2008 Early Entry Winners and Losers

Posted by rtmsf on June 16th, 2008

Whew. After an exhausting day trying to track the news feeds seemingly every minute to figure out who was staying and who was leaving college, we can finally take a deep breath and start to sort out what this means for all the parties involved. Of the 69 early entries of US collegians submitted to the NBA league offices last month, 35 will remain in the 2008 NBA Draft pool. Here are the 35 early entries:

  • Joe Alexander, West Virginia
  • Ryan Anderson, California
  • Darrell Arthur, Kansas
  • D.J. Augustin, Texas
  • Jerryd Bayless, Arizona
  • Michael Beasley, Kansas State
  • Mario Chalmers, Kansas
  • Chris Douglas-Roberts, Memphis
  • C.J. Giles, Oregon State
  • Donte Greene, Syracuse
  • Kalen Grimes, Missouri
  • Eric Gordon, Indiana
  • DeAndre Jordan, Texas A&M
  • Kosta Koufos, Ohio State
  • Jamont Gordon, Mississippi State
  • Shawn James, Duquesne
  • Davon Jefferson, Southern California
  • Brook Lopez, Stanford
  • Robin Lopez, Stanford
  • Kevin Love, UCLA
  • O.J. Mayo, Southern California
  • Richard Hendrix, Alabama
  • J.J. Hickson, North Carolina State
  • George Hill, IUPUI
  • Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, UCLA
  • JaVale McGee, Nevada
  • Kojo Mensah, Duquesne
  • Trent Plaisted, Brigham Young
  • Anthony Randolph, LSU
  • Walter Sharpe, Alabama-Birmingham
  • Derrick Rose, Memphis
  • Brandon Rush, Kansas
  • Marreese Speights, Florida
  • Bill Walker, Kansas State
  • Russell Westbrook, UCLA

We’d Be Excited Too, Roy

Today’s Winners

  • Roy Williams. Ole Roy could slip into a coke-induced coma for half of next season and still watch his team win 30+ games and make the Final Four. Why? Because the nation’s top backcourt (Ty Lawson & Wayne Ellington) and sixth man (Danny Green) all decided to return to Chapel Hill today to join forces with the reigning NPOY and a top five recruiting class. Yeah, apparently Roy is living right.
  • Lute Olson. It’s been a rough year for Olson, what with all his divorce proceedings and the loss of Jerryd Bayless to the NBA. The surprising return of the sensational Chase Budinger for his junior season provides Olson a key bulding block to get his program back on track.
  • Mark Few. Few only had to sweat out his beefy point guard Jeremy Pargo’s decision, but this player remains the key to Gonzaga’s success next season. With Pargo back to run the system, interior players such as Austin Daye and Josh Heytvelt can expect the ball in the right place at the right time.
  • Mark Gottfried. Alabama was facing a seemingly unthinkable situation where they would lose their best player from last season, forward Richard Hendrix, while simultanously losing their best player from two seasons ago, point guard Ronald Steele, even though Steele sat out the entire last season due to injury. We’ve shown previously how important a healthy Steele is to the Alabama attack, and with the additional return of Alonzo Gee to help offset the Hendrix loss, Gottfried must feel as if he dodged a serious bullet.
  • John Calipari. Why is he here? Didn’t he lose super-frosh Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts to the NBA? Well, yes, but he also retained the services of Antonio Anderson and Robert Dozier, which when combined with incoming stud wing Tyreke Evans, there will be more than enough talent for Calipari to roll through CUSA pretty much unscathed again. Calipari isn’t as big a winner as some of the above coaches, but today was a good day for him.

