CHARLOTTE – It was a whirlwind day inside the Ballantyne Hotel Wednesday as SEC Tipoff 2015 came and went, leaving in its wake several significant storylines to pass along.
Here were the four biggest takeaways:
Kentucky is the big bad wolf heading into the season
The unanimous pick to win the conference by the media, John Calipari’s Wildcats were also heavily represented on the preseason All-SEC teams as five of the 10 total selections belonged to Big Blue. Kentucky praise was heaped on heavy by those on television, too, including ESPN college basketball analyst Seth Greenberg. According to Greenberg, the ‘Cats are prohibitive favorites but not without potential flaws.
“I think they’re overwhelming (favorites) right now, but it’s a long season,” Greenberg said in an interview with Scout.com. “Chemistry is still going to be an issue. How are they going to play against smaller lineups? Do they have a small forward? They have (tremendous talent) but they still have to have a cohesive unit. They had that in the Bahamas with less pressure – no pressure of SEC play, the grind, the cumulative effect of the league. So who knows what’s going to happen. I’d say their only weakness right now, though, is a void at small forward.”
Today had a big “Welcome back, Bruce” feel to it in many respects. However, when it comes to the on-court stuff, Pearl knows he’s got a project on his hands at Auburn and that the kind words will cease to flow if winning doesn’t follow. CLICK HERE for Scout.com’s exclusive Q&A with Pearl in which the former Tennessee coach discusses his plan to make Auburn relevant sooner than later – and the potential pitfalls that accompany it.
Another of ESPN’s analysts, Sean Farnham, chipped in his two cents on Pearl and the Plainsmen in 2014-15.
“I like his team,” stated Farnham. “He went with the quick fix obviously, with a couple of talented transfers, and I think as many as three of them could end up starting. I think they’re going to be much better than they were a year ago. They’re going to score better. Bruce’s style of play has always been conducive to winning games. Seventeen out of his 19 years they’ve made the NCAA Tournament, and 18 of those 19 they’ve made a postseason tournament.
“So would it be out of the realm of possibility for them to get above .500 and make an NIT-type game? No, it’s not. I think if that happens, you’re now starting to talk about teams that were on the bottom of the SEC moving their way up, changing the landscape and helping change the perception of the league on a national scale.”
Wild man Marshall Henderson was a force to be reckoned with on the floor for the Rebels the past two seasons, for better and for worse. During his time at the mic Wednesday, Kennedy spoke frequently about moving forward minus Marshall, who is now playing professionally in Qatar. In fact Kennedy was adamant that he’s actually returning his “best player” from last season in point guard Jarvis Summers, a preseason First-Team All-SEC selection by the media. Check out the video below of Kennedy for his full take on the situation, including a hilarious line about Henderson and leather.
A number of the league’s coaches are agitated by SEC disrespect
This isn’t exactly a new topic, but for the first time in maybe four or five years these guys may actually have a point. Following a year when Kentucky and Florida made the Final Four and Tennessee nearly slipped into the Elite Eight, SEC sideline bosses are out for more respect and recognition nationwide. Georgia’s Mark Fox (toward the end of the video) and South Carolina’s Frank Martin were just two of the coaches that gave a piece of their mind on the subject Wednesday.
Here are several additional links to Scout.com's content from SEC Tipoff: