Monday, November 9, 2009

Roster Moves -- Season's Eve

Lights, Cameras...
The Preseason NIT, the annual premature opening to the D1 season, is set for Monday the 9th, and a few Big East conference members continue to tweak their rosters. This time the add/drops translate mostly to adds as players held in the NCAA academic/amateur clearance limbo are released, one by one...

Cincinnati -- Top 10 recruit Lance Stephenson was cleared to play last week. Stephenson participated in the Bearcats' exhibition game against Saginaw Valley State.

Connecticut -- The Huskies' roster was shuffled again just before their exhibition game with American International. Guards Jerome Dyson and Donnell Beverly, along with freshman Jamal Coombs-McDaniel were held out at the last minute pending resolution of a variety of not-well-explained academic issues. Post game follow ups with the UConn Athletic Department (and NCAA compliance Officer?) provided clearer explanations of the situation. The latest news out of Storrs is that both Dyson & Beverly have been cleared to play, while Coombs-McDaniels continues to linger in an NCAA-induced clearance limbo. Note -- Connecticut announced late this (Monday 11/09) afternoon that Coombs-McDaniels has been declared eligible to play by the NCAA clearing house earlier in the day.

Marquette -- Sophomore guard Darius Johnson-Odom logged about 12 minutes in the Golden Eagles' exhibition game last Saturday. While Marquette beat Milwaukee School of Engineering by a healthy (59 points) margin, the big and not very encouraging news is that Johnson-Odom's foot injury, a strained ligament suffered during a team workout in September continues to linger, has limited his practice time and may have been aggravated during the game. According to Todd Rosiak of the Courier Sentinel's post game report, Coach Buzz Williams thinks "it's back to square one" with Johnson-Odom.

Louisville -- True to the "no penalty" decision by Coach Pitino, both senior swingman Jerry Smith and sophomore bf Terrence Jennings played in Louisville's two exhibition games on 10/28 and 11/04. Jennings started against Bellarmine, while Smith started both games.

Seton Hall -- A week after a 13 point debut versus Carleton University in an exhibition, junior transfer Keon Lawrence, caused, according to press reports, a two car accident while driving the wrong way on the Garden State Parkway during the early morning hours on Monday. Tests at the scene indicated he was DUI, and he was charged with DUI and driving on a suspended license. Hoops Heaven blogger Jerry Carino reports that Lawrence was suspended from the SHU squad later in the day.

Assessing the Impact
True to form, Stephenson took 14 FGAs against Saginaw Valley State, more than either Vaughn or Gates. He hit 4-14 (28.6%). He scored 9 points and grabbed 4 rebounds in 18 minutes of play off the bench.

The move to hold out Dyson and Beverly was more caution than mandate, but the release left a few observers confused about the state of the program. Coombs-McDaniels' status was undisclosed before the game, so the late-breaking announcement was surprising. The bfc was not seen as an starter/impact player, but the Huskies' front court, absent Majok (and Mandeldove's status a mystery, though Adam Zagoria reports that he has academic issues) looks a bit thin, even with Okwandu and Oriakhi available.

Marquette is down to three guards if Johnson-Odom is out for any length of time. The Golden Eagles have already lost Junior Cadougan for the season, and are looking at senior Maurice Acker and Johnson-Odom as their (only two) point guards this season.

Smith and Jennings played, though Smith appears to be in something of a slump.

The Pirate squad has depth in the back court, but going into the season, there was not much room for personnel losses. Lawrence was expected to spell senior Eugene Harvey at the point, and split time with junior scorer Jeremy Hazell at the off guard spot. Hazell was DNP against Carleton (no reason given), leaving the Pirates with sophomore Jordan Theodore, junior transfer Jamal Jackson and walk-on Darnell Gatling. The margin for error (injury) is much thinner going forward.

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