ACC M5: 02.13.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 13th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Tech Hoops: I stumbled across an ACC fan site I somehow hadn’t seen before — good stuff here on Virginia Tech‘s beatdown at the hands of Virginia. Jarell Eddie in particular was just horrific. He only played 14 minutes, but managed to have a plus/minus of -19. Eddie’s problem unfortunately appears to be that he’s totally checked out. He’s turning the ball over and has stopped hitting shots, which is really bad for a team that already struggles offensively without its second option mailing it in. Interestingly, Virginia Tech went 0-of-6 from the charity stripe if you discard Erick Green’s efforts. More damningly, the Hokies only have two ACC games with a positive assist to turnover margin, while their opponents only have one game with a negative assist to turnover margin. That’s an issue.
  2. Hampton Roads Daily Press: In more positive news, Miami‘s 10-0 start in ACC play looks very good for the postseason. Sixteen ACC teams previously started 10-0 in league play — half of those won the ACC Tournament, half went to the Final Four (Miami’s only made it past the first round of the NCAA Tournament once ever), and two won it all. That’s not bad company. Only one team (2007-08 Duke) didn’t at least share the regular season crown for the league. The previous runners of the opening 10-game gauntlet are six North Carolina teams, six Duke teams, three NC State teams, and yes, one Virginia team.
  3. ACC Sports Journal: The ACC’s freshmen are an interesting bunch. There’s a lot of really intriguing talent out there but no real superstars. Olivier Hanlan is the closest thing to a dominant freshman this year, and he shines especially bright because of the lack of athleticism and talent surrounding him (which isn’t a knock on his athleticism — Duke didn’t have anyone who could stay in front of him). My only qualm with this list is Devin Thomas‘ ranking. He’s been a bright spot for Wake Forest this season largely because of his effort. He’s not the most polished player around, but he often is the most impactful player on the floor for the Demon Deacons.
  4. Tomahawk Nation: Florida State is still theoretically in contention for an at-large bid to the Big Dance. The key will be to not blow any of its remaining winnable games and stealing a couple of marquee games down the stretch (a win over Duke or Miami would help dramatically). As far as Michael Rogner’s power rankings, it’s interesting how stable the top of the conference is when compared to the ever-morphing top of the national polls. Miami, Duke, Virginia, NC State and North Carolina all sit in the same spots. It’s also time to start asking if the Hurricanes can run the table this year. Their final game at Duke will be the ultimate test, but so far they haven’t shown many vulnerabilities.
  5. US Basketball Writers Association: For the second straight week, the USBWA named an ACC player its Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week. This time it’s Mason Plumlee‘s turn, after he averaged 24.5 points, 9.5 boards and 2.0 blocks per game in wins over Boston College and NC State. After a quiet stretch following his early NPOY candidacy, Plumlee is back on track in the ACC Player of the Year race. His free throw shooting has improved and overall he’s just being more aggressive without Ryan Kelly on the floor.
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Wake Forest Sticks to the Script and Loses Badly on the Road

Posted by KCarpenter on February 6th, 2013

Kellen Carpenter is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after last night’s game between UNC and Wake Forest in Chapel Hill.

So far in conference play, Wake Forest has shown that it can’t make or defend shots. This isn’t a slight against the hardworking Demon Deacons, but just what the numbers have revealed. Since the beginning of conference play, Wake Forest has been the worst team on both ends of the floor in terms of effective field goal percentage. The team averages a meager 43.9% on offense while allowing opponents to shoot 53.9%. They have yet to win a conference road game. After a blowout loss against North Carolina last night, very few of these facts have changed.

Wake Found Familiar Territory in Chapel Hill

Wake Found Familiar Territory (and Result) in Chapel Hill

In the 87-62 rout, North Carolina managed an eFG% of 58.9% while Wake Forest managed only 45.4%. Things like offensive rebounds and turnovers can change some of the conditions of the game, but one essential truth stands: You have to be able to put up more points than your opponent, and right now, Wake Forest can’t do that. Sure, the Demon Deacons have a pair of good home wins against NC State and Virginia (good-ish, I should probably say), but those look more and more like aberrations. After the game, Wake head coach Jeff Bzdelik said, “We always lose our confidence quickly… you can see it in [the players'] eyes.” In a frank discussion with the media he admitted that his team wasn’t mentally tough enough, and as head coach, that responsibility lay with him.  Bzdelik looked grim and almost too ready to explain all the things he and his team did poorly, seemingly at a loss to figure out how to fix the team’s problems, explaining how much of a focus cutting down on turnovers was in the lead-up to this game. “The emphasis was not turning the ball over and obviously we didn’t do a good job.”

