ACC Morning Five: 01.31.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 31st, 2012

  1. Washington Post: Remember how Lefty Driesell complained about Maryland naming its court after Gary Williams? Well, he’s still talking. I’ll just pick out some choice quotes:

    “Everybody’s gonna think well Gary Williams’s players are the ones that put Maryland on the map. You know, Maryland was on the map before Gary got there.
    [On Georgia State’s court being named after him] Yeah, it sure is. Well, you know, they never had a successful program before I got there. Never.
    I think Mark Turgeon’s gonna win a couple of national championships.
    [On how Williams should have been honored] Well, I don’t know. You know, he got banners up there for winning the national championship. Maybe like the Orioles do, put a statue out back.”

    The moral of the story is Driesell isn’t happy and isn’t hiding his opinions.

  2. Beyond the Arc: Mike Miller sat down with Adam Rowe of Duke Hoop Blog to talk about the Blue Devils. One thing I really wish Rowe had mentioned is the lack of a versatile wing on the perimeter defensively. Kyle Singler was a big part of Duke’s defense the last four years. Combine his versatility with Nolan Smith’s on-ball pressure and you got a top defensive team despite not having ludicrous athleticism (as Arizona exposed in the NCAA Tournament). This year’s team doesn’t have that versatility and only Tyler Thornton applies great on-ball pressure. One of the more interesting points Rowe made was that Thornton is often credited as a great defensive stopper when he really is just good at playing physical defense and getting into passing lanes (though I think stopping, outside of shot-blockers, is generally a team stat on defense).
  3. ACC Sports Journal: Frank Haith had a reputation in the ACC “as a nice guy who recruited good players and did a middling job molding them into competitive teams.” Frankly, that’s probably generous. Haith was frequently panned, especially following last season when he brought back an experienced and talented squad but did little with it. But Haith’s success at Missouri stands in stark contrast with perceptions at Miami. Is it the perfect storm of the right players? I don’t know. What I do know is that Haith put on a miniature coaching clinic last night against Rick Barnes (another ACC coaching alum) when he went zone against Texas, shutting down J’Covan Brown entirely on the final possession of Missouri’s one-point win over the Longhorns in Austin.
  4. The State: Bad news coming out of Clemson, as Milton Jennings will be suspended because of  “‘failure to comply’ with the team’s academic standards.” Failure to comply is an interesting word choice — maybe just a slip of the keys, but that doesn’t sound like a grade issue. It sounds like a cheating, class cutting or missed assignment issue. The last of those options seems the most likely as Jeff Borzello tweeted yesterday that Jennings “should be back soon.” It hasn’t been a great season for Jennings off the court between this and getting into it with Brad Brownell.
  5. Washington Post: I always love it when coaches talk some trash. And Shaka Smart fired some shots across the Commonwealth of Virginia, saying “the reality is if you go by the numbers, if you go by postseason, if you go by even guys going to the NBA, the best programs in the state are in the CAA. It’s really not even close.” My guess is Tony Bennett has something to say about that. Most years Seth Greenberg would probably be a little more outspoken too.

Fun Fact: Richard Howell is on pace to break NC State’s foul record of 110 (set by Ilian Evtimov). He already has 73 in the books and doesn’t appear to be slowing down.

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ACC Morning Five: 01.27.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 27th, 2012

