The ACC’s Soft Middle Tier: Time to Panic Yet?

Posted by Chris Kehoe on November 14th, 2013

We are less than one week into the start of the 2013-14 college basketball season and the median of the ACC is nearing panic mode. Maybe not quite yet, but things certainly could have started better for the NCAA’s mightiest conference. To date, N.C. State has lost to Cincinnati by 11, Virginia lost to in-state rival VCU (displaying the power shift between traditional Virginia basketball schools), Miami barely squeaked by Georgia Southern in overtime and posted an inexcusable overtime loss to St. Francis (NY), and Boston College suffered an opening defeat to Providence and followed that up with a 13-point shellacking at the hands of a game Massachusetts squad. What does this all mean for the ‘almighty’ ACC as the nation’s premier basketball conference? Does this, for one, quiet the whispers of the ACC as the greatest basketball conference of all-time?

Boston College

BC has little to celebrate after an 0-2 start (Michael Ivins/US Presswire)

A lot of a conference’s overall reputation and greatness has to be attributed to its depth and the overall quality of teams across the board. Now VCU happens to be a top-25 team that has largely surpassed the Virginia basketball program of late under Shaka Smart, but a team that has ACC title aspirations and is laden with senior leaders needs to win games versus A-10 programs, especially if it doesn’t wish to find itself on the bubble again. N.C. State is in what most people consider a rebuilding year under Mark Gottfried, but Cincinnati is not a powerhouse and the middle of the league must prove formidable for the ACC to solidify its place in history. Last Friday night, Maryland lost to a top-25 Connecticut team boasting one of the best backcourts in the nation by only a single point, but the Terps walked away with a close loss rather than gloating about a big win on their non-conference résumé. Miami wasn’t expected to have a great year after losing Kenny Kadji, Shane Larkin, Reggie Johnson, Durand Scott and the rest of its roster from last season, but losing to a NEC foe is a humbling step backward, to say the least.

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Closing Out the ACC Microsite

Posted by mpatton on April 29th, 2013

Well, it was an up-and-down year in the ACC filled with injuries, March disappointments and one season for the history books. We here at the RTC ACC Microsite loved chronicling every minute of it. We’ll still be providing periodic coverage throughout the summer, looking towards the NBA Draft and next year, but this marks the official end of the 2012-13 season for us. If you start getting nostalgic, here are some good places to start (in chronological order).

  • Preseason ACC Awards: Still riding the highs of my Michael Snaer mancrush after his transcendent performance in the 2012 ACC Tournament, he took the preseason ACC POY nod. We clearly meant Olivier Hanlan, not Rodney Purvis when we picked the consummate scoring frosh, we just didn’t know it yet. At least we finished one for three by picking Jim Larranaga to win COY.
This Miami team will forever be etched in the history book of ACC greats. (Photo: Robert Mayer / USA TODAY Sports)

This Miami team will forever be etched in the history book of ACC greats. (Photo: Robert Mayer / USA TODAY Sports)

  • The Martin Report feels like forever ago, but the academic jokes from North Carolina‘s rivals won’t stop for a long time. And those questions the report danced around are still out there.
  • Akil Mitchell is the best returning frontcourt man in the ACC, and Kellen was all over it last December. Especially without the likes of Mason Plumlee, Devin Booker and Alex Len, it’s fine to pencil him onto your 2013-14 preseason All-ACC teams right now.
  • Speaking of being ahead of the curve, it took us until three days into 2013 to take note of Hanlan and his freshman teammate Joe Rahon. After one of the best rookie performances in ACC Tournament history, it’s safe to say it won’t take that long next year. Also, with Scott Wood and Seth Curry graduating, it’s hard to see much competition for best shooter in the ACC.

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The ACC in the NCAAs: Previewing Marquette vs. Miami

Posted by KCarpenter on March 28th, 2013

It wasn’t always easy for Miami to get to this year’s Sweet Sixteen, but it was certainly never easy for Marquette to make the same journey. Ultra-tight games and impressive comebacks highlighted the Golden Eagles’ close wins over Davidson and Butler, while Miami romped over Pacific and held on against Illinois. Say what you will about Buzz Williams‘ team, but improbably this team has figured out how to handle the big gut-check moments. During the regular season, Marquette played four overtime games and won three of them. I’m honestly uncertain if “clutchness” is a real phenomenon, but the Golden Eagles give my doubts doubts.

