Morning Five: 04.25.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 25th, 2014

morning5

  1. The NCAA released a memo yesterday from its Board of Directors proposing a new structure that would theoretically be “more nimble, streamlined and responsive to needs – particularly the needs of student-athletes” as well as allowing conferences greater maneuverability in addressing the needs of the student-athletes within the specific conferences. Voting on the proposal will take place in August. While that sounds great in theory it is unclear how much power the student-athletes would have in such a system and how the NCAA’s constituency will react to it (especially the non-power conference schools).
  2. The Marshall coaching search has been one of the more unique ones that we can remember. They spent over a month courting Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni to be their next coach. As ridiculous as it sounds on the surface (going from coaching in front of Jack Nicholson and all the Hollwood stars to being in Huntington) it was somewhat plausible since Mike played at Marshall and grew up a few hours away. Oh, and there is also the fact that he might not have much time left with LA. A day after news leaked that Mike was not taking the job, Marshall announced that it had landed D’antoni just that it was Mike’s brother, Dan D’Antoni. Outside of the of how strange it is to settle for the original candidates brother, Dan has not coached at the college level in 30 years and had been serving as an assistant to his brother. The only way this would make sense to us is if there was an understanding that Mike might take the job when he is fired in LA.
  3. Two juniors–Spencer Dinwiddie and Khem Birch–made somewhat surprising decisions to leave school a year early. Dinwiddie is projected to be a mid-second round pick after his stock was hurt following a season-ending ACL tear in January. He averaged 14.7 points, 3.8 assists, and 3.1 rebounds per game last season before his injury and his all-court game could translate well to the NBA, but coming off an injury his stock will be relatively low. Birch is probably more like a late second round pick and probably more likely to go undrafted. Birch played sporadically at Pittsburgh before transferring to UNLV, but showed some of the skills that made him a highly coveted player coming into college as he averaged 11.5 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 3.8 blocks per game last season while picking up Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year honors.
  4. Myles Turner, the #2 prospect in the class of 2014 and only uncommitted top prospect, will announce his decision on Wednesday at 4 PM on ESPNU. Turner has narrowed down his list to Duke, Kansas, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Southern Methodist, Texas, and Texas A&M. Yeah, that’s not really narrow. There were some rumors that Turner was leaning towards Kansas and had been waiting on a decision from Joel Embiid, but it over two weeks since Embiid declared for the NBA Draft and Turner has not committed yet so we would not read too much into that.
  5. We will end today with some new developments in two longstanding legal cases involving college basketball players. The more well-known case involves Dez Wells, who reached a settlement with Xavier after he was expelled from the school on what he calls a false rape allegation. We are not privy to all the details of what happened in the Wells case, but from what has been publicly released we would call the school’s handling of the case “questionable” at best. The other case, which probably still will have a few more turns to it involves former Oklahoma State basketball player Darrell Williams, who was accused of sexually assaulting two women at an off-campus party in 2010. An Oklahoma court has overturned the conviction based in part because two jurors visited the crime scene and discussed the visit during deliberations. While this is good news for Williams, the District Attorney is still deciding on whether or not to retry the case so he may not be out of the woods yet.
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Morning Five: 03.14.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 14th, 2014

