ACC Preview: Florida State’s Burning Question

Posted by Matt Patton on November 4th, 2014

This team preview is part of the RTC ACC microsite’s preseason coverage. You will find a list with links to all the team previews on the ACC Microsite Preview Page, located here.

Can Leonard Hamilton’s squad finish in the top five of the ACC?

On the surface this question may seem ridiculous. Most previews have Florida State picked to finish somewhere in the middle of the pack, and you have to expect that Duke, North Carolina, Louisville and Virginia will all be very good teams. And that doesn’t even mention perennial powerhouses Syracuse and Pittsburgh. The Seminoles also lost Okaro White and Ian Miller, but hear me out.

I'm betting we'll see more smiles from Leonard Hamilton this year (Photo Credit: Glenn Beil / Democrat).

I’m betting we’ll see more smiles from Leonard Hamilton this year (Glenn Beil/Democrat).

Florida State has a favorable schedule: All four of the opponents it sees twice (Clemson, Pittsburgh, Miami and Virginia Tech) are beatable. They get Duke and Louisville in Tallahassee. Also the former Big East powers are due for down years after both the Orange — Tyler Ennis, CJ Fair and Jerami Grant — and the Panthers — Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna — lost major productivity from their rosters. That potentially leaves a vacuum just below the elite tier where a school like Florida State could finish. There are also dueling x-factors here: Will Boris Bojanovsky and Michael Ojo continue making strides; and can the offense limit its turnovers? Neither question is a new one for this team, but there’s reason to believe the first will come true. The second may be less important: Hamilton has never coached a team in the top-100 in turnover percentage, according to KenPom, but he’s coached plenty of good teams over the years to earn the benefit of the doubt.

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Morning Five: 09.12.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 12th, 2014

morning5

  1. Villanova picked up a big commitment yesterday from five-star point guard Jalen Brunson bringing their 2015 class to three as he joins shooting guard Donte DiVincenzo and power forward Tim Delaney. As Jeff Borzello notes, Brunson’s recruitment was complex and probably wasn’t decided until after Brunson’s father, who was expected to be part of a package deal as an assistant coach, was arrested for alleged sexual assault. Brunson is from Illinois so this is another tough loss for Illini fans, but it still early in the recruiting season so there are still plenty of big names available.
  2. Josh Pastner’s decision to hire Keelon Lawson is paying dividends more quickly than many anticipated. In addition to having a pipeline to Lawson’s kids, who are all highly recruited, Pastner will also get Dedric Lawson, who was the #7 overall recruit in the class of 2016, a year early as Dedric announced that he will reclassify to the class of 2015. By doing so, Dedric will join his brother K.J., ranked #38 in this class, at Memphis next year. The move should not come as too much of a surprise because Dedric’s birth date would make him eligible for the 2016 NBA Draft.
  3. The season hasn’t even started yet, but we already have a pair of significant ACL injuries to report. The most significant one will probably be at Illinois where they appear to have lost Tracy Abrams for the season due to an ACL tear. Abrams, a senior who started all 35 games last season, averaged 10.7 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game last season. Fortunately for Illinois, they appear to have an adequate and seasoned replacement in Oregon State transfer Ahmad Starks. Valparaiso might not be so lucky in terms of finding a replacement for starting point guard Lexus Williams who will also be undergoing surgery for a torn ACL. Williams averaged 6.5 points and 2.3 assists while starting 23 games as a freshman last season. Unlike Illinois, Valparaiso has not set a time table for Williams’ return after his surgery, which is expected to be performed today.
  4. Outside of the Brunson and Lawson news there were also several other significant announcements. The first comes from four-star forward Mickey Mitchell, who recommitted to Ohio State. Mitchell had initially committed to Ohio State, but reopened his recruitment over the summer before finally deciding (we think) that Columbus was the right place for him. Four-star shooting guard Rex Pflueger committed to Notre Dame giving the Irish more options to help with scoring after Jerian Grant and Pat Connaughton leave following this season. On the other end of the spectrum is Kedar Edwards, who reopened his recruitment after having previously committed to Florida State. Edwards was previously expected to play for the Seminoles this season, but for reasons that aren’t clear to us did not enroll. With Florida State picking up several top-tier recruits last week, perhaps Edwards realized that Tallahassee might not be the ideal location for him even for the upcoming years.
  5. We are not sure how many of you have been watching the FIBA Basketball World Cup (judging by the online response we have seen not too many of you), but with the Finals coming up this weekend we were wondering how long the pro experiment will go on. We are young enough (well at least one of us) to not remember what it was like to have amateurs represent us at championship level events against professionals from other countries. It seems like every time there is another international competition the cries for going back to the old format grow louder. While at some level we enjoy seeing the US beat up on the rest of the world, which is something we would expect to do regularly if all of the best NBA players participated, we wonder if it wouldn’t be better just to have a group of players who were really committed to the program although with the brief stops in college for many top players that might not be realistic.
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Morning Five: 09.08.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 8th, 2014

