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Season at a Glance
Posted: Monday November 06, 2000 10:53 AM
By Albert Lin, CNNSI.com
A new millennium is upon us, but the usual suspects sit atop the college basketball world. Much like its football counterpart, NCAA basketball has become a landscape dominated by a dozen or so schools, with one or two surprises sneaking into the top 10 or making an NCAA tournament run each year.
But who’s complaining? The one-and-done nature of postseason play always gives underdogs a chance, and the lack of parity makes an upset all the more special.
That said, when making preseason picks we always hope the cream rises to the top. Duke, Arizona and Maryland are in a class by themselves in terms of talent, numbers and experience. The next six schools all have a weakness somewhere in the lineup, be it physical or psychological, but one breakthrough player is all it takes to move up the ladder.
The season tips off this week, and we can’t wait to see all the twists and turns, the unknown superstars, the clutch performances that make a season memorable. But come April 2 in Minneapolis, we still expect Duke and Arizona to take the court to decide the national championship.
PRESEASON TOP 10
We picked the Blue Devils back in April, and we're sticking to it. Why? Better depth, a history of players stepping up when it's their turn (hello, Nate James) and Mike Krzyzewski.
The starting five could be competitive in the NBA right now, but we're a little wary of the reserves -- though all played well when injuries felled Loren Woods and Richard Jefferson last year.
Gary Williams still may never take a team to the Final Four, but with this club it won't be for lack of talent. If Terence Morris finally realizes he needs to play with a little passion, look out.
4. Michigan State
The buzz surrounds superfreshmen Zach Randolph and Marcus Taylor, but the reason the Spartans are a threat to repeat is sophomore Jason Richardson, who shined this summer for USA Basketball.
Frank Williams needed a year to work off the rust and Brian Cook needed to be on the floor more. Now that Bill Self, who worked wonders in Tulsa, is in charge, the Illini should take up permanent residence in the top 10.
6. North Carolina
If Matt Doherty can get the team that played the last five games of the season to show up from Day One, the Heels will be back in the Final Four. Point guard remains a huge question mark.
The Cardinal will continue to get it done during the regular season, but their defensive and athletic shortcomings (though the latter is improving) will hurt again in the postseason.
Strangely enough, things began to click for the Jayhawks last season when Roy Williams went to a three-freshman starting lineup. But it will be contributions (or lack of) from Kansas’ three seniors that make or break this team.
We've been waiting for a dominating season from the Vols for two years now. With the core of this team (Tony Harris, Vincent Yarbrough, Isiah Victor) together for one last campaign, could this be the breakthrough?
We'll take a flier here based on Rick Majerus and the pedigree of three players who didn't see action in Salt Lake City last year: Chris Burgess, Britton Johnsen and Travis Spivey.
Troy Murphy, 6-10, jr., PF, Notre Dame
Our preseason Player of the Year is the nation's most productive player, a tenacious rebounder able to score from anywhere on the floor.
Terence Morris, 6-9, sr., SF, Maryland
We might have problems with his passive approach, but there's no denying his talent. Athletically, he can do anything on the court he wants.
Shane Battier, 6-8, sr., SF, Duke
Known primarily as a tough defender and for his willingness to do whatever the team needs, he could average 20 points this season.
Joseph Forte, 6-4, so., SG, North Carolina
Probably the quietest 16.7 ppg scorer in Tar Heels history. Has a feathery touch from beyond the arc, but can also drive and put up soft floaters.
Jamaal Tinsley, 6-3, sr., PG, Iowa State
Unstoppable with the ball, as he proved in the NCAA tournament. The Cyclones are now his team, and his penetrating and ballhawking abilities will set the tone.
COACHES ON THE HOT SEAT
Steve Robinson, Florida State
In his three years on watch the Seminoles have gone from 18 to 13 to 12 wins, and he hasn't exactly been lighting up the recruiting trail.
Mike Davis, Indiana
No seat is as hot as the one Bob Knight occupied, but if Davis wants this job on a permanent basis he'll have to produce ASAP.