morning5

  1. The coaching carousel continues to turn with most of the movement off of it. The latest departure is Ben Braun, who was fired after six seasons at Rice. As it appears to be the trend these days Braun officially “stepped down”, but when you go 63-128 you don’t really step down as much as the school lets you save face especially when the biggest story of your tenure was about accusations of your athletic director making racially insensitive comments towards your players and an assistant coach that were reportedly ignored by you and your staff. Braun’s time at Rice might not have been that successful, but he does have 613 career wins (465 at the Division I level) and made it to two Sweet 16s so he will probably end up being an assistant in the not too distant future.
  2. One job that apparently will not be opening up is Boston College as they have reportedly decided to stick with Steve Donahue. Given Donahue’s 54-76 record it would not have been shocking to see Boston College move in a different direction, but it is somewhat refreshing to see a school give a coach a little more time to work things out particularly at an ACC school. Having said that Boston College was one of the most disappointing teams in the country this year going 8-24 despite having a roster that most would consider competitive to at least be in the middle of the ACC standings. Donahue should expect to have most of his rotation back for next season so perhaps the school is giving him one more season to show some improvement before they decide to move on.
  3. It seems like we are dealing with a lot of cases where schools attempt to dismiss a student-athlete only to have the student fight back. One of the most notable involves Dez Wells, who was dismissed from Xavier only to end up at Maryland and play right away thanks to a NCAA waiver. In addition to obtaining that waiver Wells also sued the school for his dismissal claiming that they ignored the evidence the prosecutor provided. Xavier tried to have the suit dismissed, but on Tuesday a federal judge refused Xavier’s motion to dismiss the case. The judge also denied Wells’ request to have his appeal overturned, but it appears that Wells will get his day in court against the school.
  4. If you are looking for a potential cult figure to latch on to for the NCAA Tournament you could do a lot worse than Ethan Wragge. You probably know Wragge from his tendency to shoot and make ridiculously deep three-point attempts. You may have seen his performance against Villanova or if you are a regular reader of this column you have probably seen Luke Winn’s shot charts for Wragge. When you combine that with how great of a college player his mother was you have the potential for a frequently mentioned story in March particularly if Wragge (and some guy named McDermott) can lead the Bluejays deep in the NCAA Tournament.
  5. We get hear plenty of stories during March. Usually they are inspirational, but sometimes they are just dumb. The one involving a deluded Kentucky fan who got a tattoo “2014 Nati9nal Champions UK” definitely falls into the latter camp. Doing this in the preseason would have been a little presumptuous, but the fan got the tattoo yesterday. The ridiculousness of doing that might be the primary focus of this story, but our favorite part has to be the tattoo artist, who asked that his now nationally (in)famous tattoo not be attributed to him and instead asked to not be named.
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With the Game on the Line, Which ACC Players Get the Call?

Posted by Christopher Kehoe on February 1st, 2014

The ACC is chock full of great athletes and even greater coaches. In such a highly competitive environment, there is bound to be a plethora of close finishes. Even the elite coaches can’t physically will their teams to victory, but instead have to rely upon the players who have ice in their veins. Some coaches prefer a heady point guard who can wind the clock down, penetrate into the paint at the right moment, and then fire off a pinpoint pass to a shooter on the wing for the win. Other coaches prefer a more traditional route of isolation basketball, putting the ball in the hands of the best player, someone who can rise up over the defense or break down his defender one-on-one.

Michael Snaer breaks the heart of many Duke fans in CIS

Michael Snaer breaks the hearts of many Duke fans in CIS

The list of memorable ACC finishes could fill an entire book, provoking court rushes and jubilant celebrations for one team and a traumatic letdowns for another. The most recent that comes to mind from Tobacco Road was Duke’s Austin Rivers buzzer-beater in Chapel Hill two years ago. That same season, and only a month prior to Rivers’ game winner, Duke was shocked at home by Michael Snaer‘s three at the horn to snap a 45-game Duke home winning streak. Flash forward to the present and both Snaer and Rivers are long gone from their respective campuses as new faces and even a few teams litter the ACC landscape. With that in mind, who are the players that ACC coaches most want with the ball in their hands and the game on the line this season? Here are 10 players who have their coaches’ trust in those game-ending situations. 

  • Tyler Ennis, Syracuse: The freshman point guard from Canada has won Jim Boeheim as well as his teammates’ confidence and has solidified himself as the go-to presence for this year’s undefeated Syracuse team. Look no further than Ennis’ play in the final minutes of Syracuse’s home win over old rival Pittsburgh, as the Orange eked out a victory late, largely thanks to Ennis.

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An Unstoppable Force Meets No Objection at Conte Forum

Posted by Matt Patton on December 14th, 2013

With seven minutes left in the game and his team down four points, Dez Wells took over the game. He scored 18 of Maryland‘s final 28 points, but that doesn’t do the performance justice. Every possession Maryland looked to run down the clock before he barreled into the lane, drawing six fouls before all was said and done. But Wells’ performance said as much about Boston College as it did about him.

