Word on the Street: College Hoops preview, part deux

Word on the Street: College Hoops preview, part deux
November 11, 2011, 1:57 pm
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By Benjamin Standig
CSNwashington.comUpdated 5:20 p.m.; November 12, 1:15 a.m.; November 14, 1:52 p.m.The DMV Elite Eight college basketball poll - preseason editionHere's the deal: We assembled an esteemed panel of local college basketball beat writers, sports media folks and bloggers, then tasked them with ranking the top-8 teams in greater DMV area while adding colorful insight. For our purposes, we included programs in D.C. and around the Beltway, north to Baltimore, south to Richmond (essentially the Comcast SportsNet region) plus all FBS (or Division I as I prefer) spots in between.Consider this the down-and-dirty preseason edition,but the plan is to update frequently during the non-conference portion of the schedule and then get going weekly when league play kicksin. That is on top of the dailyweekly coverage in this space and on CSNwashington.com with this eventuallybeing rolled into the College Hoops Roundup. Fair enough? Cool. Let's do this...Update: Since we ran out of time for this week's overall roundup, look for the cliff notes version below with the poll 411. Technical issues delayed the process, hence the down and dirty reference.Now we are up to speed and touchless filthy.In addition, for those that inquired, yes, this poll is similar in concept to this one and a hat tip goes out to its creator Dan Steinberg. Where that poll primarily takes the pulse of the fans, the tone of this assemblage comes from the media side of the aisle. All current voters (list of participants with Twitter links below), including this D.C. area native, either directly or indirectly, cover the local college hoops scene. Instead of blathering on and on about my personal rankings, I wanted to get a little help from Final Four loving friends, though admittedly I am a bit of a ball hog in the premiere edition. There will extrasprints in my future, accordingly.Ranked teams listed below, followed by total points followed by first place votes. For the preseason edition, also included a look at the projected starting lineups, top newcomer for each team, key games this season and outlooks for each teams.1 -Georgetown, 134 (8)Projected lineup: F - Hollis Thompson, Nate Lubick; G - Jason Clark, Markel Starks; C - Henry SimsTop freshman: Otto PorterKey games: Kansas (1121, Maui Classic), Connecticut (21), at Syracuse (28)Outlook: If the talent maxes out, the Hoyas will be the top dog in town. They have more length, athleticism and according to coach John Thompson III more versatility than previous squads.However, there are plenty of "ifs", starting withif Hollis Thompson can avoid constant volume shooting sprees. now that hewill be a primaryscoring option alongside Jason Clark.Ifsenior Henry Sims shows off more than his high-post passing skills.If10 underclassmen can adjust to each other and the Big East grind. Lower expectations benefit this group early, but eventually they will not sneak up on anyone as the Hoyas make a run to another NCAA Tournament appearance. (Update - Sims and the Hoyas versatility downed Savannah State in Saturday's home opener; up next, UNC Greensboro on Monday night)Hoyas have a solid freshman class, and a quality backcourt in Jason Clark, Markel Starks and Hollis Thompson. But their issue is the frontcourt. One of the freshmen will need to step up and help out Nate Lubick and Henry Sims. There are a lot of questions surrounding this team, but the amount of talent on the Hoya's roster makes them the preseason top team in the DMV. (Troy Machir, Ballin Is A Habit)Big East school that doesnt let football muck up hoops (Mike Ashley, Terrapin Times)2 - George Mason, 117 (4)Projected starting lineup: F - Ryan Pearson, Paris Bennett; G - Bryon Allen, Sherrod Wright; C - Mike MorrisonTop Freshman: Erik CopesKey games: at Virginia (126), Old Dominion (24), VCU (214)Outlook: The power-packed frontcourt of Pearson and Morrison plus the forceful potential of Copes is enough to project the Patriots as the DMV's finest, though Bennett could miss multiple games to start the season. Andre Cornelius' suspension leaves new coach Paul Hewitt inexperienced backcourt pieces with which to work and, well