Night Line: Clemson and Georgia Tech Crystallize Offensive Woes in CBB

Posted by BHayes on February 15th, 2013

Bennet Hayes is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report from Thursday’s game in Atlanta between Georgia Tech and Clemson.

Clemson picked up its first ACC road victory of the season in Atlanta on Thursday night, holding off a late Georgia Tech rally to hang on, 56-53. And while Brad Brownell was pleased to get that monkey off his team’s back, it was a clunker of a first half that seemed to be on the forefront of everyone’s minds after the game. The first 20 minutes saw the two teams combine for 35 points and 45 missed shots, a certifiably ugly half of basketball by any measure, but sadly, an affront to the eyes that is becoming all too commonplace in today’s college basketball. The offense picked up in the second half, with each team shooting over 50% from the field. But the first half was still the hot topic for both coaches after the game, and each discussed the larger implication – why offense on the college level seems to be grinding to a halt.

Brian Gregory Was Not The Only One Struggling To Enjoy The First Half Of Basketball At McCamish Pavilion

Brian Gregory Was Not The Only One Struggling To Enjoy The First Half Of Basketball At McCamish Pavilion

One contributing factor that both coaches could agree upon is the physicality of today’s college game. The kids are bigger and stronger, and without any sort of freedom of movement initiative (like the one the NBA installed to help restore offensive flow), the rules allow players to be overly physical, both on and off the ball. Gregory wondered if a similar initiative might be installed soon, while Brownell mentioned that there is a fine line between “calling all the fouls and there actually being some playing out there.” It’s an issue that Jay Bilas has addressed on his College GameDay spot on Saturdays – further proof of a growing consensus that the rules need changed so that skill regains its appropriate value in college basketball.

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Three Thoughts From Florida State’s Weekend Win at Clemson

Posted by mpatton on January 7th, 2013

Florida State dominated the first half of its game against Clemson over the weekend before the Tigers clawed their way back in the final 20 minutes to cut the deficit to three. Clemson couldn’t quite get over the hump to pull off the home win, but the game gave insights into both teams going forward.

  1. Devin Booker could be first-team All-ACC. Here, “could” implies that it is possible based on his abilities — not that it is likely to happen. Erick Green will probably steal the spot on first team thanks to his incredibly high usage and gaudy scoring numbers, but Booker looked tremendous against the Seminoles’ long, inexperienced front line. He has got a wide array of post moves, good range (though not as good as his brother’s), and the strength of an ox.
    Devin Booker is under-utilized by Clemson. (Photo Credit: IPTAY Media)

    Devin Booker is underutilized by Clemson (Credit: IPTAY Media)

    Why head coach Brad Brownell couldn’t find a way to get Booker the ball more often is beyond me. Part of the blame falls on Booker, who disappears for large stretches of the game, but much of the responsibility goes to the Clemson guards and Milton Jennings, who tried to do way too much. If the Tigers are going to finish decently this season, they have to get Booker’s usage up significantly. The ball has to run through him. He was every bit as impressive as Mason Plumlee was on Saturday by finishing with 19 points and 11 boards on 8-of-11 shooting. Read the rest of this entry »

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ACC M5: 11.06.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on November 6th, 2012

