I have a daily routine for checking out and keeping updated on the latest college basketball news across the country. This routine includes checking out articles by Jeff Goodman (foxsports), Andy Katz (ESPN), and Gary Parrish (CBS), multiple times per day. While I respect the opinions and thoughts of each, I came away truly baffled by an article that Zach B posted a link to today. In his ranking of the top 20 backcourts in the country, Jeff Goodman had the Gonzaga backcourt ranked #14 in the country. Originally, I figured that is not a horrible ranking, even though I believe that the Zags have a loaded backcourt. However, after looking over the list and the numerous backcourt combinations that Goodman had ranked ahead of Gonzaga, I could hardly contain my shock and frustration. Before I continue on this rant, here is what Goodman had to say about the Gonzaga backcourt.
My first gasp came when I saw the Kentucky Wildcats coming in ranked at #4.
Backcourt: Matt Bouldin, Steven Gray, Demetri Goodson
Analysis: Bouldin is one of the most underrated guards in the nation and will finally get his due this season. Gray is a big-time shooter, and Goodson gives the Zags a quick, tough point guard.
Backcourt: John Wall, Eric Bledsoe, Darnell Dodson, DeAndre Liggins
Analysis: Both Wall and Bledsoe are terrific athletes and are more than capable of running a team. Neither is regarded as a great shooter, but they may not need to make perimeter shots with their ability to get to the basket. Dodson is the guy who can really make shots from deep.
Look, I understand the great accomplishments and praise that Eric Beldsoe and John Wall have garnered at the high school level, but lets remember this all occurred at the high school level. Neither is a good shooter, and neither has played against elite competition and smart coaches on a game-by-game basis. So who else does Goodman include to justify this ranking for Kentucky? Should I be shaking because of the 4.2 points that DeAndre Liggins averaged last year (keep in mind that Meech averaged 3.8 points per game, and I don't think he ever took a shot from farther then two feet out)? Or is Darnell Dodson the one that makes this such an elite backcourt? This is the same Darnell Dodson that has been playing JC ball the past two years, and faces many of the same challenges that Bledsoe and Wall will face as they try and get accustomed to the DI pace and quality of play.
While I was certainly surprised and taken off guard by seeing Kentucky that high, my jaw dropped to the floor when I saw UCLA at #9.
Backcourt: Malcolm Lee, Jerime Anderson, Michael Roll
Analysis: The Bruins' guard tandem of Lee and Anderson may be inexperienced, but they have more than enough talent. Add in the oft-injured Roll, who likes to shoot the ball from long distance, and it's a formidable backcourt.
I automatically assumed that any backcourt that includes Michael Roll as a member couldn't be in the top 10. If I'm not mistaken, this is the same Michael Roll who has never averaged seven points a game, and will be a senior this year. This is the same Michael Roll that has never been healthy and has continually showed a lack of toughness and production throughout his career. Once I moved on from that, I suddenly remembered that Jerime Anderson was the new starting point guard. Just so I could refresh my memory on how poor Jerime Anderson was last year, I chose to look at the stats from his freshman campaign. Last season, Anderson had 42 assists to go along with 36 turnovers (Meech- 54 assists; 34 turnovers). Yet somehow, Goodman assumes that Anderson is going to morph into a starting level PAC 10 point guard. Even with Malcolm Lee, there has been nowhere near the production to match the talent. Lee is a highly skilled guard, but can't shoot the ball at all. He is a nice slasher, but until he develops a consistent jumper, defenders will back off and take away his ability to slash to the hoop.
My final issue with Goodman came on his Gonzaga explanation. First off, if you're going to include all these freshman who have only excelled at the AAU level, how do you not include Mangisto Arop as part of the Gonzaga backcourt? Was his play at the FIBA tournaments against the best in the world not enough to get him some ink? Secondly, when are national writers going to stop labeling Steven Gray as a shooter? As anyone who watched Gonzaga play last year would know, Gray is at his best when he is slashing to the hoop. He has an incredible spring to his step when he is at the rim, and his ability to shoot the ball from deep is a great asset to his ability to get to the rim. If Steven can put it together this year, and I understand that is a BIG if, there aren't many guards in the country I would take over him.
With my venting done and over with, here is how I would rank the top 20 backcourts in the country using the list that Goodman had.
1) Kansas- Assuming they don't start beating each other up and stop getting in fights with the football team, this is the most loaded backcourt in the country.
2) Texas- This group has athleticism, shooting ability, and a great amount of toughness. There are so many different combinations that Rick Barnes can put on the court.
4) Ohio St.- Evan Turner is one of the most underrated players in the country, and can play every position in the backcourt at a high level for the Buckeyes.
5) Oklahoma- Willie Warren is arguably the top guard in the country, and his star should shine even brighter with Blake Griffin gone. Mason-Griffin has the luxury that he doesn't have to be "the man" from day one, like the guys at Kentucky do.
6) Connecticut- Everyone should be ready to watch the next great Big East point guard, as this will be Kemba Walker's team for the foreseeable future.
7) Cal- I feel I have continued to underrate the Cal backcourt by dropping them to #7 on this list. Christopher and Randle will be household names come March.
9) Gonzaga- Matt Bouldin has improved every single year he has been on campus at Gonzaga. Steven Gray has shown the potential to dominate at this level, and this year he will be afforded every opportunity to be star. Demetri Goodson just might be ok playing in the spotlight after his performance against WKU last season.
10) Washington- Not many teams can bring a tenacious defender like Venoy Overton off the bench. Overton needs to lose some of the attitude problems he has on the court, but it's a nice option to have a trio like Gaddy, Overton, and Isiah Thomas.
12) Ole Miss
19) Seton Hall