Monday, 26 November 2007

College Basketball Thoughts

I was fortunately able to watch a fair amount of college basketball over the Thanksgiving break, which was excellent because there was obviously a lot of fantastic action. Plus, I got a chance to see a lot of players that I've been hoping to see. Anyway, some of my observations and thoughts:

- I love Butler this year. They do the same things that they did last year (when they got to the Sweet 16) only they're even more experienced, other than coaching. Obviously, people know about their great 3-point shooting, and that's key. But also important is that they don't turn the ball over much and they don't put teams on the line very often. Basically, they shoot 3s very well and they don't give up easy points. That is a solid formula.

- Sticking with Butler, AJ Graves is the Horizon League Preseason Player of the Year, but I think Mike Green might be their most important player. He is also a good shooter, but he is a very good defender, passer, and rebounder. Basically Graves is a better scorer, but Green does everything else a little better.

- Eric Maynor is the Preseason Player of the Year in the CAA, and he'll get a ton of publicity after his heroics against Duke last year, but don't count out Will Thomas for George Mason. You'll remember he was a sophomore on the Final Four team, which now makes him an experienced senior and one of the best posts in the country. He is a really crafty inside scorer, solid post defender, good rebounder, and a good passer out of the post.

- I'm not as optmistic about Kansas St. as I was going into the year. Obviously Michael Beasley is fantastic (more on him later in the week), but I don't like their other pieces. Bill Walker is extremely athletic and has lots of potential, but it seems to me like is still a long ways off. He can get to the rim, but he is not a really good shooter. He tends to play out of control and rely too much on his athleticism at this point... but they need him to be a #2 scorer after Beasley. It seemed like nobody was creating any shots for anyone else when I watched K State play.

- Mark Turgeon is a great coach and was a fantastic hiring for the Aggies. They shouldn't miss a beat without Billy Gillepsie.

- The difference between Ohio St. last year and USC/Kansas Sr. this year is th experience around the freshman. Last year the Buckeyes had guys like Jamar Butler, Ron Lewis, Othello Hunter, etc. which was a huge reason they made it to the Title game. USC and Kansas St. does not have that caliber of returning talent (Taj Gibson notwithstanding) surrounding the great freshmen classes.

- Is there a more underrated player than Jamont Gordon for Mississippi St? Maybe I'm just late to the party? Don't look now, but last year as a sophomore he averaged 16 PPG, and over 7 RPG and 5 APG. Not bad.

- Mercer beat USC to open their season and have lost 5 games since.

- Look out for Miami of Ohio out of the MAC. Michael Bramos and Tim Pollitz form an outstanding 1-2 duo.

- I really like BYU coming out of the Mountain West. And this is obvious after they beat Louisville and took UNC to a close game, but they're for real. Trent Plaisted is an NBA talent at center, Jonathan Tavernari is an excellent shooter with a super-quick release, and Lee Cummard can do a little bit of everything. I have a hard time seeing anyone else match up with them well in that conference.

What has caught your eye so far this year?