Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Don't pin hopes on midseason additions

The Philadelphia Phillies made it to the World Series in 2009 largely on the shoulders of their midseason acquisition, Cliff Lee. In 2010, they tried to do the same with the addition of Roy Oswalt. It didn’t work.

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 two weeks:

  • Josh Selby, Kansas (freshman): Had 21 points and the game-winning shot in his debut against USC; scored 18 in his second game.
  • Renardo Sidney, Mississippi State (freshman): Averaged 15.5 points and 4.5 rebounds before getting suspended for fighting with a teammate.
  • Jio Fontan, USC (transfer from Fordham): Averaging 16.3 points and 3.3 assists in three games, including a win over Tennessee.
  • Drew Gordon, New Mexico (transfer from UCLA): Averaging 9.0 points and 4.0 rebounds in three games.
  • Mike Holmes, Coastal Carolina (transfer from South Carolina): 13.7 points and 9.0 rebounds in three games, including wins over LSU and East Carolina.
  • Dominique Ferguson/Alex Legion, Florida International (freshman/transfer from Illinois): Legion is averaging 14.7 points and 8.0 rebounds, while Ferguson is averaging 7.0 points and 3.5 rebounds.
  • Greg Echenique, Creighton (transfer from Rutgers): In three games, the big man is averaging 11.3 points and 4.0 rebounds.
  • Roberto Nelson, Oregon State (freshman): Inconsistent first four games: four points, 13 points, three points, 14 points.
  • Charles Hinkle, American (transfer from Vanderbilt): Averaging 5.3 points and 3.0 rebounds; scoreless in 11 minutes against Pittsburgh.
  • Jon Kreft, Florida State (transfer): Playing 8.0 minutes per game; averaging 2.8 points and 2.4 rebounds.
  • Jeronne Maymon, Tennessee (transfer from Marquette): Making his biggest impact on the boards, averaging 5.3 rebounds in three games.
  • Olek Czyz, Nevada (transfer from Duke): Putting up 8.0 points and 5.3 rebounds, although Nevada is 1-3 since his addition.
  • Nikita Mescheriakov, Wake Forest (transfer from Georgetown): 5.0 points in four games since his arrival.
  • Diamond Taylor, Southern Illinois (dismissed from Wisconsin): Scored seven points in his debut against Northern Illinois.
  • Tevin Baskin, Quinnipiac (freshman): Played two scoreless minutes in his debut.
  • Jesse Morgan, Massachusetts (newcomer): Played four minutes and scored one point against Central Florida.
  • Teeng Akol, Western Kentucky (transfer from Oklahoma State): Has scored five points in 12 minutes since his arrival.

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, many of these touted arrivals are struggling in their new environments.

Fontan is going to be the key for USC to contend in the Pac-10, while Selby is going to be the main cog in the Jayhawks’ title run. Holmes and Gordon might be the difference for their teams making the NCAA Tournament, and Echenique should help Creighton in the Missouri Valley. As for Sidney, well, we'll see what happens. However, many of these players are not going to have a huge impact on their respective teams – or a Cliff Lee-esque impact.

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.

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