Resolutions

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New Year’s Resolutions: New Mexico Lobos

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Over the course of the holiday week, we at College Basketball Talk will be detailing what we believe will be the New Year’s Resolutions of some of the nation’s most talented, most disappointing, and thoroughly enigmatic teams. What can we say, we’re in a giving mood.

Who else made Resolutions? Click here to find out.

WHAT DOES NEW MEXICO PROMISE TO DO MORE OF?: Get consistent production from Cullen Neal and Deshawn Delaney.

    • Why it will happen:

With starter Hugh Greenwood missing the last three games with a wrist injury, the Lobos needed guys to step up and after a disappointing effort against New Mexico State both Neal and Delaney rose to the challenge. In wins over Marquette and Grand Canyon, Neal averaged 21.0 points per game and shot 13-for-22 from the field. As for Delaney, he averaged 8.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per game, finally beginning to look comfortable in head coach Craig Neal’s system. The added experience will help these two in their quest to earn more opportunities and (just as importantly) help supplement the production of Cameron Bairstow, Alex Kirk and Kendall Williams.

    • Why it won’t happen:

The biggest concern at this point may be how much they allow Greenwood’s return to impact their production. Greenwood will be ready to go when the Lobos open Mountain West play on January 4 against Colorado State, and he’s going back into the starting lineup. With both Delaney and Neal being talented players, the impact of Greenwood’s return ultimately comes down to maturity. If they understand the situation and simply continue to work, there won’t be any issues.

WHAT DOES NEW MEXICO SWEAR THEY WILL DO LESS OF?: Miss shots. (Yes, it really is this simple.)

    • Why it will happen:

After struggling from the field in losses to Kansas (33.3%) and New Mexico State (34.6%), the Lobos rebounded against Marquette (43.6%) and Grand Canyon (52.1%). Clearly the talent to shoot better than they have is there, with Williams winning Mountain West Player of the Year last season and each of New Mexico’s “big three” being in the running for the individual honor this season. UNM currently ranks 10th in the Mountain West in field goal percentage and 11th in three-point percentage, but they have the pieces needed to improve those rankings.

    • Why it won’t happen:

Well shooting was an issue last season as well, and that was with current Chicago Bull Tony Snell on the team. New Mexico’s shot 48% or better in five games this season, and in four games they’ve shot lower than 40% from the field. While New Mexico has the talent to be a better shooting them, the fact of the matter is that they’ve been unable to make the strides taken stick and that’s been a problem. In games in which they’ve shot 40% or less UNM is 1-3 this season, with the lone win coming over UAB.

New Year’s Resolutions: Oklahoma State Cowboys

Marcus Smart
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Over the course of the holiday week, we at College Basketball Talk will be detailing what we believe will be the New Year’s Resolutions of some of the nation’s most talented, most disappointing, and thoroughly enigmatic teams. What can we say, we’re in a giving mood.

Who else made Resolutions? Click here to find out.

WHAT DOES OKLAHOMA STATE PROMISE TO DO MORE OF?: Rebound the ball

  • Why it will happen: Oklahoma State isn’t short on athletes. Markel Brown, Marcus Smart, Le’Bryan Nash, Michael Cobbins, Brian Williams, Kamari Murphy. These are all kids that are capable of putting on a dunking show. The ability to rebound is equal parts positioning, boxing out and want-to. It has as much to do with effort as it does size, and given the Cowboy’s athleticism, this group should be able to improve on their currently-mediocre rebounding numbers.
  • Why it won’t happen: There’s a reason that the Cowboys are currently sitting 147th in the country in offensive rebounding percentage and 179th in the country in defensive rebounding percentage: they may be athletic, but they aren’t all that big up front. Michael Cobbins and Kamari Murphy are Travis Ford’s two biggest big guys, and they both check in at a slender, 6-foot-8. Le’Bryan Nash plays the four for the Pokes, but he’s never been a great rebounder, either. What happens when this team goes up against someone like Kansas or Kentucky, who has a massive front line?

WHAT DOES OKLAHOMA STATE SWEAR THEY WILL DO LESS OF?: Let Marcus Smart fire away from three

  • Why it will happen: I get it. Marcus Smart is the star of this team. He spent the offseason getting better shooting the ball. But he’s also shooting just 32.3% from three this season after shooting 29.0% from three last season. He can make threes, but he’s inconsistent. He’s streaky. And he’s taken more threes than anyone else on the Cowboys roster this season. More than Phil Forte (46.9%), Markel Brown (41.9%), and Stevie Clark (40.7%). Smart shouldn’t stop shooting. But he should be more selective.
  • Why it won’t happen: This is Smart’s team. He’s the star, he’s the leader, he’s the decision-maker. If he thinks a shot that he takes is a good shot, who is going to quibble with him?

New Year’s Resolutions: Creighton Bluejays

Doug McDermott
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Over the course of the holiday week, we at College Basketball Talk will be detailing what we believe will be the New Year’s Resolutions of some of the nation’s most talented, most disappointing, and thoroughly enigmatic teams. What can we say, we’re in a giving mood.

Who else made Resolutions? Click here to find out.

