Thursday, June 30, 2011

Offseason News and Notes

Since we're in the college basketball doldrums, aka summer, I figured it's time to put up some off-the-court news to help pass the time until early November.  Enjoy.

A look at the newcomers for 2011-12:

Juan Anderson - 4-star, 6'6 wing who can do just about everything.  Averaged 17 points, 7 boards and 3 assists per game this season.  He'll be playing behind Jae Crowder and Jamil Wilson next season, but should be able to make an impact in the limited playing time he'll get.  Look for him to break out his sophomore season.

Todd Mayo - 6'3 SG, with great basketball genes in the bloodline.  If we can get talent similar to brother O.J without the baggage, we'll have a dynamite player in Todd Mayo.

Derrick Wilson - 6"0 PG with good quickness.  Shouldn't be seeing much PT this season as he'll be behind Blue and Cadougan on the depth chart.

Jamil Wilson - Technically a newcomer since he had to red-shirt last season due to transferring from Oregon.  He's gotten a lot of hype since coming to MU.  Very athletic and versatile forward.  Likely to be a starter once the roster shakes out.

Jake Thomas - Walk-on transfer from South Dakota with good shooting range.  He'll be sitting out this season.

And the outgoers:

Eric Williams and Dave Singleton have both left the program.  Williams is transferring to Sam Houston State where he'll have 2 years of eligibility left.  Plenty to speculate about with this move (injuries, playing time, etc), but whatever the reason is it's too bad because it seems like Williams was maturing into the role of being either a starter or 6th man for this season.  The departure of Singleton should have little to no impact on the team going forward.

Steve Cottingham, the Athletic Director since 2007 is stepping down as well.  No replacement has been named yet.

Alumni Updates

Dwayne Wade has been his usual dominant self in the NBA this season, averaging 25 points, 6 boards and 5 assists per game, and his playoff numbers so far are slightly better than those averages.  Even with the addition of Lebron James and Chris Bosh to the line-up this season, Wade is still the leader of the team.  Even though the Heat fell short of winning the title this year (depending on which newspaper you read), Wade still had yet another fantastic season.

Wes Matthews has been earning every bit of that $34 million contract he signed with Portland, averaging 15.9 ppg (2nd on the team), 3 rpg, and 2 apg.  The Trailblazers made it to the playoffs but were knocked out by the eventual champs, the Mavs, in the first round in 6 games.

Lazar Hayward had a quiet rookie season, but nonetheless productive.  He played in 42 games and averaged 4 ppg while only playing 10 minutes per game.  The Timberwolves can't possibly get any worse (or can they?) which hopefully translates into more playing time for Lazar next season.

Doc Rivers led the Boston Celtics to the second round of the NBA playoffs before getting knocked out by Dwayne Wade and the Heat.  After the playoffs, he signed a 5-year, $35 million extension with the Celtics.  On a side note, his son Austin is ranked as the #1 player in this year's freshman class and is headed to none other than Duke.  Congrats Doc!

Jerel McNeal had a spectacular year in the NBA Development League with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.  McNeal averaged 19 ppg during the regular season and 28, 7, and 6.5 in the playoffs.  The Vipers made it to the championship but fell to the Iowa Energy 2-1.  In the lone win over Iowa, Jerel had 37 points, 9 boards and 8 assists.  He also signed a 10-day contract with the New Orleans Hornets while Chris Paul was injured, but didn't see any playing time.  Hopefully his work from this season will get noticed by teams around the NBA.

Dominic James had a decent season with Lukoil Academik Sofia in Bulgaria, with 14 ppg, shooting 66% from inside the arc, and a season-high game of 25 points.  Lukoil ran the table during the regular season with an impressive 28-0 record and was knocked out in the quarterfinals by Krka in the EuroChallenge.

Steve Novak picked a bad time (ok, I guess he didn't "pick" it) to leave the Mavs for the Spurs.  Novak was traded mid-season to the Spurs but still spent most of his time riding the bench, playing just 9 minutes per game.  For those 9 minutes he was in each game, his shooting percentages were pretty impressive, shooting 57% from beyond the arc and 52% overall from the field.  Had he been nonexistent with the Mavs instead of the Spurs, he may have been the third MU alum in the last 5 years to get a championship under his belt.

Travis Diener had a solid year in the Italian League, Series A for Dinamo Sassari, averaging 13 points and 5 assists per game.  The club finished with a record of 13-15, 9th place in the league out of 16 teams.  Nice fo-hawk, Travis.

Maurice Acker is playing in the Premier Basketball League in Canada for the Quebec Kebs.  What is a Keb you ask?  Keb is short for Kebekwa which means Quebecker (real creative!).  Acker only averaged 8 ppg this season, but had an assist/turnover ratio above 2.  The Kebs went 15-8 in the regular season and finished second in their division.

Dwight Burke played in the Czech Republic for Ostrava for most of the season and ended with Evreux in France.  Burke had a productive season, averaging 13.5 ppg and 7.5 rpg despite being sidelined for 3 weeks with an ankle injury.

Brian Wardle, as you may know, finished up his first year of coaching for the UW-Green Bay Phoenix.  The team went 14-18 overall and was knocked out by Wright State in the first round of the Horizon League Championship.

Congrats to Jimmy Butler!  Butler was the 30th overall pick by the Chicago Bulls in this year's NBA draft.  Scores of articles have come out in the past week about the journey Jimmy's been on from being homeless, to faxing in his NLI from a McDonald's, to now making a 6-figure salary (and maybe more) right out of college.  This is now the second year in a row a MU player has been drafted in the first round.  Both Lazar Hayward and Jimmy Butler had impressive performances at pre-draft camps and the scouts took notice.  On a side note, I haven't worn a Bulls jersey since I had a black Jordan jersey in middle school 15 years ago.  This may be reason enough for me to get a new one.

Nice picture below of Jimmy and Buzz at the Berto Center.  To those who don't know, Jimmy picked 21 as a "tip of the cap" to Joe Fulce, who was his roommate this last season.

That's all for now.  Updates on Cottingham's replacement to follow soon.