that new coach thing cannot be overlooked.Will be in the CAA and DMV mix at the end if a point guard emerges and Hewitt maximizes Pearson's talent. (Update - Watched a wild one from the Patriot Center. The offense was productive, buterratic in spots duringthe season opening win over Rhode Island. Wright provided an athletic spark with 17 points and Allen dished out a team-high seven assists. Oh, CAA Player of the Year candidate Pearson dropped in a cool 28 points while grabbing 12 boards.)Paul Hewitt went from ACC also-ran to Colonial big-shot (Ashley)No more Jim Larranaga on Masons bench. That will be an odd sight to see. Replacing him is former Georgia Tech coach, Paul Hewitt. Hewitt needs to replace Cam Long (15.1 ppg) and Luke Hancock (10.9 ppg), who transferred to Louisville in May. Ryan Pearson will be called on often to lead the Patriots. Freshman Erik Copes could start from day one for the Mason Nation. (Tim Murray, ESPN 980)3 - Virginia, 115 (3)Projected starting lineup: F- Mike Scott, Joe Harris; G - Sammy Zeglinski, Jontel Evans; C - Assane SeneTop freshman: Malcolm BrogdonKey games: Michigan (1129), at Duke (Jan 12), Maryland (218)Outlook: Now that we know Scott is back, the injury he suffered last season could turn intoa blessing for this season's squad. The other Cavs gained significant experience in his absence and now receive help from a quality freshman class plus redshirt James Johnson. If Scott is back to his double-double ways and the perimeter supporting cast, well, supports the big man, Tony Bennett gets the Cavs back in the NCAA's for the first time since the 06-07 season.The Wahoos are a "sexy pick" to make some noise in a very weak ACC this season. Tony Bennett continues to improve the quality of the program and with Mike Scott returning, the Cavs look poised to have their best season in half a decade. (Machir)Sammy Zeglinski is the program's first seventh-year senior (Kevin Dunleavy, Washington Examiner)4 -VCU, 95(3)Projected starting lineup: F - Juvonte Reddic, Bradford Burgess; G - Troy Daniels, Darius Theus; C - D. J. HaleyTop freshman: Treveon GrahamKey games: George Washington(BB&T, 124); at Drexel (17), George Mason (225)Outlook: CAA Cinderella part two will need to unearth new scoring options with only one of its top five scoring producers from last season's Final Four team back. Burgess will easily slip into the main man role, but finding someone to replace departed senior Joey Rodriquez's moxie is something else. Graham, the leading scorer for the locals in the 2011 Capital Classic, should blend in for Shaka Smart's squad. If the Ramscan survive everyone taking their best shot at them, then a top-two CAA spotis likely plus the NCAA berth thatshould come with it.(Update - Burgess not making me look so smart as he missedall 12 of his shots in the Rams season opener. Good news, VCU won regardless, 63-57 over St. Francis. Do I really think the Rams are the best team in the region? No. But they should get some reward for their Final Four run (Elliott Smith, CBSSports.com)5 - Virginia Tech, 86 (1)Projected starting lineup: F - Dorian Finney-Smith, Cadarian Raines; G - Erick Green, Dorenzo Hudson; C - Victor DavilaTop freshman: Dorian Finney-SmithKey games: North Carolina (119), Duke (22), Virginia (221)Outlook: Hard to imagine the Hokies will be better this season now that Malcolm Delaney and Jeff Allen have run out of eligibility, but Green's expanded role should pay off and Finney-Smith is a top 25 national recruit. Davila interior play holds the key to a top-5ACCfinish and -dare we say it - NCAA berth. True, Malcolm Delaney and Jeff Allen are gone but Seth Greenberg brought in a solid recruiting class which includes a name to remember; Dorian Finney-Smith. The Hokies do need a big season from junior G Erick Green. (Murray)6 - Maryland, 61Projected startinglineup: F- James Padgett, Ashton Pankey; G- Terrell Stoglin, Sean Mosley, Nick FaustTop Freshman - Nick FaustKey games: at Alabama (1117), Duke (1125), North Carolina (24)Outlook: Went from being a cute, little engine that could story to a potential scary one with Pe'Shon Howard out several more weeks and Alex Len's ineligible for 10 games. Will avoid the ACC cellar and could push for the middle of the pack if Stoglin stays in control while running the point, Mosley finds the basket consistently and the frontcourt stays competitive on the boards. Would love to say the Terps finish over .500. Maybe they do, but any game with foul trouble or minor injury spells doom. Facing UNC Wilmington's youthful backcourt provides a solid opportunityfor anopening game win. (Update - a choppy effort, but the Terps took care of business in the opener.)First year for Mark Turgeon follows a legend and is in a conference with 1 UNC and Duke is still really good too. Welcome to the ACC.