  1. Yahoo! Sports: When Miami dropped an exhibition game against Division II St. Leo on Friday night, it was fairly surprising. The Hurricanes return a veteran cast of players and many have pegged them to compete for one of the top few spots in the conference, making a loss in one of these “gimme” games reasonably shocking. For his part, Jim Larranaga doesn’t seem too worried about the tough loss, and history seems to be on his side. Recent losses by highly rated teams in the preseason have rarely foreshadowed disappointing seasons, though Arizona’s loss to Seattle Pacific a year ago did expose a Wildcats team that easily under-performed versus preseason expectations — that situation may be the exception that proves the rule.
  2. Tallahassee Democrat: The Seminoles plan to be prepared for their opponents, and a part of Leonard Hamilton‘s success machine is teaching his players how to effectively analyze their own play in film sessions.  Florida State adds a bunch of new players this season and acclimating these players to the winning ways of Hamilton’s program is a key step to bolstering and reinforcing what has become one of the strongest team cultures in the conference. Watching footage from their first scrimmage, the Seminoles prepared for their second scrimmage against none other than the Hurricane slayers of St. Leo. The film sessions appear to have paid off as FSU was able to handily defeat the Lions on Monday night.
  3. WSPA: Clemson also squared off against an exhibition opponent last night, taking on Lander. The Tigers did so, however, without the services of senior Devin Booker, who was suspended by Brad Brownell for a violation of team rules. Freshman Josh Smith was also suspended, though both he and Booker will be able to play for the proper season opener. Still, this little cloud has a silver lining in Landry Nnoko, the freshman forward who scored  a team-high 14 points in the exhibition. If Nnoko can contribute like that in the regular season, it will make the Tigers all the more formidable.
  4. Raleigh News & Observer: Seth Curry isn’t at 100% and that’s not so great news for Duke‘s perimeter offense which figured to count on the guard for some serious scoring punch. Curry, however, is dealing with a somewhat mysterious leg injury that is a source of pain and swelling and has kept him off the court for nearly two months before last Thursday’s exhibition. When Curry took the court, he didn’t look like himself, shooting a miserable 1-for-9 in 17 minutes of action. While Curry and his team are optimistic about his chances of playing at near full health this year, the availability of the perimeter sniper is still in doubt. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Curry used sparingly in the early parts of the season with Mike Krzyzewski giving him some more time to rest his leg.
  5. Memphis Commercial Appeal: In more disappointing news for Duke, Austin Nichols, a talented forward who had the Blue Devils on his list, has chosen to play for Memphis in the coming year. Nichols’ reputation has increased after a year of rapidly improving play. Though Tennessee seemed to have the inside track on his services, official visits to Duke and Virginia seemed to hint that the ACC schools had a legitimate shot at the power forward. Still, the appeal of the Tigers and the allure of a Penny Hardaway-esque place in the pantheon of city greats held too strong an allure.

BONUS: It’s Election Day and while much is uncertain, one thing remains clear: President Barack Obama will be playing basketball. It’s one election superstition that’s easy for fans to get behind. So, exercise your civic duty and go vote. Then, maybe take a cue from the President, shoot some hoops and get excited for college basketball and the exercise of your political agency!

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ACC Team Previews: Clemson Tigers

Posted by KCarpenter on October 24th, 2012

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

Last season, the Clemson Tigers flirted with sneaking into the NCAA Tournament before wilting in the conference tournament. Brad Brownell‘s squad go off to a dubious start, losing home games to the likes of Coastal Carolina and the College of Charleston and continuing shaky play on the road by losing to Hawaii and Boston College. Yet something strange happened as the season went on: The Tigers notched victories against North Carolina State, Virginia, and Florida State, finishing the season on a fairly impressive 5-2 run. It would have taken an unlikely run to the ACC Tournament championship game, but Clemson was not as impossibly far from dancing as their  16-14 record (8-8 in conference) might indicate. The question remains, however, can the Tigers move forward?

Brad Brownell Has a Young Team With a Tough Early Schedule Ahead of Him

Newcomers

The Tigers are going to welcome a whole raft of freshmen this season as Brownell tries to replenish the team’s depleted ranks. The freshmen class consists of a wide range of fairly talented recruits, though no one player is heralded as a game-changing savior. Adonis Filer and Jordan Roper are capable point guards, but this year they will, barring a surprise, come off the bench, serving as a second string in the guard rotation. Similarly, Landry Nnoko and Josh Smith are gifted big men, but they will almost certainly start behind the veteran Clemson frontcourt. Finally Jaron Blossomgame might be the slowest to be integrated into the rotation on account of a broken leg that he suffered last spring. Blossomgame, however, might be able to help the Tigers the most. Though he is small for an ACC power forward at 6’7″, he may be able to offer support at the swingman position, where Clemson only fields one prototypical small forward in K.J. McDaniels.

