Morning Five: 12.19.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on December 19th, 2013

morning5

  1. Late on Tuesday night a video of Southern Illinois coach Barry Hinson ranting went viral. By now, most of you have seen it. If you haven’t, we posted the clip on our Tumblr account. Outside of the amusing aspect of seeing Hinson rant, the one thing that caught our attention was the universal applause that Hinson has received. When we say universal we mean we have not seen a single media member criticize Hinson for his comments. We are not contrarian enough to go against that tide, but we do find it curious how coaches are able to go to the media and criticize the effort of a player (or group of players). However, when those same players exceed expectations the coach is praised for getting the best out of those players. If being able to motivate your players is a trait that generates applause, then failing to do so should also lead to an equal degree of criticism. Now, this is hardly the first time that a coach has gone off on his players (Pat Knight at Lamar comes to mind) so the long-term narrative around Hinson’s rant will probably be determined by how his players react to it.
  2. North Carolina has been one of the most confusing teams in the country so far this season. They have without question the three best wins in the country so far knocking off preseason #1-2-3 (Michigan State-Kentucky-Louisville), but also have a pair of home losses coming against Belmont and UAB. The most common excuse for the Tar Heels has been that they have had to adjust to playing without P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald. Yesterday one of those problems was solved when the NCAA cleared McDonald to play. That announcement by itself is interesting on some level, but the most interesting aspect of the release was that UNC only submitted their request on December 11 and it is the only request from the school meaning that the school has not even approached the NCAA about a ruling on Hairston. Late last night the school said it hoped to have the Hairston issue resolved by the end of the week, but based on what we have heard we would not expect Hairston to return this season. It is also worth pointing out how long it took UNC to submit since many individuals–fans, media, and coaches–have been critical of how long the NCAA took to reach a decision when in fact it was UNC that took a long time.
  3. We saw it coming as soon as Alex Murphy announced that he was transferring from Duke and yesterday Murphy confirmed that he would be transferring to Florida. Murphy, who entered Duke a year early at the behest of Mike Krzyzewski, never became a regular in the Blue Devil rotation and although the Gators aren’t that far behind Blue Devils in terms of talent the change of venue and system might give Murphy a better chance to play. One of the more interesting aspects of Murphy’s transfer is that he was essentially pushed by the Duke coaching staff to leave high school a year early to help bolster the team’s depth, but it may have hurt his development as a player.
  4. While many of the early season made-for-TV events have fallen apart as the gimmicks that they are one event that appears to have staying power is the Armed Forces Classic, which is played at US military bases across the country. Yesterday, ESPN announced some of its schedule for the games for the next three years. The 2014 game will be played in Puerto Rico and will feature a father-son match-up when Rick Pitino (Louisville) will face-off against Richard Pitino (Minnesota). The 2015 event is completely up in the air both in terms of location and teams, but the 2016 event promises to be a particularly special one as it will be held in Pearl Harbor less than a month away from the 75th anniversary of the attack that propelled the US into World War II.
