North Carolina Still Figuring Out Its Center Position Before Heading West…

Posted by KCarpenter on November 11th, 2012

Kellen Carpenter is an RTC correspondent and ACC microsite writer. He filed this report after the UNC-Florida Atlantic game in Chapel Hill on Sunday.

North Carolina looks deep. In its 80-56 victory Sunday afternoon over the Florida Atlantic Owls, UNC showcased a scary depth and commitment to defense. Nine players played double-digit minutes, Florida Atlantic shot only 27.9% from the field, and the bench shined in what was an almost perfectly balanced effort by the starters and reserves. The bench contributed 39 out of 80 of North Carolina’s total points, with particularly good scoring games by Joel James, who scored 11 points, and Brice Johnson, who racked up 12 points in 12 minutes.

Joel James Appears to be the Strongest Candidate For UNC’s Center Position (AP Photo/Ted Richardson)

This of course brings up the still unanswered question of who will be the long term starter at the center position. Desmond Hubert started the first half of this game, but once again James earned the second half start. In 14 minutes of action, Hubert contributed zero points, three rebounds, two blocks, and two turnovers. Compared to the double-figure scoring efforts by James and Johnson (as well as eight rebounds for James and four for Johnson), it would be very strange if Hubert continued to start. James actually played more minutes than Hubert in this effort, and Johnson’s soft touch around the basket looks very impressive. With Roy Williams‘ stated trepidation about the defensive implications of playing Johnson and John Michael McAdoo at the same time, James seems like he may be North Carolina’s newest starter before too long.

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UNC: James Michal McAdoo Is A Star But The Rest Is Uncertain

Posted by KCarpenter on November 9th, 2012

Kellen Carpenter is an RTC correspondent and ACC microsite writer. He filed this report from Friday night’s UNC game versus Gardner-Webb.

James Michael McAdoo was expected to take a starring role for his North Carolina team and in the first game of this season, a 76-59 victory over Gardner-Webb, he showed what he could do as a star. With a career-high 26 points and 14 rebounds (eight of which were on the offensive glass), McAdoo is clearly on the path to fulfilling his first-team All-ACC expectations. The team as a whole however, is clearly one that is a work in progress.

McAdoo Was a Man Among Boys Tonight (AP/Ted Richardson)

Desmond Hubert earned the fifth Tar Heel starting spot in the post, but he struggled, tallying only four rebounds and failing to score while turning the ball over twice in 13 minutes. He was also memorably bowled over by Mike Byron just a few minutes after tip. Roy Williams made a change by starting Joel James in the second half, and, for his part, James played with a lot of energy but he struggled to stay on the court, accruing four fouls in only 14 minutes of play. The question of the frontcourt rotation is clearly an unsolved riddle for this team, with Williams freely experimenting and looking for a combination that was effective on both ends of the court. Brice Johnson looked polished on offense, but in limited minutes it’s hard to draw too many conclusions about him. Roy Williams said afterward that he isn’t sure who will fill this spot for the next game.

The backcourt rotation also presented a puzzle. Freshman point guard Marcus Paige started and managed to tally four turnovers and zero assists in his 28 minutes, not exactly an auspicious start for the team’s chief playmaker. On the perimeter, one of UNC’s supposed best shooting teams in recent memory managed to shoot 1-of-12 from the field while going 9-of-19 from the free throw line. Granted, a lot of the poor shooting from the stripe was due to McAdoo’s 6-of-11.

