Sports

Rothstein Files: Breaking Down The 2K Coaches Vs. Cancer Classic

Steve Lavin

Steve Lavin (credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

By Jon Rothstein
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ARIZONA

Coach: Sean Miller

Top Player: Kyle Fogg

X-Factor: Kevin Parrom

Under The Radar: Jordin Mayes

The Skinny: Miller and the Wildcats have done a tremendous job of bringing in a talented freshman class without being forced to throw it directly into the fire immediately. Arizona’s first-year players Josiah Turner, Nick Johnson, Angelo Chol, and Sidiki Johnson are all being used in the team’s rotation but none are immediately in bold print on an opponent’s scouting report. After losing Derrick Williams to the NBA, much was made over what Miller and Arizona lost and what they were bringing in — but not enough focus was on what they had returning. Fogg, Parrom, Mayes, Jesse Perry, and Solomon Hill all have solid experience from last year’s run to the elite eight and should anchor this team once again as they seem primed to return to where they annually belong — the NCAA Tournament.

ST. JOHN’S

Coach: Steve Lavin

Top Player: Nurideen Lindsey

X-Factor: D’Angelo Harrison

Under The Radar: Phil Greene

The Skinny: You can officially take the training wheels off the Red Storm. After three solid tune ups against William & Mary, Lehigh, and UMBC, St. John’s will finally begin what could be the most arduous non-conference schedule in America considering their youth. Lavin spoke candidly earlier this week about his squad’s lack of size and depth and that will be the biggest obstacle his team has to deal with this week. If God’s Gift Achuiwa, the Red Storm’s sole hope for a low post presence can’t stay on the floor for 30 minutes, St. John’s will have a hard time staying competitive on the backboards regardless of their opponent.

TEXAS A & M

Coach: Billy Kennedy

Top Player: Khris Middleton (injured)

X-Factor: Ray Turner

Under The Radar: Jordan Green

The Skinny: They don’t have the sizzle of Kansas or Baylor but the Aggies look to be the most complete team in the Big 12. The loss of Middleton to a knee injury will hurt short term but look for Washington transfer Elston Turner to pick up the majority of the scoring slack. The confident wing has big time experience after playing with the Huskies in the 2010 Sweet 16 and should be ready to assume the role left behind by Middleton. Billy Kennedy also has two underrated freshmen in Green and Jamal Branch, a highly touted recruit whose defense may be slightly ahead of his offense. A & M’s depth is also a major asset, especially on the baseline where Billy Kennedy’s team can rotate four able bodies regularly with Ray Turner, David Loubeau, Keith Davis, and Kourtney Roberson.

MISSISSIPPI STATE

Coach: Rick Stansbury

Top Player: Dee Bost

X-Factor: Renardo Sidney

Under The Radar: Jalen Steele

The Skinny: Kentucky coach John Calipari said before the season he feels the Bulldogs are a team that is in the Top 15 or 20 nationally and they certainly have that type of talent. Bost, Sidney, freshman wing Rodney Hood, and UTEP transfer Arnett Moultrie are all players that are capable of taking over a game at any time. It will be interesting to see how Sidney handles the bright lights of Madison Square Garden as well as the plethora of big men the Aggies will throw at him. Also keep an eye on the level of production the Bulldogs get from the shooting guard spot. If Steele or Brian Bryant can score in double-figures, this becomes a much more difficult team to prepare for defensively.

PREDICTIONS FOR THURSDAY:

Texas A & M 72, Mississippi State 66

Arizona 77, St. John’s 65

Your predictions for the 2K Coaches Vs. Cancer Classic? Let Rothstein know in the comments below…