End of an Era: Maryland’s Last Trip Down Tobacco Road Brings Back Old Memories

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on February 18th, 2014

Saturday night’s Maryland loss at Duke closes a historic chapter in ACC basketball history. It marks the Terrapins’ last visit as an ACC member to the Triangle area, long considered the heart of the conference (just ask Gary Williams). That game, a two-point loss in Cameron Indoor Stadium, seems like an appropriate last act in a long-running drama that has been playing since the formation of the ACC in 1953. Duke’s victory had many of the same elements that these games have had for years — specifically, a hard-fought, passionate contest with questionable officiating that ultimately resulted in another frustrating loss for the Terps.

The 1974 Maryland-N.C. State ACC Championship Game Sparked Changes to NCAA Tourney. (photo courtesy of CNN Sports Illustrated and Sports Then and Now)

The 1974 Maryland-N.C. State ACC Championship Game Sparked Changes To The NCAA Tourney.
(CNN/Sports Illustrated)

Maryland fans have long expressed the feeling that their team just couldn’t get a fair shake on Tobacco Road. Check out this game recap from a 1974 Maryland-N.C. State game in Raleigh. Near the end of the article, Terrapins’ head coach Lefty Driesell is quoted as follows: “My complaint is the charging calls against us,” Driesell said. “I’m not saying the calls were wrong but it’s only called that way in this part of the country.” He is certainly not alone in thinking that Maryland was at a distinct disadvantage when playing conference games in the Tar Heel State, whether they were on a rivals’ home courts or in the frequent ACC Tournaments held in Greensboro or Charlotte. As Maryland prepares to join the Big Ten next season, let’s take a look at some of the other memories that Maryland will be leaving behind.

Maryland was a charter member when the ACC formed prior to the 1953-54 basketball season. Although the Terrapins captured an ACC title in 1958, it wasn’t until the fiery Driesell arrived prior to the 1969-70 campaign that Maryland basketball became nationally relevant. At the time, North Carolina and N.C. State were the top programs in the league, but Maryland quickly joined them and produced some classic games that had a major influence on the rising popularity of the sport. In 1973, the ACC and its TV broadcast partner, C.D. Chesley, decided to go big with the N.C. State – Maryland game in College Park as a prelude for sports fans to the NFL’s Super Bowl Sunday showcase event. The 87-85 win for David Thompson‘s Wolfpack in front of a nationally-televised audience was a highly entertaining game that helped push the reputation of the ACC as the best and most exciting hoops conference in the country.

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ACC M5: 02.17.14 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 17th, 2014