morning5

  1. This weekend might have marked the start of the NFL season for some, but it was also a big one for college basketball recruiting. Florida State was the big winner picking up a pair of top-50 recruits in Dwayne Bacon and Malik Beasley. Both announcements, which were made separately, came on Friday night and gives the Seminoles one of the top classes in the country early in the recruiting season. Louisville also added to its already strong class with the addition of five-star guard Antonio Blakeney. That announcement probably puts the Cardinals in the #1 or 2 spot in the recruiting standing this year with Arizona being the other top choice. We would have considered Oregon State‘s ability to add two top-tier recruits–Trey Tinkle and Stephen Thompson Jr.–last week to be particularly noteworthy except the recruits were the sons of the team’s coaches. Still the addition of those two plus Derrick Bruce is a potential game-changer for the program that has been mired in mediocrity (at best) for quite a while. Texas A&M also picked up a big piece on Sunday night when D.J. Hogg, a five-star small foward, committed to play for the Aggies. While they have not struggled for quite as long as the Beavers, the Aggies haven’t really been relevant since the 2010-11 season.
  2. We have seen a lot of strange movement with top recruits over the years, but Thon Maker‘s international movements appear to be unique. Maker, who is widely considered the top recruit in the class of 2016, came to the United States from Australia (via Sudan) and now is being moved to Canada along with his younger brother Matur, also a top prospect. Maker could conceivably end up reclassifying to the class of 2015, but with all of this movement we don’t know how realistic that is. The decision to move was made by Maker’s guardian, who will also serve as an assistant coach at his new school. We can only hope that this is being made in Maker’s best interest even if we disagree with the general idea behind all of this movement.
  3. After nearly a month Charleston finally found a replacement for Doug Wojcik as it announced its decision to hire Earl Grant. Wojcik was fired in the wake of allegations of abuse against his players, an issue that has become increasingly common. The process to replace Wojcik took longer than expected and likely drove off many of the potential hires that the school looked at. Grant has spent the past four seasons as an assistant at Clemson and at the age of  37 could serve as a potential long-term coach the school needs (or it could be just a stepping stone for him). We normally don’t like to bring race into the discussion of hiring/firing, but as Gary Parrish points out in his background on the situation at Charleston it likely played a role.
  4. We would expect Miami to be a better team with the addition of several key transfers, but they might have lost a big piece last week when Davon Reed underwent surgery after tearing the meniscus in his left knee during an offseason workout that could  keep him out for four to six months. As a freshman last season, Reed started 10 games while averaging 6.6 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.2 assists in a little over 20 minutes per game and scored 11.5 points per game in two ACC Tournament games while coming off the bench. The school has not officially announced whether Reed would redshirt so there is a chance we could see him around the second half of conference play.
  5. We are not sure if the decision by certain Georgia Tech coaches to make impermissible calls just three days after their NCAA hearing was brazen or idiotic, but it helped to get the school two more years of probation. The school’s current probation now extends to June 13, 2017 after its coaches, who were already on probation, made hundreds of impermissible calls and texts. We have gotten to the point where we are not really sure what to make of all of these probation announcements. On one hand, the school was already on probation so you would figure that if they mess up again they should get more than a slap on the wrist. On the other hand, these violations are completely unrelated to the other violations and might not even be violations any more.
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An Early Glimpse at ACC Bracketology

