Three Up, Three Down in the Big East

Posted by George Hershey on January 27th, 2014

Every Big East team played on Saturday. Some had impressive outing, while others fell flat and disappointed. Here we highlight some of the positives and negatives from the weekend’s action with Three Up, Three Down.

Three Up

The Providence Role Players, Including Denton, Are Stepping Up

The Providence Role Players, Including Denton, Are Stepping Up

  1. Providence’s Supporting Cast. Coming into the season the emphasis was placed on senior scoring machine Bryce Cotton. In the non-conference slate, the team fared well but started with a poor 0-2 mark in conference play with a bad home loss to Seton Hall and a blowout defeat to Villanova. In those early losses, players like LaDontae Henton, Kadeem Batts, Tyler Harris and Josh Fortune had rough performances. They turned the ball over too much — 15 from the starters vs. Villanova — played poor defense, and failed to make the key plays that win games. More recently, Providence has been on a roll and these players are the primary reason for the difference. In the Friars’ win on Saturday against Xavier, four starters had at least 10 points with Henton dropping 23, Harris and Batts scoring 12 each, and Fortune hitting a key three as he was fouled to stymie a Xavier run. Carson Desrosiers was also very impressive on the defensive end, with six blocks against the Musketeers. Providence has now won five in a row to move to 5-2 in league play, good for third place in the conference standings. Read the rest of this entry »
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ACC Summer Recess: Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Posted by KCarpenter on July 18th, 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: Wake Forest.

Where They Stand Now

Bzdelik Enters Year Three of a Rebuild at Wake

It’s a rare thing when you can be tied for last place in the conference and still be hailed for taking a big step forward. Wake Forest went 4-12 in in league play, part of the four-way tie at the bottom, yet last season can’t be rated all that poorly. When you go from 1-15 to 4-12, it’s certainly a nice step forward, but it’s also a clear sign that you are being graded on a curve. Wake Forest hoops got a lot better last season, but make no mistake: This team is still far from good.

What’s the best way to describe the state of this program? The highlight of the Demon Deacons’ last season is debatable: It’s either a three-point home win over Virginia Tech (a team that finished below WFU in the conference standings) or a one-point home win over Yale (who had a great year… for Yale). There wasn’t a lot to cheer about this season, but the step away from the soul-crushing precipice of the 2011-12 season is enough to chalk up last year as an incredibly mild success.

Outside of team highlights, the past season was also a remarkable showcase for C.J. Harris, who had a terrific year shooting the ball from distance. Harris combined with Travis McKie formed one of the deadliest scoring tandems in the conference.  Of course, it ended up not mattering too much, but it was one sign of genuine hope for a program that has fallen on lean times.

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Big East Weekly Five: 05.09.12 Edition