morning5_ACC

  1. Atlantic Coast Confidential: So first, about the Syracuse-NC State game. Neither team deserved to win. You can’t claim you deserve to win if you turn the ball over twice in the last 30 seconds. Nor can you stake much on getting bailed out on a foul call. I want to spend a few words talking about Trevor Cooney’s foul on TJ Warren. It may have been the right call. Good arguments have been made that it was (notably, he traveled after the foul but before shooting). But that doesn’t mean the rule is dumb. Reasonable minds disagree, but Warren had an open layup and Cooney just threw his arm at the ball with no angle to make a play. The contact changed Warren’s timing (resulting in the aforementioned theoretical travel). The clear-path rule should be adopted to some degree at the college level because it’s ridiculous to reward a desperation play like Cooney’s. Moving forward, I’m a little concerned that Syracuse’s regression may come at the wrong time (see the 2010 team for another example). That’s not to say it will, just that I hope people aren’t just paying lip service to the Orange because they’re undefeated. This is a really good team, maybe the best Jim Boeheim has ever coached.
  2. Raleigh News & Observer: In moral-boosting NC State stories, good stuff from Joe Giglio on David Thompson (in honor of the 1974 national championship team). Thompson probably tops the list of players I’d like to get a time machine to both go back to see them play and bring back to see them play in today’s game (runner up is probably Wilt Chamberlain). Thompson is one of those athletes (Bo Jackson is the paradigm) who’s reached an almost mythical status where I’d believe nearly any fabled athletic feat (at least related to leaping ability in Thompson’s case) someone told me.
  3. Winston-Salem Journal: With Wake Forest continuing its quest to play on the first Wednesday in ACC Tournament history Dan Collins has seen enough of the Jeff Bzdelik era. Had Bzdelik arrived a couple of years later, he might have been able to usurp Les Robinson’s honorary nickname of shame for the conference tournament’s opening day, but I’d be surprised if Wake Forest keeps Bzdelik after this season. Bzdelik’s players may have too, as they’re still talking the talk, but the losses appear to be weighing them down as a group.
  4. Tallahassee Democrat: Florida State kept its NCAA hopes alive by winning at Wake Forest. But there’s still a lot of work left to do, and the team knows it. I think Florida State is in if it wins four of its last five games. Two are gimmes (home against Georgia Tech and at Boston College). But there’s a surging North Carolina team and a trip to increasingly desperate Pittsburgh, not to mention undefeated Syracuse all on the horizon.
  5. BC Heights: Legendary Boston College basketball SID Dick Kelley died last week from ALS. Austin Tedesco–sports editor of the student newspaper–penned a few stories about how Kelley continued to mentor him, even into the later stages of his illness. Anytime you hang around Conte Forum long enough you start hearing stories like these. as Kelley’s manner was just infectious. As a side note, Kelley was the first SID to credential this website as a legitimate entity. He will be missed.
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ACC Greats Honored By NCAA

Posted by mpatton on December 12th, 2012

In honor of the 75th anniversary of March Madness, the NCAA released a list of the top 75 players, top 35 moments and top 25 teams from college basketball yore. Like most lists, there was some historical bias. Twenty players made the list from the 1980s, a full eight guys more than the next closest decade. The 2000s were also underrepresented with only seven players making the cut (including Shelvin Mack?) — which was less than any other complete decade besides the 1940s. There were some snubs and some who probably shouldn’t have made the cut, but the list is a good place to start.

Duke and North Carolina shine as NCAA honors past greats.

Duke and North Carolina shine as NCAA honors past greats.

The ACC representatives include six players from Duke, six from North Carolina (coincidence?), one from NC State, one from Virginia, one from Georgia Tech and one from Maryland. Future ACC members Syracuse (one), Notre Dame (one) and Louisville (two) also would expand the ACC haul. Duke’s selections, headlined by three members of the back-to-back national championship teams in 1991-92, spanned a decade (1984-94) except for Shane Battier. North Carolina’s representatives saw a much broader span, kicking off with Lennie Rosenbluth in 1957 and finishing up with Sean May and Tyler Hansbrough in 2005 and 2009, respectively. NC State’s David Thompson – arguably the best player in ACC history — headlined the honorees from other schools. Speaking of Thompson, his Wolfpack championship team of 1974 and Duke’s repeat championship teams were the only two teams outside of Chapel Hill to make the team list (whose only championship team to miss the cut was 2004-05). Since the list is honoring March Madness, it’s hard to get too upset about leaving off teams like Duke’s runner-up in 1998-99 or UNLV’s runner-up 1990-91 squad, but the list feels a little weak since it’s mostly populated by teams that won the national title as the undisputed best team.

We’ll have more on snubs and a ranking of the conference selections after the list has time to marinate a little bit.

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ACC M5: 11.30.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on November 30th, 2012