  5. It might be a little late for Christmas this year, but if you have at least $100,000 lying around and a Duke fan that you want to impress then Christian Laettner‘s jersey from the 1992 East Regional Final against Kentucky might be the perfect gift. According to Leland.com, they are auctioning off Laettner’s jersey from that game, which they claim to have authenticated through a variety of methods. The owner of the jersey reportedly had a relationship with Laettner and was given the jersey at the end of the 1991-92 season. Laettner has not commented on the auction yet, but given the reputation of the auction house we won’t question its authenticity. We will be interested to see just how high the final sale price will be as we can imagine there are plenty of Duke graduates who would love to hang that somewhere in their office.
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ACC M5: 12.06.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on December 6th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Duke Chronicle: Unsurprising news out of Durham as Duke’s student newspaper was the first to report that redshirt sophomore Alex Murphy will be transferring at the end of the semester. Despite starting his first two exhibition games last season, Murphy never found a consistent spot in the Duke rotation. Rumors are that he may head to Florida (his brother’s alma mater) or back to New England (he’s from Rhode Island). Murphy’s departure might open a few more minutes for Semi Ojeleye, though we are talking about very limited minutes.
  2. The Sporting News: Speaking of Duke, I don’t understand Mike DeCourcy’s grade for the Blue Devils after the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. He docks the Blue Devils half a letter grade because of Rasheed Sulaimon‘s DNP. Call me crazy, but if we are evaluating a team’s performance–which was by far its best of the season–maybe there’s good reason for the DNP. I definitely agree Duke with Sulaimon has the potential to be more dangerous than without him, but that doesn’t take away from Duke’s dominant performance against Michigan. Speaking of bones to pick, Boston College isn’t good, but it’s also not anywhere close to winning the “worst major team” title–or even the “worst ACC team” title (assuming Miami and Virginia Tech are still in the league).
  3. Alaska Dispatch: Your somewhat regular reminder that Devon Bookert is from Alaska (and the first non-Duke Alaskan ACC star). Bookert is an efficient shooter (and was incredibly so last season)–largely thanks to his shot selection–but sounds like he wants to continue making strides forward. But the increased offensive load has hurt his overall efficiency this season, as his three-point field goal percentage and assist rate have fallen significantly, while his turnover percentage remains high. All that said Bookert is one of the best players people tend to overlook in the ACC, and his play has a lot to do with Florida State’s early season success.
  4. BC Interruption: And everyone off the Steve Donahue bandwagon. While I stood up for Boston College’s pride earlier, this team is still a big disappointment. It’s offense improved compared to last season, but it’s defense is truly abysmal. Combine the slow start with an underwhelming early signing period and what do you get? Hot seat talk! I’m all for this proposal, which calls for Boston College to hire alumnus Bruce Pearl to turn the program around despite his show-cause, which remains in effect through next August. Though, I think there’s little downside giving Donahue one more year (so you can get the un-sanctioned Pearl immediately).
  5. Chronicle of Higher Education: Looking for more insight into the initial backlash to Maryland‘s move to the Big Ten? Freedom of Information Act requests have you covered! It’s interesting how when the initial rumors leaked out, Maryland fans were up in arms, as it feels mostly the opposite at this point (the PR firm may have paid off). It’s also amusing that John Swofford fired off a quick “we need to talk” email from his iPhone. Together with this article from the Baltimore Sun, we now have a good feel for Maryland’s actions and tone leading up to and immediately following its announcement to leave for the Big Ten.
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Morning Five: 12.06.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on December 6th, 2013

