"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Monday, October 04, 2010

Preseason Roundtable - Part One

It's time again for our blogger preseason roundtable. With less than two weeks before the official start of college basketball, we threw around some questions and opened it up. This is the first of three different posts. Today's questions look at Unknown / New Players, or as I call it... the multiple choice section.

Out of Crowder, Jones, Blue, Smith, and Gardner, which of the new members of the team do you think will make a significant contribution this year?

Tim - Crowder, Blue and Smith -- in that order. Despite not getting to campus until the very end of the summer, Crowder's skills should translate into an immediate role as a contributor on the team. Blue and Smith will fill much of the playing time left by Acker and Cubillan, and I expect them to begin the transformation of the MU backcourt into a far more aggressive unit than we saw last year. Unless Jones is an exceptional defender or shooter, consistent minutes will be tough to find.

Steve - Crowder. Crowder comes in as a junior, played at a high-level JC program, and there are plenty of open minutes given the departure of Hayward with no clear-cut returning player at that position. Fulce, Otule or Williams could compete, but Crowder had demonstrated a high level of achievement. Otule has a total of 12 D1 games over two seasons. Williams not much more. Fulce is a nice role player, but I think we've seen his ceiling and it will be disappointing if Crowder can't come in top his performance. I see Gardner competing for the same minutes as Crowder, but not getting many.

Going into to practice, I think Smith has to be considered a backup to Cadougan--so he'll get 5 to 10 minutes per game in that role. That could be a more steady role than Gardner, Jones or Blue. If he makes a significant contribution, it likely means Junior isn't back 100% from his injury. Blue and Jones will see minutes limited by playing behind DJO and Butler, although some have said Blue has PG ability.

John - It's an incredible group, but I will be shocked if Crowder isn't the star.

How do you gauge what Junior College Player of the Year means for a 28-2 Howard College team? Massey Ratings seems to be the one service that has really taken a shot at rating all Divisions of basketball including Junior Colleges against each other. I notice if football his ratings often see the I-AA teams (or whatever they call them now) upsetting the BCS teams. Well, these ratings say that Howard College would have been the 103rd best Division I team last year, better than teams like UCLA by a couple of spots.

He says they are better than all the Division II schools. So Crowder was the dominant player on a team that probably wasn't quite good enough to make the NIT tournament.

Coming in as a junior into a team that basically build themselves around Lazar Hayward - a very similar player, and Crowder is the one can't miss on this team. Particularly since the guards will be fighting for minutes whereas we have to have Crowder on the court.

BMA - Sort of a non-answer, but I think it's going to depend on how Buzz structures the lineup. If we play a lot of 3 guard sets, it's Vander. He's not going to play point, but if there are two other guards spots on the floor, he's the back up for both and will play a lot...maybe even start ahead of Buycks. If we play a 2 guard set, I think he won't play as much, and Crowder will play a ton at the forward opposite Jimmy or in some weird three forward combination. Smith I think is going to play quite a bit, but I don't know that I'd ever call the contributions of the back up PG "significant". Jones is in a situation where there's just a lot of guys ahead of him at the positions he can play, so I don't think he sees the floor much this year....and Gardner seems to be one of those spot guys right now. He may play a lot against a team with two traditional inside guys like Syracuse, but he may have long stretches of no time as well.

muwarrior92 - I hope all of them. Crowder, Smith and Blue are probably top of that list. A lot of hype with Vander that I wish wasn't there. MU fans need to judge him fairly. Smith is very intriguing to me, especially in light of what little we have seen from Junior thus far. He could become a critical player if Junior struggles. Crowder probably has the ability to make the biggest splash of the new guys.

Rob - I agree most closely with Tim's answer of Crowder, Blue, and Smith. However, I honestly don't think that any of the freshmen will see much playing time. I'll believe that Buzz plays freshmen when he starts playing freshmen. My expectation is that sometime in January, there will be a large cry of "why isn't Vander Blue playing more?".

Otule or Cadougan – The whispers are loud for these guys, but both have been marred by injury so far. Who do you think makes the larger impact on the team this year?

Tim - Cadougan is the team's biggest question mark heading into the season. He was rather injury-prone in high school and last year was a lost year too. I think Cadougan makes a much bigger impact on the team this year than Otule either way --- by playing well or by succumbing to injury. I'm anxious to see how much Otule has improved, but in two years on campus the big man has not shaken the injury bug and I don't expect that his talent is so great that he'll take minutes from Crowder or Fulce on the baseline, or force Buzz to change the way the roster plays.

Steve - Cadougan. We absolutely need a PG, and given his reputation and experience, he's the obvious go-to choice. While it would be nice to have an Otule-sized player contribute, we've seen last year that it’s not an absolute need.

Pudner - Cadougan. This guy was ranked just a little lower than Vander Blue by most services. Getting a taste of Big East play may not have helped us that much last year, but it sure should have helped get him ready to step right on the court and run the point. I am really excited about the role Otule can play and trust that Buzz really has developed him, but it's got to be Cadougan coming up big.

BMA - Cadougan, and it's not even close. The guy we saw last year was a shell of what he really is. Watching him in the Pro-AM you could see that he's got his speed and agility back. I think people will see why he was a top recruit in 2009....and perhaps wish he had redshirted last year so we could have him for another year. Otule will a factor in some games, but he's still not ready yet. He had a long way to go, and too many injuries have impacted that.

muwarrior92 - It better by Junior or we're in trouble. Point Guard seems to be the biggest unknown on this team. When JC played at the end of last year, it was difficult to judge what he could do. Certainly a good passer, but I don't recall him hitting a single shot and certainly didn't look to take many. JC is the key to the season (or if not JC, someone else that can step in and play the point)

Rob - Wow... everyone went with Cadougan. Just to be different, I'll make an argument for Otule. Cadougan will run the show and protect the ball for sure. However, for two years I've been waiting for Buzz's teams to be better defensively. Otule will bring an improved presence simply through his height and rebounding. Not to mention that him being on the court will allow for Crowder to move to the four and for Jimmy F. Butler to play his natural position on the wing. Cadougan may be more noticeable because of his role controlling the offense, but Otule will have the bigger impact. Fear the goggles.


Stay tuned for parts two and three in the next few days.

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