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ACC M5: Opening Night Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on November 9th, 2012

  1. Washington Post: While most of the ACC is starting out their season (tonight!) with some overmatched competition (with apologies to Virginia who will take on George Mason), Maryland is opening their season with a real challenge. Though this year’s Kentucky team is totally different from the beast that dominated college basketball last year, the Wildcats are still stacked with top recruits and still led by John Calipari. Maryland plans to put up a fight however, and the sudden eligibility of sensational wing Dez Wells puts a little muscle behind that hope. Though Calipari is making his traditional noise about how he feels his team is overrated and how he is concerned about the Terrapins, there is no doubt that Maryland is the underdog in this fight.
  2. Backing the Pack: Meanwhile in Raleigh, there remains at least one question: who will be the North Carolina State‘s fifth starter?Lorenzo Brown, C.J. Leslie, Richard Howell, and Scott Wood are no-brainer starters for Mark Gottfried, but the final starting slot has not yet been named. Gottfried said that he isn’t sure who will start, while adding the caveat that he doesn’t think it matters too much. The most probable choice is that the coach will go with highly-touted freshman guard Rodney Purvis, though there is an outside chance that the spot will be earned by T.J. Warren. Of course, it could always be some wild card option, but these two are the most logical choices.
  3. ESPN: In Chapel Hill, Roy Williams is dealing with a similar issue. Freshman Marcus Paige has been named a starter along with veterans Dexter Strickland, Reggie Bullock, and James Michael McAdoo. This leaves one open spot for North Carolina, and considering the named starters, the spot belongs to a big man. In the exhibition game, Desmond Hubert got the start, but freshman center Joel James shined when he got his turn. Williams suggests that little used sophomore Jackson Simmons and spindly freshman Brice Johnson could also get the start, but Hubert and James are the clear frontrunners for the spot with James holding an edge.
  4. Fox Sports: After a year spent playing home games in other peoples’ gyms, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets finally have a home court. Tonight the first game tips off at McCamish Pavillion, the new name for the renovated Alexander Memorial Coliseum. The building connects the Yellow Jackets to their storied past while also showcasing a dramatic environment for home games. While certainly new video and sound equipment are clear upgrades, the coolest addition to this court has got to be GT’s embrace of theater-style lighting, the effect of lighting the court while keeping the stands relatively dark, an unabashedly neat effect that evokes Madison Square Garden and the Staples Center when the Los Angeles Lakers are playing (the Clippers use a different, more traditional lighting scheme). It’s a neat idea and one that will hopefully add some extra atmosphere to the rechristened Thrillerdome.
  5. Wilmington Star News: The preseason Wooden Award Watch List has been released and six ACC players have been unsurprisingly tapped for the list. North Carolina State’s C.J. Leslie and Lorenzo Brown, Duke’s Mason Plumlee and Seth Curry, North Carolina’s James Michael McAdoo, and Florida State’s Michael Snaer represent the conference on the list. Considering that this list fairly closely mirrors most folks’ All-ACC First Team, there isn’t too much to complain about, though C.J. Harris and a couple players from Miami may have a reason to grouse. As always, this list doesn’t include any of the impact freshmen who are expected to make their mark upon the conference, though they will surely be added once they show what they can do in the college game.
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ACC M5: 11.08.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on November 8th, 2012

