By Joel Welser
#1 Big East
25-8, 10-6, 4th (t)
has been successful lately and the last three years under Coach
Jamie Dixon has only improved the Panthers achievements.
However, a trip to the Final Four has been lacking, and this
year’s squad hopes to take that next step.
Panthers will have to reach those high hopes without the
services of Carl Krauser, who averaged 15.0 points, 4.8 assists
and 4.3 rebounds as a senior. John DeGroat started 27 games on
the wing, but his production of 2.9 points and 1.6 rebounds can
be easily replaced.
freshmen Austin Wallace and Gilbert Brown will find it difficult
to earn minutes as freshmen, but both are quality players who
are expected to contribute sooner or later. Wallace needs to
continue to work on his strength and offensive output, but the
power forward is a solid rebounder and has plenty of potential.
Brown has nice range on his shoot and the 6-6 wing can use his
strength to get to the basket. Mike Cook will have the biggest
impact of the newcomers this year. The transfer from East
Carolina averaged 15.0 points per game as a sophomore for the
Pirates in 2004-2005. His experience and shooting stroke could
give the 6-4 wing a starting nod, but at the least he’ll provide
a quality spark off the bench.
Who to Watch:
Gray exploded onto the national scene last year averaging 13.9
points, 10.5 points and 1.5 blocks on the season. Opposing
defenses will once again key in on the 7-0 center, but that
won’t stop Gray. Sam Young and Levon Kendall will battle for
minutes at the power forward spot. Young, who came off the
bench most of last year averaged 7.9 points and 4.4 boards.
Young has proven to be more productive than Kendall, but Kendall
has the experience to be an effective starter again this
season. Young will get plenty of minutes, especially while
Kendall has to back up Gray at the center spot. Tyrell Biggs
will add depth up front after averaging just 8.2 minutes per
game a season ago.
Ronald Ramon, Antonio Graves and Keith Benjamin all have
starting experience and will be mixed around in the backcourt.
Fields came on strong at the end of last season and showed his
potential to be a future star at the point guard spot. Ramon is
a long range threat and had a somewhat breakout season as a
sophomore. Without Krauser on the floor taking his three balls,
Ramon is ready for a bigger breakout campaign in 2006-2007.
Graves and Benjamin are expected to provide experience off the
bench, although Benjamin has the toughness to see starting time
if his long range shooting can become more consistent. This is
a tough, deep and experienced squad. Even the contributors that
aren’t upperclassmen have starting experience. Anything but a
top two seed come March will be disappointing, but even without
a top two seed, the Panthers will be dangerous in the
Sophomore, Guard, 6.8 points per game
Junior, Guard, 8.0 points per game
Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Senior, Forward, 7.0 points per game
Senior, Center, 13.9 points per game
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