Friday, November 9, 2007

Arkansas-Little Rock upset?

With the monumental upset of Kentucky, the college basketball world was stunned. While some are astonished that Gardner Webb managed to pull one of the biggest upsets in the history of Kentucky basketball, others point to a parady within the sport. Although these two teams may attain the spotlight, in the spirit of upsets, this article will be devoted to a lesser known matchup. The outcome of one of tonight's contest is in question. The College of the Ozarks- an NAIA Division 2 school which won its respective championship in 2006- has to potential to upset a lesser known Division 1 mid major school by the name of Arkansas-Little Rock. This squad does not have the storied tradition of a Kentucky, but their poor fairings the past two years were the first consecutive sub-500 seasons in the program's history. That is a fairly impressive feat for a program that never really garnered the same national attention as its Western Kentucky rival. Arkansas-Little Rock is a respected member of the Sun Belt conference, and a loss here could severely damage the future of this program.

Very rarely does an outside school upset a Division 1 opponent. With that said, the College of the Ozarks is one of the top teams in NAIA Division 2; they rank in the top 25. However, this team lost its go to player Michael Bonaparte, who currently plays overseas in Ireland. Without their centerpiece, they will have a more balanced attack. Seniors Daniel Bandy and Chris Pullen will lead the charge. Tamas Rapp and Drew Ray add depth to the backcourt. Rounding out the backcourt is 6'6 guard Jared Howerton. His considerable height will cause matchup problems even for a division 1 team. After missing the vast majority of last season, 6'6, 220 pound forward Corey Stone returns to add support to their frontline. The College of the Ozarks currently has one of the biggest frontlines in the program's history. Stone provides muscle inside and sophomore forward Scott McElvain possesses the height necessary to defend stronger division 1 players. Therein, this Eagles squad should be a formidable matchup for a Division 1 squad that is still rebuilding.

On the other hand, Arkansas-Little Rock has a nice array of perimeter players. They are on relatively similar terms in regards to height because Little Rock predominantly relies upon their backcourt to carry the scoring load. Derrick Bails is the tallest player on the roster, standing at a mere 6'9. This is somewhat deceiving because Bails is only a freshman and may not play much in this contest. In the backcourt, ALRU retains rising star De'Andre Eggins, who averaged over 16ppg the final nine games of the season. But, the vast majority of the playing time will be given to the talented class of newcomers. JUCO transfer Shane Edwards and former Old Miss standout Brandon Patterson should play a major role in the Little Rock backcourt. Transfers John Fowler, and LaMarvon Jackson should also receive some playing time.

Comparatively speaking, ALRU may be more talented because of their impact transfers and returning talent. However, they do not possess the dominant size to overwhelm a lesser school such as College of the Ozarks. Instead, they are nearly on equal terms inside. College of the Ozarks's Corey Stone provides returning experience from a championship season and could play a major role in the paint. Also, at the guard slots, they have very experienced talent capable of exploiting ALRU weaknesses. This could be especially pertinent because the vast majority of the Little Rock offense are transfers who have not had the opportunity to coalesce into a cohesive unit. If College of the Ozarks can employ their considerable experience and take advantage of their comparable size inside, an upset is possible.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Darkhorse mid major prospects for the upcoming season

Every year, midmajors emerge as legitamite NBA prospects. Many are not highly touted coming from high school, but their talent really supersedes expectations. The following are my prime are players who could appear on NBA scouting radars by the end of the season :

Kevin Perkins of TAMCC is a freshman who should start right away. I see him as the probable freshman of the year in the Southland conference and one of the more talented players in the midmajors. He will run a surprising Corpus Christi offense, which lost all but two scholarship players.

Desmond Yates of Middle Tennessee St. could play in the NBA if he becomes a leader of his squad. He has size at 6'7 and an ability to shoot from the perimeter. If he can become more consistent in this respect, I see him as a success story. He has all the physical tools to thrive at the next level.

Tyrone Shelley of Pepperdine is a small forward at the college level who will make an immediate impact in the WCC. I expect him to seriously challenge teams in this conference, including the Zags. He is a prolific scorer and a consummate slasher.

Herb Pope is a highly touted big man out of New Mexico St. He should be the conference freshman of the year and could emerge as a 1st or 2nd team player after his first season. If he wants to play in the NBA, Pope should continue to improve his shooting and ball handling so that he can thrive at the small forward slot.

Roy Bright of Delaware St. is the best player in the MEAC. So what? Well, this guy could challenge major conference players as a legitamite presence in the paint. He is also a potential Orlando camp invite and 2nd round draft pick. He's a bit undersized, but we'll see if his all around game is more complete this year.

Daniel Ruffin of Bradley is a wirey 5'10 point guard. But, don't let his size fool you- this guy has an enormous wingspan and can defend point guards 4 or 5 inches taller than him. He will lead Bradley's charge and could become a surprise candidate for player of the year in the Missouri Valley Conference.