ACC in the NIT: Florida State and Clemson Advancing With Solid Backcourt Play

Posted by Brad Jenkins on April 1st, 2014

The 2013-14 NCAA Tournament will not be something that ACC fans will remember fondly, with only Virginia among the 16 teams playing during the second weekend, and no ACC team advancing to the Elite Eight or beyond. But at least the league has two teams in the NIT Final Four, right? OK, that’s not something that the historically great ACC would normally celebrate, but sometimes you just need to take what you can get. Tonight at New York’s Madison Square Garden, Clemson (23-13) will take on SMU (27-9) at 7:00 PM ET, followed by Florida State (23-13) vs. Minnesota (23-14). The winners will meet for the NIT Championship on Thursday night, giving the ACC a pretty good chance to bring home at least one postseason trophy this season.

Clemson is getting solid backcourt play from Damarcus Harrison. (Photo: Rex Brown/IPTAY Media)

Clemson is getting improved backcourt play from Damarcus Harrison.
(Photo: Rex Brown/IPTAY Media)

Outside of first team all-ACC player K.J. McDaniels, Clemson has struggled offensively for much of this season. It’s no secret that Brad Brownell has been looking for some consistent scoring from just about anybody, but particularly from the perimeter. The good news is that the Tigers are finally getting some help for McDaniels in the form of their two wings. Junior Damarcus Harrison and sophomore Jordan Roper have stepped up their scoring during Clemson’s three-game NIT run. The two have combined to average 24 points per game on their way to New York, after collectively averaging only 14 points per game in the team’s previous 32 games this season. That 10-points per game improvement may not sound dramatic, but to a team that struggles scoring, it’s a huge boost. Harrison was the key to Clemson’s NIT quarterfinal win over Belmont last week, scoring 14 of his 16 points in the second half as the Tigers rallied from a late five-point deficit to win the game. Including Clemson’s one-point loss to Duke in the ACC Tournament, Roper has now scored in double figures in four straight games, and has been perfect on all 11 of his free throw attempts during that span.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ACC Preview Revisited – Part Three

Posted by Chris Kehoe on January 3rd, 2014

As we continue to revisit our ‘ACC Mega-Preview’, here is the third part of our recap with the bottom five projected teams profiled below. Keep in mind that the teams are ranked here based on the RTC preseason ACC rankings. The analysis of each determines whether each team was ranked too high or low at the start of the season.

To review Part One and Part Two of this feature, click through the links.

11). Florida State Seminoles (9-3)

FSU's defense has given Leonard Hamilton reason to smile again

FSU’s defense has given Leonard Hamilton reason to smile again

  • Signature wins: #10 VCU, #22 UMass
  • Signature losses: #14 Michigan, #15 Florida
  • Reasons for optimism: Florida State has tangled with a very difficult schedule thus far and responded well above its preseason perception. Thanks to their talented trio of Ian Miller, Aaron Thomas and Okaro White, Florida State has outdone expectations through a return to their days of defensive dominance under defensive whiz and head coach Leonard Hamilton. The emergence of massive center Boris Bojanovsky as a formidable interior presence has helped anchor the frontline, and by playing hard-nosed basketball against a very competitive early slate of opponents before conference play begins, FSU has set itself up well to overachieve and claw its way into the crowded ACC picture.
  • Reasons for pessimism: It will be tough for Florida State to keep up its scorching shooting percentages through conference play, and the rhythm it has built may break down over the wear and tear of consistently equivalent and superior teams in the ACC. While the Seminoles rank highly in field goal percentage, they don’t have a long-range threat on the roster who can consistently knock down threes when they are zoned. If one of their big three gets into foul trouble, which has happened to White already this season (he is averaging 3.2 personal fouls per contest), they will struggle to replace a player of his offensive importance.
  • Forecast: Florida State has a bright season ahead, likely beating some solid opponents and losing a few very close games to stronger foes. Without star recruit Xavier Rathan-Mayes and missing out on the Andrew Wiggins sweepstake, most folks thought Hamilton’s team would struggle to keep its head above water this season. It has proved many people wrong with its tenacious defensive principles intact and a solid well-rounded scoring attack. Florida State has firmly leapfrogged several teams projected in front of it and can be expected to challenge for an NCAA Tournament bid by continuing on this trajectory. 

