Last season: 22-14, advanced to the NIT quarterfinals.
Coach: Andy Kennedy.
Who’s gone: G Cullen Neal (Transfer to St. Mary’s), F Sebastian Saiz, G/F Rasheed Brooks.
Who’s back: G Terence Davis. The 6-foot-4 guard emerged as arguably the Rebels’ best all-around player last season, averaging 14.9 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. G Deandre Burnett. Led the Rebels with 16.5 ppg and made 73 3-pointers. G Breein Tyree. Turned into the team’s starting point guard by the end of last season, averaging 7.3 ppg. F Justas Furmanavicius. A high-energy player who averaged 6.3 points and 5 rebounds.
Who’s new: G Markel Crawford. The 6-4 guard is a graduate transfer who comes to the Rebels from Memphis. The 210-pounder can also move to forward and will play several positions for the Rebels. C Dominik Olejniczak. The 7-footer is a transfer from Drake and is expected to immediately contribute in the frontcourt.
The Skinny: Ole Miss has missed the NCAA Tournament the past two seasons, but feels it has a chance to get back to the Big Dance thanks to a little more depth, better ballhandling and a true 7-footer in Olejniczak.
Mississippi State Preview Capsule
October 30, 2017
Mississippi State Preview Capsule
Last season: 16-16, no postseason appearance
Coach: Ben Howland
Who’s gone: F Mario Kegler (transfer to Baylor), G I.J. Ready
Who’s back: G Quinndary Weatherspoon. The versatile player scored 16.5 points per game last season, which ranked seventh in the SEC. G Lamar Peters. Was one of the Bulldogs’ best players as a freshman, averaging 10.7 points and finishing second on the team with 101 assists. F Aric Holman. The athletic 6-foot-10 junior averaged 8.4 points and 6.0 rebounds last season.
Who’s new: G Nick Weatherspoon. The Bulldogs expect Quinndary’s younger brother to immediately contribute after a stellar prep career. F Abdul Ado. The 6-11 redshirt freshman should give the Bulldogs even more size in the post, combining with 6-10 holdovers Holman, Schneider Herard and E.J. Datcher.
The Skinny: Mississippi State hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2009, but feels like it has enough talent to at least compete for 20-plus wins. Coach Ben Howland is in his third year with the Bulldogs, and at his previous jobs (Northern Arizona, Pittsburgh, UCLA) his programs have always made a big jump in the third season.
Last season: 16-16, hasn’t reached NCAA Tournament since 2014.
Coach: Rick Barnes
Who’s gone: G Robert Hubbs III, G Kwe Parker (transfer to Cape Fear Community College), G Shembari Phillips (transfer to Georgia Tech).
Who’s back: F Grant Williams earned freshman all-SEC honors from the league’s coaches and is the Vols’ top returning scorer (12.6) and rebounder (5.9); F Admiral Schofield averaged 8.2 points and 4.4 rebounds last season; G Jordan Bone (7.2 ppg), G Lamonte’ Turner (8.2) and G Jordan Bowden (7.9) all had their moments last season; F Kyle Alexander has started 34 games over the last two years.
Who’s new: G James Daniel III averaged 27.1 points per game for Howard in 2015-16 to lead all Division I scorers before playing just two games last season due to an ankle injury; G Chris Darrington averaged 20.7 points and 5.1 assists last season at Vincennes (Ind.); F Derrick Walker (6-8), F Zach Kent (6-foot-10) and F Yves Pons (6-5) are freshmen who should add size and athleticism to Tennessee’s frontcourt.
The skinny: Tennessee was in NCAA Tournament contention last season before fading down the stretch. The Vols are hoping their improved depth will help them avoid a similar fate this year. If Tennessee gets more consistent production from its backcourt and Williams builds off his impressive freshman season, the Vols have a chance to earn the NCAA or NIT bid that has eluded them the last three years.
Last season: 19-16, second straight NCAA Tournament berth.
Coach: Bryce Drew.
