Evaluating the Three Current Favorites for ACC Player of the Year

Posted by EMann on December 31st, 2012

Ethan Mann is a writer for the ACC microsite. He is a senior at Duke University and can be reached at emann970@gmail.com.

Unless something really drastic happens during conference play, the ACC Player of the Year will likely come from this pool of three players: Duke senior forward/center Mason Plumlee, Virginia Tech senior guard Erick Green, and Maryland sophomore forward/center Alex Len.  Let’s take a look at each of the three player’s profiles thus far, a week removed from the start of the conference season.

Mason Plumlee

Before this season, Mason Plumlee had never quite lived up to the extremely high expectations that had surrounded him during his first three years in Durham. While Plumlee had not been a poor player, most people had not expected Plumlee to ever become a four-year player in Durham — he seemingly oozed potential based on his elite athleticism. While Plumlee had made incremental improvements each season — in his junior year averaging 11.1 points and 9.2 rebounds a game — few observers (including his high school coach, who suggested that Plumlee not return to Duke for his senior season) expected the breakout performance that his senior year has yielded so far.

Mason Plumlee is soaring above the competition during a breakout senior season for the top-ranked Blue Devils. (Duke Hoop Blog)

Plumlee is probably the frontrunner for National Player of the Year at this point, and conference player of the year as such. He is shooting 63.8% from the field while averaging 19.5 points (second in the league), 11.6 rebounds (first), and 1.6 blocks per game (sixth) for the nation’s top-ranked team. Much of his improvement has come as a result of major improvements at the free throw line. Plumlee, who shot 52.8% from the stripe his junior season and has hovered at around 50% for his entire career, is currently shooting 69.2% from the line and is going to the line at a much higher rate this season. Plumlee has only had one game where he has shot under 50% from the field, and he has had a double-double in eight of Duke’s 12 games, all of which are staggering statistics.  He also has Duke’s highest usage rate and offensive rating. The big question mark for Plumlee will be at the free throw line, though. While he has improved dramatically this year, he has also struggled over his last five games, reverting back to numbers closer to his career norms (27-of-47, or 57.4%). This is just nitpicking on a truly phenomenal season thus far for Plumlee, though, who should be considered the clear front-runner at this point, especially if Duke wins the ACC.