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Meet Devin Thomas, Wake Forest’s Wolfpack Killer

Posted by KCarpenter on January 23rd, 2013

It’s understandable if, before today, you hadn’t thought much about Devin Thomas. The 6’9″ freshmen has only averaged 24.9 minutes per game, and his scoring average of 6.5 PPG for a still-struggling Wake Forest squad hadn’t exactly been the stuff of legend.  You’d think that maybe his true offensive brilliance has been masked by a relative dearth of playing time, but Ken Pomeroy had measured his offensive efficiency at the staggeringly bad figure of 84.9. In one sense, that makes last night’s performance seem especially incredible. It also makes it seem like Thomas was due to finally have some luck.

Devin Thomas Announced His Presence to the Nation Last Night

Devin Thomas Announced His Presence to the Nation Last Night

Against North Carolina State, Thomas out-Howelled none other than Richard Howell himself. The Wolfpack center scored 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting and grabbed 16 rebounds (nine offensive rebounds). Yet somehow, the wily freshmen put up 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting and managed “only” 14 rebounds (also with nine offensive boards) and four blocks. On a night when the two other Wake Forest freshman starters struggled, with Codi Miller-McIntyre amassing six turnovers (though admittedly having a strong shooting night) and Arnaud William Adala Moto fouling out in only 17 minutes, Thomas delivered the strongest performance of his blossoming collegiate career.

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ACC M5: New Year’s Eve Edition

Posted by mpatton on December 31st, 2012

morning5_ACC

  1. Raleigh News & Observer: After the Martin Report investigating North Carolina was released, it raised numerous more questions than answers. It also reflects several inconsistencies that point to one of three things: (1) people lied to Jim Martin, (2) people lied to N&O reporter Dan Kane, or (3) there was a serious lack of depth to the report that failed to check those assertions. Kane went through the committee minutes and didn’t find evidence of “red flags being raised” and confirmed that with a member of the committee himself. He also points out some (damning but circumstantial) anecdotal evidence as a counterexample to the Martin Report’s assertion that this isn’t an athletic scandal. Don’t think we’ve seen the last of this.
  2. Winston-Salem Journal: Wake Forest’s Devin Thomas comes from a basketball family. His mom and dad both played in college, and two years ago his sister was the ACC Rookie of the Year. He’s still very raw — especially on the offensive end — but he’s extremely aggressive, a solid rebounder and already a good shot-blocker. If Thomas can cut down on his turnovers and hit some more shots, he’ll be a very good player for Jeff Bzdelik in time.
  3. Baltimore Sun: It’s pretty generous to say Maryland‘s non-conference schedule was “too soft.” Right now the Terrapins’ strength of schedule is a below average #265 out of 347, according to the still evolving RPI. According to Ken Pomeroy and Jeff Sagarin the slate rates an even more pathetic #341 and #343, respectively. Outside of the Terps’ opening game against Kentucky, there’s been no substance to speak of.  Next up: IUPUI. Then conference play. Needless to say, it’s hard to know exactly where the Terrapins stand going into ACC play, but the league really needs Mark Turgeon’s team to be good this season.
  4. Macon Ledger-Inquirer: Speaking of schedules best described as a “parade of pre-ACC pretenders,” Georgia Tech is also wrapping up its non-conference schedule against the terrifying Chattanooga Mocs (which is short for “mockingbirds” if you were curious). Georgia Tech’s cupcake schedule makes a lot more sense than Maryland’s, though, for one reason — this truly is a rebuilding year in Atlanta. The NIT is a more reasonable goal for the Yellow Jackets than the NCAA Tournament, so the non-conference schedule is more of a confidence builder and tune-up than a resume. That said, as the last two articles illustrate, ACC play could be a real wake-up call for a lot of teams.
  5. USA Today: Bad news out of Coral Gables, as Reggie Johnson will yet again miss a significant portion (six to eight weeks) of the season with an injury. This time it’s a left thumb fracture that has already caused Johnson to miss the past two games. The really unfortunate part about the news is that Johnson has always seemed to be on the cusp of greatness. Likewise, this seemed like Miami’s year to put together a run and contend in the league. We’ll have a more thorough analysis of what Johnson’s injury means for the Hurricanes a little later this morning.
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ACC Team Previews: Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Posted by ARowe on October 22nd, 2012