Who’s gone: C Luke Kornet, the program’s all-time shot blocker. G Nolan Cressler.
Who’s back: G Matthew Fisher-Davis. He’s the top returning scorer after averaging 13.9 points per game last season. F Jeff Roberson. Another senior, he averaged 10.8 points and 7 rebounds per game. G Riley LaChance. The third senior averaged 10.5 points per game while running the point starting all 35 games. G Joe Toye. He averaged 6.4 points and started 13 games.
Who’s new: G Saben Lee. G Maxwell Evans. C Ejike Obinna. The Nigerian will help start replacing Kornet.
The Skinny: Drew coached the Commodores to the NCAA Tournament in his first season – the first coach ever to do that in his inaugural season at Vanderbilt. Now he’s starting to get players onto the roster alongside those who know exactly how he’s asking them to play.
Who’s back: G Jaylen Barford. The senior averaged 12.8 points per game last season and showed an uncanny ability to finish around the rim; G Daryl Macon. The leading returning scorer for the Razorbacks, Macon averaged 13.4 points per game last year and connected on 39 percent of his 3-pointers; G Anton Beard. A defensive stalwart for the Razorbacks and also averaged more than a steal per game last season.
Who’s new: F Daniel Gafford. Much is expected of the talented 6-foot-11 freshman, who has shown an ability to finish with force at the rim in the preseason and averaged 17.4 points and 16 rebounds as a senior in high school; G Khalil Garland. Out with an undisclosed medical condition to start the season but expected back at some point and averaged 12.9 points per game as a senior in high school; F Darious Hall. Averaged 14.8 points and eight rebounds as a senior at Little Rock Mills, defeating Garland’s prep team in the state championship game.
The Skinny: Arkansas has reached the NCAA Tournament in two of the last three seasons. It expects more of the same this year with Barford and Macon having returned after briefly entering the NBA draft after last season. Gafford’s progress will be key for a team that must replace the 12 points, 7.7 rebounds and nearly three blocks per game from Kingsley.
Last season: 20-12, lost to Boise State in first round of NIT
Coach: Larry Krystkowiak
Who’s gone: F Kyle Kuzma, G Lorenzo Bonam, G Devon Daniels, G JoJo Zamora
Who’s back: F David Collette averaged 13.6 points, 5.1 rebounds last season; G Sedrick Barefield averaged 9.0 points and shot 39.3 percent from 3; F Tyler Rawson averaged 6.0 points, 3.7 rebounds; G Parker Van Dyke averaged 4.6 points and shot 34.9 percent from 3; C Jayce Johnson averaged 4.0 points, 4.3 rebounds.
Who’s new: G Justin Bibbins is a 5-foot-8 transfer from Long Beach State, where he was a two-time All-Big West selection; F Chris Seeley is a 6-8 redshirt freshman; F Donnie Tillman is a 6-7 athletic freshman from highly regarded Findlay Prep in Las Vegas; G Christian Popoola is a 6-4 freshman combo guard.
The Skinny: The Utes missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2014 last season and now there’s an influx of new bodies into the lineup. Utah lost four of its top six scorers, including first-round pick Kyle Kuzma, and Collette is the lone returning starter. There are currently more questions than answers with so much turnover in the rotation.
Who’s gone: G Lonzo Ball, F TJ Leaf, G Isaac Hamilton, G Bryce Alford, F-C Ike Anigbogu.
Who’s back: C Thomas Welsh. The senior led the team with 43 blocks while starting 32 games last season. G Aaron Holiday. He was a solid sixth man last season and will help replace Lonzo Ball’s production. F G.G. Goloman. Now a senior, the veteran big man contributes off the bench. G Prince Ali. He redshirted as a freshman last year after left knee meniscus tear. F Alex Olesinski. Also redshirted last year with foot problems.