Posted by Patrick Prendergast on May 9th, 2012

  1. John Marinatto’s tumultuous three-year run as Big East commissioner ended on Monday when he tendered his resignation. Marinatto’s departure, which reportedly came at the request of member school presidents, puts the already unsteady Big East on even more tenuous ground as the newly realigned and super-sized conference may find itself once again in the cross hairs of other media exposure hungry leagues.  Joseph Bailey, III, the former CEO of the Miami Dolphins, was named interim commissioner. Expect the Big East to move quickly to name a permanent leader, and that person will have to be ready to work under pressure given the fact he or she will be faced with stabilizing the membership and bringing home an extremely important television deal this fall. Whether justified or not, Marinatto will get most of the blame publicly for the current state of the conference. The argument can certainly be made that he lacked the leadership ability and negotiation skills necessary to see the Big East through the landscape changes that faced him, but some of his presidents and so-called allies did not set Marinatto up for success when they led the refusal of a reported $1.2 billion dollar television contract extension with ESPN. That helped to put the conference in a vulnerable position when it subsequently booked to other leagues in search of bigger dollars.
  2. Notre Dame and Tim Abromaitis learned last week that the star forward will not be granted a rare sixth year of eligibility. Abromaitis, who will not appeal, appeared in just two games for the Fighting Irish last season after sitting out a four-game NCAA suspension and before suffering a season-ending ACL tear. The 6’8” Abromaitis, who averaged 13.7 points and 4.8 rebounds in South Bend, continues to rehabilitate his surgically repaired knee and intends to pursue a professional basketball career. Should hoops not work out, Abromaitis has solid credentials to fall back on as he holds both undergraduate and MBA degrees from Notre Dame.  Mike Brey and the Irish basketball program await a decision on another sixth-year eligibility applicant, Scott Martin, who sat out two years ago due to transfer (from Purdue) in addition to missing last season with a torn ACL of his own.
  3. Connecticut picked up some much-needed good news on the recruiting front as it gained a commitment from Phillip Nolan, a 6’10” power forward from Milwaukee. Nolan, who is ranked 118th nationally by, may be an under-the-radar catch as he played in just six games (transfer), averaging 12.3 points per outing, for Milwaukee’s Riverside University High School this past season. The shortened campaign came about because before enrolling at Riverside, Nolan spent his first two seasons at Vincent High School followed by stops at a pair of prep schools. Nolan will have a great opportunity at immediate playing time on the heels of the much publicized frontcourt departures of transfers Alex Oriakhi, Roscoe Smith and Michael Bradley along with early NBA draft entrant Andre Drummond.
  4. Providence will enjoy ESPN’s sixth-rated recruiting class next season but Ed Cooley has refused to rest on his laurels as he continues to search for a big man to join the group. After losing out to conference rival St. John’s in the race for highly-regarded forwards JaKarr Sampson and Orlando Sanchez, this year’s recruiting crop still has a vacancy. Cooley scored a front line talent for the 2013-14 season when he received a commitment from seven-foot transfer Carson Desrosiers. Desrosiers played his first two years at Wake Forest and averaged 4.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 31 games as a part-time starter for the Demon Deacons. Desrosiers considered the Friars coming out of Massachusetts’ Central Catholic High School before opting to head south to the ACC.  He will have two years of eligibility after sitting out next season under NCAA transfer rules.
  5. In other transfer news, we noted here last week that Arizona State transfer and last year’s leading scorer Trent Lockett was fast becoming a person of high interest for Marquette. Well it seems the feeling was mutual as Lockett, a 6’4” guard who averaged 13.0 points and 5.8 rebounds for the Sun Devils as a junior, will in fact transfer to play for Buzz Williams in Milwaukee. Lockett is eligible to play for Marquette next season and will be a welcome addition to a lineup that will be looking to replace the production of the departed Darius Johnson-Odom and Big East Player of the Year Jae Crowder. As with Providence, Wake Forest supplied another Big East school with a transfer as guard Tony Chennault, a native Philadelphian, will be heading home to attend Villanova after two years in Winston-Salem. Chennault played 31.2 minutes per game last season, averaging 9.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.8 assists, but elected to transfer to be closer to his mother who has been dealing with health issues. To that end, Chennault is seeking a waiver that will allow him to play for the Wildcats in the 2012-13 season.
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ACC Morning Five: 03.23.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 23rd, 2012

  1. Tampa Bay Times: It looks like Leonard Hamilton‘s reported “lobbying” has stirred up the Florida State athletic department’s checkbook. Currently Hamilton makes $1.5 million a year plus incentives (for instance this year he earned an extra $175,000 for winning the ACC Tournament and being named ACC Coach of the Year). He definitely deserves the raise. Since he arrived in Tallahassee, Hamilton has made a Seminole program with very few historical highs relevant. While Florida State’s early NCAA tournament departure was unfortunate, the team’s continued success will only enhance his ability to recruit.
  2. Blogger So Dear: It sounds like major unrest is brewing over at Wake Forest. Days after Tony Chennault announced his transfer, rumors are swirling that Carson Desrosiers (which sources confirmed to Blogger So Dear) and Anthony Fields (unconfirmed, along with an even more distressing rumor that Travis McKie may be asking to transfer too) want out of Winston-Salem too. We will definitely keep everything updated, but suffice to say the Demon Deacons’ roster would be decimated if those three leave. If you’re keeping score at home, these three potential transfers would make nine players to transfer or depart (for reasons other than graduation) under Jeff Bzdelik’s tenure.
  3. ESPN Chicago: This probably isn’t super surprising, but longtime Duke assistant Chris Collins is interested in a head coaching gig, and Illinois would be on “the right fit” list. Because of Collins’ ties with Chicago–his dad coached the Bulls, he grew up there, and he currently recruits there for Duke–rumors about the vacancy have swirled since Bruce Weber left. Obviously, if Collins is offered the job (he reportedly hasn’t been contacted yet, but I would be surprised if the Illini hadn’t at least put out feelers to his agent), I think he will take it. That’s a tough first head coaching job though, with some serious expectations.
  4. Durham Herald-Sun: Speaking of Duke and not surprises, Mason Plumlee is looking into possibly entering this year’s NBA Draft. Currently he’s gathering information to get an idea on where he would go, and how much an extra year could help or hurt him. Jonathan Givony of Draft Express seems optimistic about Plumlee’s NBA future, though noted that coming back for his senior season wouldn’t hurt either.
  5. Hampton Roads Daily-Press: One big knock on Virginia this year was the team’s dearth of quality wins. Obviously, the Cavaliers couldn’t control their conference draw, but a team’s nonconference schedule is one that comes up on Selection Sunday (just ask Seth Greenberg). Tony Bennett pointed out that the nonconference strength of schedule wasn’t helped by losing to TCU (which kept Virginia from playing Marquette). But Bennett is looking at adding some meat to next year’s schedule, starting with a home-and-home series with Tennessee.