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ACC Weekly Five: 08.14.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on August 14th, 2012

  1. Raleigh News & Observer: NC State finished up its preseason trip to Spain with a 15-point win over CB Gran Canaria. The win means the Wolfpack head home undefeated. While Rodney Purvis couldn’t play as the NCAA reviews his eligibility, Lorenzo Brown was back from knee surgery sooner than expected and in time for all four games. CJ Leslie led all scorers with 19 in the final game and incoming freshman point guard Tyler Lewis finished with 14 points and eight assists. Probably more in response to the high expectations for this team, Mark Gottfried noted: “There were positive things even though we know we have a long way to go.”
  2. VirginiaSports.com: Speaking of preseason trips to Europe, Tony Bennett‘s squad is getting a head start too. The Cavaliers lost a heartbreaker with controversy to boot. Apparently, the scorekeeper gave AMW Team France an extra basket in the middle of a run that would eventually tie the game. To put things politely, Bennett wasn’t amused by the gaffe:

    “I understand when you come here, you’re going to get some questionable officiating — I can handle that — but what I don’t appreciate is when they take two points away from us. Two points in a game like that, that changes the whole game, and that’s frustrating, because we were there for the win, and that’s just not the way you do it. I don’t care if you’re international or in the States, you gotta keep the right score. But it’s a mistake, it was done, and I just want our guys to understand what the blueprint is for us to play competitive basketball.”

    Virginia went on to lose by four after a late run by AMW Team France.

  3. Associated Press: Important news out of Clemson this week. Tigers athletic director Terry Don Phillips announced he plans to retire next summer to enjoy more time with his wife. Phillips played an integral role in upgrading Clemson’s facilities and spearheaded the hiring of Brad Brownell (along with football coach Dabo Swinney). Keep an eye on names that pop up during the search process, as athletic directors are more important than most give them credit for — especially when it comes to rebuilding (or building in this case) programs like Brownell is trying to do.
  4. CBSSports.comCBS Sports drew some heat (along with plenty of page views) for its recent series “Critical Coaches” where they polled nearly 100 coaches on topics  like “Who is the most overrated coach in the country?” The answer? Roy Williams. Yep, the guy with two national titles in the last decade, to go with more conference championships than you can count with two hands between his time at Kansas and North Carolina. Jim Young of ACC Sports Journal has a thoughtful interpretation of the argument.
  5. ESPN.com: Surprising no one, Coach K added another gold medal to his resume as Team USA took down Spain and the Gasol brothers in the Olympics last week. Krzyzewski announced this would be his final Olympics, leaving his Team USA record an astounding 62-1. Unfortunately his dry humor didn’t translate as well to the international game as his coaching abilities, as a media member apparently thought Krzyzewski was serious when he stays out till 6 AM, “drunk as a skunk” because Team USA doesn’t really need much coaching.

EXTRA: In weirder news, North Carolina forgot to scrub former two-sport star Julius Peppers’ transcript and made it visible to the public. Needless to say NC State fans on PackPride.com found the transcript and went to work researching to confirm it was a real transcript. It’s hard to tell exactly what the repercussions of this will be, but suffice to say North Carolina’s academic issues may go back much further than previously thought.

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ACC Summer Recess: Clemson Tigers

Posted by KCarpenter on July 24th, 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: Clemson.

Where They Stand Now

It’s hard to remember the momentum that Clemson had at the end of the season, but the Tigers really picked it up as the season wore on. After a dismal 3-6 conference start, Brad Brownell‘s team rallied and went 5-2 down the stretch, bringing the team to a perfectly even 8-8 finish. A first round conference tournament flameout against Virginia Tech didn’t exactly end the season on a high note, but it’s important to remember that this Clemson team managed to beat the likes of Florida State, Virginia, and North Carolina State over the course of the season. In all, last season was probably a step back for the Tigers, but nowhere close to the catastrophes that some of the other conference teams endured.

Who’s Leaving

The Tigers are taking a big blow to their rotation due to that scourge called graduation: sensational scorer Andre Young, the versatile Tanner Smith, and valuable rotation players in Catalin Baciu and Bryan Narcisse.  The loss of the two veteran starters, Young and Smith, will give the team a very different feel in the coming year. The pair easily led the rest of the team in minutes played in 2011-12.