12). Miami Hurricanes (8-5)

  • Signature wins: Arizona State
  • Signature losses: George Washington
  • Reasons for optimism: Not much was expected of this Miami team after losing almost all of its squad from an historic 2012-13 season. Losing the likes of ACC POY Shane Larkin, Kenny Kadji, Reggie Johnson, and Durand Scott would weigh on any team, but Jim Larranaga’s group has looked more formidable than expected. Behind the strong play of Rion Brown, Garrius Adams and Donnavan Kirk, Miami won’t set the world on fire this season but has a good team that could upset some more talented squads in conference play. They are certainly athletic, physical, and well-coached and will not back down from any challenge. Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

ACC M5: 11.21.13 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on November 21st, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Hartford Courant: We may lose Duke-Maryland, but it sounds like Kevin Ollie and Steve Donahue are prepared to bring back the Boston College-Connecticut rivalry in earnest. The rivalry effectively died when Boston College joined the ACC and an embittered Jim Calhoun vowed never to schedule the Eagles again. It seems like Ollie doesn’t hold the same grudge (although if the athletic directors do, look for the game to never happen). All we know for sure is that Boston College and Connecticut will play in the 2KSports Classic semifinal tonight at 7:00 PM. But here’s hoping to the continuation of a fun, heated, regional home-and-home rivalry in the near future.
  2. Greensboro News-Record: It’s only been four games, but people are already starting to take a closer look at Jabari Parker‘s phenomenal start, which has been better than any ACC Rookie of the Year in the last 17 seasons. Amazingly Parker isn’t even the most efficient player on his team (that honor belongs to the honorable-80.9-effective-field-goal-percentage Rodney Hood). Mark Thompson also compared his early statistics to the only two freshmen to win the Naismith Award (Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis). He’s bound to come down to earth at some point, but there’s no denying Parker is really fun to watch.
  3. Raleigh News & Observer: Keeping things at Duke, it’s safe to say Mike Krzyzewski isn’t pleased with the people who plan the NIT Season Tip-Off. If you tuned into the Eastern Carolina – Duke game on Tuesday night, you probably noticed a lot of empty seats in the student section. That’s because of a ticket distribution system with far too much bureaucracy. Here’s what happened: Each school was given 200 tickets, but most returned the majority of their allotments. The problem was Duke only had a single day to try to sell the generally overpriced tickets. As an example, Greensboro News & Record‘s Ed Hardin attempted to buy tickets for the UNC Asheville – Norfolk State game while in progress and was told they would cost between $41 and $123. According to Laura Keeley, fewer than 100 people made it to that game. Here’s to hoping they change the ticketing protocols for future NIT Season Tip-Offs, as having the opening rounds at cool arenas should be a positive, not a negative.
  4. Tallahassee Democrat: Aaron Thomas is getting a lot of love from his teammates because of his defense. Ian Miller said he’s “like Mike Snaer, but a little bit better.” Wait, what? Snaer was arguably the best on-ball defender in the conference. I watched him execute a one-man full-court press at Clemson that was one of the more impressive defensive performances I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure I’m ready to put Thomas in the same category with Snaer, but it’s true that he’s off to a great start. The Seminoles will get quite a challenge today as they face Virginia Commonwealth.
  5. Syracuse Post Standard: Syracuse‘s free throw shooting has been subpar so far this season, which is a big part of why the Orange’s wins have been tighter than expected. So Jim Boeheim upped the ante with his end of practice free throw-sprint tradition. The team breaks off into groups and shoots free throws before coming back to take one shot each (and running team sprints when a person misses), although he made players run sprints every time they missed in the smaller groups too. At least Syracuse’s shooting at the charity stripe hasn’t cost them a win yet: Just ask NC State or North Carolina about poor free throw shooting. In more pleasant ACC free throw surprises, Clemson has broken out of its historical slump, currently hitting a mind-boggling 81.4 percent of its free throws this season. Even more amazing is that the Tigers are only third in the conference behind Boston College and Miami. Take that haters! The ACC is the best (free throw shooting) conference in the land (except maybe the vaunted Missouri Valley Conference)!

