Big East M5: 03.26.13 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on March 26th, 2013

bigeast_morning5(2)

  1. Not only does Louisville own the number one overall seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament, but the Midwest region favorites are also the most profitable college basketball program in all the land. The value of the KFCYum! Center and an abundance of donations to the program have led to the landslide top ranking in this year’s Forbes list of the most valuable basketball programs in the country. Syracuse was the only other Big East squad in the top 20 of Forbes’ list, coming in at ninth.
  2. During Syracuse’s round of 32 game against California on Saturday night, Michael Carter-Williams‘ family’s house in Hamilton, Massachusetts was destroyed by a fire, which is believed to have started in the chimney. The family was inside the house watching his game when the fire started, but luckily everyone made it out of the house without injury. Carter-Williams’ aunt told the Boston Globe that the point guard is a bit “shaken up because he can’t do anything to help,” but that he remains focused on the NCAA Tournament, and won’t return home until after the East Regional games in Washington, D.C., this weekend.
  3. Saturday’s Third Round game between Marquette and Butler could very well mark the beginning of a budding rivalry in the new Big East conference. Both schools play similar, bruising styles of basketball and thrive in close-game situations, this one won by Buzz Williams’ squad. Both are private urban universities in midwestern cities with proud recent basketball histories and top flight young coaches. Where some of the programs that joined the Big East in the mid-2000s expansion failed to live up to their basketball promise, Marquette has played at a consistently high level, and the new conference led by the Catholic Seven will look to Butler to make an immediate impact in a similar fashion.
  4. While Pitt fans seem a bit split on Jamie Dixon, especially after another early NCAA flame-out, Dixon is very happy to be sticking around the ‘Steel City‘.  The university has locked the coach up for the next 10 years, ending much speculation that Dixon would take the vacant job at USC.  The signing gives Pitt security heading into a new conference, if nothing else, and gives the Dixon family a similar sense of stability: “My family’s excited. Our administration felt it needed to be done, so we’re excited and happy.”
  5. There is, of course, a fourth Big East program still dancing… or at least shuffling its feet off away from the spotlight. Providence knocked off notorious Kentucky-killers Robert Morris 77-68 in the second round of the NIT at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, setting up an upcoming quarterfinal with Baylor. In the team’s final hurrah at home, coach Ed Cooley made sure to deliver a message to the Friars faithful to try to kick-start some momentum heading into 2013-14: “We want to see this place full next season as we begin our quest for a national championship.”  While an NCAA title might be a gaudy task for next season, an NIT crown should be attainable this year, and it would be a nice feather in the cap for a program that was better than many probably thought this season.
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ACC M5: 11.19.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on November 19th, 2012

  1. Raleigh News & Observer: After several months of beating his drum, Dan Kane finally found a whistleblower from the North Carolina athletic support staff. Mary Willingham is the first named source to come out and directly say that plagiarism was tolerated by the tutors and professors in many no-show classes at UNC. A witness has been the missing piece to this story, and Willingham’s criticism is damning to say the least. She alleges special treatment for revenue sport athletes, both in terms of admissions and questionable classes. Willingham’s comments will take some further dissection but do not look good for the school at first reading.
  2. ESPN: The biggest news over the weekend was the bombshell dropped out of College Park when sources within the athletic department told ESPN that Maryland is far enough along in negotiations to join the Big Ten (along with Rutgers) and that an official announcement could come as soon as later today. This makes the ACC’s recent addition of Notre Dame even more important, though it could also spark additional expansion moves (does Connecticut become an ACC target?). By switching leagues, Maryland would likely see a significant boost in television profits in the long run, but the recently increased $50 million dollar ACC buyout could cripple an athletic department already in the red in the short term.
  3. Washington Post (pro and con): Two Maryland legends spoke out for and against the Terps’ potential move to the Big Ten. Gary Williams is all for the move despite supporting the ACC throughout all the expansion rumors. It should be noted that Williams serves as assistant to the athletic director, so it may color his opinion a little (though Williams was never scared to speak his mind before this). He cited the increased television revenue and hinted at a lack of respect from the ACC (noting the conference tournament was only hosted in Washington, DC, once in his 22 years). Len Elmore on the other hand fought for tradition: “Anything that’s driven solely by dollars, it’ll turn out badly.” Elmore took some shots at Maryland’s president and athletic director for not having Maryland pride. Expect more from us here at the ACC microsite on the potential move today.
  4. Wilmington Star News: NC State’s Debbie Yow earned herself an extension with increased supplemental compensation. Yow’s new deal runs through June 2017 and is a direct result of a successful coaching search (in hindsight at least) and the steady improvement that the Wolfpack’s athletic teams have seen under her tenure –most prominently, on the basketball court. Yow will continue making $354,000 a year with an extra $150,000 in supplemental earnings and an enhanced bonus structure going forward.
  5. Hampton Roads Daily Press: David Teel sat down with John Swofford to talk all things ACC. The majority of the interview is covered in his excellent profile, which ran Sunday. But the extras are also worth reading, especially Swofford’s optimism on merging the Notre Dame and ACC football deals in the near future. He also talked briefly about working above Dean Smith at North Carolina and the ongoing scandal in Chapel Hill.
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ACC Morning Five: 01.10.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 10th, 2012