  1. Virginian-Pilot: Lefty Driesell wasn’t the only one annoyed by Maryland naming its court after Gary Williams. Apparently, some boosters also came forward to express their dismay and there are rumors “that somebody with very deep pockets might have influenced the decision.” Some of the complaints seemed focused on the Driesell being overlooked (and ultimately, I think that’s the reason for almost all of the complaints), but others focus on Williams’ abysmal graduation rate (barely 1/5 of his players graduated his last 15 years). In my opinion (regardless of deep pockets), Maryland made the right move naming the court after Williams.
  2. Charlotte Observer: Karl Hicks is the man behind the ACC scheduling. His job is to make sure the unbalanced schedules are as balanced as possible. Basically, he is supposed to tell the future and try to keep teams from getting front- or rear-loaded schedules. Currently, the extreme could be seen with NC State, who played cellar-dwellers until running into a buzz saw in Chapel Hill. Florida State had the opposite issue, as it played a nasty early conference schedule with only a home game against Duke and two games against Virginia looking like real challenges after a brutal early stretch.
  3. Grantland: First, for the record, there are some years I would agree with Shane Ryan that Duke’s game at Maryland was the most emotional of the season. In general, those years left with Greivis Vasquez. This year I think home against North Carolina will be Duke’s biggest emotional game though their game at Florida State will be another big one. This isn’t to understate Duke-Maryland as a rivalry (which happens most of the time), but it’s not turned up to eleven like in years past. The most valuable tidbit from the article is the YouTube video, which breaks down Andre Dawkins‘ defensive struggles.
  4. Virginia Tech Collegiate Times: The Hokie student newspaper checks in on the recent debate over Seth Greenberg‘s job stability with a piece looking at the major arguments for and against him. Unfortunately, the pro-Greenberg slant left off the most important stat: before Greenberg showed up, Virginia Tech had faced six out of seven losing seasons and won six games in two years in the Big East. Greenberg brought the program to a level its never been to. He also just landed a top-25 recruiting class last year that should prove its worth over the next few years. I understand it’s frustrating to perennially be on the bubble, but don’t let that wipe out past struggles.
  5. ESPN: The Worldwide Leader checks in on how to fix Duke‘s attendance issue point-by-point. I’m pretty sure this article is supposed to be ironic, but the suggestions aren’t very witty. To the first point (about conflicting with rush events), I’ll also point out that Wake Forest is not good this year. Is that an excuse for a top-10 team not filling its stands? No, but it’s a lot harder to get fraternities and sororities out for what’s expected to be a blowout. I’ll let you read the rest.

EXTRA: The legendary NC State player David “Skywalker” Thompson who led NC State to an undefeated season in 1973 and a national championship in 1974 is helping his community as a motivational speaker. College basketball robbed its fans of seeing his 48-inch vertical (five inches higher than Vince Carter) in all its majesty because of a dunk ban at the time. Thompson himself struggled with substance abuse during his professional career, robbing himself and the fans of what should have been one of the top careers ever. Thompson’s goal is to share his mistakes, so kids today don’t make the same ones.

“But he did make one dunk in his college career — a thunderous jam in his final regular-season home game that showed fans what they had been missing.

‘They gave me a technical (foul), and I got a standing ovation,’ he said, laughing. ‘You don’t usually have your coach (Norman Sloan) smiling and your fans cheering when you get a T.'”

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ACC Morning Five: 01.26.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 26th, 2012

  1. Baltimore Sun: Apparently, there was a little more drama in Maryland’s court-naming than previously thought (there was a little hiccup this summer when the athletic department was trying to decide whether to name it after Gary Williams or Lefty Driesell). According to Jeff Barker, Driesell called out the athletic department: “It’s not fair to my players that they would put Gary Williams’ name on the court.” It was hard to tell whether Driesell was jealous the court wasn’t named after him, or annoyed that it was named at all. Ignoring hurt egos the ceremony went off without a hitch (minus the loss) as students and fans packed the Comcast Center for a final chance to see Williams on the floor.
  2. Wilmington Star News: Speaking of rivalry games, Roy Williams took some time to explain his dislike of NC State (earlier this year he said he’d shoot BB guns at Wolfpack fans in the Dean Dome). Basically, it sounds like NC State fans were mean to him growing up and never relented when he got to North Carolina: “some other people put us down any way they could to me and I took offense to that. It’s a childish way to react but it’s stuck with me.” Regardless of why, tonight’s game should be very fun to watch and features a lot of juicy match-ups on both ends.
  3. Deseret News: Stilman White‘s name has been in the press a lot lately, but many people don’t know much about him beyond his stat line. Trent Toone adds a little to White’s background, as well as paralleling his experience with former Duke player, Matt Christensen. Christensen was a Mormon who also wanted to go on a mission, which limited his recruitment. Because Mormon athletes in the ACC are so rare, I never really thought about the issues that arise from having to leave for an extended period of time in the middle of one’s career. It took Christensen seven years before he graduated from Duke — he was never a star, only averaging around eight minutes a game, but he participated on the 2001 national championship team.
  4. Carolina March: This is a fascinating article worth thinking about. Basically, the two questions are: “Is there an ‘ACC style of play’?” and “Does that style still exist?” Because of the recent conference expansion and coaching turnover, the answers appear to be “yes” and “no,” respectively. But what is the ACC style? Is it connected to coaches, geography or officiating? To tell you the truth, I’m not sure. The midwestern style seems clear (“slow”). The northeastern is debatable but “physical” is the first word that comes to mind. It’s a very cool idea that is worth investigating in the offseason (thank you, ACC Vault).
  5. Basketball Prospectus: The first edition of John Gasaway’s “Tuesday Truths” is out! It’s too early to get super reliable data, as some schools (here’s to looking at you, NC State) have played relatively unimpressive conference schedules while others (Florida State) have a lot under their belts. Interesting quick hits: the ACC is the fastest-playing BCS conference; Virginia‘s defense is gnarly; Duke‘s offense is outrageous; Florida State is making its money on the offensive end; and NC State is the second fastest team in the league. The league is also fairly up for grabs (no one is dominating the efficiency ratings so far, unlike the Big Ten, Big 12 or Big East).