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ACC M5: 12.28.12 Edition

Posted by EMann on December 28th, 2012


  1. Keeping it Heel: Matt Hamm thinks that UNC, now unranked and at 9-3 with no victories against notable opponents, needs to tighten its rotation with time lacking for further “experimentation.” He advocates solutions that enhance the offense, including giving freshman Brice Johnson the lion’s share of the minutes at center. He also insists that UNC must play PJ Hairston and Leslie McDonald more to maximize UNC’s perimeter effectiveness. All of these moves have offense in mind, although the defense, which gave up 85 points to a struggling Texas team and 61 in the second half to East Carolina, has not always been a strong suit. Regardless, UNC needs to get things figured out as conference play is around the corner. One area that UNC could definitely improve in is getting to the free throw line — this season, the Tar Heels rank 335th in FTA/FGA, with Brice Johnson interestingly enough among the worst at getting to the free throw line.
  2. Virginia has been one of the most enigmatic teams in the ACC this season — the Cavaliers soundly defeated Wisconsin at the Kohl Center, but are also 0-3 against the CAA, its only three losses of the season. Its latest loss, to previously 1-10 Old Dominion, has raised many of the lingering questions that Virginia has had all season. Tony Bennett’s normally stout defense was poor against ODU, surrendering 63 points, one shy of its maximum all season, in a game with few possessions. The absence and/or limited effectiveness of Jontel Evans has really plagued the Cavaliers, and their undersized front line came back to haunt them against the Monarchs, as UVA posted one of its worst rebounding efforts of the season. Virginia must avoid losses like these if it wants to be considered a legitimate NCAA Tournament contender.
  3. Miami’s Reggie Johnson is an essential cog for the Hurricanes. Without Johnson in the lineup, Miami dropped two games in this week’s Diamond Head Classic. While he has not been particularly efficient this season — shooting only around 43% from the floor, a stark decline from previous seasons — he is the best on the team at getting to the free throw line, and is a good foul shooter for a big man (just over 70%). The effects of Johnson’s absence were most notably seen at the other positions where teams could focus more of their defensive attention as Miami lacked its skilled big man. Kenny Kadji bore the brunt of this attention, as he was just 5-of-16 in the Indiana State game. Miami needs Johnson to get back to action, not only because he is likely to improve to a performance in line with seasons past, but also because his presence opens up opportunities for Miami’s potentially lethal perimeter attack.
  4. With Dez Wells and Alex Len getting a majority of the ink for 10-1 Maryland, an under-appreciated part of the Terrapins’ attack has been junior point guard PeShon Howard. Howard has quite a bipolar season stat line — he is 38th in the country in assist rate , but his turnover rate is nearly as high and is the worst on the team. Howard has also been an anemic shooter this season (just 8-of-31 overall), but adding to his strange profile, he is an incredibly good free thrower, albeit in a low sample size as well (15-of-17). Howard, in order to improve his overall profile, must keep teams a bit more honest when calling his own number, but Mark Turgeon has generally been pleased with his improved shot selection, as he has been known as a bit of a chucker in previous seasons. Regardless of his odd statistical profile, Howard will play a very important role in Maryland’s overall success this season, and he was nominated for the Bob Cousy Award, which honors the top point guard in the country..
  5. State of the U: This article presents a detailed if slightly off-color look at some interesting statistics in the ACC this season. Some highlights include: Mason Plumlee is second in the ACC in scoring and first in rebounding, averaging over a double-double per game. NC State has three of the top four players in the conference in offensive efficiency. North Carolina, while ranked third in the country in scoring, has largely done it against poor competition — their upcoming game with UNLV will likely be the most accurate litmus test for the Tar Heels this season. Boston College’s woes can be at least partially explained by the fact that their second and third leading scorers are both shooting under 40% from the floor. There’s more than this in the article – make sure to check it out.
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ACC M5: 12.27.12 Edition

Posted by EMann on December 27th, 2012


  1. Fox Sports Carolinas: NC State forward CJ Leslie has long been thought of as the Wolfpack’s most talented player, but his immaturity has overshadowed his innate talent for most of his first two years in Raleigh. However, his recent performance against St. Bonaventure, where Leslie totaled 33 points and eight rebounds, is the latest culmination of a season-long maturation process, according to Fox Sports’ Andrew Jones. Leslie, whom Mark Gottfried has coached very differently from other players, calling him by his first name “Calvin,” has finally started to show the potential that made him eigh’s most touted recruit in a long time. If Leslie can continue to improve, NC State has a fantastic chance to advance past last year’s Sweet Sixteen appearance.
  2. Yahoo! Sports: Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo! Sports, like many other prognosticators, is backing off of his original choice of NC State to win the conference. Eisenberg differed from most, however, in also selecting North Carolina to finish ahead of Duke as well (NC State-Duke-UNC was the most popular projection). He is now definitely backing off the Tar Heels as well, whose poor play has dropped them out of the Top 25; and while he favors Duke to win the conference now, he warns us not to give up on NC State. Eisenberg also calls attention to league disappointments (Florida State and UNC) and the burgeoning conference player of the year competition between Virginia Tech’s Erick Green (America’s leading scorer) and Duke’s Mason Plumlee.
  3. Washington Post:  Maryland has sailed under the radar this year. After dropping an extremely close opener to then #3 Kentucky, the Terrapins have not lost another game. Still, the Terps only received seven votes in the latest Top 25 poll. This low profile is emblematic of the team’s coach, Mark Turgeon, who has had to replace one of the game’s iconic head coaches in Gary Williams. As detailed in Rick Maese’s article,Turgeon’s disciplined, calculating approach has been nurtured through various experiences in his career, dating back to middle school basketball. But while remaining fiercely competitive, he also has struggled to balance family with basketball. Regardless, after reading this piece it seems like Turgeon is the right man to lead the Terrapins forward as they transition from the ACC to the Big Ten.
  4. Salisbury Post: A big part of Duke’s rise to #1 this year can be credited to an improvement in the team’s defense. Last year, Duke’s defense was the worst (#70) that it has been since Ken Pomeroy began his ratings in 2003. Duke’s defense has improved in nearly every facet this year and now ranks ninth in the Pomeroy rankings. Another notable accomplishment for this Duke team includes the fact that all five of its starters are averaging in double figures, which has not happened in Durham since 2003-04. However, Mike Krzyzewski knows that his team is not perfect, saying, “This season will not be a perfect one.” Still, with their performance against one of the toughest opening stretches in recent memory and an improved defense, it is hard not to be bullish about Duke’s long-term chances this year.
  5. Florida Today: Flying under the radar during Christmas season was Miami‘s struggles in the Diamond Head Classic. Playing without senior forward Reggie Johnson, the Hurricanes ended up finishing fourth in the tournament, including a costly overtime loss to Indiana State in the third place game where Miami squandered a late seven-point lead. However, assuming Johnson can return from his injury, Miami should end up being alright. Miami has yet to lose a game where it has been at full strength (Durand Scott was suspended in the loss to Florida Gulf Coast) and Johnson missed the ISU game as well as the previous night’s defeat to San Diego State. Look for Miami to continue to fly under the radar in conference play, but they will need to be a bit more careful in the ACC because these two losses will give them a slightly smaller margin for error in their quest to make the NCAA Tournament.
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ACC Presidents Pledge Solidarity, But For How Long?

