The ACC in the NIT: Virginia and Maryland Poised to Square Off

Posted by KCarpenter on March 27th, 2013

Sure it’s not as prestigious as the Big Dance, but one ACC team has already punched it’s ticket to a “final four” even if it isn’t the Final Four. Maryland narrowly defeated Alabama to claim the first berth in the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden last night. Tonight Virginia will square off against Iowa for the privilege of challenging the Terps for a spot in the NIT Final. Of course,  for Virginia to get there, the Cavaliers must defeat Iowa, a potentially very challenging task.

It's Bedlam in College Park as the Terps Make the NIT Final Four (Yahoo Sports)

It’s Bedlam in College Park as the Terps Make the NIT Final Four — Or Not (Yahoo Sports). 

By Ken Pomeroy’s rankings, Iowa is the best team in the country that wasn’t invited to the NCAA Tournament, with Virginia a close second. The two teams are quite similar: both feature stout defenses and unbalanced offenses that primarily feature two stars.  While the Wahoos thrive on the sweet shooting of Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell, the Hawkeyes get most of their offensive mileage out of the uncanny abilities of Roy Devyn Marble and Aaron White to get to the free throw line. Together, the pair has combined for 320 made free throws this season. White, in particular, has a free throw rate of 86.6%, averaging nearly seven free throw attempts per game in less than 30 MPG. In 40 minutes, that projects to drawing 6.6 fouls per game. This doesn’t seem like a big deal for a team like Virginia, which is generally very good at avoiding fouls, but it could be a problem in terms of its front line depth. Freshmen Mike Tobey and Evan Nolte have been excellent complementary pieces for the Cavaliers, but both still foul too much.  Averaging 4.1 and 4.6 fouls per 40 minutes, respectively, the two seem likely candidates for disqualification against the savvy play of White and Marble.

Still, the Cavaliers have two things that the Hawkeyes don’t: notably, home court advantage and Harris. Harris has had only a mild showing in the NIT so far, which, unfortunately for Iowa, may portend a big game due for the versatile guard. Iowa is likely the better team and the Hawkeyes probably expect to dominate the boards against Virginia, but between the offensive wizardry of Harris and the significant edge of playing in Charlottesville, Virginia has a very good chance to get to the NIT semifinals.

Then, if the Cavaliers can get to Madison Square Garden, they can look forward to a tilt with the same Terrapins whom they swept in conference play. A strong showing in the NIT doesn’t do much for conference pride, but it sure does a lot more than losing early in the NIT.

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Lessons Learned: ACC Weekly Wrap-Up

Posted by KCarpenter on January 28th, 2013

What do you take away from an ACC weekend full of blowouts? Sure, Clemson only beat Virginia Tech by seven points, but the next most closely contested game was North Carolina State’s eight-point win over North Carolina, a score that hides how dominant the Wolfpack looked for long stretches of the game. Still, a team can reveal just as much about themselves in a lopsided tilt as in a closely contested contest. So let’s look at what we learned.

Georgia Tech Got in the Win Column Over the Weekend

Georgia Tech Got in the Win Column Over the Weekend

  1. Georgia Tech Might Not Be The Worst Team In The Conference. Just when you thought you had them pegged, Georgia Tech has to go and win a game to tie Boston College for worst team in the conference. Of course, Georgia Tech’s first win came against lowly Wake Forest, but then again BC’s only conference win was against Virginia Tech. So who is the front-runner for standings bottom-dweller? It probably actually isn’t Georgia Tech. A lot of the Yellow Jackets’ floundering has to do with their schedule: Three of their five games have been against the best three teams in the conference (Miami, Duke, and NC State). One of their losses was an overtime loss to Virginia Tech and the other was a road loss to North Carolina. Outside of some bad luck against the Hokies, Georgia Tech is playing up to expectations.  Fortunately, the schedule gets a little bit easier as the season rolls on and Tech will have plenty of chances to prove they can win. For what it’s worth, Ken Pomeroy’s system of Pythagorean projections has the Yellow Jackets as only the fifth worst team in the conference.
  2.  Erick Green Is A Machine, But It Doesn’t Matter. Virginia Tech is the worst team in the conference per Ken Pomeroy’s projections and it’s a shame. Despite all the tough losses — including this weekend’s defeat to Clemson — Erick Green has been playing sensationally. He plays hard and puts 25 points up each night and yet his team can’t give him any support. Green is running away with the league’s scoring title, averaging 25.2 PPG, while his next closest competitor, Mason Plumlee, is averaging 17.4 PPG. Green is the most efficient scorer on the list of top scorers too — he’s been excellent at just about everything he does this season. He’s easily been the best guard in the conference, but his team has just been dreadful. At the end of regulation, Virginia Tech has only finished ahead of their opponents once — beating Wake Forest by one point. The Hokies ended up winning another game in overtime against Georgia Tech by a more respectable five points, but I bring this up to emphasize how shaky Virginia Tech’s two conference wins have been despite Green’s brilliance. Read the rest of this entry »
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ACC Team Previews: Virginia Cavaliers

Posted by KCarpenter on October 26th, 2012

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

The past season was excellent for the Virginia Cavaliers. Sure, the team only went 9-7 in the conference and exited the NCAA Tournament in a spectacular flame-out against Florida in its first game. Still, last season was a success for Tony Bennett. The team nearly ran the table in their non-conference slate except for a strange flukish loss to TCU. This impressive run included victories against Michigan, Drexel, Oregon, George Mason, and LSU. In conference play, Virginia was less consistent (though admittedly they played one of the tougher league schedules), with their two best wins coming against North Carolina State and Miami. Mike Scott‘s career year and Bennett’s pack line defensive scheme powered the Cavaliers to one of Virginia’s best seasons in the past few seasons. With Mike Scott now gone, can the Cavaliers match or better their high-water mark?

