October 2004

Basketball picksOctober 1, 2004


2004 / 2005 NBA Basketball Preview

Wunderdog's Pre Season NBA Preview

It looks again as is the Spurs have what it takes to win the NBA Championship this season. The combination of Parker and Ginobli in the backcourt with Duncan in the middle makes this team a tough one for anyone in the league. If their defense is able to hold up in the postseason, they should win the NBA championship next summer. Detroit will be hard pressed to repeat this season. Everything, and I mean everything, fell in place for their championship team of one year ago. They'll be there again in the East, but no one in the East should be able to beat the top three out West in a best of seven series.

Best in the West
1) San Antonio – Until someone beats them, this is the team in the West. They can score from anywhere on the court, and can defend as well. They're my early season choice to get the trophy this summer.

2) Phoenix – Keep an eye on this basketball team. They have all kinds of talent in Nash, Stoudamire, Marion, and Richardson. They'll go very deep in the playoffs and could be really on to something. They are deep and can flat out play offense and defense. If there is a darkhorse in the West, it resides in Phoenix. This team could easily end up winning the West this season.

3) Minnesota – Say what you will, but the Wolves still have great talent in KG, Cassell and Spree. They have too many egos to be taken seriously as a contender, but they'll be hanging around throughout the season. They'll bow out in the semis of the Western Playoffs. I hope that they face the Nuggets again this postseason. That would be a series I wouldn't miss.

4) Dallas – Again, lots of talent, but they'll disappear late in the season. Missing out on Shaq in the offseason really hurt the Mavs, but their core is very good on the offensive side of the court. The team just does not play enough defense to be taken seriously come the playoffs. The offense of Nowitski, Harris, and Stackhouse will keep them in the playoff mix throughout the season, but they could fall if they experience injuries and do not imporve their team defense.

Best in the East
1) Detroit – The Pistons are the defending champs here so they get the nod here, albeit a slightl oneover the rest of the weak Eastern Conference. Billups and Hamilton form a tough backcourt here and Prince is a great clutch scorer for this team. The key will be the health of Ben Wallace. He has missed some games already this young season and will now miss six more due to his role in the fracus on Friday. The Pistons will need him to be a key player down the stretch in the East.

2) Miami – Shaq's era in South Beach has commenced, and the reviews are a mixed bag thus far. The Heat have been good at home and have gotten off to a nice start, but they are just 3-2 away from Miami. As the season wears on, Shaq is sure to get hurt as he always seems to, and the question we have is how will the Heat handle the games that he'll miss. They play in the East so they'll be fine and they should get very far in the playoffs. The fact is, however, that this is a very average basketball team, and would be lucky to be the fifth or sixth place playoff team in the West.

3) Cleveland – Lebron will get his first taste of playoff basketball this year. The Super Soph is off to a great start in his second season and the Cavs have been a tough bunch thus far. James and Gooden form a tough duo, and Coach Paul Silas is one of the better at handling young players in this league. Cleveland will continue to get better and better throughout the regular season, and this team could be a real darkhorse in the East come playoff time.

4) Orlando – Grant Hill is healthy for now, and he is reminding everyone in the basketball world why he was one of the top players in the league when he is healthy. Dwight Howard has been a pleasant surprise thus far and is showing that he is ready to start right now. Throw in a healthy Steve Francis and this team has many ingredients in its favor. This team will go as far as Grant Hill. If Hill stays healthy, they are as good as anyone in the East and should be a force throughout the regular season. If Hill gets hurt, and there is no reason to think he won't, this team will suffer.



Basketball picksOctober 1, 2004


2004 / 2005 NCAA College Basketball Preview

Jump to…
  Wunderdog’s Pre-Season All American Team
  Wunderdog’s Great Eight Preview
  Wunderdog’s Top 5 Surprise Teams

Wunderdog’s Pre Season Men’s College All American Team

PG – Chris Paul, Wake Forest – The Super Soph will lead the Deamon Deacons as far as he can take him. If he is able to build on his wonderful freshman season, the sky could be the limit for both Paul and the Deamon Deacons. Paul, who once scored his deceased grandfathers age in points in high school the day after he died, is one of the best shooters in the country and is automatic from the charity stripe.

