Monday, March 31, 2008

Muskies 08-09

I thought it would be nice to take a quick look to next year and see how the roster shapes up. I have a little personal insight for each one of the guys. We all know this is very fluid and players could transfer but I don't think that will really happen. Sean recruited them all and they are coming off an E8 appearance. But anyway here goes:

#11 BJ Raymond: BJ will get a crack at a starting job. He needs to work on taking people off the dribble this off season and diversify his scoring arsenal. I think he will and he already possesses tools to do so. He is limited atheletically (his first step isn't quite 'explosive') but his confidence in scoring is not the issue. He also needs to continue to improve on the defensive end. He will average between 12-14 next year if his health stays good.

#20 CJ Anderson: CJ will be our leading scorer next year. He will be the 'go to guy' when we need a bucket and he will respond. We know his game and I am not going to sit here and tell you he needs to work on his jump shot because he doesn't. Just keep smashing them in the mouth and doing what you do.

#4 Charles Bronson: 'Death Wish' may find even less minutes next year but he certainly flashed offensive potential when he got his chances. This was puzzling to me because his reputation was that of a defensive guy, and he is a good shot blocker. His lack of understanding team defensive concepts cost him minutes. We often see juco guys get 'it' in their second year in the program, will Charles do the same?

#5 Derrick Brown: Although he is still listed at 6'7" he is actually closer to 6'8.5" and certainly plays like he is 6'10" sometimes on the glass. DBrown needs to continue to work on his perimeter game and working on his dribble drives. He will be asked to matchup with the other teams best frontcourt player defensively so if he continues to add strength that would be a positive. He is a superstar waiting to happen at the collegiate level.

#31 Jason Love: He was our most improved player this season. He has a real nose for the ball. 'Big Lovely' will compete and possibly earn the starting center position in 08-09. A front line rotation of Love, Anderson, Brown, McLean, and Frease will be nice. Love is a terrific defensive rebounder. A few more moves (maybe a face up jumper from the elbow) would be nice to see from Love. If he can continue on his improvement arc though I think we would all be very happy.

#2 Adrion Graves: Everybody is writing AD off but me. I am thinking this kid is going to take a step up much like BJ did between his sophomore and junior years. And if coach likes bringing #11 off the bench AD could push for a starting role. He just needs extended minutes to relax and get in the flow. He was constantly looking over his shoulder this year to get yanked and he needs to get that out of his mind. I hope him all the best and I would be very happy to see him continue to grow in an X uniform.

#25 Dante' Jackson: This guy is one of my favorites. He will be our defensive stopper and could start the year as our primary ball handler. He will be on the floor alot either way. Jackson is a 'high level' player who the extended minutes at the end of the season is going to benefit big time next season.

#22 Jamel McLean: If you like DBrown your going to like McLean. Another 6-8 athletic guy? Yep we are stockpiling. He will fit right in and giving he has had a year in the system will be one step ahead of the frosh on getting minutes. He gives us another true frontcourt piece and depth in case of any unseen circumstances.

#15 Andy Taylor: This sophomore is a project and will most likely see limited minutes in my opinion. That is not to mean he is not a good player. He just needs weight and strength. He goes about 6-8 205 right now but he has a 'good skill set' and his number is not the only similarities he has with Justin Doellman.

FR. Mark 'Cheeky' Lyons: This 6-1 freshman has unbelievable athleticism and scoring tools. He is more of a '2' than a '1' right now. I have read he tends to play out of control at times which leads me to believe he will not be handed the ball as our point guard from day #1. He will play many minutes there next year though and I am excited to see him in summer ball.

FR. Brad Redford: The reigning 'Mr. Basketball' in Michigan is going to suprise many in the Xavier Nation. Most have him ticketed for a redshirt and that very well could happen. But if he shows up and can guard some people on our team I think he plays and plays quite a bit. His jumpshot to go along with Raymond's will be deadly.

FR. Kenny Frease: The 6'11" 275 pound post is the low block beast we have been waiting for. He is heavy footed and isn't going to impress you with his end to end game. He does understand how big he is and how size should be used on the basketball floor. I see this guy playing 18-20 minutes a game unless he clearly steps up and earns more which could happen. There is no guarantee this guys starts from day one though, 'Big Lovely' will compete with 'Mr. Frease' all fall to be the X '5' man.

FR. Brian Walsh: The Pennsylvania native may be the best recruit out of the bunch if you go by who else offered schollies. I don't think we will see Brian in summer ball due to a knee strain. The staff will not want him taking any chances at Woodward HS. He is the 'wild card' to me because the injury may force the staff to consider redshirting him. Although his versatility to play anywhere from the '1' to the '3' makes him an interesting recruit. He also has the reputation of a dead eye shooter.

This team will need to foster and create their own identity but I think it will be one of superior frontcourt strength. Pound it down inside and if that's not there kick out to one of the open shooters. I do not like to rely on freshman and at least one of the new guys will be deemed a disappointment by the negative rubes all fan bases have. I don't think Frease will ever live up to his hype though I certainly hope he does. Redford all of sudden is much more ballyhooed too. What I do know though is we have some great pieces left (Anderson and Brown) to build a ball team around. The questions will be the lead guard and I think that will be answered fairly quickly next season. We have a very tough non conference schedule in front of us again and I don't expect 30 wins. I do expect 20, an NCAA tournament berth, and anything after that is gravy. Yes the future does look very bright on Victory Parkway. And to the 'haters' out there who are praying for Coach Miller to take another job you better pray Jamie Dixon leaves Pitt or Sidney Lowe falls out of favor at NC State. When ESPN tells you IU officials have said the buyout at XU is too high that means they have already inquired about him. I bet a steak dinner he has a new agreement from the Muskies before the Final Four.

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