Steve Donahue's team is struggling defensively, but better than its record. (Boston College Athletics)

Steve Donahue’s team is struggling defensively, but better than its record. (Boston College Athletics)

Boston College’s season has been bad. If you factor in the high expectations for the Eagles, who brought essentially everyone back from last year’s squad, it has been downright abysmal. Steve Donahue‘s team is 3-7, with one of those wins coming at home in overtime against a bad Sacred Heart team. Offensively, the team is very good. Defensively, it’s a train wreck. As Wells took over the game in Chestnut Hill, Boston College’s defensive lapses piled up. Every possession became a struggle. After the game Donahue cited his team’s youth, noting that players started focusing on their man instead of rotating to help — which is paramount against a score-first player like Wells.

But this game was a microcosm of Boston College under Steve Donahue. Statistically, he’s never had a good defensive team, at Cornell or at Boston College. His teams have never cracked the top half of Division I. But he’s never had a team as bad as this one either. Right now the Eagles are ranked 300 out of 351 teams in defensive efficiency according to Ken Pomeroy, the lowest of a major conference team by more than 25 spots. Watching Maryland for all but one stretch confirmed the metrics. This team did a poor job on rotations, often losing a man in the corner, or failing to step into Wells’ driving lane once he got past the initial defender.

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ACC/Big Ten Challenge Presents Giant Opportunity For Michigan

Posted by Bennet Hayes on December 2nd, 2013

What to Make of Michigan Heading to Duke in the Headliner of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge

Nobody ever said life after Trey Burke was going to be easy. Despite entering the season with both a top 10 ranking and preseason All-American (again) to lead the way, John Beilein had to know that this group of Wolverines would be a work in progress. Gone was not only the transcendent Burke, but also backcourt mate Tim Hardaway, Jr., a highly accomplished player in his own right. Also of concern: The fact that this year’s preseason All-American, Mitch McGary, entered the season on the mend. The bruising sophomore is recovering from a back injury, and even with a (relatively) healthy back a season ago, he had averaged only 7.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game as he got acclimated to college basketball. Was he really ready to deliver All-American type production? Every team entered this season with question marks, but Michigan faced as many as any of their preseason top-10 cohabitants.

Michigan And Mitch McGary Will Attempt To Reassert Themselves At Cameron Indoor On Tuesday Night

Michigan And Mitch McGary Will Attempt To Reassert Themselves At Cameron Indoor On Tuesday Night

The Wolverines are now seven games into the season, and the top-10 ranking is gone. The same cannot be said for those pesky preseason questions. Michigan is 5-2 on the year, with an overtime victory over Florida State ranking as its lone victory of consequence (seriously, the average Pomeroy rating for the other four Wolverine conquests is 297). The back injury ultimately caused McGary to miss just two games, but his production since returning has hardly been like that of an All-American: 8.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.0 BPG in 25 minutes per game. I’m not in the habit of judging a guy off of five post-injury games, but the jury remains out on whether McGary can live up to those expansive preseason expectations.

Nor has a verdict been offered on the Michigan point guard situation. Nobody expected Derrick Walton to become Trey Burke, but the freshman has averaged nearly as many turnovers (2.4 per game) as assists (3.3 per game), while also ceding crunch time minutes to backup Spike Albrecht. In the two Michigan losses (to Iowa State and Charlotte), Walton has averaged just 19 minutes a game. Clearly John Beilein is not ready to fully hand over the reins to the talented youngster, but like McGary, there’s still plenty of time for Walton to grow into his expected role.

