ACC M5: 11.20.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on November 20th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. ACC Sports Journal: Great article here from ACC historian Barry Jacobs on Dean Smith. I had no idea Smith was a math major. He will be receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom today, joining John Wooden and Pat Summitt as the only two college basketball coaches to receive the honor. It’s hard to overstate Smith’s influence on the ACC even today–and it’s impossible to overstate his importance at North Carolina. Jacobs does a great job synthesizing anecdotes to paint a picture of the man who now battles neurocognitive disease, a truly tragic fate for someone who was known for his quick mind. Roy Williams and Bill Gutheridge will join Smith’s family to receive the award on his behalf.
  2. Winston-Salem Journal: Pretty cool article from longtime Wake Forest beat writer Dan Collins (who has covered the Demon Deacons for more than two decades) on the recent death of Wake Forest super fan Tup Strickland. Tup’s husband Hugh attended a totally ridiculous 339 straight Wake Forest games–home and away. The Stricklands weren’t alumni (though many of their children and grandchildren are), they just fell in love with the hometown school.
  3. AP (via USA Today): Maryland‘s appeal to get the ACC lawsuit thrown out was struck down by a North Carolina judge yesterday. The ACC is suing Maryland for the $52 million exit fee (the ACC sued the Terrapins first, so the suit would be filed in a favorable court). The decision doesn’t mean Maryland will have to pony up just yet. It only means the Terrapins do not get the right to an appeal in a higher state court (though the court can grant that right). After this lawsuit we get to deal with Maryland’s countersuit. Bottom line: don’t expect to see a $52 million check coming out of College Park anytime soon.
  4. Washington Post: Speaking of the Terrapins, Mark Turgeon is thinking of starting freshman Roddy Peters at point guard after a strong performance in their loss to Oregon State. The decision would relieve Dez Wells of primary ball-handling responsibilities, allowing him to play his natural position. But that means Turgeon has to bench someone. The obvious choice is the struggling Nick Faust, though that substitution hurts Maryland’s perimeter defense a lot. It’s also possible that the Terrapins play smaller with transfer Evan Smotrycz off the bench. Then again, depending on the opponent small-ball could be an option (essentially playing two under-sized stretch fours) because Shaquille Cleare hasn’t exactly been lighting up the scoreboard.
  5. The Sporting News: I’m not sure whom Mike DeCourcy is writing this to. I’m also not sure why he’s talking about RPI at this point in the season. The ACC is the strongest basketball conference when you look at the programs at its top (especially when you think about adding Louisville). No one came into this year thinking it would be the strongest conference top to bottom right now. Even after Louisville comes, I’m not sure the top-heavy ACC is destined to be a RPI powerhouse unless rebuilding programs can continue gaining traction. Don’t get me wrong, the ACC has been mostly disappointing (even at the top), but the optimism from media day is still warranted.
Share this story