  1. Inside Carolina: In the Roy Williams era, it hasn’t been too difficult for North Carolina to score. The combination of a brisk tempo and a humming offense has meant that Chapel Hill residents have gotten used to gaudy scores and the discounted biscuits that come when UNC scores over 100 during a home game. This year, however, it seems more likely that the team will derive more of its identity from defense. While John Henson and Tyler Zeller were great interior defenders, the perimeter defense of the Tar Heels was inconsistent at best last season. This year, with speedy Marcus Paige at the point and gifted defenders Dexter Strickland and Reggie Bullock on the wings, it seems likely that UNC could have one of the better perimeter defenses in the Roy Williams era.
  2. Raleigh News & Observer: Down the road in Raleigh, North Carolina State is thinking about defense as well. Despite the lofty expectations that have been placed upon the Wolfpack, one of the easily spotted weaknesses for this team is defense. In Mark Gottfried’s first year, NCSU had a middling defense, and with the departure of paint protector DeShawn Painter and the ball-hawking tandem of C.J. Williams and Alex Johnson, there is concern that the defense could get worse. Still, the Wolfpack has been focusing on defense in practice, striving to improve in areas where the team fell short. C.J. Leslie and Richard Howell were often the cornerstones of NCSU’s interior defense last season, but both struggled to stay on the court due to foul trouble. Each is working on defending without fouling while maintaining the same intensity that served the team so well last year. Increased time on the court for either will do nothing but help North Carolina State become the elite team that many pundits are expecting.
  3. Washington Post: The immediate eligibility of Dez Wells is a story with a lot of big time basketball implications for the Maryland Terrapins. On a human level it’s a big story for Wells, his family, his mentor, his teammates, and the Maryland basketball family as they all stood by him and hoped for the best when things looked bleakest for Wells. Sexual assault is a heinous offense that is psychologically damaging to its victims in a way that few other crimes are. To be wrongfully accused of committing this crime and to lose your place at school and on your basketball team is a heavy load for a young man to carry. It’s hard not to be happy for Wells who seems to have found a new and supportive home in College Park. His newfound eligibility is really just the cherry on top.
  4. The Virginian-Pilot: James Johnson is the only rookie coach in the ACC this year, and his road will be far from easy as he tries to rebuild a Virginia Tech program that seemed permanently stuck just outside the NCAA Tournament under Seth Greenberg. The departure of Greenberg made things seem even more difficult as players transferred and recruits like Montrezl Harrell de-committed. The scary thing is that it could have been much worse. Erick Green, the senior star point guard of the Hokies, considered transferring away from Blacksburg as well but Johnson’s appointment (previously an assistant under Greenberg) to the head spot tipped the scales in favor of VT. Now the Hokies are going to try to enjoy a rebirth as an up-tempo team that complements a blistering, frantic attack with the determined inside presence of a now-healthy Cadarian Raines. Little is expected of Virginia Tech this season, but it sounds like Johnson and Green hope to surprise the rest of the ACC.
  5. Washington Times: Last year, Virginia had a watershed moment with coach Tony Bennett. The Cavaliers were respected as one of the toughest defenses in the nation and Mike Scott was garnering praise as a potential All-American. When Bennett left Washington State to take on the project of rebuilding Virginia, it was clear that this wouldn’t be an easy job with a quick solution. It’s somewhat surprising then that Bennett was able to talk Washington native Joe Harris into following him to the other side of the country to play for a rebuilding team. Entering his third year, however, Harris is poised to take a starring role on a team that is expected to again make plenty of noise in the conference. Harris has NBA size and skills and, in a featured role for Cavaliers (including some time at the point with Jontel Evans out), the sharpshooting guard will hopefully see some more of  the seeds of his and Bennett’s hard work blossom.
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ACC Team Previews: North Carolina Tar Heels

Posted by ARowe on November 5th, 2012

Throughout the preseason, the ACC microsite will release a preview for each of the 12 teams.  Today’s victim:  the North Carolina Tar Heels.

UNC certainly didn’t end the season like they expected, but the unfortunate timing of injuries to key players was mostly to blame. After Bob Cousy Award winning point guard Kendall Marshall went out with a fractured wrist against Creighton in the Sweet Sixteen, the Tar Heels struggled to recapture the offensive flow that led them to a 27-4 record and a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Elite Eight loss to Kansas goes to show that you shouldn’t judge an entire season by that team’s postseason finish, due to the unpredictable nature of a single elimination tournament.

Roy Must Reload Without the Magician Marshall Leading His Attack (News Observer/Robert Willitt)

The more costly losses in Chapel Hill occurred over the summer, as sophomores Marshall and Harrison Barnes, junior John Henson and senior Tyler Zeller moved on to the NBA. The Tar Heels lost four year-long starters who accounted for 57.5% of minutes played, 66% of points scored, 65% of field goals attempted, 69% of field goals made, 70% of free throws attempted and 73% of free throws made. While Roy Williams and staff have an extremely talented roster returning, there are a number of question marks that will need to be answered this season.