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Morning Five: 07.18.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 18th, 2012

  1. This offseason has been unique in the sense that a newly promulgated NCAA rule has allowed coaches and their players to have considerably more in-person interaction than in previous years. While students (including new freshman) are on campus attending summer school, coaches can provide two hours per week of instruction and training. It may not sound like much on its face, but 24 hours of focused practice when compared with zero is a substantial difference. CBSSports.com’s Matt Norlander writes that without question, coaches around the country are 100% behind this new rule and are employing it to the best of their abilities. That is, except in the Ivy League. The wrinkle in the Ancient Eight is that Harvard and Princeton — academic titans though they are — do not offer summer school coursework. Without a level playing field among all eight schools, none of them can (or will) take advantage of the rule. And aside from that, summer courses cost money, a bit of a pinch for non-scholarship athletes. It’s an interesting insight into just how different the priorities are from the rest of Division I basketball, even at a successful time when the league is placing competitive teams (Cornell, Princeton and Harvard) into the NCAA Tournament.
  2. While on the subject of summer basketball, one of the great things about unofficial team pick-up games is that it makes for tremendous message board fodder: “Ivan Renko dropped 45 on Anthony Davis in a half! He’s going to be a first-team All-American!” You know how it goes. Players who are career bench-warmers or otherwise unfulfilled talents seemingly become hoops messiahs under the dim lights in the sweaty gyms of July and August. That isn’t to say that there aren’t clues to be found, though, especially in cases where players have never actually been seen in uniform before. One such storyline coming out of Kansas in the past week is that redshirt freshman Ben McLemore is drawing reasonable comparisons to former Jayhawk star Brandon Rush for his jaw-dropping athletic ability and shot-making prowess. Down on Tobacco Road, UNC’s Leslie McDonald and PJ Hairston may not be getting such a lofty comparison from a former player, but they are receiving lessons in how to play the game from former Tar Heel superstar Rasheed Wallace. So there’s that.
  3. While on the subject of the Heels, one of the slowly smoldering stories in the back rooms and dark alleys of the Internet this summer has related to the ongoing academic scandal involving a large number of football players at the school. Armed with the knowledge that some of UNC’s basketball players took the same tainted courses as the football team, Pat Forde in a piece Tuesday mentioned that UNC has not been as forthcoming as some would like with the release of exculpatory information. He doesn’t go as far as to make any accusations of wrongdoing other than to quote a history professor at UNC who remains skeptical, but it does bring up a question of transparency and whether UNC might be willing to throw football under the bus to save the basketball program.
  4. We’ve mentioned Jabari Parker quite a bit in the last week, as the Class of 2013 prospect made news for narrowing his list of schools down to a more manageable 10 suitors and his family’s decision to let him rest for the remainder of the summer camp period. At least one school that you may have heard of on the recruiting trail — it starts with a K and ends with a Y — may, according to an unnamed head coach “who has been involved” with Parker’s recruitment, be the clubhouse leader. Duke has been mentioned as Parker’s leader numerous times by people supposedly in the know, and BYU has always been in the mix because of the LDS connection. All any prognosticator worth his salt can do at this point is await announcements as to where Parker will take his official visits and work backwards from there.
  5. A number of college basketball head coaches are in North Augusta, South Carolina, this week for the Nike Peach Jam, an elite prep basketball event featuring many of the nation’s top uncommitted players. Local news station WJBF-TV interviewed a few of the attendees about the Penn State/Sandusky scandal, and at least Clemson’s Brad Brownell, Minnesota’s Tubby Smith, and Georgia Tech’s Brian Gregory appear to be “using Penn State’s mistakes as a lesson.” For the sake of the next generation of America’s overlooked children, let’s hope so.

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ACC Tournament: Three Thoughts from Virginia Tech – Clemson

Posted by mpatton on March 8th, 2012

As we expected it came down to the final couple of minutes, but Virginia Tech pulled out a 68-63 win over Clemson in the first round of the ACC Tournament.