Throughout the preseason, the ACC microsite will release a preview for each of the 12 teams. Today’s victim: the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.

Wake Forest basketball took a step back last season under third-year coach Jeff Bzdelik. While Wake was on top of the basketball world in January 2009 (undefeated and ranked #1), the Demon Deacons’ program has fallen on hard times ever since. From October 2010 to April 2012, Tony Woods, J.T. Terrell, Ty Walker, Ari Stewart, Carson Desrosiers, Anthony Fields, Tony Chennault and Melvin Tabb all left the school, either by choice or by force. As a result, the Deacs have won only five ACC games since March 7, 2010. Throwing the baby out with the bathwater is a phrase that comes to mind.

This is Very Much a Make or Break Season For Jeff Bzdelik (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Bzdelik certainly has his detractors. And his record since arriving in Winston-Salem speaks for itself. When a program has as rich of a basketball history (at least over the last three decades) as Wake Forest does, losing records and mass exoduses of players over a two-year period will not be tolerated very long at all. Although athletic director Ron Wellman has put his support thoroughly behind Bzdelik at some point he has to look out for his own job. Fortunately for both of them, help is on the way.

Newcomers

“Baby Deacs” is the name of the freshman class entering Winston-Salem this year to try and turn this program around. Madison Jones, Tyler Cavanaugh, Aaron Rountree, Codi Miller-McIntyre, Arnaud William Adala Moto, Devin Thomas and Andre Washington make up the seven freshmen expected to get Wake Forest basketball back to their winning ways. The class was ranked #21 in the country by ESPN and #23 by Scout.com.

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ACC Summer Recess: Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Posted by KCarpenter on July 18th, 2012

Over the next four weeks we’ll be taking a step back and looking at each team in the ACC to assess where each program — and the conference as a whole — stands before we totally turn our attention to the 2013-14 season later this fall. Today’s target: Wake Forest.

Where They Stand Now

Bzdelik Enters Year Three of a Rebuild at Wake

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

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

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

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ACC Morning Five: 02.17.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 17th, 2012

  1. Raleigh News & Observer(photo): NC State coughed up a brutal game at Duke after leading by 20 in the second half. But the Wolfpack lost in style. Below is an image of Lorenzo Brown shooting over Andre Dawkins in the team’s special black-on-black jerseys:

    NC State's Threads Looked Good in Cameron (Credit: Chuck Liddy/News & Observer)

    But more interesting is the cursed history of black-on-black, which was brought to my attention by Patrick Stevans of the Washington Times. The last time the Wolfpack donned similar colors, they blew a 12-point halftime lead (the largest lead was 17) to fall 73-78 to Maryland in 2000. The final last night was 73-78.