Who’s new: G LiAngelo Ball. The freshman is Lonzo’s middle brother and he averaged 33.8 points as a high school senior, so he’s used to a boatload of attention. But following his big brother in Westwood and playing in the same city as Lonzo’s Lakers team won’t be easy. G Jaylen Hands. He averaged 29.2 points and 8.0 rebounds as a McDonald’s All-American in his senior season. G Kris Wilkes. He was a McDonald’s All-American and Indiana Mr. Basketball 24 years after Steve Alford earned the honor. F Cody Riley. Highly regarded national recruit. G Chris Smith. A top-100 recruit.
The Skinny: Alford has reloaded with another talented roster that will contend for the Pac-12 title and is capable of a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, which is the annual expectation for a school that owns 11 national championships.
Who’s gone: Coach Lorenzo Romar; G Markelle Fultz; F Malik Dime; F Matthew Atewe.
Who’s back: G David Crisp was the Huskies’ second-leading scorer last year at 13.8 points per game. Will need to take on an even greater scoring load this season; F Noah Dickerson averaged 12.5 points and 8.2 rebounds last season. Has lost weight and should be more athletic but must stay out of foul trouble; G Matisse Thybulle is Huskies’ best defender but must improve offensively from last season’s 10.5 points per game average.
Who’s new: Almost everybody. The one prime recruit that stayed with the Huskies is Seattle native Jaylen Nowell. The swingman is expected to have a significant role immediately. Other newcomers include forward Hameir Wright, guard Michael Carter III and forward Nahziah Carter, the nephew of music mogul Jay Z.
The Skinny: It’s all new for Washington this season after the firing of Lorenzo Romar after 15 seasons. The firing of Romar cost the Huskies arguably the most talented recruiting class in school history and left Hopkins scrambling to put together a complete roster. That means expectations are muted and a 10th-place selection in the preseason conference poll is probably correct. The Huskies could surprise if maximum potential is reached but it’s unlikely this is the year Washington snaps its NCAA Tournament drought.
Southern California Preview Capsule
October 30, 2017
Southern California Preview Capsule
Last season: 26-10.
Coach: Andy Enfield.
Who’s gone: F Charles Buggs.
Who’s back: F Bennie Boatwright. The junior was dominant after returning from a knee injury that cost him 17 games last season, averaging 15.1 points and 4.5 rebounds. G Jordan McLaughlin. He could break the school’s career assists mark after finishing third in Pac-12 last year. F Chimezie Metu. Had a breakout sophomore year, averaging 14.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. G Elijah Stewart. Had 23 games in double figures last year. G Shaqquan Aaron. The junior started 20 games last season, averaging 7.6 points. He had a career-high 23 in a home win over rival UCLA.
Who’s new: G Charles O’Bannon Jr. The highly touted recruit from Las Vegas is the son of the former UCLA star who led the Bruins to the 1995 national championship. G-F Jordan Usher. He can help the team on offense and defense. F Victor Uyaelunmo helped lead his Miami high school to the Florida state title.
The Skinny: The Trojans have their top eight scorers back, making them a title threat to traditional Pac-12 powers Arizona and UCLA. Boatwright, Metu and Stewart all withdrew their names from the NBA draft to stay in school. The Trojans’ 26 wins last season were a school record and they have serious potential to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, where they last appeared in the Sweet 16 in 2007. There’s a cloud over the program, however, with associate head coach Tony Bland on administrative leave after being accused of accepting $13,000 to help steer two players to certain business representatives. USC is conducting an internal investigation.
Florida embraces lofty expectations after Elite Eight run
October 30, 2017
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) Florida guard Chris Chiozza hears about ”The Shot” almost daily.
Friends, family members, teammates, classmates and social media sites provide constant reminders of Chiozza’s running 3-pointer at the buzzer in overtime that stunned Wisconsin in the NCAA Tournament and sent the Gators to the Elite Eight.
Chiozza gets an earful from coach Mike White all the time, too.
”He makes a joke about it,” Chiozza said. ”He just reminds me: `Don’t let that play define you. Don’t think just because you made that shot that that’s the only thing people are going to remember you by.’