Posted by EMann on December 7th, 2012

Ethan Mann is a writer for the ACC microsite. He is a senior at Duke University and can be reached at emann970@gmail.com.

In the wake of Maryland’s abrupt departure for the greener pastures (ringed with money that actually does grow on trees) of the B1G, the ACC has been bombarded with rumors of the imminent departures of several other of its members, which would signal the impending demise of the conference. Georgia Tech, Virginia, and North Carolina have all been rumored to be in talks with the B1G, with Florida State and Clemson reportedly linked to the Big 12.

What will the ACC look like by the time of the next presidential election? (Duke Chronicle)

Although the conference just added Louisville to replace Maryland, replenishing the supply of teams at 14 for football and 15 for all other sports, most pundits and observers thought that this would not significantly change the ACC’s tenuous position. Unless the ACC can somehow renegotiate its television contract, which pays less than any of the other four major conferences (sorry Big East, but changing your name from C-USA does not mean that you can still be considered a major conference), many will still consider the ACC on shaky ground. The league might need to start groveling for Notre Dame to give up its football independence, but the odds of that happening after this season seem unlikelier than Maryland reneging on their move to the B1G.

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ACC M5: 12.06.12 Edition

Posted by EMann on December 6th, 2012

  1. ESPN: North Carolina guard/forward PJ Hairston has been playing a new position this year, the power forward spot. Robbi Pickeral discusses how in North Carolina’s small lineup (three guards plus Hairston with James Michael McAdoo), Hairston enjoys his new role because it creates mismatches and allows him to stretch the floor with his outside shooting ability, something atypical from a player at his position. Roy Williams expects to use this lineup often in the future, as it was successful against UAB last weekend. Hairston also plans to take the ball to the basket more to take advantage of his handling skills instead of settling for threes, and he has also gained some additional confidence because of this move. His numbers are so far much improved from last year, and if UNC continues to use this smaller lineup, they can stretch the floor with several three-point shooting options, something a bit out of the norm for a Roy Williams lineup.
  2. Washington Post: Maryland has a renewed focus on defense this season, as typical scouting sessions are focused on closely observing opponents’ offensive tendencies on film. Head coach Mark Turgeon said that the Terps’ victory over George Mason last weekend was the first time he has been happy with his team’s defense all season. One of the most important tasks Turgeon has undertaken is getting his freshmen on board with the team’s defensive focus. Alex Len and Dez Wells have especially bought into the defensive schemes that Turgeon hopes will become contagious amongst his younger players. At the moment, Maryland is ranked 78th in Pomeroy’s defensive efficiency ratings largely due to their opponents very rarely turning over the ball, so that is one area where the Terrapins will need to improve.
  3. While maybe not as important to the average Seminole fan as the triumph over the Seminoles on the gridiron two weeks ago, Florida’s evisceration of Florida State in Tallahassee last night was a sure sign that the Seminoles have a long way to go this season. Yes, Florida is one of the very best teams in the country but FSU was nowhere even near competitive with the Gators, something that they were even in 2006 and 2007 when Florida won their consecutive national championships. In the 25-point defeat (and it didn’t even seem that close), Florida State shot only 35% from the field and committed 22 turnovers, while Florida shot 49% and ran out on the Seminoles from the opening tip. Michael Snaer was the only Seminole in double figures, so if this game does not serve as a wakeup call for Leonard Hamilton’s team after the home embarrassments to South Alabama and Mercer, nothing will.
  4. Local radio voice Mark Thomas was inspired by NC State’s effort in its victory over Connecticut in the Jimmy V Classic two nights ago. The most important takeaway, according to Thomas, is that Mark Gottfried and his team appear to have realized that while they are a very talented, they are not good enough to just roll the basketball out there and out-talent the other team. The game against UConn showed the importance of topping that talent with strong effort, and NC State’s performance in the second half was certainly indicative of that. While it may be tough for NCSU to match Duke in the ACC this season, performances like this one will definitely remind observers as to why they predicted NC State to win the conference in the preseason after all.