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ACC M5: 10.23.12 Edition

Posted by EMann on October 23rd, 2012

  1. CBSSports.com:  N.C. State has drawn a lot of attention due to its preseason top 10 ranking and position as a strong conference favorite. Jeff Goodman took in a Wolfpack practice on Saturday and is very high on Mark Gottfried’s squad. A few quick takeaways from Goodman’s 10 points from Raleigh: Lorenzo Brown is N.C. State’s best player… Goodman thinks he is by far the best point guard in the ACC and possibly the best in the country (and that N.C. State ultimately benefited from Ryan Harrow’s transfer to Kentucky), Rodney Purvis is much further along than should be expected considering that he was only recently declared eligible, and this team has more talent than Raleigh has seen in a long time. With the abundance of talent suiting up in Raleigh, the question remains: Can this team shoulder the burden of such lofty expectations?  That may be the only thing that can stop the Wolfpack.
  2. BC Interruption:  Boston College has its first commitment for 2013-14: 6’5” guard Garland Owens, who chose the Eagles over Seton Hall and UTEP. Owens has the potential to be the most athletic player of the Steve Donahue era in Chestnut Hill. Owens selected Boston College in order to improve his shooting skills, calling Donahue “a great shooting teacher” and also citing the similarities of his high school’s offense to BC’s as another reason why he picked the school. Regardless of whether Owens becomes an elite shooter, he will surely provide a different wrinkle for Boston College going forward.
  3. Keeping it Heel: Matt Hamm has an interesting take on two important cogs in the North Carolina lineup this year, Leslie McDonald and Dexter Strickland, who both missed considerable time last season with torn ACLs (McDonald the whole season, while Strickland only appeared in 16 games). With freshman Marcus Paige seemingly given the reins at point guard to start the season, both players will likely be competing for minutes (Strickland more so at PG and McDonald more so at SG) and potentially, in McDonald’s case, a starting spot. More importantly, it is unlikely that either player will be at 100% until at least a month into the season. With so many unknown variables, whether these two players can return to the levels they showed before their injuries will play a huge role in how far the Tar Heels can go this season.
  4. Baltimore Sun: Maryland coach Mark Turgeon has only determined one of his starters for this season: Ukrainian center Alex Len.  The 7’1” center and Xavier transfer Dez Wells have been by far the most impressive players in Maryland’s opening practices and scrimmages. Wells’ eligibility for the season is still up in the air, as he has requested a waiver that would allow him to play; the outcome of this request should be determined in the next couple of weeks. The fact that Len has been guaranteed a starting spot must mean that the sophomore, who was ineligible until midway through last season, has improved greatly during the offseason. Len is reportedly showing off an improved mid-range jumper and may even attempt some three-pointers this season. While Maryland does have many question marks heading into Turgeon’s second season, at least one piece of the puzzle appears to have been solved.
  5. Duke Basketball Report: Al Featherston touches on many different topics in this piece, which primarily deals with a potential resurgence of the ACC and analyzes the preseason polls. One interesting finding in this article: Florida State and Boston College have been the teams must underrated by the ACC writers in the preseason polls in the past five years, whereas Georgia Tech and North Carolina have been the most overrated during this same span, with Florida State unsurprisingly following this trend and getting more respect this preseason from the national pundits rather than the ACC media. Featherston also delineates a top five and bottom seven of the ACC with the Triangle schools, Florida State, and Miami make up the top five.
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ACC M5: 10.22.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on October 22nd, 2012