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AAC M5: 11.26.13 Edition

Posted by CD Bradley on November 26th, 2013

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  1. Rodney Purvis can’t play this year, but he’s still helping the Huskies get off to a hot start. The former highly-touted recruit who transferred to UConn after a year at NC State has been the star member of the scout team, helping one of the nation’s top backcourts prepare for the likes of Dez Wells and Yogi Ferrell. The full year of practice will be crucial for Purvis, who likely will have to step into the sizeable shoes of Shabazz Napier next season. Of course, it may also be playing a pretty big role in Napier’s blazing start, which will have him in consideration for a number of postseason awards if he can maintain it. Based on the early returns, luring Purvis to Storrs looks to be a pretty major win-win for both he and head coach Kevin Ollie.
  2. Sean Kilpatrick was angry when coach Mick Cronin redshirted him due to a crowded backcourt and a mechanical flaw in his jump shot four years ago. Both he and Cronin have to be pretty pleased with how it worked out, though, as Kilpatrick now ranks #13 on the school’s all-time scoring list as a fifth-year senior. If he keeps up his current pace – he’s averaging nearly 20 PPG through five games – he could end up second on the list to some guy named Oscar Robertson. And while Cronin might have had some inkling that the little-recruited guard would help more down the road than right away, he almost certainly couldn’t have understood just how much. Kilpatrick is posting a ridiculously high 155.2 offensive rating through five games, vital for a mediocre offensive squad like the Bearcats. If he can approach that number during a key three-game swing next month – at New Mexico, then neutral court games with Xavier and Pitt – both he and his team will earn some rightful attention.
  3. Kevin Ware‘s eventful year (life?) continued with a plea deal involving a $268 fine, bringing the latest kerfuffle over a speeding ticket and missed court date to a merciful end. This follows Rick Pitino’s rather pointed press conference on the topic last week after he was apparently blindsided by the news. That all followed on the heels of, shall we say, some colorful tweets from Ware’s Twitter account to Anthony Davis, quickly deleted and attributed to hacking. That followed denials from Ware and Pitino of summer “reports” that Ware had been secretly dismissed from the team. All of that, of course, follows the gruesome injury in last season’s NCAA Tournament which catapulted the quiet reserve to national prominence. That followed an indefinite suspension last spring that lasted one game. Even that followed a recruitment which included a commitment to Tennessee, later withdrawn when Bruce Pearl was fired in the face of an NCAA probe, then a commitment to UCF, later withdrawn in the face of an NCAA probe, then a commitment to Louisville, delayed by a semester due to the NCAA probes. Seems like quite a bit of drama for a junior with a career high of 11 points, no? Whew.
  4. When Louisville went way off the board for the fifth member of its signing class last week, no one knew much of anything about Matz Stockman. He wasn’t ranked by any of the major recruiting watchers, nor had his name been tied to the Cardinals publicly before his papers came through the fax machine. Not even Rick Pitino had seen him play. Now that his team has played a few games on American soil, word has started to trickle out. Jerry Meyer of 247Sports says the seven-foot Norwegian will be a three-star recruit, one who has a good scoring touch near the basket but “will likely need a couple years of development before he is ready to compete at a Louisville type level.” A year ago, Louisville’s thin backcourt ended up with a walk-on as its only reserve in the Final Four, so the recruiting class featured three guards. It’s no coincidence that this year’s Cardinal frontcourt, which got exposed by North Carolina on Sunday, has led to Pitino bringing in three recruits 6’9” and taller.
  5. Another night, another couple of blown opportunities for AAC teams to earn a much-needed yet impossible to find quality win. First, Oklahoma State continued its roll through the conference with a 93-67 win at USF. Then Houston gave Stanford a tough test before falling in Brooklyn. And now the AAC nears the end of November with UConn’s two wins over a mediocre Maryland, and a young, inconsistent Indiana, and that’s about it. This is nice for the Huskies, but less great for the other teams that hoped for a few chances for quality wins in conference play to make up for weak non-conference slates. Now those opportunities might not be there, making it tougher to build an NCAA Tournament-worthy resume.
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Maryland Backcourt Shows Potential Without Allen

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on November 9th, 2013

When it was announced in late October that sophomore point guard Seth Allen would be out until early January with a broken bone in his foot, we all wondered how Maryland would respond. We got at least a partial answer in Friday night’s 78-77 loss to Connecticut in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. Despite facing maybe the best backcourt in the country in the Huskies’ Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatwright, the Terrapin guards held their own. Looking at this game gives us an excellent picture of how Maryland plans to adjust to playing without Allen and raises questions concerning who should lose minutes when he comes back.