Posted by Chris Kehoe on February 5th, 2014

ESPN.com’s most recent bracketology update has six ACC teams making the Big Dance, with Florida State firmly on the bubble and projected into the #8/#9 game. The division between the elite and the rest of the ACC has become clear and it now appears to be a two-team race for the ACC regular season title (although things could spice up considerably if Virginia knocks off Syracuse). With Pittsburgh’s soft strength of schedule and inability to capitalize against Duke and Virginia, look for the Panthers to obtain a gaudy win total but not much substance on their résumé. North Carolina’s up-and-down season seems to have steadied recently and the Tar Heels’ quality wins rival any team in America as they seem to be firmly entrenched barring a complete collapse (you never know with this group). Syracuse is pushing for a number one seed overall and as this week’s unanimous top team in the national polls; the Orange are well on their way to that goal. Virginia continues to trend upward thanks to its elite-level defense and corresponding ACC success, as the Cavaliers have only one ACC loss at Duke and are within striking distance of the Orange. Duke has a good number of losses (five) for a projected #2 or #3 seed, but the Devils also have some good wins and impressed many supporters in their tight loss at the Carrier Dome last weekend.

The Two Winningest All-Time Coaches are Hugging it Out For Bracketology (credit: SI.com)

The Two Winningest All-Time Coaches are Hugging it Out For Bracketology (credit: SI.com)

The final development to keep your eyes on is whether Clemson can find a way of sneaking into the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers have three difficult games on the horizon — at Syracuse and Notre Dame, vs. Virginia — but if they can make it out of that stretch at 1-2, they could win the next five in a row until their season finale versus Pitt. If the Tigers finish out their season strong they could end up with 11 or 12 ACC wins and a seat firmly on the bubble. A win or two in the ACC Tournament could then result in a dance card. With that in mind, here is a snapshot look at the six ACC teams currently projected into ESPN’s Bracketology and their respective profiles.

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Reflections on ACC Media Day: Operation Basketball

Posted by Christopher Kehoe on October 20th, 2013

The Atlantic Coast Conference hosted its annual media day for college basketball last Wednesday and each school brought along its head coach and two player representatives. The event was held in Charlotte, North Carolina, in the heart of ACC country, and had it’s own television special on ESPNU, the network’s specific college sports channel. While ESPN analysts like former Duke star Jay Williams took to the blacktop to showcase special moves from the player representatives, they also had group interviews indoors with the coaches and the players. Here is a team-by-team look at some of the highlights from ACC media day:

Note: All quotations and highlights were provided by full transcripts from ACC media day from the conference website.

The 15 Coaches and Mascots Assembled at ACC Media Day Last Week (credit: ACC)

The 15 Coaches and Mascots Assembled at ACC Media Day Last Week (credit: ACC)

North Carolina head coach Roy Williams: Williams is playing it safe with his young team by not presenting outrageous expectations and seems to be standing behind his star P.J. Hairston. Interestingly, he has problems with players on very different ends of the weight spectrum, while his deep but very young and inexperienced frontcourt will be intriguing as will the drama surrounding Hairston.