Larranaga and Larkin Intend to Take the Hurricanes to the School's First Final Four

Larranaga and Larkin Intend to Take the Hurricanes to the School’s First Final Four

Big news came for Miami when it was announced that Reggie Johnson would not be traveling with the team for tonight’s match-up, but it’s unclear just how significant this news actually is. Johnson missed a huge chunk of the season with an injury and was out of shape and often ineffectual when he finally returned to the court. Against the smallish Golden Eagles, how much would the lumbering Johnson actually have played anyway? In Miami’s statement game in the ACC championship against small ball North Carolina, the center played all of three minutes. His time instead went to Rion Brown and Julian Gamble,  a pair of players who supercharge the Hurricanes’ offense and defense. It feels unlikely that Johnson would have (or should have) played all that much against Marquette. It’s not that this news doesn’t have a big impact on Miami’s title chances, but for the purposes of this match-up, it doesn’t feel particularly significant for those who have watched this team closely.

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Rushed Reactions: #2 Miami 63, #7 Illinois 59

Posted by WCarey on March 24th, 2013

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Walker Carey is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after the Round of 32 NCAA Tournament game between #2 Miami and #7 Illinois in Austin.

Three Key Takeaways.

Miami Outlasted the Surging Illini Sunday (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Miami Outlasted the Surging Illini Sunday (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

  1. The way Miami won this game was important. The Hurricanes have received a great deal of national attention due to the fact that their roster had zero NCAA Tournament experience before this year’s event. Miami coasted to an easy win over Pacific in its first game, but as a two-seed, that type of win is expected. Needing a test to prove its NCAA Tournament toughness, the Hurricanes definitely received one from Illinois. The Illini took a 55-54 lead with 1:24 to play and Miami kept its collective cool and was able to come back and grab the victory. On the possession after Illinois took the lead, Miami sophomore guard Shane Larkin nailed a ridiculously difficult step back three-pointer at the 1:04 mark to give the Hurricanes a two-point lead. Miami was able to maintain that lead and earn the victory by calmly going 6-of-6 from the free throw line down the stretch and not allowing Illinois to get anything easy on the offensive end of the court.
  2. Illinois deserves a lot of credit for the way it played. The Illini did not shoot the ball very well all night – just 37.7% from the field and 25.9% from three – but it fought hard all game and pushed Miami to the brink. In his postgame remarks, Illini coach John Groce spoke of how his team has battled hard all season and that they have gotten contributions from everyone all season. That was definitely the case against Miami, as different guys stepped up in different spots to make an impact. On a night where the usually solid D.J. Richardson was just 1-of-11 from the field, senior forward Tyler Griffey stepped up for the Illini with 12 huge points on a 4-of-6 performance from deep. Sophomore forward Nnanna Egwu was a force inside all night, as he finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds while playing very rugged defense against the Miami frontline. Senior guard Brandon Paul struggled at-times with his shot, but he certainly showcased his ability to take over a game with his performance Sunday night. The Illini might not have been victorious, but their effort and the way they played was certainly admirable.
  3. A blown call definitely had an impact on the game. When Richardson missed a three-point attempt with 43 seconds to play in what was a 57-55 game at the time, it clearly looked like the ball last touched the hand of Miami forward Kenny Kadji before going out-of-bounds. The ball was incorrectly rewarded to Miami, which resulted in guard Durand Scott nailing two clutch free throws to give the Hurricanes a four-point lead. While the Illini were able to trim the lead down to two again with 22 seconds to play, they never again had the chance to tie. There were many other reasons why Miami won and Illinois lost, but this call certainly had an impact on the last 43 seconds of what was a thrilling game.

Star(s) of the Game. Rion Brown and Shane Larkin, Miami. The junior Brown was outstanding for the Hurricanes off the bench. He finished with 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field and 5-of-10 shooting from deep. In a game where every shot was crucial, it seemed like every one Brown made was of great importance to the outcome of the game. Larkin turned in a normal stellar performance – 17 points and five assists – but the reason he makes this category is due to the ridiculous step back three-pointer he nailed to give his team a lead it would never relinquish with one minute to play.

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Rushed Reactions: #2 Miami 78, #15 Pacific 49

Posted by WCarey on March 22nd, 2013

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Walker Carey is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after the Round of 64 NCAA Tournament game between #2 Miami and #15 Pacific in Austin.