ACC M5: 10.25.13 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on October 25th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Clemson Athletic Department: Big news last week out of Clemson, as the Board of Trustees approved a rebuild of Littlejohn Coliseum. If you haven’t been to Littlejohn, it’s quite an experience. Very few arenas in the ACC get as loud (Cameron Indoor, maybe) as Littlejohn when it’s packed with Tiger fans. For the 2015-16 season, Clemson will play off campus while the stadium is getting rebuilt. Clemson wants “the most-connected on-campus facility in the nation” for basketball operations. Here’s to hoping they keep the awesome acoustics. More on this as the additional details are released.
  2. Charlotte Observer: ACC historian Barry Jacobs takes a look at the now tired “conference image” comparisons that have dominated discussion of Big East teams joining the ACC this year. Jacobs hits the nail on the head when he says that the leagues were judged based on postseason play, where North Carolina and Duke contrasted with the physical Pittsburgh and Louisville. And for a while, I think there was a different style of officiating. However, the tough physical game has now spread into the ACC with its new coaches (while one of its least physical teams — Boston College – hails from the Big East). The fact is, coaching style rather than conference affiliation dictates physicality.
  3. Hampton Roads Daily Press: The NCAA released its graduation rates for the last six years, and the results were mostly very strong and especially good for the ACC. Looking at all sports, the ACC had six of the top 10 schools nationally (though five schools tied for 10th). That’s incredible. The worst ACC rates for basketball were Georgia Tech (40%), Syracuse (45%), and Pittsburgh (54%).
  4. USA Today: Eric Prisbell confirmed what many had suspected and hoped about Duke‘s team this year: The Blue Devils are going to play fast. “100 miles per hour for 40 minutes,” according to senior point guard Tyler Thornton, while Rodney Hood noted that, “We are trying to be one of the fastest teams in the country.” With Duke’s athletes this season, that team could be very close to unguardable with the new emphasis on preventing defensive hand-checks and forearm shivers.
  5. WRAL: North Carolina players are looking for Joel James to be a breakout star this season. He only started playing organized basketball during his sophomore year of high school, so it’s no wonder that he struggled with fundamentals and the pace of the game last season. But if his veteran teammates are to be believed, he’s going to play a much more important role this year. That would be huge news for North Carolina, as James has the potential to be a beast down low eventually. James’ development also explains Roy Williams claims that the Tar Heels won’t be playing small ball this year even if they do play two point guards.

EXTRA: Next month Dean Smith will be among those awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It goes without saying that that’s a huge honor.

Share this story

Morning Five: 08.09.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on August 9th, 2013

morning5

  1. After Jay Bilas’ crusade against the NCAA’s online store and its use of players names to sell memorabilia the NCAA announced yesterday that it would no longer sell merchandise affiliated with specific universities. To do so the NCAA will shut down the site temporarily while it scrubs any vestiges of its use of amateur athletes’ names for its own profit. Now the NCAA will supposedly only feature merchandise related to its championship events. We are assuming that this merchandise will be allowed to feature the logos or names of the teams competing for those championships or we suspect that those items will not sell either. Having said that we are glad to see that the NCAA is willing to adjust at least a little bit when its hypocrisy is pointed out.
  2. In a somewhat cryptic tweet John Calipari both welcomed Steve Alford to Twitter and alluded to the possibility of UCLA and Kentucky playing in the near future. Although UCLA has been down recently they remain the most decorated program in college basketball history. Despite their storied histories the two schools have only met ten times with the Wildcats holding a 6-4 edge . A match-up between the two schools would certainly draw the attention of college basketball fans particularly if Alford is able to keep California recruits in state and make the Bruins a competitive team.
  3. As numerous reports have documented the past few years have not been easy for Dean Smith as he is suffering from what appears to be dementia. This has been particularly troubling for those who know him as more than just a legendary college basketball coach, but also a civil rights advocate. So yesterday’s announcement that President Obama would be honoring Smith along with 15 others with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is “presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” The date of the ceremony has not been announced yet, but we imagine it will be a star-studded event particularly with two of the other inductees being Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey.
  4. With football just around the corner we have been anxiously waiting for the release of college basketball schedules and for the most part we have just been receiving bits and pieces of schedules from various teams that mostly revolve around a few non-conference games that are part of previously arranged events. So the Big 12’s release of this year’s conference schedule is the first real significant release we have seen. We may eventually do a post on this, but really the entire schedule comes down to two dates: January 18 and March 1. Those two dates are when Kansas and Oklahoma State play each other. Everybody in the conference office and ESPN might pretend that is not true, but realistically those are the only two games that matter. A few other teams like Kansas State and Baylor might be intriguing, but we need to see those teams prove something before we can trust them (especially Baylor).
  5. We have expressed our issues with how liberally the NCAA hands out transfer waivers, but in the case of Mike Poole we have no objection to his waiver being approved. Poole, a senior guard who averaged 4.4 points and 3 rebounds per game last season, transferred from Rutgers to Iona this off-season and was granted a legislative relief waiver so he will be eligible to play immediately. Given the video evidence demonstrating Mike Rice’s abuse towards his players the NCAA did not really have any option, but to grant Poole a waiver. It will be interesting to see how a change of scenery will affect Poole who had a higher scoring average (6.5 points per game) as a sophomore. The announcement should only further strengthen the Gaels’ position as the MAAC favorite going into the season.
Share this story

