Season Preview 2002

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Updated: November 6, 5:10 PM ET National Toughness Survey

It seems everyone has an opinion when it comes to what is makes the game of college basketball so tough. But the words that matter most are those that belong to the players and coaches who play the game.

Unless you've banged in the post with Chris Marcus or Nick Collison; sat on the visitor's bench in Cameron Indoor Stadium; awakened to John Chaney's voice at 5 a.m.; or coached an NCAA Tournament game against Bob Knight ... you really don't know the toughest aspects of college basketball.

So, went to the source this offseason and asked:

"What are the Toughest ..."

  • Oct. 28: Teams in 2002-03
  • Players | Guards | Big Man | Defenders
  • Fans/Expectations | Coaching Jobs
  • Players to Replace | Rivalries
  • Mid-Major Programs | Mid-Major Players
  • Duos
  • Practices | Places to Play

    During's 2002-03 Season Preview, the results of a national survey of Division I coaches and players (more than 170 responses) will be unveiled. The graphs below are broken down into three categories: Players, Coaches and Overall results. The comments were made with the assurance no names would be used, allowing those who must deal with the toughest elements this season to express their true feelings entering the 2002-03 season.

      Toughest Team in 2002-03?

      Overall Survey

       Arizona (58%)
       Kansas (19%)
       Oklahoma (9%)
       Duke (6%)
       Maryland (4%)
       Pittsburgh (3%)
       Texas (3%)

    "They have it all: great shooter, great inside/outside player in Luke Walton, good rebounding, excellent depth, and a great coach."
    "They have the best lead guard in college and great leadership from Jason Gardner and Luke Walton."
    "They are simply the best team in the country."
    "Should have won it all last year, and all the players are back to win it this year."
    Consistent success will continue this season with the players returning for Roy Williams."
    "Kansas has the best player in Nick Collison ... very good guards ... and a great coach."
    "Big-time talent combined with great coaches. Once OU plays its bowl game, Norman will become a big-time basketball town."
    "Hollis Price is a determined leader, and the Sooners learned a lot from last year's NCAA experience."
    "Lots of experience and toughness ... they've been to the Final Four and want to get back."

      Toughest Team in 2002-03?

      Coaches Survey

       Arizona (61%)
       Oklahoma (19%)
       Kansas (15%)

    "An experienced point guard, along with the smartest player in the country, not to mention a great recruiting class."
    "Arizona has the most overall experience coming back in the country and a veteran point guard."
    "Oklahoma's front line and Hollis Price make them the toughest in the country. They also have experience, depth and the ability to improve through the season under Kelvin Sampson."
    "Price, Ere and a lot more. They play harder, and execute and defend better than anyone."
    "Defense is still the toughest in country and most of their contributors from last year are back."
    "The Jayhawks have the best inside-out combo in the country with loads of NCAA Tournament experience."
    "Constant success will continue with the returning players."
    "Let's see .... Collison, Hinrich, Simien and Roy Williams? Not bad."

      Toughest Team in 2002-03?

      Players Survey

       Arizona (57%)
       Kansas (21%)
       Duke (8%)
       Maryland (5%)
       Oklahoma (4%)

    "They have experience and know how to win. Teams go as their point guard goes, and I think Jason Gardner is the best in the country."
    "Great senior leadership coming back, combined with very good young talent, make Wildcats No. 1."
    "It's not a matter of rebuilding, but reloading. Gooden may be gone, but Wayne Simien will take over."
    "May have lost Drew Gooden, but still have a strong nucleus of guys to have played together -- and win."
    "Got to Final Four last year, and Roy Williams will have his team ready to take the next step."
    "With four McDonald's All-Americans coming in, Coach K will know how to take advantage of the top recruiting class in the country."
    "Aren't they always No. 1?"

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