Friday, October 31, 2008

Alumni Profile: Ben Gordon

ESPN Power Rankings: 96th

Team: Chicago Bulls

Position: Shooting Guard

Overview: Ben had a lackluster year last season, as well as his whole team. His stats went down in almost every category. Scoring dropped by three points, Minutes dropped by 2 minutes, Field Goal Percentage fell by .020 points, and his contract aspirations dropped by $4,000,000.00. While he failed to raise his game from the previous stellar season, he still came in 3rd in free-throw percentage, 18th in three-point percentage, and 39th in points per game.

While his jump-shot just wasn’t right all year, he still came out to play. He isn’t known for his defense and looked frustrated at times while riding the pine. Ben is going into this season with Derek Rose likely to gobble his minutes. He’s going to need to be effective, when coming off the bench, which he was when selected Sixth Man of the Year. This year Ben will be playing for next year’s contract.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Rudy Gay comes up short in opener

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008

Preseason Big East Power Rankings

The Big East will be loaded this year and any of these top 6, possibly 7, schools have a chance to end up in first. I've based this rankings on last years returners and potential. There is so much parody in this league that a true ranking is impossible without seeing them play. Now onto the rankings.

1. Louisville. They have the best forwards in the conference and possibly the country. They have a deep and versatile backcourt. Edgar Sosa, Jerry Smith, and Andre McGee make a three headed monster and throwing in Terence Williams, who could be the best ball handler on the team, makes this team hard to match up. Will Terence Jennings make an impact?

2. UConn. They have all the potential in the world. A talented backcourt with A.J. Price, Craig Austrie, Jerome Dyson, and freshman sensation Kemba Walker. They have the best front-court in the nation with Thabeet and Adrien. We’ve seen great UConn teams on paper have dismal end of the season performances. This team will go as far as their outside shooting will take them.

3. Pittsburgh. DeJuan Blair is a beast and was the only consistent player on the team last year. Levance Fields and Sam Young need to leave it all on the court this year. They showed last year that they could be a great team if they could hit from outside. Will Ashton Gibbs be that man?

4. Notre Dame. Luke Harangody and Kyle McAlarney are the engine but Tory Jackson, Luke Zeller, and Ryan Ayers are the fuel. They rely heavily on their perimeter shot and need their forwards to handle the scoring when Harangody is double teamed.

5. Marquette. With Crean gone, Buzz Williams will need to prove himself. He’s got a great team to do that with. Dominic James, a fantastic guard, and Jerel McNeal make a dynamic duo, but they are thin in the paint and need Lazar Hayward to step up. Will Chris Otule bulk up and be a presence that the Golden Eagles need?

6. Villanova. This feisty team finds a way to win despite being out-sized in the conference. Scottie Reynolds, Corey Stokes, and Corey Fisher are the catalyst to this team. They create mismatches with their speed and ability to protect the fast break. They depend on Dante Cunningham too much in the rebounding department, but he produces.

7. West Virginia. Will this team find it’s identity without Joe Alexander? Alex Ruoff hopes they will. They are still a small team and without a legitimate go-to scorer this team might stumble out of the gates. Will Devin Ebanks, Kevin Jones, and Darryl Bryant make impacts?

8. Georgetown. 33 points a game departed this team and they’re going to need DeJuan Summers, Jessie Sapp and Austin Freeman to fill that void. Will that stellar defense carry over with this team and keep them in games while they find scorers? Will Greg Monroe mature in his first year and contribute?

9. Syracuse. One of the most athletic teams in the conference but last year the zone was Swiss cheese. They need to be able to stop teams and being the 14th rated defense in the league is unacceptable. Jonny Flynn, Eric Devendorf, and Paul Harris are as talented as anyone in the league and should create points. Will Rick Jackson be the one to anchor that zone?

10. Rutgers. Ndiaye and Inman create a great one-two punch and Corey Chandler looks promising. With a solid draft class, and All-American, Mike Rosario, this team will be much improved. They will surprise some teams this year. This team’s success rests on Rosario’s shoulders.

11. Providence. Geoff McDermott and Jeff Xavier anchor the team, but Sharaud Curry and Efejuku (Spell Check killer) are primed to break out. Will Keno Davis be able to mold this team into a winner? It is now or never for this team with five seniors and three juniors. They have all the experience. It is all about execution.
12. Cincinnati. Deonta Vaughn shoulders too much of the scoring burden and Larry Davis, Rashad Bishop, and Alvin Mitchell need to help out. They’ll have a tough time matching up against faster backcourts and bigger frontcourts. Will Cashmere Wright turn into a go to player?

13. DePaul. It’s Dar Tucker and Mac Koshwal’s team now and they need to be more assertive with the loss of Draelon Burns. Will Walker needs to stretch the defense and Poscic needs to rebound. Will Krys Faber be the inside presence this team has lacked?