ACC M5: 03.26.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 26th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Raleigh News & Observer: Solid remembrance of Dean Smith here. The thing that’s so sad about Smith’s mental deterioration over the past few years is just how smart he was. He reportedly had an almost photographic memory (the same sort of memory successful politicians call upon to remember the countless people they meet); he was first and foremost an innovator (touching everything from “four corners” to tempo-free stats — though if you run four corners often, it makes sense you’d look past per game statistics); and he apparently was an avid reader of philosophy. While John Drescher’s piece was about Smith, he sets it up in contrast with Jeff Bzdelik’s recent quote: “I don’t read the newspapers or the Internet, and that’s the truth.” 
  2. SBNation: One thing that stands out about North Carolina is the “family” concept. You hear that word thrown around a lot in sports just because of the massive amount of time players spend together. But there is a closeness to North Carolina’s graduates that you don’t see at a lot of other places. Maybe it’s just the fact many of them are good enough to continue playing professionally, but listening to Kendall Marshall talk about it, there’s definitely a special bond there. Interestingly, the other school where I hear “family” thrown around frequently is Kansas (whose unofficial team motto, which is inked in the middle of Travis Releford’s chest, was Family Over Everything a couple of years ago).
  3. FSUnews.com: Michael Snaer is a living legend at Florida State. This is a tremendous article on his tough senior season. It was a season that really signifies how dedicated to the Florida State program Snaer was. Sure the Seminoles didn’t get to cut down the nets again this year, but he pushed a group of very young players to get better. In the process, Snaer probably learned more about his leadership than all three previous seasons combined. He was the go-to guy and backcourt defensive stopper his junior year, but that team didn’t need him to carry it — it wasn’t riddled by injury or loaded with youth. This year was his test. We won’t know until we see the next few years unfold, but it looks like Snaer has made a significant culture change within the Seminole program. That should mean something going forward.
  4. ACC Sports Journal: Barry Jacobs does a great job recounting NC State‘s “missed opportunity” this season. The Wolfpack went from preseason ACC champions to right where they finished last season. Part of this was due to oversight from the media, who expected the Wolfpack to pick up right where they left off last season. But anyone who watched NC State against Duke (at home) or the woodshed beating of Virginia in the ACC Tournament had to wonder: “What if this team played with that kind of intensity every night?” More representative were the incredible highs and lows throughout games (see the Wolfpack almost beating the brakes off North Carolina before letting the Tar Heels come back, or falling behind 18 to Temple before cutting the deficit to a single possession in the last few minutes). The consistency was never there this season.
  5. Blogger So Dear: This ode to Florida Gulf Coast was only missing the acknowledgement of why the Eagles’ run resonates so strongly with Wake Forest fans (or at least my theory). It’s not because Demon Deacon fans dream of being that Cinderella team (though they may). It’s because the loose basketball opined for reaches back to the run-and-gun Wake Forest days under Skip Prosser. Don’t let that take away from Prosser’s ability to coach: he was an offensive genius. But his system had similar space for improvisation. And it was fun to watch.

Reasons to pull for Miami:

  1. Julian Gamble only photobombs after wins.
  2. More Jim Larranaga dancing?
Julian Gamble photobombs Shane Larkin's interview. (gif: The Big Lead)

Julian Gamble photobombs Shane Larkin’s interview. (gif: The Big Lead)

larranaga-dance

Jim Larranaga goes straight from a boxing impression into a jig. (gif: College Basketball Talk)