  1. CBS Sports: So this Mason Plumlee kid looks pretty good, huh? Duke‘s middlest Plumlee has come into his own this season with a series of dominating performances that have him looking better than ever. Plumlee has been good  for most of his college career, but it looks like he has turned the corner from good to great this season. Right now, he arguably looks like the best player in the country on an excellent team that has already won more big games in November than most teams will win all year. Duke looks scary good right now, and a lot of that starts with this Plumlee.
  2. Boston Globe: Speaking of turning a corner, it looks like Boston College may be ready to turn one of its own. After a series of losses to start the season, the Eagles beat Penn State as part of the ACC/Big Ten challenge, led by freshman Olivier Hanlan’s 22 points (powered by a remarkable 19 free throw attempts). So, how did this Canadian kid end up at Boston College? It seems that it’s the payoff of head coach Steve Donahue’s surprising recruiting range (he’s as likely to draw players from California and Canada as conventional ACC territory) and Hanlan and his family’s own persistence.
  3. Washington Post: It looks like Virginia guard Malcolm Brogdon will be out for the rest of the season. Tony Bennett has stated that the plan is for Brogdon to redshirt this year while he recovers from a broken bone in his foot that has not been healing as well as had been previously hoped. The pressure for Brogdon to return has been somewhat ameliorated by the return of senior Jontel Evans who had been dealing with his own injury. Evans played in Virginia’s last game against Wisconsin, coming off the bench to play a quiet 16 minutes.
  4. Daily Press: Virginia also figures to see some big changes in scheduling due to the departure of Maryland and the arrival of Louisville to the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Terrapins have met the Cavaliers on the hardwood twice every year for the past 71 years, a staggering history. Though the rivalry between the two schools isn’t as sexy as some other conference rivalries, it seems a shame to bid adieu to so much history. In John Swofford’s conference call about the addition of Louisville, the commissioner stated that the Cardinals would be basically follow Maryland’s old scheduling spot, which means that Louisville is going to be, at least on paper, Virginia’s official conference rival. It’s an understandable move, but one that seems a little silly considering the fact that the Cardinals might be a more natural rival for Virginia Tech, a school that used to share a conference (Metro) with Louisville.
  5. Raleigh News & Observer: It’s not even really a debate: David Thompson is the best basketball player in the history of the ACC. Now, fans have a chance to buy some of his stuff. Like many of his similarly aged compatriots, Thompson is selling some of the mementos from his great career in basketball. One of these items happens to be his championship ring from North Carolina State‘s 1973-74 national title. Bidding ends Saturday if you happen to have at least $16,000 or so in cash that you want to plop down for a legendary piece of Wolfpack basketball history.
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ACC M5: 10.24.12 Edition

Posted by EMann on October 24th, 2012

  1. USA Today:  Miami Heat forward and former Duke star Shane Battier, recently offered some very high praise for his teammate, LeBron James. Battier said, “LeBron could have played at Duke, and I don’t say that about a lot of guys.” What Battier means is that few NBA players, particularly those of James’ caliber, would have been mentally tough enough to play for Coach K. Even though LeBron would likely have played at Ohio State if the one-and-done rule had been in effect when he was entering the professional ranks, it certainly can’t hurt Duke that one of its all-time greats is considering the game’s best player an honorary Blue Devil.  Additionally, James and Krzyzewski have enjoyed a great relationship during Coach K’s seven-year stint as the head coach of Team USA.
  2. Washington Post:  Despite Virginia Tech only having eight scholarship players this season, first year-head coach James Johnson is still intent on running an up-tempo offense. This would be a massive change from the Seth Greenberg era, when Virginia Tech regularly played one of the slowest paces in the ACC (aside from Tony Bennett’s glacial Virginia squads). During the team’s opening scrimmage, a larger percentage of the offense came in transition than from half-court sets. While it may be difficult for Virginia Tech to have success with this style in this season, Johnson wants to make this a long-term staple of his system. With some success this year, this could become a great recruiting tool up in Blacksburg.
  3. ESPN:  From the world of the bizarre: While on their overseas trip to Paris this offseason, most of Virginia’s basketball team managed to get trapped in a hotel elevator. In something that seems ripped from a bad movie or a claustrophobic person’s worst nightmare, head coach Tony Bennett narrates a video that describes this ordeal. It appears as though the players didn’t realize that the elevator capacity needed to be taken seriously, while also failing to adjust for the fact that basketball players are generally quite a bit larger than the average human. At the very least, it should have been a bonding experience for the team.
  4. Raleigh N&O:  The saga involving Tyler Hansbrough’s mother, Tami, continues. The university’s audit of Hansbrough (the former gifts officer) and her boyfriend and former boss, Matt Kupec, who was the head of UNC’s fundraising department before his resignation, has been completed. North Carolina determined that Kupec misspent $17,000 on a total of 13 trips under investigation, with much of it used on trips that he took with Hansbrough. Some of these trips were to go see the Tyler’s younger brother, Ben, play at Notre Dame, and several involved the use of UNC Medical Air planes. Kupec could potentially face criminal charges for his misconduct, and this scandal was just one of many likely responsible for UNC chancellor Holden Thorp’s recent resignation.
  5. Sports Illustrated: SI ran an interesting piece about the most influential college basketball teams of all-time.  Following the usual suspects (Texas Western in 1966, and the 1979 Michigan State and Indiana State teams led by Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, respectively), only one ACC team made the cut:  the 1974 NC State national champions. This team, led by David Thompson — the player who introduced otherworldly athleticism to college basketball — Tommy Burleson, and Monte Towe, broke UCLA’s streak at the time of seven straight national titles. NC State hopes to rekindle some of its past glory with this year’s squad.  Even if they can make a run, they will obviously not hold a candle to the unbelievable team that brought the Wolfpack its first national title.
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ACC M5: 10.08.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on October 8th, 2012

