Monday, May 14, 2012
At the Watercooler: 2012-13 'Avengers' team
By Eamonn Brennan and Myron Medcalf
Editor's note: It's the offseason edition of The Watercooler. Eamonn Brennan and Myron Medcalf discuss "The Avengers," UNLV's loaded frontcourt, Larry Brown, Arizona buzz and more.
Eamonn Brennan: Good morning, Myron. Two weeks after our last Watercooler and I'm finding a dearth of topics for us to discuss. Instead, I'm pining for the season, when we had no shortage of fun topics. This offseason is killing me. Thank goodness for the NBA playoffs and "The Avengers," which I found to be almost exactly what I expected when I went and saw it Sunday night. How are you holding up?
Myron Medcalf: I'm surviving, Eamonn. I'm with you. I'm searching for ways to get through it. The NBA playoffs have been interesting, but they're not enough. C'mon, Indiana and Kentucky, stage an offseason exhibition since we'll never see the real thing. Just saw "The Avengers" too. First, it's as good as advertised. "Dark Knight Rises" should watch its back. Great movie. Although that part at the end … I won't spoil it. Since we're talking superhero movies, which players would earn a spot on your "Avengers" squad for the 2012-13 season? I'll go with Nerlens Noel, Cody Zeller, Doug McDermott, Peyton Siva and Trey Burke. You?
UNLV's Mike Moser is part of what should be one of the country's best frontcourts next season.
EB: It's awfully hard to argue with that list. Fearsome stuff. Here's my pivoting question: Does UNLV have the best frontcourt in the country? Anthony Bennett's commitment over the weekend puts him alongside Mike Moser to start the season, and former Pitt transfer (and 2011 No. 1-ranked center) Khem Birch will be eligible in December.
MM: Yes. Simple answer. That frontcourt had firepower without Bennett. Adding a phenomenal athlete such as the Canadian standout enhances that potency. Moser should be a Wooden Award candidate. Birch and Bennett too. Wow. … Hold on a minute, Eamonn, while I check this report. … Virginia Tech loses another player? Kind of shatters the whole continuity mission, right?
EB: Yeah. With the exception of continued expansion around the smaller leagues, I thought that was the story of last week. The Dorian Finney-Smith transfer was reportedly in the works for months, but the Montrezl Harrell NLI release was bad news too. New coach James Johnson will have eight scholarship players for next season, and you have to wonder whether Tech wouldn't have been better off taking another crack at this thing with Seth Greenberg in charge. It's a bit of a mess.
MM: Hard to feel sorry for Va. Tech. When you fire an established coach, albeit one who couldn't quite crack the success bubble, in late April, you must have a plan. It was just a sloppy process. You get a Greenberg staffer, you keep the recruits and returning players, right? Wrong. Johnson is going into a tough first season. Larry Brown, however, is grabbing transfers like … can't think of a good metaphor, but he's signed Josiah Turner and Crandall Head. Can Brown win at SMU?
EB: I'm assuming SMU is willing to take this coming season with a grain of salt, choosing to wait for the transfers to come online in Year 2 of the Larry Brown project. I think Turner will turn it around there. I'm not sure how good Head is in the first place. I (sort of) wrote this last week: I really don't know how the Brown thing is going to go. How long will he stick around, anyway? If they aren't winning by the end of his second season, is he gone? How much talent can his name brand (plus his good assistant corps) land him in that time? SMU woke up one day and realized it should care about basketball, and this is the result. I have no idea if it works or not.
MM: I agree. He definitely has a talented staff, but it's hard to know how long it will take SMU to make a dent in the Big East. It might never happen. … Arizona has made some offseason moves that will position Sean Miller to win now. Mark Lyons and that top-three recruiting class. Nice. I think Arizona deserves more offseason buzz.
EB: I have my lingering doubts about Lyons as a teammate -- he comes with a lot of baggage from his days under Chris Mack at Xavier. But maybe a fresh start is just what he needs? Arizona's recruiting class has it back on the map, and UCLA has made itself a likely top-five team heading into the season. The rest of the conference might still be stuck in 2011-12 mode, but at least the two dominant Pac-12 programs will be back on the map in 2012-13. I don't recall a head-to-head matchup in the league this good in quite some time. Desperately needed.
MM: You're right about Lyons. Definitely a wait-and-see situation in Tucson. But this is his last shot. Maybe he needs a change of scenery, but his attitude will influence those youngsters. So Miller needs Lyons to get his mind right. Arizona could reach the Final Four or it could implode again if the chemistry is jacked up. I think the Wildcats will find success next season. And yes, the Pac-12 needs UCLA-Arizona. We need it. … My parting shot for this edition of our Watercooler chat is that Kenneth Faried's success at the next level should change the way college coaches view "undersized" forwards.
EB: Energy and effort go a long way. It helps to be freakishly athletic too. He is going to be a solid pro for a lot of years. One example of why staying in college for four years, or even three, can be a massive benefit to certain guys. Faried is one of them.
Anyway, we'll be keeping an eye on the various college hoops stories bound to bubble up these next two weeks. Until the next alternate Monday, Myron?
MM: Yep. Until next time. … On a side note, chances are that "Avengers" references will seep into our future Watercooler posts. Our readers should definitely see the film. Now.