The 2011-2012 NCAA men's basketball season has been filled with storylines. No. 1 Syracuse, No. 4 Baylor and No. 15 Murray State are the remaining undefeated teams. There have been surprise teams (Indiana and UNLV) and those who have underachieved (Pitt and UConn).
With conference play heating up, here are the top 15 players and coaches who have been disappointing thus far in '11-12.
Pittsburgh Panthers SG Ashton Gibbs looked poised for a breakout season after posting career numbers in ’10-11. He averaged 17 points, three assists and 2.4 rebounds per game.
Gibbs knocked down 3.3 three-pointers per game, while shooting 49 percent from beyond the arc. He also shot 89 percent from the charity stripe.
Gibbs’ numbers have not improved in ’11-12. He is registering 16.7 points, three rebounds and three assists per game. He is knocking down fewer threes per game (2.6) and only shooting 36 percent from downtown. Gibbs is struggling from the field in general, dropping only 38.7 percent of his shots.
If the Panthers want to make a run in the 2012 NCAA tourney, Gibbs must shoot the ball more efficiently.
Wisconsin’s starting point guard, Jordan Taylor, had a remarkable junior season last year, averaging 18 points, five assists and over four rebounds per game. He also made more than two three-pointers per contest, while shooting 43 percent from beyond the arc. This season, his numbers (along with Wisconsin’s record) have dropped significantly.
In ’11-12, Taylor has put up 13.6 points, 4.5 assists and just under four rebounds per game. His free-throw percentage is 10 percentage points worse than last season (from 83 percent to 73 percent), and his three-point percentage has decreased in the same fashion (from 43 percent to 33 percent).
Taylor has all of the skills to be one of the best point guards in the nation, which is why his struggles during his senior season are surprising.
If the Badgers want to right the ship, it must start with better play from Taylor.
I am going to get criticized for this one, but just hear me out.
The Ohio St. Buckeyes were the No. 2 team in the nation in the preseason polls. After three losses, they sit at No. 7 with a record of 15-3, with losses coming against Indiana, Kansas and Illinois.
In ’10-11, Jared Sullinger was one of the most dominating big men in the country as a freshman. He decided to forgo the NBA draft to return for his sophomore season. Overall, his numbers are very similar to last season.
Sullinger is averaging 17 points, 9.6 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 0.9 blocks per game. While these numbers are solid, it is not unfair to say that many expected a step up from his statistics from last season (17.2 points, 10.2 rebounds and one steal).
Given Sullinger did suffer a back injury midway through this season, that could help explain his lack of statistical change. There are still plenty of games left, but it is not a stretch to say that Ohio St. fans expected more from Sullinger, who still finds himself in foul trouble much too often.
Unfortunately, Yancy Gates will always be remembered for the melee against Xavier, and not for his toughness and gritty play. He was suspended six games for his punch against Kenny Freese.
Gates was having his best season with the Bearcats, averaging 12.4 points and over nine rebounds per game. The 6'9" power forward/center also blocked 1.2 shots per contest.
It is yet to be determined how his play will be affected by this suspension. He is an aggressive player on the court, but he will certainly be under a microscope once he returns to action.
Bearcat fans have to be disappointed with Gates' (and the other Cincy players') actions. As a result, they have seen their season slip away.
The Pittsburgh Panthers were ranked No. 8 in the preseason poll and were coming off of a disappointing exit to Butler in the third round of the 2011 NCAA tournament.
With five losses in 16 games (most notably to Long Beach State and Wagner), Pitt does not look like a true contending team. For the first time under Dixon, the Panthers lost four games in a row, each to an inferior squad.
Jamie Dixon’s job is by no means in jeopardy, but Pitt’s struggles will not go unnoticed. Stay tuned.
Matt Humphrey was a highly touted SG who transferred from Oregon St. to Boston College. He was brought to BC for his scoring ability in the hopes that he could elevate the program to where it was a few years ago. Instead, BC finds itself with a 5-10 record and is the worst team in the ACC.
Humphrey has been anything but stellar. He is averaging a shade less than 10 points per game (9.9), but he is shooting an abysmal 31.6 percent from the field.
If BC wants to make a run at the NIT, Humphrey needs to be the dynamic player that everyone expected him to be.
The defending national champion UConn Huskies are off to a tough start in ’11-12. After being ranked No. 4 in the preseason, they have dropped to No. 16 after back-to-back losses to Seton Hall and Rutgers.
In ’10-11, Alex Oriakhi was their dominant center, averaging 9.6 points, nine rebounds and almost two blocks per game in his sophomore season. He looked poised for a breakout year in 2011-2012, however his game has taken a step back. This season, he is only averaging 6.7 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game.
His minutes per game have decreased significantly (almost 10 fewer minutes per game from last season) due to his diminished play and the emergence of freshman Andre Drummond.
