Work in Sports
Season at a Glance
Posted: Wednesday November 10, 1999 03:35 PM
By Albert Lin, CNN/SI
Hallelujah! The college basketball season has finally arrived. Only four more months until March Madness!
One of the great differences between NCAA basketball and football is the plethora of good early-season matchups on the court. With such a long season and a postseason tournament, one loss doesn't make or break a campaign. Hence the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, the Preseason NIT, the Great Eight, the Great Alaska Shootout, the Hawaii tournaments, etc. Our appetites for mouth-watering basketball will be satisfied right away.
Before we get cracking with things to keep an eye on as we head toward 2000, Here's a look at The Glance's preaseason top five:
1. UConn. More than enough scoring punch to make up for departure of Richard Hamilton, plus a superstar remaining in Khalid El-Amin.
2. Michigan State. Adding one athlete after another to what was already a great, if blue-collar, team; Mateen Cleaves is simply a winner.
3. Kansas. Surprisingly underrated in preseason polls; did graduate Ryan Robertson, but watch talented freshmen and transfer Luke Axtell.
4. Cincinnati. Unparalleled frontcout power, depth and athleticism; look out if rookie backcourt (DerMarr Johnson, Kenny Satterfield) delivers.
5. Ohio State. Can't bet against last year's Final Four surprise featuring the nation's best one-two punch in Scoonie Penn, Michael Redd.
First Team All-America
Khalid El-Amin, 5'10", Jr., G, Connecticut Roly-poly guard loves to take the big shots and will get more of them with departure of Richard Hamilton.
Scoonie Penn, 5'10", Sr., G, Ohio State His arrival transformed Buckeyes from 8-22 to Final Four team. Clutch shooter and underrated passer.
Quentin Richardson, 6'6", So., F/G, DePaul Best rebounder for his size in a long time; hate to seem him move to the wing, but he can dominate from there as well.
*Chris Porter, 6'7", Sr., F, Auburn Phenomenal athlete exploded onto scene in first season of Division I competition; now the trick is to keep Auburn in top five.
Chris Mihm, 7'0", Jr., C, Texas Great size, skills and agility with just a touch of nastiness. Has the package to be the first overall pick in NBA draft.* -- Player of the Year
Second Team All-AmericaMateen Cleaves, 6'2", Sr., G, Michigan State He'd be up above if he could hit an 18-footer consistently. Will he be able to maintain conditioning while rehabbing broken foot?
Michael Redd, 6'6", Jr., G, Ohio State Slasher deluxe who can put the ball in the basket a number of ways; his weak spot -- outside shot -- is no longer a concern.
Harold Arceneaux, 6'6", Sr., F, Weber State "The Show" is a prototype wing scorer who lit up North Carolina and Florida in last year's tournament.
Terence Morris, 6'8", Jr., F, Maryland Perfect basketball body and array of skills; ready for a breakout year after deferring to upperclassmen.
Alvin Jones, 6'11", Jr., C, Georgia Tech So his offense is nonexistent; he's a big body who can board and block shots with the best of them.
Third-Team All-AmericaEd Cota, 6'1", Sr., G, North Carolina Best passer in the country, and his shooting was better than given credit for.
Lamont Long, 6'4", Sr., G, New Mexico Supersmooth jumpshooter who proved he could play the point, too, at the beginning of last season.
Courtney Alexander, 6'6", Sr., G, Fresno State Greyhound who can get up and down the floor, shoot the jumper or take it to the hole.
Troy Murphy, 6'9", So., F, Notre Dame Had to find a place for him after he put up those numbers (19.2 ppg, 9.9 rpg), even if it was for the Irish.
Kenyon Martin, 6'8", Sr., F, Cincinnati Incredible timing and leaping ability make him great shot blocker; also a physical interior defender, rebounder.
Coach of the YearBilly Donovan, Florida
Wunderkind has done a remarkable job drumming up roundball interest in Gainesville; now he has to mesh his young, talented players into a top-five team.