”I want them to remember me as a guy that was a part of a program and we brought the program back up. We went downhill for two years, and I want to be known as one of those guys that brought it back up to an elite team.”
The Gators have a chance to be special this season.
With Chiozza and shooting guard KeVaughn Allen back, and transfers Jalen Hudson and Egor Koulechov in the mix, Florida is a popular preseason pick to make another deep run in the NCAA Tournament. Players and coaches are embracing the lofty expectations , too.
”I think it’s good for our fans, it’s good for recruiting, just adds a little bit more excitement around a program,” White said. ”I just don’t think it’s got a big bearing on how we play. We’re going to practice to a certain standard every day. We’ve got high-character guys. They want to be as good as they possibly can be as players and as a team.
The Gators finished 27-9 in White’s second season, with the biggest of those wins coming on Chiozza’s buzzer-beater against the Badgers at Madison Square Garden. Florida’s season ended two nights later with a 77-70 loss to South Carolina.
Nonetheless, the run provided some measure of validation for White and a program that expects to be NCAA Tournament regulars and perennial Southeastern Conference contenders.
Even though Florida lost a lot – Kasey Hill, Devin Robinson, Justin Leon and Canyon Barry are gone – and center John Egbunu (knee) is out until January, White added two transfers and a freshman class that ranked 11th in the country.
Hudson (Virginia Tech) and Koulechov (Rice) are the most important newcomers.
The 6-foot-6 Hudson averaged 8.4 points a game as a sophomore with the Hokies. He sat out last year because of NCAA transfer rules and looked like Florida’s best scorer at times in practice. He’s likely to come off the bench, partly because of Koulechov.
The 6-5 graduate transfer averaged 18.2 points a game as a junior at Rice last season and shot 47 percent from 3-point range. He made at least 80 3-pointers in each of the last two seasons and is expected to give Florida its best outside threat since Michael Frazier (2012-15).
”I think we could be better potentially, and I could be eating my words in December,” White said. ”But I think we could be better offensively. … I think we have more weapons offensively. I think we’ll shoot it better offensively.”
Here are some other things to know about Florida:
SCHEDULE HIGHLIGHTS: The Gators open the season Nov. 13 against Gardner-Webb and should get a decent gauge of where they’re at in the Phil Knight Invitational a week later. The tournament includes Stanford, Ohio State, Gonzaga, Duke and Butler.
FRESH FOUR: Guard Mike Okauru and forwards Chase Johnson, Isaiah Stokes and Dontay Bassett make up Florida’s freshman class, and a couple of them could be key contributors. Okauru will get minutes as Chiozza’s backup, and Johnson and Bassett should get some minutes, too, especially with Egbunu sidelined. Stokes, though, could sit out the entire season while recovering from a knee injury.
THRE-EGOR: White says Koulechov, who already has been dubbed ”Threegor,” has been even better than expected since enrolling over the summer. He made 44 consecutive 3-pointers in practice one day. ”Really consistent, plays with a tremendous motor and can make shots and sprint into them, and takes good ones,” White said. ”Really pleased with him.”
Missouri Preview Capsule
October 30, 2017
Missouri Preview Capsule
Last season: 8-24.
Coach: Cuonzo Martin.
Conference: Southeastern Conference.
Who’s gone: G Frankie Hughes (transfer to Duquesne), G K.J. Walton (transfer to Ball State), F Russell Woods, F Willie Jackson (transfer to Toledo).
Who’s back: F Jordan Barnett; F Kevin Puryear; G Terrence Phillips. The trio combined to average 34.4 points per game last season for the Tigers as they struggled to an 8-24 record, but Martin considers their experience is considered vital this season to help bring along a talented group of newcomers.
Who’s new: F Michael Porter Jr., F Jontay Porter, G C.J. Roberts, G Kassius Robertson, F Jeremiah Tilmon, G Blake Harris. The most heralded signing class in school history is highlighted by the arrival of Porter Jr., the preseason pick for SEC Player of the Year after averaging 36.2 points and 13.6 rebounds per game as a senior in high school. Younger brother Jontay Porter and Tilmon bring much-needed size to the Tigers, while Roberts, Robertson and Harris complete the overhaul for first-year coach Martin.