Peyton Siva had a solid sophomore season in ’10-11, averaging 10 points, over five assists and two steals per game. Many analysts felt that Siva was ready to take that next step and become one of the best point guards in the Big East. This notion has yet to come to fruition.
Through 16 games, Siva is putting up 9.2 points, 5.9 assists and two steals per game. He is shooting a measly 35.5 percent from the field and an ugly 21 percent from beyond the arc.
Louisville has already lost three conference games, and if it wants to be competitive in the always-tough Big East, Siva needs to control the flow of the game and be the leader of the offense.
It has been a few years since UCLA has been a dominant basketball team.
It would be an understatement to say that many UCLA fans are starting to get restless. The ’11-12 season did not start off promising, with back-to-back double-digit losses to Loyola Marymount and Middle Tennessee.
Ben Howland has been at the helm of UCLA since 2003 and has led the Bruins to two Final Four appearances (where they ultimately lost to Florida both times). UCLA is the equivalent of the New York Yankees of college basketball, as there is really no reason why they should not be contending each and every year.
Howland should not need to persuade players to play for the prestigious UCLA basketball program. Nevertheless, he must do a better job recruiting in order to make the Bruins relevant again.
Until then, Howland needs to learn how to extract the best out of the talent that he already has.
This is another one that I will receive some heat for.
I know Baylor is undefeated and currently the No. 4-ranked team, but has Perry Jones III lived up to all of the hype? When Jones was first being recruited, he dominated the college basketball news when he chose Baylor, and admittedly (and maybe mistakenly), I set the bar extremely high.
He has yet to demonstrate a consistent, dominating force that he was once described to be.
In ’10-11, Jones averaged 14 points, 7.2 rebounds and one block and shot 55 percent from the field. This season, Jones has amassed just over 13 points, 7.2 rebounds and one block and is shooting 53 percent overall.
These numbers are similar, which is alarming considering how good this kid was supposed to be. In addition, for a 6’11” center, 7.2 rebounds per game is very pedestrian.
Baylor has been playing incredible basketball thus far, and Jones is certainly a big key for his team. However, if it truly want to be a powerhouse this year, Jones must become more dominant.
Just as the basketball season for Western Kentucky University (5-11) could not get any worse, its former head coach, Ken McDonald, made an error that not only cost him his job, but also a permanent No. 1 spot on ESPN’s Not Top 10.
Western Kentucky allowed Louisiana-Lafayette to hit a game-winning shot with six players on the court, a monumental error that was not realized by WKU until after the game.
When McDonald protested the final score the next day, the NCAA refused to review the ending due to league regulations.
Consequently, McDonald was fired the next day.
As the great Cris Carter would say, “C’mon man!”
Josiah Turner was the No. 2-ranked point guard in the nation in 2011, according to Rivals.com, who decided to commit to Arizona.
Turner was highly touted out of high school for his handle, court vision and strong moves to the basket, but his game has not translated well to the big stage as of yet.
In 22 minutes of action per game, he has posted 6.8 points, three rebounds and only 2.1 assists. He is also shooting 39 percent from the field, 70 percent from the line and 21 percent from three-point range.
Arizona was the preseason favorite to win the Pac-12, but at 11-5, the conference has become a wide-open race. The Wildcats will need Turner to evolve into a prime-time player if they want to make a serious run.
The Villanova Wildcats have been struggling since last season, when they were knocked out in the first round of the NCAA tournament by an eighth seed, George Mason. This season, Nova is third worst in the Big East, with a 1-3 conference record and an 8-8 record overall. Earlier in the season, it lost to St. Louis and Santa Clara in back-to-back games.
Jay Wright simply does not have the talent to compete in the Big East this season. Whether this is a shot at his recruiting tactics is yet to be determined, but there is no reason why a basketball powerhouse such as Villanova should have two subpar seasons in a row.
Stu Douglass has been the most disappointing player on the Michigan Wolverines this season. He is averaging seven points, 3.5 rebounds and two assists per game. He is also shooting 40 percent from the field and 30 percent from beyond the arc.
With Douglass, it is not so much about the statistics as it is his court presence and basketball IQ. Too often he does not make the right play; he has defensive lapses or forces up a terrible three-pointer. As a senior and a captain, more should be expected from him on both ends of the court.
As the backup guard, Douglass needs to step up his game. This means taking better shots and becoming a more efficient defender.
DeAndre Daniels is a 6'8" small forward from Los Angeles who committed to Connecticut. He was praised for his size and length and on paper presented an immediate matchup problem for most teams.
Thus far, Daniels has been disappointing. He is averaging 4.6 points and three rebounds while playing nearly 17 minutes per game. He is only making 37.7 percent of his shots and has struggled to get acclimated to the college level.
Daniels began the season playing 25-plus minutes per contest. Due to his inconsistency, he has seen his playing time decrease significantly.