Posted on: January 10, 2012 1:04 pm
Edited on: January 10, 2012 4:58 pm
By Gary Parrish
There are four schools -- Connecticut, Vanderbilt, Memphis and Pittsburgh -- that were ranked in the top 10 of our preseason Top 25 (and one) that are unranked in the latest Top 25 (and one). What went wrong? Can things be fixed? I spent part of this morning addressing those questions and more.
Where were the Huskies ranked in the preseason Top 25 (and one)? No. 3
And now? Unranked in the Top 25 (and one) with a 13-3 record.
What went wrong? The Huskies relied so heavily on Kemba Walker last season that it was foolish to think they wouldn't struggle on some level to adjust. They were baffled by UCF's zone in November, blew a big lead and lost. Then came last week's back-to-back losses at Seton Hall and Rutgers that dropped them out of the Top 25 (and one) while point guard Shabazz Napier expressed frustration with his teammates. "I try my best to be a leader even though guys don’t give me a chance to be that person," Napier told the New Haven Register. "It shows in the game, I can’t lie. When we have a tipped ball and big guys get the ball and I’m yelling for the ball back out, we’ve got a new shot clock and they go back up … that shows I’m not that much of a leader. When a play starts breaking down and I’m yelling, ‘Bring it out, bring it out,’ and Boat [Ryan Boatright] or Jeremy [Lamb] takes a shot, that just shows that I’m not a leader. It sucks, because we lose games like that."
Who's been the biggest disappointment? Alex Oriakhi is nothing more than a role player this season. He averaged 10 points and nine rebounds in 29 minutes per game last season. He's averaging seven points and five rebounds in 19 minutes per game this season.
Can things be fixed? Of course. The roster is still loaded and capable of anything considering there are two likely lottery picks (Jeremy Lamb and Andre Drummond) on it. Plus, the Huskies beat West Virginia on Monday while you were watching LSU not move the ball. Long as they win Saturday at Notre Dame, they'll be back in the Top 25 (and one) on Sunday night, 4-2 in the Big East and on their way to a better league record than they recorded last season when they subsequently won the NCAA tournament.
Where were the Commodores ranked in the preseason Top 25 (and one)? No. 7
And now? Unranked in the Top 25 (and one) with an 11-4 record.
What went wrong? Festus Ezeli suffered a knee injury in the preseason. He's only played five games to date and hasn't played more than 22 minutes in any of them, meaning the Commodores have basically played the season without the services of their best rebounder and shotblocker. Three of their four losses have come with Ezeli in street clothes.
Who's been the biggest disappointment? Brad Tinsley's points and assists are slightly down, and his turnovers are slightly up. It's not that he's regressed, exactly, because he hasn't it. But there's not a lot of improvement from last year to this year, either.
Can things be fixed? Yes, I think so, because I believe a core of John Jenkins, Jeff Taylor and (a healthy) Festus Ezeli is good enough to finish in the top four of the SEC and make a run in the NCAA tournament. Obviously, the Commodores will have their critics until they can quiet them in March. But they've won five straight games and seem to be playing better.
Where were the Tigers ranked in the preseason Top 25 (and one)? No. 9
And now? Unranked in the Top 25 (and one) with a 10-5 record.
What went wrong? Josh Pastner scheduled aggressively and it backfired. The Tigers have had five opportunities to record a significant victory and fallen short each time. That -- along with inconsistent play at point guard and in the paint -- is why Memphis is no longer in the Top 25 (and one) or even getting votes in the AP or Coaches poll.
Who's been the biggest disappointment? Tarik Black was CBSSports.com's preseason Conference USA Player of the Year, but he wouldn't even make third-team all-conference if teams were selected today. The 6-foot-8 sophomore is merely averaging the same 9.1 points per game he averaged last season, and his rebounding numbers are actually down. He's only got 62 rebounds all season. He has 53 personal fouls.
Can things be fixed? Because of Conference USA, yes. The Tigers would be at risk of missing the NCAA tournament if they were starting a Big Ten or Big East schedule, but C-USA offers so few challenges. They're just going to physically overwhelm most of their opponents from here on out and probably get to 25 or 26 wins by Selection Sunday. Then it'll be up to Will Barton to carry them in the NCAA tournament. He's good enough to do it.