Jim Larranaga's squad cruised past Pacific Friday afternoon. (AP)

Jim Larranaga’s squad cruised past Pacific Friday afternoon. (AP)

Three Key Takeaways:

  1. Miami came to play. There were some worries about the Hurricanes’ preparedness entering the tournament as no one on the team had any NCAA Tournament experience. Miami put these worries to rest early in its Round of 64 trouncing of Pacific. The Hurricanes looked ready to play from the get-go and maintained a double-digit lead from the 11:03 mark of the first half to the end of the game. When the Hurricanes struggled this season, much of it had to do with inconsistent offense and poor defense. Against Pacific, Miami was very efficient on offense, shooting 46.2% from the field by getting many quality looks throughout the afternoon. Its defensive effort was quality all night as they forced Pacific into taking plenty of poor shots – the Tigers finished the game shooting just 33.3%. While it might be logical to worry about Miami’s NCAA Tournament experience as the tournament goes on, the Hurricanes showed they were plenty capable of playing on the big stage.
  2. Miami’s guard play is definitely worth the price of admission. There are few – if any – teams in the country who have backcourt play as solid as Miami’s backcourt play. Sophomore Shane Larkin and senior Durand Scott provide the Hurricanes with everything a team could possibly want from its guards. Larkin, who was the coaches’ ACC Player of the Year, is a dynamic playmaker with the ability to get to the rim at will. Larkin draws plenty of national acclaim for his ability on the offensive end of the court, but his defensive presence is also quite notable. A scrappy defender who deflects many passes and has the propensity to draw charges, Larkin does an excellent job of frustrating the opposition’s backcourt. Miami refers to Scott as “the heart and soul of the Miami Hurricanes with a junkyard dog game” in its game notes and that description could not be any truer. Scott certainly has the ability to score, he averaged 13.2 points per game in the regular season, but his true presence is felt as a leader and on the defensive end of the court. The Hurricanes are a veteran-laden team, but it is undeniable that Scott is their leader. While watching Scott defend, it is easy to see why he was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year – he is tough, quick, and relentless. Backcourt play is very important in March and Miami’s backcourt certainly gives it a chance to make a special run.
  3. Bravo to Bob Thomason on a great career. The loss to Miami wrapped up Pacific coach Bob Thomason’s 25th and final season as the head coach of his alma mater. He finished his career at the school with a record of 437-321. Thomason led the Tigers to five NCAA Tournament appearances and they won a game in both the 2004 and 2005 tournaments. In what is now a culture of mercenary head coaches, it is important to recognize the dedication Thomason had to one program over a long period of time. Here’s to a great career by Thomason with hopes of him enjoying retirement.

Star of the Game. Durand Scott, Miami. When the Hurricanes took a 21-point lead into halftime, Scott only had three points, but he had done a tremendous job defensively in helping limit Pacific to just 29.2% shooting. Scott’s offensive explosion began soon after the second half began. He scored the team’s first seven points of the second frame and finished with 18 total points for the second 20 minutes. Scott’s strong performance in the second half certainly ended any hopes Pacific might have had about making a comeback.

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ACC M5: 03.22.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 22nd, 2013