Share this story

ACC M5: 02.26.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 26th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Blogger So Dear: John Mundy is back at the keyboard, so his story is back on top of the Morning Five. This time he (and a photographer) visited two of the great arenas of ACC lore, Carmichael Auditorium (the current home to North Carolina’s women’s team) and Cameron Indoor. He went to see the Wake Forest women compete, but his real purpose was to soak up the ambiance of the two venerable old gyms. Interestingly, he came away with two very different reactions: At Carmichael, he found a reflection of North Carolina, but “at no point in my trip to Duke did I think one second about Duke University,” Mundy recalled. He only thought about basketball.
  2. Fayetteville Observer: Speaking of Duke, the Blue Devils have a tough week ahead of them with games at Virginia and against Miami over the stretch of three days. It will be a good test for both the ACC and NCAA Tournaments, where talented opponents will be waiting around every corner. Duke’s ACC schedule was backloaded (both in talent and frequency), as it took the Blue Devils 34 days to play the first half of ACC play and will take only 28 for the last half.
  3. Charlottesville Daily Progress: For at least the second straight year, an important ACC freshman has gone down with mononucleosis. Mike Tobey will be back for Virginia after missing five games with the long, strength-sapping illness, which is much less time than Patrick Heckmann missed for Boston College last season. That bodes well for Tobey, who may be able to avoid losing the amount of ground Heckmann did (when he came back, he was a shadow of his former self). Tobey came back for Virginia’s beat-down of Georgia Tech, which should be a warm-up for Duke later this week.
  4. Spartanburg Herald-Journal: Freshman Jordan Roper has been seeing his role grow in importance since day one at Clemson. The South Carolina native has played more than 30 minutes in the Tigers’ last four games. He’s scored in double figures in three of those four games, including a career high 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting against Miami. Roper is a good shooter, a rarity on this year’s Clemson team, but he needs to work on facilitating more when he’s in the game.
  5. ESPN: Dean Smith is the godfather of tempo-free statistics. He started charting points per possession way before it was cool. Tempo-free stats still haven’t taken off like advanced baseball statistics (which are terrific predictors), but they’re picking up force. More and more you hear announcers talk about “efficiency” or “effective field goal percentage”. Myron Medcalf talked to Jim Larranaga, who quoted Sun Tzu to emphasize the importance of stats (Miami charts points per possession on a special scoreboard during its practices).
Share this story

ACC M5: 11.19.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on November 19th, 2012

  1. Raleigh News & Observer: After several months of beating his drum, Dan Kane finally found a whistleblower from the North Carolina athletic support staff. Mary Willingham is the first named source to come out and directly say that plagiarism was tolerated by the tutors and professors in many no-show classes at UNC. A witness has been the missing piece to this story, and Willingham’s criticism is damning to say the least. She alleges special treatment for revenue sport athletes, both in terms of admissions and questionable classes. Willingham’s comments will take some further dissection but do not look good for the school at first reading.
  2. ESPN: The biggest news over the weekend was the bombshell dropped out of College Park when sources within the athletic department told ESPN that Maryland is far enough along in negotiations to join the Big Ten (along with Rutgers) and that an official announcement could come as soon as later today. This makes the ACC’s recent addition of Notre Dame even more important, though it could also spark additional expansion moves (does Connecticut become an ACC target?). By switching leagues, Maryland would likely see a significant boost in television profits in the long run, but the recently increased $50 million dollar ACC buyout could cripple an athletic department already in the red in the short term.
  3. Washington Post (pro and con): Two Maryland legends spoke out for and against the Terps’ potential move to the Big Ten. Gary Williams is all for the move despite supporting the ACC throughout all the expansion rumors. It should be noted that Williams serves as assistant to the athletic director, so it may color his opinion a little (though Williams was never scared to speak his mind before this). He cited the increased television revenue and hinted at a lack of respect from the ACC (noting the conference tournament was only hosted in Washington, DC, once in his 22 years). Len Elmore on the other hand fought for tradition: “Anything that’s driven solely by dollars, it’ll turn out badly.” Elmore took some shots at Maryland’s president and athletic director for not having Maryland pride. Expect more from us here at the ACC microsite on the potential move today.
  4. Wilmington Star News: NC State’s Debbie Yow earned herself an extension with increased supplemental compensation. Yow’s new deal runs through June 2017 and is a direct result of a successful coaching search (in hindsight at least) and the steady improvement that the Wolfpack’s athletic teams have seen under her tenure –most prominently, on the basketball court. Yow will continue making $354,000 a year with an extra $150,000 in supplemental earnings and an enhanced bonus structure going forward.
  5. Hampton Roads Daily Press: David Teel sat down with John Swofford to talk all things ACC. The majority of the interview is covered in his excellent profile, which ran Sunday. But the extras are also worth reading, especially Swofford’s optimism on merging the Notre Dame and ACC football deals in the near future. He also talked briefly about working above Dean Smith at North Carolina and the ongoing scandal in Chapel Hill.
Share this story

