Wednesday, October 06, 2010

LaceDarius Dunn Suspended: Possibly For The Season?

We're nearing the beginning of the regular season, and it's the Big 12 that has been in the news today. The Big 12 held its own preseason poll, and full results are here. They projected Kansas State first, followed by Kansas, Texas and Baylor. Missouri is quite a way back in fifth, and then Texas A&M. My preview, which I wrote back in April, is here. I certainly agree with the top four teams, which I projected would be a big step ahead of the rest of the conference. I put Texas on top instead of Kansas State, however, and I feel even better about that projection since Dominique Sutton left Kansas State. Texas is going to have a really strong back court, particularly with Dogus Balbay back, who in my opinion is one of the most underrated players in the country. He's a great ball handler and playmaker, and he's their premier perimeter defender. I think J'Covan Brown learned a lot from being thrust into the position of primary ball handler when Balbay got hurt, and he'll combine for a great starting duo. Obviously Texas is weaker in the paint, but I don't see any team in the Big 12 that is really strong in the paint, so they should be able to get away with this.

But the reason I'm writing this post is because the Big Four atop the Big 12 could be down to the Big Three, with Baylor's top scorer LaceDarius Dunn getting himself into big, big trouble. Obviously nothing has been proven in court yet, but it's alleged that he punched his girlfriend, breaking her jaw. He's been arrested for aggravated assault and has been suspended indefinitely. It certainly looks likely that he won't play this year. Dunn was not only Baylor's top scorer last season, but he was also their clutch scorer, and was expected to anchor the backcourt after the graduation of Tweety Carter.

Assuming Dunn is gone for the season, Baylor becomes frighteningly thin in the backcourt. A.J. Walton and Nolan Dennis both were big recruits who played well off the bench as true freshmen in 2009-10, but they are likely going to be the new starting backcourt in 2010-11. And after those two, it's slim pickings - the only player I like is Stargell Love, a strong recruit at point guard. Brady Heslip should be good, but he will probably miss the season on redshirt, even though he didn't suit up in a game for Boston College last season as a true freshman.

The frontcourt is very talented, but it's young. Perry Jones is the super-recruit, of course, and he'll join Anthony Jones, Cory Jefferson, Quincy Acy and Givon Crump. They also bring in J'Mison Morgan, a transfer from UCLA. The problem is, Quincy Acy is the only one of those who is efficient offensively, and with a thin backcourt it's going to be tough for them to properly distribute the ball. Baylor is going to struggle to score, and they're going to have to find a way to be efficient defensively after losing the blocking machine named Ekpe Udoh.

One of the biggest misconceptions of Baylor last season was that they were a defense-first team, because of Udoh. But while their defense was strong, they were actually rated third in the nation in offensive efficiency according to Pomeroy's ratings. There's no way they don't take a step back offensively now.

Baylor will still be a pretty good team. I think they're a Tournament team. But if Dunn doesn't play they won't finish higher than fourth in the Big 12, and they will more likely finish fifth or sixth.

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