  1. Tallahassee Democrat: Veterans Ian Miller and Michael Snaer are really excited about the freshmen joining the team this season. Snaer specifically lauded Aaron Thomas, Devon Bookert and Montay Brandon as potential stars on this year’s team. Thomas has Snaer’s “can’t stop me” attitude which should make him an elite scorer, but Bookert may hold the key for Florida State making the next step with his ball-handling skills. The biggest issue with the last few Seminole teams has been offense, and most of the team’s offensive woes come from turning the ball over too frequently. If Bookert can run the offense and reduce the team’s turnover rate, look out.
  2. Associated Press (via Winston-Salem Journal): Apparently Reggie Johnson‘s dieting has started to work. The Miami big man started the season two years ago at a whopping 330 pounds and reportedly is now down to 290. He’s still got a ways to go, but believes his diet is helping. If he can play superstar minutes and can run the floor better, Johnson will make a run at becoming the ACC’s best big man. He’s already probably the league’s most polished returning half-court post player, but his weight keeps him from being elite. That said, take Johnson’s words with a grain of salt. It’s a little weird he pointed to his weight two years ago instead of last year (albeit when he was rehabbing a knee injury).
  3. Greensboro News-Record: David Morrison went to Duke’s Operation Basketball and got some interesting notes. First, Coach K is looking for major increases in offensive production from Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly and Seth Curry this year. Krzyzewski wants this team’s offense to be less balanced, though Rasheed Sulaimon will definitely be an offensive factor if he lives up to his hype. Morrison also talked with Plumlee about Krzyzewski’s reaction to the Blue Devils’ less-that-stellar finish last season.
  4. Blogger So Dear: Most schools taking international trips already finished them, but Jeff Bzdelik and his young Demon Deacon team headed to Canada and won two exhibition games against Brock University and Ryerson University, 84-79 and 88-80, respectively. CJ Harris and Tyler Cavanaugh led the way for Wake Forest against Brock, scoring 16 points apiece in the win (Harris also added five assists and Cavanaugh grabbed nine rebounds). Saturday Travis McKie starred, finishing with 26 points. Freshmen Cody Miller-McIntyre and Cavanaugh also scored in double figures.
  5. CBSSports.com: Snaer isn’t the only one talking some trash this offseason. Dexter Strickland isn’t too worried about NC State being picked first in the ACC.

    “They talk those guys up every single year and we beat them every single year [...] They are the least of our worries. Beat us one year and then they can talk smack. Until then, you can’t put them in the mix.”

    He also felt pretty strongly about the NCAA Tournament outcome if North Carolina hadn’t been hampered by injuries.

    “I’ll be honest. If nobody got hurt, you might as well have given us the trophy. Nobody had the ability to stop us.”

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ACC M5: 10.09.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on October 9th, 2012

  1. Raleigh News & Observer: Rodney Purvis had to fight for his eligibility. As part of the first graduating class at Upper Room Christian Academy, the NCAA took an extra long look at Purvis’ academic record before clearing him to play in mid-September. Teammate Lorenzo Brown tried to keep Purvis optimistic — throwing a barb at North Carolina while he was at it: “Plus, with the whole UNC thing, if they got off, how could he not [be eligible]?”
  2. Charlotte Observer: Speaking of Purvis and the Wolfpack, NC State and Mark Gottfried want to keep their momentum going from the end of last season. With all of the hype surrounding the team, it’s hard to remember that many thought NC State should be left out of the NCAA Tournament thanks to a schedule lacking in quality wins. We know NC State has the talent and experience, but can it make the leap to become a top-10 team?
  3. The Seventh Floor: Miami blogger Jerry Steinberg took the time to rank the position players around the conference. His rankings are detailed and interesting, though I like NC State’s front line better than Miami’s (they’re miles better at running the floor and don’t have as many no-shows) and Duke and North Carolina should be ahead of Maryland (Mason Plumlee gets a bad rap, and McAdoo has the chance to be a bona fide star). Still definitely worth a read.
  4. RoundballChat.com: Some optimism for the Eagles! That’s right, Scott Shirley thinks Boston College will be one of the top 100 teams in college basketball. This would obviously be a huge improvement over last season, which is to be expected with almost everyone returning. The players to really watch are Patrick Heckmann and Ryan Anderson.
  5. Keeping It Heel: Dexter Strickland will be back on the hardwood, which means good things for North Carolina’s defense. What remains to be seen is how much he trusts that rehabilitated knee. Recovering from knee injuries generally takes close to a year with nearly as much time going into getting confidence back as letting it physically heal. This could be tough on Strickland, whose greatest strength lies in his quickness and agility.
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ACC Weekly Five: 09.12.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on September 12th, 2012