  • On creating new rivalries: Syracuse and North Carolina will form a rivalry quickly, won’t ‘have to wait 10-15 years.’
  • On P.J. Hairston: “He’s done enough to come back to practice” and has been sensational so far in practice and with conditioning.
  • On replacing Reggie BullockLeslie McDonald must be a better defender and J.P. Tokoto must not turn the ball over as much.
  • On ACC supremacy (a continuing theme throughout, you’ve been warned): “I think it will be the greatest basketball conference ever.” He goes on to mention depth of the league and Tobacco Road going beyond just Duke and Carolina.
  • On rules about going pro: He would prefer a rule where players stay in school for at least two years, but acknowledges some players can go pro right away like Kevin Garnett, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant.
  • On Marcus Paige: Can play him simultaneously with freshman Nate Britt, he is one of two leaders on the team along with James McAdoo. Has increased his weight from 154 to 170 now.
  • On Kennedy Meeks: Needs to lose weight, has already dropped from 317 to 285 pounds. Brice Johnson on the other hand needs to gain weight. Williams compares Kennedy Meeks to former UNC great Sean May.
  • On the ACC Tournament changing locations: Likes the idea of Madison Square Garden but cannot forget the North Carolina roots of the ACC, likes the idea of keeping the location moving around.

Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey: I found his comment on overcoaching very refreshing and unique from a coach, but then again Brey has a uncommon mix of talent and experience on hand with his backcourt of Eric AtkinsDemetrius Jackson and Jerian Grant. He will give the players free rein and a lot, if not all, of their season will depend on how these players handle that kind of responsibility and freedom. It will be a fun season for Notre Dame basketball fans; if nothing else they may get to see those horrifyingly bright adidas uniforms the recruits are so keen on.

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Morning Five: 09.11.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 11th, 2013

morning5

  1. When Luke Winn recently wrote about the up-transfer phenomenon his examples were typically players whose performance exceeded the expectation of observers allowing them to move up a level of play. Robert Upshaw, a top-50 recruit coming out of high school, does not quite fit into that category. During his freshman season at Fresno State Upshaw averaged 4.1 points and 3.8 rebounds per game before being dismissed from the team this summer. Despite his poor performance Upshaw will be one of Winn’s up-transfers as he is heading to Washington. For his part Upshaw has acknowledged that he “had some maturity issues” while at Fresno State so hopefully he can turn his career around and fulfill some of the promise he showed coming out of high school.
  2. By now you have probably read the piece by Doug Gottlieb analyzing the controversy surrounding Johnny Manziel and the media’s coverage of the situation. While Gottlieb is very eloquent with his analysis of Manziel’s situation and open in how he relates it to his own well-chronicled ordeals we are not sure his column is necessarily as strong of an argument against paying student-athletes as some would believe. We can certainly see Gottlieb’s argument and student-athletes are given much more than many observers would like to believe, but the reality is that there are certain individuals who if allowed to utilize free-market forces would certain generate significant sums of money. Of course, as we have pointed out in the past this entire issue is much more complex economically and politically than most pundits have stated.
  3. Florida State may have lost out on Xavier Rathan-Mayes (at least temporarily) after he was ruled academically eligible for the coming season, but they got a nice consolation yesterday when Cinmeon Bowers, a 6’6″ junior college forward who averaged 11 points and seven rebounds last season, committed to play for the Seminoles. Bowers, like Rathan-Mayes, was heavily recruited by the Seminoles, but initially failed to qualify academically leading to his time at Chipola Junior College. Bowers fielded quite a few offers and was reportedly also seriously considering Louisville and Memphis, but eventually opted to stay in the area. Bowers will be eligible to play during the 2014-15 season, which is the same point that Rathan-Mayes could become eligible too potentially providing the Seminoles with a much-needed boost.
  4. Yesterday, Sports Illustrated released the first part of its five-part series detailing its 10-month investigation into Oklahoma State and its football program. While the investigation focuses on the football program and we are a basketball site, we thought the public reaction to the story (admittedly to only one-fifth of the story) was interesting in how little the media reacted to this story as we predicted in yesterday’s Morning 5 given how worked up they got over a fairly similar story about Miami just a few years ago. Perhaps the most interesting reaction to the report was the reaction of Jason Whitlock to Thayer Evans and the lack of support Evans got from other media members.
  5. For your incredibly awkward link of the day we will turn to Durham where Mike Krzyzewski recently discussed his encounter with Jay-Z and Beyonce. After introducing LeBron James as Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year, Krzyzewski took his seat and noticed a pair of empty seats that were eventually filled by the couple who are arguably the most influential couple in music. While Krzyzewski reports that he is a fan of Jay-Z (we have a hard time imagining Krzyzewski listening along to almost any of Jay-Z’s music), he claims to be “madly in love with Beyonce”. What happened next according to Krzyzewski appears to be an encounter that was not much different than Chris Farley’s famous Saturday Night Live interview with Paul McCartney.
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Morning Five: 08.27.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on August 27th, 2013

