VETTEL: Final Thoughts On A Hoops Season Ended

It's really difficult to compare one year to another when it comes to things like the NCAA Basketball Tournament. That said, there's little doubt that the 2005 edition has a chance to be remembered as one of the best ever. It didn't give us the "Cinderella Story" like Villanova or N.C. State winning it all. It didn't send a long-shot dark horse to the Final Four like LSU in '86 which made it as an eleven seed.

It didn't give us a perfect career send off like the final games of John Wooden and Al McGuire. All this year's tournament gave us was more great games than any I can remember.

"Elite Eight" Most Memorable

The weekend of the four regional finals may be the most amazing quartet of games in the history of the game. Three of the four games went overtime including two overtimes for Kentucky and Michigan State. Two featured phenomenal comebacks as Illinois rallied past Arizona and Louisville charged past West Virginia. The least competitive game of the four was still a close-high scoring 88-82 shootout between eventual champ North Carolina and Wisconsin. Amazingly, the 82 points scored by the Badgers were the lowest total for any team in the round of eight.

Looking ahead to 2005-06

It's always amusing to me that people are in such a hurry to rank teams for next year almost the moment the season ends. Such notables as Andy Katz and Dick Vitale have already posted rankings (Katz top 25, Vitale top 12) for next year's squads. The goofiness of this is obvious. How can you pre-rank teams until you know for certain which players are returning and which ones elect to go pro? How can you rank teams when there's a spring signing period coming up with some fine players looking for schools?

Look at it this way. Does Florida merit a top 20 ranking if Anthony Roberson does not return and the Gators don't sign any other players? Where do the Gators rank if Roberson returns and Billy Donovan adds an outstanding guard (Walter Hodge) or forward (Keith Brumbaugh)?

Super Six Will Determine SEC Power

I'd love to do an assessment of the SEC for 2005-06 but it's way too early to do so. However one thing is clear, and that is there are six standouts in the SEC who have to be considering moving on to the next level. The decisions they make will determine the strength, depth and balance of power in the SEC next season. And if they all return. The SEC might be able to upgrade its status among the top basketball conferences in college basketball.

Brandon Bass: The LSU forward toyed with coming out last year and is bound to do so again. He averaged 17.1 points and 9 rebounds for the Tigers who had the worst performance of any SEC team in the NCAA tournament.

Glenn Davis: Another big forward for LSU, "Big Baby" says he's coming back and I hope he does. LSU would be hard-pressed to replace his 13.4 points and 8.7 boards.

Kennedy Winston: Perhaps the most likely of the bunch to move on, Winston is streakier than the NBA would like but his potential and explosiveness is highly valued. Winston led the SEC in scoring at 17.9, taking the title from Roberson when Peep suffered through two miserable days in Nashville.

Ronnie Brewer: Arkansas has a chance to be a whole lot better next year if Brewer and his 16.2 points return, but the pros are excited about his potential to be that tall point guard like a Marquis Daniels. Brewer averages 4.8 rebounds, 3.4 assist and 2.5 assists showcasing his all-court skills.

Anthony Roberson: The NBA people I have spoken with say Roberson is Europe-bound if he ends his college career. Peep has to show the NBA he can run the point, drive and dish and defend on the perimeter. His scoring ability is not in dispute, but at 6-1 the rest of his game must improve. Florida is a very different team if he returns.

Kelenna Azubuike: I was stunned to hear the Kentucky junior is considering this move. Azubuike is a strong two-guard in the mold of a Keith Bogans but not as advanced as Bogans who stayed four years and needed all four. Azubuike averaged 14.7 but was never the "go-to" guy. If he returns Kentucky has as good a backcourt as anyone in the country with Rajon Rondo.

Pity Jeff Lebo

If Auburn's first year coach thought he had it rough in his debut season on the plains, he ain't seen nothin' yet. Auburn struggled in the SEC last year, posting a 4-and-12 record, yet they were actually one of the older teams in the SEC. Lebo and will lose three top players in Quinnel Brown (12.8/6), Ian Young (13.3/4.1) and Nathan Watson (11.3/6.7). Freshman guard Toney Douglas was a revelation last season, but he'll have to be a one-man gang next year.

Von Wafer?

A lot of guys have overrated their potential to play at the next level, but can anyone explain FSU guard Won Wafer turning pro? Wafer is a nice player who averaged 12.5 points for a sub-.500 Seminoles squad. And he's ready for the next level? Are you kidding me?

At least he ended his college career in style, scoring 15 points in his final five games. Not, averaged 15, he scored a total of 15 points in his last three games. Just what the NBA is looking for… guards who score three a night!


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