  1. Raleigh News & Observer: More scandal on Tobacco Road. Amid investigation of an ugly academic scandal in Chapel Hill and the recent potential trouble in Durham, North Carolina’s chief fundraiser resigned for apparently taking personal trips on the Tar Heels’ dime. But the story gets much weirder: another fundraiser implicated is Tyler Hansbrough‘s mother, Tami. Apparently the star’s mother has been earning $95,000 a year as a “major gifts officer” for the past few years, and as such, Hansbrough reportedly used UNC money to fly to see Tyler’s younger brother Ben Hansbrough play at Notre Dame.
  2. Bylaw Blog: Speaking of the Duke situation, the NCAA has one big problem in making a case. No one has to talk. Unless the lawsuit goes to court and becomes a matter of public record (and soon), the NCAA will need to convince the NYC jeweler or Lance Thomas to talk about the suspicious $67,000 loan for custom jewelry his senior season. The clock is ticking though, as the NCAA needs to serve Duke its notice of allegations before the four-year statute of limitations runs out. The bad news for the NCAA is that only gives the organization a little over a year to make its case. The worse news is that the jeweler already refused to talk to the NCAA (which would make sense if he specializes in athletic jewelry and hands out impermissible loans).
  3. ESPN.com: Dexter Strickland is officially back. The defensive-minded combo guard has officially moved past his torn ACL injury, playing pickup with his teammates last Monday. Strickland still doesn’t sound 100% confident in the knee, which is to be expected, but North Carolina and Marcus Paige will really need his presence in the backcourt next season. And if Strickland can’t trust the knee, it will hurt his defense and transition play (his two biggest strengths by far).
  4. CBSSports.com: Touted Xavier transfer Dez Wells is headed to Maryland after he was expelled after a sexual assault allegation in August. Wells should join the Terrapins with Michigan transfer Evan Smotrycz in 2013-14. If Mark Turgeon can pull a coup and steal the Harrison twins from Kentucky, Maryland might be the most talented team in the ACC. Turgeon may be gaining on John Calipari as the highly rated brothers are headed to College Park for Maryland’s midnight madness. Kudos, Coach Turgeon.
  5. Orlando Sentinel: Michael Snaer‘s latest comments are firing up his teammates. Florida State is a tough team to judge, as the Seminoles lost six players from last season. However, their most important piece returned and Leonard Hamilton also brought in a very good class. Snaer says the team is much more polished skill-wise than last year’s veteran group.
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ACL Well: Analyzing Six Huge Returnees From ACL Injuries

Posted by Chris Johnson on August 29th, 2012

Chris Johnson is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.

The fickle nature of college hoops owes itself to a number of different factors. Every year there are a handful of teams that underperform or overperform versus expectations for various reasons, from team chemistry to coaching philosophy to collective work ethic. Perhaps the most uncontrollable element of a team’s performance is injury, the sudden and often catastrophic medical ailments that – in the blink of one single cut to the hoop, defensive rotation or hard sprint down the court – dramatically alter teams’ seasons and programs’ trajectories. Last season we saw several injuries to key players, some more impactful than others, fundamentally shift the competitive balance in various leagues. For those players, the situational outlook was bleak: not playing competitively with the team you’ve spent all summer practicing with just plain stinks. But for the most part, their departures faded into the periphery as the season wore on, players began furiously rehabbing their various injuries, teams adapted and college hoops rolled along with minimal fuss.