morning5

  1. At this point it seems like the NCAA is just trolling us (ok, we passed that point long ago). The latest outrage is over the NCAA giving Pe’Shon Howard a hardship waiver enabling him to play at USC this season as the result of his grandmother battling an undisclosed form of cancer. Now very few people would raise strenuous objection to the NCAA’s waiver (ok, maybe those who feel that the NCAA hands them out too freely), but this comes at a particularly bad time as it was just last week that news came out the NCAA had denied another player a waiver after both his father and brother died last winter (see point #2). As for the actual on-court ramifications it is a big pick-up for Andy Enfield and will move Howard from a probable back-up at Maryland to a likely starter to USC.
  2. If you had any question about the impact of Emmanuel Mudiay commitment to Southern Methodist, which Chris Johnson covered yesterday in his post, look no further than the report by Jeff Goodman that Myles Turner was now considering going to SMU too. Turner, who emerged as a top-ten prospect during the summer, had cut his list to eight school as of earlier this month and at the time SMU was not on the list. Now it appears that Turner is planning on taking an official visit to the school. We are not sure if anything will come of this or if it is merely one high school star looking at a school that one of his friends from the AAU circuit opted to go to, but this type of attention can only boost SMU’s reputation among recruits and the school will have to hope that it can continue beyond this year.
  3. Most of our attention regarding the eligibility of incoming freshmen guards in the state of Florida has been focused on Gainesville where the fate of Chris Walker remains in limbo, but it turns out that Florida State is the first school in Florida to feel the brunt of the NCAA Clearinghouse this season as incoming guard and consensus top-50 recruit Xavier Rathan-Meyes was declared ineligible for the coming season after his file was reviewed by the NCAA Clearinghouse. According to reports the issue stems from the NCAA’s concerns with a year of his credits from Christian Faith Center in North Carolina. Rathan-Meyes will be allowed to enroll at FSU this year under his athletic scholarship and the school hopes to have him eligible for the 2014-15 season.
  4. Over the past few years TV deals for conferences and more significantly schools have become a topic of intense focus, but one area that has largely ignored was how schools that do not even generate headlines with their TV deals can benefit. The New York Times took an interesting look at how Louisville has benefited from its relationship with ESPN. As the article notes the school has had to make many sacrifices including playing many weekday college football games that at one time were considered a major negative for the program, but now have become a protected national stage for the program (both football and overall) to shine and make generate revenue for the school that goes well beyond that night’s gross sales. This obviously raises questions as to what will happen as Fox Sports 1 and other competitors enter the landscape and threaten to poach schools away from ESPN and how ESPN will respond, but we will leave that for another day.
  5. It would not have helped Syracuse’s APR if such a metric existed at the time, but it is nice to see that Syracuse legend Derrick Coleman is returning to school to finish the requisite coursework to graduate even if it is 23 years after he left the school to go to the NBA. For our younger readers who may not remember, Coleman actually did stay at Syracuse for four years before he was selected as the #1 overall pick in the 1990 NBA Draft by the New Jersey Nets. Despite spending four years at Syracuse, Coleman is still 12 credits short of getting his degree and is supposedly set to graduate this coming spring based on his schedule although he will be taking his course online, which gives him a little more leeway in terms of when he will finish.
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Rushed Reactions: North Carolina 83, Florida State 62

Posted by mpatton on March 15th, 2013

rushedreactions

Matt Patton is an ACC microsite writer. He filed this report after Friday night’s game between UNC and Florida State in the ACC quarterfinals from Greensboro.

