Seven Sweet Scoops: Trey Lyles Trims List, Andrew Wiggins Sets Visits, and More…

Posted by CLykins on February 13th, 2013

7sweetscoops

Seven Sweet Scoops  is the newest and hottest column by Chad Lykins, the RTC recruiting analyst. He will discuss the seven top stories from the week in the wide world of recruiting, involving offers, which  prospect visited where, recent updates regarding school lists, and more chatter from the recruiting scene. You can also check out more of his work at RTC with his weekly column  “Who’s Got Next?”, as well as his work dedicated solely to Duke Basketball at  Duke Hoop Blog. You can also follow Chad at his Twitter account  @CLykinsBlog  for up-to-date breaking news from the high school and college hoops scene.

 Note:  ESPN Recruiting  used for all player rankings.

1. Trey Lyles Cuts List to Six

Arsenal Technical High School (Indiana) five-star power forward Trey Lyles has narrowed his list of schools down to six. Lyles, the No. 5 overall ranked prospect from the class of 2014, is down to Butler, Duke, Florida, Kentucky, Louisville and UCLA. “I’m just focused on those schools,” Lyles said in an interview with the Indianapolis Star“I like the style they play, they have rich legacies, have good coaches and I feel like I could be comfortable at any of them.” The 6’9″ Lyles, a former Indiana commitment, recently took a visit to Lexington this past weekend for the Wildcats’ SEC clash against Auburn. He was also on the Kentucky campus for their Big Blue Madness festivities in October. He has also taken trips to in-state Butler and Louisville and will plan to take official visits to Duke, Florida and UCLA at the conclusion of his junior season. He is currently averaging 22 points, 17 rebounds and seven assists for Arsenal Tech this season.

Top five junior Trey Lyles is down to Butler, Duke, Florida, Kenutcky, Louisville and UCLA

Top five junior Trey Lyles is down to Butler, Duke, Florida, Kentucky, Louisville and UCLA

2. Andrew Wiggins Sets Unconfirmed Visits

The nation’s No. 1 overall ranked player Andrew Wiggins is beginning to make progress with his recruitment. The 6’8″ small forward out of Huntington Prep (West Virginia) has only visited one school — Florida State — on his list of candidates. However, that will soon change. Also considering Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina, Wiggins has now set tentative dates with each of those three schools. Kentucky will receive Wiggins’ second official visit on February 27 as the Wildcats will host Mississippi State. He was scheduled to be in attendance for Kentucky’s Big Blue Madness festivities in October but had to cancel. He will follow that up with a visit to the Kansas campus on March 4 for the Jayhawks’ final home game of the season against Texas Tech. To close it out, Wiggins will then travel to Chapel Hill on March 9 for the Tar Heels’ ACC showdown against Duke. North Carolina head coach Roy Williams has feverishly pursued Wiggins in the last few months and has really gained steam in this recruitment, however, Florida State and Kentucky are still considered the top two to land the potential No. 1 NBA draft pick in 2014. While those specific dates could change as they have yet to be confirmed, Wiggins timetable is seemingly geared towards the spring signing period which falls from April 17 to May 15. Read the rest of this entry »

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Michael Snaer Hits A Buzzer Beater, Because Of Course He Does

Posted by KCarpenter on January 25th, 2013

Who will hit the buzzer-beaters in the ACC after Michael Snaer graduates this year? The conference’s most reliable provider of last second miracle shots did it again — a banked three as time expired gave the win to a Florida State team that trailed Clemson for most of the game. In a season where road wins have been hard to come by, it looked like the Tigers might just pull out the victory in Tallahassee. Powered by the forward tandem of K.J. McDaniels and Devin Booker, the pair combined for 30 points and 10 rebounds, offsetting the dreadful performance by the mercurial Milton Jennings (who managed to make only one of his seven attempts from the field and turned the ball over five times).