EXTRA: If you’re not watching Bomani & Jones it’s easily worth the ten minutes a week. Where else are you going to get interviews with Julius Hodge and Joe in Raleigh (an avid Duke fan and notorious sports talk show caller)?

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ACC Game On: 01.11.12

Posted by KCarpenter on January 11th, 2012

Some semblance of order prevailed Tuesday night as Florida State managed a close win against Virginia Tech and North Carolina lodged a quietly scary win against Miami. Bernard James, the old man of the ACC, posted an 18-point, 15-rebound game (nine offensive rebounds) and Ian Miller offered the sufficient guard scoring (15 points) that the Seminoles had lacked in the early going. Virginia Tech simply couldn’t score at a strong enough clip against the defensive-minded Seminoles, managing a field goal percentage of only 30.5%. This is how we expected Florida State would win games, and it’s fun to see a team pull off a victory like this while still turning the ball over 19 times in a relatively slow-paced game. Did I say fun? I meant weird, but oddly gratifying.

Old Man Bernard James Had A Monster Game In The Victory Over Virginia Tech

Meanwhile, North Carolina’s convincing victory against Miami was scarier than you might expect. The Tar Heels draw a lot of offensive firepower from their triumvirate of big, athletic, sharp-shooting wings. Last night, Harrison Barnes went 2-of-12, Reggie Bullock went 2-of-6, and P.J. Hairston went 1-of-6. It was a 17-point win for UNC and the Hurricanes shot 41.8%. The ability to accomplish a high margin win without shut-down defense, hot shooting, or scoring from three of your best offensive players is what makes North Carolina such a dangerous team. Totally crushing an opponent in every facet of the game will always be impressive, but soundly beating a team despite lots of things going wrong? Just as remarkable.

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ACC Game On: 11.14.11 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on November 14th, 2011

ACC Game On will periodically review recent games involving ACC teams and take a look forward at key upcoming matchups.

Every team in the Atlantic Coast Conference has played at least one game so far, except for Boston College which makes it’s debut tonight. Before we get to breaking down Monday night’s slate of games, let’s spend a little time taking a look at this past weekend and the first few games played by ACC teams. While most everyone stuck pretty closely to the script, there were a few pleasant surprises for ACC fans.

Unsurprisingly, the star of the Carrier Classic was the aircraft carrier itself. The USS Carl Vinson was an incredibly cool setting for a basketball game. So cool, in fact, that the basketball game seemed like an afterthought. While North Carolina beat Michigan State, and John Henson was able to show off his shot-blocking ability by getting nine of them, it was his increased offensive arsenal (which he continued to demonstrate on Sunday against UNC Asheville) that should excite Tar Heel fans. But the real MVP of the event was probably the San Diego sky.

Neither Team Was As Good As The Setting

Belmont lived up to its reputation as a dangerous team and came within one point of upsetting Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke held the line and eked out a victory against the pesky and talented Bruins. This, combined with a blowout over Presbyterian confirms very little about this year’s Blue Devils. Rather, viewers learned a great deal more about Belmont and Presbyterian (one’s quite good and the other’s quite bad) than they did about the as-yet-enigmatic and still-emerging Blue Devils. Wins are wins though, and now Mike Krzyzewski has as many of them (902) as any men’s college basketball coach in Division I history.

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ACC Team Previews: Wake Forest

Posted by KCarpenter on October 18th, 2011

Wake Forest had a rough season this past year. No, wait, that’s not right. Bad? Terrible? Catastrophic?  I’m having a hard time capturing the scale and scope of how bad last season was. The ideal word would capture a sort of hopeless, inevitable despondency mixed with mind-blowing, frustrating futility. Imagine a turtle trying to climb up a hill. Then the camera zooms out, and the turtle is at the bottom of the Grand Canyon trying to scale the side of a cliff. Now imagine that the turtle accidentally falls onto it’s back. Now imagine a mob gathering at the top of the cliff to push boulders down onto the turtle. That’s how last season felt in Winston-Salem.