Where were the Panthers ranked in the preseason Top 25 (and one)? No. 8
And now? Unranked in the Top 25 (and one) with an 11-5 record.
What went wrong? First came the loss to Long Beach State and most of us just kinda thought it was "one of those nights." But it wasn't. It was, rather, a sign of things to come because the Panthers now have five losses to unranked teams. They're surprisingly terrible defensively, and they don't get to the line enough offensively. It has been, simply put, a mess of a season made worse because the best recruit (Khem Birch) transferred out of the program at the semester.
Who's been the biggest disappointment? Ashton Gibbs is averaging the same 17 points per game he averaged last season, but he's shooting the ball way worse. The senior guard shot 47 percent from the field and 49 percent from 3-point range last season. This season he's shooting 39 percent from the field and 36 percent from 3-point range.
Can things be fixed? Honestly, I doubt it. Upcoming road games at Marquette and Syracuse mean the Panthers will probably be 1-5 in the Big East heading into a Jan. 21 game against Louisville, and you just can't recover from that in this league. Barring a huge surprise, Jamie Dixon is headed for his first NIT.
Photos: US Presswire
Posted on: January 10, 2012 9:44 am
Edited on: January 10, 2012 10:19 am
By Jeff Goodman
The deadline for submitting the 25 names for the Wooden Midseason List was last night. Gary Parrish and I figured we'd share our lists with you, so you can make fun of us, demean us or do both. Mine are on top because, well, they are superior. Check Parrish's below and then go ahead and make fun of him. Have no problem putting two guys on from Kentucky and North Carolina, but a pair from Seton Hall? I just couldn't do it.
Jeff Goodman's Top 25
Posted on: January 9, 2012 3:39 pm
Edited on: January 9, 2012 3:47 pm
By Gary Parrish
Associated Press poll: I thought Steve Spurrier was wrong when he went at Ron Morris.
I defended Ron on that one.
But I can't defend Ron's AP basketball ballot almost ever ... and certainly not this week.
Come on, Ron.
Connecticut at No. 7?
Listen, I think the Huskies have the potential to be great thanks to a roster that includes Shabazz Napier, Ryan Boatright, Jeremy Lamb and Andre Drummond, but they haven't been close to great yet. They don't have a single win over a team currently ranked in the AP poll, and they have obviously bad losses to UCF and Rutgers (plus a double-digit loss to Seton Hall). That's the resume of a school that doesn't belong in the top 25 at all, much less the top 10. So not only do I think it's ridiculous that Ron has UConn all the way up at No. 7, I also think it's silly for AP voters to have Jim Calhoun's team 17th. The Huskies have done nothing to earn that ranking and plenty to lose it. They shouldn't be ranked right now.
And neither should Florida.
But the Gators are 19th in the AP poll and 11th on Ron's ballot.
The first part of that sentence is ridiculous, the second part inexplicable.
(Note to Ron: You've got to get it together, man. This isn't even fun anymore.)
How can anybody have Florida 11th when the Gators are 12-4 with zero wins over teams receiving votes in the AP poll and losses to Rutgers and Tennessee, two schools with a combined record of 17-14? As is the case with UConn, I like Florida's roster and think Billy Donovan will get things straight. But on Jan. 9 teams ought to have bodies of work that in some way support their rankings. UConn and Florida, right now, do not.
Coaches poll: I was down with Harvard being ranked earlier in the season.
But not now.
Because the Crimson took a horrendous loss last week at Fordham, and because their best win -- a neutral-site win over Florida State -- can no longer be considered impressive. The Seminoles were ranked when Harvard beat them; now they're just a 9-6 team with losses to Princeton and Clemson. So Harvard has zero wins over teams receiving votes in the latest coaches poll, and a loss to a school ranked 238th at KenPom.com. Is that resume really worth a top 25 ranking?
Answer: Absolutely not.
That's why we dropped Harvard from our rankings.
The men with votes in the coaches poll should've followed our lead.
Posted on: January 8, 2012 5:48 pm
By Gary Parrish and Jeff Goodman
The Top 25 (and one) will be updated on the college basketball page shortly.
Here's how it will look ...
Posted on: January 8, 2012 2:31 pm
Edited on: January 8, 2012 2:37 pm
By Gary Parrish
Arizona State dismissed leading scorer Keala King from the program on Sunday.
