Campbell Injury Creates Chaos for Butler Backers
by Robert Ferringo - 12/14/2007
Who the hell is Pete Campbell?
That's what you may be asking yourself right now. Either that, or "How do I tell my kids that Santa blew the money for their Christmas presents on two Thai hookers and a kilo of sweet Bolivian bam-bam at that out-of-town conference last month?" But regardless, Pete Campbell is the embodiment of why betting on college basketball is a fickle proposition, and one fraught with terror.
Campbell was the second-leading scorer and third-leading rebounder for the Butler Bulldogs, one of the 12 best teams in the country and one of the four or five best bets in the country. Now, Mr. Campbell is on the shelf with a strained knee and any hope that the Bulldogs have of a deep NCAA Tournament run - as in Elite Eight or even Final Four deep - hangs in a balance.
But that's their problem. My problem is that without Campbell the Bulldogs are not the same steady, reliable, razor-sharp wager that they were with him in the lineup. The 6-foot-7 senior forward was lethal from three-point range and was one of the key weapons in Butler's flex offense. His ability to step out and knock down threes, bringing his big man away from the basket in the process, was the hidden key to this team's precision on the offensive end. And it's Butler's precise execution that has made them one of the best bets in the country over the past two years.
What, you don't believe me that this injury is as important as any in the country? Try this out: Butler was 6-1 ATS this season with Campbell in the lineup, 9-1 ATS in their last 10 games, and 28-11 ATS dating back to last year. That's a 72-percent bet that always covered in big games against marquee competition from the major conferences. Now they lost one of their best players and they are 0-2 ATS, with one straight-up loss, in their two games without him. And those two ATS losses came in conference games to teams that are not close to their level. Not good times.
Basketball is unique to any other sport in that an injury to a role player is much more critical than in, say, football or baseball. A starter on a basketball team constitutes 20 percent of the team that's on the floor at any given time. And losing a starter can have a devastating blow to the delicate fabric of a team's chemistry. Even something as seemingly innocuous as a team losing its first big man off the bench can have deep ramifications of how a coach substitutes, what type of defense a team plays, or how they matchup with a lesser opponent.
So we've determined that it sucks to blow your kids' Christmas money and it sucks to lose one of your starters on the basketball court. But conversely, adding a key piece to your hoops puzzle can also take an inconsistent, sloppy mess of a team and solidify it into a contender in the standings and at the window. Below I've listed a group of players that will be joining or re-joining their teams after the first semester ends at their respective school. Look for these players to make an immediate impact, and try to capitalize on each team's newfound mojo before the oddsmakers fully adjust to their presence:
Avery Jukes (Butler) - Jukes is a 6-foot-8 transfer from Alabama and is the type of athlete you don't usually see wandering around the Horizon League. The Georgia native played only seven minutes last year but apparently is comfortable using his face-up game. The question will be how long it takes Jukes to pick up Butler's intricate offense and if he can mesh with the guards. However, with Campbell out and the Bulldogs thin in the frontcourt his addition will be a huge lift for this team.
Jamal Boykin (California) - The former Duke transfer is a former California Player of the Year and will provide depth for the Golden Bears on the wing. He is eligible on Dec. 21 and, upon the return of Theo Robertson, will give Cal four skilled wing players between 6-5 and 6-8.
Ra'Sean Dickey (Georgia Tech) - The Yellowjackets have been a disaster to this point in the season and a big reason is that they've had no post presence. At 6-10, Dickey led last year's team in field goal percentage and in blocks. He is a senior and will give a huge lift to one of the worst rebounding teams in the South. He returns Dec. 18 against, gulp, Kansas.
Brook Lopez (Stanford) - The Cardinal were a club that I had high expectations for specifically because of the Twin Towers frontcourt of Brook and Robin Lopez. The 7-foot sophomore is clearly the more talented of the two and will be back on Dec. 19 to give Stanford the best frontcourt west of the Mississippi.
Michael Gerrity (Charlotte) - The 49ers have been part of the A-10 Renaissance this season and will get even better when Gerrity, the former WCC Freshman of the Year, becomes eligible on Dec. 15. Gerrity is a "hard-nosed" player and will likely work his way into the point guard spot next to Leemire Goldwire.
Justin Cerasoli (Loyola) - Loyola-Chicago has been a team to fade all season because they cannot put the ball in the basket. He is a two-time transfer, hailing from Seton Hall and Mississippi, but a high school star in the Chicago area. If his head is right he can provide enough spark to make Loyola a minor factor in an intense Horizon race.
Aaron Holmes (South Florida) - If this four-star freshman guard can match the hype he could be exactly the player that USF needs to put it in Big East contention. A former N.C. State signee and Florida State member, Holmes is a sharpshooter. The Bulls have been one of the best bets in the country to this point and if the 6-5 combo guard can play they could get even better.
Marques Johnson (N.C. State) - This former Tennessee Volunteer will be a welcome addition to the Wolfpack backcourt. Johnson is a 6-5 point guard that was eligible as of Dec. 12. With five starters posting a negative assist-to-turnover ratio (64 assists to 84 turnover) the Wolfpack are in desperate need of someone to steady their offense.
Channing Toney (UAB) - The loss of Paul Delany III has really crippled a team that I set as a C-USA sleeper this season. But the Dragons may be back in business if Channing Toney, a Georgia defector that will be eligible Jan. 1, can have the same type of impact that transfers Robert Vaden and Walter Sharpe have for the Dragons. Toney will add another shooter to a team that's knocking down nearly 40 percent of its 3-pointers.