EXTRA: In honor or North Carolina Central‘s first ACC win in program history (over Mark Gottfried’s floundering team), here’s an old story from Gary Parrish on Eagle coach LeVelle Moton and his friendship with Leah Ward.

Share this story

ACC Team Preview: Florida State Seminoles

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on November 4th, 2013

The 2012-13 Florida State Seminoles could best be described as one of the luckiest unlucky teams in recent ACC history. Coming off the school’s first ACC basketball championship the year prior, the Seminoles only returned four players and two of those suffered through difficult, injury-plagued seasons. Terrance Shannon and Ian Miller combined to miss 16 games and were never at 100 percent for the rest. Freshman Devon Bookert didn’t miss any games but was hobbled for the first half of the season while recovering from a preseason knee injury.

Florida State Preview

Now for the lucky part – Florida State’s record in close games. Counting a 73-69 win over Clemson in the ACC Tournament, the Seminoles were 9-1 in ACC games decided by five points or less. In games decided by three points or fewer, they were 6-0. Michael Snaer’s clutch play was certainly a factor in that record, but in those one-possession games you can’t just look at the last shot of the game. In such tight contests, any single possession throughout the game may have changed the outcome. That means one shot that rattled in instead of out, one bad call by an official, or one bounce of the ball off a random leg could make the difference in the game.

ESPN Insider John Gasaway looked at this in detail and wrote, “Indeed it’s not too much to say that Florida State was historically lucky in 2012-13, posting a 9-9 record in ACC play when the Seminoles’ level of performance would ordinarily fetch the team a 5-13 mark, or even quite possibly 4-14. Statistically, it was the most fortunate conference season recorded by any ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12 or SEC team in the last four seasons, meaning what the Seminoles did ranks No. 1 on a list with no fewer than 295 team-seasons.” Wow.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ACC M5: 01.02.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 2nd, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Tallahassee Democrat: Coming into this season we knew experience might be an issue for Florida State. But very few people saw Ian Miller’s foot injury coming, so nobody understood what a large part the freshmen would play. Montay Brandon, Aaron Thomas and Devon Bookert  are still figuring things out, but they’ll make the Seminoles a force come conference play. It will be interesting to watch their progression, as Leonard Hamilton has rarely showcased freshmen in his system.
  2. Winston-Salem Journal: Skip Prosser may not have been able to coach defense, but he was one of the most beloved coaches in college basketball. His style reflected his personality: flashy and likable. Walt Corbean, now an assistant at Wake Forest and someone who once played for Prosser, best described it: “He held me to that same standard. And I think that’s always stood out in my mind, that he treated us as men, and it wasn’t about what you were bringing to the team, but that you were a part of his program.”
  3. Durham Herald Sun: Compared with older brother Stephen Curry and father Dell Curry, Seth Curry may seem average or even a bit of a bust. But he’s having an incredible season so far this year for Duke. He and Virginia Tech’s Erick Green are duking it out to be the best guard in the ACC (though Michael Snaer will probably have something to say about that before March). In honor of his play, Duke recently named Curry the third captain of the team (along with Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly).
  4. ESPN: In honor of future ACC legend Jim Boeheim reaching 900 wins, Jeremy Lundblad took a look at the other coaches with a chance to reach the mark in their careers. I only have a couple more suggestions: Brad Stevens should be higher on potential alone (he’s only36!) and Bill Self should be number one. Bob Huggins has a chance at reaching 900 victories, but he’s an old 59. Roy Williams’ recent health scare may keep him from coaching until he’s 70. Regardless, it’s a fun conversation starter.
  5. KenPom: Ken Pomeroy simulated every conference’s season 10,000 times and reported the winners. The ACC was the second least suspenseful race with Duke winning the league 8,797 times to Virginia’s 476 times. That said, Pomeroy’s system’s fatal flaw is overrating teams like Virginia (whose slow tempo leads to much larger per possession efficiency margins). Most interestingly, North Carolina only won the league 143 times (less than 1.5%) thanks to its tough conference schedule, where it has to play the top seven ACC teams twice and the bottom four only once.
Share this story

ACC Team Previews: Florida State Seminoles

Posted by mpatton on October 30th, 2012

Throughout the preseason, the ACC microsite will release a preview for each of the 12 teams. Today’s victim: the Florida State Seminoles.