Tough Day For Howland, But He Knows He’ll Have More Chances

Today’s Losers

  • Ben Howland. There was some talk that Kevin Love may return to Westwood, but that quickly died down. When Russell Westbrook decided to leave as well, few were surprised. Josh Shipp made the wise choice to return, but today’s decision by Luc Richard Mbah a Moute to leave early has to leave UCLA fans scratching their heads – he’s unlikely to be drafted in either round, according to some people.
  • Rick Stansbury. It’s bad enough that all-SEC guard Jamont Gordon left Stansbury’s Mississippi St. program, but it’s even worse when there’s a strong sentiment that Gordon may not get a sniff of the second round. This feels a lot like Kennedy WInston from Alabama a few years ago.
  • Bill Walker. Yes, he gets his own mention here. The popcorn munching, towel-pissing, former K-State guard had it in his head all along that he was going League. So even though he sat out the NBA Predraft Camp and then proceeded to seriously hurt his knee during a workout last weekend – giving scouts even more pause about his shaky sticks – Walker decided that he was ready for the NBA and shouldn’t be too surprised if he finds himself in the D-League next season.
  • Bill Self. How bad can it be if you just won the national title? Not very. Still, there was a chance Mario Chalmers would return next season to lead Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich and the other Jayhawks back to another F4 opportunity. Only Collins of the quartet of he, Chalmers, Darrell Arthur and Brandon Rush is returning, but somehow we think Bill Self is still smiling.
Share this story

Orlando Pre-Draft Camp Day 2

Posted by rtmsf on May 29th, 2008

So Wednesday was Day 2 of the Orlando Pre-Draft Camp (Day 1’s notes are here), and once again we’ll try to synthesize some of the reports coming from various sources who are actually attending the camp. Hopefully we’ll start to get a sense as to who is improving or shatting all over decreasing their stock. Our sources today are DraftExpress, NBADraft.net, Jeff Goodman and Doug Gottlieb.

Players Doing Well So Far:

Lawson Really Must Not Want to Return to UNC (photo credit: USA Today)

  • Ty Lawson, UNC
    • DraftExpressTy Lawson was a cut above everyone else on the floor here, showing incredible quickness taking an outlet pass and getting his team out in transition, and fantastic court vision finding open teammates on the move. He made the game very simple for all of his teammates, as all they had to do was run with him and make sure their hands were ready for the pass.
    • GottliebBest point guard here so far – UNC’s Ty Lawson, trailed closely by Sean Singletary. While Singletary is more refined than Lawson and seems to be using his experience from being here last year to his benefit, Lawson has an extra step that you just cannot teach.
    • NBADraft.net - (10pts, 5ast, 3stl) From the moment he came on the floor he changed the tempo of the game. Pushing the ball in transition, he made some nice decisions finding open teammates or getting to the hoop and finishing. The highlight for him may have been the fact that he completely outplayed Lester Hudson, the man he was matched up with. Not only did he get by Hudson at will of the dribble, but he held him scoreless for the longer part of the game.
    • Gary Parrish also wrote an article yesterday explaining how shocked Ty Lawson has been by UNC fans’ reactions to his attempts to enter the NBA Draft. Many of the same people who congratulated him as a Tar Heel are now trashing him through this process. Maybe that’s why he’s playing so well?
  • Joe Crawford, Kentucky
    • DraftExpressJoe Crawford had a very strong game with 19 points on 6-11 shooting, thanks to an extremely hot and aggressive start that kept his team in the game. He took the ball to the rack extremely well, showing smoothing body control, solid ball-handling skills and impressive overall scoring instincts, and also knocked down a number of shots from outside.
    • GottliebKentucky’s Joe Crawford and UAB’s Robert Vaden both looked very much at ease with the added 3-point range needed for this level of basketball. Crawford looks smaller that the 6-5 he has always been listed at, but he was explosive in terms of scoring in the first half of his first game.
    • NBADraft.netJoe Crawford was one of the big surprises of Day One. His 19 points were the high point total on the day. Crawford was able to use his quick first step to get by his man and to the rim. He also knocked down 2-3 from 3 showing the ability to pull up off the dribble from distance. Crawford appears on his way to claiming a spot in the second round if he can keep up his quality play.
  • Pat Calathes, St. Joseph’s
    • DraftExpress – Pat Calathes only got to play 15 minutes (sitting an extensive amount of time between stints), but really made the most of his time out on the floor, scoring 10 points and dishing off 5 assists (compared to just one turnover), many of the spectacular variety. His ball-handling skills, vision and all-around creativity were on full display throughout, looking aggressive and intelligent while not forcing the issue in the least bit. He would have had even more assists playing with some more skilled big man. He seems like a lock to get drafted at this point, and may be able to work himself considerably up the board if he continues to play like this in the next two days.
    • NBADraft.net - (10pts, 5ast) Showed some nice moves off the dribble and in transition, he was able to use his quickness to get by the defense. He seems to have put on some weight since Portsmouth, but still looks extremely skinny. He can knock down the mid-range shot, but with his unorthodox release he seems to lack range out to the NBA 3.
  • JR Giddens, New Mexico
    • Gottlieb – Giddens looked like, well, J.R. Giddens of old. He can still shoot the deep 3, runs like a deer, had a nice two dribble pull-up jumpers and generally looked good in trying to score. He did pout and not run back on defense a couple of times, he struggles to handle the ball on pick-and-roll situations, and he is not a pure guard by any stretch of the imagination. The consensus is Round 2.
    • DraftExpress(not the most skilled with the ball, but capable as a spot-up shooter and constantly making plays offensively and especially defensively thanks to his trademark length and explosiveness)

