Winning starts in the backcourt

Aaron Harrison's presence at guard is part of what makes Kentucky a heavy preseason favorite. AP Photo/Michael Conroy

When we talk about successful college basketball teams these days, there is one common denominator: You need to have a good point guard to be effective at the offensive end. You are not going to win on a consistent basis without it.

Just look at last season and Connecticut's run to the national championship. How important was guard play for the Huskies? Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright were keys to Kevin Ollie's team cutting down the nets in North Texas. Effective play on the perimeter is why Connecticut marched on.

It is so vital to have guys who can penetrate, handle the ball, excel on the perimeter, defend, stop penetration and put defensive pressure on the opposing guards, forcing them out of their rhythm on offense. It is important to keep the opponent from utilizing their offensive sets.

Guard play is so important when you have someone who can knock down the trifecta. Those players can tickle the twine and that gives you "Uncle Mo" -- momentum -- on your side.

Let's look at a few teams that should be sensational on the perimeter this season.

Look at Kentucky and its winning experience displayed during tournament play. These kids didn't play like freshmen by the end of the season. The Harrison twins were mentally tough and should get even better. Returning to college instead of taking the green of the pros after one collegiate season was smart.

Duke has quality in the backcourt with Quinn Cook, Rasheed Sulaimon and newcomer Tyus Jones. Coach K has top-five talent, so the Cameron Crazies should be ecstatic.

Wisconsin has steady, experienced players in the backcourt, as Bo Ryan gets the most out of his talent. And I really like the group of guards at Gonzaga, where the addition of USC transfer Byron Wesley will make the Zags even stronger.

I guarantee you that new stars will develop in backcourts all over America. Keep an eye on guard play.

Sometimes the point guard becomes an extension of the coach. His effectiveness and efficiency, making good passes to set up easy baskets and limiting turnovers, will help get a team to the winner's circle.