morning5

  1. We have not heard of many players deciding to transfer so far this season, but it is getting to the point in the season/academic year where we would expect to start hearing a lot more about that. Alex Murphy is the first player from a major program this season to announce his intention to transfer as he plans to leave Duke at the end of the semester. Murphy, a redshirt sophomore, reclassified from the class of 2012 in his final year of high school and entered college in the class of 2011 so even though he is a redshirt sophomore he is only 20 years old. We would expect that Murphy, who averaged just 2.1 points in 6.3 minutes per game as a freshman, will have plenty of suitors although Florida (where his brother Erik played) or Providence/Rhode Island (his home state) would be the favorites.
  2. It seems like this ridiculous conference realignment period will never end. After seeing what seems like nearly every school change conferences we are starting to see some schools go back to their former conference. Yesterday, Oral Roberts that it will be rejoining the Summit League after leaving it for the Southland Conference in 2012. The Oral Roberts administration cited the Southland’s more recent expansion as being opposed to the school’s goals of reducing travel costs and strengthening rivalries. Although we hesitate to praise anybody for changing conferences (admitting that we understand the economic realities of college sports) it is nice to see Oral Roberts do this if their stated reasons were the actual reasons for their move.
  3. Apparently George Mason officials take a different view of stepping on an opposing player’s chest than college basketball historians. Yesterday, the school suspended forward Anali Okoloji indefinitely after he was called for stepping on South Florida’s Anthony Collins during their game on Wednesday night. The move should not effect the team too much as he was only averaging 2.4 points and 1.6 rebounds per game this season although their next two games are against Oklahoma and Iowa State so they could probably use all the help that they can get. For his part, it appears that Okoloji is taking the right approach publicly by agreeing with Paul Hewitt’s decision.
  4. With all of the focus on Duke’s current freshman star Jabari Parker, many media members have been comparing him to former Duke star Grant Hill. While Hill’s NBA career was derailed by a series of unfortunate injuries it appears that he is doing well based on his interview with Ryan Fagan that touches on a variety of things including his thoughts on his alma mater, some of the current stars, and his philanthropic work. It also appears that Hill has been active working on a financial career as he has an interesting post-basketball career path in front of him.
  5. Finally, it is hard to believe that Dick Vitale has been working at ESPN for 34 years as a college basketball analyst. Yesterday was the 34th anniversary of his first ESPN telecast and the people at ESPN dug into their vault to pull out his first telecast. While we understand that he has become a polarizing figure to some because of his loud personality and his perceived favoritism of some teams it is hard to argue with his impact on the game and how he has helped popularize it with a national audience. For those of you who may not be familiar with his older work the video shows a little bit about how he has changed (hair isn’t that different though) although we did find Joe Boyle’s facial expressions when Vitale started to talk amusing.
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ACC M5: 01.10.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 10th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. CBSSports.com:The biggest news of yesterday was that Ryan Kelly‘s foot injury is significant. It’s the same foot he hurt at the end of last season, requiring surgery and a lengthy layoff. Sources told Jeff Goodman that Duke hopes Kelly will be back in two weeks, but it’s more realistic that it will be closer to four weeks. While the exact impact on Duke and its rotation remains to be seen, it will be significant. Last year with Kelly out, the mighty Blue Devils offense sputtered to a stop (it doesn’t help that Kelly was playing his best ball of the season before re-injuring the foot). The only real silver lining is that the young guys on the team (namely Alex Murphy and Amile Jefferson) should see a few more minutes.
  2. The Sporting News: As the saying goes, “hindsight is always 20/20.” Unfortunately, Ryan Fagan didn’t have hindsight when he wrote this article. Fagan acknowledged that it was possible the Cavaliers would lose to Wake Forest Wednesday night. Even if North Carolina is down, there’s often a pretty big emotional crash after beating Duke or UNC (see: Virginia Tech in 2010-11). Also, Virginia is going to lose some head-scratchers when the shots aren’t falling just because fewer possessions make each brick more important than in a faster-paced game.
  3. Baltimore Sun: Mark Turgeon is currently using two point guards, and it’s working out pretty well (the Terps’ home loss to Florida State notwithstanding). Pe’Shon Howard distributes, Seth Allen scores. Allen is clearly the point guard of the future, but his forced three in the waning seconds against Florida State show he’s still got a ways to go. In the meantime, Turgeon can rely mostly on Howard as Allen matures. My guess is Turgeon would love some of Allen’s aggressive nature to rub off on Howard too.
  4. Duke Basketball Report: Barry Jacobs took a look at the longest winning streaks (against a single conference opponent) of the ACC in light of Duke beating Wake Forest for the sixth straight time last week. The longest streak ever was Duke over Virginia, which Duke won 16 straight times following the beatdown that the Cavaliers and Ralph Sampson gave the Blue Devils in the 1983 ACC Tournament. But North Carolina is knocking on the Blue Devils’ door, as the Tar Heels currently hold a 10-win streak over Miami and a 13-game win streak over NC State (both of which, it says here, will likely come to an end this season).
  5. NC State Technician: Speaking of NC State, the student newspaper at the school put together midseason grades for the Wolfpack. Rightfully, Andrew Scheutt gives major props to Richard Howell, who hasn’t necessarily been NC State’s most valuable player, but he’s improved dramatically even since his huge leap in production last season. He’s shooting outrageously well, rebounding even better, and he’s quit fouling (his Achilles’ heel last season).
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Ryan Kelly’s Foot is the Most Important Foot in the ACC

Posted by KCarpenter on January 9th, 2013

Ryan Kelly injured his right foot in Duke’s easy win last night over Clemson and didn’t play at all during the second half. Mike Krzyzewski noted that Kelly would not undergo x-rays or any other scan until today. So here are the bald facts: Ryan Kelly hurt his foot and we have no idea how badly it is injured.  He’s hurt this foot before. Right now, anything beyond this is just in the realm of speculation. Kelly could very well be perfectly fine at the moment of this publication. However, if the injury is serious and Kelly misses significant playing time, this could also be a serious blow — a season-changing one — to the top-ranked Blue Devils.