SG – JJ Redick, Duke – Will JJ ever graduate? This sweet shooting Dukie is as money as they come from the perimeter in college basketball. He is underrated defensively, and would be a player of the year candidate if he was better off the dribble. It could be a tough year for Duke in a stacked ACC, but Redick will give his all every time out, and that should be enough to keep Duke formidable this season. They’ll need his leadership throughout the ACC schedule.

SF – Julius Hodge, NC State – The best returning player in the country in my humble opinion. Hodge is the type of slashing playmaker that makes NBA scouts drool. He can score from anywhere on the court. He’ll lead NC State to a high finish in the ACC and deep into the NCAA tournament. He’s had problems with ankle injuries and will need to stay healthy this season. If he is able to keep his health, it will be fun to watch him dismantle defenses designed specifically to stop him this season.

PF – Wayne Simien, Kansas – The Jayhawk tough guy is simply an all around great player. You’ll not find a big man with better post moves anywhere in the country. He gets to the foul line and converts and also is a tremendous rebounder and defender. He will make an NBA franchise very happy next June.

C – Hakim Warrick, Syracuse – High Wire Act is the best way to describe Warrick. The Cuse will be very formidable again this season with Warrick and McNamara returning. Provided Warrick stays healthy, he will put up sickening numbers and multiple double doubles this season. I love his thunderous dunks which have the ability to completely change the course of a basketball game.


Wunderdog’s Preseason Great Eight Predictions

North Carolina
2003-04 record: 19-11 (8-8, tied for 5th in ACC)
2003-04 postseason result: Lost to Texas, 2nd round, NCAA
Key players returning: Rashad McCants, Raymond Felton, Sean May, Jackie Manuel, Jawad Williams
Key players lost: None

This could be the season that North Carolina returns to all of its former glory. This roster is stacked with talent but Roy Williams had a difficult time with some of the personalities, i.e. Rashad McCants, one year ago. That should not happen again in his second season. Look for the Tar Heels to get very deep into the tournament and battle it out with Wake for the ACC title.

2003-04 record: 27-5 (13-3, 1st in SEC East)
2003-04 postseason result: Lost to UAB, 2nd round, NCAA
Key players returning: Chuck Hayes, Kelenna Azubuike
Key players lost: Cliff Hawkins, Gerald Fitch, Erik Daniels, Antwain Barbour

Maybe a fringe pick for then top eight. UK will need their newcomers to be big time performers for them to be there in late March, but Randolph Morris and Joe Crawford should be big time players as freshman. Kentucky should once again win the SEC and get deep into the NCAA tournament. Chuck Hayes could be a household name down South by the end of this season.

2003-04 record: 24-9 (12-4, tied for 2nd in BIG 12)
2003-04 postseason result: Lost to Georgia Tech, Elite Eight, NCAA
Key players returning: Wayne Simien, Keith Langford, Aaron Miles, J.R. Giddens
Key players lost: David Padgett (transferred), Jeff Graves

Rock Jock huh? This team is simply loaded with Simien, Langford and Miles all returning. The Jayhawks will run away wit the Big 12 title, but will they fold once again in the tournament? Simien reminds a lot of Danny Manning, so maybe this will be the year that Kansas gets it done once again.

Georgia Tech
2003-04 record: 28-10 (9-7, tied for 3rd in ACC)
2003-04 postseason result: Lost to Connecticut in national championship
Key players returning: B.J. Elder, Jarrett Jack, Luke Schenscher, Will Bynum, Isma’il Muhammad, Anthony McHenry
Key players lost: Marvin Lewis, Clarence Moore

Last year’s runner up will have another great season. BJ Elder, when healthy is one of the best players in the country. Schenscher and Jack make this a formidable club that will once again contend in the ACC and Nationally.

2003-04 record: 23-8 (11-5, tied for 3rd in Big East)
2003-04 postseason result: Lost to Alabama, Sweet 16, NCAA
Key players returning: Hakim Warrick, Gerry McNamara, Josh Pace, Craig Forth, Demetris Nichols, Louie McCroskey, Terrence Roberts, Darryl Watkins
Key players lost: Jeremy McNeil

McNamara and Warrick will make this another exciting season in upstate New York. The return of point guard Billy Edelin will be a hige boost and should allow McNamara more room on the perimeter. This team will be very difficult for opponents to defend. The Orangeman should be a Final Four team next March.

