The recent addition of Howard and Len to the line-up have generated a lot of excitement and speculation, but I think we all will be happier in the end if we tamper expectations a bit. IMHO a realistically attainable goal for this year's team would be a deep run in the NIT, which would set them up nicely for next year. Expecting an NCAA birth this year is wishful thinking given the way they have struggled against relatively weak opponents.
So, while I know a lot of people will be more excited to discuss this year's team, I've been thinking about next year and wanted to post my thoughts and see what others are thinking. I'm very bullish on 2012-2013. Assuming there is no attrition (big assumption), I think the line-up next year looks like this (ave minutes at each position in parenthesis):
C - Len (30 mpg) / Cleare (10 mpg)
PF - Padget (23 mpg) / Pankey (17 mpg)
SF - Layman (20 mpg) / Faust (10 mpg) / Parker (10 mpg)
SG - Stoglin (28 mpg) / Faust (7 mpg) / Allen (5 mpg)
PG - Howard (28 mpg) / Faust (7 mpg) / Allen (5 mpg)
The big questions IMHO will be:
- Attrition: Perhaps we should expect at least one player to leave, but I think if you look at each individual player, the only players that I fear might leave are Stoglin and Parker. Parker we could live without, but Stoglin leaving would be a big blow. The reason I fear Stoglin leaving is two-fold. First, IF he averages 20+ ppg in ACC play this year, there will be people pressuring him to go pro. And, if he looks ahead to next year and sees that Turgeon plans to keep playing him off the ball at SG, rather than PG, he may decide it's in his interest to either go pro, or transfer to a school where he can play as a scoring PG. I hope not, but this is my fear and it seems reasonably possible. If he does not come back, we will struggle again next year to make the NCAA.
- Howard: Will he l start to come into his own at the PG position during his junior year? As a Sophomore he should increase his assist numbers, but will probably still commit too many turnovers. Next year, I hope he'll start to polish his game and bring the turnovers down and become a truly solid floor general. Could he average 7 assist vs 2-3 turnovers as a Jr? His progress will determine how good the team becomes.
- SF: This is the weakest position on the roster. How good will Layman be as a Freshman? Can Parker figure it all out? Can Faust play at the SF position? Lots of questions here and no certain answers.
- Len: How much will he develop by his second year? How hard will he workout in the off-season and how much bulk can he had? If he progresses the way it seems he should, then he could be our best player next year and give us a dominating presence down low.
Overall, while there are some questions, I think the team will be much improved in 2012-2013, with a high potential upside. If Stogs comes back, Howard improves, and Len improves - then I think this team will be top-3 in the ACC, top-25 nationally, and could make a run the Sweet-16. But that's a lot of ifs....