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 »
Share this story

RTC’s Mount Rushmore – Top Four (And More) Most Significant People in College Basketball History

Posted by EJacoby on February 20th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. 

As we celebrate President’s Day on this Monday, it’s a good time to reflect back on the significant accomplishments of George Washington and the other great leaders of our country’s 236-year history. That got us to thinking: Who are the most significant people in the history of college basketball? The game is not quite as old as the United States of America, but there are many options to choose from in a sport that’s over 100 years old, from prodigious coaches to superstar players. In the end, we determined that no single player, in a maximum of four years of eligibility, has had as much impact on the sport as any of the four coaching legends that we selected. Head coaches are responsible for shaping the lives of hundreds of players during their tenure and thus have a greater opportunity to impact the game than anyone else. Here’s a look at the accomplishments of four of the all-time great coaches in college basketball history that compose our RTC Mount Rushmore (these are in no particular order):

Mike Krzyzewski – You may not be able to spell or pronounce his full last name, but ‘Coach K’ is one of the first names that comes to mind when discussing the greatest coaches in basketball history. Krzyzewski became the all-time winningest Division I men’s basketball coach when he recorded his 903rd victory to surpass his former coach at Army, Bobby Knight, earlier this season. Coach K has been at Duke since 1980 and has led the Blue Devils to four National Championships, 11 Final Fours, and 12 ACC regular season titles. He also coached the USA Olympic ‘Redeem Team’ in 2008 to a gold medal. Mike Krzyzewski was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001, still remains the head coach of one of the top contenders in the country every year, and doesn’t appear to be calling it quits anytime soon.

Adolph Rupp - A man known for his obsession with winning, Adolph Rupp is perhaps the single most successful head coach in NCAA history, statistically speaking. Rupp is fifth on the all-time men’s coaching wins list (876 victories), and he did it with the second-best winning percentage of all time, at 82.2%. Rupp spent his entire 41-year coaching career at Kentucky, where he guided the Wildcats to six Final Fours and four National Championships. His tournament records could have been even more impressive if it wasn’t for his team’s two-year hiatus from the postseason in the 1952-53 and 1953-54 seasons. Rupp also led UK to 27 SEC regular season titles in 41 years and was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame while still coaching in 1969. Shortly after he retired, Big Blue Nation named their home court after him, and Rupp Arena remains one of the historic landmarks in college basketball today.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Morning Five: 02.09.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on February 9th, 2012

