Real, live college basketball games start on Friday, and with all of our glorious preseason content finally finished, this week we will be providing you with water cooler fodder as we roll through a series of Burning Question. You can read them all right here.
Mike Moser, UNLV (Rob Dauster): Moser is coming off of a fantastic season for the Rebels, and under normal circumstances, I’d be trumpeting his potential heading into the season. But this isn’t a normal year for UNLV; the Rebels have a front line that’s absolutely stacked, so much so that Moser may end up playing the three this year. That would take away the mismatch advantage he has as a power forward. If he struggles with a move to the wing, he’ll have to share even more minutes with Anthony Bennett and Khem Birch. Will that cut into his production?
Isaiah Canaan, Murray State
(Raphielle Johnson): I think the word “flop” in this question is a bit harsh, because I can’t see Canaan’s game pulling a “Vlade Divac” this year. However the loss of perimeter helpers Jewuan Long and Donte Poole, as well as Zay Jackson’s driving in a Walmart parking lot (he can’t play this season as a result) means that Canaan will have even more eyes focused on his every move. I’m expecting some teams to throw junk defenses (box and 1, etc.) at the Racers in hopes of slowing Canaan down, but the bigger issue will be the loss of some important sidekicks.
(Troy Machir): It’s close to impossible for Isaiah Canaan to replicate the success he and the Murray State Racer had last season. They were the last unbeaten team in the country. Only the National Championship-winning Kentucky Wildcats had less losses than Murray State. A lot of things will have to bounce Murray State’s way in order for Canaan and the Racers to meet the lofty expectations awaiting them. Murray State lost four important pieces over the off-season, three to graduation and one, sophomore Zay Jackson, to a season-long suspension. I do think Canaan will have a very strong year, but he won’t be able to surprise us like he did last year, and I don’t think he has the talent around him to do something truly special.
Michael Snaer, Florida State (David Harten): He’s as legit a shooter as there is, and he’s on a team that values him. He’s one of the best players in the ACC, averaging 14 points per game. But that’s not all that matters when it comes to being an All-American. The team itself plays a part. Big man Bernard James is gone. As is Snaer’s backcourt mate Luke Loucks. Unless another scoring threat emerges (it’s worth noting Ian Miller’s 10.3 ppg returns), Snaer could face a ton of double teams. And his production could drop.
Peyton Siva, Louisville (Daniel Martin): Siva was chosen to be the Big East Preseason Player of the Year and, considering his performance in the 2012 Big East and NCAA tournaments, that’s warranted. But we saw two different Sivas over the course of last season, one who led Louisville to the Final Four in March and the one who struggled through some doldrums during the middle of the year. Which one will predominate in 2012-13? The fate of the Louisville offense depends on his production, but there is the possibility that he could run into struggles at some point this year. As goes Siva, so go the Cardinals.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.