(Scott Jackson, Yahoo Sports Radio)Restraining order prevents Edsall from getting within 500 feet of Comcast (Dunleavy)7- Old Dominion, 35Projected starting lineup: F Kent Bazemore, Chris Cooper; G - Trian Iliadis, Marquel De Lancey; C - Nayquan MitchellTop freshman: Breon KeyKey games: Missouri (1230), George Mason (15), VCU (211)Outlook: Part of the Monarchs recent success stemmed from a veteran lineup. Now the bulk of that crew has moved and an injured Bazemore is expected to miss time early on. If they can survive the opening stretch of the season and round into form for conference play, the Monarchscould once again emerge into a top 2-3 in the CAA. Blaine Taylor shaved his signature mustache, but the Monarchs signature style of defensive basketball should remain (Jackson)8- George Washington, 33Projected Starting lineup: F - Nemanja Mikic, John Kopriva; G- Tony Taylor, Lasan Kromah; C - Jabari EdwardsTop freshman: John KorpivaKey games: at California (1113), Xavier (21), at Temple (28)Outlook: My sleeper pick in the area. The Colonials have the perimeter pieces for a nice run with Kromah returning to join Atlantic 10 first teamer Tony Taylor. Kopriva will be the hustle glue guy, but he will not make up the interior pointsmissing withsecond-leading scorer Dwayne Smith sidelined. If Smith returns quickly and Edwards can stay healthy, a top-four finish in both the A-10 and the DMV is within reach. Flying cross-country to face No. 24 Cal two days after Friday's home opener makes for a taxing start. (Update - Taylor scored 20 points in the Colonials 64-48 opening game win over UMES, but the final box is not terribly pretty. GW was out-rebounded and the ugly shooting that plagued the team early last season returned. Even uglier, the Colonials were throttled on the left coast Sunday night by No. 24 Cal) After negotiations with GMU, have acquired exclusive rights to term "Coach L" (Dunleavy)Others receiving votes: Richmond (26), Morgan State (7), American (4), Howard (4), Coppin State (2), VMI (2), William & Mary (2)Voters: Mike Ashley (Athlon, Terrapin Times), Nicole Auerbach (USA Today), Ivan Carter (Comcast SportsNet, Washington Post Live), Pam Chvotkin (District Sports Page), Avi Creditor (Washington Post Express), Rich Dubroff (CSNbaltimore), Kevin Dunleavy (Washington Examiner), Andrew Geiger (CasualHoya.com), Michele Gordon (Comcast SportsNet), Brian Jackson (CSNwashington), Scott Jackson (Yahoo Sports Radio, 106.7 The Fan), Ryan Kish (GMUHoops.com), Jack Kogod (Washingtonian), Troy Machir (BallinIsAHabit.com),Tim Murray (ESPN 980), Elliott Smith (Washington Post Express, CBSSports.com), Craig Stouffer (Washington Examiner), Joe Yasharoff (Comcast SportsNet)November 11, 8:18 a.m.College Hoops preview, part deuxWith the college basketball season at large tipping off this weekend,we are turning "Word" into a hoops hotbed for previews, analysis and fandom of the programs in the DMV (though your daily links to the entire D.C. sports scene remain). The fan's guide to all the prominent home games on the local calendar and Team outlooksopened the action and today D.C. media colleagues and notable bloggers help preview the season ahead. Players to watchMaryland: Could easily single out Alex Len, seeing as the 7-1 center will bring a much-needed lengthy dynamic to the frontcourt when his eligibility kicks in after 10 games. Sean Mosley apparently snapping out of his previous seasons shooting funk is worth highlighting and freshman Nick Faust's potent scoring potential is worth discussing at length.Instead lets focus on the high scoring and volume shooting ways of Terrell Stoglin, who is being shoehorned into the point guard role until (if?) PeShon Howard returns from a broken foot. The Terps will need his points, but also a steady hand at the point as the fragile team situation will crumble should the