Yet two newcomers to the Seminoles’ team managed to put Florida State back in the game. Kiel Turpin, a 7’0″ center, didn’t score (or even attempt) any baskets or grab a single rebound in the first half. Leonard Hamilton, despite all this, saw it fit to play Turpin in the second half as well, and it was a good decision. Turpin scored a game high 16 points, all in the final 20 minutes of play. The big man had some help from the backcourt too, as freshman Devon Bookert, not to be confused with Clemson’s Devin Booker, was a non-factor in the first half (outside of a pair of made free throws). Yet, Bookert would close out the game by recording a perfect shooting night that netted the Seminoles 11 points in the most efficient manner possible.

Read the rest of this entry »

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ACC M5: 01.22.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 22nd, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Greenville News: Devin Booker had a career game at NC State over the weekend, but it wasn’t enough. While he was an outstanding 8-of-11 from the field, the rest of the team started 2-of-20. The team was slightly better in the second half, but the damage was done. Booker is for real, though. He dominated Florida State’s front line at Clemson, he dominated Richard Howell at NC State, and he dominated Mason Plumlee head-to-head at Duke. His consistency isn’t what it could be, and he doesn’t have the same range as his brother, Trevor, but he’s been the best post player in the ACC through the first few games.
  2. South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Speaking of post players who are really overachieving this season, Miami’s Julian Gamble has filled in for Reggie Johnson perfectly. Gamble, a sixth-year senior, isn’t the most skilled or athletic guy on the court, but he’s got a Richard Howell-like motor and knows some tricks of the trade. He shows flashes of brilliance in the post (see: his beautiful lefty baby hook against North Carolina), but most of what he does well isn’t pretty. In some ways, Miami may be better with him in the game than Johnson (who had a tendency to check out of some games), a thought that seemed absurd just a couple of short weeks ago.
  3. Washington Post: I’m going to go ahead and disagree with Roy Williams a lot. In Monday’s teleconference with ACC coaches, Williams said, “I do think, top to bottom, the league is probably the best in the 10 years I’ve been back. If you take somebody lightly in this league right now, you’re going to lose. I don’t care who you are or who you’re playing.” I’d direct him to his first season in the league (2003-04) when six of the conference’s nine teams made the NCAA Tournament with seeds of #1, #3, #3, #4, #4 and #6. Only one team was ranked below #56 in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings (Clemson at #97)–and three were in the top 10. But Williams does have a point: The league is full of mediocrity and road wins are going to be nearly impossible to come by this year.
  4. Streaking the Lawn: Speaking of road wins, Virginia is in some serious RPI trouble, as the Cavaliers currently sit at #139. No team has ever made the NCAA Tournament as an at-large with an RPI below #70. The biggest issues are home losses and a horrid strength of schedule. On paper, Virginia’s schedule was never full of world-beaters, but an untimely home loss to Delaware (which caused the Cavaliers to play Lamar and North Texas instead of a couple of stronger power-conference teams) and major under-performance (here’s looking at you Old Dominion) have sabotaged Virginia’s RPI to an alarming extent. It will come up, but the Cavaliers are going to need to steal some ACC road wins and avoid any home losses at all costs going forward.
  5. Orlando Sentinel: Well so much for the “Roy Williams can’t recruit anymore” narrative. It was always a reactionary storyline, but Williams put it to bed for the time-being with a commitment from consensus Class of 2014 top-15 prospect Joel Berry. Berry, one of the top point guards in that class, should quiet worried fans as well as help attract other top players to Chapel Hill going forward.
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Lessons Learned: ACC Weekend Wrap-Up

Posted by KCarpenter on January 21st, 2013

There were no big upsets in the ACC this weekend, but there were some big-time performances that are worth mentioning. The rest of college basketball offered some thrilling upsets and close finishes, but the Atlantic Coast Conference offered some sublime moments of its own in individual achievement and failure.