  1. BC Interruption: Brian Favat responds to John Feinstein’s critique of ACC basketball since expansion. His argument is that expansion wasn’t the cause of ACC mediocrity, but volatile athletic directors. I certainly agree that expansion didn’t kill the conference’s competitiveness (though I think Mike Krzyzewski made a good point about diluting exposure somewhat), but I’d add the caveat that with success comes stability. The ACC lucked into a murderers’ row of coaches when building its reputation, but the streak ended as some retired. Athletic directors with “quick trigger fingers” certainly makes replacing coaches more difficult, but in the world of big-time college athletics, success is paramount. I may address this later, but this is definitely worth a read.
  2. Miami Herald: Freshman Hurricane point guard Shane Larkin is the son of Barry Larkin, the baseball star who was just elected to the Hall of Fame. Naturally, his father has been hugely important in his athletic development. Specifically Larkin mentioned his game-day preparation and mentality. But most of all, it’s clear that the freshman is just proud and happy for his father.
  3. Washington Post: Virginia‘s defense doesn’t look much different than last year, but it’s much more effective. The major difference: opponents’ three-point shooting. This year, the Cavaliers are doing a better job keeping opponents from collapsing the Virginia defense and kicking it out for an open three. Last year the team allowed opponents to shoot over 36% from three; this year, it’s only allowing them to shoot 27% from beyond the arc. We’ll see how that number changes with the better shooters in ACC play.
  4. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: If you don’t know Bernard James‘ story, read this. Even if you do, there are some details about his life before the Air Force that I didn’t know about. James is one of the most inspiring players you’ll come by in all of sports. He, like many, had to find his own way — which led through three tours of duty in Iraq.
  5. Richmond Times-Dispatch: Virginia Tech is in trouble. After sneaking into most people’s early NCAA Tournament brackets based on an uninspiring schedule, the Hokies promptly lost to Wake Forest to start conference play. Based on their offense at times against the Demon Deacons, the next game against Florida State could be even uglier. The bottom line is this is a must-win game for Seth Greenberg’s squad to silence critics and its own self-doubts. The same could actually be said for the Seminoles, so make sure to tune into ESPNU at 7:00 PM this evening.
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ACC Realignment Politics

Posted by mpatton on October 10th, 2011

The Boston Globe‘s recent article “Expansion Was Power Move by the ACC” stirred a minor uproar on Twitter over the weekend largely for two reasons:

  1. Boston College changed the course of conference realignment by vetoing Connecticut as the second addition (which led to Pittsburgh‘s invitation), much like Virginia did with Syracuse in 2003.
  2. Boston College Athletic Director Gene DeFilippo stated, “TV – ESPN – is the one who told us what to do.”

The first point is huge. If true, Boston College, one of the most recent additions to the ACC that also sports a lukewarm fanbase in both basketball and football, managed to affect which schools received an ACC invitation. This is eerily similar to Virginia’s power play in 2003 when the Cavaliers threatened to pull out of the conference if it wouldn’t add Virginia Tech instead of Syracuse. The only differences: Virginia is a founding member, and (by DeFilippo’s account) the Eagles didn’t threaten to leave the conference. For the record, I still think Pittsburgh is a better fit for the ACC as I worry about Connecticut’s long term relevance once Jim Calhoun retires.

Boston College AD Gene DeFilippo

Credit: Wendy Maeda/Boston Globe staff

DeFilippo denied rumors that Duke shouted the loudest during expansion meetings and instead cited recent massive TV deals and an interest in increasing the conference’s “footprint” in the Northeast. This statement subtly implies that Boston College had more of an influence on conference realignment than Duke, which would be surprising to say the least. I do agree that TV contracts are at the center of everything, but the Northeast brings far more basketball fans than football fans (regardless of school). More interesting is the claim that the shift had more to do with football than basketball, as neither Pitt or Syracuse offers much consistency on the gridiron, but both are national basketball powers. All of these factors lead me to question DeFilippo’s recount of the events. That is not to say that he is lying, just exaggerating a little around the edges.