Players Hurting Themselves:

Can Shan Foster Do Anything Other Than Shoot? (photo credit: vanderbilt.edu)

  • Davon Jefferson, USC
    • GottliebDavon Jefferson will be taken in this draft. He moves well offensively off screens and looks like he will become a solid pro shooter. But he has no left hand and seems lost defensively. Jefferson will knock heads will Walker both in workouts and maybe the D-League.
    • NBADraft.net(7pts, 6rebs, 3ast) In the early going it seemed as if Jefferson may have made a mistake showing up this week, as he was almost non-existent. Although his performance was still not spectacular, he was able to salvage the day as he put up a decent 10 minutes together to finish the game off. His offensive skill is still in need of much work, but one cannot deny his terrific frame, and explosiveness.
    • DraftExpressWho hurt himself the worst? Most likely Davon Jefferson. He came here out of shape, and has barely been hustling at all for the past two days. Although he was able to use his freakish athleticism to make some plays on the glass and in transition, NBA types can’t be crazy about what they are seeing here. He needs to realize the urgency of the situation quickly if he wants to avoid destroying what otherwise might be a very promising future. At this point it looks very obvious that the 21-year old freshman is not ready to be in this draft, and definitely made a hasty decision hiring an agent
  • Wayne Ellington, UNC
    • DraftExpressThe most intriguing story might have been the incredibly poor play of North Carolina shooting guard Wayne Ellington—projected by some as a first round pick, but looking like anything but one from what we’ve seen in the first two days so far. Ellington was 1 of 8 from the field until the game was pretty much over with two minutes left and he managed to make his boxscore look somewhat respectable with two garbage-time baskets. He forced a number of shots badly, dribbled the ball off his foot on his way to 6 painful turnovers, played poor defense and did not grab even a single rebound in 27 minutes. He finished the game with 8 points, and is looking like he’ll be on the first plane back to Chapel Hill to kick off his junior season once this camp is over unless he can turn things around in a major way.
    • NBADraft.netWayne Ellington was one of the day’s big disappointments. He scored a couple buckets late to salvage his stats to a degree but in reality he was thoroughly outplayed by Gary Forbes who appears to have strength, size and experience over Ellington.
    • GottliebIf UNC gets Wayne Ellington back, which they should, Roy Williams should thank Deron Washington. Washington played picture-perfect defense on the UNC sophomore the entire first half of their matchup. Ellington got just two contested looks and struggled to separate himself from Washington’s long arms and great lateral quickness.
  • Shan Foster, Vanderbilt
    • DraftExpressShan Foster was a big disappointment once again, continuing the same trend we saw in the morning and the day before. He looks completely out of his element mentally, forcing bad shots and even air-balling one 3-pointer by about five feet, which is completely uncharacteristic of the player widely considered the top shooter in this draft class. He got chased off the 3-point line way too easily, getting caught into the trap of being forced to use his ball-handling skills, which he is much less effective at than just spotting up from behind the arc. He looks like he’s putting way too much pressure on himself, and will need to settle down a bit and remember what got him here.
    • NBADraft.netShan Foster struggled to get on track with just 7 points on 2-7 shooting. His lack of a great handle and ability to get by opponents appears to be getting exposed some. He’s a great shooter, but still must show a more diverse offensive game.
  • Danny Green, UNC
    • DraftExpressAlso on the negative side of the spectrum we found Danny Green (forcing the issue way too much, especially from behind the arc [0-4], and looking clearly hobbled by his sprained left ankle).
    • GottliebGreen is dribbling too much and seems stuck between wanting to be a 2 guard and playing more like his natural 3 position. He has plenty of upside since he is only 20, but family concerns may keep him in this draft.
    • GoodmanHe said he felt somewhere between 75 and 90 percent. Green also sounded upset that Roy Williams didn’t initially include him among the Big Three (Tyler Hanbsrough, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington), when he was getting early reports from NBA executives on where his players were projected

