV)
  • Northwestern at Illinois (Wednesday, 9:00 PM, Big Ten Network)
  • South Carolina at Boston College (Wednesday, 9:00 PM, ESPNU)
  • Providence at Notre Dame (Wednesday, 9:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV)
  • Baylor at Arkansas (Wednesday, 9:00 PM, ESPN2)


  • Michigan at Indiana (Thursday, 12:00 PM, ESPN2)
  • No. 17 Ohio State at Wisconsin (Thursday, 2:00 PM, ESPN2)
  • No. 16 Tennessee at Memphis (Thursday, 4:00 PM, ESPN2)
  • Arizona State at UCLA (Thursday, 4:30 PM, FSN)
  • Oregon at Washington State (Thursday, 6:30 PM, Regional TV)
  • Wisconsin-Green Bay at No. 20 Butler (Thursday, 7:00 PM, Regional TV)
  • Arizona at USC (Thursday, 7:00 PM, Regional TV)
  • Richmond at Wake Forest (Thursday, 7:00 PM, ESPNU)
  • St. John’s at No. 14 Georgetown (Thursday, 8:00 PM, ESPN2)
  • Oklahoma at No. 25 Gonzaga (Thursday, 10:00 PM, ESPN2)
  • Oregon State at No. 22 Washington (Thursday, 10:00 PM, Regional TV)


  • No. 6 West Virginia at No. 4 Purdue (Friday, 2:30 PM, ESPN)
  • Illinois State at Missouri State (Friday, 8:05 PM, Regional TV)
  • Dayton at No. 13 New Mexico (Friday, 9:00 PM, CBS College Sports/Regional TV)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Weekend Preview

The weekend surrounding Christmas is always a light one, especially when it’s the two days directly after the holiday. The story of the week thus far is clearly USC’s shocking turnaround due to the additions of Mike Gerrity and Leonard Washington. The Trojans have won six in a row – including a victory over Tennessee and a Diamond Head Classic championship – since starting the season 2-4. Will anything top that this weekend?

No. 6 West Virginia at Seton Hall (Saturday, 3:30 PM, CBS): Easily the best game of the weekend, and the type of the game that will set the stage for a wide-open Big East campaign. West Virginia is one of six undefeated teams left in college basketball, as the Mountaineers sit at 9-0, including wins over Mississippi and Texas A&M. They are led by a terrific forward tandem in Da’Sean Butler and Devin Ebanks, while Kevin Jones has developed into a very good third option up front. Guards Darryl Bryant and Casey Mitchell need to provide outside punch. On the other side, Seton Hall started off the season with eight straight wins before losing at home to Temple. The Pirates bounced back with a 38-point victory over Navy on Tuesday, though. Jeremy Hazell is a big-time scorer, while Robert Mitchell and double-double lock Herb Pope anchor the frontcourt. Eugene Harvey and Missouri transfer Keon Lawrence are two more perimeter options. Against Ole Miss’ outstanding perimeter group, West Virginia started five forwards and absolutely destroyed the Rebels on the glass. Will Bob Huggins try a similar strategy against Seton Hall? The difference in this game will be the WVU defense. Prediction: West Virginia 76, Seton Hall 71

Radford at Louisville (Sunday, 1:00 PM, Regional TV): Louisville has won three in a row since moving Preston Knowles to the sixth man role, but need to continue its winning ways against Radford, the Big South favorite. The Highlanders have the nation’s best rebounder, Art Parakhouski. It will be interesting to see him go against Samardo Samuels of Louisville. Prediction: Louisville 86, Radford 73

Iona at No. 11 Connecticut (Sunday, 2:00 PM, ESPNU): On paper, this looks like a blowout – and it very well might be. However, Iona has won four in a row, including a road game at Providence. The Gaels also own a win over Creighton. Furthermore, Connecticut has struggled against far inferior teams at points this season, although it has not cost them yet. However, UConn has too much talent – will this be the game Ater Majok breaks out? Prediction: Connecticut 74, Iona 60

Austin Peay at Missouri (Sunday, 3:00 PM, Regional TV): Another game that could be a blowout on paper, but has a chance to be closer than expected. Austin Peay has won six of its last seven since starting the season 2-4; the Governors are also tied for first in the Ohio Valley at 2-0. Wes Channels and Anthony Campbell form a good 1-2 scoring combo on the wing. Missouri is coming off of a very impressive win over Illinois on Wednesday, the Tigers’ third victory in a row. The deep and balanced Tigers are beginning to hit their stride. Prediction: Missouri 83, Austin Peay 64

Friday, December 25, 2009

Site Update and Schedule

First of all, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone -- I hope you all are enjoying it.