  • Free throws, free throws, free throws. Look at the box score from the game, and it looks like Clemson should’ve won. Similar rebounding numbers, better shooting percentages and only a slim deficit in turnovers. But the Tigers only shot 60% from the charity stripe to the Hokies’ 85%. That was the difference. With a little over a minute left Tanner Smith missed two free throws including the front end of a one-and-one. Brian Narcisse and Devin Booker also missed one. That’s five points left on the board in the final minute alone. There’s your deficit.
  • “We haven’t practiced special situations as much; we’ve just lived it,” Seth Greenberg commented on his team’s youth and their tendency towards tough games (17 games decided by six points or less). Virginia Tech’s closing has been up and down all season. It was up and down tonight too. The Hokies gave up one five-second violation trying to inbound the ball and probably should’ve had another. They gave up several second-chance opportunities down the stretch to keep Clemson in striking distance. Tomorrow against Duke, that execution will have to be a lot crisper.
  • Tanner Smith has one of the best motors in the conference. He and Andre Young were everywhere defensively for Clemson down the stretch. Young got most of the accolades because of his importance on offense, but Smith is a big part of why Clemson’s defense is so effective. He’s a very versatile defender who fights through every screen. Those two are going to be impossible for Brad Brownell to replace next year. At least for replacing Young, the freshman Devin Coleman had a terrific game (truthfully, I don’t know why he didn’t get more time during the season).
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ACC Game On: 03.01.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on March 1st, 2012

March is here and the Madness isn’t far off. Last night, NC State won a close one against Miami, helping themselves in the hunt for a bid while taking a little air out of the Hurricanes’ bubble. Meanwhile, in less meaningful news, Boston College managed to win its fourth conference game defeating an increasingly confused-looking Georgia Tech team and pulling themselves into eleventh place. In Chapel Hill, Tyler Zeller closed out his Dean Smith Center career by putting up 30 points and playing some of the best basketball of his career in an ugly “platinum” uniform while Kendall Marshall handily broke the North Carolina single season assist record against a Maryland team that just couldn’t stop a relentless (though often inaccurate) Tar Heel attack.

Battle of the Second Tier

  • #19 Florida State at Virginia at 7:00 PM on ESPN2

The Seminoles are two and half games up on the Cavliers in the conference standings with only two games to go so this isn’t really a battle for third place in the conference, but it sure feels that way. The two defensive powerhouses of the ACC met once before this season in Tallahassee where the home team managed a tough one-possession win. The fact is that these tough, close losses to good teams are starting to catch up to Virginia. Outside of a win against Michigan, what else can the Cavaliers point to? Beating Miami and Drexel? Virginia is a very good team, but they don’t really have an impressive résumé. Beating ranked Florida State would help to strengthen the Wahoos position heading into the ACC tournament. Meanwhile, the Seminoles have faltered down the stretch losing their past two games, which is equal to the number of losses they had in 2012 before the skid. Barring a total collapse,  Florida State probably is already a near-lock to go dancing. It would be nice for Florida State to win this game, but the Seminoles don’t need it like the Cavaliers do. At home, I like Mike Scott to close out his time in Charlottesville with a bang.

Crouching Tigers As Hidden Dragon?

  • Virginia Tech at Clemson at 9:00 PM on ACC Network Affiliates and ESPN3.com

Very quietly, the Clemson has reached the .500 mark in conference play. With wins against Florida State, Virginia, and Saturday’s win over NC State, the Tigers have put themselves in a very interesting position. If Clemson wins tonight against the Hokies (no guarantee since they lost their first match-up) and manages to win again against Florida State to finish out the season, Brad Brownell‘s team will be positioned to play two very winnable games in the ACC Tournament and have a shot at snagging another marquee win or two. Looking at the Clemson’s list of bad losses, the Tigers look very sketchy. Still, though it’s a long shot, I think the Tigers do have a shot at making the NCAA Tournament. Or at least getting tantalizingly close just in time to get shot down on Selection Sunday. In any case, this long shot is going to make tonight’s game a little awkward. Seth Greenberg knows.

