Second year coach, Matt Painter, will look to improve on Purdue’s second round exit in the NCAA tournament. After taking over from the legendary Gene Keady, Painter seemed to provide a shot of adrenaline into the Boilermaker program. Now he has to prove his ability to sustain that success.
Painter won’t be the only sophomore Boilermaker. 6’8” Robbie Hummel will be out to prove last year wasn’t a fluke. As a freshman the native of Valparaiso, Indiana averaged 11 points and six rebounds to go with a pair of assists per game.
Hummel is joined by Nemanja Calasan in the front court. The junior college transfer will also be making his second tour through the Big Ten.
As a frosh E’Twaun Moore led the Boilermakers in scoring – the first time a rookie had done so in Purdue history. Moore also finished second in team rebounding and assists. He’ll be joined in the back court by Keaton Grant and Chris Kramer.
Senior guard, Marcus Green, and 6’10” sophomore, Jajuan Johnson will log valuable minutes coming off the bench.
Jeff Capel enters his third season at the helm in Stillwater after leading the Virginia Commonwealth program for two years. The Duke grad has proven that Xs and Os are more important to him than text messaging was to his predecessor. The Sooners collapsed in the second round of the 2008 NCAAs when they lost to L’ville by 30, but senior, Austin Johnson and junior, Tony Crocker, return in the back court. The two combined for an average of 23 points in every Sooner victory last year. Tellingly that number dropped to 12 points when Oklahoma lost. The vets will be joined by frosh phenom, Willie Warren – the highest rated recruit in school history.
Brothers, Blake and Taylor Griffin, will start in the front court. Blake Griffin surprised everyone when he chose to remain in school although he was forecasted to go as a lottery pick. He had 10 double-doubles last year. Taylor Griffin, the elder of the two, is not as talented but provides muscle under the boards.
Juan Patillo and Ryan Wright will come off the bench. Patillo is a junior college transfer, and Wright left UCLA to play for the Sooners.
Seniors, Antonio Anderson and Robert Dozier, return from last year’s national finalist. Dozier considered the NBA draft but thought better of it and will need to improve on his nine points and six rebounds per game. Anderson tied for the team lead in steals last year with 49. Anderson scored in double figures 16 times last year including 51 trifectas.
Anderson will be joined in the back court by freshman, Tyreke Evans and junior, Willie Kemp. After last year’s success of Derrick Rose, Evans will have a large size pair of Converse to fill as he steps in at point.
6’10” junior, Shawn Taggart, will join Dozier in the front court.
John Calipari will go nine deep with Doneal Mack, Jeff Robinson, Roburt Sallie, and Wesley Witherspoon all getting significant minutes.
Pearl’s squad will press and trap to exhaustion creating as many possession and turnovers as possible. Last year the Vols strung together a bunch of wins early before fading late in the season. This year they have quite the challenging pre-conference schedule with Siena on 11/27, Temple (Yo Rey!) on 12/13, Marquette three days later before showdowns with Kansas and Gonzaga in the New Year. The Vols are the highest ranked SEC team, and Florida is the only other team from the conference in the top 25.
Pearl will go nine-deep (and he’ll have to as his kids will play 94 feet every night) using Brian Williams, Cameron Tatum, Josh Tabb, and Emmanuel Negedu.
Herb Sendek’s Sun Devils return four guards – juniors, Derek Glasser and Jerren Shipp along with sophomores Ty Abbott and Rihards Kuksiks. Glasser will run the point while Abbott and Kuksiks will spot up behind the arc. Shipp – brother of UCLA’s Josh- averaged 25 minutes per game off the bench last year.
Jeff Pendergraph and James Harden will start in the front court. Pendergraph led the team in rebounding last year and was second in scoring.
Duke transfer, Eric Boateng, will be a role player in Sendek’s front court. 6’7” freshman, Johnny Coy, will see his share of minutes in his first Pac-10 season.