Three Key Takeaways:

Michael Snaer is done in the ACC.

Michael Snaer is done in the ACC.

  1. Seminole Interior Defense: The striking thing watching this game wasn’t that North Carolina was torching Florida State from three. That happens, and it happens to good defensive teams. What was surprising is how easily North Carolina got into and scored in the lane. When all was said and done the Tar Heels finished with 36 points in the paint and made 14 of their 22 attempts inside the arc (for the second half). Part of the problem was that Florida State started sleepwalking through the motions after getting down 20. But this team has given up a lot more layups than Leonard Hamilton-coached teams of yore. A youthful front line is probably the problem for two reasons: (1) the Florida State fives don’t know where they’re supposed to be; and (2) they let the game impact their defense. Both are reasons not to despair long-term about the Seminoles, as experience will help drastically.
  2. Snaer’s Last ACC Game: Michael Snaer owned the best stat line on the floor (8-of-12 shooting for 20 points to go with five assists, two blocks and a steal), but couldn’t plug the holes in his team’s defense. The line was a fitting way for him to go out, but the game couldn’t have been worse. Snaer is the most competitive player I’ve ever covered, but this game wasn’t competitive thanks to hot shooting and team youth. After the game, Roy Williams talked about his brief comment to Snaer in the handshake line: “I told him he was a heck of a player, I enjoyed watching him play, and I told him that maybe that doesn’t make him feel good right now but maybe he could appreciate it later because I’m a huge fan of his.” Coach K has given Snaer similar praise. Count me in as well.
  3. Paige’s Rebound: In his two games before this Marcus Paige had a combined 13 turnovers. Against Florida State, he had 10 assists and one turnover. It helped that his teammates were hitting shots when he found them, but Paige’s vision was tremendous. He played smart and within his limits — which may be the hardest part of being a point guard in Roy Williams’ system. If he plays to this level, North Carolina is an excellent team.

Star of the GamePJ Hairston (honorable mention to Snaer) dominated the game from the moment he touched the ball. His stat line by the time he left with a little over four minutes left was 7-11 from the field, 21 points and a couple of steals. But his stat line doesn’t do his performance justice. He was making everything from beyond the arc: When Florida State had a hand in his face, it didn’t matter; when it was a step-back from 22 feet, it didn’t matter. He started the game with two threes after Florida State turnovers before two back-breaking threes down the stretch in the first half took the Tar Heel lead from two to 10. His threes fed his team energy and sucked the soul out of Florida State, who looked like dead men walking by the final buzzer.

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Morning Five: 02.27.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on February 27th, 2013