"We have decided that Keala will no longer be with the team," said Arizona State coach Herb Sendek. "We wish him nothing but the best in the future."
King was suspended along with two teammates last week and did not play in Thursday's win over USC or Saturday's loss to UCLA. A source told CBSSports.com that the dismissal is the culmination of various off-the-court issues. King, a sophomore, was averaging 13.7 points per game. Arizona State is 5-10. The Sun Devils host Oregon on Thursday.
Posted on: January 7, 2012 2:49 pm
Edited on: January 7, 2012 2:58 pm
By Gary Parrish
There's nothing wrong with losing at Ohio State.
But now Florida has also lost at Rutgers.
So it's time to start asking questions because with half the regular season now in the past the 13th-ranked Gators are sitting here with zero wins over ranked opponents and two losses to unranked opponents, and they are 0-4 in true road games. Not a single part of that sentence is good. And neither is Florida's defense, which is among the most obvious problems.
Tennessee shot 51 percent against Florida in Saturday's 67-56 win at Thompson-Boling Arena and in the process highlighted one of the under-the-radar truths of this season -- that the Gators are awful defensively. They entered the weekend with a defense that allowed an average of 96.4 points per every 100 possessions, which ranked 103rd nationally and was worst among Top 25 teams by 18 spots. So while it was surprising that Tennessee beat the Gators just three days after losing by 18 at Memphis, it was not too shocking that the Vols scored at a nice rate against them.
Almost every decent team does.
And that's what must get fixed if Florida plans to challenge Kentucky in the SEC. Last season's Elite Eight team ranked 35th in defensive efficiency, and Billy Donovan's back-to-back championship teams ranked fifth and 12. Those are the kinds of numbers that allow you to win in March. What Florida's doing right now does not.
Photo: US Presswire
Posted on: January 6, 2012 12:51 am
Edited on: January 6, 2012 1:01 am
By Gary Parrish
Here’s everything you need to know about Thursday’s slate of college basketball games …
Game of the day: Indiana beat a ranked team at home for the third time this season. The 12th-ranked Hoosiers got past No. 16 Michigan 73-71 thanks to 25 points from Christian Watford. They're now 14-1 with wins over Kentucky, Ohio State and John Beilein's Wolverines, and they're undeniably good and worthy of their ranking. Put another way, it's time to start believing in what Tom Crean is doing, and I don't care that the Hoosiers haven't "won on the road" yet. You don't have to "win on the road" to be really good in college basketball. Kentucky went like 2-47 on the road last season. As it turned out, the Wildcats were OK. Their best SEC road win was at Tennessee. They still made the Final Four.
Win to brag about: Brandon Young got 26 points -- including the final three with 1.3 seconds remaining -- to lift DePaul to an 84-81 victory over a Pittsburgh team that was ranked 10th in the preseason but has now lost four straight for the first time ever under Jamie Dixon. That's bad for Pitt. But this is great for DePaul! The Blue Demons only won seven games all last season. They're now 10-4 under Oliver Purnell, who is among the best at taking programs in bad shape and making them respectable.
Loss to hide from: Remember that Penn State team that lost to Kentucky by 38 points in November? They just beat Purdue -- which means Purdue just lost to them -- by 20 points. The final score was 65-45. The Boilermakers shot a season-low 31 percent.
Player who deserves improper benefits: It's easy to forget that one of the nation's best talents is playing at North Texas because Tony Mitchell is still adjusting to college. And because he's at North Texas. But the 6-foot-8 freshman was terrific in a 78-73 overtime win over South Alabama. He went 11-of-14 from the field to finish with 34 points and 16 rebounds.
Players Referees who do not deserve improper benefits: Louisiana-Lafayette beat Western Kentucky 72-70 in overtime. Who cares, you ask? I care. Because the referees somehow let Louisiana-Lafayette play the final possession with six -- SIX! -- players on the court. (Here's the video.) Yes, the Rajun Cajuns scored the game-winning basket with six players on the court. It should've been a technical foul. But the officials blew it. So WKU lost.
Numbers don’t lie
Three other notable results
Posted on: January 5, 2012 9:30 am
Edited on: January 5, 2012 11:34 am
We take a look back at the first two months of what has been a great campaign so far, but we also look ahead to the next two months – and the NCAA tournament. How likely are we to be right? Well, take a look at our Preseason Predictions to get a feel for our collective level of genius (Goodman brings it down, obviously). Let’s get to it.
