Sunday, September 17, 2006

2006-2007 Athlon College Basketball Season Preview Review

Update September 2007

  • The 2006-2007 season is long gone, but the 2007 NCAA College Basketball Tournament games are available on DVD!.
  • And you can get started on the 2007-2008 season by checking our Gigantic 2007-2008 preview of links.
  • Catch up the latest recruiting rankings
  • Looking for the 2007-2008 Athlon Sports preview magazine review? I just finished the review! Check it out!!!


    The original 2006-2007 review
    The Athlon Sports 2006-2007 NCAA basketball college preview is now out! I picked it up at Borders Bookstores for the list price of $5.99 (display until Dec-15-2006). This is a west coast edition with Stanford's Mitch Johnson and California's Ubaka sharing the front cover.

    And now I am putting my Magazine Reviewer hat on.

    Comprehensive Review
    * The review is divided in two parts
    * The first part covers all the special features, stories, recruiting and player rankings.
    * The second part covers the meat of the magazine, the team-by-team within conference-by-conference analysis.


    Part One: Grade A-
  • Lots of advertising in this magazine, including ESPN Full Court, Samsung 40" LCD HDTVs (nice way to start the season, but who's gonna pay for it?), Sirius, and sadly a few gambling sites. Ironically in one of them (page 101) there is a picture of a random dude partially covering his face, but he looks a bit like the Coach K! That made me laugh for a few minutes :-)
  • Magazine content starts with an editorial from Michael Light
  • Five pages called "Hoops Madness" that cover a variety of topics, including some top XX lists, including coaches on the hot seat, and "put up or shut up" for touted but not-delivering players (they usually play on teams who underachieved or did not make the NCAA) (DUH!)
  • A three-page story on the new "One & Done" phenomenon because of the new NBA Draft rules. Featured is a full page picture of Greg Oden. Interesting "Oden" is an anagram of "Done". One & Done for Oden?
  • Next there is a "Ten things to watch in 2006" list. This covers players, teams and coaches.
  • A very nice touch follows, the preseason Bob Cousy Award candidates, about 40 of them including two from Division 2 and one from Division 3. Some of them are combo guards, but I digress. Included in the list are some of the highly touted freshmen. The 2006 class is definately going to sizzle this year! New Feature!
  • Three one-page interviews follow with Joakim Noah, Arizona's M-Will (Marcus Williams) and Kansas's Juliana Wright.
  • New Feature!: Their post-season predictions come with a nice overlay of the colleges on a two-page USA map. Very clever idea! Quite surpringly Oden State is not predicted to make the Elite 8! And their pre-season #1 maybe a surprise, but it is really the common-sense choice. Here is a hint: Ole Roy ain't that good? Two mid-majors are predicted to make the Sweet 16 and neither one is Gone-Zaga.
  • Then they present their three All-American teams, along with 30 honorable mentions. (Top 45 in all)
  • Recruiting
    * Top 100 of the 2006 class, sorted by position.
    * Top 25 recruiting classes of 2006
    * Next 200 (101-300) of the 2006 class sorted alphabetically
    * Top 100 of the 2007 class sorted alphabetically
    * Top 25 of the 2008 class
    * Top 10 of the 2009 class
    (Editiorial humor: What's missing is the Top 5 of the Embryo class)
  • Two pages of Women Hoops coverage
  • Scheduling: The back of the magazine has an incomplete schedule of all teams, sorted alphabetically. Because the magazine is published relatively early, and some of the schedules have not been announced/finalized, some teams has complete schedules, some teams have partial schedules, some have none. They do however have a listing of all the holiday tournaments, but the font is very tiny. Pull out your magnifying glasses! The first game listed is the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic on November 7 and 8 at College Park, Maryland. If you want to see Gary Williams sweat early in the season, bang your monkey and demand ESPN-U! (Jim Rome radio listeners should be familiar with that phrase)
  • The Back Page: They take a critical look at the Athlon Top 20 Recruits of 2002. Some very familiar names there such as Melo, McCants, Dee Brown, Bosh, Felton, and Hot Sauce. There's also some disappointments: Evan Burns (who?), Christian Drejer, Anthony Roberson (the Me-First class at Florida pre-championship), Elijah Ingram and Soft Davis (of Izzo). But I disgress.