TJ Warren Blew Up Against Clemson Sunday

TJ Warren Blew Up Against Clemson Sunday

  1. T.J. Warren Is A Scoring Machine. Sure, Warren went 0-for-6 against Maryland, contributing exactly zero points in the close loss, but make no mistake, that game wasn’t typical. In the game against Clemson, the North Carolina State forward scored 21 points. Yes, he wasn’t technically the game’s high scorer thanks to Devin Booker’s 27-point gem, but Warren’s performance was more impressive. Warren’s 21 points came in a mere 25 minutes that featured the freshman shooting 9-of-11 from the field, hitting a three, and grabbing six rebounds to help his team. Warren’s offensive production borders on the freakish. Coming off the bench, Warren is averaging an offensive efficiency rating of 129.2, which is the 20th best mark in all of Division I basketball. Of course, because of Scott Wood’s sweet shooting, Warren isn’t even the deadliest offensive weapon on his own team, but he is certainly a force to be reckoned with.
  2. Assertive Reggie Bullock Is Terrifying. The only player in the conference with an offensive efficiency greater than Wood and Warren is North Carolina’s Reggie Bullock. Bullock has posted an offensive efficiency of 131.5, driven by incredible three-point shooting (47.7% on 88 attempts this season), low turnovers and strong offensive rebounding for his position. Bullock, also arguably the team’s best defensive player, unleashed his offensive fury on Saturday against Maryland, amassing 21 points in the first half alone and leading North Carolina to an early lead against the Terrapins. Bullock has struggled to assert this season, often vanishing from the team’s offense and deferring to others to the point of fault. On Saturday, Bullock demonstrated how his newfound aggresiveness could help the team: His shooting opened up space for James Michael McAdoo to operate and he drew extra defensive attention that made it easier for Dexter Strickland and Marcus Paige to handle the ball and make plays. This North Carolina team is still deeply flawed, but when Reggie Bullock takes the lead, the team is significantly better. Read the rest of this entry »
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ACC M5: 01.16.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 16th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. BC Interruption: Duke isn’t the only team dealing with an injured critical player. Because of Boston College’s struggles last year, it’s easy to overlook this team’s hardship. Dennis Clifford was the Eagles’ best player in Spain this summer. He hasn’t been 100% all year though. First it was his ankle. Now it’s his knee, and Steve Donahue doesn’t sound optimistic about the seven-footer. Clifford gives Boston College one of the more interesting frontcourts in the league when he’s healthy and allows Ryan Anderson to play the four. Here’s to hoping the Eagle’s big man can get totally healthy before next season.
  2. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia Tech has gotten over its roster turmoil, but the bench has been inconsistent of late. Assistant coaches Chad Dollar, Josh Postorino, and Billy Schmidt were all suspended for a game. Brian Gregory refused to comment on the matter, and the athletic department spokesman was just as vague. Smart money is on small NCAA infractions, though Postorino was arrested in early December for DUI and had to sit out five games.
  3. Greenville News: In Clemson’s win against Virginia, Milton Jennings showed glimpses of what made him a McDonalds’ All-American in high school. He put up 21 points on 13 shots with 11 rebounds to boot. Combined with Devin Booker, who has looked good all year, and the Tigers looked to be achieving their potential. Against Wake Forest Tuesday night, the Tigers still won (and by a significant margin), but Jennings disappeared again. He only took five shots. Even though the Tigers got by with KJ McDaniels stepping up, Clemson needs Booker and Jennings on their A-games this year.
  4. Charlotte Observer: Mike Krzyzewski did everything but use the phrase “freshman wall” when describing Rasheed Sulaimon‘s recent struggles. The freshman’s plight has been lost in the wake of Ryan Kelly’s injury, but Duke needs Sulaimon back to early season form on both ends of the court. The silver lining is that Sulaimon has stayed aggressive, and it feels like if he can just have a good game offensively, everything else will turn around. It’s too early for Sulaimon to be hitting the conditioning wall freshmen often get late in the season.
  5. Washington Post: Speaking of disciplinary issues, Mark Turgeon has also been dealing with “immaturity issues” amongst his players. Against Miami it was Shaquille Cleare who sat, but Turgeon made the issue sound more widespread. It’s still not clear where this Maryland team will wind up. The Terrapins dominated low and mid-majors during nonconference play–especially on the boards; and they have plenty of depth. If they can solve their leadership issues, they will be able to make a run for the Big Dance. But right now, Turgeon is on the outside looking in.