Kelly's Possible Absence Really Hurts Duke's Depth (credit: fayobserver.com)

Kelly’s Possible Absence Really Hurts Duke’s Depth (credit: fayobserver.com)

During his tenure at Duke, Kelly’s ability to play stretch power forward has been a difficult match-up for just about any team in college basketball. This year, the 6’11” Kelly has made over half of the nearly 50 three-pointers that he has taken. He leads his team in offensive efficiency, rarely turns the ball over, and is an excellent passer for his size. He’s a good (though not great) rebounder, and his ability to get to the foul line on a regular basis and shoot a high percentage from there has given his already versatile offensive game another deadly dimension.  While early in his career Kelly was often criticized for poor defense, the vastly improved senior has helped lead the team to a top-three mark this season in defensive efficiency. The long story made very short is this: Kelly is really good.

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Night Line: Mason Plumlee’s Post Dominance Keying Duke’s Phenomenal Start

Posted by EJacoby on November 29th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @EJacobyRTC on Twitter. Night Line runs on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s games.

Plenty of elite teams have impressed in the opening month of this season, but Duke is in a tier by itself when it comes to a complete resume. After exacting revenge on Ohio State from last season’s drubbing with a 73-68 victory over the Buckeyes on Wednesday night, Mike Krzyzewski’s team has now defeated three top-five teams in November. That doesn’t even include victories over Minnesota and VCU, as well, two other likely NCAA Tournament squads. In Wednesday’s win, Duke trailed by eight points at halftime to a tougher-looking Buckeyes squad while itself looking fatigued, and it needed a significant second half spark to change the tone of the game. That’s where it turned to Mason Plumlee, who turned momentum back on Duke’s side with two monster alley-oops from point guard Quinn Cook. Blue Devil fans have waited three long years for Plumlee to become a dominant post force who successfully harnessed all of his athletic potential, and tonight’s 21-point, 17-rebound effort in a comeback win over an elite opponent shows just how far the big man has come.

Mason Plumlee has Duke soaring up the rankings through victories over elite opponents (AP Photo)

We knew Duke had the depth, shooting, and coaching to remain an ACC contender this season, but Plumlee’s transformation into a dominant, All America-caliber forward gives the team a chance to reach greater heights than almost anyone imagined. Through seven games, the 6’10” senior is now averaging 19.9 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game on 65% shooting from the field; all good for top-five rankings in the ACC. But what’s most astonishing about Plumlee’s stats is his free throw percentage, which at 79% is an exponential improvement over his career 50% shooting coming into this season. Never mind the massive 8.8 PPG  jump; an increase of 30 points on a go-to player’s free throw percentage is enough to change the entire dynamic of an offense. As Jay Bilas consistently pointed out during Wednesday’s ESPN broadcast, Plumlee plays with improved aggressiveness near the basket this season now that he’s not afraid to get fouled. The senior converted 9-12 freebies tonight while also producing a game-high in scoring and rebounding.

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Duke’s Ryan Kelly: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Posted by mpatton on November 26th, 2012

Ryan Kelly may be Duke‘s most important player. Just look at the Blue Devils’ tailspin last season when he went down with an injured foot. In Duke’s losses last year Kelly averaged five points a game (not including the two Ls he missed due to injury). In Duke’s wins he averaged over 13 points a game. That’s a striking difference. Kelly’s averages from last season are identical to this season (11.8 points per game and just over five rebounds per game), though he’s seen a dramatic drop in his efficiency from beyond the arc and at the charity stripe. The free throw problem is probably a short-term slump and his three point percentage will also likely rise but remain below last season’s excellent 41% mark. But don’t let identical output and depressed percentages confuse you: Kelly is an improved player whose game has evolved a lot even since last season.

