Sam Snelling, Belegcam, HHKB Chris, CBonerfied and myself trade emails about a sport that won't be played for like 4 months
Let's start with one topic.
"Who's ready for a leap in the SEC and who's ready for a fall?" Let's define "leap" as "making NCAA tournament" and "fall" as not. Additional corollary: If you answer with Mizzou for "leap" you should also include another SEC team so we aren't just all sounding like homers.
I think Georgia is probably the most obvious answer. They've got just about everybody coming back from a team that really found itself in the second half of the season. Charles Mann and Kenny Gaines are a tough duo, plus Jurisic and Morris. From the outside it looks as though Mark Fox has finally got some footing down in Athens, and he's built a physically and mentally tough team. I expect them to contend for the second place in the league. Another team that might be close is LSU. They're still incredibly talented on the front line, Johnny Jones is recruiting like mad but they'll be very young. But if they get enough help from the back court LSU has a chance to be very good. It's also easy to see Coach Mike Anderson finally breaking through at Arkansas. He's got Bobby Portis coming back with Ky Madden and Michael Qualls as well as Moses Kingsley. There is a lot of talent in those four guys, and the rest of the roster is full of interchangeable parts, which is when Anderson usually has his best teams.
Who's going to fall? I think you could see Ole Miss take a big step back. There has been some roster turmoil with transfers in and out, and we've experienced first hand how that can affect a team. They've got Summers coming back but losing so much scoring with Marshall Henderson and I'm not sure their front court depth is all that good to begin with. I'm also not sold on Kennedy as a coach either. UT would be another team that you can see having it a bit rough next year. I love Tyndall as a coach but they lost everybody except Richardson from that stretch run. Getting Robert Hobbs back will help, and those two together will make UT a tough out. But Cuonzo left that roster with some depth issues everywhere, I just don't see how they'll be a middle of the pack SEC team this year.
Hah! I don't have much to add, those are pretty good choices. Auburn will be better with Pearl, and strangely, I am not sure that SCar is ever going to get off their schneid with Frank. They are past the point where they should be competitive under him--it has not worked out there, and recruiting isn't to the point where you see an upside for the Gamecocks.
Approaching this question basically assumes that Florida and Kentucky will continue to represent the SEC in the NCAA tournament next year. It's hard not to agree with that considering the success of Billy Donovan and the recruiting of John Calipari, but even Calipari had his off year due to Nerlens Noel being injured.
I can't say I'm confident Mizzou gets an NCAA tournament bid in 2014, but I think that hedge comes as no surprise around these parts. We may be homers, but not to that extent. Just like in 2013, I think the SEC will be about a 3 bid league, which means that Mizzou is back in the same boat they were last year in terms of needing to perform in the non-conference and conference schedules. To me that means a perfect non-con record and at least upsetting one of the top dogs of Florida or Kentucky while holding serve with Arkansas, Tennessee and Georgia.
Since Sam already picked Georgia, I'll put the onus on Arkansas to make the NCAA tourney "leap". The pressure from the fanbase is on Mike Anderson to perform and I think even the most ardent Arky fans would back me up. Taking a quick look at Arky's roster, Rashad Madden, Bobby Portis and Michael Qualls seem like a good trio but the roster only has 9 players listed so I'd be concerned about depth. I don't want Arkansas to make the tournament at the expense of Mizzou or a more talented team, but I'm also not ready to give up the rivalry with Suitcase Mike so I expect him to coach for his job in 2014.
I don't know enough about Tennessee's Donnie Tyndall, but I'd think they're the obvious choice to fall in 2014. They had a surprising run at the end of the season which propelled them into a NCAA but I think their losses, particularly of big man Jarnell Stokes, will be too much for them. They really gelled around him late in the season. Also, I think Tennessee, with former Mizzou commit Kevin Punter, will be interesting to keep an eye on. Tennessee in 2014 strikes me as similar to Ole Miss in 2013, not really "good" but good enough to upset you.
Good day All!
It appears that after their run to end last season and the success they've had in recruiting the easy money on the team to make the leap to the next level would be Georgia, though I do not think this is a leap that will permanently solidify their spot in "tier 2" of the conference hierarchy. Obviously Auburn will move forward just based on the Pearl's recruiting and shown coaching ability, and realistically that team can't get worse. Arkansas is a year behind the Bill C, Mike Anderson year 3 projection for a tourney invite, but this could be their year, though their issues with the road and potential issues by getting handsy could hold them back.
For teams set to slide, I don't have much faith in LSU. Last year's team was stacked and got a nice win over Kentucky, but otherwise pretty darn ordinary, and I have to assume that's got to fall on Johnny Jones.
Tennessee will also take a BIG slide back since everyone that was of consequence is now gone and one of the reasons Michael White didn't take the job. Tyndall has shown he can be a winner wherever he goes but he has a lot of work to do before the Vols ship will be righted, and with that fanbase it could get unpleasant in Knoxville pretty quickly. Finally, Ole Miss will take a big old fall and the satire will flow on Red Cup Rebellion.
A fun additional question would be where does Mizzou fall in the "tiers" of the SEC and my thinking is that while this year they don't get an NCAA tourney I think KA will have the team moving in the right direction to get an invite next year and solidly place Mizzou in tier 2 behind Kentucky and Florida.
Are we talking about who makes the leap to Tourney team next year or who will make the leap to perennial tournament team? I do think sustained success in Georgia is a tough thing to accomplish, though the peach state is loaded with talent and just keeping a small amount of those players home would do wonders for Fox. And long term Auburn is sitting nicely if they can keep Pearl there. But I don't see Pearl and Auburn being a factor next year. They'll be better, but that's not saying much.
