"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

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Preseason Roundtable: Moving On Up

The roundtable is winding down, but it's not done just yet. Next we are reminded of the great Al McGuire quote, "The best thing about freshmen is they become sophomores." While this isn't just about last year's frosh, it's time to evaluate player progression.

Who will be the most improved player?

Alan: Junior Cadougan. Last year he was little more than a freshman, and made a lot of rookie-type mistakes. I think he started to really show his potential near the end of last year. Over the summer, he looked much faster and his shot also looks better. He can hit a few from range and at least has enough shooting acumen to keep defenses honest. I also think he'll draw more fouls than many might expect, filling that void with Butler's graduation. It wouldn't surprise me if he was getting a few nods for some of the All-Big East teams by the time the year is done.

Dr. Blackheart: Davante had the highest offensively efficient freshman season since Steve Novak's. He averaged 10 rebounds per 40 minutes. Only 12 freshmen made Pomeroy's Top 100 list of offensively efficient players last season, and The Ox was just decimal points off it for the 13th spot. The improvement will be in his conditioning so that he can stay in for longer stretches and in his defensive mechanics.

James: Vander Blue. He has the most improving to do. Gardner will make big improvements as well, but he showed me more as a freshman than Vander did. As a result, I suspect the actual improvement barometer will be more impactful from Vander than Gardner.

John: Davante Gardner. When he was on the court, Davante was by far the team's best shooter (57.6% eFG would have just missed the top 100 in the country) and offensive rebounding (13.9% of all MU misses would have put him in the top 50, one spot behind Jared Sullinger). Roy Williams said UNC couldn't find an answer for him, and Coach K said Duke couldn't find an answer for him even though he was playing with one arm that night. In shape, the sky is the limit and he could even get some consideration for Team MVP before getting most improved as a consolation award.

Kevin: Davante Gardner. If he can get his defense/fouling under control, he'll be a force in the Big East.

Rob: None other than The Force of Nature, Davante Gardner. I don't really care about his defense last year, TFON was outstanding and highly efficient on the offensive end and should have played more. It's not like MU's defense was winning games anyway. When a player is that productive and efficient as a role player, it's easy to expect a breakout year. See also: Butler, Jimmy.

Tim: Davante Gardner. His improvement during his freshman season was encouraging and with a full off-season behind him, improved conditioning, and a stronger skill base, I expect TFON to become a player the opposition has to game plan for.

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