Duke really missed Ryan Kelly at the end of last season. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The most quantifiable change has come in his shot selection. Last year over 40 percent of Kelly’s shots were threes; this year just over 30 percent of his attempts come from distance. Rather than taking low-percentage contested twos, Kelly’s mid-range game is flourishing. At 6’11”, he’s virtually impossible for more athletic wings to guard, instead drawing power forwards to the perimeter where he has the advantage. Instead of settling for threes this season, he’s taken one or two steps inside the arc, where he’s nearly automatic. Kelly also appears to be more comfortable operating out around 12-16 feet from the basket, as his turnovers are down this year, potentially because he isn’t forcing things as much.

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Duke vs. Kentucky, Redux

Posted by mpatton on November 13th, 2012

The Shot is part of college basketball’s canon. Basketball fans regardless of age know The Shot from its prominent place during March Madness, both in promos and commercials. Duke and Kentucky fans — at least the ones old enough to do so — remember where they were when it happened. They still remember that bitterest taste of defeat when victory seemed secure and the inconceivable high brought on by the most unlikely of victories. Kentucky fans remember the Christian Laettner stomp from earlier in that game, which, in another universe, meant Kentucky winning while Duke’s star center looked on from the locker room. A couple of decades and a self-deprecating charity performance have somewhat repaired Laettner’s standing with the Big Blue Nation. Somewhat. But there’s still a remarkable tension between two schools that haven’t played in over 10 years, which makes this game more than just two top 10 teams facing off early in the season.

Is Rasheed Sulaimon enough to turn Duke’s perimeter defense around? (photo: Duke photography)

Ironically, the players have far less historical weight attached to the game. No doubt Duke and Kentucky players alike know about The Shot, and some of the fan intensity between the two fan bases probably has worn off on the men who will decide the game. But fans hold onto the past much more than players, most of whom chose their school because they thought it was the best “fit” (because of facilities, coaches, branding or academics). Many players weren’t yet alive to see the storied game, and the ones who were breathing probably weren’t walking.

But this game is huge for Duke. This is a game to prove — both to critics and themselves — that last year was an anomaly and they can handle the task of defending an athletic perimeter. It’s a chance to grab a marquee win that will look very good come Selection Sunday. And it’s a chance to put the Blue Devils on the list of legitimate national title contenders. For Kentucky the stakes are a little lower. The team is already considered a contender — though that’s largely thanks to John Calipari‘s track record with top recruits than anything this group has actually done — and his team is very young. No one expects Kentucky to be at its best this early. Even for Calipari that expectation is unreasonable. But this is still a chance at a statement win.