Tony Bennett Appears to Have the Cavaliers on the Upswing

Newcomers

The Cavaliers are bringing in a small army to bolster their depleted ranks. Teven Jones, Justin Miller and Taylor Barnette represent the incoming guard rotation. All three initially figured to see only back-up and spot minutes with incumbent senior point guard Jontel Evans taking up most of the time at point guard. Unfortunately for Evans, a stress fracture in his foot has the feisty defender and playmaker sidelined for the beginning part of the season. Unless Bennett elects to hand the keys to his team to senior walk-on, Doug Browman, these three freshmen will likely undergo a sudden baptism by fire.

At the wing, the freshman class brings in some potential future starters. Justin Anderson and Evan Nolte both have a nice array of skills, athleticism, and size at the small forward slot, where Virginia had only Paul Jesperson and converted shooting guards before the arrival of these two. If these guys can play defense to the coaching staff’s satisfaction, it’s likely that they will see plenty of minutes, and indeed, potentially a spot in the starting rotation.

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ACC M5: 10.11.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on October 11th, 2012

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

Posted by KCarpenter on July 30th, 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: Virginia.

Where They Stand Now

Bennett Will Need to Find Some Replacements Next Season

Heading down the stretch, it looked like Virginia was poised to have a moment. Mike Scott was easily one of the two best players in the conference and there was an instant where it looked like the Cavaliers might have the juice to win the ACC. A team that played insanely tough defense just couldn’t find enough offense, though, losing two of its last three games, dropping one to North Carolina State in the first game of the ACC Tournament and getting totally obliterated by Florida in its NCAA Tournament opener. It was a crushingly disappointing end to one of the best seasons of Virginia basketball in years.

Who’s Leaving

In terms of seniors, Virginia is losing its bedrock in Scott, who was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in the early second round after a storied career in Charlottesville. Also hurting their frontcourt depth, seven-footer Assane Sene, was injured and then left the team at the very end of the season, though he would have otherwise presumably graduated and moved on anyway. Finally, the Cavaliers lose Sammy Zeglinski, a reliable veteran guard. During last season, the transfer plague that has dogged Virginia struck again, sending K.T. Harrell to Auburn and James Johnson to San Diego State.

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Who’s Got Next? Illegal Benefits, Kentucky Spotlight, Shabazz Muhammad and More…

Posted by Josh Paunil on May 27th, 2011

Who’s Got Next? is a bi-weekly column by Josh Paunil, the RTC recruiting guru. We encourage you to check out his website dedicated solely to college basketball recruiting, National Recruiting Spotlight, for more detailed recruiting information. Twice a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to who the hot prospects are in the lower levels of the sport. If you have any suggestions as to areas we’re missing, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Introduction

Well, if you haven’t learned yet after the Kevin Ware situation or the Tony Wroten, Jr., drama, the world of college basketball recruiting is nothing without another scandal to fill headlines. It’s also nothing without a big-time commitment happening soon after a de-commitment and the recruiting world certainly can’t live without more news about top five prospects and the rippling affect of other commitments. If you haven’t been able to tell yet, a lot happened in just the past few days in the recruiting world… and we haven’t even started previewing one of the most significant AAU events that will happen all summer.

What They’re Saying

Rodney Purvis tweeted about Ryan Harrow's transfer.

  • Junior Rodney Purvis (#6) on Ryan Harrow’s transfer to Kentucky: “Harrow’s decision doesn’t change my outlook on UK at all. Unless coach tells me otherwise!”
  • Junior Kyle Anderson (#22) on Harrow transferring to the Wildcats: “Ryan Harrow not going to St. John’s keeps them on my list.”
  • Mauricio Ducuara, the head of a basketball foundation in Bogotá, on Hanner Mosquera-Perea (#23) receiving illegal benefits: “People with whom I have spoken said he has received lots of gifts [and] things. If you knew how Hanner grew up the people don’t even have shoes. Hanner came home at Christmas with iPods, iPhones, [Bose] headphones digital cameras. Things that for a kid are impossible.”
  • Baylor assistant coach Mark Morefield : “I guarantee u if he (Perea) does [commit to another school] he will be in Colombia for the spring and summer and next year. Don’t forget it.”
  • Junior Justin Anderson (#45) on why he committed to Virginia: “The Cavaliers were always my second choice behind Maryland. Also, my family lives in Virginia. After the departure of Coach [Gary] Williams and Coach [Robert] Ehsan, it just feels like the right fit.”
  • Junior Archie Goodwin (#19) on other top prospects’ effect on his recruitment: “My friends that are top players are: Rasheed Sulaimon; Shabazz Muhammad; Isaiah AustinRicardo Ledo… [and] Rodney Purvis. When it comes to colleges, we’ll talk about what the coaches told us and see if anything was said different by each other. We’ll compare them that way, but I don’t think it’ll make us decide then and there what we’re gonna do with that school.”
  • Omar Calhoun Sr., junior Omar Calhoun Jr.’s father, on Jim Calhoun potentially retiring: “We believe in UConn and it’s still going to be UConn. We still feel like Coach Calhoun is still going to have a major part still in the development in the program even if he’s not the head coach.”
  • Junior Ricardo Ledo (#9) on the current state of his recruitment: “I don’t have a list, it’s not down to four, I am wide open.”
  • Sophomore Isaiah Lewis on Kentucky and his list: “I really like Kentucky a lot. I think I can play at UK under Coach [John] Calipari and the rest of the coaching staff. I think they can do a great job of coaching me up and getting me to the next level; but I also like other schools, like UConn, Arizona, Kansas, West Virginia, Florida and Florida State right now.”

What Shabazz Muhammad is Saying

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