EXTRA: “Graduation gap persists between athletes and students in ACC” is a pretty strong headline. And the North Carolina study came to an even stronger conclusion: “the ACC ranks last among the NCAA’s 30 Division I men’s basketball conferences, boasting the largest gap in graduation rates between players and the general full-time student body.” Unfortunately, the article glosses over several very important points including how transfers and professional departures treated as well as how many years do athletes get to graduate. Still it is an interesting study.

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Three Thoughts From Florida State’s Weekend Win at Clemson

Posted by mpatton on January 7th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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Florida State Hangs On to Win at Clemson, But Same Flaws Remain

Posted by mpatton on January 5th, 2013

Matt Patton (@rise_and_fire) is an ACC Microsite writer and RTC correspondent. He filed this report after Saturday afternoon’s ACC clash between Florida State and Clemson in Littlejohn Coliseum.

On the first possession of its conference opener at Littlejohn Coliseum Saturday afternoon, Florida State looked like the defending conference champions. The Seminoles forced a shot clock violation with its suffocating ball pressure and two blocks near the rim. That possession fueled their fire, as the Seminoles ran out to a double-figure lead behind great shooting — specifically from Okaro White (who made three early three-point field goals) and Ian Miller (who hit both of his shots from deep). At one point Michael Snaer singlehandedly forced a Clemson turnover in the backcourt. Clemson bounced back somewhat, but still trailed by 13 at the half.

Florida State really misses Bernard James on defense.

Florida State really misses the days of the vaunted Bernard James Chris Singleton defense.

The second half was a different story. The Seminoles looked entitled, not determined. Snaer allowed the officials to frustrate him and Clemson slowly but surely climbed back into the game. The Tigers forced some untimely turnovers, hit big shots and killed FSU on the boards. Luckily for (and probably thanks to) Florida State, Milton Jennings was horrible all game. He committed five turnovers, and made several crucial defensive mistakes down the stretch. FSU escaped with a 71-66 win, but a victory doesn’t disguise the fact that Florida State’s defense was undressed in the second half. They had no answer to Devin Booker once he got the ball. Booker finished 8-of-11 from the field for 19 points and 11 boards. He looked unstoppable and Florida State’s front line looked soft or uncoordinated depending on its personnel.

That said, Florida State has some positives to take away from this game. First and foremost, it survived in a hostile environment when the whistle was blowing the other way most of the afternoon. Also Snaer looked pedestrian on offense. White had a great first half, showing off his potential, before playing the role of wallflower for much of the second half. Long story short, the Seminoles have a long way to go and an uphill battle to fight before Selection Sunday — this team needs to get a lot better.

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ACC Week 1 Power Rankings

Posted by mpatton on November 16th, 2012

We’ve got a full week of game action as evidence to start evaluting these teams a bit better, so here goes…

Disclaimer: Power Rankings don’t imply which teams are best. They’re all about who has momentum right now. 

