Set Your TiVo: Opening NightPosted by bmulvihill on November 7th, 2011
Brendon Mulvihill is an RTC contributor. You can find him @themulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.
The 2011-12 college basketball season tips off with the regional rounds of the 2KSports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer. We will not see a full slate of games until Friday but if you are starved for college hoops like we are, there are two games tonight that should whet your appetite.
William & Mary @ St. John’s – 7 pm EST on ESPNU (**) (RTC Live coverage begins at 6:45 pm)
- With the exception of a few holdovers, St. John’s brings an entirely new squad into the 2011-12 season. The Red Storm will rely heavily on freshman like Maurice Harkless, Dom Pointer, and D’Angelo Harrison. Although young, SJU should be able to shoot on a William & Mary squad that allowed opponents to shoot an eFG of 50.1% last season. It will take Steve Lavin’s team some time to jell over the coarse of the season, especially with three highly touted recruits being ruled ineligible for the fall semester. However, this game may be a case where overall talent outduels experience.
- William & Mary essentially brings back its entire 2010-11 team that went 10-22 overall. Tony Shaver’s squad returns its two leading scorers, Quinn McDowell (15.5 PPG) and Brandon Britt (10.9 PPG). Although a relatively solid shooting team last year (52.1% eFG), the Tribe struggles with scoring beyond those two players. If W&M can get scoring from another player and continue to shoot the ball well, they may be able to keep it close on the road against an incredibly inexperienced St. John’s team. However, if either of those two players gets into foul trouble or is cold from the floor, it will make for a challenging night for the Tribe.
- This game probably will not be a defensive clinic. William & Mary ranked 254th in the nation last year in adjusted defensive efficiency and a young team like St. John’s will probably take time to develop on that end. If either team can create any turnovers at all, they will have a clear advantage. Unfortunately, only three teams in the country were worse than the Tribe last year at causing turnovers. However, with many of the St. John’s players seeing their first action at the Division I level, turnovers should be expected. Look for William & Mary to take advantage of SJU’s freshmen mistakes to keep this one close. It will then come down to McDowell and Britt’s ability to convert points off turnovers.
Valparaiso @ #11 Arizona – 9pm EST pm ESPNU (**)
- Both Arizona and Valparaiso lost their top two scorers from a year ago. Arizona is without Derrick Williams and Momo Jones and Valpo is without Brandon Wood and Cory Johnson. The differences between the two teams however are the remaining players on Arizona’s bench and the talent Sean Miller has been able to bring in to replace his stars. Keep an eye on Arizona freshmen Josiah Turner. If the freshman point guard can push the ball against Valpo’s Erik Buggs without making too many freshman mistakes, Arizona will likely run away with this one in the McKale Center.
- Valparaiso’s Ryan Broekhoff is an excellent shooter, sporting a 61.8% eFG last year (44.8% from three). However, it is unclear where the team’s scoring will come from beyond him. Arizona on the other hand is quite balanced offensively and has two super freshmen in Turner and Nick Johnson to step in to fill the scoring gap left by Williams and Jones. The Crusaders will need several more scoring threats, including Kevin Van Wijk (5/2) on the inside, to be remotely competitive.
- Bryce Drew, as the new head coach at Valparaiso, will be at the helm of a team for the very first time. The talent gap between Valpo and Arizona may be too much for Drew’s team to overcome in his debut, but Arizona is not without its question marks after an exhibition loss to Division II Seattle Pacific on October 27. Arizona struggled with turnovers and rebounding in that game and is still looking for a go-to scorer. Valpo will have to overcome the talent gap with hustle. If the Crusaders can get to the loose balls, hit the boards, and convert turnovers into points, they can follow Seattle Pacific’s upset with an upset of their own. However, it is difficult to imagine a Sean Miller-coached team making the same mistakes in a game that counts.
The Official RTC Star System
***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2014
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game