- New York Times: In one of the best, most entertaining college basketball games of the season, Duke outlasted Miami 79-76 at Cameron Indoor Stadium. There are two important notes from the game: one–which trumps everything by a wide margin–was Ryan Kelly‘s unbelievable return; the other was Miami‘s comeback that wasn’t meant to be in the final two minutes. Kelly was phenomenal, and Miami clearly had no idea what to do to stop him. Without him, Duke might have been blown out again. The second story is how the game changed in the final 120 seconds. Duke went from up ten to giving Miami a chance to tie or take the lead down the stretch. Free throw shooting woes (the Blue Devils went 4-8 from the charity stripe after going up ten) and turnovers were at the center of the collapse. Duke had a chance to execute and win by 10-15 points. Instead, Miami charged back and got two good looks at overtime. That says a lot about both teams.
- Roanoke Times: It seems like a long time ago, but Erick Green couldn’t always score at will at the college level. His freshman year he averaged 2.6 points on less than 30% shooting in less than 13 minutes of play a game (with an offensive efficiency of 81.5 using 15.5% of his team’s possessions). This year he’s averaging 25.0 points a game on 48% shooting in over 35 minutes (with an offensive rating of 121.2 using a ludicrous 31.5% of possessions). That’s some terrific development. Green doesn’t get a lot of help from his teammates, Virginia Tech just isn’t deep or talented enough to compete on a nightly basis in the ACC, but he’s worth the price of admission on his own.
- Charlottesville Daily Progress: Joe Harris got much deserved love for his career performance in Virginia’s win over Duke last week. He’s one of the most underrated players in the ACC, and talented seniors like him (think Jacob Pullen or Mike Scott) deserve their chance to dance. But he’s not even the most underrated player on his team. Junior Akil Mitchell is a huge part of Virginia’s success. Against Duke he finished with 19 points and 12 boards (and held Mason Plumlee to a pedestrian ten and seven). Like two of Charlotte Christian’s other famous alumni (Steph and Seth Curry), Mitchell never got offers from the North Carolina schools. He ended up at Virginia, and his athleticism and strength anchors Tony Bennett’s pack-line defense.
- Winston-Salem Journal: Wake Forest retired Chris Paul‘s jersey at its loss against Maryland. Paul may be the most fluid basketball player in the world (though Kyrie Irving has a lot of his playground ball-handling), and he’ll always be one of my favorite ACC point guards (right up with Ty Lawson, Greivis Vasquez, Tyrese Rice and many more). He led Wake Forest to two of the best offensive seasons in recent memory and was the best–and most fitting–player to suit up for Skip Prosser. Paul’s likability (save the Julius Hodge incident) is as strong as any player in the NBA. This was a good move by Wake Forest.
- Charlotte Observer: The ACC Tournament is up for grabs this year. Duke and Miami are the definite favorites to cut down the nets in Greensboro, but don’t cut out a surging North Carolina team, a dangerous NC State team or a better-than-its-resume Virginia squad. At the bottom half of the league there’s a mirrored cluster of teams with Florida State and Maryland in the middle. Seeding is far from decided and it will be complex (expect a comprehensive post later this week), but the conference tournament should be a lot of fun.
EXTRA: Court rushing became a topic of much conversation after Mike Krzyzewski blasted Virginia security for not protecting his team from the throngs of students. First, Coach K has a history of deflecting attention after losses (though Kelly’s performance against Miami did more than this ever could). But there are very real safety concerns with court storming. Fans often get hurt, and it’s a surprise more players aren’t injured. Also, what would happen if a fan charged a player and the player retaliated? Most of the time, the onus is put on players to ignore bush league behavior from fans. But when things get physical, that’s not fair to the players. I hope the ACC doesn’t establish a fine for teams rushing the court, but implementing a uniform procedure across the league with potential fines for not maintaining safety is something more attractive.