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ACC Morning Five: 02.27.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 27th, 2012

  1. Streaking The Lawn: Virginia lost a brutal game to North Carolina on Saturday. Mike Scott played poorly, going 3-of-13 from the field, but he never got into the flow of the game because of foul trouble. What didn’t impress Brian Schwartz (or most Cavalier fans) was the acting from John Henson on two of the calls against Scott. I fall somewhere in between Schwartz and Roy Williams’ opinion: I think Scott got hosed by the officials, but that’s not what cost them the game. You could just as easily argue that not having Assane Sene because of injury cost them the game. The deciding factor was Virginia missing shots down the stretch. Calls would’ve helped, but it’s all for naught if you don’t knock down those shots.
  2. Baltimore Sun: James Padgett is too nice. He’s developing into one of Maryland’s better players, but he just isn’t aggressive enough to become the Terrapins’ second option this season. There’s also the question of why his defensive rebounding lags so far behind his offensive rebounding. The obvious reason is that Alex Len and Ashton Pankey clean up the glass for the Terps, but with Len often going for blocks you’d assume Padgett would have plenty of defensive rebounding opportunities.
  3. Charleston Post and Courier: Milton Jennings woke up after Brad Brownell suspended him for a couple of games in early February. The former McDonald’s All-American is proving to be a (somewhat inconsistent) creator, averaging just under 12 points a game in the Tigers’ last five contests. But Brownell wanted to be clear that the Tigers’ recent success wouldn’t affect Jennings’ off the court struggles: “He knows he’s walking on thin ice with me.” At least for now the suspension seems to be effective. Obviously, we can’t see Jennings life outside of games, but his improved production is certainly a good sign.
  4. Fayetteville Observer: NC State‘s bubble burst after falling to Clemson over the weekend. The Wolfpack are heading back to the NIT barring a very strong run to the ACC Tournament finals (beating Duke or North Carolina on the way). The team showed spurts of promise, playing with the best teams in the conference, but even a 20-point second half lead against Duke resulted in the loss column. More than anything, Mark Gottfried’s talented recruiting class should give his team critical depth for competing against top schools in conference play.
  5. ACC Sports Journal: I found this breakdown of the DukeFlorida State game very interesting, mainly because it points to why Duke was so effective shooting threes, even against elite defenses like Florida State. The Seminoles smothered Duke inside, but the Blue Devils knocked down perimeter jumpers to answer every Florida State run. Denny Kuiper points to help defense leaving Duke shooters wide open, which certainly created plenty of open looks for Andre Dawkins against Florida State. But Austin Rivers and (to a lesser extent) Seth Curry have both shown the ability to score at the rim this year. Not helping to stop Rivers seems like a recipe for disaster, though I can almost guarantee you that would be the strategy that Mike Krzyzewski would employ if he had to craft a game plan to guard his uber-freshman.
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ACC Morning Five: 02.10.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 10th, 2012

  1. ESPN and Sports Illustrated: I missed two of the better recaps of Duke‘s comeback from last night from Eamonn Brennan and Andy Staples. The two articles are very similar in structure and tone. I still can’t really believe the final result. While people got a little carried away with the “North Carolina is dominating Duke” theme in the second half, it was still very clear the Tar Heels owned that game after the first 18 minutes. It’s also worth noting that Duke shot less free throws (which is to be expected based on the team’s reliance on threes) and missed the same number–just not as many in crunch time. Finally, if you’re interested in a more biased take, Shane Ryan posted a behemoth on Grantland that was a solid (very pro-Duke) read.
  2. Greensboro News & Record: Jeff Mills watched Duke and North Carolina from home, alternating from the ESPN and Raycom broadcasts. Formerly, the ESPN broadcast was blacked out (which was brutal because some cable providers didn’t have Raycom’s broadcast in high definition), but the new television contract gets rid of ESPN blackouts until the ACC Tournament. The dual broadcasts was interesting. Dan Bonner and Tim Brando provided a distinct contrast to Dickie V, Jay Bilas, and Dan Shulman. One distinction Mills noted was the audio. ESPN’s equipment blocked most of the white crowd noise, while Raycom highlighted the intense atmosphere. The other big difference was the producing. ESPN focuses on coaches; Raycom on the crowd and players.
  3. Raleigh News & Observer: Would you believe me that NC State boasts more McDonald’s All-Americans that Duke and North Carolina combined? At least for now (several recruits are still undecided and considering Duke and/or North Carolina) Mark Gottfried owns the lead in high-profile recruits with Tyler Lewis, Rodney Purvis and TJ Warren all making the cut. That’s going to put some major pressure on Gottfried to contend for the ACC title.
  4. Washington Post: Duke may have exposed a way to beat North Carolina. You need to hit lots of threes. Virginia‘s defense shouldn’t be an issue against the Tar Heels (or anyone else for that matter), but the Cavaliers’ offense is often sluggish and inconsistent. But Tony Bennett’s squad has a history of success beyond the arc, as it led the conference in three point percentage last year. While Virginia’s tempo will keep it from putting up 36 threes, look for close to its season-high 25 against North Carolina’s stingy interior defense.
  5. Shakin’ the Southland: Free throws are still killing Clemson. It seems like a broken record at this point. Year after year the Tigers struggle from the line. The more interesting part of Clemson’s loss to Maryland is how the Tigers crawled back in the game with a 1-3-1 trap. This is the second game in a row Brad Brownell has changed up the defense with success (albeit success without winning). It will be interesting to see if he continues messing with his defensive scheme going forward.
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ACC Morning Five: 02.02.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 2nd, 2012