Leonard Hamilton and his team knocked off Duke and North Carolina to become the first ACC champion from somewhere off of Tobacco Road since Maryland in 2004. Hamilton’s team used experience, physical defense and drive to push through the ACC Tournament before falling in a brutal game to Cincinnati in the NCAA Tournament Round of 32. Still, the Seminoles’ triumph earned Hamilton the credibility where it’s time to start accepting his teams as conference contenders — especially when star guard Michael Snaer is at the helm.

Luke Loucks is gone, but Michael Snaer is ready to build on a dream season (Reuters)

This isn’t to say picking Florida State to finish near the top of the league again is a no-brainer; on the contrary, the Seminoles lost six players to graduation, including three starters. Among those leaving were Luke Loucks, the veteran point guard who played the cool foil to Snaer much of last year, and Bernard James, whose shot-blocking and tough defense anchored one of the best defenses in the country.

Newcomers

Five freshmen and a junior college transfer join the Seminoles this season, headlined by Aaron Thomas and Montay Brandon. Brandon, a consensus four-star 6’7″ wing out of Greensboro, North Carolina, looks to be a paradigmatic Hamilton player: He’s very long, athletic and is ready to focus on defense. Thomas was also a consensus four-star recruit and is known as a slasher; he’ll be backing up Florida State’s very talented backcourt this season. His playing time will probably directly correlate to how his defense stacks up with Ian Miller. Devon Bookert and junior college transfer Robert Gilchrist also join the Seminoles, though look for their impact to be somewhat down the road. Bookert is an offensive-minded point guard out of Alaska, and Gilchrist is a skinny forward with terrific length and athleticism. Finally, there are the seven footers Michael Ojo and Boris Bojanovsky. Ojo and Bojanovsky are both very raw, but the Seminoles will need an eraser at the center of Hamilton’s defense, and one or both may play significant time if they can fit that role.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ACC M5: 10.22.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on October 22nd, 2012

  1. Tallahassee Democrat: Veterans Ian Miller and Michael Snaer are really excited about the freshmen joining the team this season. Snaer specifically lauded Aaron Thomas, Devon Bookert and Montay Brandon as potential stars on this year’s team. Thomas has Snaer’s “can’t stop me” attitude which should make him an elite scorer, but Bookert may hold the key for Florida State making the next step with his ball-handling skills. The biggest issue with the last few Seminole teams has been offense, and most of the team’s offensive woes come from turning the ball over too frequently. If Bookert can run the offense and reduce the team’s turnover rate, look out.
  2. Associated Press (via Winston-Salem Journal): Apparently Reggie Johnson‘s dieting has started to work. The Miami big man started the season two years ago at a whopping 330 pounds and reportedly is now down to 290. He’s still got a ways to go, but believes his diet is helping. If he can play superstar minutes and can run the floor better, Johnson will make a run at becoming the ACC’s best big man. He’s already probably the league’s most polished returning half-court post player, but his weight keeps him from being elite. That said, take Johnson’s words with a grain of salt. It’s a little weird he pointed to his weight two years ago instead of last year (albeit when he was rehabbing a knee injury).
  3. Greensboro News-Record: David Morrison went to Duke’s Operation Basketball and got some interesting notes. First, Coach K is looking for major increases in offensive production from Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly and Seth Curry this year. Krzyzewski wants this team’s offense to be less balanced, though Rasheed Sulaimon will definitely be an offensive factor if he lives up to his hype. Morrison also talked with Plumlee about Krzyzewski’s reaction to the Blue Devils’ less-that-stellar finish last season.
  4. Blogger So Dear: Most schools taking international trips already finished them, but Jeff Bzdelik and his young Demon Deacon team headed to Canada and won two exhibition games against Brock University and Ryerson University, 84-79 and 88-80, respectively. CJ Harris and Tyler Cavanaugh led the way for Wake Forest against Brock, scoring 16 points apiece in the win (Harris also added five assists and Cavanaugh grabbed nine rebounds). Saturday Travis McKie starred, finishing with 26 points. Freshmen Cody Miller-McIntyre and Cavanaugh also scored in double figures.
  5. CBSSports.com: Snaer isn’t the only one talking some trash this offseason. Dexter Strickland isn’t too worried about NC State being picked first in the ACC.

