NCAA countdown: No. 46 Southern Methodist
by Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
The first word: For the biggest puzzle in the upcoming college basketball season, look no farther than Southern Methodist.
In Year 2 of coach Larry Brown’s tenure, the rebuilding project is suddenly starting to shape up quite nicely. But let’s not forget it’s a rebuilding project.
Unlike last year, SMU will have options, plenty of them. But can all of the pieces come together for a huge turnaround season? And will it be just in time for the Mustangs, entering the newly-branded American Athletic Conference?
The ingredients for an upstart season are all there: The Mustangs bring all five starters back, have three high-caliber transfers eligible, and welcome in five-star recruit Keith Frazier, the program’s first McDonald’s All-American.
Many questioned the hiring of Larry Brown, the Hall of Fame coach in his 70s with his latest stint a bust in the NBA and a seeming lack of recruiting ties, particularly in Texas. But Brown’s support staff, led by coach-in-waiting Tim Jankovich, as well as the lure for recruits to play for one of the greatest coaching minds ever, has put SMU in position to land the best talent in the country. Evidence of this came when Emmanuel Mudiay, the consensus top-rated point guard in the class of 2014, chose SMU over John Calipari and Kentucky.
By the time Jankovich takes over for Brown, banners might already be hanging in the rafters. Now, though, the next step is simple: Make the NCAA tournament. It’s been two decades since SMU last went dancing.
2012-13 in review: 15-17 overall (5-11 Conference USA)
Path to the Dance: An at-large bid is certainly possible for Southern Methodist. How many teams the AAC get in the NCAAs will be an intriguing story line throughout the season. Louisville, Connecticut and Memphis are shoe-ins, and Cincinnati should definitely be a tourney team. Next in line could and should be SMU. But unless this team really surprises, the forecast calls for the Mustangs to be a bubble team. It’ll be interesting to see how much respect the NCAA committee gives the league, given the fact that it’s not the old … [For more on College basketball countdown: No. 46 Southern Methodist, click here.]