On the surface, the Owls suffered a significant setback in their recent home game against Bryant University. Bryant, entering the match with a 0-3 record against D1 competition, had previously incurred losses to Manhattan and Boston—two teams not anticipated to perform well. Furthermore, Bryant experienced a decisive defeat of 79-95 against Boston, compounding their struggles.
Adding to the challenges, Bryant recently terminated their coach, contributing to a period of organizational turmoil. While this defeat could potentially result in a substantial NET loss exceeding 200, there may be a silver lining in acknowledging the underlying talent within the Bryant team. Despite appearances, players such as Earl Timberlake (formerly of Memphis), Sherif Gross-Bullock (previously with LaSalle), and Doug Edert (notable for Elite 8 participation) are formidable assets, though their contributions did not translate into victories last season.
For FAU, this outcome could serve as an early indication that they may not be among the top 25 teams. Anticipating every opponent’s best effort throughout the season, FAU may encounter additional losses. Despite the achievements of the previous season, there remains a lingering skepticism, rooted in the team’s performance two seasons ago when they maintained a close-to-.500 record with a NET ranking around 150th. While player development is a factor, the leap from that standing to a top-15 position and a Final Four appearance may have been a unique convergence of circumstances.
Reflecting on a game where Memphis narrowly lost by 2 points in the first round, one may question whether FAU’s ranking would have been as high had Memphis emerged victorious. It underscores the delicate balance for a team that, despite winning 35 games, faces inquiries following a loss of this nature.
Jackson State was a team we had highlighted in the offseason. When I noticed they took down Mizz that didn’t surprise me until I learned it was without Daeshun Ruffin. Ruffin was the entire reason they were on our radar at all so to do it without him is very troubling for the Tigers. It’s also very encouraging for Jackson State when they get into the SWAC if or when Ruffin becomes available.
While losing to UNCG is not catastrophic, our concerns about Arkansas revolved around their shooting prowess and the overall quality of this year’s transfers. Initially, we viewed El Ellis, Tramon Mark, and Khalif Battle as solid but not necessarily spectacular additions. Surprisingly, they currently stand as the team’s top three leading scorers. This development raises concerns for us, as relying on these players as primary scorers may not bode well for the team’s performance.
Considering that these transfers were previously leading programs like Louisville and Temple last season, it’s noteworthy that Mark is no longer operating within the system that Houston has in place. Additionally, Davonte Davis has demonstrated the ability to shoot a team out of a game quickly, leaving the team with limited alternatives. While Trevon Brazilemore could potentially assume a leading role, it’s crucial to acknowledge that he is returning from an ACL injury, and expecting him to carry extensive minutes or usage may not be realistic.
In summary, while a loss to UNCG is manageable, the underlying issues with Arkansas’s shooting and dependence on transfers as primary scorers raise significant concerns, especially given the players’ previous roles in leading successful programs. The team’s ability to adapt and find alternative sources of scoring, particularly in the absence of Trevon Brazilemore’s full capacity, remains a critical factor for their success moving forward.
The team’s performance has been deeply disappointing compared to our initial expectations. Following the early setbacks against Davidson and UAB, the team’s offensive struggles persisted, exemplified by their meager 40-point output against Villanova—a team that, despite recent struggles, does not currently exhibit top 25 caliber. This underwhelming performance raises perplexing questions, particularly regarding the lackluster starts of traditionally reliable and proven players such as Jahmir Young, Julian Reese, and Donta Scott.
Our initial assessment regarding the team’s depth has proven inaccurate, and the core, which includes the returning star duo, has not performed at the anticipated level. The underwhelming contributions from key players cast doubt on the team’s ability to meet expectations. The possibility that Coach Willard may have lost the team is a concern worth considering, as it could be a contributing factor to the collective underperformance.
In light of these challenges, a reassessment of the team’s dynamics, coaching strategies, and player morale may be necessary to address the current shortcomings. Identifying the root causes of the team’s struggles and implementing corrective measures will be essential to salvage the season and regain the anticipated competitive edge.