  1. Baltimore Sun: In the wake of the Harrison twins choosing Kentucky over Maryland, Don Markus caught up with Lefty Driesell to talk recruiting. Driesell recounts stealing Tom McMillen from Dean Smith and losing Moses Malone to the ABA because of a promise with God and a million dollars. Here’s to hoping a writer eventually sits down with Driesell and some other prominent former coaches (Jerry Tarkanian anyone?) and takes the time to write a book with all of the recruiting legends.
  2. Shelby StarDavid Thompson was elected to the first class of the NC State University Sports Hall of Fame. This is a terrific profile of the Wolfpack great, who is on the short list of best college basketball players ever. Local high school coach Larry Sipe said, “The ACC hadn’t seen a player of his caliber before [...] I was in grad school at Chapel Hill when he was a freshman at N.C. State. In those days, the freshman games the night before would be a sellout.”
  3. Raleigh News & Observer: The newest piece of the puzzle in the North Carolina academic scandal fell last week when Dan Kane and company discovered a course called Naval Weapons Systems, which was comprised by nearly 80% athletes. The class had no quizzes, tests, or major papers. The newspaper discovered the athletic support staff was recommending the course to athletes. It’s certainly not news that universities push student-athletes to take less demanding classes, but it’s interesting that the relative enrollment of athletes spiked the one year the class had the loosest requirements.
  4. Florida Times-Union: Florida State owns the title of defending ACC champion for the first time since it joined the conference in 1991. This year the Seminoles shouldn’t surprise anyone. Or, as Michael Snaer said, “They’re going to play us hard because they know we’re going to bring it, the hard-nosed basketball. People will be looking to beat us.” The only question is whether the Seminoles will be able to overcome losing the likes of Deividas Dulkys, Luke Loucks and Bernard James.
  5. Charlotte Observer: Tallahassee isn’t the only place where heightened expectations can be found. Duke, North Carolina and NC State have never all been ranked in the top 15 of the AP poll going into the season. This year, the Wolfpack will join their Tobacco Road brethren amongst the best teams in the country for the first time since all three teams went to the Sweet Sixteen in 2005.