The Skinny: For a team that has finished last in the SEC in each of the last three seasons, Missouri appears to have pulled off an amazing Kentucky-like transformation in one offseason. It’s very likely the Tigers will be ranked to start the season, and they’ve made no secret they expect to reach the NCAA Tournament this season.
With 4 starters gone, Oregon is in transition
October 30, 2017
Oregon guard Payton Pritchard is just a sophomore but for now he’s charged with leading the Ducks following the departure of four starters.
Oregon is in transition with few returnees from last season’s Final Four team, joined by a handful of freshmen and two graduate transfers.
”We are expecting more from him in the ways of leadership, especially through November and December, until we get a lot of guys on the page with what we’re doing,” coach Dana Altman said about Pritchard . ”I think he’s going to have a big role, a tremendous role of trying to get everybody on the same page.”
The Ducks set a school record for wins last season, finishing 33-6 and making just the second national semifinal appearance in school history. It was the team’s fifth straight trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Oregon beat Iona, Rhode Island and No. 23 Michigan to reach the Elite Eight – where the team pulled off a thrilling 74-60 victory over the Jayhawks.
That sent the Ducks through to their first Final Four since 1939, when the Tall Firs won the first-ever NCAA Tournament with a final victory over Ohio State. The team was bumped from their bid for a spot in the national championship game by eventual champion North Carolina.
Oregon also won a share of the Pac-12 regular-season title and went undefeated at home for the second straight season.
Pritchard averaged 7.4 points per game last season, along with 3.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists.
”I think eventually they’ll blend together and be a pretty good team,” Altman said. ”But they’re going to have to work awfully hard and give up some of the things they think are important, to do some of the things that are important for the team.”
KEY DEPARTURES: Dillon Brooks, who averaged just over 16 points last season for the Ducks, was a second-round pick by the Memphis Grizzlies. Jordan Bell also went in the second round and was traded to the Golden State Warriors. Tyler Dorsey went to the Atlanta Hawks in the second round. Chris Boucher went undrafted but signed a two-way contract with Golden State.
”None of them were projected out of high school to develop like that. But they all worked awfully hard. Because of that, I think they should all feel really good about where they’re at right now. Because it’s taken us to 90 wins in three years like they did, an Elite Eight and a Final Four. It was a great group of guys,” Altman said.
ADDITIONS: The Ducks added graduate transfers in Elijah Brown, a guard who averaged 18.9 points last season at New Mexico, and forward MiKyle McIntosh, who averaged 12.5 points and 5.6 rebounds last year at Illinois State. There’s also forward Paul White, who transferred from Georgetown and redshirted last year. Freshmen include forwards Troy Brown Jr., Kenny Wooten and Abu Kigab, and guards Victor Baily Jr., and late addition Will Johnson. Elijah Brown is the son of Golden State Warriors assistant coach Mike Brown.
K80 BOUND: The Ducks are among 16 teams that will play in the PK80 tournament over Thanksgiving weekend. The tournament honors Nike co-founder Phil Knight in advance of his 80th birthday. The field includes five teams that were in the final AP Top 25 from last season, including NCAA champion North Carolina. The Ducks, whose home court Matthew Knight Arena is named after Phil Knight’s late son, opens with UConn on Thanksgiving Day.
TROY BROWN: The versatile 6-foot-7 freshman out of Las Vegas was a five-star recruit, and considered among the top 20 players in the country by the major recruiting sites. He chose the Ducks over Kansas, Alabama, Georgetown and Ohio State. He was among the players on the 2016 USA Basketball men’s under-17 world championship team.
OUTLOOK: With the considerable turnover on the roster, the Ducks were picked to finish fourth in the Pac-12 in the preseason media poll. Altman said Arizona is the team to beat. He also offered something of a scouting report for the rest of the league at the conference basketball media day in San Francisco.
