Tuesday, November 16, 2010

2010-11 Preseason All-Americas and Ten Teams To Watch

Posted by CoHoops Marc Daley
Five teams that will be a pleasant surprise:

Georgia. Trey Tompkins looks like a lottery pick and Mark Fox has cleared doubts that he wouldn't be able to recruit in the SEC following a very successful stint in Nevada. The SEC East is once again the best of the two divisions and the Bulldogs, who probably won't compete for top honors, should make the dance for the first time since their surprise run in 2008.

Saint Louis. The Billikens are traditionally one of those teams that the big schools hate to play. Think of them as a poor man's Wisconsin. Rick Majerus is a perfect fit for this program as they don't get the name recruits on a regular basis (with the exception of Larry Hughes earlier in the millennium) but he still turns them into tough competitors. Richmond and Temple will grab the A-10 headlines but expect these guys to be in the thick of the race.

Florida State. I'm not completely sold on North Carolina making a return to elite status but I am sold on the re-emergence of the Seminoles. Leonard Hamilton is one of the most underrated coaches in the business and he has a front line that most of his ACC brethren would love to have. If Derwin Kitchen or Luke Loucks step up their game at point they could finish in the top three of the conference.

St. John's. It's not the 1980s with Mullin or even the late 90s with Felipe Lopez but there's a reason Steve Lavin left the comfort of TV land for this gig. Nine seniors are led by D.J. Kennedy and an unspectacular but serviceable front line will give their bigger counterparts everything they have in the paint. Look for the Johnnies to return to the Dance for the first time since 2002.

Loyola Marymount. The ultimate phoenix project. Before last season, the Lions had won a total of eight games in the previous two years. Max Good has resurrected this program in a hurry. Two starters are first-team all-conference and they didn't even have to run around like waterbugs on crack to get the job done. St. Mary's will probably take a step back so LMU should be poised to grab that second West Coast NCAA bid.

Five teams that will be an unpleasant letdown:

Texas. Rick Barnes would be the perfect All-Star coach: he can recruit all the name players but he rarely gets them to play well as a unit. Once again, the Longhorns are loaded with four and five star recruits. Once again, they could have big problems at the point guard position, which means a bunch of kids who have never been told no will be unable to share the ball and accept the fact they have to do dirty work in order to win.

Mississippi State. Conversely, Rick Stansbury gets the most of the talent he has but it seems that this year he is depending too much on a rare prize recruit. I'm not sure how much of a prize Renardo Sidney will be, though. By the time he hits the hardwood he won't have played competitive basketball in nearly two years. If he disappoints this will be a perimeter-oriented team that may not even win a mediocre SEC West.

New Mexico. I have to give the Lobos' fanbase credit for their passion even though their program hasn't come close to sniffing the Final Four in their history. Last season was a great run that ended with a thud in the second round of the Dance. This season the big studs are gone and they are hoping a former UCLA malcontent can step in and be the star. That doesn't seem likely. It looks like it's back to NIT land.

Murray State. It's not that the Racers won't return to the Dance as the Ohio Valley representative but the expectations for this bunch are a bit high. Seriously, Sweet 16? The issues with that dream are depth and the element of surprise. Everybody knows about the Racers now and will be prepared, especially some of their OVC foes (and half the league is actually decent).

Wichita State. Besides death and taxes you can count on the Missouri Valley Conference to whine about deserving teams not getting into the Dance. I say we get Lee Ermey to throw some Kleenex at them and call them jackwagons. Likely, the Shockers (or Missouri State) will run roughshod over the teams in the Little Sisters of the Poor conference, point to their inflated 12-0 record, stumble in conference play, end up with 21 wins, then cry after Selection Sunday. GET OVER IT.


First Team

JaJuan Johnson, Purdue (Player of the Year)
LaceDarius Dunn, Baylor
Kyle Singler, Duke
Kalin Lucas, Michigan State
E'Twaun Moore, Purdue

Second Team

Scotty Hopson, Tennessee
Elias Harris, Gonzaga
Jacob Pullen, Kansas State
Austin Freeman, Georgetown
Trey Tompkins, Georgia

Third Team

Kenneth Faried, Morehead State
Nolan Smith, Duke
Malcolm Delaney, Virginia Tech
Jimmer Fredette, Brigham Young
Isaiah Thomas, Washington


Brandon Knight, Kentucky
Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
Kyrie Irving, Duke
Trey Ziegler, Central Michigan
J.J. Sullinger, Ohio State
*Josh Selby, Kansas
*Enes Kanter, Kentucky

*Selby and Kanter have yet to be cleared to play this season.