Penn State Basketball Preview: #54

    
October 1st, 2009
 

Overall Rank: #54

Conference Rank: #8 Big Ten Conference

 

2008-09: 27-11, 10-8

2008-09 postseason: NIT

Coach: Ed DeChellis (84-103 at Penn State, 189-196 overall)

 

Penn State was agonizingly close to reaching the NCAA Tournament last year, but instead they ended up in the NIT. The good news is the Nittany Lions won the NIT, so this relatively young team gained some very valuable postseason tournament. Once again Penn State will be looking for a trip to the NCAA Tournament, but without Jamelle Cornley and Stanley Pringle, it might be another disappointing NIT showing.

 

Key Losses: F Jamelle Cornley, G Danny Morrisey, G Stanley Pringle

 

Key Newcomers:

Coach Ed DeChellis needs some new bodies to help replace Pringle and Cornley. Point guard Tim Frazier is the most likely candidate to produce immediate results. The 6-2 Houston, Texas product is a superb all-around player who can provide quality minutes at the point or shooting guard spot. Jermaine Marshall can add another scorer to the backcourt and Bill Edwards can give the team a solid rebounder on the perimeter. Up front it is freshmen Sasa Borovnjak and Billy Oliver who will compete for minutes.

 

Backcourt:

Talor Battle is the only player returning who averaged over seven points per game last year. That leaves a lot of room for improvement from the rest of the squad. Danny Morrissey was the team’s sixth man last year and now he is gone. That leaves a big hole in the backcourt. Cammeron Woodyard did not see the floor very often as a freshman, but he is a potent outside shooter who is ready to take the next step. Penn State hopes Chris Babb can build off of his relatively successful freshman campaign as well. Like Woodyard, most of Babb’s shots came from beyond the arc and one of those two needs to find a way to mix up their game and get to the basket as well or this offense could become stagnant and predictable.

 

Frontcourt:

Even without Cornely, the frontcourt returns three players who started at least a dozen games last year. Andrew Jones is ready to become the leader of the unit. The 6-9 sophomore averaged 6.2 points and 5.8 rebounds during his freshman campaign. If he can turn into a better scoring threat under the basket, Penn State will be in great shape. David Jackson started 26 games last year and is athletic enough to play at either forward spot. Jeff Brooks will likely step into the frontcourt as a full-time starter at power forward. He is not a great scorer, but he will hit the glass hard. If those three start, the Nittany Lions will have to rely on the newcomers and little used Andrew Ott to provide some decent minutes off the bench.

 

Who to Watch:

Battle is the star of this team and he will take them as far as he can. Last season he led the team with 16.7 points per game and 5.0 assists. Battle is a prolific outside shooter, but he also does a surprisingly good job around the basket for a 5-11 point guard. His quickness is a big asset on both ends of the floor as he reached the charity stripe 5.5 times per game last year and is an underappreciated defender.

 

Final Projection:

However, Battle needs help if this team is going to reach the NCAA Tournament. Cornley and Pringle provided so much to this team and there may not be players on the roster who are capable of filling the void. The young players need to do more than simply show promise, they need to develop into consistent scorers and defenders. The good news is that there is not a senior on the roster and Penn State should be better in 2010-2011.

 

Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT

 

Projected Starting Five:

Talor Battle, Junior, Guard, 16.7 points per game

Chris Babb, Sophomore, Guard, 2.8 points per game

David Jackson, Junior, Forward, 4.5 points per game

Jeff Brooks, Junior, Forward, 3.3 points per game

Andrew Jones, Junior, Forward, 6.2 points per game

 

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September 22nd, 2009

By Joel Welser

 

Florida State Seminoles

 

Overall Rank: #52

Conference Rank: #7 Atlantic Coast Conference

 

2008-09: 25-10, 10-6

2008-09 postseason: NCAA

Coach: Leonard Hamilton (131-95 at Florida State, 331-305 overall)

 

Florida State reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 11 years and there is reason to be excited about the future. However, the future will not include Toney Douglas. As a senior last year Douglas led the team with 21.5 points and 2.9 assists per game. Nobody else on the team even averaged over nine points per game. This year might be a little less successful without Douglas, but the future looks bright.

 

Key Losses: G Toney Douglas, F Uche Echefu

 

Key Newcomers:

Shooting guard Michael Snaer should be a big part of the future, and even the present, success of the Seminoles. The 6-5 Moreno Valley product was named the 2009 Gatorade Player of the Year in California and is expected to immediately step into a starting role and help fill the scoring void left behind by Douglas. Terrance Shannon is a little more of question mark. The 6-8, 220 pound power forward missed his senior year of high school with a knee injury and it may take him some time to get adjusted to life in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

 

Backcourt:

Snaer will join Derwin Kitchen in the backcourt and together those two should be a dynamic duo. Kitchen missed the first semester of the season last year and it took him some time to get into the swing of things. Still he managed to average 7.9 points per game. Kitchen should be much more productive with a half of a year playing under Coach Leonard Hamilton and the team will need him to emerge as a leader. However, Luke Loucks could end up being the most important player on the perimeter. The 6-5 point guard dished out 2.1. assists per game in limited action as a freshman and could take over the starting job this year. If Snaer and Kitchen can score as well as they should be able to, Loucks will have a successful year simply giving them the ball and letting them do their thing.

 

Frontcourt:

By the end of the 2008-2009 campaign, the FSU frontcourt was dominated by freshmen. Solomon Alabi was second on the team in scoring with 8.4 points per game and first in rebounding with 5.6. Although he started all 35 contests, Alabi got better with every single game. And even though his offense is good, it is on the other side of the floor where Alabi really shines. Even as a freshman playing just over 22 minutes per game, he averaged 2.1 blocks per contest and he is already considered one of the best shot blockers in the conference. Chris Singleton was one of the players by Alabi’s side. He needs to get a little stronger if he wants to play the four spot on a consistent basis, but Singleton proved to be a dynamic scorer both inside and out.

 

Who to Watch:

Depth should not be much of an issue with the return of Ryan Reid, Jordan DeMercy and Deividas Dulkys. Reid and DeMercy, both forwards, started 16 games last year and are more than capable of filling in at the four or five spots, especially if Singleton is moved to the wing. Reid is the better scorer and rebounder around the basket, but DeMercy can stretch the defense with his mid-range jumper. Dulkys will provide much of the depth on the perimeter and the 6-5 sophomore is full of potential.

 

Final Projection:

This could be another NCAA Tournament team, but the loss of Douglas is huge. Where are the points going to come from and who is going to take the big shots? Eventually those questions will be answered, but this is a group that might struggle to find their identity early in the season and that could be the difference between the NCAA Tournament and the NIT.

 

Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT

 

Projected Starting Five:

Luke Loucks, Sophomore, Guard, 3.1 points per game

Michael Snaer, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season

Derwin Kitchen, Junior, Guard, 7.9 points per game

Chris Singleton, Sophomore, Forward, 8.1 points per game

Solomon Alabi, Sophomore, Center, 8.4 points per game

 

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