Michigan State will reload with an intriguing blend of talented newcomers in the backcourt and benefit from proven warriors in the frontcourt. Look for the Spartans to extend their streak of 14 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and reside in the upper half of the Big Ten, but Tom Izzo will have to wait a year or two for a run at a seventh Final Four.
No one would blame Leonard Hamilton and the Florida State men’s basketball team if they took some time to sit back and cherish the successes of the 2010-11 campaign. The Seminoles staked their claim as the third-best program in the ACC, behind only Duke and North Carolina, and they reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament (for the first time since 1992).
During the summer, new Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy took his team on a 10-day trip to Switzerland and France, where the Aggies played exhibition games and toured landmarks like Paris’ Eiffel Tower. Kennedy believes the tower tour will provide some foreshadowing. He fully intends on taking A&M to unprecedented heights. “My goal here is to win national championships,” says Kennedy, who coached the previous five seasons at Murray State.
The mood among Missouri basketball fans was a blend of disappointment and disbelief when they learned athletic director Mike Alden had tapped Miami’s Frank Haith to succeed Mike Anderson last April. Only days earlier, they’d started dreaming about Purdue’s Matt Painter, a three-time Big Ten Coach of the Year, taking the reins, but after taking 24 hours to mull over a move to Columbia, Mo., he signed a lucrative extension to remain at his alma mater.
Sean Miller restored Arizona to prominence with unexpected swiftness, requiring two seasons to turn the Wildcats into Pac-10 champions and 30-game winners. Yet the offseason was marked with uncertainty. Miller briefly pursued the coaching vacancy at Maryland; Pac-10 Player of the Year Derrick Williams left school, opting for the NBA Draft; and starting point guard Lamont “Momo” Jones transferred to Iona.
A year ago, after losing four senior starters from the school’s first Pac-10 championship team in a half-century, the Golden Bears were expected to finish near the bottom of the conference. They wound up tied for fourth, and with four starters back this time, no one is counting them out again. “One would assume, if we improve a little bit, we should be able to make a little stronger push,” coach Mike Montgomery says.
They weren’t exactly pouring champagne around Westwood last year, but after UCLA rebounded from one of its worst seasons in six decades, the bubbly might just be back on ice. And with Derrick Williams and a host of other top players in the Pac-12 off to the NBA, Ben Howland and Co. might be set to uncork another conference championship.
Baylor coach Scott Drew has spent the last two years assembling one of the most talented teams in all of college basketball. Now comes the next step: Doing something with it. Not many teams enter the 2011-12 season with an opportunity as golden as the one facing the Bears. Four Big 12 schools have first-year coaches, seven-time defending league champion Kansas is in rebuilding mode and the conference as a whole appears to be down. Baylor is the one exception.
Where will Billy Donovan take his Gators this year?
Four years ago, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan felt like he was starting over. Four years later, he has lost his big guys again. But the transition to a new year should be smoother. “In 2007, we lost three lottery picks and our entire starting five,” he says. “We’ve got some good players coming back for this next season.”
We break down the Duke Blue Devils chances at winning the championship in 2011-2012
As he stands on the cusp of history, Mike Krzyzewski’s 32nd season for the Duke Blue Devils means dealing with a program reboot. With 900 Division I college basketball coaching wins, Krzyzewski needs two wins to catch his mentor, Bob Knight, for the all-time record and three wins to call the mark his own.