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ACC M5: 11.12.12 Edition

Posted by EMann on November 12th, 2012

  1. Redshirt freshman forward Alex Murphy of Duke was an interesting DNP: Coach’s Decision during the opener against Georgia State on Friday. After starting both of Duke’s exhibition games, Murphy strangely did not appear in a game where the forward surely expected to receive minutes (Krzyzewski instead started three guards). Mike Krzyzewski said, “We did not get to the point where Alex could play,” and insinuated that he was not injured. This may be of concern to Blue Devil fans — while Murphy’s offensive game is unpolished, his quickness and size seem to make him an ideal player to utilize in Tuesday’s matchup against Kentucky. But if he can’t get off the bench against Georgia State, why would Kentucky be any different? In theory at least, Murphy would offer the size at the small forward position that Duke seemed to lack all of last season, so it could be a big picture concern down the road if he does not get some burn in early games.
  2. Washington Post: The Maryland Terrapins have plenty to build on following their 72-69 loss to third-ranked Kentucky in their season opener at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn Friday night. Sophomore forward Alex Len outplayed Kentucky’s top-ranked recruit Nerlens Noel to the tune of 23 points and 12 rebounds, and often looked like the best player on the court. Mark Turgeon was especially proud of his team coming back from a 13-point deficit while they fed on the crowd’s energy. While this very young Maryland team was ultimately disappointed to come up a little short in their upset bid, this game definitely showed that Maryland will be a force to be reckoned with in the upper echelons in the conference this season.
  3. The defending conference champions have a lot of work ahead of them. #25 Florida State dropped a stunner at home Friday to South Alabama, 78-73 in one of the biggest upsets in the first weekend of college basketball. Some of the most shocking numbers in the upset related to Florida State’s ineptitude on defense, which has typically been their linchpin in the Leonard Hamilton era. South Alabama shot 60% from behind the three-point arc (9-15), whereas last year Florida State only allowed opponents to shoot 30.9% from beyond the arc, and star Florida State guard Michael Snaer struggled with just 2-of-11 shooting and five turnovers. Don’t look for both a bad game from Snaer and the perimeter defense too often, but when it happens, the Seminoles are going to have a very hard time winning games.
  4. Lynchburg News and Advance: New Virginia Tech head coach James Johnson won his debut against East Tennessee State on Saturday, but cautioned that the season “was a grind,” and also noted that his players (especially senior guard Erick Green) were far more excited about the victory than he was. More importantly, Virginia Tech premiered some form of its intended up-tempo offense this season, and while the team started slowly, the Hokies eventually got things clicking from the perimeter, where they hit 10-25 from three-point territory. While we don’t want to read too much into just one victory, if Virginia Tech can continue to improve its up-tempo offense, Johnson’s team may sneak up on some people in the conference this year.
  5. Boston College and forward Ryan Anderson may have some newfound toughness and leadership this year. The sophomore, who led all rookies in the league in double-doubles last year, put up an impressive 29 points and 17 rebounds in the team’s 84-70 victory over FIU on Sunday. But it was a flagrant foul that probably illustrated the difference between last year’s team and this year’s, according to head coach Steve Donahue, who wants his team to be “nasty” on the court, something he felt did not happen enough last year. After FIU had rallied to tie the game in the second half, Anderson responded with a jumper, and then soon after was flagrantly fouled on a breakaway. After the play, his teammates rallied around him, and they only surrendered two more baskets during the rest of the game, which Anderson even said was a huge change from what would have happened last year. Any little bit helps for a team that struggled mightily last year, and a tougher Boston College squad can only help the conference.
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Introducing the ACC’s Preseason Awards

Posted by mpatton on November 8th, 2012

With play starting around the nation tomorrow, it’s time for the ACC microsite’s 2012-13 preseason awards.

Player of the Year

The player of the year vote was split between Michael Snaer and Lorenzo Brown. Both guys need their respective teams to do very well to be in the running for the award. Brown probably needs success a little more, as the NC State roster has a lot of talent already on it. If the team does poorly, it will reflect on its floor general. His numbers probably won’t be that flashy, but if he improves even half of what he did from his freshman season to last season, he’ll be one of the most well-rounded players in the league. One struggle Brown may have is in terms of the “most talented” versus “most important” argument that plagued Kendall Marshall at North Carolina last season. Marshall didn’t have the best numbers, but he was more critical to his team’s success than any of his teammates. Brown could face similar questions (or just a split of the vote) if CJ Leslie has a monster year. But Brown has the advantage over Marshall in that he’s much more complete as a basketball player.

Snaer edged out Lorenzo Brown for Preseason ACC Player of the Year. (Grant Halverson / Getty Images)

Snaer is a known quantity: he’s a supremely talented two-guard with a competitiveness and motor unrivaled around the conference. He’s so competitive that Leonard Hamilton has to pull him out a few minutes into important games to make sure he doesn’t go over the top. He’s one of the best defensive players in the country, but he doesn’t get many steals. He just shuts down passing lanes and makes every shot difficult. Watching some of the ACC Tournament last year, he looked like he was running circles around very good opponents. It’s not like he was putting up ludicrous numbers, but there was no question who the best player on both ends of the floor was for much of his games against North Carolina and Duke. Unlike Brown, Snaer may be able to still win if Florida State falters a little. The key for him (and Hamilton) is keeping his drive to a usable level and not letting it suffocate him.

In the end Snaer is more of a proven commodity. He’s also the reason we ranked the Seminoles so high despite losing major pieces from last year’s team. So our preseason ACC Player of the Year award goes to Michael Snaer.

Rookie of the Year and Coach of the Year after the jump.

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ACC Summer Recess: Duke Blue Devils

Posted by mpatton on August 8th, 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: Duke.

