Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Morning News: Welcome To The 2014-15 Regular Season

Teams are practicing! For real!

Hey everybody, the college basketball season started!

No, really, it did.

Yeah... I know. Not really. But it's only a little over a month until regular season games tip off. And we're only about two or three weeks from a goofy preseason exhibition result that the media overreacts to. In the meanwhile, let's get to some news from the last few days:

Oregon's Abdul-Bassit And Cook Arrested In the latest in a string of bad pieces of news for Oregon this offseason, Jalil Abdul-Bassit and Elgin Cook have been arrested for shoplifting. Oregon is already going into this coming season without star recruit JaQuan Lyle, and projected starting center Michael Chandler is out with a knee injury, too. And don't forget the sexual assault case that cost Oregon three players back in May.

It remains to be seen if Abdul-Bassit, Cook and Chandler will be gone for a significant piece of the regular season, but while those three are out I believe Oregon is down to six active scholarship players (by my count, at least). In my most recent bracket projection I had Oregon as the last at-large team in the Field of 68, but that was before the JaQuan Lyle news broke. So even before the Chandler, Abdul-Bassit and Cook news, I was going to drop the Ducks out of my next bracket. It could be a long year in Eugene for Dana Altman.

Tristian Etienne Leaves Washington The 6'9" recruit has only said "personal reasons" are why he won't join Washington, but his departure leaves 6'7" Donaven Dorsey as the only high schooler in Lorenzo Romar's 2014 recruiting class (they do add some transfers). The Huskies were a better team last season than their 17-15 record would suggest, but their margin for error is small in a deep Pac-12. If Romar can't get this team back to the NCAA Tournament, and at this point it's not looking likely that he will, don't be stunned if Romar isn't the head coach in 2015-16.

Kedren Johnson Will Be Eligible For Memphis Immediately Johnson transferred to Memphis after being suspended at Vanderbilt for the 2013-14 season. Johnson was not the greatest shooter in the world at Vanderbilt, but he's an aggressive player who can create a lot of offense for himself and his teammates.

After losing four starters from a team that wasn't particularly good last season, Memphis was desperately in need of an influx of talent. That's particularly true in the backcourt, where every proven regular graduated. Point guard Dominic Magee is their top 2014 recruit, but a true freshman is always a risk. Kedren Johnson immediately becomes the best Memphis backcourt player, and puts them in a real position to move into my next bracket projection.

Brandon Miller Taking A Leave Of Absence This is a story we'll have to follow, because it's unclear precisely why Miller is taking time away from Butler or how long he'll be gone. Obviously we have to hope it's not a serious health problem for a guy who is only 35 years old. Butler is due for a bounce-back season, but they're likely going to be a bubble team at best, so any offseason turmoil is bad news.

Dominic Woodson Will Be Eligible For Tennessee The 6'10", well over 300 pound Woodson did not play much for Memphis as a freshman, but he clearly has a lot of raw talent if he can actually lose weight and get into shape. It would be a mistake to expect too much from his in his first year in Knoxville, but any help is welcome help for a team likely to end up on the tourney bubble.

Matt Thomas And Abdel Nader Suspended For Three Games Abdel Nader transferred to Iowa State from Northern Illinois, while Matt Thomas was the first man off the bench for the Cyclones as a freshman. That said, this three game suspension includes an exhibition game, so the only regular season games they'll miss are home contests against Oakland and Georgia State. Georgia State will be a very dangerous team this year, but the Cyclones will have a good chance to escape these suspensions without any impact on their at-large profile.

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