  1. Faced with the possibility of missing the NCAA Tournament in 2013 due to its abysmal APR scores Connecticut has offered the NCAA a proposal that would punish itself without having to miss the NCAA Tournament (assuming they are even invited, which is no sure thing this season). While the actual proposal is quite long (all 112 riveting pages are available here), it boils down to the school giving up its share of 2013 NCAA Tournament money, going to study hall instead of playing exhibition games, playing 23 regular season games plus one exempt tournament (max of 26 games total) instead of 27 regular season games plus one exempt tournament (max of 30 games total), and preventing Jim Calhoun from making off-campus visits during the fall recruiting period and making him take a NBA player who graduated from the school (insert your jokes here) to an inner city to talk about the importance of academics. With at least two lottery picks who have not announced whether they are returning for next season and a Hall of Fame coach who is currently on an indefinite medical leave of absence, the NCAA’s decision on this should have a significant effect on the Connecticut basketball program for years to come.
  2. With Memphis officially receiving an invitation to join the Big East in July 2013, Conference USA already has plans on how to move forward and they may make the biggest move in terms of the number of schools involved that we have seen so far. The conference board of directors will look at a proposal later this week about the possibility of merging with the Mountain West Conference. With both conferences facing several defections in the near future, Conference USA would only have eight schools for all sports and Mountain West would only have seven schools since one school (Hawaii) would only be there for football. A merger would create a 15-/16-team conference in the 2013-14 season. While neither conference has a particularly impressive group of schools, it would create an interesting mix of basketball schools with one national power (UNLV) and a handful of others that have been competitive in the past few years.
  3. While a small rivalry in North Carolina took most of the headlines last night, we would be remiss if we did not mention Jim Boeheim passing Dean Smith last night for third on the all-time men’s Division I wins list with his 880th win, which puts him just 22 wins behind Bob Knight for second place with Mike Krzyzewski holding a safe lead at 920 career victories and counting. While we have a hard time putting Boeheim in the conversation of top 5 coaches of all-time (the all-time victory list includes Boeheim, the three others we already mentioned, and Adolph Rupp), but as he builds up his win totals he is almost definitely in the top 10 and working his way up the list even if the top 5 is off-limits right now since we are holding an extra spot in the top 5 for some coach named Wooden.
  4. Even if you are not a fan of advanced metrics particularly defensive ones that can be quite cumbersome and are often of questionable validity, we would encourage you to check out Luke Winn’s analysis of Syracuse‘s defense and the impact Fab Melo has on it. It is much more technical than you will find on any other mainstream site, but Winn does a good job of explaining it at a fairly, but not overly simplistic level. While many people have had issues with some of the work that Winn has published in his weekly power rankings post (usually ignoring his disclaimers), the longer format allows him to more thoroughly explain the statistics. And if you needed any anecdotal evidence of Melo’s impact on defense, watch a replay of  Georgetown’s last possession of regulation last night.
  5. We are still struggling to understand the in-season firing of coaches in situations where the coach is not dealing with a major scandal, but it appears like the trend will not be stopping any time soon as Air Force became the fourth school this season to fire its head coach when it dismissed Jeff Reynolds yesterday afternoon. Reynolds, who was in his fifth season at the school, had a record of 63-82 including 11-10 this season. While the school did not cite a specific event that led to the dismissal they mentioned “the look in the player’s [sic] eyes” and along with other nebulous concepts as well as a break in the schedule to allow for the change. We still do not get how any of that leads to this decision, but for the rest of the season associate head coach Dave Pilipovich will fill in as the interim head coach.
Share this story

ATB: Border War non-RTC, Is It a Duke Loss If Nobody Noticed, and Melo Returns to Syracuse…

Posted by rtmsf on February 6th, 2012

This Weekend’s Lede. Forget the Super Bowl, it’s Rivalry Week across the college basketball nation… On Saturday, it was a Border War to remember, followed by a Sunday battle for bragging rights in Michigan, and we have a whole slew of great rivalry games coming up this week. From Florida-Kentucky to Duke-Carolina to Syracuse-Georgetown to even Gonzaga-St. Mary’s and Creighton-Wichita State, center stage is now ours. For the next 35 days until Selection Sunday, games will count a little more than they did before as teams position themselves for the postseason. And for that guy who says the college basketball regular season doesn’t matter? Remind him of three of the last five Super Bowl champions — one 9-7 team and two 10-6 teams won it all, while a 16-0 and a 15-1 team ended up ringless. This is why we play the games.

Your Watercooler Moment. The “Last” Border War in Columbia Goes to Missouri.