EXTRA: Would Gary Williams coach the Washington Wizards? Well, this appears to still be rampant speculation, but Williams’ answer is certainly interesting:

“Well, I did have some opportunities to get into the league in the past, ” Williams said. “When I retired, you think, well, you’ve coached the last time. And I’d been a college coach a long time. The pro game’s always fascinated me because it’s pure basketball. You’re kind of on equal footing because of salary caps and things like that. I will always like that idea, because sometimes in college you get into situations where you just don’t have the ability to do what other teams you have to supposedly beat [can do]. You know, you never say never, is the way I’ve always looked at it.”

Like Dan Steinberg says, I’d totally be up for seeing Williams try his hand at coaching professionals for a variety of reasons.

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Morning Five: 01.26.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on January 26th, 2012

  1. Gray is the way, so says the shoe company behemoth Nike, which on Wednesday unveiled nine new “platinum” uniform designs that will be worn by hand-selected schools that have won national championships as members of the Beaverton, Oregon, product line. Seven men’s schools — Arizona, Connecticut, Duke, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Syracuse — along with two women’s schools — Baylor and Connecticut — will sport the post-modern uniforms for one game later this season. These uniforms are certain to be a marketing hit in much the same way that some of their alt-football jerseys have been, most notably at Oregon. The template for each uniform is basically the same — a silver base with one primary accent color as trim — and you can see a few of the examples here: Kentucky, North Carolina, Syracuse. One interesting note is that each school has an aerographic star on the back of the jersey for each national title it has won. Kentucky’s, for example, has seven stars on its back. North Carolina has five, while Duke has four, and so on. Somebody needs to get Phil Knight on the phone immediately to explain to him the necessity of claiming Helms titles as national championships too. Right?
  2. Michael McKnight of checks in with an in-depth look at the point-shaving scandalthat enveloped the San Diego basketball program last year, and concludes that the evidence that the federal government thinks it has against former Torero star player Brandon Johnson and the other defendants might not be all that it’s cracked up to be. For one, the primary informant that the government relied upon for its information is not only marginally credible, but there may be major problems rendering his testimony admissible in a court of law anyway. Further, a review of the possible game that Johnson was most likely to have shaved points from — February 18, 2010 vs. St. Mary’s — shows that the evidence to support such a claim is less than persuasive. It’s an interesting read about a situation that made a very mild wave last year before everyone moved on to conference realignment, but one that SI has clearly done its work on in the interim.
  3. Seth Davis has been busy this week as we slip and slide into the final six weeks of the regular season. His always-fun mailbag column has made a re-appearance, and this time the topics ranged from the legitimacy of Missouri (written before the Tigers were RTC’d last night at Oklahoma State), the highest NCAA seed that Murray State can expect in March (we’d generally agree), the passion of Iowa’s Fran McCaffery (don’t you hate Iowa?), doubting San Diego State (and San Diego State?), and a few others (and everyone else?).
  4. Star treatment — it’s a fact of life in basketball at almost every level of the sport. From grade school to the highest of the professional leagues, defensive schemes are typically designed around stopping the other team’s best player. Mike DeCourcy takes a look at how such treatment has impacted an RTC favorite, Creighton’s Doug McDermott this season as game plans have adjusted to compensate for his ridiculous numbers (24/9 on 62%/50%/83% shooting). It’s true that his numbers have dropped a bit in conference play as the double-teams have come at him in earnest, but great players get their numbers regardless, and we have no doubt that McDermott will learn to adjust on the fly as he’s been so capable at doing throughout his short collegiate career.
  5. We mentioned this in yesterday’s M5, but the public unveiling of Gary Williams Court at Maryland occurred prior to last night’s game versus Duke at the Comcast Center. Even though the game ended up as yet another loss to the hated Blue Devils (1-10 in the last five seasons), the moments prior to the game were touching as Maryland fans received a final chance to cheer for and say goodbye to the coach that led the Terps to their greatest heights as a basketball program. Remember that Williams decided to retire after his star player last season, Jordan Williams, left school in early May to enter the NBA Draft. His many supporters and fans at the school had not had a chance until last night to give him a proper sendoff.