14. Seton Hall. They have an uphill battle on their hands with losing Brian Laing and his 18.6 points per game. A lot of the scoring burden falls on Eugene Harvey and Jeremy Hazell. The Pirates need to find that defensive consistency that they lacked last year, coming in dead last in the conference. Will Jordan Theodore make an impact and give Harvey a break and can Melvyn Oliver and Mike Davis be the big men down low that they sorely lacked.

15. St. John’s. They had such a young team last year and they should be more improved but that doesn’t keep them out of the cellar to start the year. Anthony Mason Jr. and Justin Burrell need to lead this team with intensity and leadership. They need a few players to be committed to the boards and contribute in the stats that don’t always show up on paper. They’re a quick and streaky team but lack the night in and night out consistency.

16. South Florida. Who’s going to step up now that Kentrell Gransberry is gone? Dominque Jones had a spectacular freshman year but can he shoulder the expectations. They have five freshmen on the squad and look to have some growing pains. They lack size and should do most of their damage from outside. If Chris Howard can take his game to the next level, they could make some noise.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

Alumni Profile: Rip Hamilton

ESPN Power Ranking: 94

Team: Detroit Pistons

Position: Shooting Guard

Overview: Being ranked 94th in the NBA power rankings is egregious. Rip is Detroit’s number one post-season scorer of all-time and tops in Detroit’s post-season games played. He was ranked 5th in three point percentage and is a three time All-Star. He ranks second in team history in assists and ended his year ranked 9th in franchise history in points.

Rip is excellent on both sides of the court. He plays tremendous in your face defense and for his size, he gets physical. On offense, he is a non-stop runner and makes his man run through picks, around baselines, and has mastered the art of the pull-up jumper. His game mimics that of Reggie Miller, though he has a couple of trophies. Who would you rather have on your team Kirk Hinrich, ranked 77th, or Rip Hamilton?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

Alumni Profile: Emeka Okafor

ESPN Power Ranking: 57

Team: Charlotte Bobcats

Position: Power Forward/Center

Overview: Emeka isn’t a flashy player. He won’t dominate the scoreboard, but what he brings to team is a lunch pail attitude. He battles on the boards (6th in defensive rebounds and 9th in offensive rebounds), and he plays solid defense (8th in blocks). He did all this while playing with one hand behind his back. Charlotte played him as a center most of the time and he was out-sized by height and weight by true NBA centers. Okafor is a model of consistency since entering the NBA, averaging a double-double every year. The only discouraging stat is his free throw shooting. He’s been slowly decreasing in average over his four seasons. While he won’t be the catalyst on offense, his ability to anchor the defense is an asset most teams don’t have, and that’s why the Bobcats were willing to dish out the money and lock Emeka down to a multi-year deal.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Swapping Sports

With the well deserved respect that the UConn football program is receiving, I thought it would be interesting in building a football roster with the basketball team.

Quarterback: A.J. Price. The point guard is normally referred to the quarterback of the team, so Price is the easy choice. He would be a running and passing threat.

Running Back: Jerome Dyson. He would be a tenacious runner and hit the hole with no regard for his body. He would prosper in his new role since their would be no charging calls. Go ahead Dyson, take the ball and score.

Tight End: Jeff Adrien. His size would fit the position perfectly. He’d be great blocking and he has a soft hands for catching the ball in traffic. Just don’t ask him to pass the ball.

Wide Receiver: Hasheem Thabeet. His hands aren’t wide receiver like, but just throw the ball up in the air and he’s got a great chance of coming down with it. He grew up playing football, just the one that ends up 1 to 0.

Slot Receiver: Craig Austrie. He’s not a burner but his consistent play would make him an excellent possession wide out. He could also be the backup quarterback.

Corner Back: Donnell Beverly. While Donnell hasn’t been able to show his skills on the court, he has all the tools to lock up with other receivers, size, speed and agility.

Defensive Lineman: Gavin Edwards. While his size isn’t defensive linemen material, his defensive mindset and willingness to do the dirty work would help him defend against both the run and the pass.

Offensive Lineman: Jonathan Mandeldove. Like Edwards, Mandeldove is undersized but his work ethic and ability to come in at any time and do his job fits that of an offensive lineman.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Nate Miles Exit Stage Left

I don’t know if it is the upbringing and culture of the players coming here, the lax structure overseeing them, or just shear bad luck that gives UConn the reputation of recruiting poor character players. This season hasn’t even started yet and here goes Nate Miles stumbling down the stairs, and slamming through the door on his way out of here. Of all the players that had to keep himself out of trouble, it was him. Is it UConn’s responsibility to keep Miles out of trouble, like how Jerry Jones is treating Pacman Jones? Maybe. Calhoun knew he was getting a questionable player, and he could have had him babysat by teammates, councilors, and coaches. But most of the blame goes squarely on Nate’s shoulders.

It is sad to see it end this way. He was coming from a very difficult situation and possessing all the talent in the world; he had a golden opportunity. And it had to combust because of a boneheaded, Michael Vick, moment. Back down to square one. He’ll find his way onto a court somewhere, potential usually wins over character issues. Who’ll know what path Nate Miles will travel, the one Caron Butler has traveled or the Maurice Clarett pitfall?