More takes on some of the other players at the Pre-Draft Camp:

  • GottliebRichard Hendrix looks leaner (he said he has lost 15 pounds and wants to lose more), and he was much more agile because of it. Hendrix, Maryland’s James Gist and Memphis’ Joey Dorsey are three very different, yet very draftable big men who give teams in the late first round and the early second round interesting options. Hendrix, who looks like the only one who could go in Round 1, is a skilled wide body who can face up and beat you with a catch and shoot off the pick-and-pop, and he is a good rebounder/outlet passer. Gist is the lean athlete who can block shots, has streamlined his jumper to 18 feet and runs the floor very well. Dorsey is a beast. He caught two alley-oops that counted, he is a pretty solid passer both on the outlets and in the offense, and his long arms make up for his lack of great height.
  • NBADraft.net - LR Mbah Moute (9pts, 5rebs) He seemed to have tweaked his ankle in the early going, but showed some character fighting through and still put up a decent performance. With his length and athleticism, he is always able to alter plays defensively, and convert on hustle baskets offensively. Devon Hardin had three thunderous dunks but struggled to display any touch or post skills. As impressive a physical specimen as he is, he appears to be a big tease, a player who gives the impression that he can become a force, but lacking the focus and direction to get there. Patrick Ewing (14pts, 5-7fg) With Ewing Sr. in attendance, the younger Ewing put in a decent game. He was able to convert on a number of open jumpers and showed some nice athleticism, but his overall skill set has glaring holes and he does not have a natural position on the floor. James Gist displayed his tremendous athleticism with a reverse jam in which he was fouled and missed, followed by a nearly identical reverse dunk in which he was able to covert. He also showed a mid range game knocking down a number of 12-15 foot jumpers. And while he still needs to add consistency to his shot, there’s some reason for optimism about his offensive game.
  • DraftExpress - Richard Hendrix had a solid outing with 12 points and 5 rebounds in 20 minutes. He was extremely unselfish and did a great job crashing the glass, showing a good feel for the game but also struggling a bit defensively on the perimeter and not being very effective finishing around the rim in traffic. Malik Hairston’s stat-line might not have been that impressive on paper (8 points, 4 assists, 3-4 FG), but he did a very nice job finding teammates within the flow of the offense and playing with and off of Pat Calathes, who he seems to have nice chemistry with. His athleticism looked better than advertised getting off the floor and elevating for dunks. DeMarcus Nelson was intense and aggressive, but looked a bit out of control at times too with some of his drives. Trent Plaisted had some flashes with his ridiculous athleticism, but was a bit too quiet in stretches, not making his presence felt enough.