WHAT DOES CREIGHTON PROMISE TO DO MORE OF?: Become a more disruptive defensive team.

  • Why it will happen: Creighton may have the best offensive player and offense in the country, but their defense has holes that may come back to bite them as they embark on their first season in the Big East. With a team that is so high-powered on offense with a bevy of shooters, they will be able to get by — for the most part — with a mediocre defense. Guards Devin Brooks and Jahenns Manigat are both more than adequate perimeter defenders, and they should match-up well with the top guards in the Big East.
  • Why it won’t happen: Their defensive numbers actually don’t look too bad through the non-conference as they give up 65 ppg, but what is of concern is their inability to force turnovers. The Bluejays played a very pedestrian non-conference schedule, and the Big East figures to pose a much greater challenge to their defense. The prior two seasons, Creighton’s defense was actually worse than it is the year, so improvement has been made. However, not having a stopper in the paint like Greg Echenique will make it difficult to defend teams like Marquette and Georgetown who have imposing front-courts.

WHAT DOES CREIGHTON SWEAR THEY WILL DO LESS OF?: Head coach Greg McDermott will not have as short of a leash for guard Devin Brooks.

  • Why it will happen: Devin Brooks is in his first season with Creighton after transferring from Iowa Western CC. The Creighton offense isn’t one that anybody can simply step into and excel, but Brooks has done a solid job thus far coming off the bench as he’s averaging 8.1 points, 4.0 rpg, and 2.9 assists in just over 16 minutes of action — very productive. With the Big East featuring some of the best guards in the country, don’t be surprised if Brooks has his minutes extended and McDermott allows him to play through mistakes.
  • Why it won’t happen: Creighton is averaging nearly 83 ppg and, as previously mentioned, may have the best offense in the country. Why tamper with that? Senior shooting guard Jahenns Manigat, who is in his fourth season with Creighton, boasts a 2.9:1 assist to turnover ratio, while starting point guard Austin Chatman leads the team with assists at 4.3 per game. Until Creighton begins to struggle in the Big East or Brooks plays so well in practices / games that he leaves McDermott no choice but to see more minutes, Brooks will continue his role off the bench playing 15 minutes or so a night.

New Year’s Resolutions: Kansas Jayhawks

Bill Self
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Over the course of the holiday week, we at College Basketball Talk will be detailing what we believe will be the New Year’s Resolutions of some of the nation’s most talented, most disappointing, and thoroughly enigmatic teams. What can we say, we’re in a giving mood.

Who else made Resolutions? Click here to find out.

WHAT DOES KANSAS PROMISE TO DO MORE OF?: Find a consistent answer at point guard.

  • Why it will happen: The Jayhawks will need one of their two point guards — junior Naadir Tharpe or freshman Frank Mason — to step up and be more consistent if Kansas hopes to reach Arlington at the end of the season. Head coach Bill Self has to be pleased with the way his starter, Tharpe, has played in the last two games for Kansas since poor performances against Florida and Colorado and the Jayhawks’ incredibly difficult non-conference schedule should have them more prepared than most heading into the conference portion of the season.
  • Why it won’t happen: Tharpe (40 percent) and Mason (39 percent) are both shooting the ball poorly and are prone to lapses in judgement against pressure. It also doesn’t help that the Jayhawks are inconsistent as a team shooting the three (32 percent) and this allows opposing defenses to sag a bit and force Tharpe and Mason to make plays off the dribble. And how will Tharpe and Mason handle elite point guards after so-so showings against Florida’s backcourt and Colorado’s Spencer Dinwiddie? Facing an elite guard like Marcus Smart will be an interesting indicator of how Kansas’ point guards are handling Big 12 play.

WHAT DOES KANSAS SWEAR THEY WILL DO LESS OF?: Turn the ball over.

  • Why it will happen: Kansas turns the ball over around 13 times a game; none of the AP’s current top eight teams averages more than 12 turnovers per game, with many of them hovering around 10. Kansas is giving up a lot of possessions, but as their young rotation gets minutes together and their leadership at guard stabilizes, that number should go down. Naadir Tharpe looked far more in control during the Georgetown game and freshmen like Wayne Selden, Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid should understand the pressures of big-time college basketball after non-conference play is done. Plus, have you seen the difficulty of the Kansas non-conference schedule? They haven’t faced any low-to-mid major programs since late November and those turnover numbers could be slightly higher because of this.
  • Why it won’t happen: The Jayhawks have seven different players turning the ball over at least once a game. That points to a major team-wide issue and could prove to be an Achilles’ Heel for them come March. Kansas is still inconsistent in their halfcourt offense and their entire roster has to do a better job of valuing the ball and taking good shots. Is this a lack of leadership on the floor? Are the young Jayhawks still learning to gel? Only time will tell, but with Kansas’ perimeter shooting being so inconsistent, they also can’t afford to give away as many possessions as they have early in the year.

New Year’s Resolutions: Tennessee Volunteers

Jarnell Stokes, Madison Jones
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Over the course of the holiday week, we at College Basketball Talk will be detailing what we believe will be the New Year’s Resolutions of some of the nation’s most talented, most disappointing, and thoroughly enigmatic teams. What can we say, we’re in a giving mood.