Jeff Bzdelik Has A Lot Of Work To Do After Last Season's Disaster

Wake Forest had a single win in the Atlantic Coast Conference against lowly Virginia. Wake Forest won a single game away from its home court: a neutral court win against Elon at Greensboro Coliseum. Wake Forest stunned the world by losing the season opener against Stetson and then proceeded to lose to Winthrop, UNC Wilmington, and Presbyterian. They also lost to a number of very good basketball teams, but that kind of goes without saying when Stetson and Presbyterian are giving you the business on your floor. Ken Pomeroy’s basketball efficiency statistics demonstrate that this wasn’t just a few unlucky games. This was a systemic and utter, season-long failure. Every 16-seed in last year’s NCAA tournament was significantly better than Wake Forest. For the record, that group included UNC-Asheville, Boston University, Arkansas-Little Rock, and Texas-San Antonio. Last season, in short, was an unmitigated disaster. I hope we’re clear on that. That said, this summer may have been worse.

While Jeff Bzdelik had certainly counted on losing senior starter Gary Clark, it’s unlikely he had prepared for the other losses. Another starter, Ari Stewart, announced that he was transferring to USC. Melvin Tabb was hardly a major contributor to the Demon Deacons, but on a shrinking roster, it didn’t help that he was suspended and then released from the team after facing charges of breaking/entering and fraud. Another starter, freshman sensation J.T. Terrell, left school after he was charged with driving under the influence. Finally, 7’0″ senior Ty Walker was ruled ineligible to compete with the team throughout the duration of the fall semester due to a violation of Wake Forest’s honor code. All of this happened from the months of April to September. Ouch.

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Summer School in the ACC

Posted by Brian Goodman on September 7th, 2010

Steve Moore is the RTC correspondent for the ACC and an occasional contributor.

Around The ACC:

  • Encore, Encore: Duke won the national title by toppling Butler in a hard-fought final, but unlike recent championship squads, there’s no major mass exodus of talent from Durham (unless you’re related to Jon Scheyer or Brian Zoubek), so the Blue Devils will have a legit chance to repeat.
  • New Faces, New Places: Former Cornell head coach Steve Donahue, best known for elevating the Big Red from NCAA Tournament floormat to the Sweet 16, takes the lead for Boston College. Another import is former Wright State general Brad Brownell, who will lead Clemson after the departure of Oliver Purnell. Brownell previously served at UNC-Wilmington, so it shouldn’t take long for him to reopen that pipeline. Lastly, Jeff Bzdelik comes to Winston-Salem, hoping to provide Wake Forest with long-term stability.
  • No News Is Good News: Rumors came and went surrounding conference realignment, but in the end, the ACC held steady amongst the national wave of teams changing conferences.

McDonald's All-American Kyrie Irving looks to complement an already-stacked Blue Devils squad on their way to a repeat.

Power Rankings (last season’s conference and overall records in parentheses)

  1. Duke (13-3, 35-5): The Blue Devils don’t rebuild, they just reload. Losing Jon Scheyer and Brian Zoubek hurts, but when Coach K gets back from Turkey, he’ll be happy to see familiar faces in Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith and Mason and Miles Plumlee. College basketball fans everywhere can also rejoice in another season of Curry, as Stephen’s brother Seth is eligible to play after transferring in 2009, and Kyrie Irving (West Orange, NJ) makes his long-awaited debut. The frontcourt will have to pick up for the loss of Zoubek, but with this much talent to being with and Josh Hairston arriving in Durham, I don’t think it’ll be a problem.
    BETTER OR WORSE?: If you can believe it, I think Duke might be even better. They can’t top last year’s national title, obviously, but I don’t see any other ACC team touching them for the regular season title.
  2. Virginia Tech (10-6, 25-9): The Hokies lose no one. I repeat: NO ONE. Find me another team in the nation that doesn’t lose a key contributor. With one of the ACC’s most exciting players, Malcolm Delaney, coming back, Tech also learned its lesson from NCAA snubs in the past and scheduled at least a couple interesting nonconference games, including Kansas State (away), Purdue, Penn State, Mississippi State and possibly Oklahoma State, depending on how the 76 Classic plays out in Anaheim.
    BETTER OR WORSE?: Better, at least by enough to not be sweating it out come Selection Sunday. Whether they can make noise in March, no one really knows, but the Hokies will dance this season.
  3. Boston College (6-10, 15-16): Experience, experience, experience. No one has more of it in the ACC than the Eagles. BC’s new coach, former Cornell boss Steve Donahue, has more Sweet 16 experience than most coaches in the ACC. Don’t underestimate the Eagles this season (this coming from a Boston University grad and card-carrying BC hater). With so much youth all around the ACC, BC’s experience will be invaluable, and Donahue was an absolute no-brainer to replace Al Skinner.
    BETTER OR WORSE?: Better – much better. With Corey Raji, Joe Trapani and others leading the way, BC will join NC State as the league’s most improved teams, and should get an NCAA invite. Now if only they’d man up and put my alma mater back on their schedule. Read the rest of this entry »
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