sophomores decision-making go wild. In other words, Maryland needs Stoglin to resemble the good version of Greivis Vasquez, not the one that led the nation in turnovers during his (gulp) sophomore season.Georgetown (CasualHoya.com): Hollis Thompson is Georgetown's best scorer and his consistency will go a long way in determining how the Hoyas ultimately fare. Assuming Hollis is a consistent force however, the development and immediate contributions of Georgetown's heralded freshman class is something Hoyas fans are looking forward to this year. Otto Porter is a JT3 player, a Jeff Green-type forward who has excellent passing skills and plays tough defense. Jabril Trawick, a 6'5" guard out of Philadelphia, plays with great energy and toughness, and has already emerged as a fan favorite even though the team has yet to play a game. Virginia (Michele Gordon, Comcast SportsNet): The player to watch this season for the Virginia Cavaliers is forward James Johnson. There was a lot of hype surrounding Johnson when he arrived in Charlottesville last year but Tony Bennett decided to redshirt the youngster. Despite all the injuries the Cavs dealt with last season, Bennett kept Johnson on the bench. I think having a year to watch, grow, and learn will help Johnson and the Wahoos in the long run. George Washington: Multiple knee surgeries and a pair of suspect hands that at times has made his offensive game offensive have limited center Jabari Edwards career. Yet the 6-9 seniors length, his shot-blocking prowess and the fact that the Colonials lack for alternatives in the middle makes Edwardss ability to remain available crucial for the Colonials. If coach Mike Lonergan receives even 20 or so minutes a game from his big man with the perimeter weapons he has at his disposal, the sun could be shining on the Foggy Bottom program.George Mason (Ryan Kish, GMUHoops.com): People in the DMV know what Ryan Pearson can do, as the bearded forward was a big reason for the Patriots offensive efficiency last season. One of the key players this season could very well be redshirt sophomore Vertrail Vaughns.His three-point shooting off the bench last season often gave thePatriotsa lift and he represents most of the experience currently in the team's backcourt rotation. Don't be surprised ifVaughns finds his way into the starting line-up this season and gets the green light to shoot from downtown.Virginia Tech (Michele Gordon, Comcast SportsNet): The player to watch for the Hokies is Victor Davila. The senior has shown signs of brilliance during his time in Blacksburg but not consistently. With the loss of Malcolm Delaney, Jeff Allen and Terrell Bell to graduation, the Hokies absolutely need Davila to step up and be consistent this season. American: Days before Vanderbilt transfer Charles Hinkle was to make his debut after the first semester last season, Eagles coach Jeff Jones raved about the swingmans ability. After making an initial high-energy splash with the floor burns to prove it, Hinkle got lost in a numbers crunch. Jones chalked up the lack of playing time to the Eagles having experienced depth, but that is not the case this season with only one starter returning. If a quicker, leaner Hinkle lives up to that early buzz, the Eagles have a shot to soar back into Patriot League contention.Howard (Brian Jackson, CSNwashington): Instead of a single player to watch the Bison are excited for their version of the Fab 5. Prince Okoroh is a 6-5 forward from Eleanor Roosevelt and was one of the top prospects in the DMV last year. Guard Simuel Frazier of Norfolk, VA chose Howard over Saint Josephs of the A-10. Brandon Ford was an honorable mention All-Met guard from Gwyn Park. Brandon Bailey is an ultra-athletic 6-5 forward from Largo and Oliver Ellison is a 6-8 shot blocker from Gonzaga. This is easily Howards best incoming class of freshman in school history. Breakfast BuffetLong, difficultday of waiting for news in the Wilson Ramos kidnapping case (Zuckerman - CSNwashington)Penn State begins its post-Joe Paterno era (Washington Post)When coaches become deities (Snyder - Washington Times)Statistical review of the Redskins first half (Hogs Haven)NBA players breaking to ponder new deal (Associated Press)Tonight's the night North Carolina and Michigan State hoop it up...on an aircraft carrier (Washington Post)