With the transfer of Jamil Wilson, I've heard a lot of people freaking out over the state of the basketball roster. Do we have enough players? Who will play shooting guard and small forward? Are we far enough under the cap to sign LeBron James?
Thing is, given the four transfers, there has been a lot of concern and panic over the state of the basketball roster (myself included). However, when you actually look at the roster breakdown, we're in pretty good shape for next season. We won't have the depth and talent necessary to make a deep tournament run--but looking at the guys we lost, we didni't have that anyway. But this isn't OSU women's basketball, we have enough firepower to be competitive in the Pac-10. Probably not a tournament team--but definitely competitive.
First off, the losses (besides our lone graduate, Tajuan Porter)
SG Matt Humphrey (Boston College)
SF Jamil Wilson (Marquette)
PF Josh Crittle (UCF)
SF Drew Wiley (Boise State)
The Crittle and Wiley losses are almost irrelevant. Look at the programs they landed with--they aren't Pac-10 players. They didn't play under Kent, and it was unlikely that they were going to play under Altman. By all accounts they're good kids, and I hope they find more success at programs that are more at their level, but those two players opting out will simply give Altman the option to get more of this own players in sooner. They were warm bodies that could provide extra depth, but unless multiple injuries occur, there is not a significant difference between having those two and simply having empty scholarships.
Losing Humphrey and Wilson hurts a bit more, because they did show at times that they could be very good players at this level. However, in two seasons, Humphrey was a 35% career shooter and was never consistent enough to get regular playing time. We tend to remember his heroics in the UCLA game, but then fail to remember that he went scoreless more times than he cracked double digits. Wilson showed a lot of potential early on, but he was incredbily inconsistent as well, and didn't play in most games the second half of the season. While Ernie Kent's quirky rotations had something to do with this, if these guys were playing well, they would have been in the game. Its not like the team was lighting the world on fire. These losses hurt the depth of the team in the short term, but its not like we lost Luke Jackson and Fred Jones. Wilson and Humphrey could go on to be very good players, or they could go on to be not much of anything. We don't really know at this point. But they're not better than EJ Singler and Teondre Williams, players in the same class who also play the same positions as they do.
So we lost some guys. It will hurt in term of depth some. But, overall, when you're looking at having a team, realistically with an 8-9 man rotation, we're in pretty good shape. Here's a look at the current roster as it stands. Note we have 12 players total, 10 scholarship players:
Malcolm Armstead, G (Jr.)
Joevan Catron, F (Sr.)
Michael Dunigan, C (Jr.)
Jeremy Jacob, F (Jr.)
LeKendric Longmire, F/G (Sr.)
EJ Singler, F (So.)
Teondre Williams, G (Jr.)
Garrett Sim, G (Jr.)
Tyrone Nared, F (Jr.)
Johnathan Loyd, G (Fr.)
Nicholas Fearn, G (Jr.) walk-on
John Elloriaga, F (Jr.) walk-on
Obviously, the thing that stands out is that we still have six scholarship juniors despite the transfers of Wiley, Humphrey, and Crittle. That class badly needed to be broken up, and still does. Altman will probably eventually accomplish that through redshirts and JUCO's when it comes time to recruit that class, then make damn sure it never happens again. A big factor in the loss of Wilson, though, is that we have so few underclassmen, only Loyd and Singler, in the entire program.
But those are things to worry about later, lets talk next season. We have plenty of players for a more than respectable rotation:
Dunigan and Jacob start at the 4/5. This duo was suprisingly effective last year when we got them the ball, and I think Altman will put more of an emphasis on that then Kent did. Catron has a lot of experience and can back them up, and Nared, who has a ton of potential, should also be in that mix.
I think Longmire will win the starting 3 spot, as I could see him being a critical piece in Altman's press defense. Singler could play at the 3 and Longmire start at the 2, but Longmire isn't much of a scorer, and I don't think that you'll be able to keep Teondre Williams' explosiveness out of the lineup (I realize that Williams didn't play many more minutes or average many more points than Humphrey did last year, but his rate stats and shooting percentages were signifiantly better across the board), making Singler the 6th man on the team.
Armstead is obviously the starting point guard, then you have a competition between Loyd and Sim for the backup spot. Sim could also play some backup minutes at SG in a pinch, though its not optimal. Ultimately, here's how I see the roation playing out:
Starters: Dunigan, Jacob, Longmire, Williams, Armstead
Key Reserves: Singler, Catron, Loyd
Bench Filler: Nared, Sim
Barring a major injury to a starter (knock on wood), that has the potential to be a very decent lineup. Not one that likely has a chance at a Pac-10 title or making it to Houston, but one that with hard work and defensive intensity can be consistently competitive and snag an NIT or perhaps even lower seeded NCAA berth. And honestly, after the nightmare of the last two seasons, being consistently competitive is something we should be thrilled with. I know it seems overwhelming, but don't worry about the roster. I'm sure Coach Altman is having a lot more nightmares about what he's going to do with that junior class than he is about finding a way to win next season.