2008-09 College Basketball Preview

Mike Davis ('10)/ Eastside Online Sports Editor

Finally, real basketball has arrived. Last year the season ended with another remarkable moment. In the Championship game, Kansas and Memphis battled for the win. But Kansas came out on top after Mario Chalmers hit a three point shot to carry the Jayhawks into overtime. The shot was remarkable; it was placed all over the news and even got to the cover of Sports Illustrated. Also, last year brought so many new exciting stories. Stephen Curry lit up college basketball and excited a nation with his unbelievable game play. Last year also was the year of the freshmen. Derrick Rose, Michael Beasley, O.J. Mayo and Kevin Love all were examples of great first year players who lead their teams deep into the tournament. Unfortunately, all four of them have moved on to the NBA. Expect another year filled with exciting moments and fantastic players.

This year there are more fantastic freshman, including Tyreke Evans from Memphis, DeMar DeRozan of USC, Jrue Holiday of UCLA and BJ Mullens of Ohio State University. Expect great things from all of these freshmen, but DeMar DeRozan will be the best freshman at the end of the year. DeRozan has the ability to lead USC deep into the tournament.

My Top 10 Teams:

10. Duke: Duke is always a top contender, but this year I think they may have some trouble. Their star player is Kyle Singler. Singler has a very good game, but doesn’t have the star power to solely lead Duke to a championship.

9. Gonzaga: Gonzaga is going to have a great year. This year they have two players that are very promising. Austin Daye is a remarkable player whose play strikingly resembles Kevin Durant’s. He is very skinny, but plays rough. He can shoot from the outside, but also plays inside. Another solid player on the team is Jeremy Pargo. Pargo has good skills at the guard position and will be critical in Gonzaga’s success.

8. Purdue: Purdue is a big sleeper for this year. The team’s leader is guard E’Twaun Moore. He played well last year, but is in for a bigger year.

7. Michigan State: The Spartans will be back for more action this year. Head Coach Tom Izzo feels that his team has the potential to make it deep into the tournament. The team is lead by Kalin Lucas, who is by far the best player for the Spartans this year.

6. Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh is in for a great year. There team is stacked with many players. The team is very deep and has many options off the bench. The team is lead by DeJuan Blair. Blair is an athletic forward who averaged a double double last season. Pittsburg will be a big contender in the playoffs.

5. Oklahoma: The Sooners are ready for lift-off. Led by Blake Griffin, the Sooners will make a big splash in the NCAA this season. Griffin is a 6’10 forward who is a complete beast in the paint. His brother is also a forward on the team, (Taylor Griffin). The Griffins will lead the Sooners far in the tournament this season.

4. Louisville: Louisville is always a top contender. Head Coach Rick Pitino always has his team ready to compete at a high level. This year they also have a top freshman in Samardo Samuels. Look for Louisville to have a stellar year.

3. UCLA: The Bruins are ready to return to the final four for another consecutive year. The team is very promising; they have a star player returning in Darren Collison and have a great freshman in Jrue Holiday.

2. UCONN: The Huskies are ready to make a big impact. The reign is led by star center Hasheem Thabeet. Thabeet may possibly be the best player in college basketball, along with Blake Griffin. Also, the Huskies have Jeff Adrien. UCONN will have a monster year.

1. UNC: The Tar-Heels are by far the best team in college basketball. They have last year’s player of the year returning in Tyler Hansbrough. But it’s the rest of the team that will help UNC get another Championship. Their top six players are all returning, which is extremely unusual in college basketball. Roy Williams will add another Championship to his resume.

Top Players (You Don’t Know):

10. Jonny Flynn: Syracuse is putting the team on his back this year. After playing surprisingly well in the tournament, watch for Flynn to have a great season.

9. Austin Daye: A very talented player, who is talented in the inside and the outside. He should lead Gonzaga deep into the playoffs.

8. Tyler Smith: Smith is a great player. He is the face of Tennesse basketball since Chris Lofton left. Smith will be on the highlight reel the entire season.

7. Luke Harangody: He had a very surprising year last year for the Irish. He is a big man who has some ability to shoot from the outside.

6. Patrick Mills: He is a very talented point guard from Saint Mary’s. Mills played great in the tournament last year, and this year should be his best season by far.

5. James Harden: With the Sun Devils climbing up in the rankings, Harden will constantly be on the news, leading ASU through its season.

4. Samardo Samuels: He is a promising freshman from Louisville who will have a complete breakout season. He has a big presence and will have a very solid year.

3. Jack McClinton: The Hurricanes will be riding McClinton the entire year. He will be the reason for all of Miami’s success.

2. Jon Brockman: The solid forward from Washington is an amazing rebounder and has great skills in the paint.

1. DeJuan Blair: Blair is the heart of Pittsburgh’s team. They have many good players, but Blair is by far the best player on the Panther’s team. He is almost a definite double double for each game. Watch Blair tear up the paint when he leads the Panther’s deep into the tournament.