#1 Joe Harris (previous rank: #1)
He's not a guy who can single-handedly carry a team, and he sometimes struggles to create his own shot or knock down the big one when we really, really need it, but Joe's still our best player and biggest asset. He leads the team, playing over 30 minutes per game, and hasn't failed to score in double-digits since the walk over Mississippi Valley State on December 8th. I'm tempted to say we need more from Joe, but he's turning in a very good season, and seems to be playing all the way up to his ceiling. Haters like to say that he's more Robin than Batman, but I think he's mostly Blue Beetle.
#2 Akil Mitchell (previous rank: #2)
He's still averaging close to a double-double, but an ankle injury has really wicked away his effectiveness of late. He needs his explosive movement abilities in order to hold his own in the post, and he's lacked that so far in 2013. Still, Big Fundamental is not the reason we're losing games right now. His tenacity and grit are indispensable.
#3 Evan Nolte (previous rank: #7)
With Darion Atkins battling shin splints and playing like a shell of the player we saw early this season, Nolte leapfrogs all the way up to #3. My reason is pretty simple: Nolte is a shot-maker, on a team that desperately needs to see shots being made.
#4 Mike Tobey (previous rank: #8)
Did you see his game against Wake Forest? 6-for-9 from the field, 14 points, 7 rebounds, and serious flashes of greatness. That was in 21 minutes of work, subbing in for a hobbled Darion Atkins. It was very encouraging to see (despite the ugly loss in Winston-Salem). Tobes is developing right before our eyes...
|It's the mask.|
#5 Darion Atkins (previous rank: #3)
Hopefully he'll heal up during this week off, because we need him desperately, especially on defense where we seem to currently be powerless against big guys posting us up. Devin Booker ate us alive on the low block on Saturday, and Devin Booker... isn't the world's best big man, let's just leave it at that. Get better soon, Darion. We need you.
#6 Paul Jesperson (previous rank: #6)
When we're winning, I'll happily say Jespy is our "glue guy," doing a little bit of anything/everything to help us win. But when we're losing, I'll say this: Jespy is "just a guy" out there. A shooter who doesn't (can't?) shoot, a guard with limited handle or ability to dribble-drive, and a liability on offense due to his limited tools. He's still playing good-enough defense and his length can bother shooters, but he's giving up too much dribble penetration because his feet are simply slower than the shooting guards he's been facing. (He really needs to be defending smaller 3s, not 2s.)
#7 Justin Anderson (previous rank: #5)
I'm back to being a little bit sour on J.A. To me, he looks like an A+ athlete but a D+ basketball player. Great raw ability, he's like a SG/SF version of Akil Mitchell's SF/PF freshman self. The staff will develop Anderson into a good player, but it ain't happening this season. As it is now, his mistakes and poor shooting far outweigh any contributions he makes in the energy / hustle departments. Bennettball demands control, and that's something Anderson woefully lacks.
#8 Teven Jones (previous rank: #4)
I like Teven much more than this #8 ranking, but he must have found his way into Tony's doghouse again. There's no other way to explain his 25 minutes in the losses at Wake and Clemson compared to Jontel Evans' 57 minutes in those games. Evans played HORRENDOUS basketball in those two games, so why didn't Jones play more? (He stepped up and drilled a pair of big 3-pointers against UNC, and a point guard who could shoot was seriously a sight for sore eyes.)
|Hey Tony... less Evans, more Jones... please.|
#9 Jontel Evans (previous rank: #9)
I don't buy the idea that he's "rusty." I do buy the idea that he's just not a very good basketball player. The guy can't shoot, can't make free throws, can't take care of the basketball, can't create offense for his teammates, can't get to the hole and score on a consistent basis, and can't make any sort of discernible impact defensively. I hope I'm wrong and it's just rust or some kind of mini-slump, but I have zero faith in Jontel Evans right now. I pin these two ACC losses directly on him (and dismal point guard play, in general.) Devon Hall and London Perrantes can't get here soon enough.
#10 Taylor Barnette (previous rank: #10)
It's harsh, but I'm ready to say it: This was a wasted scholarship. Him transferring after the season is the best possible outcome for him and the program, else he'll sit on the bench for three more seasons, eating up a scholarship that could otherwise be used on someone who could help the team win. When a so-called "shooter" can't get some time in these last two games when we were absolutely starving for made shots... Ugh. I don't want to keep saying mean things about Barnette, who I'm sure is a nice enough kid, so this will be the last time I include him in these power rankings.
#11 Doug Browman (previous rank: #11)
Browman hasn't played in 2013, so he's no longer part of the power rankings, either.
We're at 11-5 overall, 1-2 in the ACC, #154 in the RPI, and #52 in the Pomeroy Rankings. We're on the outside looking in, nowhere close to the bubble. That's what back-to-back losses to ACC bottom-feeders can do for you. Right now, Hoofans need to be focused on a few things for the remainder of this season:
1) Continued development for the young guys, specifically Nolte, Anderson, and especially Tobey. We need two above-average starters to emerge from that trio of players.
2) Maintaining a record above .500 so we'll have a solid NIT candidacy at season's end.
3) Imagine this team, minus Jontel Evans, plus Malcolm Brogdon, plus uber-transfer stretch-4 Anthony Gill, plus stud point guard recruit Devon Hall, plus darkhorse point guard recruit London Perrantes. 2013-14 figures to be pretty special. We just need to see zero career-interrupting injuries to Joe, Akil, or Darion.
4) Set or define your patience level with Tony Bennett and his program. This is Year Four. What do you expect to see moving forward, and in what kind of time frame do you need to see it? I'm not suggesting Bennett should be sitting on a hot seat... but I am suggesting that the results need to start appearing here pretty soon. That blowout against Florida in the first round of last year's NCAA Tournament didn't do a whole lot to sate my appetite for March Madness, that's all I'm saying. Yes, I know that this year's team is extremely young (four freshmen and two sophomores in the top nine players), but "wait 'til next year" is not young. It is getting very, very old.