Friday, September 11, 2009

Roster Moves -- Start of School Shuffle

Back to School
Keeping our fingers crossed there still have been no significant injuries reported. School is back in session and the players continue to workout individually or informally in small groups. And they continue to play unsupervised pickup games. Academic disqualifications have been announced and handled, becoming more a part of the fall planning cycle, rather than the reporting phase of the spring semester.

DePaul -- Freshman Tony Freeland, a 6-6 forward out of Los Angeles has run afoul of the NCAA clearing house and will enroll in the winter quarter (not the fall, as anticipated). Freeland is a Top 200 (or so) player who averaged 21.4 ppgs in his senior year at Freemont HS. The Blue Demons add 4 walk-on players, the result of an open tryout call to fill out the Blue Demon roster for 2009-10. DePaul, going into the season with 6 scholarship players, needs at least 4-5 more players to prepare properly. The staff now has enough bodies to put together a "scout squad" for game simulations. The 4 players, all guards (the tallest, 6-5 Ryan Siggins out of Archbishop Alter in Kettering, OH), include 3 freshmen and a mid-major transfer. 6-4 Jimmy Drew, a junior from Anna, Ill whose last stop was Southeast Missouri State, will sit out the year per NCAA rules, but can practice with the team. More details on the four (plus Freeland) is available via a Daily Herald story.

Marquette -- Maurice Acker decided to complete his eligibility at Marquette. As the number of available scholarships shrank in the face of the mega recruiting class of 2009 assembled to begin the post James/Matthews/McNeal Era, senior Maurice Acker, a transfer who played 2 seasons with the Amigos, decided to leave the team and concentrate on academics so he could complete his degree work in the fall semester. Acker's return may have been "the other shoe" in the early exit of Brett Roseboro episode. The staff has two pgs (a JUCO and a true freshman) lined up to replace Dom James, but Acker, a senior with 2 seasons of varsity experience at Marquette, might be able to bridge the time period it will take to get Johnson and Cadougan up to speed.

Rutgers -- Bouncing back from Coach Hill has decided to take a flyer on a Kosovar player, Muhamed Hasani. Using a recruiting connection from years ago (Slobodan "Boban" Savovic, a former guard at Eastside HS in Newark, NJ), Rutgers brought in a National Team player from Pristina, Kosovo to compete for the point guard spot with JUCO James Beatty, who committed to the Scarlet Knights back in June.

St. John's -- The only program in (sanctioned) action last week took casualties. The Johnnies, taking advantage of a "closing door" on Canadian Excursions, left rehabilitating 5th year senior Anthony Mason Jr. at home. Through the 1st day of play both junior Stanley Burrell and sophomore Quincy Roberts "dropped out" of the rotation. Though both received multiple starts and long stretches of playing time last season, neither had any minutes against Sunday's opponents, Carleton and Ottawa, despite the fact that both were much tougher opponents than Saturday's Quebec Province contingent. I have heard that Burrell may have fractured his hand and that Roberts was held out due to a concussion, though the Athletic Department has not commented on any of the players officially. If Burrell's injury is indeed a fracture, he may be held out through October. Roberts, Mason and Coker (left behind -- visa issues) will no doubt participate in full squad practices.

Seton Hall -- announced that Head Coach Bobby Gonzalez received a contract extension through 2014-15. Coach Gonzalez, at odds with AD Joe Quinlan several times over the past 2 seasons (Jerry Carino adds to the speculation with this blog post from 9/10), received a "vote of confidence" to counteract recruiting trail rumors. The timing, coming at the start of the fall in home visitation period, was not coincidential...according to his extended interview with Adam Zagoria.

West Virginia -- Suspended sophomore Darryl Bryant cleared another hurdle this week when a sympathetic Monogahela County Magistrate Court accepted a no contest plea to one of the three charges pending before it related to Bryant's July 4 hit-and-run traffic. The other 2 charges were dismissed as Bryant was also ordered to pay a $200 fine (and court costs). His June 21st hit-and-run charges were adjudicated in a Morgantown Court last month. A fine of $135 was accepted for a no contest plea, the other charges were also dropped. While the West Virginia University Athletic Department contends Bryant remains "suspended", I suspect the only question is "when", not "if" with respect to Bryant's return to the team.

Assessing the Impact
While no one thought Acker would develop into an All-Big East level player, he has become a solid rotation player for the Golden Eagles. His 3 point shooting is abysmal, but his assist-to-turnover ratio last season was better than 3:1. And he is one of the few point guards to post nearly as many steals as turnovers. Acker will provide leadership and maturity as the staff brings the newcomers up to speed. Acker's return may be the biggest "positive" among last week's roster moves. Justin Burrell's hand fracture is the biggest "negative". While the Johnnies have the deepest squad of the Roberts Era, Burrell has been their man in the middle for the last 2 seasons. And the low post is probably their thinnest spot on the court. Freeland's delay deprives DePaul of a scoring wing who can also rebound. While not projected as an impact player, deferring playing time to the the Big East schedule delays Freeland's development. The walk-ons will most likely see (collectively) little, if any, playing time. The biggest question mark -- Rutgers' Muhamed Hasani without a doubt. Coach Hill adds a Euro-trained pg (think high IQ here...) to his roster, which may pay dividends in practice.

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