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ACC Morning Five: Columbus Day Edition

Posted by mpatton on October 10th, 2011

  1. Boston Globe – Conference realignment gets old really quickly, but the Globe’s piece on the politicking that went on related to the addition of Pittsburgh and Syracuse is a must-read. We’ll certainly have more analysis up on the piece later in the day, but suffice it to say Boston College’s Athletic Director Gene DeFilippo went out of his way to shoot Connecticut down, and even has a quote about ESPN being behind everything. Conspiracy theorists unite!
  2. Charlotte Observer – Unfortunately, the rumors are true and Michael Jordan will not be North Carolina’s honorary captain for the Carrier Classic. However, Jordan’s college teammate James Worthy will be joining fellow Laker great Magic Johnson to celebrate their respective alma maters in the first of what is to become an annual event. Jordan told Roy Williams he has a personal conflict he can’t escape, but Worthy is certainly a fine replacement. He played on the 1982 championship squad with Jordan before having his jersey retired to the rafters of the Dean Dome. The game is set for November 11 in San Diego.
  3. Raleigh News and Observer – Speaking of conference realignment, Scott Fowler got hold of ACC Commissioner John Swofford to talk about the recent alignment news. An interesting tidbit from the article is that while Swofford was playing football for North Carolina, South Carolina dropped out of the ACC, leaving the conference with only seven members. With the additions of Pitt and Syracuse, the conference is up to a whopping 14 members and still maintains the intentionally ambiguous assertion that the ACC “is not philosophically opposed to going to 16 [teams].” Let’s just hope that the conference may not be philosophically opposed but is opposed in practice, as 16 teams would make college basketball scheduling a lopsided disaster.
  4. Winston Salem JournalJeff Bzdelik is doing his best to restore enthusiasm for Wake Forest‘s program. This year for Black and Gold Madness he’s tapping into the rich resources of basketball alumni like Chris Paul, Randolph Childress, Tim Duncan and Josh Howard to play in an alumni game with Duncan and Howard coaching. “We invited everybody who ever wore a uniform,” Bzdelik said to emphasize the importance of all Wake Forest alumni. The Demon Deacons have already picked up one recruit this month. Hopefully events like this will help refill the talent over the next couple of years in Winston-Salem.
  5. The ChronicleDuke‘s student paper is the latest to do an in-depth look at the school’s compliance staff, leading me to believe college students are reading each other’s newspapers (relatively unlikely) or compliance staff members are easy interviews to get. All joking aside, this is another valuable look at the people behind one of the most critical parts of an athletic department that usually only brings bad news to fans.Author’s Note: the above link is for the fourth and final part of the series, but has links to the other three parts.
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ACC Morning Five: 10.03.11 Edition

Posted by mpatton on October 3rd, 2011

Welcome to the first ACC Edition of the Morning Five. Every weekday morning we’ll highlight links from local and student papers concerning ACC hoops.