Roddy-Peters

Roddy Peters Helped Spark 2nd Half Rally (Photo: rantsports.com)

When Allen went down, head coach Mark Turgeon had three choices to start at point guard. Freshman Roddy Peters is easily the most natural at the position but Turgeon opted not to throw him into the fire right away. That left two natural wings, juniors Nick Faust and Dez Wells, to pick up the slack. In a telling move, Turgeon decided to give the ball to Wells. Perhaps part of the reason is that Wells is expected to be the team leader, and Turgeon thought having him as the starting point guard would settle the team down. But just as likely, Turgeon realized that no matter which wing he moved, decision-making would be at a premium. Even though he is regarded as a better ball-handler than Wells, Faust has had issues with shot selection and understanding time and score.

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Preseason ACC Microsite Awards: Joe Harris Preseason POY

Posted by Matt Patton on November 9th, 2013

The ACC microsite is happy to announce our preseason Player of the Year and all-ACC teams, as selected by the five writers contributing this season.

Preseason All-ACC

Some Notes:

  • Seven of 15 teams had at least one selection to the teams. Virginia and North Carolina led the way with two selections each.
  • Virginia’s Joe Harris received three of five votes for preseason ACC Player of the Year. Jabari Parker and CJ Fair received one vote each.
  • Harris and Fair were unanimous selections for the first team.
  • Duke’s Rodney Hood actually tied Virginia’s Akil Mitchell for votes, but Mitchell’s one first-team vote put him over the top in a tie-breaker.
  • Ryan Anderson, Quinn Cook, Travis McKie, Rasheed Sulaimon and Okaro White each received one second-team vote.
  • The first team has two seniors (Harris and Fair), two sophomores (Olivier Hanlan and TJ Warren) and one freshman (Parker).
  • The second team has more experience than the first team with three juniors and two seniors.
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Four Thoughts on Connecticut vs. Maryland

Posted by mlemaire on November 9th, 2013

Four Thoughts is our way of providing some rapid reactions to key games throughout the season. 

  • Connecticut should consider itself very lucky to be walking out of the Barclays Center with a win because they did everything possible down the stretch to hand last night’s game to Maryland. First Shabazz Napier picked up a silly technical foul that seemingly woke the Terrapins up and then he fouled out with barely 90 seconds left and his team clinging to a slim lead. Boatright and Napier’s replacement Terrence Samuel both had chances in the final 30 seconds to at least ensure the Terps couldn’t beat them in one possession, but both missed the front end of one-and-ones and were lucky enough to survive some wild shots from Dez Wells in order to win the game. It’s a big win on a neutral court, the type of win that might make a big difference in March, and the Terps are a good and talented basketball team. But UConn is not going to be able to get away with that kind of second half letdown very often. Let’s not jump to conclusions after only one game because the Huskies will have plenty of time to work on their late-game strategies, but that was just as close to being an embarrassing loss as it was a statement win.
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Ryan Boatright Was All Over The Place Last Night For UConn (AP/Jason DeCrow)

  • Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright better be in great shape because those two are going to play a lot of minutes for the Huskies this season. They should be used to it, since both of them averaged more than 36 minutes per game last season, but Napier played 33 minutes last night and Boatright played 37. The Huskies have some patsies on the schedule so the duo will get a chance to rest, but head coach Kevin Ollie would be wise to keep an eye on their minutes as they are way too valuable to the team’s success to be worn down when the games matter the most. The two combined to use nearly 50 percent of their team’s possessions last season and it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume those percentages were similar last night. Boatright didn’t shoot the ball well but he and Napier were still the best two players on the floor (apologies to Maryland’s Wells) and how they play will ultimately determine how UConn fares as a team.

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ACC Mega-Preview: Duke Tops Power Rankings

Posted by Matt Patton (@rise_and_fire) on November 8th, 2013

Over the last two weeks, we have previewed each team individually to go with several more articles to get you ready for ACC basketball starting later today. Links to the previews can be found in each of the preseason power rankings listed below. Also look for our preseason conference awards later which will publish later today.