”Arizona, USC, both returned a lot of players. UCLA has a great blend of returning players and new guys. Stanford, with all the players they have returning. And Oregon State, they’ve got four really good scorers and guys that started for them last year, maybe they’ll be coming off the bench this year. So to think they could be a surprise team,” Altman said.
”Colorado and Utah are always competitive. And Arizona State, their guards, a dangerous team,” he added. ”And we have three teams that are major transition with Washington, Cal, and Washington State with personnel that they lost. So those three teams are kind of mystery teams.”
Arizona State finally has frontcourt depth and size
October 30, 2017
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) Arizona State guard Kobi Justice often found himself in the post trying to guard much larger players, sometimes even 7-footers.
The scrappy 6-foot-5 guard took every challenge head on and often on the head – in the form of an elbow – without ever backing down.
”Hopefully those days are gone,” Justice said. ”But I’ll do it if that’s what they need me to do.”
After two seasons of playing primarily guard-heavy small ball, Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley now has some big guys to throw into the mix this year.
The Sun Devils will still rely heavily on their trio of senior guards, but the frontcourt will be bigger and more talented, allowing Hurley multiple lineup and style options.
”We played small-ball most of last season and certainly we can do that some this season,” Hurley said. ”But this season we have the depth and the players in the front court where we can play multiple different ways.”
At Arizona State’s core will be Justice, Tra Holder and Shannon Evans, senior guards who have a knack for knowing what the other two are going to do without having to say it.
Holder has developed into a steady floor leader who can score, Evans can fill it up in bunches when he’s on and Justice can do just about anything, knocking down 3-pointers, flipping behind-the-back passes and guarding whomever Hurley tells him to.
Now those three will have some big-guy help.
Romello White, a redshirt last season, has good size (6-foot-8, 220 pounds), an ability to finish at the rim and a relentless nature. Forward Vitaliy Shibel returns after missing last season with a torn ACL and Spanish big man Ramon Villa should take the next step after playing 33 games last season.
De’Quon Lake, a junior college transfer, is long, athletic and should help protect the rim. Freshman Kimani Lawrence, a top recruit, will add depth and versatility as will former Ohio State forward Mickey Mitchell after he sits out the first eight games under NCAA transfer rules.
The Sun Devils will be bigger, stronger, more versatile and could push for an NCAA Tournament berth in their third season under Hurley, something that didn’t seem to be a real possibility heading into the past two seasons.
A few more things to look for from Arizona State in 2017-18:
ROUGH ROMELLO: White should give Arizona State a dose of nastiness it hasn’t had in recent years. The relentless forward doesn’t have an off button and should help the Sun Devils inside at both ends. White is excellent finishing at the rim rolling off of ball screens, can hit the mid-range jumper and never gives up on a rebound.
REMY AT THE POINT: Holder has run the Sun Devils well in his time in Tempe, but now he should get some help from top recruit Remy Martin. The quick 6-foot guard can run the team when Holder is out or allow him to slide over to shooting guard. Martin also is a tenacious defender and should have an impact on that end of the floor immediately.
EUROPEAN TRIP: Arizona State got a head start on the season with a trip to Rome and Barcelona this summer. The Sun Devils played three games and were allowed extra practices for the trip, giving the team an early chance to bond and get a feel for one another. Teams that take these once-every-four-years trips often get the season off to a good start, so don’t be surprised if it works for the Sun Devils, too.
TRANSFER IMPACT: While the trend in college basketball is to add graduate transfers who can play immediately, Hurley took the old-school route by adding three players who will have to sit out a season. But those three players should make the Sun Devils better by making practices nearly as competitive as the games. San Diego State transfer Zylan Cheatham and former Kansas player Carlton Bragg will work to make Arizona State’s big men better and former Cleveland State guard Rob Edwards will push the Sun Devils’ guards.
Return of Williams boosts Texas A&M after tough season
October 30, 2017
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) Coming off a tough season, the Texas A&M Aggies got a huge boost when projected NBA lottery pick Robert Williams chose to skip the draft to return to the team.