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Morning Five: 01.25.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on January 25th, 2012

  1. Kansas State received good news on Tuesday when center Jordan Henriquez was reinstated to the team after a brief suspension for “conduct detrimental to the team.” Frank Martin’s comments about Henriquez were particularly interesting, stating that the junior is “a big-time kid” who “lost sight of what he needed to do.” According to the coach, this was only the second time in his 27 years of coaching that he’d suspended a player, which makes us wonder if all the yelling and histrionics scares the kids so much that they generally toe the line. Regardless, K-State will have Henriquez back in the lineup for tonight’s game against Texas Tech in Lubbock.
  2. Connecticut is not as lucky today as it continues to await the decision on the eligibility of one of its key players, Ryan Boatright. His 12th day in limbo passed on Tuesday as the NCAA investigated banking records from his mother’s accounts, allegedly as a result of a felon ex-boyfriend of hers dropping dime about cash deposits made to her bank on behalf of Boatright. Whether true or not, the New York Times‘ Joey Nocera has taken the opportunity to skewer the NCAA in a two-part piece that published in the last several days. Part One focused on the impermissible benefit in the form of a plane ticket that Boatright’s mother received during her son’s recruitment from none other than Reggie Rose (what IS it with this guy and NCAA violations involving planes?) — this violation cost Boatright the first six games of the season. Part Two discusses the most recent possible violation, several cash deposits that Boatright’s mother claims were from friends so that she could buy Christmas presents for her family last year. In the meantime, Boatright has not been able to suit up for the Huskies in its last three games, two of which ended up as losses (vs. Cincinnati; @ Tennessee). Jim Calhoun’s team really needs the offensive and ball-handling duties that the freshman guard provides, but for now all they can do is wait.
  3. Minnesota’s Trevor Mbakwe has had a difficult college career filled with injuries, suspensions and even criminal charges filed against him. His latest disappointment came earlier this season when, only seven games into his senior year, he injured his knee and was forced to call it quits. The problem is that even though he was a freshman at Marquette in 2007-08, he’s only played one full season of college basketball — 2010-11 at Minnesota. His freshman year in Milwaukee was cut short because of another knee injury, and the next year was his mandatory redshirt year as a transfer to play for Tubby Smith. In 2009-10, he spent the entire season suspended as a result of assualt charges he faced in Miami, and of course this year he only played seven games. As a result of all this, Mbakwe is considering petitioning to the NCAA for a rare sixth season of eligiblity in 2012-13. His argument will revolve around his suspension year at Minnesota, which the NCAA will need to determine was a set of circumstances “beyond his control.” The Florida case against Mbakwe may be three years old now, but its adjudication is actually still pending, so if he can successfully beat the rap in the next few months, maybe he’ll be able to sell that factor on the NCAA when he asks for another year to play college basketball.
  4. As we wrote about on the ACC microsite yesterday, Gary Williams was commemorated by dedicating the floor of Maryland’s Comcast Center with his name on Monday night. But, as the Baltimore Sun‘s Jeff Barker writes, there was at least one other former Maryland coach very miffed by such a public display of affection. Lefty Driesell may not have won a national title in College Park, but he built the Terrapins program to heights not seen again until Williams’ arrival in the late 1980s, and he believes that such an honor is “a disservice to players such as Tom McMillen, John Lucas, Len Elmore, Brad Davis, Greg Manning, Adrian Branch and Steve Sheppard” and that he doesn’t believe any coach’s name should be on the floor at Maryland. For what it’s worth, the school is reportedly considering some kind of honor for Driesell, but it’s unknown what, if any, form that will take.
  5. Pat Forde and his Forde Minutes were back yesterday with more drops of knowledge than you could shake a Dragon at. He finds a way to tailor a column that examines in-conference strength of schedule (thanks, @kenpomeroy), the best programs to have never reached a Final Four (left unsaid: avoid playing Connecticut), and a re-examination of the three schools that he thought had potential for greatness this season (agree with one choice, still thinking on another, disagree on the third). As always, it’s a fun and enlightening read, and one well worth the time but shouldn’t take you nearly as long as the column name suggests.
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Highlights from Maryland’s Tribute to Gary Williams Last Night