Duke Blue Devils 1. Duke (2-0) stays on top of the rankings after taking care of business against Georgia State at home before knocking off the defending champion Kentucky Wildcats in the Georgia Dome. This team still has a long way to go, but they showed poise holding off a talented, albeit young, Kentucky team. While Seth Curry and Mason Plumlee owned the box score, Quinn Cook rose to the challenge and put in his bid for the starting spot. Minnesota is the next NCAA tournament-quality team on Thursday.
NC State Wolfpack 2. NC State (2-0) absolutely blitzkrieged its first two opponents, Miami (OH) and Penn State. Putting too much stock in beating the Redhawks by 38 is unwise. But that 17-point win over the Nittany Lions–despite Lorenzo Brown finishing an icy 1-12 from the field–is worth noting. Specifically, Tyler Warren was phenomenal going for 22 points (on 12 shots) and eight rebounds. The game tonight against Massachusetts should be a fun one.
North Carolina Tar Heels 3. North Carolina (2-0) looked lost on offense at times against Gardner-Webb, which is just a young team trying to learn to play together. James Michael McAdoo has been phenomenal through the first two games (he’s averaging over 20 points and 12 rebounds), and Reggie Bullock asserted himself against Florida Atlantic. This team should keep improving, but in time for the trip to Bloomington in a week and a half? That’s ambitious.
Maryland Terrapins 4. Maryland (1-1) looks a lot better than expected. Alex Len is going to be a top-10 pick. He absolutely ravaged Kentucky, which Maryland kept close to the bitter end before making mincemeat of Morehead State. Nick Faust still can’t shoot, but Seth Allen will be really fun to watch the next few years. The Terrapins need to work on consistent offense, but as Dez Wells gets more and more used to Mark Turgeon’s system, good things will happen.
Boston College 5. Boston College (1-1) played with a stacked Baylor team for 35 minutes after beating a bad Florida International team by double figures (still, that’s huge improvement over last year). This team will still struggle to win a ton of games, but Ryan Anderson‘s development into an All-ACC caliber player is accelerating the rebuilding process (he’s averaging 27 points and 12 boards a game). Dennis Clifford also got off to a solid start. The Eagles’ games against Dayton and Auburn should both be winnable this week.
Clemson Tigers 6. Clemson (1-0) beat down Presbyterian this week, which isn’t worth much on its own. But Devin Booker and Milton Jennings both played very well (combined to go 11-14 from the field for 26 points) and look like they’re ready to step into bigger roles for Brad Brownell this season. A near impossible test awaits this week in the form of Gonzaga.
Virginia Tech Hokies 7. Virginia Tech (3-0) scarfed three cupcakes this week, winning all three games by double figures. The “meat” of the nonconference schedule is still a ways off (and “meat” is used loosely to describe BCS-conference teams), but so far James Johnson‘s tenure is a success. He’ll need Robert Brown to continue producing offensively to relieve some of Erick Green‘s perimeter burden.
Florida State Seminoles 8. Florida State (1-1) is much better than its home loss to the South Alabama, but those are the kind of losses that will motivate this team to keep getting better. Michael Snaer is also in an early season slump, having only hit a third of the shots he’s taken. But the Seminoles’ 27-point beatdown of Buffalo (where they scored 95 points!) may right the ship. The next six games showcase three against possible NCAA tournament teams: BYU (today), Minnesota and Florida.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons 9. Wake Forest (1-0) played decently against Radford. The game was never free from doubt, but the Demon Deacons didn’t let the Big South Highlanders get the best of them this year. CJ Harris got to the charity stripe like a pro, but Travis McKie‘s 11 points left a little to be desired–especially against a team of this caliber. Turnovers are going to kill Wake Forest in at least two conference games this year.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 10. Georgia Tech (2-0) has balance, but can’t shoot. The Yellow Jackets need someone to step up from the perimeter to keep other teams honest (right now they make a smooth 17.6% of their shots from downtown. Two of Mfon Udofia, Daniel Miller and Kam Holsey need to become go-to guys on offense. Miller doesn’t appear to want that role.
Miami Hurricanes 11. Miami (1-1) needs to be careful not to become a dumpster fire. The team lost its exhibition against St. Leo and now lost to Florida Gulf Coast to ice the cake. This team looks phenomenal on paper, but sometimes things just don’t translate the way we expect. The same Reggie Johnson who made Mason Plumlee look like a child at Cameron Indoor Stadium last year has only hit one third of his shots against middling competition. There’s still time for Larranaga to turn this car around, but time is running out.
Virginia Cavaliers 12. Virginia (1-2), if Miami has to be careful, Virginia fans may already smell that trash burning. So far the Cavaliers lost to George Mason and Delaware. These wins (or struggles) could be statistical aberrations (if your style keeps opponents within striking distance, you’re bound to lose some unfortunate games), and Jontel Evans is out.Things aren’t off to a great start in Charlottesville.
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ACC Preseason Power Rankings