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  1. ACC Sports JournalACC Sports Journal‘s Wake Forest Insider wrote the most comprehensive article on Ron Wellman and Jeff Bzdelik‘s tenure at Wake Forest that I’ve ever read. It also might be the best article I’ve read all year. The depth and knowledge the author shows is remarkable. It’s the remarkable long read where the structure of the article furthers the reader’s understanding. Before reading the article I had a totally different (and ignorant) perspective on Bzdelik’s future. There couldn’t be a better advertisement for ACC Sports Journal‘s  premium coverage. Bravo.
  2. Miami Herald: Ignoring every instinct to post the above article four more times, this article from Michelle Kaufman adds some depth to Miami‘s most surprising contributor this year–Julian Gamble. After Miami’s victory over North Carolina, Gamble charged for the stands to meet his mother and nephew. Gamble’s story is a unique one: his mother quit her job when to take care of her college-aged daughter’s newborn child (who had not one but two devastating conditions), pride be damned. Gamble grew up the father figure for his sick nephew, who helps drive him to succeed.
  3. Wilmington Star News: Marcus Paige‘s recent development is a big part of why North Carolina is a hot upset pick in its potential Round of 32 game against Kansas. Paige, one of the best interviews in the ACC, told Brett Friedlander that he expected the comparisons to Kendall Marshall to come because he and Marshall are both left-handed point guards. He also noted, “I’m sure me picking his number didn’t help stop them.” Paige is a totally different player than Marshall. He’s more of an offensive threat and the new smaller line-up leaves more space in the lane for him to attack and kick the ball out to shooters or dump it in to James Michael McAdoo. Regardless of the Tar Heels’s NCAA Tournament success this year, Paige looks to be a very solid point guard for years to come in Chapel Hill.
  4. Chicago Tribune: It looks like the two favorites for the open Northwestern job are Chris Collins and Bryce Drew, but both have obvious holes in their resumes. Collins, obviously, has never held a head coaching position (though he certainly holds a very involved role as an assistant at Duke). Drew only has two years of experience on him, and that experience is in the Horizon League. The big question isn’t whether Northwestern is interested: it’s whether Collins and/or Drew are. The benefits of Northwestern are obvious. It’s a head coaching gig in the Big Ten. The cons are that no one has had success there. That means a low bar, but it also means tough sledding.
  5. Orlando Sun-Sentinel: Speaking of players really improving this year for Miami, don’t overlook Durand Scott. He was uber-talented as a freshman but something was missing. Apparently, Scott slept through an entire day–missing everything from class to practice–which led his teammates to name him “shutter island”. Now his effort defines his play, as he’s become the Hurricanes’s go-to defensive stopper. It’s a pretty remarkable change from the past couple of seasons.

EXTRA: Roy Williams left Kansas fans with a bad taste in their mouths when he left for North Carolina (though it shouldn’t have been too bad, considering they turned around and hired Bill Self). But his love for the Jayhawks is still very real. They gave him his shot and he put in 15 years taking that program to the penultimate level. Who knows what his reception will be this year in Kansas City, but time heals all wounds (last year’s Elite Eight victory probably helps too).

An aside: This is real satire. Take note Yes! Weekly.

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Selection Sunday Unkind to ACC Elite

Posted by mpatton on March 19th, 2013

After clinching the ACC Tournament title with three straight double-digit wins, Miami was riding high. The media present in Greensboro — including myself — were riding a similar high after watching one of the best offensive basketball games of the year. It felt like a slap in the face to watch as the seeds were announced and the Hurricanes weren’t rewarded for their efforts with a #1 seed. It was the first time in history that the consensus ACC champion failed to earn a spot on top of a region.

Miami's Eye Test couldn't overcome its losses Selection Sunday. (Photo: Robert Mayer / USA TODAY Sports)

Miami’s Eye Test couldn’t overcome its losses Selection Sunday. (Photo: Robert Mayer / USA TODAY Sports)

In Miami’s case, admittedly, a #1 seed was an uphill battle thanks to several bad losses in the non-conference and down the stretch in ACC play. First there was Miami’s game (without suspended Durand Scott) at Florida Gulf Coast. The Eagles are dancing this week, but only because of the Atlantic Sun’s automatic bid. Then Miami lost neutral-site games to Arizona and Indiana State when the team was very banged up. After the win Sunday, Jim Larranaga documented the injuries plaguing his team in Hawaii: “Trey McKinney-Jones was in the hospital with a 105-degree temperature, Durand Scott‘s back tightened up on the trip — he couldn’t bend over, Shane Larkin tweaked his ankle, and Reggie Johnson broke his thumb.”

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Miami Hurricanes Make ACC History, Sweep Championships

Posted by mpatton on March 17th, 2013

Matt Patton is an ACC microsite writer. He filed this report from the ACC Tournament championship game between North Carolina and Miami in Greensboro this afternoon.

An ACC school from outside the state of North Carolina has only won the regular season title outright eight times since 1954 (most recently, Maryland won it in 2002). An ACC school from outside the state of North Carolina has only won the ACC Tournament 10 times since 1954 (most recently, Florida State won it last year). Miami is the first team to ever do both in the same year. An unbalanced conference schedule has cheapened the regular season title in recent years, but that’s shouldn’t throw any shade on what the Hurricanes accomplished this year. The Miami win along with Florida State’s ACC Championship last season marks the second time in the league’s history that consecutive ACC Tournaments were won by schools outside of North Carolina (the 1984 and 1985 tournaments were won by Maryland and Georgia Tech, respectively).