Posted by mpatton on January 24th, 2012

First, thanks to Bonnie Bernstein for tweeting these images and quotes out last night, as the event wasn’t broadcast anywhere that I could find.

Maryland kicked off it’s two-part celebration of dedicating the basketball court to Gary Williams last night. The event featured his ACC coaching brethren such as Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski, as well as former players Juan Dixon and Walt “Wizard” Williams.

All in all it sounded like a terrific event. I for one, can’t think of two players better (other than possibly adding Greivis Vasquez) to honor Williams’ coaching career. Walt Williams chose to stay at Maryland despite impending NCAA sanctions (thanks to Bob Wade, and piled onto the program’s already tough times of Lefty Driesell’s departure in the wake of the Len Bias tragedy). Basically, Gary Williams inherited a mess and Williams stayed to help rebuild the program. By his senior season, Walt Williams was a second-team All-American and averaged almost 27 points a game en route to beating Len Bias’ single season scoring record at Maryland.

New Logo outside of the Comcast Center Showing Gary Williams' Fist-Pumping Silhouette (credit: @EmmyTerp)

Juan Dixon’s story is very different. Seriously, read it. He grew up the son of two heroin addicts, both of whom died of AIDS less than two years apart when he was a teenager. Dixon battled his way to two Final Fours, a national championship and the all-time career scoring record in College Park. He never looked like a dominant player, but he was always ready to hit the big shot — be it a dagger three or two free throws — to ice a close game. Dixon was one of the best players of the last decade. He’s also someone I will always associate with Gary Williams.

It sounded like a very special event. The second half of the ceremony will be tomorrow night before the 9 o’clock game against Duke. Let’s hope this one is televised.

(h/t Dan Steinberg)

See the images from Bernstein’s Twitter feed and a sneak peak of the court after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

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ACC Morning Five: 01.24.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 24th, 2012

  1. Inside Carolina: The question of the week is how will North Carolina deal with losing Dexter Strickland. The simple answers are Stilman White (who has racked up just over 60 minutes of playing time this year) will be Kendall Marshall’s backup at point, and Reggie Bullock will replace Strickland in the starting line-up. Bullock has really come into his own this year, and many Tar Heel fans were already calling for him to start due to his huge offensive upgrade over Strickland. He also always draws the toughest defensive assignment when he’s on the floor because his length and athleticism make him a terrific perimeter defender. Not surprisingly, Roy Williams is not considering pulling Leslie McDonald’s red-shirt (McDonald isn’t a point guard). One of Williams’ ideas to keep Marshall out of foul trouble: “I may just decide to play a 2-3 zone the whole game and put Kendall in the middle and tell him never to foul.”
  2. Orlando Sentinel: In our no-brainer move of the week, the ACC named Michael Snaer its Player of the Week after he knocked down not one, but two huge threes in Florida State’s upset bid at Duke. Austin Rivers also took rookie of the week honors after settling into conference play with 19 points in the Blue Devils’ loss to the Seminoles. Both performances were pretty significant. Rivers proved he could be “the guy” against tough defenses, and Snaer continued his streak of games scoring in double figures. For both teams to be successful, those trends will have to continue.
  3. Raleigh News & Observer: For the first time in several years, the North CarolinaNC State game feels important beyond the rivalry. NC State looks like a NCAA tournament team but still needs a marquee win to hang its hat on. The Tar Heels have shown some mortality. Even when both teams were ranked in Herb Sendek’s final season with the Wolfpack, his downplaying of the rivalry kept it from feeling like a big deal. Mark Gottfried is not Sendek. I personally think the Wolfpack starting five can hang with the Tar Heels. And I’m very excited to see Lorenzo Brown and Kendall Marshall face off at the point guard spot although I wouldn’t be surprised to see Reggie Bullock guarding Brown.
  4. Fox Sports Carolinas: Duke still has issues defensively and at the point guard position. In the past the Blue Devils have been fine without a point guard, but this year the offense is focused on the interior. The Plumlees need someone to get them the ball. So far, only Quinn Cook has shown the ability to do that consistently (but his turnover issues made him an extreme liability against Florida State). Defensively, Duke lacks the athleticism and flexibility of past teams that had both good on-ball defenders and flexible wings, like Kyle Singler, to make Mike Krzyzewski’s over-playing man-to-man defense effective. They have to fix both issues to be a legitimate contender. Period.
  5. Miami Herald: Jim Larranga is getting tired of his team’s lack of progress. I’d be frustrated too: the Hurricanes had one assist to nine turnovers at the half and shot 2-20 from three against NC State. Kenny Kadji’s play has been about the only positive thing for the Hurricanes so far this season. Reggie Johnson’s injury really set him and the team back, as he still hasn’t been able to get near game shape. Durand Scott and Malcolm Grant have both been plagued by inconsistent play.