Video of the Day: Maryland Trains with Navy Seals

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ACC Weekly Five: 07.02.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on July 2nd, 2012

  1. ESPN: Rodney Hood, the impressive freshman guard from Mississippi State, has made his decision. Hood is going to be a Blue Devil, helping to ensure that the reliably-loaded Duke backcourt remains one of the conference’s best for years to come. As a transfer, Hood will sit out the coming year, but he will have three years of eligibility after that. It’s a great pick up and the latest salvo that shows that Duke will continue to be a potential destination for discontented guards across the country (cf. Seth Curry).
  2. News & Observer: North Carolina State has named its first Hall of Fame class. While the  Hall is designed to honor collegiate athletes and coaches from many different programs at NC State, basketball is certainly given its due in this inaugural class. Legendary coaches Everett Case and Jim Valvano are to be honored along with the greatest ACC basketball player of all time, David Thompson. NC State’s women’s basketball program will also have two inductees, longtime coach Kay Yow and the program’s all-time leader in points and rebounds, Genia Beasley. It’s a good start to enshrining the traditions of one of the most storied basketball programs in college basketball.
  3. CBS Sports: The Virginia Cavaliers struck decisively to win a recruiting battle early. Devon Hall, a four-star point guard in the 2014 high school class, has not only committed to Virginia but he has also reclassified to the class of 2013. The Cavaliers could certainly use some help at this position and Hall looks like the kind of player who could potentially contribute as soon as he sets foot on campus.
  4. Charlotte Observer: Former ACC players did well in the NBA draft last Thursday, with eight players selected across the two rounds. North Carolina had four first round picks led by Harrison Barnes, while Duke’s Austin Rivers and Miles Plumlee were also selected in the first round. One of the finest moments in the draft came with the rousing applause and standing ovation when Florida State’s Bernard James was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers (though a trade with Dallas actually will see James with the Mavericks in exchange for Tyler Zeller going to Cleveland). Meanwhile, Mike Scott’s selection by the Atlanta Hawks may go down as one of the savviest value picks of the draft. Of the notable ACC players who went undrafted, the conference’s leading scorer, Terrell Stoglin from Maryland, didn’t hear his name called on Thursday night. Stoglin had a number of pre-draft workouts with NBA teams and it seems likely he will get invited to one or more training camps, though that likely doesn’t lessen the sting.
  5. News & Observer: Lorenzo Brown‘s knee surgery apparently went well. His medical team repaired a partially torn right meniscus and Brown is only expected to miss between two to four weeks, though head coach Mark Gottfried stressed that they are in no hurry to get Brown back on the court before he has had a chance to fully heal. Considering how scary the phrase “knee surgery” can be in college basketball, this is nothing but good news for Brown and North Carolina State.
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ACC Mount Rushmore

Posted by KCarpenter on February 20th, 2012

The men whose visages grace the face of the Mount Rushmore of the Atlantic Coast Conference were chosen based on a simple set of criteria. The faces of those who grace the mountain must belong to truly legendary individuals; men who changed the game, left a lasting legacy, or otherwise accomplished feats of greatness that remain unmatched or unequaled. The ACC is fortunate to have such a rich history of legends that there is an embarrassment of riches, and it’s difficult to choose only four. Ultimately, the four that were picked were the ones whose accomplishments stand out  not just as spectacular in the conference, but in the entire sport.

  • Mike Krzyzewski – Simply put, he’s the most successful men’s basketball coach alive today. He has more wins than any coach in history, four national titles, and built Duke into a perennial national power. He has the most (77) NCAA tournament wins of any coach ever and has the second most Final Four appearances ever. In the history of all of college basketball, only John Wooden and maybe Adolph Rupp can point to coaching accomplishments that come close to what Coach K has achieved. Krzyzeski is a coaching icon whose adaptability and disciplined approach makes Duke a threat to win the national championship any given year.  The continued success of Krzyzewski and Duke are a credit to the ACC, and the high profile of the sport’s most famous active coach has helped to keep the national attention on the conference.
  • Dean Smith –  When Dean Smith retired, he had set the all-time record for wins in men’s college basketball at 879, had won two national championships, been to 11 Final Fours (second to John Wooden, tied with Krzyzewski), and won a record 65 NCAA tournament games (he now ranks second, having been surpassed by Krzyzewski).  While Frank McGuire won the ACC and North Carolina’s first national title in 1957, Smith is the man who built North Carolina into a regular championship contender. Over the course of 36 years, Smith built the Tar Heel program into a national heavyweight and helped turn the conference into a serious threat to take the national title any given year. Smith won the ACC Coach of the Year award eight times, a record that still stands. As a coach, he was a pioneer of advanced statistical analysis and his use of “points per possession” came literally decades before tempo-free statistics were a part of the national conversation. Similarly, his book, “Multiple Offenses and Defenses,” is the best-selling basketball strategy book of all time. While Smith’s quantitative accomplishments and coaching record may be surpassed, his outlook and philosophy have left a much deeper mark on North Carolina, the conference, and the game itself. Read the rest of this entry »
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ACC Morning Five: 02.06.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 6th, 2012