Miami, your 2013 ACC Tournament champions. (photo: HurricaneSports.com)

Miami, your 2013 ACC Tournament champions. (photo: HurricaneSports.com)

And the Hurricanes won their final two games in front of very hostile crowds. They won because of tremendous coaching from Jim Larranaga – whose lineup changes proved instrumental in games against North Carolina and Boston College. They won because Shane Larkin was the best player in an ACC Tournament full of outstanding performances (Olivier Hanlan, Durand Scott and Dez Wells all went for over 30 points in a game). They won because experience doesn’t get rattled. In short, they won because they were the best team on the floor.

Miami made history in Greensboro. (photo: Chuck Liddy / Raleigh News & Observer)

Miami made history in Greensboro. (photo: Chuck Liddy / Raleigh News & Observer)

Against North Carolina, Miami found itself in a different position than usual. The Tar Heels and their new and improved smaller lineup came out firing. With just over 10 minutes to go in the first half, North Carolina led, 18-13. Miami proceeded to score on its next nine possessions and 13 of 16 of the final possessions of the half (over that time they missed three shots). North Carolina only scored on eight of 15 possessions, but PJ Hairston hit four threes and Marcus Paige added another to keep the game within a possession at the half. It was the best overall 10-minute offensive stretch I’ve seen this year. Both teams moved the ball to find open shots and both teams knocked down nearly every shot available. At one point the lead changed hands on eight straight possessions.

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Rushed Reactions: Miami 81, NC State 71

Posted by mpatton on March 16th, 2013

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Matt Patton is an ACC microsite writer. He filed this report after Miami’s win over NC State in the ACC semifinals on Saturday afternoon.

Three Key Takeaways:

Mark Gottfried and Lorenzo Brown have a team to watch this month.

Mark Gottfried and Lorenzo Brown have a team to watch this month.

  1. NC State is Dangerous: Don’t count NC State out after this loss. The Wolfpack were tired and beat up. They ran into a buzzsaw Miami backcourt and couldn’t overcome a slow start and bad free throw shooting. But they didn’t give up down the stretch. Richard Howell was playing with a deep bruise on his thigh, visibly hurting, but he hit the floor trying for loose balls just like always. One thing you know about NC State is that it will put points on the board (and a lot of them). Especially with Rodney Purvis acting as a defensive spark plug (coming into the season, who would’ve thought that?), there’s a lot to like about NC State’s chances in the Big Dance.
  2. Larkin and Scott Show: Durand Scott and Shane Larkin put on a clinic for Miami. They accounted for 68% of Miami’s points and also dished out a combined eight assists. When NC State tried to make a game of it, Larkin iced the game with free throws. One area Larkin has really improved this season is his decision-making. He still gets up in the air without knowing what he’ll do, and definitely makes high risk plays from time to time. But Larkin’s strength is his ability to play near the edge. Where last season his high risk plays ended in turnovers, his maturity is really showing this year by dropping his turnover percentage five points despite increased possessions.
  3. Miami’s Weapons: Here’s the scary thing with Miami. Larkin and Scott ruled the day, but Miami’s true strength is inside. Kenny Kadji had an off day–despite being a real mismatch for NC State — and Julian Gamble was relatively quiet despite being effective. It’s high time people realized Reggie Johnson isn’t going to be as efficient as in the past, but he still can be a very effective offensive player. Gamble is the most improved player in the ACC, maybe even the country. He’s incredibly light on his feet for his size and plays within himself.

Star of the Game: Durand Scott played like a man possessed. He played the best game of his career, bringing back memories of his dominant performance against Duke his freshman year (the 21-point performance in the ACC Tournament that caused many to rank Miami highly the next two years). After hitting a big three in the second to half — quieting the NC State run — Scott held his follow-through for a good five or six seconds.

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ACC Tournament: Previewing the Quarterfinals

Posted by KCarpenter on March 15th, 2013

If you love everything going totally to plan, then you loved the first day of the ACC Tournament. Will chalk continue to reign as the conference’s top teams join the fray? Well, it’s at least possible. Let’s go over the match-ups:

Miami vs. Boston College at 12:00 PM

Olivier Hanlan, Boston College

What Does Hanlan Have in Store For Today? (Photo via Boston Globe)

Remember that time that an early season Miami team came within one point to losing to Boston College? I’m sure the Hurricanes have tried to forget it too, but it did happen. When the Eagles went to Coral Gables, Miami totally destroyed its overmatched foe, dominating nearly every aspect of the game. That’s what happened to nearly everyone who went down to Coral Gables this season, though. Yet, Boston College comes into this game hotter than a two-dollar pistol, having swept its last three regular season games (including a win over Virginia) and then dominating Georgia Tech in the first round on the wings of a  legendary and record-setting 41-point performance by Freshmen of the Year, Olivier Hanlan. This game may very well come down to the match-up at shooting guard with scoring sensation Hanlan trying to best the savvy veteran and newly-minted Defensive Player of the Year, Durand Scott.