Update: See our summary of Days 3 & 4 of the Orlando Pre-Draft Camp here.

Share this story

ATB: UCLA is #1

Posted by rtmsf on November 19th, 2007

ATB v.4

11.19.07

Story of the Day. The marquee games of the day were held in KC in the semis of the CBE Classic at the spanking new Sprint Center tonight. We’re still wondering why Kansas City built this thing (we hear the Sonics are available), but it looked like a nice joint for some collegiate hoops. #3 UCLA 71, Maryland 59. In this game, UCLA only had eight players dress out (Darren Collison in particular is still injured), but the Bruins under Ben Howland do what they always do – they uglified the game and ultimately imposed their will on the Terps. The first half looked like someone had greased the basketball, as both teams combined for 30 turnovers and only 46 pts. Advantage: UCLA, as they took a ten-pt lead into the half. The second half wasn’t as painful to watch, but Maryland never truly threatened to get back into the game – every Terp push seemed to be met with a UCLA player hanging off the rim on the other end. Kevin Love had a nice dub-dub (18/16), but we’re with Vitale in agreement that this kid is shy of 6’9 – maybe we’ll see him again next year after all. The only player that impressed on Maryland was Bambale Osby, who had several ridiculous blocks including one stuff of a stuff on Aboya that had us coming out of our seat. The bottom line is this – when UCLA gets Collison back running the show, they are without a doubt the most difficult matchup in the nation because of their defense, size and athleticism. They’re the only team around that can win games going away while shooting poorly (like tonight – 38%).

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.441179&w=425&h=350&fv=]

Michigan St. 86, Missouri 83. This was a much better game from a viewing standpoint. MSU looked very impressive in the first half, building as much as a 16-pt lead over the quasi-home team, but Mizzou looked equally as impressive in the second half as they charged back into the game, using the 40MoH pressure defense to fluster the Spartans on numerous possessions. MSU’s Raymar Morgan had a perfect night (19 pts on 6-6 FG and 6-6 FT), but it was Drew Neitzel (21 pts) and Goran Suton (17/8) who made the big plays late to secure the win for Tom Izzo’s team. We still think Indiana is the team to beat in the Big 10, but MSU can prove us wrong tomorrow night against UCLA. As for Missouri, we really like what Mike Anderson has already accomplished there – at any moment, we expect to see those twins he had at UAB throwing over-the-head passes 90 feet. The rebuild is over – Missouri could be an NCAA team this year.

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.441180&w=425&h=350&fv=session%3Dfsp_540%26domain%3Despn%26fspRoot%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fassets.espn.go.com%2Fmotion%2Ffsp%2FFSPRoot%26bgColor%3DECECEC%26bgImage%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fassets.espn.go.com%2Fmotion%2Ffsp%2FFSPRoot%2Fespnbg_playbtn.swf%3Fimg%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fassets.espn.go.com%2Fmedia%2Fmotion%2F2007%2F1119%2Fhu_071119ncb_michstate.jpg%2526showbutton%3Dtrue%2526buttonx%3D82%2526buttony%3D5%26playlistURL%3Dfalse%26playlistViewer%3Dfalse%26playlistParser%3Dfalse%26adType%3Dfalse%26adPauseEnabled%3Dtrue]