EXTRA: Tonight at the game against Duke, Maryland will be dedicating its court to Gary Williams (apparently there were a couple of events last night too). It should be a pretty special event, and Scott Van Pelt hinted there would be some very cool stuff. I’m not sure if the ceremony will be televised, as it starts before the game. I’ll pass along any good videos I find.

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ACC Morning Five: 01.20.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 20th, 2012

  1. USA Today: Nicole Auerbach sat down with Mike Scott the “dark horse” ACC Player of the Year candidate (I only use quotation marks because he should be the runaway candidate thus far, but I’m not sure the voters would agree). It’s an interesting interview that touches on Scott’s rehab, Virginia’s success and what it’s like to be a fifth-year senior. Apparently Scott put on a good deal of weight but lost 20 pounds trying to get ready for the season.
  2. Fayetteville Observer: Virginia will get some help in the depth department, at least in practice, from Teven Jones. Jones went to Fishburne Military School for what was supposed to be a postgraduate year, but after a semester his coach suggested he enroll with the Cavaliers. Jones originally drew coaching eyes on the gridiron as a wide receiver, but the combo guard looks like he could be an invaluable weapon offensively in the coming seasons for Virginia.
  3. Washington Post: File this away in the obvious section. Terrell Stoglin needs help from Maryland on the scoring front. He’s responsible for 30.7% of Maryland’s points, and the attention he receives probably makes him even more important than that. Take the Terrapins’ loss to Florida State: Stoglin seemingly dominated the game, scoring 27 points, but he didn’t score at all during the Seminoles’ “game-deciding” 21-5 run. Nick Faust, Sean Mosley, and even Alex Len have all shown flashes of scoring ability, but Mark Turgeon will really need someone to step up to compete in conference play.
  4. Tallahassee Democrat: Speaking of obvious stories, Florida State‘s offense is “suddenly on fire”. After a very slow start (I’m not even sure that does credit to its 10-point half against Princeton), this group of Seminoles is the first ever to score over 80 in back-to-back conference games. Part of the key has been the addition of Ian Miller, who was forced to sit out the beginning of the season. But the real key has been valuing the basketball. If the Seminoles score 80 points this weekend, they will beat Duke more times than not even in Cameron Indoor.
  5. Winston-Salem Journal: Mark Gottfried’s team is going to have to deal with something new–success. Well, if last night’s game was any indication, the Wolfpack dealt with it very well in a big win against Boston College. The score didn’t reflect just how dominant NC State was–especially in the first half (all said and done Richard Howell managed to outrebound the Eagles’ starters). Next up the Wolfpack have a road test against Miami before Mark Gottfried’s first game from the Dean Dome.

EXTRA: I managed to overlook this earlier in the week, but Gary Williams just started analyzing games for ESPN 980 in Washington DC. Williams already works as an analyst for the Big Ten Network, but this should be a chance to get his opinions on the ACC. He’s with the station until April 3.