    “They talk those guys up every single year and we beat them every single year [...] They are the least of our worries. Beat us one year and then they can talk smack. Until then, you can’t put them in the mix.”

    He also felt pretty strongly about the NCAA Tournament outcome if North Carolina hadn’t been hampered by injuries.

    “I’ll be honest. If nobody got hurt, you might as well have given us the trophy. Nobody had the ability to stop us.”

Share this story

ACC Summer Recess: Florida State Seminoles

Posted by KCarpenter on August 2nd, 2012

Over the next four weeks we’ll be taking a step back and looking at each team in the ACC to assess where each program — and the conference as a whole — stands before we totally turn our attention to the 2013-14 season later this fall. Today’s target: Florida State.

Where They Stand Now

Leonard Hamilton Is Riding High in the ACC

Florida State is riding high. Last season probably constitutes the second best season in Florida State history, trailing only the 1971-72 season where the Seminoles won 28 games and played in the national championship game. The 2011-12 season’s 25 wins, ACC Tournament victory and two wins over the perennial powers of Duke and North Carolina marks the most successful season of Florida State’s tenure in the conference. Leonard Hamilton has transformed the Seminoles into one of the conference’s premier powers and a surefire contender for the conference title on a regular basis. Outside a disappointing loss to Cincinnati  in their second game of the NCAA Tournament, it would have been hard for fans in Tallahassee to envision a better season.

Who’s Leaving

Unfortunately, the downside of a team filled with seasoned seniors is that they all graduate. Bernard James, Deividas Dulkys, Xavier Gibson, Luke Loucks, Jeff Peterson, and Jon Kreft are all graduating, taking the bulk of rotation minutes with them. Having a lot of players leave because they are graduating seniors is a good problem for a team to have. Not so good? Transfers. Freshman Antwan Space is transferring to Texas A&M after seeing little to no playing time in the past season, further shrinking the Seminole frontcout.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC Summer Updates: Atlantic Coast Conference

Posted by jstevrtc on July 21st, 2011

With the the NBA Draft concluded and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. The latest update comes courtesy of our ACC correspondent, Matt Patton.