Marcus Denmon Motions At Students To Stay Put (credit: The Dagger/J. Eisenberg)

The storylines coming out of the “last” Border War game in Columbia, Missouri, on Saturday night were compelling — Game of the Year type of stuff. Even beyond the hyperbole about marauding Jayhawkers, divorced families and the finality of it all (we’ll wager the two schools are playing regularly again within five years), the game itself captured the essence of college basketball rivalry better than any other we’ve seen this year. Both Kansas and Missouri are outstanding teams, filled with playmakers on each side who are, depending on the day, equal parts dominant and confounding. For parts of the game, Kansas’ favorite whipping boy, Tyshawn Taylor, appeared the best player on the floor — driving the ball with confidence for a 21-point, highly efficient 9-15 shooting game; but it was his late-game mistakes that again cost his team when it mattered most. A turnover followed by two big misses at the foul line with KU down only one point leading to an admittedly questionable charge call, again punctuate his bugaboos (inconsistency and turnovers, especially in the clutch), issues that will haunt Jayhawk fans long after he’s gone. His counterpart on the Missouri side, Marcus Denmon, had backslid considerably from his scorching nonconference start (34.3% against Big 12 competition), but for the first time in his career against Bill Self’s team, he played a focused and effective game, going for 29/9 on 10-16 shooting and singlehandedly leading the Tigers back from the brink of a crushing home defeat. The senior guard dropped a one-man 9-0 run on the Jayhawks in the span of just over a minute, first with a layup and-one, then with back-to-back dagger treys, to erase KU’s eight-point lead with two minutes to go and put the Tigers in position to win the game with just under a minute left. KU’s Thomas Robinson (25/13) was once again the best player on the floor, but it was Denmon’s leadership and poise under pressure against the Jayhawks that made all the difference. His attitude at the end of the game says it all — he and fellow senior Kim English reportedly instructed the student section to stay in its seats rather than flooding the court in a massive RTC. With age comes wisdom, and his position is correct — elite teams only rush the court under very circumscribed conditions, and the Missouri seniors did not want their accomplishment sullied by giving Kansas the pleasure. At the end of the day, the Tigers still have a couple of major flaws that they have to mask (notably, interior size and a porous defense), but with playmakers like Denmon, English, Flip Pressey and a team that believes in itself, we expect that the dream season will continue in Columbia deep into March under first-year head coach Frank Haith.

Five More Weekend Storylines.

  • Fab Melo Returns, Boeheim Ties Dean Smith For Third in Wins. Sophomore Syracuse center probably doesn’t know who Dean Smith is, but maybe with his extra tutelage over the last two weeks, he found time to learn some college basketball history as well. On Saturday, though, he helped his coach Jim Boeheim make history with his 879th win as he contributed a career-high 14 points in his first game back from suspension and again anchored the patented SU 2-3 zone as the Orange destroyed St. John’s from start to finish at Madison Square Garden. Boeheim’s squad had struggled through a road loss to Notre Dame and two close wins at Cincinnati and West Virginia while Melo was out of the lineup, but if Saturday’s performance with him back is any indication, Syracuse may be looking at a one-loss regular season (and Boeheim could catch Bob Knight’s 902 wins as soon as next December).
Share this story

ACC Evening Five: 12.19.11 Edition

Posted by mpatton on December 19th, 2011

He’s not in the ACC anymore, but Frank Haith is making a name for himself at Missouri. He certainly walked into a roster loaded with talent, but the players are thriving under his system. Vahe Gregorian of StlToday.com has a terrific profile of Haith’s seamless transition to the Big 12 as well as a look back at his past. It’s worth a read.