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ACC Morning Five: 01.05.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 5th, 2012

  1. Grantland: It’s no secret that North Carolina and Duke are the top two squads in the ACC. But can Tony Bennett establish Virginia as their perennial challenger in the wake of Gary Williams’ departure? Shane Ryan breaks down Bennett’s pack-line defense, which has been the team’s key to success this season. We’ve talked about it a little before, but the screen-shots are illustrating. There’s never more than one player outside of the three-point line, which keeps more athletic teams from taking advantage of dribble penetration and forces them to beat the Cavaliers from deep.
  2. Philadelphia Daily News: Dick Jerardi does a good job describing Mike Krzyzewski‘s career in brief and why he thinks there won’t be anyone else like him. I’d only add that the game has changed significantly since the start of the 1980s, which makes both Coach K’s success impressive and the likelihood of another coach like him even slimmer. He also briefly previewed Duke’s eventual opponent last night (who ended up winning), Temple.
  3. Baltimore Sun: Don Markus checks in on Maryland and whether its record is a “true indicator” of the team’s current level. I think it is, but you have to remember the Terps’ opponents too. Mark Turgeon implied that he thought their record was generous. In the end Markus concludes that the Terrapins will be erratic, blowing out opponents or losing by 30 points to similar caliber ones because of their up-tempo pace and questionable shooting.
  4. Tallahassee Democrat: Florida State knows it needs to get its act together if it’s going to make the NCAA Tournament. Leonard Hamilton isn’t as concerned with the wins and losses as his team’s performance. Basically, the biggest issue is (like most years) the Seminoles can’t score consistently from anywhere. But they whipped up on Auburn last night to tune up for conference play.
  5. Baltimore Sports Report: The Baltimore Sports Report takes a look at the missing pieces of some conference teams. To be short (in my opinion): North Carolina needs a shooter; Duke needs a point guard; Virginia needs a shot-creator in the backcourt; Virginia Tech needs an inside presence; NC State needs consistency; Florida State needs scoring; Clemson needs a second option who can take over the game; Georgia Tech needs a go-to guy; Maryland needs significant contributors aside from Terrell Stoglin; Wake Forest needs rebounding; Miami needs a defense; Boston College needs everything.
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Gary Williams Defends His Recruiting at Maryland

Posted by KCarpenter on November 23rd, 2011

In an interview on sports radio this week, Gary Williams got a little indignant about the charge that he wasn’t a great recruiter, claiming that when he was the coach at Maryland, his teams had more future NBA players than any Atlantic Coast Conference school aside from Duke and North Carolina. While I think that Williams catches more flak than he deserves for not recruiting well, I also think that his claim probably isn’t true. Every source that I have been able to find has Georgia Tech as a strong third place in the ACC when it comes to NBA players during his tenure (essentially, the 1990s and 2000s). Even if by some miscount, it’s pretty clear that Georgia Tech has had better pros than Maryland during that time. The Terrapins had Joe Smith, Steve Francis, Steve Blake, and Walt Williams, while GT has had Chris Bosh, Stephon Marbury, Kenny Anderson, and Thaddeus Young. At best, Maryland was the fourth best school in the ACC in producing NBA talent during Williams’ tenure, and that’s only if you agree that quality trumps quantity and ignore Wake Forest‘s Tim Duncan, Josh Howard and Chris Paul.

Gary Williams Made Up For His Mediocre Recruiting With Excellent Coaching

Still, I don’t bring this up to condemn Williams for overstating his record, but to bring up a point about recruiting and coaching.  Dan Hanner did an interesting little study that he wrote up for this year’s College Basketball Prospectus where he set out to evaluate how important it is to get great recruits. He looked at recruits from 1999-2011 and put them into different categories based on their recruiting class rank and where they went to college and then looked to see how many minutes they played and what their average offensive efficiency rating was.  At Maryland, unranked recruits played 51.2% of the minutes while recruits ranked 100-10 played the remainder of the minutes. The unranked recruits produced an average offensive efficiency rating of 104.2 while their ranked peers produced at 106.4 mark. Now compare this to Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets had unranked recruits use 28.1% of the minutes while recruits ranked from 100-10 used 67.1% (the remaining 4.8% went to top ten recruits). Here is where things get interesting: the unranked players produce at an offensive efficiency rating of 99.1 while the ranked recruits (outside of the top ten) posted a rate of 103.3. While Georgia Tech had top recruits playing more minutes than Maryland, the unranked recruits of Maryland ended up playing better on average than Georgia Tech’s ranked recruits. For Williams, recruiting just didn’t matter as much because he had a knack for making unranked players better than their ranked counterparts at Georgia Tech. That’s the key takeaway here — that the power of a talented coach can overcome recruiting rankings.