A year after reaching the NCAA regional semifinals for the first time since 2007, the Aggies didn’t even get an invitation to the NIT after going 16-15. A bright spot of that difficult campaign was the emergence of Williams, a 6-foot-10 forward with a knack for blocking shots.
Williams averaged 11.9 points and 8.2 rebounds a game as a freshman. The 6-foot-10 player led the SEC with 46 blocked shots during league play and was second in rebounds a game with 9.6 during conference play. He blocked at least one shot in every game last season and had 22 games with multiple blocks. He was projected to be drafted as high as No. 10, but instead decided play another season to improve his draft status and help the Aggies get back to the tournament.
Williams loves the camaraderie of the team and is looking to help the Aggies make a big leap this season.
”We stick together the most out of anything,” he said. ”We’ve got to pull each other up. Even when someone’s not feeling good or feeling down … we’ve just got to pull them through.”
The Aggies have made the NCAA Tournament just once since coach Billy Kennedy took over for the 2011-12 season, but believe they have a good chance of returning this season.
”This is my seventh year at Texas A&M. We want to take the next step,” Kennedy said. ”We thought we did with the Sweet 16 team and hit a little bump last year. We’ve got really good talent and we’ve had some good recruiting classes. We expect some great things.”
Some things to know about the 2017-18 Texas A&M basketball team:
The Aggies will open the season on Nov. 10 against West Virginia in the Armed Forces Classic at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
”What a great opportunity for us to go over in front of our armed forces and play a game against a … team like West Virginia to kick off the season,” Kennedy said. ”It’s going to be a challenging trip.”
Texas A&M returns four starters from last year’s team, including center Tyler Davis, a junior who has become a leader for the team. He led the SEC and ranked 14th in the nation by making 62.9 percent of his field goals last season. The 6-foot-10 Davis averaged 14.1 points and seven rebounds a game last year. He believes they learned a valuable lesson last season on what happens when the players don’t do things the right way.
”With this team we have so much talent that it really just depends … on the work we put in and how disciplined we can be,” he said. ”Last year we got a big taste of what undisciplined is all acro
Last season: 26-10, lost in second round of NCAA Tournament
Nickname: Fighting Irish
Coach: Mike Brey
Conference: Atlantic Coast
Who’s gone: G Steve Vasturia, F V.J. Beachem, F Patrick Mazza, F Matt Ryan (transfer to Vanderbilt)
Who’s back: F Bonzie Colson. The long-armed, 6-foot-6 senior is the preseason ACC Player of the Year choice after averaging 17.8 points and 10.1 rebounds per game last season, including 19 double-doubles and 43 percent shooting from beyond the 3-point arc; G Matt Farrell. The gritty, 6-foot-1 senior point guard averaged 14.1 points and 5.4 assists; F Martinas Geben. The 6-foot-10 senior from Lithuania helped lead his country to the gold medal in the World University Games after averaging 3.1 points and 3.4 rebounds and shooting nearly 65 percent from the field last season for the Irish;; G Rex Pflueger. The 6-6 junior will be asked to provide the 3-point offense lost with the graduation of Vasturia and Beachem; F John Mooney. A 6-foot-9 sophomore who is expected to help Geben on the boards along with 6-foot-8 F Elijah Burns and 6-foot-7 F Austin Torres.
Who’s new: F D.J. Harvey. A 6-foot-6+ swingman who averaged 17.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists as a senior at DeMatha (Md.) High School; G Nikola Djogo. A 6-foot-7 guard from Canada who sat out his freshman year and could provide some 3-point offense off the bench.
The Skinny: In 17 seasons, Brey has 382 victories, 11 shy of Digger Phelps’ all-time mark of 393. … In four seasons in the ACC, his Irish have appeared in the ACC title game twice (2015, ’17) … In the last three seasons, Notre Dame has seven NCAA victories and made back-to-back Elite Eight appearances in 2015 and ’16.