Posted by mpatton on November 6th, 2012

With all of the ACC previews behind us, it’s time to put everything together in our first ACC Power Rankings of the season.

Duke Blue Devils 1. Duke has all of the pieces to be a much better team than last year’s team. While the recruiting class is small, don’t forget redshirt freshmen Alex Murphy and Marshall Plumlee. Mason Plumlee may be the focal point of the Blue Devil offense. But the big question is how improved will Quinn Cook be?
NC State Wolfpack 2. NC State has the most complete team on paper. Add three top-shelf recruits to a talented returning group that includes two potential conference players of the year, and there’s bound to be plenty of hype. But will the Wolfpack be able to overcome their defensive woes (and the historical defensive woes of Mark Gottfried) and play like the end of last season, or will they play like the rest of the year?
North Carolina Tar Heels 3. North Carolina (tied) lost a lot from last year’s team with the four leading contributors with Reggie Bullock as the sole returning starter. But Roy Williams reloads instead of rebuilds. James Michael McAdoo may be the best player in the league, and Bullock looks ready to step up production. Freshman point Marcus Paige has big shoes (or at least a lot of shoes) to fill, but he’ll have help from backcourt veterans Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald.
Florida State Seminoles 3. Florida State (tied) may fall on its face, but Leonard Hamilton and Michael Snaer have earned the right to be taken seriously after knocking Duke and North Carolina off en route to the conference championship. Keep an eye on Okaro White and Terrance Shannon this season. You can trust Hamilton’s team to bring it defensively, but can they stop turning the ball over?
Miami Hurricanes 3. Miami (tied) looked rough in its exhibition loss, but there’s no denying the talent on this roster. The Hurricane frontcourt of Reggie Johnson and Kenny Kadji is the best in the league; Durand Scott and Shane Larkin make an exciting backcourt duo; and there’s no shortage of athletic wings to help fill out the lineup. But can Jim Larranaga realize his team’s talent?
Maryland Terrapins 6. Maryland also has a lot of talent on its roster, but the Terrapins were abysmal offensively last season. To make matters worse (though potentially better in the long run), Terrell Stoglin is no longer with the team. Nick Faust and Alex Len need to make big improvements for Maryland to finish in the top half of the conference. Keep an eye on Maryland’s freshmen.
Virginia Cavaliers 7. Virginia has some interesting pieces, and Tony Bennett‘s system appears very effective. But the Cavaliers don’t have Mike Scott and his mid-range game to bail mediocre offensive possessions out anymore. This team will rely on its tenacious defense because it’s hard to see the offense being consistently effective.
Virginia Tech Hokies 8. Virginia Tech hired James Johnson to replace Seth Greenberg, and Greenberg left Johnson with some real talent. The Hokies are a sleeper to finish in the top half of the conference if Erick Green, Jarell Eddie and Cadarian Raines mesh well. Depth will be an issue, but those three are very good players. Johnson also has established relationships with the players, which should make his transition smoother.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons 9. Wake Forest is really young. But a strong freshman class joining two of the best scorers in the league should make the team marginally more competitive than the last two years. Don’t sleep on Travis McKie. McKie is a match-up nightmare for every team, and shouldn’t surprise anyone when he averages close to 20 points a night.
Clemson Tigers 10. Clemson probably should be ranked higher than this. Certainly based on roster talent and previous results, the Tigers look better than tenth in the league. That said, Milton Jennings and Devin Booker haven’t shown the consistency to take over primary roles. If Jennings lives up to his McDonald’s All-American billing and Booker gets more aggressive, this team could finish much closer to the middle of the pack.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 11. Georgia Tech (tied) looks OK on paper, but didn’t add anything significant from last season’s 4-12 campaign. This points to another rough season in Atlanta, though Glen Rice Jr.’s sudden departure may prove more of a blessing than a curse.
Boston College 11. Boston College (tied) will be a significantly more watchable team this season. The team is still young, and still low on ACC-caliber talent. But the sophomore trio of Ryan Anderson, Patrick Heckmann and Dennis Clifford are the real deal. They also all improved a lot just over the course of last season (except Heckmann, who went down with mono).
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ACC M5: 11.06.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on November 6th, 2012