Reader’s Take

Summer Storylines

  • New Faces: That’s right, the ACC will be totally different conference this season. Only five of the fifteen players selected as to the all-conference teams will be running the floor this season, namely four of North Carolina’s five starters (with Miami’s Malcolm Grant keeping the group from being only Tar Heels). Somewhat surprisingly, all of the ACC all-freshman squad will be back in action. Duke’s Kyrie Irving was a prominent frosh, but he didn’t play a single conference game before leaving school and UNC’s Harrison Barnes opted to return for his sophomore campaign. Keep an eye on Wake Forest’s Travis McKie and Maryland’s Terrell Stoglin especially. Both should be the stars on their respective teams.
  • However, the strength of the conference will rely heavily on the incoming players and coaches. Duke, North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Florida State all bring in consensus top 25 classes according to ESPN, Rivals and Scout. To make a long story short, the rich get richer. Duke’s Austin Rivers (ranked 1st by Rivals, 2nd by Scout and ESPNU) will be expected to contribute immediately, while North Carolina’s James McAdoo (8th by Rivals, 4th by Scout and 5th by ESPNU) and PJ Hairston (13th by Rivals, 20th by Scout and 12th by ESPNU) should be given ample time to find roles on an already stacked team.
  • Arguably more important, at least in the long term, are the new coaches: NC State welcomes Mark Gottfried, Miami welcomes Jim Larranaga, Maryland welcomes Mark Turgeon, and Georgia Tech welcomes Brian Gregory to the conference. The only coach I think is a surefire “upgrade” is Larranaga, who comes with some disadvantages (namely, age). While Gottfried experienced some success at Alabama, the Crimson Tide isn’t known as a basketball powerhouse and he didn’t leave the school on great terms. I also don’t think it’s a great sign that Ryan Harrow left for the bluer pastures of Kentucky. Gregory, though, sticks out as the strangest hire of the four. He had a fairly nondescript tenure at Dayton with many Flyer fans happy to see him leave. I know a tight budget hamstrung by Paul Hewitt’s hefty buyout deal probably kept the Yellow Jackets from going after the sexiest candidates, but the choice still surprised me. Gregory’s biggest disadvantage is his ugly, grind-it-out style of play that will eventually make it difficult to attract top recruits and could possibly alienate the entire GT fanbase (see: Herb Sendek).
  • North Carolina Navigates Investigation Waters: Finally, it may not be basketball-related, but it’s impossible to mention this offseason without discussing North Carolina’s impending date with the NCAA Committee of Infractions. The story has dominated ACC sports news. To briefly sum things up, the Tar Heels had an assistant coach, John Blake, on the payroll of an agent. If that wasn’t enough, the NCAA investigation unveiled thousands (I’m not kidding) of dollars in unpaid parking tickets and even several cases of academic fraud. The university has come out very firmly saying these infractions only involved the football team** but the scandal has gained national notoriety. (**Author’s note: the one connection with the basketball team is that Greg Little was one of UNC’s ineligible football players. Little was also a walk-on for the basketball team during the 2007-08 season, playing in ten games. North Carolina has said that his infractions occurred after his year with the basketball team, so no win vacations are in the basketball team’s future.)
  • Somehow, despite academic fraud, ineligible benefits and an agent runner on staff, the Tar Heels failed to get the NCAA’s most serious “lack of institutional control” violation for what appeared to be nothing less thana lack of institutional control. Again, this scandal is confined to football, but it’s one of the many recent scandals that have come to light in big time college athletics in the last couple of years (Connecticut, USC, Ohio State, Oregon, etc). These scandals could force the NCAA to augment its rules somewhat, and even though they may not directly relate to basketball, they may have a very real impact of college sports as we know it over the next few years.

    Freshman phenom Austin Rivers is ready for Duke, but how quickly will 2011's top high school point guard perform on the big stage? (Orlando Sentinel)

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Conference Report Card: ACC

Posted by Brian Goodman on April 28th, 2011

Matt Patton is the RTC correspondent for the ACC.

Conference Recap

The ACC had a down year though North Carolina’s Kendall Marshall-led resurgence and Florida State’s Sweet Sixteen appearance helped a little bit. Before and during the season, Duke was the runaway favorite in the conference: Kyrie Irving’s toe injury obviously was the pivotal point that brought Duke back down to earth. Equally pivotal (in the reverse direction) was Marshall’s move to starting point guard for North Carolina. With Larry Drew II at the helm, there is no way the Tar Heels could have come close to surpassing Duke for the regular season title. The down year did not really surprise most people, and despite lofty preseason expectations (read: people forgot how highly rated North Carolina was to start the season) I think the perception is that the league at least lived up to preseason expectations with a couple of notable exceptions: NC State, Wake Forest, and Virginia Tech. NC State had NCAA Tournament talent, but did not come anywhere close to sniffing the Big Dance; Wake was arguably the worst major conference team in the country; and Virginia Tech once again found itself very highly seeded in the NIT. On the flip side, Clemson and Florida State both exceeded expectations.

Roy Williams and Kendall Marshall led a mid-season resurgence that resulted in a trip the Elite Eight. (News Observer/Robert Willitt)

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story