Who else made Resolutions? Click here to find out.

WHAT DOES TENNESSEE PROMISE TO DO MORE OF?: Get more scoring production from their backcourt.

  • Why it will happen: Jordan McRae is off to a fine start for Tennessee, but the Volunteers have to get more scoring punch from the rest of their backcourt. Josh Richardson is hovering around his offensive averages from last season — so not much additional production can be expected from him — but Tennessee can count on some improvement from prized in-state freshman guard Robert Hubbs III and his fellow freshman Darius Thompson. Hubbs (31 percent) and Thompson (37 percent) are both shooting the ball poorly to start the season but their learning curve has gone up and Tennessee has to hope that they’ll only improve shooting the ball from here. Memphis transfer Antonio Barton is shooting some solid percentages and there should also be an increased comfort level with him in the lineup as well as the season progresses.
  • Why it won’t happen: Asking a pair of freshmen to improve during the conference portion of the schedule is never a fun thing to do and Tennessee has such a good frontcourt that it might not even matter some nights. What if the learning curve is just too steep for Hubbs and Thompson to be effective scorers this year? Thompson is more of a natural distributor anyways, but Hubbs needs to attack the basket and get to the free throw line if his shooting percentages don’t go up. And where has Antonio Barton been during big games? The senior was a combined 0-for-9 shooting and didn’t register a point when Tennessee lost consecutive games to Wichita State and North Carolina State earlier this month.

WHAT DOES TENNESSEE SWEAR THEY WILL DO LESS OF?: Rely on their big three to carry them every game.

  • Why it will happen: While Tennessee should work through their frontcourt of Jarnell Stokes and Jeronne Maymon, as well as guard Jordan McRae, they’ll need more from the rest of their team to hang with the big boys. Tennessee is too talented to not have a couple of guys step up with so much focus being drawn to those three players and the Volunteers are hoping their latest win against Morehead State will be more of the norm in terms of their balance. Sophomore Derek Reese saw his first action of the season and registered a double-double while Josh Richardson stepped up his scoring punch to lead the team with 19 points. The Volunteers don’t need guys like Reese and Richardson to carry the offense, but those role players have to score when they’re open.
  • Why it won’t happen: While the Morehead State game was a nice boost in morale thanks to the aforementioned balanced effort, the Eagles are hardly the kind of talented team Tennessee will play night-in and night-out in the SEC. And the Tennessee role players have been miserable lately against good competition. Maymon, McRae and Stokes combined for 43 of Tennessee’s 61 points in a loss to Wichita State and followed that up the next game with 48 of the team’s 58 points in another loss to North Carolina State. No player for Tennessee — besides those three players — scored more than six points in either of those two losses. Tennessee’s role players have looked overwhelmed against good competition lately and its a troubling sign they’ll need to fix in order to compete in the SEC.

New Year’s Resolutions: Ohio State Buckeyes

Aaron Craft, Todd Mayo
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Over the course of the holiday week, we at College Basketball Talk will be detailing what we believe will be the New Year’s Resolutions of some of the nation’s most talented, most disappointing, and thoroughly enigmatic teams. What can we say, we’re in a giving mood.

Who else made Resolutions? Click here to find out.

WHAT DOES OHIO STATE PROMISE TO DO MORE OF?: Better three-point shooting from Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott

  • Why it will happen: One of the biggest reasons that Ohio State’s offense gets bogged down is that the Buckeyes’ starting back court has been awful from beyond the arc this season. Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott are hitting 27.8% and 29.7% from three, respectively. But Craft has never shot this poorly in his collegiate career, and while Scott has never been a great shooter, he’s not a guy with poor form. He should be better than he is. More importantly, they are going to get some open looks as defenses slough off of them.
  • Why it won’t happen: Craft has consistently gotten worse every year in college. He shot 37.7% from three as a freshman, numbers that dipped to 36.9% as a sophomore and 30.0% as a junior. Entering the season, Scott was 12-for-51 from three on his career. Take away the 4-for-7 that Scott shot in the season-opener against Morgan State, he’s 23.3% from three. Those two should be better than they are, but there’s not a lot of reason to be optimistic.

WHAT DOES OHIO STATE SWEAR THEY WILL DO LESS OF?: Inconsistency from LaQuinton Ross

  • Why it will happen: The Buckeyes are really good defensively. How good? They are No. 1 in KenPom’s defensive efficiency ratings and they have one of the best defensive back courts in recent memory in Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott. Where they struggle is scoring the ball. The Buckeyes jut don’t have a ton of offensive weapons. Ross is the best, but he can be inconsistent. Through the first five games of the season, Ross averaged 6.2 points and shot 22.7% from the floor. That included a three game stretch where he scored seven points and shot 2-for-20. The last eight games, Ross is averaging 17.1 points and shooting 53.1% from floor and 48.5% from three.
  • Why it won’t happen: Ross is quite talented, but he’s never been a modicum of consistency. In fact, I don’t think that it’s crazy to say that the last eight games has been the longest stretch of consistently high-level basketball that Ross has ever played.