morning5

  1. The announcement by Mike Krzyzewski that he would no longer coach Team USA was not really a surprise to those who have been paying attention as he has been saying for quite a while that he would be giving up the position after the London Olympics. Given Krzyzewski’s age (66) his decision to stop coaching internationally is really not much of a surprise and it should allow him to focus on coaching Duke for the next few years although the way things are going it is hard to imagine him leaving the sideline at Cameron any time soon. It will be interesting to see how Krzyzewski’s international coaching credentials (two Olympic gold medals, one World Championship gold medal, and one World Championship bronze medal while reinvigorating the Team USA experience) impact how he is rated historically when he retires.
  2. The recruitment of Andrew Wiggins, the #1 recruit in the class of 2013, appears to be winding down as he is planning on taking visits to Kansas, North Carolina, and Kentucky. We are sure that those three schools, which along with Florida State are the four finalists for Wiggins’ services, will bring out all they can to woo Wiggins (presumably within NCAA limits). The most interesting experience for Wiggins may be at Kentucky where the school will honor the 1996 championship team with rings. We doubt this was planned to coincide with Wiggins visit, but given Calipari’s recruiting wizardry we wouldn’t put it past him.
  3. Jim Boeheim‘s post-game rants are becoming more regular these days, which might reflect his team’s struggles. His latest rant came at the expense of Jeff Goodman, who did not seem to mind Boeheim’s vitriol. As Goodman points out Boeheim’s rants are nothing new and in fact are part of who he is. For our part, we don’t mind when a coach goes off like this as we find it more amusing than anything else and even when we witness it firsthand (never on the direct receiving end yet) in the media room it doesn’t bother us. We will give Boeheim some credit here as he at least went after experienced reporters rather than lighting up some college kid who might have struggled with it more.
  4. It is not often that you see a conference come out and admit that its officials messed up, but it is not often that you see officials make as many glaring mistakes in crucial situations as the officials in Monday night’s game between Kansas and Iowa State did. In a terse statement the Big 12 admitted that mistakes were made and that the officials who made those mistakes would see a change in their schedules. While a few individuals have called for more specifics on what will be done with those officials we are just happy to see an organization associated with college sports admit that they made a mistake with the promise of trying to rectify it in the future. Now if they could just get the governing body to follow suit.
  5. We have heard of a lot of questionable decisions by the NCAA, but it appears that they are not the only national college sports organization making strange decisions. The latest example comes from the NJCAA, which declared Indian Hills Community College (26-4 and #3 in the NJCAA) ineligible for the postseason after its president posted bail for one of the team’s players. The tale of how the school and the player got there is fairly complex, but essentially the school played a game about 80 miles away from its campus that featured a large brawl that resulted nine players and one coach getting suspended. One player–Ronald Ross–was arrested for punching the opposing coach’s son, who was neither a coach nor player. Ross was charged with assault and taken to a local jail before being bailed out by the school’s president, who did not want to leave a player/student in jail 80 miles from campus. Unfortunately, when the school reported this to the NJCAA they were hit with probation and banned from this year’s postseason.
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ACC M5: 01.08.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 8th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Grantland: Shane Ryan gave an update on college basketball as a whole but not surprisingly focused on the ACC. His main league points: (1) Duke is one of two dominant teams this year, along with Michigan; (2) NC State‘s ceiling is the Sweet Sixteen; and (3) Maryland looks like the second best team in the conference. My only caveats: (1) I want to see Duke win an ugly game in a hostile environment before getting too deep into “dominant” talk; (2) NC State has shown the ability to play better defense and make the Sweet Sixteen with a worse team and anything can happen at the Big Dance; and (3) Virginia Tech wasn’t really a test and we shouldn’t judge the Terrapins too concretely until the next six games happen.
  2. College Basketball Talk: Eric Angevine talked with Marcus Paige about the Tar Heels’ loss to Virginia. Paige was very complimentary of the Cavaliers on offense and defense. He pointed to Virginia’s fighting through screens and the pack-line’s ability to take away driving lanes as big parts to its defensive success. The Cavaliers not needing help on screens clearly flustered everyone on North Carolina’s team to no end (aside from Reggie Bullock, who had a great night). But the Tar Heels won’t see many defenses like that going forward, so that’s not as troubling as the number of wide open shots Virginia had thanks to running players off those screens.
  3. Charlotte Observer: Quinn Cook and Tyler Thornton used to play for the same AAU team in middle school. Duke’s point guard pair’s longtime friendship definitely helps with team chemistry. It also probably played a big role in Cook’s dramatic improvement as a defender (seriously, watch some Duke tape from last year… he was one of Duke’s biggest defensive liabilities). Not to beat a dead horse, but there’s a closeness that pervades this Duke team that simply wasn’t there last year. That really close bond is also why Josh Hairston sees so many more minutes than the new, more talented, freshmen.
  4. Florida Today: Terry Whisnant is Florida State‘s best shooter. He’s part of the slew of combo guards Leonard Hamilton uses on a frequent basis, adjusting the rotation based on match-ups and who’s hot. It sounds like Whisnant would like more time, but understands his current role on the team. If the Seminoles start showing big improvements and get a couple of statement wins under their belts, that understanding may be a little less bitter. Regardless, if you’re looking for the man most likely to pull a Deividas Dulkys impersonation this season, Whisnant is your man.
  5. Hampton Roads Daily Press: Akil Mitchell was questionable for Sunday’s North Carolina – Virginia game thanks to a sprained ankle he suffered in practice. But Mitchell clearly didn’t want to watch from the sidelines, either. He gutted out the game, and played very well regardless. Interestingly, Mitchell wanted to keep his injury a secret before game time. He went as far as to tell his mother to remove a Facebook status discussing the injury. Now that the adrenaline and anti-inflammatories have worn off, don’t be surprised if Mitchell takes the next game off to let his ankle get better. But I’ll bet it was totally worth it to knock off the Tar Heels for the first time in the John Paul Jones Arena.
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On Florida State, Leonard Hamilton, and Puzzling Losses…