If Mbakwe can return to form, the Gophers could be poised for an NCAA Tournament berth (Photo credit: Tom Olmscheid/AP Photo)

There was a strikingly large proportion of one particular injury last season, or at least it seemed that way for several of the sport’s most influential medical breakdowns. It’s known as the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear, and it’s one of the most common and oft-repeated of all athletic detriments. A complete recovery normally requires major surgery, between six and nine months worth of substantial rehabilitation and a cautious return to athletic activity. I’ve identified six instrumental players who experienced this very process after tearing their ACLs last season and all of them are expected to return – rehabbed and ready to go – for a redeeming 2012-13 campaign. Each player is rejoining their teams (or in some cases, new teams) under slightly different circumstances from which he left, with situational and rotational specifics dictating the terms of their returns. I’ve tried to dig into some of the circumstantial elements playing into these players’ comeback seasons and how you should expect them to fare this season. Here are the results of my research, a full-fledged breakdown of college hoops’ big-name torn ACL-returnees. Enjoy… and try your best to avoid a similar fate.

Trevor Mbakwe (sixth-year senior, Minnesota)

This isn’t unfamiliar territory for Mbakwe. Way back when he still played for Marquette – the same year (2007-08) Mario Chalmers’ legendary three-point shot KO’d a high-powered Derrick Rose-led Memphis team in the national finals – Mbakwe missed the majority of the season with a knee injury. He recovered, packed his bags and moved on to Miami Dade Community College, where he averaged a modest 16.3 PPG/13.2 RPG double-double while earning Southern Conference Player of the Year Honors. When he eventually made his way to Minnesota, after sitting out the 2009-10 season while awaiting trial for a felony assault charge, Mbakwe unleashed the ferocious rebounding and inside scoring touch he demonstrated in the JuCo ranks on Big Ten forwards. Much to the chagrin of Tubby Smith’s middling program, Mbawke had only played one full season and six full games last year before going down with an ACL tear.

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Morning Five: 08.29.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 29th, 2012