Jeff Goodman: Kentucky. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist gives these guys the toughness, Anthony Davis brings the length, Doron Lamb the perimeter shooting and Marquis Teague will hit his stride come SEC play. I don't care if Terrence Jones is an enigma, as long as he shows up for a couple games in March and April, it'll be enough.
Gary Parrish: Kentucky. I love talent and nobody has more than Kentucky. They overwhelm you offensively and guard you tremendously. They have shooters and shotblockers and lots and lots of pros. Yes, John Calipari is about to get his first national championship.
Jeff Borzello: North Carolina. Had Anthony Davis not blocked John Henson’s mid-range jumper in the final seconds, would everyone still be picking Kentucky? The Tar Heels have the best frontcourt in the country, and Kendall Marshall is a calming influence come March.
Matt Norlander: Kentucky. It's who I had at the start of the year. My other three colleagues went with North Carolina. I know Goodman's already turned heel and come over to my side.
Goodman: Kentucky, North Carolina, Connecticut, Florida
Parrish: Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio State, Connecticut
Borzello: North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio State, Florida
Norlander: I hate doing this BECAUSE WE HAVE NO BRACKET. So do I pick the four best teams? Because how often does that happen? So ... no? I pick a random team that I'm guessing won't get placed in the same quad as Kentucky? What the hell: Kentucky, Syracuse, UNLV, Wagner. Because I can. And because that Danny Hurley sure does deserve a feature treatment or two.
Goodman: Weber State. These guys have one of the nation's top guards in Damian Lillard -- and have another guy that can light it up from the perimeter in Scott Bamforth. The Wildcats need -- and will get -- forwards Kyle Bullinger and Frank Otis back healthy soon.
Parrish: Saint Louis. Rick Majerus has a team that guards tough and shoots really well. Nobody will want to play them early in the tournament, I assure you.
Borzello: Creighton. The Bluejays have high-major size with Doug McDermott and Greg Echenique, and a very capable point guard in Antoine Young. They also are one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the country.
Norlander: Iona. The Wall Street Journal's Ben Cohen tweeted at me Wednesday, "Can't wait to pick Iona over Vandy come March." That's so true!
Goodman: Xavier. Everyone has forgotten about the Musketeers and what they did prior to The Brawl. These guys were 9-0 and will get their swagger back in A-10 play.
Parrish: Xavier. The Musketeers are unranked and struggling post-brawl. But give it time. This team is still talented. They'll be there in the end.
Borzello: BYU. The 16-point loss to Saint Mary’s to open WCC play certainly didn’t help, but the Cougars have plenty of weapons and can also defend. Matt Carlino has been a key since becoming eligible.
Norlander: Mississippi State. The Bulldogs can make the Final Four but everyone's just waiting for the Renardo Sidney haymaker to come. It won't. MSU is forever enigmatic but really quite loaded.
Goodman: Indiana. I know the Hoosiers deserve their lofty ranking, but these guys are still more of a fringe Top 25 team than one that belongs in the Top 12.
Parrish: Syracuse. Yes, the Orange are good. We even have them ranked No. 1. But are they really the nation's best team? I don't think so. So they are, by definition, overrated.
Borzello: Wisconsin. If you trust KenPom.com (and I usually do), one might think the Badgers are the second-best team in the country. They’re not even close. Jordan Taylor has struggled without defenses focusing on Jon Leuer.
Norlander: Florida. The Gators have some nice pieces. I love Voltron in the middle. But they aren't heat-seeking the Final Four, like many are still holding on to. Not a top-10 team. Come at me, UF fans. Wait, first -- look, Kenny Boynton just took an ill-advised 3 walking across the quad!
Player of the Year (so far)
Goodman: KU's Thomas Robinson. The guy brings it each and every night. He's averaging 17.7 points and 12.2 boards per game and already has nine double-doubles.
Parrish: KU's Thomas Robinson. The 6-foot-9 forward is averaging 17.7 points and 12.2 rebounds per game. He's a dominant player on a nationally relevant team.
Borzello: KU's Thomas Robinson. If Jared Sullinger played every game and Marcus Denmon wasn’t on such a balanced team, I might think differently. Robinson is a dominant force down low, and he doesn’t have much help inside.