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

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

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ACC Team Previews: Clemson Tigers

Posted by KCarpenter on October 24th, 2012

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

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

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

Newcomers

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

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ACC M5: 10.11.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on October 11th, 2012

  1. Fredericksburg Star: Virginia didn’t wow anyone last season with its athleticism. However, incoming freshman Justin Anderson may. The 6’6″, 226 pound freshman has all of the physical tools to be a great player in the ACC. Anderson, along fellow freshmen Evan Nolte and Mike Tobey will have to master Tony Bennett’s pack-line defensive strategy if they hope to see much time on the court this season. Bennett’s strategy is good at hiding athletic disadvantages, but the more athletic lockdown defenders he puts on the wing, the more effective Virginia’s already stifling defense will be.
  2. Washington Post: Alex Prewitt jotted down some “nuggets” from Maryland‘s media day that are pretty revealing. Literally speaking Prewitt noted the offseason weight changes for most of the Terrapin roster. Notably, Nick Faust and Alex Len both added much needed bulk (30 pounds!) which should help both be more effective on the boards. James Padgett also bulked up pretty substantially. On the other side of the scale, Pe’Shon Howard, Shaquille Cleare and Charles Mitchell all lost significant weight. More figuratively, Prewitt’s anecdotes painted a picture of a team with a lot more chemistry than Maryland seemed to have last season. Maybe Cleare and Seth Allen are just more outgoing, but it certainly sounds much more comfortable than the team did last year.
  3. Raleigh News & Observer: Speaking of newcomers, Wake Forest has a boatload. There are seven self-proclaimed “Baby Deacs” joining Jeff Bzdelik in Winston-Salem this year. Bzdelik is putting some real pressure on the newcomers, saying, “I need them to perform now. I don’t want [youth] to be an excuse or a crutch for our young guys.” Part of his urgency may be a his seat heating up after two incredibly lackluster seasons (to be kind). With Travis McKie and CJ Harris back and the strong incoming class, the Demon Deacons will be much more talented across the board this season. However, despite Bzdelik’s insistence, nothing makes up for experience.
  4. Associated Press (via ACC Sports Journal): Clemson lost top scorers Andre Young and Tanner Smith to graduation. Last season the story read the same way, with Jerai Grant and Demontez Stitt leaving. This year, Brad Brownell needs Devin Booker (ACC phenom Trevor Booker’s younger brother) to increase his consistency and Milton Jennings to tap into his McDonald’s All-American potential. Both players have the talent, but neither has shown the ability to lead night in and night out. That consistency has to improve for Clemson to have a successful season.
  5. ESPN.com: Dave Telep reported that Caleb and Cody Martin, twins out of Mocksville, North Carolina, will be joining NC State in 2014. The twins are just another example of Mark Gottfried working hard to get as much in-state talent as possible. This strategy certainly has a history of success, as North Carolina is one of the richest states in terms of its homegrown basketball talent. If Gottfried’s team has a good year this year and CJ Leslie goes in the lottery, look for the Wolfpack to have continued recruiting significance. Gottfried is a very talented recruiter and success breeds more success.
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