  1. North Carolina’s title hopes were quite clearly derailed last season when point guard Kendall Marshall broke his wrist on a drive during the Heels’ Round of 32 game against Creighton. Not many people remember, though, that Marshall’s injury was actually the second devastating injury among UNC guards last year. Shooting guard (and, most importantly, the backup point to Marshall) Dexter Strickland went down with an ACL injury in a mid-January game against Virginia Tech, leaving Roy Williams’ team particularly vulnerable when its All-American lead guard suffered another season-ending injury two months later. Enough about the bad memories for Tar Heel fans, though — the good news is that the rising senior Strickland announced on Twitter Monday that he has been physically cleared to play basketball again. It will certainly take the talented and experienced shooter some time to get his game legs and on-court confidence back, but with six weeks left until Midnight Madness, he’ll have sufficient time to do so.
  2. Last week we mentioned that Xavier’s Dez Wells was expelled from school for some unnamed violation of university rules. Speculation was rampant as to Wells’ alleged transgression at the time, but news released on Tuesday cleared up that matter while also offering an astonishing contrast in information. Local prosecutors in Cincinnati presented information to a grand jury involving allegations of sexual assault against Wells, but — keeping in mind the old adage that a grand jury will indict a ham sandwich — the group of citizens hearing the evidence refused to charge the former Xavier star with any criminal offense. The burden of proof on a grand jury to bring an indictment is much, much lower than on a criminal jury to convict someone, so the fact that XU was so quick and final in its decision to expel Wells is somewhat surprising. So surprising, in fact, that the Hamilton County (OH) prosecutor Joe Deters suggested that the university would do well for itself to “revisit the situation.” A Xavier spokesperson reiterated that the school’s decision is final, but as we alluded to last week, short of a criminal charge, much less a conviction, there will be a number of high-major schools lining up for a shot to woo the all-A-10 rookie — it appears that Louisville, Texas, and Memphis currently top his list.
  3. For some reason or another, a debate about the 35-second college shot clock was ignited on Tuesday because of ESPN.com’s back-and-forth post between writers Eamonn Brennan and Myron Medcalf. While we’re not going to lose any sleep over this particular issue, we see the merits on both sides of the debate (proponents of the change want a quicker paced game, while supporters of the current clock enjoy the diversity of styles that it engenders). From our point of view, the 24-second clock at the professional level has always seemed a bit too fast — if a team’s initial offensive set doesn’t work, then there’s barely enough time for a simple reset to find another good shot. All too often in the pro game, the 24-second shot clock conspires to eliminate good ball movement in favor of just getting something up on the rim. That additional 11 seconds afforded teams in the college game — largely filled with less talented and less athletic players than in the NBA, mind you — grants players a better chance to work the ball into a good situation that can result in a score. Our biggest fear of a 24-second clock in college is that the game would become incredibly sloppy as teams regularly scramble to find a single halfway-reasonable shot before time expires. Our take is that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it — let’s keep the 35-second clock and work on some of the more pressing problems facing the game today.
  4. We don’t officially allow ourselves to get excited about the coming season until after Labor Day, but one of the fundamental truths about this dry period bridging the start of school and the beginning of practice is the annual release of a number of team profile pieces. They’re somewhat formulaic in content, but they’re always informative and worth your time if you’re starving like we are for meaningful basketball. SI.com‘s Dan Greene took a recent look at the much-maligned Connecticut program, concluding that the remaining talent in Storrs is not likely to stand by and watch the program go down the tubes without a fight. Meanwhile, over at CBSSports.com, Matt Norlander writes that Arkansas’ Mike Anderson is busily putting his own stamp on the Program That Nolan Built. Anderson clearly believes that his Hawgs should be considerably better than last year’s 18-14 squad that crumbled to a 2-9 finish down the stretch.
  5. Finally, we mentioned in yesterday’s M5 that former Duke NPOY Art Heyman passed away. Our description of his contributions to Duke basketball couldn’t do the man justice, so we thought it would be worthwhile to link to a couple of the best obituaries about the man. The Charlotte Observer dug deeper into the notorious fight in which Heyman and Larry Brown engaged during a 1961 ACC game between Duke and North Carolina that, as Andrew Carter argues, “ignited what became college basketball’s greatest rivalry.” The story also delves into a period in the 90s when Heyman claimed to have cut all ties from his alma mater, but that feud appears to have cooled in recent years. Meanwhile, the Fayetteville Observer took the time to patch together a number of good quotes and memories about one of the greatest collegians that the ACC has ever seen.
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ACC Summer Recess: North Carolina Tar Heels

Posted by KCarpenter on August 6th, 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: North Carolina.

Where They Stand Now

What do you do when you have a team that goes 14-2 during conference play and loses in the Elite Eight after its record-shattering point guard goes down with an injury? In Chapel Hill, you are deeply disappointed in a team that arguably underperformed. The loaded Tar Heels were near helpless after Kendall Marshall‘s injury, struggling to execute on offense, and the surfeit of NBA-caliber talent all amounted to nothing against a Kansas team that came prepared to capitalize on North Carolina’s weaknesses. Most teams would still call a season like that a success, but for UNC fans, the 2012-13 ended in incredibly disappointing fashion.

Roy Williams Will Have to Put the Pieces Together With His 2012-13 Squad

Who’s Leaving

Everyone. Well, not quite, but like Florida State, the Tar Heels are facing quite a bit of turnover. ACC Player of the Year Tyler Zeller now plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers. ACC Defensive Player of the Year John Henson now plays for the Milwaukee Bucks. Harrison Barnes, an All-ACC First Team selection, is now with the Golden State Warriors, while Kendall Marshall, the all-time assists in a season record-holder for the conference and Bob Cousy Award winner for the nation’s top point guard, is now with the Phoenix Suns. Stilman White, the team”s back-up point guard, is leaving for two years to work as a Mormon missionary. The team is also losing the services of the versatile fan-favorite Justin Watts to that scourge called graduation. In short, next year’s team will be near unrecognizable from last year’s team.

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