Maui Invitational. Four games, four ho-hummers. Oklahoma St. 83, LSU 77. We thought this would be a close game, and we were wrong, as OSU ran out to an 18-pt halftime lead before nearly blowing the whole thing down the stretch (LSU got within three at the 1:46 mark). OSU was led by James Anderson (25 pts) and Terrel Harris (24 pts), but neither team really impresses us. Where has Anthony Randolph (5/5/5 turnovers) gone? Marquette 74, Chaminade 63. Visions of Virginia ’83 were dancing in the heads of local fans as Chaminade hung with Marquette for much of this game, but Jerel McNeal and his 22 pts held off the upstarts in the last five minutes for the win. Duke 83, Princeton 61. A completely outclassed Princeton team was overwhelmed from the opening tip against Duke, falling behind 24-4 in the first seven minutes of the game. Kyle Singler continued his impressive November, tallying 21/12 in the blowout. Illinois 77, Arizona St. 54. The nightcap game started much the same way, as Illinois ran out to a 20-0 lead on Arizona St. before coasting the rest of the way. Illinois might be better than we thought, but frankly, we expected a better performance in the first game from Herb’s boys tonight. Oklahoma St. will play Marquette and Duke will play Illinois tomorrow. Our picks – Duke and Marquette.

Paradise Jammy. Baylor 62, Winthrop 54. Is Baylor a team on the rise in the Big 12? It would appear to be so after defeating Wichita St., Notre Dame and Winthrop in successive nights to win the Paradise Jam. We would have picked against Baylor in all three games. Georgia Tech 70, Notre Dame 69. The consolation game featured a three with two seconds remaining from Tech’s Matt Causey that gave the schizo Yellow Jackets the win. ND’s Luke Harangody had 22/11 in the loss.

The Atlantic Sun Strikes Again. Belmont 85, Alabama 83. Is Belmont winning on the road against a BCS team an upset anymore? No, especially against an SEC team these days, as the suckeastern conference has been taking it on the chin lately. Right now, who besides Tennessee (and maybe a very young Florida) looks worth a damn? As for this game, a review of the stats shows that both teams played pretty well – it was just that Belmont converted more plays down the stretch. Specifically, Justin Hare dropped a pullup J from the foul line with 2.2 seconds remaining to put the Bruins up two points. What’s amazing about this is that Hare has achieved Jordanesque end-of-game status at Belmont, as this was the thirteenth time he had hit a shot to win or send a game into OT in his career. Bama’s Richard Hendrix went for 25/10 in the losing effort.

On Tap Today (all times EST). The Maui continues, and the Game of the Year (so far) takes place in KC at the CBE.

  • Indiana (-21.5) v. UNC-Wilmington 7pm – the only reason we wish we had the Big Ten channel is E-Giddy.
  • Marquette (-3) v. Oklahoma St. (ESPN) 7pm - we have no idea what will happen in this game, sorry.
  • Connecticut (NL) v. Gardner-Webb (ESPN FC) 7:30pm – didn’t we just do this?
  • Tennessee (-22.5) v. Middle Tennessee St. (ESPN FC) 7:30pm – will Lofton wake up this season?
  • Maryland v. Missouri (-5.5) (ESPN2) 7:45pm – this should be an exciting, uptempo game.
  • Florida (NL) v. North Florida (ESPN FC) 8pm – when does Florida play a road game again – January?
  • Vanderbilt (-14) v. Valparaiso 8pm – the way SEC teams have been falling…
  • Duke (-7) v. Illinois (ESPN) 9:30pm - Illinois has the inside play to exploit Duke, but whither their guards?
  • UCLA (-3.5) v. Michigan St. (ESPN2) 10pm – blood, guts, and glory. This will be a slugfest.
  • Oregon (-5) v. St. Mary’s (ESPNU) 10pm – upset alert! SMC is legit, but Oregon has looked fantastic thus far. How will the Ducks fare in their first road test?
Share this story

ATB: Please Never Make Us Watch Columbia Again

Posted by rtmsf on November 14th, 2007

ATB v.4

11.12.07

Story of the Night. Boring. There was really only one good game tonight – Syracuse 72, St. Joseph’s 69. We had this one on our upset alert radar last night, and it took a three from Jonny Flynn at the top of the key to put the Hawks away at the Carrier Dome tonight (see vid below). Amazingly, that was Flynn’s only hoop of the game, coming after his record 28 pts last night. His backcourt mate Paul Harris picked up the slack tonight, going for 18/14/6 assts/2 stls in the win. How a 6’5 guard tallies 29 rebounds in two games confounds us. Syracuse has shown that it has the guards to play with anyone, but will the Orange have anything on the interior this year? We shall see, but until then, Cuse blog Axeman Cometh tells us to get the popcorn ready.