  5. Duke extended the contract of athletic director Dr. Kevin White through the end of June 2019. White, since coming from Notre Dame in 2008, has overseen three national titles (including the 2010 men’s basketball title) and 12 ACC titles. Duke’s athletic teams have also been exceptional in the classroom, with only one team earning a GPA below 3.0 last semester. Duke’s athletics have also placed in the top 2o in the Director’s Cup (which measures performances in all sports) in each year during White’s tenure. While no one knows when head coach Mike Krzyzewski will step down, with White seemingly in place for much of the next decade, he may be the one officially making the extremely difficult call on who will replace the sport’s all-time leader in victories, a very difficult call indeed for even an AD with White’s pedigree.
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ACC M5: 12.05.12 Edition

Posted by EMann on December 5th, 2012

  1. Yikes. It’s not quite at the level of Clemson’s futility in Chapel Hill, but Boston College has now lost to Harvard for the fifth season in a row. While Harvard has shared or won the Ivy League title the last two years, the team was not expected to be quite as formidable considering the absence of two key contributors from its NCAA Tournament team last season. Although Ryan Anderson had 23 points on 11-12 shooting, Boston College’s anemic defense (Harvard’s starters were 25-41 from the floor) was definitely the culprit in this loss. Boston College’s expectations are not high this season, but consistently losing to Ivy League opposition is not something that teams aspiring to improve in the ACC typically have on their to-do list.
  2. NC State finally got the marquee win it needed to assure everyone not to push the panic button in Raleigh quite yet. Wearing uniforms stitched with “Don’t Ever Give Up,” emblematic of former Wolfpack coach Jimmy Valvano’s famous speech at the ESPYs shortly before his death, the Wolfpack got a 69-65 win over Connecticut in the event that bears the late coach’s name. While NC State’s vaunted freshmen struggled, veteran forwards Richard Howell and CJ Leslie each had double-doubles in the Wolfpack’s victory. Beating UConn doesn’t quite carry the cachet that a win in Ann Arbor would have had, but seeing NC State finally emerge victorious in a nationally-televised match-up should help the Wolfpack begin to recover from the burdens that everyone’s preseason expectations may have placed on them.
  3. Chapelboro: Freshman point guard Marcus Paige of North Carolina is expected to return to action this weekend against East Tennessee State, after missing UNC’s victory over UAB last weekend following an elbow injury. With negative x-rays supporting the decision, head coach Roy Williams is confident that Paige will be able to play. Getting the freshman back should be helpful for the Tar Heels, who have had a lot of uncertainty with their lineup this season. Williams says that while his team is small, it is not necessarily quick enough to play overly aggressive defense, so they have practiced a zone. Having a healthy Marcus Paige in the lineup is important for North Carolina as the team hopes he can continue to improve and become a consistent, steadying presence during ACC play.
  4. Tallahassee Democrat: The calling card of Florida State’s recent success has been its exceptional defense. However, head coach Leonard Hamilton has not seen the consistent effort that his recent teams have put together at the defensive end this season. The statistics bear him out: the Seminoles are only ranked 80th in Ken Pomeroy’s defensive efficiency rankings, by far their worst mark in the last five years (the Seminoles were in the top 15 the last four years, including finishing first twice). Hamilton is particularly worried about his team’s defensive intensity as Florida State faces Florida next, a team ranked second in the overall Pomeroy rankings and third on offense. Hamilton hopes that playing their in-state rival can provide a return to the intensity that his team has shown in years past.
  5. Clemson’s T.J. Sapp has decided to transfer away from the program. Sapp, a sophomore guard who has started all seven of Clemson’s games this season, gave no reason for his decision to leave. Even though Sapp was starting, he was averaging only about 15 minutes per game this season. Sapp’s decision to transfer leaves Brad Brownell with three guards with the potential to slide into his starting spot:  freshman Adonis Filer, sophomore BYU transfer Damarcus Harrison, and freshman Jordan Roper. Out of those players, Filer has used the most possessions when he has been in the game, with Filer and Roper having extremely similar offensive ratings, slightly superior to Harrison.
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ACC M5: 12.04.12 Edition