  2. TarHeelBlue.com and Grantland: Miami lost a very tough game to North Carolina in Coral Gables. It would have backed up a weaker NCAA tournament resume with a second signature win. And the upset looked likely through the start of the second half with the Hurricanes leading most of the way. But combine a Harrison Barnes three with four straight forced Miami turnovers by the Tar Heels, and you have a lead that never disappeared. I link both articles because they show the two sides of a game. One (by a Duke fan) laments a loss that could be the difference-maker come Selection Sunday. The other talks about a team tired of being told about its struggles when by any reasonable measure, its 21-4 record should speak for itself.
  3. Duke Basketball Report: Barry Jacobs looked at the top rebounding performances in the ACC, inspired by Miles Plumlee‘s 22-board game against Maryland. It turns out no ACC player since 1971 has nabbed more than 24 rebounds. North Carolina’s Sean May leads the way with 24 rebounds in a win against Duke (seriously, people forget just how good a rebounder May was). He also clocks in tied for fourth since 2004 with 21 rebounds against Akron.
  4. Fayetteville Observer: Speaking of the Plumlees, Marshall Plumlee has learned a lot from red-shirting his first year. The season hasn’t been without frustrations, though an extra year of practice and time in the weight room should definitely benefit the raw frosh. Plumlee and fellow freshman Alex Murphy are sitting for their first years. And while I don’t know anything about their offensive games, both should be incredibly valuable defensive assets in the coming season. Murphy is a fairly athletic wing, who should be able to guard three positions. Plumlee was known as a defensive stopper in high school.
  5. Lost Letterman: Get excited Wake Forest fans! Demon Deacon recruit Devin Thomas made history last night, shattering a backboard. The game had to be suspended until today because of the damage. You can see the video below.

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ACC Morning Five: 10.18.11 Edition

Posted by mpatton on October 18th, 2011

  1. ESPN – Grantland: Keep an eye on Grantland this week as the site will be putting out a series of college basketball articles focusing on five teams who could win the national title (North Carolina, Duke, Ohio State, Syracuse and Kentucky). Today they started the series focusing on the top-ranked Tar Heels with a special emphasis on Kendall Marshall. I may be alone here, but I’m not totally sold on Marshall being a savior. I think quick perimeter defenders can minimize his impact (evidence: the ACC Tournament championship game last year where Duke held him to four assists and five turnovers). I may be over-emphasizing a single game, but I think Marshall has an Achilles heel in the Roy Williams offensive scheme: he’s not that quick. It’s a good article, and it’s a sign that college basketball is upon us when national all-sports sites start producing content. [Author's note: it may seem like I rag on Marshall a lot, but I think he's a tremendous player. It's just that I think he's still a year or two away from the second or third-team All-American status a lot of people are currently projecting for this season.]
  2. Ramblin’ Wreck: The official site of Georgia Tech athletics announced yesterday that the ACC will be extending its “ACC Network” coverage beyond live games to include regularly scheduled programming and analysis. The network is currently only on a digital platform meant to be streamed from smart phones and laptops, and is based out of Charlotte, North Carolina. ACC viewers will be glad (or irked) to know the network is being created in conjunction with longtime partner Raycom Sports, so you can expect all of your favorite personalities from Mike Hogewood to Dan Bonner. It’s tough to tell what sort of revenue a network like this will have for the conference, but just venturing into a full-time entity (even online) should help with the ACC’s upcoming media contract negotiations.
  3. The Patriot-News: Wake Forest basketball got a verbal commitment from 2012 power forward Devin Thomas this week. Thomas committed immediately after his official visit to Winston-Salem, choosing the Demon Deacons over Penn State and Temple. Thomas’ sister Alyssa currently plays basketball for Maryland. Last year he averaged 21 points and 12 rebounds for his high school team, Central Dauphin (PA).
  4. CBSSports.com – Jeff Goodman: Goodman got a chance to watch Duke practice last week and his biggest takeaway is that Miles Plumlee may be the backbone of the Blue Devils this season. After Seth Curry received much of the hype over the summer, it sounds like the eldest Plumlee may have finally gained the confidence to go with his raw size and athleticism. If this turns out to be true, Duke is definitely a Top 10 team. Could Plumlee become Brian Zoubek 2.0?
  5. ESPN – Grantland and The Chronicle: We gave a recap of Midnight Madness around the ACC yesterday, but here are two closer looks at Duke’s Countdown to Craziness. The Chronicle highlights the whole team, while Tobacco Road Blues editor and Grantland blogger Shane Ryan looks at the drama exposed by a serious scrimmage headlined by Seth Curry and Austin Rivers. Rivers’ attitude will certainly be something to watch this season, as it will drive him to his personal limits when working in his favor and probably lead to some 18-points-on-25-shots days when working against him. Like any good Duke fan, Ryan also took the time to poke fun at “Late Night with Roy” and its choreographed dances (see video below; h/t to the Daily Tar Heel).

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