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.440016&w=425&h=350&fv=]

Things We Saw. Not much else tonight. Ohio St.-Columbia was the other ESPN game tonight, and although the Ivy League Lions gave a good effort, there was never a realistic chance for the upset. Once again, OSU didn’t really impress us, but we thought back to last year, and when did they ever impress us then either? They won 35 freakin’ games last year and we can only remember a handful where we thought ‘this is a pretty good team’ – the Big 10 championship game v. Wisconsin, the Tennessee second half comeback, and the Georgetown F4 game. So that’s how they do. We’re not going to count them out this year based on first impressions. Koufos (19/7/3 blks), Butler (18/7/3 assts) and Lighty (13/4/4 assts) led the way (Ohio St. 68, Columbia 54).

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.440017&w=425&h=350&fv=]

SEC Goes on the Road. Two interesting games for SEC teams involved Vanderbilt going on the road to Toledo and Alabama going to upstart Mercer tonight. These were games that neither could afford to lose if they expect to be seriously considered for at-large bids next March. Vandy burst out to an 18-0 lead before Toledo bothered to score a single point, and although the game got close, Vandy continues to show with a balanced attack from Shan Foster and AJ Ogilvy why it will be heard from in the SEC East this year (Vanderbilt 77, Toledo 70). Bama went into a sold-out arena at Mercer and survived A-Sun Mayhem thanks to Richard Hendrix’s 28/14, but we’re patiently waiting the bottom to fall out on this team without a true point guard (Alabama 90, Mercer 83). Ole Miss also got a solid mid-major win at home over South Alabama tonight (Ole Miss 81, South Alabama 78).

Big Halftime Leads. #8 Michigan St. up 19 on Chicago St., Missouri up 30 on Fordham, #2 UCLA up 35-11 on Cal St.-San Bernardino, Washington up 21 on NJIT… (all blowout wins).

Ranked Teams.
#9 Washington St. 86, Boise St. 74. Wazzu struggled before blowing it open with a 60-pt second half.
#16 Gonzaga 80, Idaho 43. Another huge second half (44-13) led by Austin Daye (18/4/3 assts/6 blks).
#19 Texas A&M 67, Oral Roberts 53. This surprised us that it wasn’t very close.
#20 Arizona 76, N. Arizona 69. Lute is due back soon. Budinger with 25/6/4.

Upset Alert. Like we said, it was a boring night.

On Tap Tonight (all times EST). 50 more games tonight, including numerous ho-hums on FC .

  • Florida (NL) v. NC Central (ESPN FC) 7pm – yes, this is the same team Duke beat by 1000 pts.
  • UNC (-11) v. Davidson (ESPN) 7pm - Stephen Curry, neutral court??? Naaaah…..
  • St. John’s (NL) v. St. Francis (NY) (ESPN FC) 7:30pm – these are the games we wish we could give back to ESPN FC.
  • LSU (NL) v. McNeese St. (ESPN FC) 8pm – tune in just 5 mins to see Anthony Randolph.
  • North Texas (NL) v. Oklahoma St. (ESPN FC) 8pm – see above re: St. John’s.
  • Sam Houston St. (NL) v. Texas Tech (ESPN FC) 8pm – upset alert! SHSU is legit, and Knight isn’t what he used to be.
  • Bradley (NL) v. Iowa St. (ESPN FC) 8pm – Bradley should win this game for the Valley.
  • Texas A&M (NL) v. UTEP 9pm - Turgeon’s crew impressed tonight.
  • California (-8) v. Southern Mississippi 10:30pm – if Ben Braun weren’t still coaching there, Cal could surprise this year.
Share this story

Bama Steele-ing for the NIT Again

Posted by rtmsf on September 18th, 2007

Quick, during which of the last two seasons did Alabama have a better record?