  1. Tar Heel Fan Blog: John Feinstein has a new book, One on One, which hit the shelves in time to pick it up for the holidays. The book was originally supposed to be a biography of Dean Smith, but Smith’s declining health forced Feinstein to change topics. The book is a collection of anecdotes from his years covering sports. Tar Heel Fan Blog posted a great anecdote about Feinstein’s interview with the legendary North Carolina coach. “You should never be proud of doing the right thing,” [Smith] said. “You should just do it.”
  2. Raleigh News & Observer: Rodney Purvis is focusing on more than basketball. He is also trying to be a strong student despite his learning disability. Being an elite athlete is like a full-time job, but Purvis’ mother claims they spend just as much, if not more, time working on academics. In addition to raising his SAT scores, this preparation should prove invaluable for Purvis once he gets to NC State.
  3. Wilmington Star News: Speaking of Christmas gifts for ACC fans, Brett Friedlander suggests Bethany Bradsher’s The Classic: How Everett Case and His Tournament Brought Big-Time Basketball to the South, which “chronicles the 12-year history of the late, great Dixie Classic. It’s a well-written, painstakingly researched account of a time during which basketball became an obsession in North Carolina, and an event whose importance went far beyond the games on the court.”
  4. Roanoke Times: Virginia Tech has a lot of young talent like Erick Green and Dorian Finney-Smith, but if the Hokies are going to reach their potential, they need seniors like Dorenzo Hudson and Victor Davila to step up. Against Campbell, both of the seniors–at least temporarily–snapped their slumps. Both led the team with 15 points. That’s the kind of production Seth Greenberg needs (and truthfully, maybe even more from Hudson) going forward from his leaders.
  5. Aiken Standard: Four Clemson freshmen got major playing time in the Tigers’ win over Winthrop. KJ McDaniels, Bernard Sullivan, TJ Sapp, and Rod Hall all saw major playing time in the 20-point victory. Brad Brownell claimed the increased playing time was a combination of improvement and trying to get some more experience for the freshmen. The experience probably won’t pay off much this year, but next year Brownell will need the young guys to step into the shoes of Andre Young and Tanner Smith, the team’s top scorers so far this season.

EXTRA: Syracuse‘s game against NC State was a reminder of two things. One, the Orange are really good and deserving of that #1 ranking (though I personally think they’re the fourth-best team in the country). Two, it was a reminder of the Bernie Fine scandal and the shadows surrounding college athletics. But the team hasn’t let the alleged crimes distract it. Mark Gottfried was impressed enough to think the Orange could make it to Louisiana this year.

Share this story

Checking In On… the ACC

Posted by mpatton on December 6th, 2011

Matt Patton is the ACC correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter @rise_and_fire.

Reader’s Take

 

Top Storylines

  • Kentucky and North Carolina: College basketball’s “Game of the Century” lived up to the hype coming down to the last possession (even if it ended bizarrely) and was fun from start to finish (well, almost finish for Tar Heel fans). The game was a reminder that North Carolina can be the team people thought it would be coming into this season. The Tar Heels were aggressive, knocked down perimeter shots, and controlled a little over half of the game. Harrison Barnes was outplayed by Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, but Kendall Marshall was passable on defense [Author’s Note: That wasn’t meant to be a bad pun. He actually played solid defense on Teague most of the game.] and his usual self on offense (though I was very surprised he saw as much time guarding Marquis Teague as he did, considering Teague’s turnover woes). I’m not sure any college basketball fan would mind seeing a rematch this spring.
  • Terrell Stoglin Can Score: Unfortunately, his teammates are struggling to keep up their end. Only three BCS-conference teams (Penn State, Washington, and Utah) have players with higher usages, and none have players more likely to take a shot (shot percentage). Stoglin is the only player on the team averaging over 20 points a game with 22.4. His field goal percentage could be a little higher, but right now he’s the best scorer in the conference. For more on Stoglin, check out our post from yesterday on his scoring ability.
  • Sportsman of the Year: Mike Krzyzewski and Pat Summitt joined the prestigious ranks of Sports Illustrated‘s “Sportsman of the Year” winners and are only the third and fourth college basketball coaches to be chosen for the honor (Dean Smith and John Wooden are the other two). Both are worthy choices, as they both signify excellence over the course of 73 combined years of coaching.

Terrell Stoglin is Maryland's Offense.

Power Rankings

1) North Carolina (6-2) lost to the #1 team in the country on the road by one point. But it was the second straight game that the Tar Heels were unable to control the tempo. Is this a problem going forward, or is the defense good enough to win ugly?
Ken Pomeroy Fun Fact: The only player in Roy Williams’ rotation that is not averaging over a point per possession? James Michael McAdoo (fellow frosh PJ Hairston leads the team with a 129.0 offensive rating).

2) Duke (7-1) hasn’t played since last week. My guess is this means a lot of quality time watching film on Ohio State.
Ken Pomeroy Fun Fact: Duke has the third worst free throw defense in the country, as opponents are shooting a whopping 80.6% from the charity stripe against the Blue Devils this year.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story