ACC Basketball Twitter Must-Follows (Chris): 

  • Part I (general ACC tweeters)
  • Part II (Maryland, Clemson, Wake Forest, Boston College, Miami, Pittsburgh,  and Georgia Tech)
  • Part III (Virginia, Duke, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Florida State, North Carolina, and NC State)

Early Season Tournaments (Brad):

  • Part I (Boston College, Virginia Tech, and Clemson)
  • Part II (Florida State, North Carolina, Maryland, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse)
  • Part III (Duke, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Virginia, and Miami)

Seven Nonconference Games to Watch (Brad)

PRESEASON POWER RANKINGS

Duke Blue Devils 1. Duke (75): Unanimous selection for the top spot, Coach K hopes this year’s more athletic group of players can thrive at a faster pace of play. Duke is a national contender this season.
Syracuse Orange 2. Syracuse (67): Their loaded front court and a legendary coach will help make seamless transition to the ACC, bringing their length and vaunted 2-3 zone along with them. Frosh point guard Tyler Ennis is the difference between a very good team and a great one.
North Carolina Tar Heels T3. North Carolina (64): The development of the young frontcourt will be key for a team with plenty of upside, but a daunting non-conference schedule and the suspensions of PJ Hairston and Leslie McDonald loom early.
Virginia Cavaliers T3. Virginia (64): ACC stars Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell are back in Charlottesville. If the point guard position has more offensive output than last season, this team has all the pieces to be an ACC contender.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish 5. Notre Dame (52)Mike Brey has to find a way to replace Jack Cooley‘s production in the post, but the Fighting Irish bring back one of the best backcourts in the ACC. The Fighting Irish look like a border-line top-25 team heading into the season.
Maryland Terrapins 6. Maryland (48): Losing Seth Allen for a spell and Alex Len to the lottery will hurt, but Dez Wells‘ brilliance and Maryland’s overall athleticism should propel them to new heights under Mark Turgeon assuming they can cut out some of their turnovers.
Boston College 7. Boston College (43): A veteran core and a bona fide star could take Boston College to the next level, provided Steve Donahue does something about the team’s dreadful defense. If Dennis Clifford is healthy, this team has a shot at the NCAA Tournament.
Pittsburgh Panthers 8. Pittsburgh (41): The Panthers have three solid returning starters to build around, but will need their new big men to make an immediate impact after Steven Adams’ surprising decision to bolt for the NBA Draft. Also how will the new officiating rules affect Jamie Dixon‘s style?
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 9. Georgia Tech (31): The tandem of sophomores Robert Carter, Jr. and Marcus Georges-Hunt will prove even more effective as the Yellow Jackets look to make strides, but their young core is a few years away from making noise. Tennessee transfer Trae Golden should be an upgrade over Mfon Udofia at point guard.
NC State Wolfpack 10. NC State (29): TJ Warren could be one of the most talented players in the conference, but there is an enormous amount of departed experience to replace in Raleigh. Mark Gottfried‘s talented group of freshmen will be expected to contribute early and often.
Florida State Seminoles 11. Florida State (27): The Seminoles need last year’s newcomers to all make a big leap this year even to stay in the upper middle of the ACC. The key is getting back to elite team defense, though Okaro White is one of the better returning offensive wings in the ACC.
Miami Hurricanes 12. Miami (23): The best thing returning for the Hurricanes is head coach Jim Larranaga, an expert at putting pieces together to form a solid team. Unfortunately, the pieces leave a lot to be desired. Belgian star Manu Lacomte may surprise ACC fans, though.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons 13. Wake Forest (19): For the first time since coming to Winston-Salem Jeff Bzdelik has experience, but do the Demon Deacons have the talent to finish above .500 and save his job? Conference expansion didn’t help.
Clemson Tigers 14. Clemson (11): A bad team is going to get worse as the program takes what is probably charitably going to be called “a rebuilding year.” Tune in for KJ McDaniels, whose shot-blocking makes him a good pick for ACC defensive player of the year.
Virginia Tech Hokies 15. Virginia Tech (6): Erick Green is gone, and there isn’t anyone stepping up to replace him on a team destined to rest in the ACC cellar this year. Things could be ugly for James Johnson‘s second season in Blacksburg.