Norlander: Creighton's Doug McDermott. His numbers continue to hover well above what Jimmer did last year -- and remember, Jimmer won most of the POY awards.
All-American Team (so far)
Goodman: Thomas Robinson (Kansas), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Kentucky), Jared Sullinger (Ohio State), Harrison Barnes (North Carolina), Jeremy Lamb (UConn)
Parrish: I like my All-American teams to be like actual teams with a point guard, two wings and two bigs. So ... Kendall Marshall (North Carolina), Marcus Denmon (Missouri), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Kentucky), Thomas Robinson (Kansas), Jared Sullinger (Ohio State)
Borzello: Marcus Denmon (Missouri), Harrison Barnes (North Carolina), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Knetucky), Thomas Robinson (Kansas), Jared Sullinger (Ohio State).
Norlander: Doug McDermott (Creighton), Jared Sullinger (Ohio State), Thomas Robinson (Kansas), Marcus Denmon (Missouri), Draymond Green (Michigan State).
Freshman of the Year (so far)
Goodman: UK's Anthony Davis. I'm not going to duplicate and go with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, even though he's Kentucky's MVP. Davis is the game-changer on the defensive end with his length and shot-blocking ability.
Parrish: UK's Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. He's the leader of the team I believe will win the national title. He had 24 and 19 in that win over Louisville.
Borzello: UK's Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky. Been doing Freshman of the Year rankings every week, and Kidd-Gilchrist finally overtook Anthony Davis after the Louisville game. He’s Kentucky’s most important player.
Norlander: I'm offering up IU's Cody Zeller. There's no way Indiana's this good if he's not there. He's one of the most reliable scorers in hoops, and again, only a freshman. A better defense player than people realize, too.
Coach of the Year (so far)
Goodman: Tom Crean. The Hoosiers coach deserves the honor. He's got two huge resume wins - against Kentucky and Ohio State in Bloomington.
Parrish: Steve Prohm. The first-year Murray State coach has the Racers undefeated with a win at Memphis. Put another way, he's still never lost a game as a head coach.
Borzello: Tom Crean. No one thought the Hoosiers were going to make the NCAA tournament, yet they have the most impressive pair of wins in the country, over Kentucky and Ohio State. He’s certainly not on the hot seat anymore.
Norlander: Frank Haith. I gave Indiana love in the category above, so I'll take a turn and make my case for the Missouri coach. He's down to seven scholarship players, the expectations were ankle-level for him ... and the team is undefeated. Can make a Final Four. Dude has to be walking into his home win the confidence of Jay-Z every night because of how he's proved everyone wrong so far.
Biggest Surprise (so far)
Goodman: San Diego State. Steve Fisher lost four starters - including first-rounder Kawhi Leonard. Somewhow, the Aztecs are in the Top 25. I think I need to get back to San Diego -- and soon.
Parrish: Georgetown. The Hoyas were picked 10th in the Big East. Now they're ranked ninth in the country with wins over Louisville, Memphis (twice) and Alabama.
Borzello: Missouri. Everyone knew the Tigers had talent, but preseason injuries and a new head coach left them as a question mark. Now, they are 14-0 and one of the most dangerous teams in the country.
Norlander: Indiana. If you're telling me you saw this start coming, then I reserve the right to assume your place resembles Kevin Spacey's in "Se7en."
Biggest Disappointment (so far)
Goodman: I was going to go with Gary Parrish, but then I was told we could only go with college basketball teams or players. That makes it awfully difficult, but I'm going with the entire Pac-12. I attended a school in this league - and the entire conference stinks right now.
Parrish: Pittsburgh. The Panthers were ranked 10th in the preseason. Now they're unranked with losses to four unranked teams -- Long Beach State, Wagner, Notre Dame and Cincinnati.
Borzello: Pittsburgh. The Panthers came into the season as a top-10 team, but have done nothing of note and have lost four games already – to four teams that might not make the NCAA tournament. Jamie Dixon needs to figure something out, and fast.
Norlander: Xavier. Just with everything. Being in the Crosstown Punchout and the fallout since then. X has a Final Four ceiling. Or had. Can they recover and play themselves back into a 5 seed or better?
Photos: US Presswire