Balance and versatility is always important for the best teams in college basketball.
Last season’s national champion Louisville Cardinals were capable of beating teams in a variety of ways and showed it during their march through the NCAA tournament.
In the next few weeks, there are many programs around the country who will begin the 2013-14 season with some uncertainty as to whether they will have enough balance to be successful.
Here are some of the teams that could struggle the most with being one-dimensional this season.
After being one of the most balanced teams in America last season, the Indiana Hoosiers will be forced to replace an incredible amount of talent and production this year.
According to Kyle Grand of Bleacher Report, Tom Crean is forced to replace seven players who departed after last season.
With so many new faces, the future at Indiana appears bright, but it could be a rough stretch where the Hoosiers are forced to depend on freshmen and underclassmen to make plays.
Guys like Yogi Ferrell and Noah Vonleh have outstanding potential. The challenge for this season will be whether they’re ready to handle the big stage yet.
It’s a good thing for Clemson fans the football team has an exciting offense because the same can’t be said on the basketball court.
During his tenure as the head coach at Clemson, Brad Brownell has built teams around rebounding and physical defense. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to develop players who are able to consistently score the ball.
The Tigers only allowed 62.8 points per game last season, which ranked third in the ACC, but they ranked last in the conference in scoring at 57.7 points per game.
Considering the roster and lack of offensive weapons, it looks like it will be another season where the Tigers hang their hat on defense and hope to score enough points to stay in games.
Gonzaga had one of the most talented frontcourts in the country last season with Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris.
With both of those players now gone, Mark Few is optimistic that Sam Dower and Przemek Karnowski can become a formidable duo in the paint for the Bulldogs. However, even if those two can improve, this is a team that will still be primarily perimeter oriented.
Kevin Pangos is one of the more underrated guards in college basketball while David Stockton and Gary Bell offer some added backcourt depth.
Gonzaga will still have a great chance to win the West Coast Conference, but the Bulldogs will be very vulnerable if teams can shut down their perimeter attack.
T.J. Warren has the potential to develop into one of the best players in the country this season for the Wolfpack.
He averaged over 12 points per game while shooting over 60 percent from the field as a freshman and was one of the biggest surprises for N.C. State.
In many ways, it’s great that Warren should get more opportunities to flourish. On the other hand, Mark Gottfried doesn’t have many other options with the loss of C.J. Leslie, Lorenzo Brown, Scott Wood, Richard Howell and Rodney Purvis from last season.
N.C. State has some talented incoming freshman, but the pressure will be on Warren to carry the team and keep the Wolfpack competitive in the ACC.
Deshaun Thomas covered many flaws in the Ohio State offense last season. He was one of the best offensive players in college basketball and averaged 19.8 points per game while shooting over 44 percent from the field.
Unfortunately for Thad Matta, Thomas decided to forego his final year of eligibility and enter the 2013 NBA Draft.
Ohio State is always known for being an outstanding defensive team, but the Buckeyes need someone to step up and be an offensive playmaker.
LaQuinton Ross is the most likely candidate and showed great potential in the NCAA Tournament. Now he needs to prove he can do it on a consistent basis.
The Creighton Bluejays will have arguably the best player in college basketball next season in Doug McDermott.
McDermott averaged 23.1 points per game last season and it was a huge boost for the program when he decided to return to school for his senior year.
At 6’8”, 225 pounds, McDermott’s size and incredible array of offensive skills make him one of the toughest players to stop in the country. However, if teams can figure out a way to stop him, they have a great chance to defeat the Bluejays.
No other Creighton player averaged double figures in scoring last season and it places a tremendous amount of pressure on McDermott to carry the load.
Last season, the Wisconsin Badgers only allowed 55.9 points per game, which was the best scoring defense in the Big Ten.
Bo Ryan is a brilliant defensive coach and his team can always be counted on to play outstanding defense in a very deliberate style.
Yet, in five of Wisconsin’s final seven losses last season, the Badgers were held under 50 points.
The defense is good enough to keep the team in any game, but against the better competition in the Big Ten Wisconsin will need to figure out how to generate enough offense to get tough wins.
Remember when Texas was regularly competing for Big 12 championships and was a regular contender to reach the Final Four?
It seems so long ago considering where the program is entering this season.
Mack Brown isn’t the only coach on the hot seat in Austin as Rick Barnes needs to show he has the Longhorns headed in the right direction for the future.
Barnes is optimistic about Texas’ defense entering the 2013-14 season, but he’s unsure about who the Longhorns will turn to on offense. In a league with players like Marcus Smart and Andrew Wiggins, it could be a long year for the Longhorns if they’ll be counting on their defense to win games.
VCU is always one of the most exciting and interesting teams in college basketball.
Head coach Shaka Smart has done an incredible job of turning the Rams into a nationally-recognized program that has the respect of many in the world of college basketball.
While VCU’s frantic style of play creates problems for many opponents, it also leaves the Rams vulnerable against teams who have strong point guard play. This was evident in the NCAA tournament last season when Michigan’s Trey Burke picked apart the VCU defense.
The Rams are built around forcing the opposition to play at an uncomfortable pace. If the Rams can’t force the pace, they become the uncomfortable team.
Missouri had one of the more imposing frontcourts in the SEC last season with Laurence Bowers and Alex Oriakhi.
The two combined for 25.3 points and 14.5 rebounds last season and allowed the Tigers the ability to stretch the floor from the perimeter or attack the paint.
Frank Haith must now replace both players and Missouri will have a new look next season. Keanau Post and Stefan Jankovic are both 6’11” and offer good size, but they also have games that are more perimeter oriented.
It could become a huge challenge for the Tigers this season if they have to win games by making plays in the paint.