  1. Blogger So Dear: Here’s part two of the long-winded chat on the state of Wake Forest basketball. The overwhelming opinion appears to be cautious optimism thanks to a deep incoming recruiting class. It’s interesting from an outside perspective to see (intelligent) fans react a school coming off one of its worst years in history. I agree with the consensus: Jeff Bzdelik was a bad hire; he appears to be on a decent track (though some signs are definitely negative); and he deserves one more season before making a final judgment. I definitely think coaches should get a couple of recruiting classes under them to establish their system and a foundation. Bzdelik’s first two years have been awful, but he’s also dealt with a lot of off-the-court issues.
  2. Washington Times: As I mentioned in Friday’s link about officiating, Mark Turgeon was ejected from Maryland’s game last week at Miami. He jokingly blamed his ejection on not picking up on his mentor Roy Williams’ “dadgum” vocabulary. But the important part of the game came after Turgeon’s ejection, when his team battled back from being down double-digits to tie up the game and sending it to two overtimes before conceding. You don’t hear many coaches happy after a loss, but Turgeon sounds much happier with his team’s fight now than he did at the beginning of the year.
  3. ACC Sports Journal: You may not know this, but ACC basketball on Super Bowl Sunday is a tradition going back nearly 40 years, starting back in 1973 when NC State’s David Thompson emerged on the national scene on Super Bowl Sunday. He would go on to lead the Wolfpack to an undefeated season (though they were banned from postseason play because of NCAA violations) followed by a national championship in 1974. That’s not really the point of the article, which addresses all the traditions sacrificed by conference expansion (rivalries, balanced schedules, etc.), but it was an interesting tidbit.
  4. BC Interruption: Speaking of hurt rivalries, Brian Favat points out that pretty much every ACC team was hurt by the new scheduling rules except Boston College. Seriously, think about it. Everyone else loses a meaningful rival (even if some are more than a little forced), but the Eagles lose home-and-homes with Virginia Tech and Miami. They only played the Hokies and Hurricanes because of the ACC’s first raid of the Big East. Now, they’ll play a more regional and actual rival in Syracuse. Syracuse will certainly bring more fans and better basketball to Conte Forum, although it’s unclear how many net wins BC will earn out of the switch.
  5. Greensboro News-Record and Asheville Citizen-Times: Looking for a couple of local criticisms of ACC basketball? You’ve come to the right place. Both articles focus on the recent mediocrity of ACC basketball. I admit it’s mediocre. I also admit it’s just sad when Virginia Tech can’t sell out a game against Duke and Wake Forest can’t sell out its game against North Carolina. But I think there has been a lot more compelling basketball than people are giving the league credit for. Sure, it’s not necessarily been at the highest level, but it’s often very exciting (see the Florida schools’ upsets over Duke for two examples).

EXTRA: This will be the final mention of Duke‘s student section woes, but Jeff Kovacs (the Mullet Man) wrote an editorial for Duke Basketball Report on the current complaints about Cameron Crazies. It’s worth a read.