Posted by EMann on December 4th, 2012

  1. Washington Post: Maryland’s Alex Len has had a breakout sophomore campaign, averaging nearly 15 points and nine rebounds per game so far this season. The Ukrainian has been so impressive that many are now speculating about his draft stock. While it is far from certain that Len will leave school after this year, he is currently seventh on NBADraft.net‘s mock draft for next season and looks likely as a lottery pick if he elects to declare for the pros. Even if Len only stays in college a few more months, if he continues to play this well, Maryland is going to be a very tough out in March. While Len may not eclipse Mason Plumlee’s on-court numbers this year, if he decides to declare next spring he may very well end up going higher in the draft than the early NPOY candidate.
  2. Point guard Jontel Evans is slowly working his way back into suddenly surging Virginia‘s lineup. After struggling (largely without Evans) in losses to George Mason and Delaware earlier this season, Virginia emerged victorious from Wisconsin’s Kohl Center in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, which is always a feather in the cap even if the Badgers are a little bit down this year. Evans played a season-high 23 minutes in last weekend’s victory over Wisconsin-Green Bay where he tallied seven assists. Both Evans and head coach Tony Bennett are excited at how quickly Evans has recovered from his foot surgery, and the team’s fortunes should only improve as Evans becomes even more ingrained in the Virginia rotation.
  3. Georgia Tech finally returns back to the renovated McCamish Pavilion after a long road trip, which featured a third-place finish at the DirecTV Classic in Anaheim and a competitive loss to Maui Invitational champions Illinois at Assembly Hall.  The Yellow Jackets will begin a seven-game home stand by hosting in-state rival Georgia tonight, a Bulldogs team that was highly competitive with both Indiana and UCLA earlier this season but is still only 2-5 overall. This game should be a litmus test to evaluate just where the Yellow Jackets are at this point in the season; a win certainly shows that the team is going in the right direction, whereas a loss would definitely be cause for great concern in Atlanta.
  4. Duke Chronicle: Tom Gieryn’s article discusses how Duke basketball’s focus on “Togetherness” thus far this season has definitely paid dividends for the Blue Devils. Last season, Coach Mike Krzyzewski talked of his team, saying, “It’s like a surprise gift. You open it up, and for the most part, it’s been a nice surprise, but I never have any idea what’s in there.” This year, the legendary coach said about his team, “They’re good guys—like, they hang together,” Krzyzewski said after Duke’s championship victory in the Battle 4 Atlantis. “They laugh at each other’s jokes. I don’t laugh at most of them. I don’t get most of them. The bottom line is they’re good guys and they like one another.” This sentiment was definitely not always apparent on last year’s squad. Even if Duke slips a bit from its extremely high level of play thus far, the team’s chemistry should help it recover a lot more quickly than last season where the slightest bit of adversity seemed to negatively impact a more fragile team. Also, Duke’s defense has benefited, at least in part, to this improved chemistry (though replacing Austin Rivers with Rasheed Sulaimon and Ryan Kelly’s defensive improvement have also played a huge role).
  5. Keeping it Heel: Matt Hamm suggests that head coach Roy Williams may not be managing his rotation in the most efficient way. Hamm’s major issue is that Desmond Hubert and Jackson Simmons are playing too much, at the expense of freshman Brice Johnson, and that PJ Hairston, who seems like the player most capable of creating his own shot, is averaging less than 20 minutes a game. This year has presented a bit of a challenge for the Tar Heels, as they lack a truly elite point guard or pure post player, both of which have been emblematic of Williams’ best teams at North Carolina. While making these changes may help, North Carolina will still need to continue to adjust its offense and be more flexible with lineups, something that Roy Williams has not exactly been known for in his tenure in Chapel Hill.
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ACC M5: 12.03.12 Edition