Where They Stand Now

Duke fans are still reeling from an embarrassing upset bid from CJ McCollum and the Mountain Hawks of Lehigh, but the sour ending to the team’s season overshadowed a very strong year. The Blue Devils showcased the most flaws  it has had since the 2006-07 Duke team that went 22-11, but they managed to keep winning games. They beat a loaded North Carolina team on the road; they finished second in the conference; and, they won a loaded Maui Invitational. Ryan Kelly‘s late season injury stagnated one of the country’s best offenses, leaving Duke with a decent offense and mediocre defense for its last three games. Long story short, the Blue Devils managed to overachieve and disappoint last season.

Mason Plumlee is the Anchor to Duke’s Young, Potentially Great Front Line.

Who’s Leaving

Austin Rivers went to the NBA, Miles Plumlee graduated, Michael Gbinije transferred to Syracuse, and Andre Dawkins will redshirt. Despite frequent deserved criticism during his playing career, the eldest Plumlee’s strength and athleticism in workouts earned him a guaranteed contract with the Pacers. Gbinije saw very little playing time his freshman season, and with the additions of Rasheed Sulaimon and redshirt freshman Alex Murphy, he may not have seen much more next year. Gbinije’s lack of playing time puzzled many Duke fans because his length and athleticism were exactly what Duke’s perimeter defense needed. Fans concerns are probably overreactions: Mike Krzyzewski doesn’t have a history of sticking with experienced guys over more talented freshmen.

Rivers’ departure is harder to evaluate. On paper, it’s terrible. Rivers was the only playmaker on last year’s team. Without consistent play at point guard, Coach K relied on the freshman to create his own shot a lot of the time. However, Rivers’ season had its detractors. While the heat he took for being selfish was over the top, comments Seth Curry made earlier this summer to Shawn Krest certainly point to a lack of chemistry on last year’s team.

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ACC Morning Five: 04.03.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on April 3rd, 2012

  1. Hampton Roads Daily Press: Speaking of tall lanky game-changers in college basketball, Ralph Sampson finally was elected to the Naismith Hall of Fame. You can blame the delay on his injury-laden NBA career and a combination of Sidney Lowe, Michael Jordan, and Sam Perkins (who kept him from ACC Championships in 1983, 1982 and 1981 respectively). Sampson was truly a once-in-a-generation player. At 7’4″ and athletic, he was comfortable smoking opponents from inside and out. He’s also one of two players to be chosen the consensus national player of the year three times (Bill Walton is the other).
  2. Yadkin Valley Sports: This is a great article on Victor Davila, who watched his senior season evaporate from the bench with a groin injury. Davila is a product of Puerto Rico by means of the foothills of North Carolina. Here’s to hoping he finds some basketball success overseas before having to get a real job.
  3. Durham Herald-Sun: Steve Wiseman checks in with questions facing Duke in the offseason. I will try to answer them. Will Mason Plumlee return? No idea. Will Rasheed Sulaimon make an impact as a freshman? Yes. He’s a great shooter and looks like a solid defender (albeit in the McDonald’s All-American game). Will Duke pick up any transfers? I think Alex Oriakhi comes if Plumlee leaves; Trey Zeigler seems more likely. Strengths? Definitely scoring, though the defense should get better with the addition of Alex Murphy. Speaking of Murphy I think he will start next year, and Marshall Plumlee will get decent minutes off the bench (to commit fouls if nothing else).
  4. Fox Sports: Here’s Andrew Jones with Florida State‘s final report card for the season. I think he’s a little harsh on the Seminoles’ offense, though their nonconference play certainly merits a harsh rating. The real question is what Leonard Hamilton can put together losing so many players. The team was so deep last year that he’ll still have plenty of players coming back with experience, but things will look very different in Tallahassee next year (Michael Snaer is the difference to me).
  5. NC State Technician: While part of me agrees that CJ Leslie should stick around for another year (namely, he’s not a first round lock), I abhor these types of articles. Players know fans want them to come back. I think the jump Leslie made between last year and this year was the difference between a flame out career and sticking around in the NBA. He matured a ton between last year and this year. If Leslie comes back, he’s definitely preseason first team All-ACC and should be in the running for conference player of the year (on a team that might be picked on top of the league).

Today in Carefully-Framed Stats:

(That would be ignoring the ACC’s three consecutive championships from 1991-1993.)

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