Well, I meant to respond to this last night, but then I forgot and fell asleep. Worst. Masthead. Ever. :)
For my leap pick, I'm going with Arkansas. I could see the pieces starting to come together at times last season, and we know all too well how formidable MA can be when he gets his guys playing his way. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see the Razorbacks comfortably in the tournament at season's end. To a lesser extent, I also see a rise from Georgia, for reasons adequately summarized already, but I see them as more of a bubble-level team.
For the falling team, I'm tempted to go out on a limb and pick Florida, which is losing plenty of talent, but realistically they are too deep to fall out of the tournament entirely. To be frank, they will likely still be better than Arky. So I'll go with the much safer pick of Tennessee, as Donnie Tyndall looks to be in for a rough first year.
Here's how I see the tiers at this moment (take this with an enormous hunk of salt this far out, but why not throw out something to argue about):
Tier 1 (Sure-thing tournament teams): Kentucky, Florida, Arkansas
Tier 2 (Bubble): Mizzou, Georgia
Tier 3 (NIT/CBI): Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss, Vandy, SC, Tennessee
Tier 4 (When does football start?): Alabama, MSU, A&M
I can see A&M being in the NIT/CBI next year. With SC, UT and Ole Miss being out.
I guess I was thinking about which team could make it to the NCAA tournament next year, not become a perennial team. I guess I think that there isn't much in the way of mobility in the SEC, at least as far as breaking into that perennial NCAA team tier. If we're putting teams into tiers I'd say
Tier 1 (Blue-Bloods and NCAA Tourney locks): Kentucky and Florida
Tier 2 (Bubble teams): Tennessee, Mizzou, LSU, Vanderbilt
Tier 3 (Boxers): Auburn, Georgia, Ole Miss, Arkansas
Tier 4 (Bottom-dwellers): Miss State, SCAR, Texas A&M, Alabama
*Boxers = teams that have a puncher's chance to surprise higher tiered teams
I totally didn't intend to alliterate my Tier names, but it works. Basically, given the coaching, recruiting and school commitment to basketball, that's how I see the various teams in the SEC falling barring some fantastic upheavals like Bruce Pearl going super-saiyan at Auburn.
And to reiterate my previous point, I agree that Georgia is the best bet to move up these tiers long-term but I want Arkansas to buck recent trends and make the tournament so Suitcase Mike doesn't leave and we can really lock in that rivalry.
I think that's about what I would have a except I would swap LSU and Arkansas. And I would also probably swap Ole Miss and TAMU. Texas A&M is a lot tougher than we think they are, they're well coached and decently talented. They've also got Jalen Jones (a solid transfer from SMU) Danuel House (a former top 40 recruit who could pursue a waiver to play right away) and a top 60 PG adding to the mix. They could be pretty good in the future. I like their short term advantages over Auburn right now. So mine would look like:
Tier 1: UK & UF
Tier 2: Mizzou, Vandy, Arky, Georgia
Tier 3: UT, LSU, A&M, Auburn
Tier 4: MSU, SoCar, Bama & Ole Miss
Since I kind of started this, I think I'll opine as well because more roundtable is better!
Tier 1: Kentucky and Florida, and I don't really see that changing unless Cal or Billy Donovan heads for another job. Even at that point I think Kentucky (barring a hiring failure) would still be ok, whereas I suppose I could see FLA slipping back a bit.
Tier 2: Mizzou, Arkansas and Georgia, all three take their basketball seriously, have proven coaches and good recruiting situations, that is unless for Arkansas CMA finds his true dream job. Georgia and Fox are rich in resources and the fact that GaTech isn't doing anything of consequence can only help. As for Mizzou, we know the alumni care, hiring KA has shown that we want this to be a focus and not just something to do between football season and football practice season and the moves he's made have shown to be forward thinking program building steps.
Tier 3: Vandy, Tennessee, LSU, Auburn. four schools that are interested in caring about basketball but that have some internal conflicts to taking that next step. I put Auburn in here solely because of the Pearl hire, and should he leave I think that they would slide back to tier 5 status, housed only by MSU. As for LSU and Tennessee they have opportunities to be better but I just don't see it happening any in the near future. Tyndall is a builder and a good coach but UT is a mess and most likely will be for at least a year or two. LSU, I see them struggling solely for the fact that the team was good and talented this year and didn't really do anything. That seems to me to be a coaching issue.
Tier 4: SCar, Bama, these teams would like to be good but they just can't seem to get over the hump. Bama and SCar have good coaches but they can't seem to move forward and I know many are bullish on the Cocks but I don't really see it happening in the near term. I think Grant could build something in Bama, but I don't see the administration giving him much more time to do what he needs to do to succeed.
Tier 5: The state of Mississippi, MSU really doesn't seem to care about basketball and sans Henderson I don't see Ole Miss doing much of anything. It's pre baseball season for these schools once football ends.
I would have thought that Vandy's court alone would have dragged them down another tier for you Chris!
But I would argue that Vandy's situation and recent history is much stronger than Georgia's. Stallings has been at Vanderbilt since the 99-00 season and he's taken them to the NCAA's 6 times including the Sweet 16 twice. Meanwhile Georgia has been 4 times since then with only one win total. Fox has taken UGa to the tourney once in his second year. Things are definitely trending up at UGa, but Vandy is a solid tier 2 team to me. They've got a solid group coming back, Shelton Mitchell and Wade Baldwin (both 4-star guards) coming in. And a couple good commits for 2015. I think they're going to rebound from the hole they've been in the last few years.
If we're talking court wise, there's a special place in hell for that monstrosity.
It's wildly illegal!
Anyway, my rationale for Georgia above Vandy is the area surrounding it, there's really not much competition for talent, however with Vandy you have UT, Kentucky, and Mizzou in the backyard fighting for the same resources, including Memphis even.
Also, I think Stallings may be STALLING out. Thanks I'll be here forever