Hoops Expectations & (rough) Predictions ...

So hoops team is playing its second exhibition game tonight against some school from Northern Cal, called Cal State Monterey or something.  If you want to read something about this worthless game click here and if you are dying to listen to this game via the internets, go here. We also signed our super stud recruit James Keefe yesterday, who is supposed to be quiet a baller. JD has more on Mr. Keefe here.  Anyways, I wanted to use this momentous opportunity as in the end of our exhibition games to lay out my expectation/predictions for this upcoming regular season. This is how I see the regular season shaping up. I think we are going to stumble out of the gate losing the second one (and may be even the first one) because of the ridiculous level of injuries on our roster.  I can see some of you think this can be a top-10 team.  I am not so sure even though just about a week ago I ranked them around no. 14 in a blogger poll. Based on the scheduled below, I think we are going to be around 19-9 going into the Pac-10 tourney and hopefully we fill finally able to break that conference tourney jinx by winning at least 1 game, and head into the Big Dance with a 20 win resume. The schedule puts us in a bit of rough spot as we end the season with two games against the Bay Area schools. So here is how I see the regular season shaping up:

11/15/2005, New Mexico State (ESPN2) - this is going to be a win, we go 1-0
11/17/2005, Temple (second round) - I see us losing this because of injuries, 1-1
11/19/2005, Delaware State , 7:30 PM - win 2-1
11/23/2005, Pre-Season NIT (ESPN2), TBA
11/25/2005, Pre-Season NIT (ESPN2), TBA
11/29/2005, Albany (FSNW2), 7:30 PM - win 3-1
12/4/2005, Coppin State, 1:00 PM - win 4-1
12/10/2005, Nevada - Wooden Classic (KCAL), 2:30 PM, tough game, but a win, 5-1
12/17/2005, at Michigan (ESPN), 12:00 PM, first real road game, we will lose this one 5-2
12/21/2005, Wagner, 7:30 PM , win 6-2
12/23/2005, Sacramento State (FSW2), 7:30 PM, win 7-2
12/29/2005, Stanford, we bust the streak against Stanford, win 8-2
12/31/2005 Cal (FSNW2), 1:00 PM, win 9-2
1/5/2006, at Arizona (FSN), 8:30 PM , no chance (not yet), 9-3
1/7/2006, at Arizona State (FSNW2), 2:00 PM, win and split the road trip, 10-3
1/12/2006, Washington State (FSNW2), 7:30 PM, win  11-3
1/14/2006, Washington (FSN), 1:00 PM win 12-3
1/18/2006, USC (FSNW2), 7:30 PM, win 13-3
1/21/2006, West Virginia (CBS), 12:45 PM, win 14-3
1/26/2006, at Oregon (FSN), 7:30 PM, loss 14-4
1/28/2006, at Oregon State (FSN), 1:00 PM, loss 14-5
2/2/2006, Arizona State (FSNW2), 7:30 PM , win 15-5
2/4/2006, Arizona (FSN), 1:00 PM, loss 15-6
2/9/2006, at Washington State (FSN), 5:30 PM, win 16-6
2/11/2006, at Washington (ABC), 12:30 PM, loss 16-7
2/19/2006, at USC (FSN), 5:00 PM, win 17-7
2/23/2006, Oregon State (FSNW2), 7:30 PM, win 18-7
2/26/2006, Oregon (CBS), 1:00 PM, win 19-7
3/2/2006, at Cal (FSN), 7:30 PM. loss 19-8
3/4/2006, at Stanford, TBA, loss 19-9
3/8/2006, Pac-10 Tournament - Los Angeles, Calif., TBA, we will win 1 game in the Pac-10 tourney and lose in the semis and be 20-10 going into the tourney. So there you go, I think it is reasonable to expect this team to win 20 games, and based on our early season injuries and our reg. season schedule, I think we will barely get to 20 wins.

Again, I think we should be careful about not setting our expectations too high for this season. Even Frank Burlison, who is probably the best of college basketball analysts in MSM land, who gives a shit about UCLA basketball has a word of caution ranking us no. 25 in his season preview:

Rating rationale:The Bruins return four starters and an athletic 7-footer (Ryan Hollins) from an NCAA tournament team. Jordan Farmar (the Pac-10's Freshman of the Year), Arron Afflalo and Josh Shipp are three of the best sophomores on any one team in the country. And Ben Howland's second Westwood recruiting class includes at least three players who could play significant minutes as freshmen.

Concerns: Two starters, Shipp (hip surgery in September, projected to return late in December) and center Michael Fey (groin pull) have yet to practice. And a freshman Howland is counting on to play a lot, forward Alfred Aboya, is still recovering from knee surgery last month.

Frank says: The Bruins will be a team that wins 20 games and returns to the NCAA tournament -- but only if they can ride out this injury storm relatively intact.
Sounds just about right to me.  Again, I don't really care about as much whether this team makes the Sweet-16. If totally healthy it has enough talent to make a serious run. However, the most important things I am expecting from this season is this team to get better as the season unfolds, for the freshmen and returning Bozeman to integrate in nicely with sophomores of this season.  I am really looking forward to see these kids grow and play that Howland ball of tenacious D and disciplined O we saw from his Pitt. teams in the Big East. And oh yeah, don't be fooled. I think these boys are going to run when they get their chances. I am expecting to see smart, fundamental, and disciplined hoops in the Cathedral of college basketball, not the jungle ball crap we saw under the ESPN con artist posing as a basketball coach and now a douchebag analyst.
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