    Part Two: Overall Grade A-
  • In a nice new twist, all conferences are listed alphabetically. In the past the smaller conferences were sent to the back. Not any more. All conferences alphabetically. Good!
  • Conference Pages. Grade B-
    * The BCS conferences get one full page each for a conference preview, which includes the predicted order of finish (POF), a one-line recruiting round-up analysis, first, 2nd and 3rd all-conference teams (top 15 players), and the superlative awards (player of the year, defensive player, underrated, newcomer).
    * The non-BCS conferences get the POF and the all-conference first team only, but they don't get a page for the conference preview.
  • Team Pages. Grade A-
    * Team by team coverage for BCS teams: Each BCS conference team gets its own FULL PAGE, with Intro, Frontcourt, Backcourt and Analysis. Thankfully this magazine (unlike Lindy's) has complete rosters with jersey numbers for the returning players and most of the freshmen/newcomers. The redshirts and transfers are clearly indicated. For returning players comprehensive stats are listed (Games Played, MPG, PPG, RPG, APG, FG%, FT%) and their hometowns. For newcomers/freshmen it lists their hometowns and a short paragraph of recruiting analysis which is a nice touch. Each team also gets a corner picture of one of their players captioned with a sometimes related statistical factoid. Also nice! Sadly coaching records and tenure are not included.
    *Team by team coverage for non-BCS conferences: The designer teams (Memphis, and Gonzaga) get a full page, similar to the BCS teams above. Semi-designer teams expected to make it to the post-season (NCAA or NIT) get half a page (eg Nevada, George Mason, New Mexico State, Charlotte, Xavier, Akron, four MVC teams, GW, and a few more), which includes full rosters, jersey numbers and but no recruiting analysis. The remaining teams who are not expected to make to the NCAA or NIT get only a 15-line writeup that is 1/3rd of a page wide, no rosters, but the top players are mentioned in the 15-line writeup. Ouch for those teams in terms of coverage.


    Shortcomings
  • Schedules are incomplete
  • Tenure and coaching records along with assistant names are not included


    Compared to Lindy's magazine
    + Athlon: Complete rosters and almost all jersey numbers
    + Athlon: More recruiting coverage in the back of the magazine
    + Athlon: partial schedules (vs none for Lindy's)
    + Lindy's: More coverage for teams not expected to make the NCAA/NIT
    + Lindy's: Coaching records (but no assistants) included


    Recommendation
    * I recommend this if you are a college basketball fan.
    * If you are buying it mainly for your conference or team, the BCS teams get a nice full page of coverage each. If your team projected to make the NCAA/NIT you also get a nice half-page to full-page coverage. For teams projected not to make the post-season the coverage is very little.
    * Which one to get? Compare the +/- of each, and browse through them at your local bookstore/newstand.


    Upcoming Preview Magazines
    * Sporting News, CBS Sportsline, Blue Ribbon Yearbook, ESPN, and SI

    Supporting the blog/reviews
    If you found the review useful you can support this blog by making your Amazon purchases using this affiliate link. This will encourage me to review every single 2006-2007 college basketball season preview magazine :-)

  • 1 comment:

    Dunkafunk said...

    The "Phat 5" of College Basketball Kentucky, N. Carolina, UCLA, Kansas, and Duke the 5 winningest Division 1 programs in NCAA history will celebrate 500 combined years of college basketball play during the 2006-07 season.

    For the first time in US sports history the 5 winningest teams on any level college or pro will celebrate 500 years of play.

    The "Phat 5" started at different times during a 21 years period from 1899-1920.

    Kentucky 104 years, 1903-2006-07
    N. Carolina 97 years, 1911-2006-07
    UCLA 88 years, 1920-2006-07
    Kansas 109 years, 1899-2006-07
    Duke 102 years, 1906-2006-07

    The "Phat 5" has a current streak of 19 consecutive (1988-2006) final four appearances. There has been atleast one of The "Phat 5" at the final four every year since 1988. UCLA kept the streak alive last March of 2006. Who will be The "Phat 5" team(s) that advance to the final four in 2007.

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