Posted by EMann on December 3rd, 2012

  1. Tomahawk Nation:  It may be getting closer to panic time in Tallahassee. One day after the football team claimed an ACC title to match the basketball team’s from last season, Leonard Hamilton’s team’s performance indicated that the chances of it returning the favor are growing quite slim. Florida State fell at home to Mercer yesterday, 61-56, marking Mercer’s first victory over the Seminoles since 1954. For the Seminoles, a preseason top 25 team, it was their second incredibly inexcusable home defeat that may have lasting implications come March. The defense returned to levels more typical of recent Florida State teams (it has been a major culprit this season), but the offense, despite Leonard Hamilton going 11 deep, failed to get anything productive going, and mustered just one point down the stretch in their final three possessions. Going into a match-up Wednesday with intrastate rival Florida, who has dominated its opponents this season, the prognosis is certainly troubling for FSU.
  2. A much more positive surprise in the ACC this season has been the strong play of Virginia Tech, who remained undefeated after upsetting 15th-ranked Oklahoma State this weekend. Playing no small role in this surprising start is senior guard Erick Green. In this fantastic Jeff Goodman article, Green acknowledges that he would have left Blacksburg if not for the hiring of new coach James Johnson, who had played a major role in recruiting Green to Virginia Tech. Green is having a huge senior season, averaging about 25 points per game and catalyzing the Hokies’ new up-tempo offense, which Green credits as a large part of their success. While Virginia Tech may not be able to sustain this run of play indefinitely, they will definitely be a much larger factor than expected in the conference this season.
  3. Charlotte Observer:  Following their blowout loss to top-ranked Indiana, North Carolina hoped to respond positively in their Saturday match-up with UAB. While the Tar Heels were extremely impressive offensively, with Dexter Strickland moving to point guard and Leslie McDonald entering the starting lineup in the wake of Marcus Paige’s injury, their defense left much to be desired according to head coach Roy Williams. During a timeout early in the second half, Williams implored his team to step up their defensive intensity during a tirade that got the team’s attention. With UNC’s highly inconsistent performance so far this season, Williams certainly hopes that the Tar Heels can provide offense similar to that of Saturday’s game (102 points) while also heightening their defensive intensity.
  4. Devils in Durham:  As everyone surely knows, second-ranked Duke is off to a phenomenal start this season. But one player that has likely been overlooked in the wake of the excellent performances of Mason Plumlee, Quinn Cook, and Rasheed Sulaimon, among others, is junior point guard Tyler Thornton. Inserted into the starting lineup to replace the injured Seth Curry on Saturday against Delaware, Thornton stuffed the stat sheet in spots other than the points column-providing 10 assists and three steals. Coach K appreciates Thornton’s defensive intensity and has lauded his acceptance of a generally reduced role in the wake of Cook’s improving play. Thornton’s contributions are typically not of the flashy variety, but since he is “such an easy guy to play with,” according to Krzyzewski, he will definitely play a pivotal role in Duke’s team success this season, particularly with his devotion to tenacious defense.
  5. In what could be Maryland‘s last appearance in the BB&T Classic played in the nation’s capital, the Terrapins, in their penultimate season in the ACC, are quietly making a case to be mentioned amongst the conference’s elite teams this season. While Maryland struggled offensively in a 69-62 victory over suburban rival George Mason, their defense was able to put together a strong performance. Dez Wells continued his phenomenal play, scoring 25 points, while also reaffirming a commitment to defense inspired by watching films of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Wells insisted that he wants to guard the best player every game, since a great player is also great on defense as well. If Wells and Maryland can continue this defensive commitment, they will be an extremely scary squad during ACC play, particularly if their offense can improve.
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ACC M5: 11.16.12 Edition