Virgina vs. North Carolina State at 2:00 PM

In their first game of the tournament, North Carolina State showed something new — an ability to shut down a big time scorer. Though the Wolfpack has struggled on defense all year, the team held Virginia Tech’s Erick Green to 15 points on 19 shots and also forced him into four turnovers. NC State will need to maintain that concentration if this team is going to have any chance at stopping the equally deadly Joe Harris. The Wolfpack has the right personnel to stop the Cavaliers on the defensive end, but it will take some serious focus. Virginia won the team’s only match-up in Charlottesville by a mere 3 points, but in Greensboro, NC State will effectively hold the home court advantage. This figures to be the closest game of the day, but even so, counting on the Wolfpack to give consistent effort on the defensive end is an easy way to be disappointed.

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March Losing Streak Suddenly Raises Doubts About Canes

Posted by BHayes on March 7th, 2013

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Bennet Hayes is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @HoopsTraveler on Twitter. Night Line runs on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s games.

The Miami Hurricanes spent January and February making believers out of skeptics, filling a bandwagon that had never, ever been even close to full. It takes no stretch of the imagination to believe in a Duke or a Carolina team that races out to a hot ACC start, but Miami? A program with just six NCAA Tournament appearances in its history? For us to trust the Canes, they had to be spectacular – and spectacular they were. Thirteen ACC wins in a row, including a sweep of UNC and a blowout win over Duke, practically sealed the ACC regular season title, and all this before the first day of March. They looked like the best team in the league, and a legitimate national title contender to boot.

Jim Larranaga Could Not Have Loved Miami's Effort This Evening, But The Canes And Their Head Man Still Harbor Large Tournament Hopes

Jim Larranaga Could Not Have Loved Miami’s Effort This Evening, But The Canes And Their Head Man Still Harbor Large Tournament Hopes

Both those proclamations may still be true, but back-to-back losses to begin the most important month in college basketball will again have the magnifying lenses hovering over the Canes. The loss at Cameron on Saturday (by just three points and with Ryan Kelly not only active but also having the game of his life) did little to damage Miami’s long-term prognosis. They still looked like the tough, veteran team that had ripped through this ACC slate — no problems there. But with that defeat now a part of a losing streak after tonight’s egregious home loss to Georgia Tech, we start to worry a little bit. There are questions again, and the doubt seeps back in with disturbingly little difficulty, because why did we really believe in the Miami Hurricanes to begin with?

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Believe Your Eyes: The ACC is a Bad Free Throw Shooting Conference

Posted by KCarpenter on February 15th, 2013

Last night, the Clemson Tigers defeated the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, 56-53. In the win, the Tigers shot 9-of-17 from the free throw line, good for a not-exactly-world-beating 52.9%. It was a below-average performance for Clemson, but not a massive outlier. On the season, the Tigers are shooting 66.5% from the line, which is the 254th best mark in Division I. Of course, ACC fans know, that for whatever reason, Clemson has been a bad free-throw shooting team for the better part of the past decade. The Tigers’ woes are old news. It’s not just Clemson that’s struggling with free throws this year, though: It’s the whole conference.

Take Note, ACC Players...

Take Note, ACC Players…

It’s strange to hear an entire conference of fans lament that their team is “terrible” at the charity stripe, yet that’s what I’ve heard this year. Of course, people’s observations are prone to all sorts of psychological biases, so maybe it just seems like everyone is bad at shooting free throws? Not really. Considering only conference games, the ACC teams are shooting 66.8% from the charity stripe — good for 30th best among 32 D-I conferences. In recent history, the ACC has been in the better half of free-throw shooting conferences every year since 2003. It’s not just one team dragging the average down, either: 10 of the 12 conference teams are having worse shooting years than they did last year. Only Duke and Florida State are shooting better than last season, due almost entirely to Mason Plumlee‘s significant improvement in the case of Duke and the graduation of Bernard James from Florida State.

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