Before we get started, Ken Pomeroy offered a very good counter to the flood of compliments about Frank Haith‘s coaching against Texas. It’s worth a read, and I totally agree with it (I’d also add that Rick Barnes’ teams aren’t known for their in-game adjustments).

  1. Winston-Salem Journal: The ACC is struggling with attendance. While Wake Forest reported nearly 13,000 on hand for the North Carolina game, multiple reporters brought light to the large number of empty seats in Lawrence Joel Coliseum. Against North Carolina that shouldn’t happen, even in a bad season. Down in Coral Gables, a “numbers-cruncher” (for the record, I have no idea what that means) counted 1,800 fans on hand to watch Miami take on NC State (the reported attendance was 4,371). The modest attendance was juxtaposed with a horrid shooting night for both teams, with neither able to hit 35% from the field.
  2. Hampton Roads Daily Press: Virginia Tech has a philosophy against Duke: “When you play Duke, first and foremost, you’ve got to match their intensity.” Additionally, “You also have to play through mistakes.” The philosophy worked last season, though both teams looked very different. Seth Greenberg’s squad was anchored by Malcolm Delaney and Jeff Allen and the Blue Devils had Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith. This year Duke’s biggest advantage is inside play, but Erick Green will cause the Blue Devils major problems on the perimeter. There’s no question that Duke is more talented overall, but if the Hokies stick with their philosophy, this road game could be a major challenge for the Blue Devils.
  3. Fayetteville Observer: Bret Strelow caught up with Austin Rivers to talk about Mike Krzyzewski’s criticism after the St. John’s game. Rivers admits the Blue Devils need to work on fighting throughout the whole game and never “letting up” like they did against the Red Storm. I actually agree with Rivers about their defensive struggles. With better communication and overall grit (not giving up), I think this is a solid (not great) defensive team. The question is whether it can keep up the intensity on the defensive end — especially when faced with adversity (like against Ohio State).
  4. Cavalier Daily: Apparently, there used to be a joke about Assane Sene and his lack of coordination. Those jokes dried up a little bit this year. First, Sene improved a lot over the offseason. Second, Mike Scott joined the team and took over the interior offense (saving Sene from from overuse on the offensive end). Now, instead of being the butt of the joke, Virginia students are hoping Sene’s ankle heals up for a run in the NCAA Tournament.
  5. Fox Sports Carolinas: Brad Brownell has a tough decision. Milton Jennings was supposed to be the next big thing at Clemson. He was the school’s first McDonald’s All-American in nearly two decades, but he’s never quite lived up to his potential. Should Jennings have done so, Clemson would be much more dangerous and it would get Brownell lots of street cred in South Carolina with recruits. Here’s to hoping Jennings figures things out, on and off the court. The ACC is better off with a good Clemson team.

EXTRA: Andy Glockner’s newest bracket is out! Only four ACC teams made the cut (NC State was close). Duke sits on the top seed line with a very interesting potential match-up against UNC Asheville and its dynamic backcourt of JP Primm and Matt Dickey. North Carolina finds itself as a #3 seed in Ohio State’s region. The good news is that the Tar Heels would potentially face Missouri in the Sweet Sixteen. Sign me up. Florida State actually gets some pretty good match-ups, though UNLV would be a really tough game. Virginia gets the unsavory task of facing the Buckeyes in the “third” round. The moral of the story is that fake brackets are fun.

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