Wake Forest
2003-04 record: 21-10 (9-7, tied for 3rd in ACC)
2003-04 postseason result: Lost to St. Joseph’s, Sweet 16, NCAA
Key players returning: Chris Paul, Justin Gray, Eric Williams, Taron Downey, Jamaal Levy, Vytas Danelius, Trent Strickland, Kyle Visser
Key players lost: None
Newcomers of note: Cameron Stanley

Chris Paul and Justin Gray form what may be the best backcourt outside of Tuscon. My only concern about the Deamon Deacons is how much they rely on the three pointer. They’ll need to diversify their offense from one year ago or they’ll meet the same fate come tournament time.

2003-04 record: 20-10 (11-7, 3rd in Pac-10)
2003-04 postseason result: Lost to Seton Hall, 1st round, NCAA
Key players returning: Mustafa Shakur, Channing Frye, Hassan Adams, Salim Stoudamire, Chris Rodgers, Isaiah Fox, Ivan Radenovic
Key players lost: Andre Iguodala

The Wildcats are loaded once again this season. They did not live up to expectations one year ago because they refused to play defense from the get-go. Isiah Fox is back from injury and the backcourt is, simply put, the most talented in the land. If Olson can get this team to commit on the defensive end of the basketball court, the Wildcats will be cutting down the nets in April.

Michigan State
2003-04 record: 18-12 (12-4, tied for 2nd in Big Ten)
2003-04 postseason result: Lost to Nevada, 1st round, NCAA
Key players returning: Paul Davis, Chris Hill, Alan Anderson, Kelvin Torbert, Maurice Ager, Shannon Brown, Delco Rowley
Key players lost: Jason Andreas

Izzo’s team struggled last season through some growing pains. The nice part about having a young team is that they come back the following season. Chris Hill can fill it up from three-point land, and Paul Davis is a tough customer down low. I’ll be watching the Michigan / Michigan State games this season. We look for the Spartans to win the Big Ten and step back into National prominence this season.

Wunderdog’s Top 5 Surprise Teams of the College Hoops Season

Michigan Wolverines
One of only two big school teams in my surprise category, Michigan stormed to the NIT title one year ago and returns their corps in tact. Daniel Horton is as good a PG as there is in the Big Ten, and Dion Harris will give teams fits down low. Head Coach Tommy Ammaker finally has the troops to get the Wolverines back in the tournament where they belong.

UMASS Minuteman
The Minutemen return all five starters from a team that stuggled somewhat last season. Leading the way for UMASS is Rashaun Freeman, the 2003-2004 A-10 Rookie of the Year. Look for the Minutemen to take the A-10 by storm this season. Other players of note are PG Anthony Anderson and sophomore Lawrence Carrier. The door appears open for the Minutemen to step back onto the tournament stage.

Iowa State Cyclones
This team was on the cusp in the Big 12 last season and this will be the year they return to prominence in hoops. Curtis Stinson is a stud and I still wonder how he ended up in Ames from New York City. Jared Horman is very tough down low as well, while Will Blalock is one of the better point guards in the Big 12. Iowa State should surprise in what looks like a down Big 12 beyond Kansas. Look for ISU to get back into the NCAA tourney this season, and make a run at the top three positions in the Big 12. They need to play better on the road this season which should happen due to their experience.

Buffalo Bulls
Many of us fell in love with the Bulls last season as they roared to the finish line, falling up just short in their conference tournament. Most of their team returns in tact this season led by PG Turner Battle, and C Mark Bortz. Bottom line is that the Bulls could win the MAC this season which would be a major coup for a team that was a perennial doormat two short seasons ago.

Wichita State Shockers
WSU had another great year last year winning 21 games, but they fell short of the NCAA tournament. This team returns four starters from that team led by guard Randy Burns and senior 6′-5″ Jamar Howard. I see the Shockers shocking the Salukis of Southern Illinois and taking the Missouri Valley title this season and heading to the Big Dance.