Coaches on the Hot SeatBill Bayno, UNLV
Has had a lot of talent but hasn't made any sort of dent in the postseason in his four years; juco-heavy class was brought in for quick fix.
Jerry DiGregorio, Rhode Island Basically got the job because of Lamar Odom, who then split for the NBA. What's he going to do without his best player? Rhody returns to earth.
Bruiser Flint, Massachusetts As surprising as the Minutemen's surge under John Calipari was, their freefall under Flint has been even more so. Now they're not even attracting the recruits.
Eddie Fogler, South Carolina Couldn't replicate 1996-97 success in two additional seasons with B.J. McKie and Co.; now that they're gone and Fogler has non one to replace them ... ?
Jerry Green, Tennessee With a roster oozing with size, speed and athleticism, it's amazing that the Vols could lose to Southwest Missouri State by 30 points in the tournament.
Bob Knight, Indiana A broken record, we know. But he did score a huge coup when he landed local prep star Jared Jeffries; now it's a matter of keeping him on campus.
Storylines to Watch
A tale of two positions
The two most crucial positions in the sport are loaded with talent. Up front there's Chris Mihm, Alvin Jones, Kenyon Martin, Eric Chenowith, Brendan Haywood, Joel Przybilla, Jamaal Magloire and many more. In the backcourt there's Khalid El-Amin, Scoonie Penn, Mateen Cleaves, Ed Cota, Erick Barkley, Matt Santangelo, etc. Will a big- or little-man-led team win it all in Indianapolis?
Gone-zagaPlease. One NCAA Tournament run does not a program make. Yes, there is some talent returning, but we're not jumping on the bandwagon (many, many preseason Top 25 nods) yet.
Youth is servedGood riddance to all the players who turned pro early. Who needs them? That's the great thing about college basketball -- the annual influx of talent that gives every team a glimmer of hope come Oct. 15. That said, a lot of Top 25 teams are counting on youngsters to take them to the top, and it remains to be seen whether they can do that. On a related note ...
New leaguesThis may not affect the NCAA for two or three years, but with the advent of the International Basketball League and the Collegiate Professional Basketball League, as well as Isiah Thomas' purchase of the Continental Basketball Association, there are suddenly a myriad of options for high school athletes who either want to be paid (over the table) to play or who are not up to snuff academically. Will we see more and more non- or partial qualifiers opting for the green?
BandwagonON: Missouri. Quin Snyder looks like another Billy Donovan with the recruits he's already landed.
ON: Illinois. Could be a top-10 team if new pieces gel with last year's Big Ten tourney surprise.
OFF: Duke. Not convinced there's as much talent as people think; Devils could be in for tough times.
ON: Maryland. A good starting five remains despite losses of Francis, Profit, Ekezie, Stokes.
OFF: Fresno State. We've been on it for too long, though Tark is optimistic about this team's chemistry.
ON: Schea Cotton. It's been a long wait, but he's finally arrived and should deliver for Alabama.
OFF: Jim Harrick. Believe it or not, some fans still don't know where he's coaching this season.
ON: Mark Karcher. Had to overcome a lot of rust last season, but it's clear what kind of talent he has.
OFF: Mark Madsen. We're anxiously awaiting some sign that he has any offensive skills. Anyone?
ON: Josh Asselin/Kris Lang. Unheralded playalikes will both be NBA first- rounders when they're through.
Brendan Haywood WatchIn the tradition of last season's William Avery Watch, we return to Tobacco Road to follow the trials and tribulations of another underachieving player whose improvement is crucial to his team's success. This seven-footer grabbed one rebound in his last two games of the year (losses to Duke in the ACC Tournament and Weber State in the NCAA Tournament), covering 57 minutes of playing time.
1998-99 stats: 12.0 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.8 bpg in 30.4 minutes per game.
Albert Lin's "Week at a Glance" will appear each Monday through college basketball season.