Three NCAA Teams That May Be In for a Letdown This Year
Miami- After a tremendous season which culminated with a 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament and a trip to the Sweet 16, Coach Jim Larranaga may have a tough time even getting back to the Tournament this year. 5 seniors have moved on, but the biggest blow was sophomore point guard Shane Larkin leaving for the NBA. Only 1 player who played any significant minutes, senior wing Rion Brown, will be back. Further, the incoming freshman class is nothing special, though Deandre Burnett will provide some scoring pop. It may end up being very important for Kansas State transfer Angel Rodriguez to be granted a waiver to play immediately to prevent this season from being a disaster.
Colorado State – Like Miami above, Colorado State is dealing with the loss of all 5 starters from last season, one in which they won 26 games and advanced to the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament. Now Head Coach Larry Eustachy has a nice system which works well when players buy in, especially dominating the boards, but a lot of it comes with experience. There are bright spots to help the team along, including guard Daniel Bejarano, who was a valuable contributor last season, and Navy transfer JJ Avila, who seems to be a perfect fit for Coach Eustachy. In time, there is a solid group of young players who will build a good team, but the ever-toughening Mountain West will not make it easy this year.
North Carolina State – Last season was in many ways a big disappointment for the Wolfpack. Coming off a Sweet 16 appearance the prior year and with many of the players from that group back in Raleigh, there were high expectations. Instead, the team rarely seemed to play as one. Still, the team did win 24 games and made it back to the NCAA Tournament, though it was a quick trip, losing to Temple in the Round of 64. As has been the trend here, the Wolfpack are losing a great deal of talent, including 4 starters, and heralded freshman Rodney Purvis, who transferred to Connecticut. Coach Mark Gottfried has some young talent, including sophomores TJ Warren, who could be one of the ACC’s leading scorers, and point guard Tyler Lewis, who plays with good poise and knows how to run a team. There is also a very good freshman class coming in, led by Anthony “Cat” Barber, BeeJay Anya, and Kyle Washington, but the combination of little experience and a strong conference doesn’t add up to a very good year for NC State.
Ideally, all three of these programs will rebound after a season, but it really has become tough to predict longer-term success because of issues such as large amounts of transfers, players leaving early to go pro, and coaches taking new jobs.