SEC Morning Five: 10.21.11 Edition

Posted by Gerald Smith on October 21st, 2011

  1. Rally the troops! Sound the Horn of Nerdfighting and CHARGE! The ESPN/USA Today Preseason Top-25 poll has been released! The Southeastern Conference has four members on the list: Kentucky at #2 (with one 1st place vote), Vanderbilt at #7, Florida at #10 and Alabama at #17. (Future SEC member Texas A&M checks in at #19.) Mississippi State was the only other SEC school receiving votes from the coaches.
  2. Returning all five starters helped Vanderbilt garner their highest Preseason Top-25 ranking since 1965. Those 1965-66 Commodores, led by legendary coach Roy Skinner, were coming off their first NCAA Tournament Elite Eight appearance. This year’s Vanderbilt team has been upset in the past two NCAA Tournaments, leaving some observers to doubt their ability to make a serious run for the NCAA title. Others, such as CBS Sportsline’s Gary Parrish thinks Vandy had enough offensive talent and experience to advance further than the First Second Round. (Our very own Brian Joyce should soon have an interesting analysis of Vandy’s ability to succeed in the postseason. Keep yer eyes peeled!)
  3. After many years of success and orange body paint, it seems strange not seeing Tennessee listed on this Preseason Top 25 list. Their omission is understandable: Hitting the reset button to expunge the Bruce Pearl era, new Volunteers head coach Cuonzo Martin faces a strong schedule with a hodge-podge of athletic players who don’t exactly fit his system. After many years of being the big hounds on the block, Vols fans will need to change to root for the underdogs of the SEC East. One way to start will be getting ticket sales back on track.
  4. Mississippi State basketball fans have more to look forward to than a fitter Renardo Sidney and a team that has the potential to make all sort of noise come March. This is the 100th season of Bulldog basketball! (Please, don’t ring all your cowbells at once. It’s early.) The MSU Athletic Department has compiled a list of twenty All-Century team members: modern members include the versatile Mario Austin, incredible marksman Dontae’ Jones and swat-machines Jarvis Varnado and Erick Dampier. MSU fans can select the starting five from all these All-Century team members and the top five greatest games of Mississippi State history. Sounds like a fun start to a great year’s worth of events.
  5. Early in the 2011-12 team practice season there still remains more questions than answers for South Carolina. With only nine scholarship players, Coach Darrin Horn admitted to the media on Wednesday that he has yet to find a starting five players for his team. Horn’s challenge, he says, is that he has seven players that could start on any given night. The USC blog Garnet and Black Attack has speculated on a regular starting rotation that includes improving sophomore center/forward Damontre Harris and highly-regarded freshmen shooting guard Damien Leonard. The Gamecocks are currently practicing without point guard Bruce Ellington as he finishes the season for the Gamecock football team. With Ellington’s role on the football team possibly increasing due to the season-ending injury to running back Marcus Lattimore, Coach Horn may not know how much he will be able to play Ellington once he rejoins the basketball team. Horn is currently encouraged by the offensive effectiveness he’s seen in practice thus far but reincorporating his only returning experienced scorer remains a mystery.
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Morning Five: 10.27.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 27th, 2010

  1. The Fanhouse 2010-11 All-America Team features Kyle Singler (Duke), Jacob Pullen (Kansas State), Jimmer Fredette (BYU), Marcus Morris (Kansas) and JaJuan Johnson (Purdue).  To each their own, but we think it’s a mistake to leave off Harrison Barnes (UNC) given what we know about the talent of star freshmen these days (to be fair to Fanhouse, he was on their third team).  Also, we know that Morris is a great player only scratching the surface of his potential, but is he the second-best forward in the country behind Singler?  We just can’t get behind that one yet.
  2. Right, Leonard Hamilton, because your research about a preseason poll taken in 1975 is equally valid to one taken in 2010, with the crush of media and year-round coverage of the sport, not to mention the ability to watch nearly every high-major game on television (or at least streaming video).  Look, there are problems with some voters in preseason polls failing to do their homework – Lord knows that much is true — but if anything, the ACC traditionally gets too much credit based on the accomplishments of Duke and UNC  in most years.  The ACC has had a grand total of FIVE Sweet Sixteen teams in the last four NCAA Tournaments.  Five (compare with…  B12 = 9; BE = 14; B10 = 8; P10 = 8 ; SEC = 6).  Wanna know how many of those teams were not named Duke or North Carolina?  Zero.  Once upon a time, the ACC was a lock to have a minimum of two Sweet Sixteen teams every single year; and often other schools such as Maryland, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, NC State, etc, were getting there.  In fact, longtime ACC fans know that the league made its name  in the 70s, 80s and 90s for having quality depth beyond Duke and UNC.  Do you see a Sweet Sixteen team in this league other than Duke (or Carolina if you drink the kool-aid that they’re going to be significantly better)?  The league is down; it’s been down for a while, and it remains down.  Until some of the other ten schools start proving it in March, we don’t want to hear a peep from Hamilton and his coaching brethren in the ACC.
  3. Louisville finally received some good news regarding a player’s eligibility when the NCAA cleared 6’10 center Gorgui Dieng yesterday.  The freshman originally from Senegal with a 7’4 wingspan will provide some much-needed depth in the frontcourt for Pitino’s squad behind Terrence Jennings and Jared Swopshire.  He was a top fifty recruit according to Rivals, and although very raw, he could eventually become an interior defensive force for Louisville in the same way that Samaki Walker once was.
  4. Some comings and goings — you already know about Memphis’ Jelan Kendrick, who at this point may or may not ever suit up for the Memphis Tigers…  but Michigan State’s NCAA Second Round hero Korie Lucious should be back in a Spartan uniform, only not at the start of the season.  Tom Izzo still isn’t sure what Lucious’ exact punishment will be for his drunk driving arrest in August, but he said on Monday it would involve a suspension of between two to four games.  Including exhibition contests, this could result in Lucious possibly missing games that count against Eastern Michigan and South Carolina at the Breslin Center — we think the Spartans will be ok.  He would be back in any case to make the trip to the Maui Invitational during Thanksgiving week.  Also, Duquesne’s starting point guard, Eric Evans, will miss at least two months with a broken right foot.  This is a major blow to a Dukes program (returning A-10 POY candidate Damian Saunders) who had designs on making a run into the top five teams in the Atlantic 10 this year.  It’s still possible, but Evans will have to hit the ground running just after the new year.
  5. Former Vanderbilt head coach Roy Skinner passed away yesterday in Nashville; he was 80 years old.  Most people today probably don’t know anything about Skinner as he last coached in 1976, but the man partially responsible for turning Vandy’s Memorial Gymnasium into “Memorial Magic” (he won 82% of his home games during his career there) was also the first SEC basketball coach to break the color barrier.  How has this story not gotten more play over the years?  Skinner recruited Perry Wallace, the first black basketball player in the SEC, from across town in Nashville in 1966.  Wallace went on to become an all-SEC player for the Commodores and later went to Columbia Law School and a law professor at American University.  If that’s not a success story that Skinner should be lauded for, then we haven’t heard one.  RIP, Roy.
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