Posted by EMann on November 16th, 2012

  1. Scout:  Clemson freshman forward Jaron Blossomgame has decided to redshirt this season following a compound leg fracture he suffered in April. Blossomgame had worked very hard to recover from his injury, but since he did not want to return during the middle of the season when the rest of the team was already familiar with its preferred style of play, he and Brad Brownell came to this mutual agreement. While Blossomgame is disappointed he won’t get to start his Clemson career until the 2013-14 season, he thinks that redshirting will be positive for his development. His contributions will be missed, as he would be able to provide some scoring ability and depth for the frontcourt, but ultimately both coach and player think that redshirting is the best pathway forward.
  2. Fox Sports Florida: The Coaches vs. Cancer Classic takes on special meaning for Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton and his program. Hamilton has lost four family members to cancer: his grandmother, father, and two brothers, one of whom lost his battle with the disease shortly following Florida State’s maiden ACC tournament championship in March. Another one of Florida State’s family, former assistant Kenny Williamson, who was on Pat Kennedy’s staff in the early 1990s, also recently passed away due to cancer. Expect Florida State to play with a special chip on their shoulder in this event, which has raised over $85 million since its inception in 1993. The Seminoles are fortunate that this tournament enabled them an automatic berth to the semifinals, as they lost in their first game in the event earlier in the week. The Seminoles will face BYU on Friday night, with a matchup between Notre Dame and St Joseph’s determining the other finalist.
  3. Hampton Roads:  With Jontel Evans slowly recovering from his injury (he played only three minutes in Virginia’s loss to Delaware on Tuesday, and doctors have not cleared him to play more than 10 minutes a game), Tony Bennett’s team has looked for answers at point guard. Unfortunately, Evans’ backup, Malcolm Brogdon, does not appear to be returning from his injury either anytime soon. Brogdon had surgery on his foot on March 7, and Bennett is confident that doctors will clear Brogdon to play at some point this season. But he has not played or practiced this season, which leads to the question of whether there is any point in rushing him back. If Brogdon cannot return and Evans remains limited by his own injury, this would leave only Joe Harris as a reliable creator, and Virginia’s offense would likely struggle as they have for most of the season thus far.
  4. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: It took all of one game following Georgia Tech’s opener for the excitement surrounding the new McCamish Pavilion to wear off. Georgia Tech’s struggle to get by Presbyterian had far fewer fans in attendance than the sold-out opener, and the Yellow Jackets’ play possibly was a consequence of the sparser crowd.  Georgia Tech needed a large second half run to put away their overmatched opposition, which led Coach Brian Gregory to comment that “For us to be who we want to be eventually, that stuff can’t matter [referring to the crowd size]… and we’re not there yet.” Georgia Tech will probably need to score more than 52 points and make more than a third of its shots to get the Atlanta crowds excited to see them play.
  5. Thursday was a much better day for the ACC. Conference favorite NC State had a relatively easy victory in Puerto Rico over Penn State, with strong performances from freshmen TJ Warren and Rodney Purvis. Virginia Tech, who has recently committed to a more up-tempo offense, outplayed VMI, who regularly plays one of the fastest tempos in the country, showing that it has at least mastered some parts of this new approach. And Boston College was competitive in a 10-point defeat against a much more athletic Baylor team in Charleston (predicted to finish near or at the top in the Big 12), indicating that they will not be the “guaranteed” victory they so often appeared to be last year. The ACC will need more nights like this in order to show that the conference has legitimate depth, rather than what some of the other ACC teams (looking at the Florida schools and a certain one in Charlottesville) have shown thus far.
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ACC M5: 11.15.12 Edition

