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September 28, 2006

Mailbag: New blood welcomed at Louisville

Louisville is coming off a disappointing season. Will a healthy roster and an influx of freshmen talent turn things around this season?

Are Ohio State fans expecting too much from their incoming class?

Speaking of freshmen, is the No. 1 ranked 2006 recruiting class of North Carolina hampering the recruiting efforts of the Tar Heels coaching staff?

Michigan and Michigan State have some talented guards committed to play for them in the coming seasons. Most recently, 2008 point guard Korie Lucious committed to the Spartans. How will these coaching staffs deal with playing time issues in their backcourts?

These questions are all addressed in this week's mailbag.

Jerry's Mailbag
Hey Jerry I would just like to get your opinion on how you think the recruits Rick Pitino brought in this year will impact the team and how you think the Cards will do in their second year with the Big East Conference.
Chris from Louisville

If Louisville can stay healthy, the Cardinals will be much better this year and should make the tournament. Four starters return and freshmen Derrick Caracter, Earl Clark, Edgar Sosa and Jerry Smith will provide depth and vie for heavy minutes, if not starting positions.

Caracter could be the impact player of the class. His physical and mental conditioning is the key. If he buys into Coach Pitino's system and drops some weight, he has the talent to take the Cardinals' attack to another level - especially with his ability to pass the ball and provide needed toughness inside.

Clark should thrive in Louisville's up-tempo style with his length and versatility. He will need others around him to put up the points, but Clark can handle and pass the ball. As a perimeter player, he is a matchup problem and a rebounding threat. He can provide depth at several positions.

Sosa will put significant heat on Andre McGee for the starting point guard position. A tough competitor, Sosa gets the ball where it needs to be on the court and has more of a passing mentality than McGee.

Smith should be a versatile scorer off the bench who, perhaps more importantly, provides defensive toughness and rebounding from the backcourt.

These freshman could provide the competition and energy to make Louisville a much tougher team than it was last season.

Hey Jerry, I hope Ohio State does great this season, but aren't people expecting too much impact from the incoming freshmen? They are talented - my brother played against Cook in high school and against Oden, Conley and Lighty in AAU. I am not questioning their talent. I am simply saying a freshman is a freshman.
Chuck from Cincinnati

Chuck, I've been thinking along the same lines myself. First of all, Greg Oden has to heal. Mike Conley will share minutes with starter Jamar Butler. I do, however, think the wings David Lighty and - especially Daequan Cook - will be counted on heavily.

Now, don't get me wrong. I think these freshmen are the real deal and will be great at Ohio State. But, will these freshman equate to a national championship this year? The odds are against that happening. I hope the Buckeye faithful understand that and are patient with their youngsters.

Do you think that having all the players Roy Williams has at North Carolina is hurting his recruiting this year and the next because there is not going to be a lot of playing time for the new players?
James from Bridgeport, Connecticut

I don't think so because recruiting is not about stockpiling weapons, but about filling needs. There is not much of a need in the Tar Heel program for the class of 2007 unless Tywon Lawson has a terrific year and enters the draft. Tyler Hansbrough and Brandan Wright are also possible early entries in the draft, but Coach Williams has Alex Stepheson and Deon Thompson at his disposal.

North Carolina is more focused on the 2008 class with studs like Greg Monroe, Tyreke Evans, Delvon Roe, Larry Drew, Kenny Frease and others.

The trend these days is for top prospects to be more attracted by rosters with top players than scared away by rosters with top players. For one, great players want to play with great players. Secondly, a top recruit is going to figure that if the guy already there is too good for me to beat out, then he will be leaving for the NBA. And if he isn't leaving for the NBA, then I'll beat him out.

What is your take on MSU getting a commit from Korie Lucious last night at the ND game? I heard that Izzo needs bigs for 2008. There being only two scholarships for that year and having Lucas in the fold, what do you make of this?
Pete from East Lansing

I do think Michigan State would like some size, and more importantly, athleticism to go along with Lucious. Delvon Roe, who was visiting the Spartans along with Lucious last weekend, would certainly fit the bill. It will be a tough fight to land Roe, especially now that North Carolina has joined the fray.

The difficulty is deciding what to do with the point guard position when Travis Walton, Kalin Lucas and Korie Lucious are projected to be on the roster. Lucious is a scorer who could move over to the shooting guard position, but he is under 6-feet tall. Coach Izzo has traditionally played with big, athletic wings, so it will be interesting to see if he goes with a smaller two-guard front in 2008-2009.

That is if all three of these guards are on the roster and Izzo is not coaching in the NBA.

How will Manny Harris and Alex Legion play together at Michigan if both are shooting guards?
Derrick from Dallas

Technically they are both shooting guards, but they are not the same type of player.

Harris has a great feel for the game and has a knack for coming up with the ball. He is slippery with the ball, and is a great competitor. He is actually more of a combo guard who will see a lot of time at point guard. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if he wins the point guard job. The only problem with having him at the point is that you give up his offensive rebounding.

Legion is an exceptional scorer who has the ability to use his size and ballhandling to create shots for himself. He is more of a combo wing player who will see time at shooting guard and small forward at Michigan.

These two guys will actually be very good on the court together. Harris brings intensity and playmaking capabilities to the court, while Legion brings big-time scoring capabilities. Coach Amaker could go big with the two of them in the backcourt together or go small by playing them with another point guard.

Jerry Meyer is a national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. Click here to send him a question or comment for his Mailbag.

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