  1. Raleigh News and Observer: new NC State head coach Mark Gottfried spent time last week selling his program to the Raleigh Sports Club. Gottfried discussed NC State’s illustrious basketball past as well as his plan for revitalizing the program’s future. Gottfried was pretty succinct and bluntly honest about the present. As for concrete evidence for his vision of the future, Gottfried mentioned scheduling a home-and-home series with Kansas. He even managed to send a jab back at one of the future members of the ACC: “Jim Boeheim popping off up there that he thinks it needs to be in New York. He needs to get in the league first, before he starts making demands on the league.”
  2. Baltimore Sun – Recruiting Report: with Maryland‘s depleted roster the Terrapins will rely heavily on returning players like Sean Mosely to minimize Jordan Williams’ departure. While he’s only 6’4″, new coach Mark Turgeon expects Mosely to see time at power forward this year. Mosely is Maryland born and Maryland bred, a truly historic player at the state high school level. He was expected to be Williams’ sidekick last season on a Maryland team that never lived up to preseason expectations, but his numbers declined significantly from a strong sophomore campaign. This year Turgeon will need Mosely more than ever to help sophomore stud Terrell Stoglin carry the scoring load for the team.
  3. Durham Herald Sun: North Carolina is looking to replace athletic director Dick Baddour (who is set to step down following the NCAA Committee of Infractions meeting later this month), and the selection committee is looking for experience in hiring coaches and demonstrated NCAA compliance. Both qualifications make sense, as the Tar Heels are currently searching for a new football coach, and the university wants to both have a strong arm to deal with compliance–not to mention sending a message to the NCAA that the university is serious about it.
  4. The Chronicle (Duke‘s student newspaper): “The NCAA is broken.” Duke student Andy Moore checks in on a topic of much recent debate largely spawned Taylor Branch’s Atlantic piece. The most interesting quote from the piece comes from Duke’s Charles T. Clotfelter, Z. Smith Reynolds Professor of Public Policy: “What is happening now gives everyone the benefit from the market except the athletes [...] They’re kept out because the universities have made a deal not to pay them. In economics, we call that a cartel.” Moore also attacks the pettier NCAA rules, using two examples of recent NCAA violations which hurt Duke basketball over the past couple of years including Mike Krzyzewski‘s overblown summer recruiting violation and Nolan Smith‘s suspension for playing in a game not approved by the NCAA.
  5. The Old Gold and Black (Wake Forest‘s student newspaper) and The Collegiate Times (Virginia Tech‘s student newspaper): ACC expansion has been a hot topic lately with the additions of Syracuse and Pittsburgh from the Big East. Many college football reporters scoffed at the move, saying it dilutes an already weak product. However, ACC basketball fans salivate at the prospect of seeing Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone and Pitt’s offensive rebounding prowess grace the courts of the ACC (ignoring for the moment any instability it causes the Big East). Wake Forest’s Evan Quinn notes that the move will only make it harder for a struggling Demon Deacon team to compete in the conference. Virginia Tech’s Alex Koma wants the conference to look at West Virginia and Connecticutto fill out the ACC at 16 members.Author’s Note: for the record, I disagree. I think the ACC should hold tight on expansion unless a jackpot team (i.e. Notre Dame) comes to its doorstep looking for a home.
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Beach Blanket Hurricane

Posted by rtmsf on October 18th, 2007

The ACC likes to tout itself as the best basketball conference year after year, much to the annoyance of fans everywhere else.  While the merits of that stance is arguable (ahem, 2007), one thing that is not is that on balance the ACC is the most passionate conference about its hoops.  The history and culture of a league that has identified predominantly with roundball for over fifty years has created rabid fanbases from College Park to Atlanta that make home court advantage really mean something.

With expansion of the ACC from its base in the Carolinas and mid-Atlantic to now entail western Virginia, parts of Florida (Tallahassee & Miami), and Boston College, the culture of ACC basketball has proliferated in these remote outposts – with one exception.  Florida St. has fostered a tough home environment (for a formerly dominant football school) at the Leon County Civic Center since joining the league in 1991.   Virginia Tech’s Cassell Coliseum has already become a bottomless pit for ACC teams in only its first few years in the conference.  BC’s fans were already rabid, and that hasn’t changed.  Which brings us to our exception – the curious case of the University of Miami.

Kids sandbox

Miami Fans Burying a Terp?

Since joining the ACC in 2004-05 in a purely football-related decision, Miami has gone 18-30 in ACC basketball, worst in the league.  This relative on-court ugliness is reflected in the stands too, as Miami in 2007  finished outside the top 100 schools in home game attendance, dead last among ACC schools (next lowest:  BC #81).  Look, we get that there are other things to do in the dead of winter in Miami other than heading downtown to see the Canes take on Georgia Tech on a 75-degree Saturday afternoon, but still, even we were amazed by what the school’s administration has cooked up in an effort to increase student attendance this year.

Determined to boost men’s basketball attendance, UM is about to unveil some of the most creative ideas we have ever seen from a local team. Besides dropping most season-ticket prices by about 50 percent, UM will add a hot tub, a sandbox and lifeguard tower in the student seating section — students will be encouraged to attend in beach attire — and elsewhere in the arena, in-game shoe-shines, massages, haircuts and a computer work-station will be offered.

Yes, creative is putting it lightly.  What the Miami Herald really meant to say is certifiably insane.  We’re so completely disturbed by this idea that we’re not even sure how to process it.  Nothing says ACC hoops like a bunch of SoBe kids in swimwear building sand castles at the arena.  We’re sure the Cameron Crazies are already planning on shipping in their own sand from the Outer Banks – that’ll show Tyler Hansbrough and Sean Singletary what’s up.  Please, Miami hoops, for all of us who remember ACC basketball, just go away. 

ACC expansion – killing the league one marketing campaign at a time.  Since 1991.

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