Resetting the SEC at the Midpoint: A Three-Bid League?Posted by Brian Joyce on January 2nd, 2013
Many of us are aware that a significant portion of our SEC brethren pay more attention to the football field than the hardwood during November and December. Yeah, football’s alright, but think of all the great moments those poor sports fans have missed thus far during this college basketball season. Okay, maybe not from SEC basketball, but the sport as a whole has been great. At least nobody can argue that action from the SEC hasn’t been, well, eventful. And now we’re here to catch you up with what’s happened in the league and throughout the SEC microsite during the early part of this 2012-13 season:
Well, things aren’t going as planned around here. SEC schools have lost to the likes of Troy, Alabama A&M, Winthrop, and Marist just to name a few. Barring a huge collapse, just a few SEC squads should hear their names in March (Florida, Missouri, and Kentucky), but the rest of the teams in the conference have significant work to do. As a whole, the conference has been downright wretched. And that’s the nice version. On the bright side, it has been fun, and it’s only the beginning. We have a lot of catching up to do, so let’s get right down to it.
All SEC Non-Conference Performers:
We don’t take the easy way out and name eight players to the first team. Nope, five players and five players only. That makes it tough, but that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
- C Nerlens Noel (10.5 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 1.8 APG, 2.7 SPG, 3.6 BPG): Noel has been an all-out hustle guy. His defensive numbers are impressive, and his 2.7 steals per game shouldn’t go unnoticed.
- F Murphy Holloway (15.8 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 1.7 SPG): The guy averages a double-double. Not coincidentally, he leads the conference with six double-doubles so far this season.
- F Laurence Bowers (16.9 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 1.2 BPG): He’s been an absolute beast for Mizzou. Just last week he had 23 points and 10 boards in a win over Illinois and 17 points and nine rebounds in a losing effort against UCLA. He’s good.
- G Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (17.5 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 2.0 APG, 2.3 SPG, 33.7 3FG%): KCP does it all. No, literally. Right now he is Georgia. And the way he’s been playing, he won’t be back in Athens next year for another go-around.
- G Phil Pressey (12.8 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 7.3 APG, 1.8 SPG): Pressey dished out 19 assists against UCLA on Friday. He’s good, and not likely to move from this spot.
- F Marshawn Powell (15.8 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.0 SPG): Powell played two games in 2011-12 because of an injury, but he’s regained his shooting stroke (44.4% 3FG) and his confidence.
- F Shavon Coleman (14.1 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 1.8 SPG, 1.5 BPG): You may not know Coleman now, but you should get to know him before he boxes out your team’s big men. He’s undersized at 6’6″, but that doesn’t keep him off the boards.
- G BJ Young (17.5 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 4.3 APG, 1.0 SPG): Many thought Young would be on the first team, but his effective field goal percentage is below 50 percent, landing him here for the time being.
- G Archie Goodwin (16.5 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 4.0 APG, 1.2 SPG): Goodwin was forced to play the point while Kentucky was without Ryan Harrow, but that didn’t stop him from his number one priority — scoring. Putting the ball in the hoop is what he’s done best in his first couple of months in a college uniform.
- G Kedren Johnson (17.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.7 SPG, 39.7 3FG%): Vandy needed a scorer, realizing very quickly it would need to rely upon Johnson. And he’s pulled through with two 25-point efforts and a career high 28 points. There’s probably more where that came from.
Noel, Goodwin, and Coleman have already been mentioned, but another newcomer has made significant strides in his first season in the SEC. South Carolina went 10-21 last season in Darrin Horn’s final season at the helm, but new coach Frank Martin is getting it done, only a win away from last season’s final win tally. Sure, he’s done it against cupcakes like Rider, Morgan State, and Presbyterian, but that’s no different than last season. But it’s not just the product on the court that has fans in Columbia excited. Martin has commitments from five-star Sindarius Thornwell, three-star center Desmond Ringer, shooting guard Justin McKie (BJ McKie’s son), and Villanova transfer Ty Johnson. The future is bright for the Gamecocks, but don’t count Martin’s team out for this season. The bottom of the conference isn’t exactly solid, so expect Martin to make significant progress towards the middle of the pack.
Best Game to Date
- Florida at Arizona (12/15/2012): Though it was a 65-64 loss for the SEC’s Gators, it had the feel of an NCAA Tournament environment. Florida came up short, blowing a six-point lead in the final minute and 15 seconds of play. In reality, what could be a more accurate portrayal of the SEC’s non-conference season so far? A complete meltdown resulting in a surprising loss, serious question marks regarding future performance, and a letdown from expectations.
Best Game Yet to Come
- Florida at Kentucky (3/9/2013): Don’t worry, the SEC season will get better. We hope. At this point, we have nowhere to go but up. And the SEC doesn’t pit Florida at Kentucky in the last game of the regular season for nothing. The Gators are the likely choice to win the conference, but that doesn’t mean getting a win in Rupp will be easy. Kentucky and Florida have developed quite a nice rivalry over the years, and finishing the regular season in Lexington should give this game some added flavor. This one could help the SEC close out the 2012-13 campaign the right way.
The SEC’s New Year’s Resolutions
Every team has something to work on, and here is what the fourteen SEC members will be working on the rest of this season:
- Florida: Get the ball down low to Patric Young. Just try it once.
- Texas A&M: Rebound. Rebound. Rebound. Then maybe there won’t be any more embarrassing losses to Southern.
- Missouri: UCLA? Really? Don’t lose to UCLA. Come on. You’re better than that.
- Kentucky: Hit a free throw. Or two. Scratch that. Just practice a free throw or two.
- South Carolina: Get in touch with Martin’s agent. Sign a contract extension.
- Arkansas: Buy an elixir and stay healthy. Keep the injury bug away this year.
- Alabama: Find another year of eligibility for JaMychal Green.
- Tennessee: Score more than the other team. Or just try to score. Period.
- Ole Miss: Let Marshall Henderson shoot more threes.
- LSU: Is it against NCAA regulations to hire a body guard to follow Anthony Hickey around and make sure he stays out of trouble? If not, hire somebody. Now.
- Auburn: Play more like the game against Illinois. Play less like the game against Winthrop.
- Georgia: Clone Caldwell-Pope. And quickly.
- Vanderbilt: Might want to find another scorer to help Johnson and guard Kyle Fuller. Vandy people are smart. You probably already knew that.
- Mississippi State: Start looking forward to 2014.
Happy New Year everybody.
Brian Joyce is a writer for the SEC microsite and regular contributor for Rush The Court. Follow him on Twitter for more about SEC basketball at bjoyce_hoops.