Wooden Award preseason Top 50 list

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The John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 list was announced Monday by The Los Angeles Athletic Club. The list is comprised of 50 student-athletes who, based on last year’s individual performance and team records. Transfers, freshmen and medical redshirts are not eligible for the preseason list.

This is only the list. I’ll comment on the selections a little later today.

2010-11 John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 List

Name Height Class Position University Conference
Ty Abbott 6-3 Sr. G Arizona State Pac-10
Lavoy Allen 6-9 Sr. F Temple Atlantic 10
Kevin Anderson 6-0 Sr. G Richmond Atlantic 10
Talor Battle 6-0 Sr. G Penn State Big Ten
Kenny Boynton 6-2 So. G Florida SEC
William Buford 6-5 Jr. G Ohio State Big Ten
Alec Burks 6-6 So. G Colorado Big 12
Randy Culpepper 6-0 Sr. G UTEP Conference USA
Malcolm Delaney 6-3 Sr. G Virginia Tech ACC
LaceDarius Dunn 6-4 Sr. G Baylor Big 12
Kim English 6-6 Jr. G Missouri Big 12
Corey Fisher 6-1 Sr. G Villanova Big East
Jimmer Fredette* 6-2 Sr. G Brigham Young Mountain West
Austin Freeman 6-4 Sr. G Georgetown Big East
Ashton Gibbs 6-2 Jr. G Pittsburgh Big East
Steven Gray 6-5 Sr. G Gonzaga West Coast
Jordan Hamilton 6-7 So. G/F Texas Big 12
Elias Harris 6-7 So. F Gonzaga West Coast
Jeremy Hazell 6-5 Sr. G Seton Hall Big East
John Henson 6-10 So. F North Carolina ACC
Cory Higgins 6-5 Sr. G Colorado Big 12
Tyler Honeycutt 6-8 So. F UCLA Pac-10
Robbie Hummel* 6-8 Sr. F Purdue Big Ten
JaJuan Johnson 6-10 Sr. F/C Purdue Big Ten
Kris Joseph 6-7 Jr. F Syracuse Big East
Kawhi Leonard 6-7 So. F San Diego State Mountain West
Jon Leuer 6-10 Sr. F Wisconsin Big Ten
Kalin Lucas* 6-1 Sr. F Michigan State Big Ten
Shelvin Mack 6-3 Jr. G Butler Horizon League
Demetri McCamey 6-3 Sr. G Illinois Big Ten
E’Twaun Moore 6-4 Sr. G Purdue Big Ten
Marcus Morris 6-9 Jr. F Kansas Big 12
Jacob Pullen 6-0 Sr. G Kansas State Big 12
John Shurna 6-8 Jr. F Northwestern Big Ten
Kyle Singler* 6-8 Sr. F Duke ACC
Chris Singleton 6-9 Jr. F Florida State ACC
Nolan Smith 6-2 Sr. G Duke ACC
Tracy Smith 6-8 Sr. F N.C. State ACC
Durrell Summers 6-5 Sr. G Michigan State Big Ten
Jeffery Taylor 6-7 Jr. G/F Vanderbilt SEC
Isaiah Thomas 5-9 Jr. G Washington Pac-10
Trey Thompkins 6-10 Jr. F Georgia SEC
Klay Thompson 6-6 Jr. G Washington State Pac-10
Joe Trapani 6-8 Sr. F Boston College ACC
Brandon Triche 6-4 So. G Syracuse Big East
Nikola Vucevic 6-10 Jr. F USC Pac-10
Kemba Walker 6-1 Jr. G Connecticut Big East
Derrick Williams 6-8 So. F Arizona Pac-10
Jordan Williams 6-10 So. F Maryland ACC
Chris Wright 6-8 Sr. F Dayton Atlantic 10
Mike Miller’s also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.

Battle 4 Atlantis title proves Syracuse will be relevant this season

rad Horrigan/The Courant via AP
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Michael Gbinije scored 20 points and Trevor Cooney added 15 points and five assists as Syracuse left the Bahamas with a title, beating No. 25 Texas A&M 74-67 in the finals of the Battle 4 Atlantis.

I guess it’s time to start taking the Orange seriously.

There’s a lot to like about this group. Gbinije and Cooney are both fifth-year seniors that not only understand how to operate at the top of the 2-3 zone that Jim Boeheim runs, but they both have developed into versatile offensive weapons. Cooney was known as nothing more than a jump-shooter when he arrived up north, but he’s now averaging 3.5 assists on the season.

And Gbinije?

He has been one of the best players in the country through the first two weeks of the season. Through six games, he’s averaged 19.7 points, 4.2 assists, 3.0 boards and 2.8 steals while shooting 51.3 percent from beyond the arc.

Freshman Malachi Richardson, who had 16 points in the win over A&M, has scored double-figures in all six games this season while another freshman, Tyler Lydon, was against terrific on Friday, finishing with 13 points and eight boards. He’s now shooting 58.8 percent from beyond the arc this season.

And that’s where this team is going to do the majority of their damage this season.

Through six games, they’re shooting 41.1 percent from beyond the arc. In the three wins in the Bahamas, the Orange knocked were 34-for-73 from beyond the arc, a 46.5 percent clip. The question isn’t whether or not that rate can continue — four of the six players that saw action on Friday are dangerous three-point shooters while the other two, Tyler Roberson  and DaJuan Coleman, aren’t going to be shooting threes — but what happens on the nights where the threes aren’t going down.

There are going to be nights where they shoot 5-for-25 instead of 11-for-25. Will they have enough firepower then? Will their defense be good enough? Will guys like Roberson and Coleman be able to supply a scoring punch? Will Cooney, Gbinije and Richardson attack the paint instead of settling for jumpers?

Because at the very least, these three games in the Bahamas have proven that the Orange are going to be relevant this season, even in the loaded ACC. Whether that means they’re going to push for a top four finish or simply end the year as a tournament team remains to be seen, but this much is clear: Jim Boeheim has himself a squad Upstate.

No. 10 Gonzaga outlasts No. 18 UConn despite late offensive struggles

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No. 10 Gonzaga survived a furious rally from No. 18 UConn to win the third place game in the Battle 4 Atlantis, 73-70.

The Zags were up by as much as 21 points early in the second half, leading 48-27, but UConn slowly chipped away at the lead. Kyle Wiltjer led four players in double-figures with 17 points while Eric McClellan added 15 points, making a number of key plays in the second half when it looked like the Zags were in danger of giving away the lead.

As good as Gonzaga looked in the first 22 minutes of this game — and they looked really, really good — the second half exposed the concerns that many had with this group entering the season. Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr., who both shot around 40 percent from beyond the arc and started for four years, graduated, meaning that Gonzaga’s point guard situation is, more or less, Josh Perkins.

Perkins was terrific in the second half of a loss to Texas A&M on Thursday. He played 17 foul-plagued minutes against UConn. When UConn’s defense ratcheted up during the second half, Gonzaga struggled finding a way to consistently get good shots on the offensive end. Part of that was due to ineffective point guard play and part of it was a result of not really having anyone on the offensive end that can create a look on their own. As skilled as Wiltjer is, his impact can be limited when pick-and-pop actions aren’t working and he’s getting doubled in the post.

Perkins is talented, but this is essentially his first season of college basketball; he was a medical redshirt last season after breaking his jaw last November. There are going to be ups-and-downs, and that’s problematic on a team where he is essentially the only point guard on the roster.

The good news?

Gonzaga beat a good UConn team on a day when their best players struggled in crunch-time. It was McClellan and Kyle Dranginis that made the big plays down the stretch, not the big names on the Gonzaga roster.