How about them Terrapins! Maryland was a team we held in high regard to start the season, with expectations fueled by the return of the core elements from last season’s team, which finished 23rd in Kenpom. That was under a first year coach with the top player in Jahmir Young transfering in as well. Three of their four double-digit scorers, along with their top two standout players, were set to resume their roles. The primary departure was Hakim Hart with an average of 11.4 points per game, 4.1 rebounds per game, and an 18.2 PER. The assessment included the anticipation that Jordan Geronimo would be a decent facsimile of Hart’s , providing a comparable skill set.
Furthermore, there was optimism about the team’s overall improvement in the second year under Coach Kevin Willard’s system, with the cohesive core returning intact. However, the season’s early results have not aligned with these expectations, as the Terrapins suffered two losses on a neutral court to UAB and Davidson—teams we initially projected to be outside the top 100. While both defeats were narrow three-point margins, they are challenging setbacks for a team initially believed to possess top-15 potential and accordingly ranked as such.
Despite these early struggles, it’s important to note mitigating factors, such as Julian Reese, a player we know is talented struggled one of the losses. Additionally, the emergence of freshman DeShawn Harris-Smith as the fourth key player has been promising, with expectations of continued improvement as the season unfolds. However, there is a perceptible decline in confidence regarding the supporting cast beyond these key contributors. While it may be premature to entirely dismiss the earlier optimistic projections, ongoing evaluation and adjustments to the team dynamics will be crucial in determining the Terrapins’ trajectory for the remainder of the season.
Arizona @ Duke
Coach K didn’t take many out-of-conference losses in Cameron a testament to the formidable nature of his teams and difficulty to play in Cameron. This defeat isn’t a five alarm fire but for a team that garnered preseason projections as high as the second-best team in the nation it’s a wake up call. Having initially ranked Arizona ahead of Duke in our preseason rankings, the outcome isn’t entirely surprising to us.
Notably, Terrance Proctor’s start to the season has fallen considerably short of the All-American expectations surrounding him others placed on him. With 62 minutes played, an 11.4 PER, and a .502% true shooting percentage. Such statistics deviate significantly from the pre-season hype. Proctor faced notable challenges against Arizona, managing 3-9 shooting, accumulating 8 points, 5 assists, 1 rebound, and 2 steals in 37 minutes. Similarly, Jeremy Roach, despite a 17-point contribution, faced struggles as well, requiring 39 minutes and 14 shots to reach that mark. Moreover, his limited production in assists (3) and rebounds (3) falls below the expected standards for guards projected as “All-American” in places and were the weak spots in the loss.
Conversely, Arizona showcased a commendable performance, dispelling concerns about the removal of Kerr Kriisa being a detriment. All along we thought that was addition by subtraction. Pelle Larsson, in particular, stands out as an underrated player on the national stage. The team’s overall strength and cohesion suggest that the subtraction of Kriisa has not hindered their progress and may indeed be viewed as a positive transformation. They look ready for another big year.
Despite Tyson Walker’s impressive individual performance of scoring 35 points, the unexpected loss at home becomes more comprehensible when scrutinizing the team’s abysmal 1-20 three-point shooting. The subsequent game, marked by a 1-11 performance against Southern Indiana, only compounds the concern, reflecting an alarming dip in team shooting proficiency. Such dismal numbers over a two-game stretch are unprecedented and raise red flags, particularly given the struggles of typically reliable shooters like Walker and Jaden Adkins.
While it is reasonable to anticipate a regression towards the mean for proven shooters experiencing a temporary slump, it prompts a reevaluation of preseason rankings, including one’s own projections. The team’s placement at 6th in some rankings and 4th in others may have been overly optimistic, considering their 26th position in Kenpom last season and the departure of a valuable player. The initial enthusiasm, fueled by a Sweet 16 appearance and respect for Coach Tom Izzo, may have led to an inflated ranking. In hindsight, a more conservative estimate, perhaps around the 15th rank, would have been more accurate.
It’s noteworthy that Michigan State chose to face a mid-major team with substance, demonstrating a commitment to challenging opponents. The upcoming games will serve as a crucial indicator of whether the team can address its shooting struggles and realign with preseason expectations.
We thought Oklahoma State would be bad starting them 115th in the preseason and they may be worse than that after losing to Abilene Christian that was 13-17 last season. Not to be out done Notre Dame lost to Western Carolina by 10. Of course, Louisville just loses taking 10 point loss to Chattanooga. These appear to be the 3 teams along with Oregon State that will try to outdo each other for the worst of the P5.