Posted by EMann on November 15th, 2012

  1. Charlottesville Daily Progress:  Virginia has limped out of the gates to a 1-2 start, including an embarrassing home loss to Delaware in the NIT Season Tip-Off. But the bigger story at play may be their injury issues. Senior point guard Jontel Evans, who was limited to just three minutes in the game against Delaware, has been struggling to recover from surgery to his right foot to repair a stress fracture. While Evans is not known for being an electrifying scorer or shooter, his steadying presence defensively (he made the ACC All-Defensive team last year), including leading the team in steals over the past two years, and offensively (leading the team in assists) would definitely help provide structure to an offense that has sorely struggled without him. With backup Malcolm Brogdon injured, Virginia has employed a myriad of options at the point, including leading returning scorer Joe Harris and a walk-on, among others, with a clear dropoff from Evans’ typical play. Virginia will certainly be patient with Evans’ return to an increased amount of minutes, but they surely must hope he can return in a fuller, healthier capacity soon before the team potentially has more crippling out of conference losses.
  2. If the ACC wants to gain more respect as a conference on the national scale (at least relative to the Big Ten and the presently constructed Big East), it cannot afford for teams thought of as likely to make the NCAA Tournament to have potentially resume-crushing losses before Thanksgiving. Virginia is 0-2 against the CAA, having lost to George Mason on the road (somewhat acceptable) and Delaware at home (not good). Preseason #25 Florida State dropped its opener at home to South Alabama, and Miami, projected fifth in the ACC, lost to Florida Gulf Coast, who is in just their second year with NCAA Tournament eligibility, though they were without starting guard Durand Scott (suspended) and forward Garrius Adams (injury). Regardless, these teams will likely be a bit more antsy on Selection Sunday than the pundits thought in the preseason.
  3. Charlotte Observer:  NC State has recently been the third wheel in the Triangle basketball scene, but that certainly has started to change under Mark Gottfried. In this Observer piece, Joe Giglio details Gottfried’s recruiting strategy, which is already starting to pay dividends. With NC State’s Sweet Sixteen run last year, Gottfried has already “earned street cred with the best players in the country,” according to recruiting expert Dave Telep. Along with their initial success in the coach’s first year, in addition with Gottfried’s tireless recruiting, his comfort with the media, and his commitment to a “system,” according to Giglio, Gottfried has enhanced NC State’s perception greatly — which is a huge aspect of the recruiting world. With six top 50 recruits signed or committed from the classes of 2012, 2013, and 2014, the Wolfpack has more top 50 recruits in those classes than either Duke or North Carolina. Gottfried will definitely be a force to be reckoned with for a long time, especially considering that he will likely outlast both of the Triangle’s other coaching giants (Gottfried is only 48 years old), barring a major surprise.
  4. A lot of ink has already been given to Seth Curry’s phenomenal game against Kentucky, especially in light of his nagging shin injury which has limited his practice time. But a story to continue to watch for at Duke this season is the play of sophomore point guard Quinn Cook, and Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News added his perspective to the situation. Cook, who started both of Duke’s exhibition games, has been benched in favor of Tyler Thornton in each of Duke’s regular season games. This is not to say that Cook has been terrible, as he played 30 decent minutes against Kentucky. By placing Thornton in the starting lineup in these two games, Coach K has signaled to Cook that nothing is guaranteed, and even Cook realized this about his early season performances, saying, “I played sub-par. I was thinking too much.” Cook has not been spectacular in Duke’s first two games, but it seems like he is definitely taking steps in the right direction. Duke will need him to continue to progress if they are going to be a serious title contender next spring.
  5. There was only one game involving ACC teams last night, as Georgia Tech prevailed in a slog over Presbyterian, 52-38. The Yellow Jackets actually trailed at halftime before overwhelming the Blue Hose with their size in the second half. The Yellow Jackets won despite shooting only 33.3% for the game. While Georgia Tech certainly avoided joining the club of ACC teams posting embarrassing early non-conference losses, coach Brian Gregory will certainly see room for improvement as the season goes on. This game was played as a result of negotiations which involved Georgia Tech’s football team opening against Presbyterian this season, interestingly enough.
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