“At center, a 6-foot-11 freshman from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, number 33, DIAMOND STONE.”
This was an introduction Maryland basketball fans thought they would hear every game this year, as Stone was thought to be the dominant big man who rounded out the starting lineup of a national championship contender. His offensive game garnered high praise from coaches and scouts alike, and he was named to the preseason watch list for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar award for the nation’s top center. Continue reading Diamond Stone Is Still Adjusting To The College Game, And That’s OK→
The end of the regular 2015-16 NBA season will also mark the end of an era. Last night, Kobe Bryant announced that he will retire once the Lakers’ season has ended.
Bryant, a 20-season veteran has played all of his games as a Los Angeles Laker, after being drafted out of Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia in 1996 by the Charlotte Hornets and traded to the Lakers on draft night.
The story line in the SEC remains the same: Kentucky, and then everyone else. The Wildcats reloaded after last year’s 38-1 season and are once again national title contenders. Everyone is chasing John Calipari, but the gap may close in the next few years. Many teams in the conference have made a splash with their coaching hires, showing that they’re serious about taking college basketball to the next level. This is still a football conference, but SEC basketball is slowly on the rise. Here is my preview for this year, with last year’s record in parentheses.
The 2015-2016 season began last night, eight months after the bitter exit from the NCAA tournament at the hands of rival West Virginia. Since then, the Terps lost their heart and soul forward Dez Wells, along with fellow big men Jonathan Graham and Evan Smotrycz and guard Richaud Pack.
Dion Wiley also injured his knee in the exhibition game and will miss four months of the season. How could the Terps replace all that? They bring in Top-10 recruit Diamond Stone, former Duke wing Rasheed Sulaimon and get Robert Carter Jr, who had to sit out last season after transferring to College Park, eligible. Add in year two for Melo Trimble, Jared Nickens and Michal Cekovsky and the Terps begin the year ranked 3 in the polls. The last time the Terps were ranked in the top three at the start of the season,they won a national title. If the Terps want to bring the title back to College Park, there are a few games during the season they have to win.
Just like the ACC, the Big 12 has gone through some upheaval recently. In 2011 Colorado and Nebraska left to join the Pac-12 and Big 10 respectively, and just a year later Texas A&M and Missouri both left to join the SEC. Colorado and Nebraska didn’t add a lot to the conference in terms of basketball, but Texas A&M and Missouri added depth to the conference. West Virginia and TCU joined in 2012, and the Mountaineers added a solid basketball tradition. Last year the conference sent seven teams to the NCAA Tournament, with three contenders bowing out early (I’m looking at you Baylor, Iowa State, and Kansas) and two making the Sweet Sixteen. This year looks to be another strong year for the conference, and the top three teams have Final Four potential. As always, here are my expectations, with last year’s record in parentheses. Also make sure you check out my previews of the ACC and Big East. Continue reading Return of the Rock: Big 12 Preview→
Since Sean Miller took the Arizona head coaching job in 2009, the narrative of the Pac-12 season has been the same. Miller and the Wildcats have dominated the conference the past two seasons, and have had top 4 conference finishes four of the past five years. His teams have been a high point in what has been a disappointing stretch for the conference. Last season the Pac-12 sent just four teams to the NCAA Tournament, and its reputation as a premiere basketball conference continued to fall. The conference lacks depth, with its cellar dwellers being some of the worst in a Power Five Conference. This year teams are still looking to chase Arizona, but the Wildcats aren’t the obvious choice to three-peat. Here are my predictions for how the conference shakes out, with last year’s records in parentheses.
With the additions of Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse in 2013 along with Louisville in 2014, the Atlantic Coast Conference was expected to be the toughest conference in America. Last season the ACC lived up to expectations, sending six teams to the NCAA Tournament with five making the Sweet Sixteen. The ACC is loaded again this season, with ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi putting nine of the 15 schools in his preseason bracket, but I believe as many as 13 have a chance to get there. Here is how each team looks heading into this season. Continue reading Return of the Rock – ACC Preview→
Key Additions: Coach Billy Donovan (from the University of Florida)
Key Departures: None
Projected Starters: Russell Westbrook, Andre Roberson, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Enes Kanter
What You Need to Know:
Entering this season, the Thunder have more pressure for immediate results than any other team. Rumors of Kevin Durant leaving the city for his hometown have been circulating for almost two years now and this cloud of uncertainty will loom over the franchise all season. Combined with the fact that they have new coach Billy Donovan, who has never coached an NBA team, and there is even more work to be done in Oklahoma City.
Key Acquisitions: Tim Hardaway, Jr. (Knicks), Tiago Splitter (Hawks)
Key Departures: Demarre Carroll (Raptors)
Projected Starting Lineup: Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, Kent Bazemore, Paul Milsap, Al Horford
What you need to know:
NBA Coach of the Year Mike Budenholzer and the Hawks took the league by surprise when they turned in the first 17-0 month in NBA history. They had no superstars, but they had very good players and a Poppavichian system predicated on ball movement. This season, they are expected to take a step back after losing Demarre Carroll to the Raptors and becoming somewhat exposed in the playoffs last season.
Projected starting lineup: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut
What you need to know:
There isn’t much to say about the defending champion Warriors that hasn’t already been said. They are the casual NBA fan’s dream; a statistical anomaly who has been the biggest factor in moving the NBA into a new age . They put together an uncertain path to the championship last year through an unprecedented offense that was predicated on sharing the ball and using their weapons.
There was also the emergence of the Chef himself, Mr. Stephen Curry. The Baby-Faced Assassin put on a show last season, cooking a fair amount of individuals in his kitchen. Nobody in the league was safe. Nobody.