ATB: ACC Takes Early Lead 1-0Posted by rtmsf on November 30th, 2010
We’re Back. These After the Buzzers dropped off a little bit over the long holiday weekend, and for that we apologize. Still, we’re working through some ideas as to how we want to set them up, so if you have any suggestions for improvement or additions/deletions, we’re all ears. So long as it doesn’t take us all night to do and it sounds reasonably interesting, we’ll consider it. Hit us up in the comments.
Your Watercooler Moment. ACC 1, Big Ten 0. Don’t be fooled by the fact that Minnesota was without defensive stalwart Al Nolen tonight — the Gophers still came into this home game as a fifteen-point Vegas favorite, and Tony Bennett’s Virginia team hadn’t exactly shown any signs of breaking through after a 1-2 trip to Maui last week. A 39-18 second-half run by the Wahoos fueled by 77% three-point shooting (10-13) erased a ten-point halftime deficit and had Tubby Smith fuming after the game about his team’s shoddy defense. So what is the teachable moment here? Perhaps that Minny wasn’t quite as good as their 6-0 record with wins over a UNC team in disarray and a West Virginia team still finding itself would have led us to believe? Or that ACC teams just find ways to win these ACC/Big Ten Challenge games year after dastardly year? Well, that’s certainly true, and the Big Ten now finds itself in a serious hole going into Day Two of the event considering that this game was a supposed lock for the midwestern league. In looking at the remaining ten games, Ohio State on the road (@ FSU) and Illinois/Northwestern at home (vs. UNC and Georgia Tech, respectively) become must-wins, with the hope that Iowa and/or Michigan can break through versus Wake Forest or Clemson on the road. If we were laying odds at this point as to which league will win this challenge, we’d go heavily on the ACC — that’s how important the Minnesota loss tonight at home was.
Tonight’s Quick Hits…
- Jacob Pullen’s 241st Trey. With Pullen’s second three of the evening tonight in an easy win against D2 Emporia State, Pullen became the all-time leader in made threes at the school. He already has 1,618 points in his career and is well on his way to becoming the all-time leading scorer at the school (he needs to average 17.8 PPG the rest of the way, assuming 28 more games). Here’s the question, though — is Pullen the greatest player in program history? The greatest guard? Mitch Richmond and Rolando Blackman were awfully good players at K-State, but Pullen could eclipse both of them with a first-team all-American type of a season and a deep Tournament run.
- LaceDarius Dunn’s Return. In two games back from suspension against admittedly weak competition, LD has averaged 22 PPG, 5 RPG, 4 APG, and 4 SPG while shooting 10-19 from deep. We know that Dunn can bomb away, but only seven of his shots have been from within the circle; he may want to mix it up a little more as we get into the heart of the season.
- Blake Hoffarber’s Jumper. He shoots them in volume like JJ Redick once did down on Tobacco Road, but every time he puts one up, we think it’s going in. He’s been somewhat “off” so far this year, but after a 5-11 performance tonight, he’s still at 38.7% on the season. Of course, this is down from last year’s nearly-automatic 46.7% from deep, but we figure he’ll catch fire soon enough.
- 8-0 Before December. There are only thirty D1 teams remaining with a flawless record, but did you know that Cleveland State has already racked up eight wins before November is out? The Vikings have mostly feasted on a steady diet of mid-level teams, but with a win already against Iona (who beat Richmond), CSU may be looking at a strong season in the Horizon League.
- Wichita State’s Balance. One of the most effective shooting teams that you’ll find, Gregg Marshall’s Shockers utilize a cadre of ten players who average between 14-25 minutes per game, nine of whom tally at least four points per contest. Even though WSU came out of Maui with a 2-1 record, it was the Shockers who arguably played tournament champion UConn the toughest among their three wins.
… and Misses.
- Those Ridiculous-Looking McDonald’s Stairs at The Barn. Minnesota’s Williams Arena is a grand old barn, the fourth oldest building currently in use in Division 1 basketball. And we certainly understand that sponsorships will happen and must happen, even at grand old barns. But those McDonald’s stairs in the camera view on each side of the scoring table look ridiculous and are embarrassing for a program of this stature. Maybe it would be ok if the “M” used was the same configuration as the Gophers’ “M,” but it’s not. Please, please get rid of this travesty.
- USC Basketball. With four losses to the likes of Rider, Bradley, Nebraska and TCU already under its belt, Kevin O’Neill’s team is already in serious trouble this season. The Trojans have games coming against #20 Texas, #4 Kansas and #15 Tennessee in the next three weeks, and even with Jio Fontan returning on Dec. 18 for the KU game, we’re not sure that this dysfunctional unit will recover.
Tweet of the Night. Yeah, this is more or less what we thought too when told that TCU was becoming the seventeenth Big East basketball school.
RTC Live. What, only one RTC Live game tonight? Egads. Nevertheless, we made do with getting a chance to see Isiah Thomas and FIU visit Marshall.
Marshall 88, FIU 79. Isiah Thomas’ Florida International team plays the way Thomas played the game: tough, scrappy, quick. Just like Thomas used to, his Golden Panthers use that quickness to create matchup difficulties and give their opponents fits. After tonight’s game at Marshall (located in Huntington, West Virginia), Thomas was asked in the post-game press conference about an AAU game he played in the area back in 1978. He laughed as he reminisced about that night, recounting how a late foul — a call that still causes Thomas to bristle — sent his opponent to the line and resulted in a loss for Thomas’ team. Opponents getting to line is a theme that would reappear on this night. Marshall was just as quick as FIU despite going through what head coach Tom Herrion called a “very tough week of practice,” and they frustrated the Panthers into 30 fouls, sending the Thundering Herd to the free throw line 43 times. Marshall made good on 30 of those chances, hitting more free throws than FIU even shot (15-22). Thomas admitted in the press conference: “That’s the game, right there.” And that’s the other theme repeated tonight from that 1978 game — a victory for the hometown squad. FIU got a monster of a game from reserve forward Eric Frederick (26/7), who used his size to score while taking contact down low and to shoot over shorter defenders from the arc. His 26-point outburst included three of the Golden Panthers’ four three-pointers from a high-arcing shooting style that Herrion said was “like moon over Miami, that thing’s up there for so long.” FIU deserves credit for staging two second-half comebacks, including one after several Marshall backers in the crowd had made for the parking lot. Marshall’s DeAndre Kane (25/5/4 assts) and Shaquille Johnson (17 pts, 3-4 3pt FG), though, turned out to be simply too potent a guard duo for most of the game, and were able to fend off FIU’s late overtures.