Mike Jarvis, St. John's
He'll have to have great recruiting classes and great teams year in and year out, because as soon as he doesn't fans will accuse him of dreaming of the NBA. And when that happens, he'll probably go.
Gary Williams, Maryland
If he can't get to the Final Four with this group, he probably never will. He won't be fired, but how long can fans be satisfied with a team that doesn't win the big one?
Denny Crum, Louisville
The Cardinals haven't been a Final Four threat in ages, and their recruiting situation gets more jumbled. If Crum misses out on a couple big names and Louisville finishes below .500, might he step down?
| Memphis: John Calipari has engineered the quickest turnaround in history. If they aren't already there this year, definitely by next fall the Tigers will be a factor on a national scale.|
| Chuck Eidson, Rod Grizzard: Similarly built lefty swingmen (6-7, 205 Eidson at South Carolina, 6-8, 205 Grizzard at Alabama) with versatile games will be household names by season's end.|
| Missouri: Top recruit Travon Bryant made the grade for January, which means the young-but-talented Tigers should be a threat for the top 10. And wait until you see this team next year ...|
| Josh Asselin, Kris Lang: We said it last year but it bears repeating: Both should be first-round picks when their eligibility expires (Michigan's Asselin this year, UNC's Lang after next).|
| Virginia: After being turned away by NCAA tournament selection committee, the still-young Cavaliers should assure themselves a berth with a Top 25 season.|
| Dan Gadzuric: Constant knee problems have hindered UCLA center's development, leaving an all-athlete, limited-skill big man who gets into foul trouble way too much.|
| Wisconsin: Maybe -- MAYBE -- the Badgers can duplicate last season's tournament success. But no way they're a Top 25 team during the regular season.|
| SirValiant Brown: So the George Washington freshman averaged 24.6 points, No. 2 in the country. When he makes more than 1/3 of his shots (26.4 percent from three?), then we'll talk.|
| Pac-10: The last major conference without a postseason tournament finally caves in to the almighty dollar, announcing a March get-together starting in 2002.|
| Iowa State: Sorry, folks, we just don't see a top-40 team. Unless a couple of freshmen surprise, the losses of Marcus Fizer, Michael Nurse and Stevie Johnson are too much to overcome.|
| Beat me up, Scotty|
|A point of emphasis for officials this season is overly physical play on defense, which could mean a lot of extra whistles in the early going as teams adapt. If the crackdown is strict and scoring increases as a result, teams that rely on tough D to even the playing field (like Wisconsin) will be at a severe disadvantage.|
| There's no place like home|
|Roy Williams' decision to remain at Kansas will have repercussions for three major programs: his own, North Carolina's and Notre Dame's. If all three teams enjoy success, everything will be rosy. If not, there will be a lot of second-guessing and unhappy people on those campuses.|
| Summer vacation|
|A lot of noise was made last spring about cleaning up the recruiting process, though most of the NCAA's proposals seemed little more than window dressing. Will it continue to take strides to lessen the influence of AAU coaches, or will this issue just fade away like so many others?|
Another year, another underachiever to pick on. True, we could have flayed Brendan Haywood for another 16 weeks, but after Chenowith's performance in 1999-2000 -- the 7-1, 270-pound pivot regressed from 13.5 points and 9.1 rebounds as a sophomore to 8.6 and 5.6, losing his starting job in the process -- how could we resist? The senior needs to prove that last year was an anomaly; if he does that, KU's 24-10 record (11-5, fifth in Big 12) will have been one, too.|
1999-2000 stats: 8.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.6 bpg in in 22.0 minutes per game.
What luck! The Glance will be in press row at the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic this Thursday and Friday to witness Chenowith's first two games. Also in the field are Kentucky and UCLA, which feature Saul Smith and Dan Gadzuric, respectively, two of the finalists for this coveted honor. Hmm ... could we perhaps have a three-way flogging next week?
Come back every Monday for a new Week at a Glance.
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