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ACC Morning Five: 01.27.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 27th, 2012

  1. Virginian-Pilot: Lefty Driesell wasn’t the only one annoyed by Maryland naming its court after Gary Williams. Apparently, some boosters also came forward to express their dismay and there are rumors “that somebody with very deep pockets might have influenced the decision.” Some of the complaints seemed focused on the Driesell being overlooked (and ultimately, I think that’s the reason for almost all of the complaints), but others focus on Williams’ abysmal graduation rate (barely 1/5 of his players graduated his last 15 years). In my opinion (regardless of deep pockets), Maryland made the right move naming the court after Williams.
  2. Charlotte Observer: Karl Hicks is the man behind the ACC scheduling. His job is to make sure the unbalanced schedules are as balanced as possible. Basically, he is supposed to tell the future and try to keep teams from getting front- or rear-loaded schedules. Currently, the extreme could be seen with NC State, who played cellar-dwellers until running into a buzz saw in Chapel Hill. Florida State had the opposite issue, as it played a nasty early conference schedule with only a home game against Duke and two games against Virginia looking like real challenges after a brutal early stretch.
  3. Grantland: First, for the record, there are some years I would agree with Shane Ryan that Duke’s game at Maryland was the most emotional of the season. In general, those years left with Greivis Vasquez. This year I think home against North Carolina will be Duke’s biggest emotional game though their game at Florida State will be another big one. This isn’t to understate Duke-Maryland as a rivalry (which happens most of the time), but it’s not turned up to eleven like in years past. The most valuable tidbit from the article is the YouTube video, which breaks down Andre Dawkins‘ defensive struggles.
  4. Virginia Tech Collegiate Times: The Hokie student newspaper checks in on the recent debate over Seth Greenberg‘s job stability with a piece looking at the major arguments for and against him. Unfortunately, the pro-Greenberg slant left off the most important stat: before Greenberg showed up, Virginia Tech had faced six out of seven losing seasons and won six games in two years in the Big East. Greenberg brought the program to a level its never been to. He also just landed a top-25 recruiting class last year that should prove its worth over the next few years. I understand it’s frustrating to perennially be on the bubble, but don’t let that wipe out past struggles.
  5. ESPN: The Worldwide Leader checks in on how to fix Duke‘s attendance issue point-by-point. I’m pretty sure this article is supposed to be ironic, but the suggestions aren’t very witty. To the first point (about conflicting with rush events), I’ll also point out that Wake Forest is not good this year. Is that an excuse for a top-10 team not filling its stands? No, but it’s a lot harder to get fraternities and sororities out for what’s expected to be a blowout. I’ll let you read the rest.

EXTRA: The legendary NC State player David “Skywalker” Thompson who led NC State to an undefeated season in 1973 and a national championship in 1974 is helping his community as a motivational speaker. College basketball robbed its fans of seeing his 48-inch vertical (five inches higher than Vince Carter) in all its majesty because of a dunk ban at the time. Thompson himself struggled with substance abuse during his professional career, robbing himself and the fans of what should have been one of the top careers ever. Thompson’s goal is to share his mistakes, so kids today don’t make the same ones.

“But he did make one dunk in his college career — a thunderous jam in his final regular-season home game that showed fans what they had been missing.

‘They gave me a technical (foul), and I got a standing ovation,’ he said, laughing. ‘You don’t usually have your coach (Norman Sloan) smiling and your fans cheering when you get a T.'”

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ACC Morning Five: 11.09.11 Edition