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ACC Team Preview: Maryland Terrapins

Posted by Chris Kehoe on November 2nd, 2013

Last year, Maryland had an impressive 13-game winning streak after an opening-night three point loss to the defending champions, Kentucky. Most of that run can be attributed to soft scheduling by head coach Mark Turgeon, but nonetheless it showed promise. Maryland finished out the regular season with a solid record of 20-11 and was rewarded with an NIT bid for its troubles. In addition to a run to the NIT semifinals (losing to Iowa), the Terps had a couple of signature wins on their résumé over #2 Duke late in the season. After the season was finished, they lost Ukrainian center Alex Len to the NBA Draft, but he struggled with inconsistency under Turgeon and never quite lived up to his potential.

Maryland Preview 2013

This season the Terps will be bolstered on the interior by Michigan transfer Evan Smotrycz, a versatile 6’8” junior who can play as a stretch-four for this athletic Maryland team. They also have a powerful 260-pound tandem of interior sophomores in Shaquille Cleare and Charles Mitchell, who are expected to shoulder the majority of the rebounding and post defense responsibilities this season. How they are able to perform as two of the biggest players on the Maryland roster will go a long way in determining this team’s ultimate success. This may also speak to Maryland’s lack of frontcourt height, seeing as Cleare is 6’9” and Mitchell is only 6’8”. Going against larger ACC frontcourts, some with legitimate seven-footers, may prove to be a problem for this relatively inexperienced duo. Another particularly relevant story surrounding this year’s Terps will be their pending move to the Big Ten, which will show up in press conference quotes and in the form of cheers (and jeers) from opposing fan bases. Maryland will want to leave the ACC on a positive note, and this team certainly has the requisite talent to make an NCAA run in its ACC finale. If last season proves as any indicator, Maryland’s fate is inextricably tied with Dez Wells‘ output and performance.

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Florida State and Maryland’s Turnover Quandary: Which School Can Fix the Problem?

Posted by Brad Jenkins on October 17th, 2013

If you are looking for the main thing holding back Maryland and Florida State from greater success last season, look no further than sloppy ball-handling. Those two teams finished right in the middle of the ACC standings, but also finished in the bottom two in conference game turnover percentage. The average team in the nation turned the ball over on 20% of its offensive possessions. In conference play, the ACC average was even better at 18.4%. Maryland was dead last in the league at 22.4% with Florida State slightly better at 21.2%. To put that in perspective, in an average game of 66 possessions, Maryland would turn the ball over three more times than an average ACC team. That’s three fewer scoring opportunities for a team that wasn’t all that great at shooting the ball anyway. The same was basically true with Florida State.  So does either squad look primed to reverse their turnover woes this year? The answer is that probably only one of these two squads has the ability and the will power to make it happen.

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Mark Turgeon Points to Better Ballhandling in 2013-14

Maryland looks to be the team with the best chance to break that heavy turnover chain on the offense. For starters, Mark Turgeon clearly is aware of the problem and has a goal of fixing it. In a September ESPN podcast he discussed it with Andy Katz and Seth Greenberg. In part of the interview he talked about trying to get better with ball-handling during the team’s summer trip, when he said, “We’ve worked really hard on a lot of things since the season ended. We weren’t great with the ball in the Bahamas, either. Some games, we were pretty good. One of the games, we were pretty bad, so it looked like last year. So it’s something we haven’t corrected but continue to think about.” Another thing is that Turgeon does not have a bad track record as a coach in this area. In fact from 2006-10 at Wichita State and Texas A&M, his teams finished among the top 90 teams in the country in this metric. Turgeon also knows that junior wing Dez Wells is a key to the team’s overall improvement because Wells’ 108 turnovers in 2012-13 are extremely high for a wing player. Even with two young point guards learning on the fly — freshman Roddy Peters and sophomore Seth Allen — look for Maryland to at least get close to the league average in offensive turnover percentage this season. That should be enough to give the Terps a good enough overall offense to reach their goal of becoming an NCAA Tournament team.

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