Before answering, fans would be wise to remember the following two facts:

1) In 05-06, the Crimson Tide overcame a midseason knee injury to big man Chuck Davis, and led by point guard Ronald Steele regrouped to a 10-6 SEC record and NCAA berth (defeating Marquette 90-85 and pushing eventual national runner-up UCLA before losing 62-59).

2) The 06-07 Tide was a chic preseason pick for the F4 and even reached a national ranking of #4 during early December. But after starting 13-1, injuries to Steele railroaded the promising season, ultimately culminating in a first round NIT loss to UMass.

So it should be a little surprising that the 06-07 Tide ended with a record of 20-12, while Coach Gottfried’s previous edition was only 18-13. This illustrates how expectations define perceptions. Little was expected of the 05-06 Tide after all-SEC first-teamer Davis got hurt, so Bama’s subsequent run to the NCAAs and defensive standoff with the Mighty Bruins in R2 engendered the perception that Bama had a successful season. Conversely, last year’s squad was burdened with high expectations from the beginning, and even though the team managed to get 20 wins without the services of a healthy Ronald Steele, the 06-07 season was deemed a failure.

Which brings us to the news today that Ronald Steele will be redshirting the 07-08 season to rehab his knees, and the value of the heady point guard to this team.

Ronald Steele pic

Consider Steele’s numbers and resultant effect on the Tide’s fortunes in the 05-06 season:

Ronald Steele Stats 7

Steele Steps Up. As you can see rather starkly, Steele (and Bama’s) fortunes rose considerably in 05-06 after Chuck Davis’s injury. Despite only a small rise in minutes played (Steele was a veritable ironman that year), his key stats increased across the board – most notably, his scoring and shooting percentages were considerably better in Davis’s absence.

Unfortunately for Alabama, 06-07 was a lesson in the importance of one player. Steele gamely played through injuries to his ankles and knees, but the ironman of the previous season was no longer available. In twelve of Bama’s thirty-two games, Steele either did not play or played well below 30 minutes. Even in the games where he played starter minutes, he wasn’t nearly as effective. Here are his stats for 06-07:

Ronald Steele 8

Lack of Explosion. It’s easy to see where Steele’s “explosive” stats dropped in 06-07 – PPG (he could no longer get to the rim and finish); RPG (he couldn’t jump); SPG (he couldn’t cut off passing lanes); FG% (less athleticism = tougher shots). But it’s also apparent of his value as the Bama floor leader in the wins/losses column. Bama was 13-7 with a less-than-healthy Steele in the lineup, and the 06-07 nonconference schedule wasn’t exactly Clemson-lite either – the Tide went 4-1 against Iowa, Xavier, NC State, Notre Dame and Oklahoma. The harshest evidence of his steadying influence comes, however, when looking at how Bama finished the season – as Steele missed games and played sparingly during the last few weeks, the Tide limped into March losing five of its last six games.

Mark Gottfried is facing a difficult situation in 07-08 without his all-american point guard, but all is not completely lost. At least this year Alabama will know to move forward without Steele in the lineup, thereby giving other players a chance to step up much as he did two years ago upon Chuck Davis’s injury. Forwards Alonzo Gee and Richard Hendrix provide an athletic pair of wings, and Brandon Hollinger and Rico Pickett may yet prove capable in the backcourt. Even so, it’s difficult for us to believe that Bama will be able to overcome an injury to a player of this importance enough to make the NCAAs. Yet another tough break for Gottfried and Bama basketball.

Share this story