Posted by mpatton on December 3rd, 2012

Florida State has been to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last four years. Leonard Hamilton‘s conference records during those years are (chronologically): 10-6, 10-6, 11-5, and 12-4. Last year the Seminoles were two games from tying North Carolina for the top spot in the ACC despite beating Duke and the Tar Heels (their only loss on Tobacco Road last year came at home against the Blue Devils). What held them back? A 20-point beatdown at the hands of a mediocre Clemson team to open conference play and the conference upset of the year against Boston College.

Leonard Hamilton’s teams rack up some great wins and puzzling losses (Photo Credit: Glenn Beil / Democrat).

But don’t stop with conference play. Last year the Seminoles also lost to two Ivy League schools; the year before they were Auburn’s lone non-conference win against a power conference school. The years 2008-10 were much smoother, as Hamilton’s squad escaped with only a head-scratcher at home against Sidney Lowe’s NC State and a 14-point loss at a middling Northwestern squad, respectively. This year looks like more of the same, as Florida State has already lost to Southern Alabama and Mercer (at home). But what is it about these games? Are they a product of Hamilton’s system? Or are they a part of it? It may be a little of both. I don’t believe for a second that Hamilton wants those losses. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he expected them.

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ACC Team Previews: Florida State Seminoles

Posted by mpatton on October 30th, 2012

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

Leonard Hamilton and his team knocked off Duke and North Carolina to become the first ACC champion from somewhere off of Tobacco Road since Maryland in 2004. Hamilton’s team used experience, physical defense and drive to push through the ACC Tournament before falling in a brutal game to Cincinnati in the NCAA Tournament Round of 32. Still, the Seminoles’ triumph earned Hamilton the credibility where it’s time to start accepting his teams as conference contenders — especially when star guard Michael Snaer is at the helm.

Luke Loucks is gone, but Michael Snaer is ready to build on a dream season (Reuters)

This isn’t to say picking Florida State to finish near the top of the league again is a no-brainer; on the contrary, the Seminoles lost six players to graduation, including three starters. Among those leaving were Luke Loucks, the veteran point guard who played the cool foil to Snaer much of last year, and Bernard James, whose shot-blocking and tough defense anchored one of the best defenses in the country.

Newcomers

Five freshmen and a junior college transfer join the Seminoles this season, headlined by Aaron Thomas and Montay Brandon. Brandon, a consensus four-star 6’7″ wing out of Greensboro, North Carolina, looks to be a paradigmatic Hamilton player: He’s very long, athletic and is ready to focus on defense. Thomas was also a consensus four-star recruit and is known as a slasher; he’ll be backing up Florida State’s very talented backcourt this season. His playing time will probably directly correlate to how his defense stacks up with Ian Miller. Devon Bookert and junior college transfer Robert Gilchrist also join the Seminoles, though look for their impact to be somewhat down the road. Bookert is an offensive-minded point guard out of Alaska, and Gilchrist is a skinny forward with terrific length and athleticism. Finally, there are the seven footers Michael Ojo and Boris Bojanovsky. Ojo and Bojanovsky are both very raw, but the Seminoles will need an eraser at the center of Hamilton’s defense, and one or both may play significant time if they can fit that role.

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