Secondly, I wanted to give a few updates and notifications about the site. With 2010 on the horizon, we only have about two and a half months left until Selection Sunday -- and things are already starting to heat up around the country. With that in mind, I've decided to let everyone know the content schedule around here. It is subject to change, but this is what it will be until February or so, when I start doing the Bubble Watch, projected brackets, "Road to Selection Sunday," etc. Anyway, here it is (of course, this is tentative and subject to change):

Sunday Night: Power Sweet Sixteen Rankings
Monday: The Week Ahead
Tuesday: CHN Player of the Week
Wednesday: NCAA Tournament Stock Report
Thursday: Alternating stories about various things
Friday: Weekend Preview

Also, I'm going to resume the "Full-Court Press" column that ran every morning last season. It includes links to various stories and news items from newspapers and other outlets from around the country. And, of course, don't forget about my Daily Predictions every evening. Furthermore, I will be continue to write stories and columns for the NBE Basketball Report, so I will definitely post links to those works as they appear.

As always, thank you for visiting March Madness All Season, and continue to do so in 2010!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Don't pin hopes on midseason additions

The Philadelphia Phillies made it to the World Series largely on the shoulders of their midseason acquisition, Cliff Lee. Without him, they didn’t have the pitching to dominate the National League in the playoffs. However, prior to him, it is difficult to remember a recent big-time trade deadline acquisition that had such an enormous impact on the new team.

College basketball’s semester break is similar to the trade deadline in professional sports. It is usually the time that new players become eligible, whether as a result of transferring from another school, sitting out because of a suspension or academic ineligibility, or coming back from injury. Many of these new players receive plenty of hype and anticipation – and the majority of them disappoint. Of course, there are a few who make an immediate impact on their new team and help them in the postseason, but the majority are busts – there was a reason they left their former team or were suspended in the first place. Let’s take a look at some of the major additions in the past week or so:

  • Ater Majok, Connecticut (newcomer): Two starts, totaling six points, seven rebounds and two blocks.
  • Jeff Robinson, Seton Hall (transfer from Memphis): Averaging 7.0 points and 3.5 rebounds in two games.
  • Keon Lawrence, Seton Hall (transfer from Missouri/return from suspension): He is shooting 4-for-11 from the field, averaging 8.0 points and 3.5 rebounds.
  • Reggie Redding, Villanova (return from suspension): In his first game back from suspension, he had 15 points, nine rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks.
  • Derrick Caracter, UTEP (transfer from Louisville and return from hiatus): Take out his debut against New Mexico State, and he is averaging 15.7 points and 11.7 rebounds. The Miners beat Oklahoma on Monday.
  • Michael Gerrity, USC (transfer from Charlotte): In two games, he is averaging 36.0 minutes, 14.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 6.5 assists. He led the Trojans to a win over Tennessee.
  • Gilbert Brown, Pittsburgh (return from suspension): He had 11 points in his debut.
  • John Riek, Mississippi State (newcomer): He has played one minute in two games.
  • Jai Lucas, Texas (transfer from Florida): He is averaging 2.5 points in 9.0 minutes in his first two games. Fighting for minutes behind Dogus Balbay and J'Covan Brown.
  • Ibrahima Thomas, Oklahoma State (transfer): Played only 11 minutes in his first two games combined, but started the last two and averaged 10.5 points and 4.5 boards.
  • Jermaine Dixon, Pittsburgh (return from injury): He only had nine points in his first three games, but broke out in his fourth game, finishing with 14 points, six rebounds and six assists.
  • Dino Gregory, Maryland (return from suspension): He immediately started his first two games, averaging 4.0 points and 3.0 rebounds.
  • Brady Morningstar, Kansas (return from suspension): Averaging 4.5 points and 5.0 assists in two games.
  • Jeff Withey, Kansas (transfer from Arizona): Has not played a minute yet.

Obviously, this is a very small sample size and many of these players are still getting into game shape and becoming used to how their systems are being implemented in an actual game. However, how many of these players really made an immediate impact on their new teams? Redding, Caracter and Gerrity? Maybe Brown, Thomas and Dixon? Lucas and Majok might have been the most hyped out of any of these additions, and they have done next-to-nothing.

Caracter might be the key to UTEP contending in Conference-USA, while Gerrity is clearly making a huge difference at USC. Outside of those two, is anyone going to be counted on to carry the team to wins? Redding and Morningstar add defense to their particular teams, and Dixon and Brown will provide options for Pitt, but none are making Cliff Lee-esque impacts.

Like I said, it is a small sample size and it is still very early to judge what sort of impact these players will have on their new teams, but the bottom line remains the same: semester break additions – like their trade deadline counterparts in professional sports – are, more often than not, overhyped disappointments that don’t make a noticeable impact as the season progresses.