Posted by mpatton on November 9th, 2011

  1. Washington Post: Mike Scott will be very important for Virginia, and in more ways than filling up the stat sheets. Sure his double-figure scoring and double-figure rebounding should help a middling offense and horrendous offensive rebounding squad improve in those areas this season. But more importantly, he’ll draw defenders and allow Joe Harris to move back to small forward. That’s fairly significant, as Harris (a 6’6″ sophomore) was forced to play the power forward spot despite being the team’s most consistent outside shooter last year. Scott should also keep defenses honest in the paint, which should allow an already very good perimeter shooting team more openings. Basically, Mike Scott is the only reason it’s not laughable for the media to rank Tony Bennett’s squad fourth in the conference, as the WaPo observes.
  2. Charlotte Observer: A hallmark of Mike Krzyzewski-coached teams is gritty, overplaying man-to-man defense that’s especially effective in keeping opponents from getting open perimeter looks. However, a quick glance at Duke‘s backcourt (Seth Curry, Andre Dawkins and Austin Rivers) doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence. The questions proved legitimate in Duke’s preseason scrimmage, as D-II Bellarmine managed to knock down eight outside buckets. Duke doesn’t have much time though, as Belmont made over nine threes a game last season (at a 38% clip). Oh, and the Bruins won 30 games last year and bring back nearly all of their talent. Do I hear a non-conference upset special brewing in Cameron Indoor this Friday?
  3. Fayetteville Observer: Speaking of Duke generalizations, Bret Strelow breaks down the importance of big men for the Blue Devils’ upcoming season. And if you look at the roster, it makes sense. How many teams have two athletic 6’10” players and a 6’11” guy who gets buckets? Not many. But Duke’s current frontcourt has had limited success so far, even if Miles Plumlee, Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly all seem capable of breakout seasons. They’re also fighting against the stereotype that Duke big men struggle. Exhibition play tends to overrate frontcourts mightily (if you ask the above question about a D-II school, no matter what caliber, the answer will be an emphatic “no”), but the Plumlee brothers have looked especially good. To live up to its top-five potential Duke needs one of its forwards to have a star campaign.
  4. Charlotte Observer: Mark Gottfried didn’t hear a lot of compliments about his team when he first took the job. The trouble seems as much coach-related as talent-related, though — in a recent interview, Scott Wood “basically admits practice used to be ‘just throwing the ball out there and shooting it.’ Now practices have a lot more drills.” That’s the sort of culture Gottfried was facing when he moved to Raleigh. From player quotes such as these, it sounds like Gottfried has the team buying into his style; and if he wins there, players will keep buying it.
  5.  Richmond Times-Dispatch: Potential breakout candidate Erick Green may miss Virginia Tech‘s season opener against East Tennessee State with an “Achilles’ strain”. The Hokies have already lost JT Thompson to a season-ending injury, and definitely can’t afford to lose Green too. Green is expected to be the star, both on offense and defense, for Seth Greenberg’s team in its latest pursuit of an invitation to the Big Dance. Here’s to hoping the rash of preseason injuries doesn’t carry over into the regular season because it feels like there have been way more injuries than usual this year.

In honor of the opening of college basketball season, Sports Illustrated has a slideshow of college basketball previews going back as far as the early 1960s. The most interesting (with borderline-racist undertones) image is probably the 1967 cover calling for a 12-foot basket, but I’ll leave you with NC State legend David Thompson. Thompson led the 1972-73 Wolfpack to an undefeated season averaging nearly 25 points a game (ironically his least dominant statistical season).

NC State's David Thompson Led the Wolfpack to an Undefeated Season in 1973

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Laettner, Thompson and West Among 2010 Collegiate Basketball Hall Class

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 22nd, 2010

While this week’s CBE Classic will showcase some of the best players and top coaches in college basketball right now, the game paid tribute to a group of dignitaries whose contributions to the game over the last 70 years Sunday night.

Christian Laettner, David Thompson and Jerry West were among those inducted to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in Kansas City. Laettner, who is still asked about his famous jump shot to beat Kentucky in 1992, left his mark as the NCAA Tournament’s all-time leading scorer and the only player to start on four Final Four teams. During his induction speech, Laettner recalled his connection to the game and to Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski.  “I knew he was passionate about it and I wanted to be a part of it,” he said.  Another of Laettner’s March records is a 21-2 record in the Big Dance, a mark that he says may not fall due to the trend of players leaving early and the overall competition that the NCAA Tournament brings.  “There’s a good chance that it won’t happen because the kids want to get to the big money so fast. You never say never, though. After we repeated (in 1991-1992) everyone said ‘no one will ever repeat again,’ and Florida did it.”

Eighteen years after “The Shot,” Christian Laettner remains one of the most decorated players in NCAA Tournament lore.

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