So, yes, I think Williams misspoke when he said that Maryland was the third best producer of NBA talent in the ACC during his tenure. I also happen to think that Georgia Tech’s ability to out-recruit Maryland ultimately didn’t matter too much — the Terps are the ones with the 2002 national championship banner hanging in the rafters, not the Yellow Jackets.

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ACC Morning Five: 11.23.11 Edition

Posted by mpatton on November 23rd, 2011

  1. SBNation DC: Gary Williams was back on the radio waves yesterday. This time he was defending his recruiting, even if his quotes only confirm his critics’ arguments. Williams pointed out that Maryland had plenty of players play in the NBA, which really trivializes the player development that was the hallmark of his successful teams.

    The toughest thing was always when you’d call a kid the first day of his senior year and he already narrowed his schools down to the five schools he wanted to visit. They basically say, ‘Where have you been? Why haven’t you already called?’

    As the sport has become more televised, recruiting has moved earlier and earlier. It’s unfortunate you have to start recruiting kids when they’re freshmen in high school, but that’s part of the process. Williams was also notorious for not wanting to deal with AAU coaches at all.

  2. ESPN: Almost on cue (ahem), Austin Rivers and Seth Curry are starting to show signs of clicking in Duke’s backcourt. Early games caused critics to question the duo, especially Rivers, and their effectiveness together. But a strong game against Michigan has gotten conversations changing a little. Duke hasn’t been dominant so far this season, but the Blue Devils keep winning against very solid talent. They’ll get another test against Thomas Robinson and Kansas in tonight’s Maui Invitational championship game.
  3. Stadium Journey: Martin Rickman (of Blogger So Dear) reviewed Wake Forest‘s Lawrence Joel Coliseum. Hopefully the team’s solid start will bring life back to the Joel, which was at one time one of the toughest places to play in the ACC. This site is a pretty cool idea and has reviews of many of college basketball and college football’s best stadiums. My one complaint is the reviews seem to have a very tight range (at least the overall reviews seem to rarely drop below three out of five stars and rarely go above four).
  4. The Sporting News: Dorenzo Hudson is ready to dance. Despite Malcolm Delaney and Jeff Allen’s departures from Blacksburg, Hudson is convinced this is the Hokies’ year (for the record, I think Virginia Tech was a lock for the NCAA Tournament had Hudson not been injured last year). I totally forgot that he averaged over 15 points a game two years ago. Hudson is the real deal, but he’s going to need help — possibly from Erick Green and Dorian Finney-Smith — to lead the Hokies to their first NCAA Tournament since 2007.
  5. ESPN and Winston Salem Journal: Ever heard someone complain that there’s too much coverage of North Carolina on ESPN? Well, I wouldn’t expect that to change as the Worldwide Leader promoted a Tar Heel to replace George Bodenheimer as the multi-billion dollar corporation’s president. John Skipper graduated from North Carolina with a degree in English Literature, Class of 1978.
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ACC Morning Five: 11.21.11 Edition

Posted by mpatton on November 21st, 2011

Well…when it rains, it pours. And good lord did it pour following the ACC’s perfect 26-0 start. The conference has since gone 8-8 with absolutely hideous losses from Boston College (getting beaten by Holy Cross might be OK, but by 22?), Clemson (at College of Charleston would be one thing; at Littlejohn is another), and supposed-upstart Virginia (TCU is an acceptable loss… in football).

  1. Mike Krzyzewski sounded a little like Dean Smith when he talked about win number 903 and retirement. Although he acknowledged the record was a big deal, Coach K deflected much of the credit to his former players. He also doesn’t have a set goal for wins or seasons as he looks to retirement. Rather, to quote him, “my thing probably will not be as planned. I’ll know. I’ll just know.” This seems the general sentiment for hypercompetitive coaches. Gary Williams obviously just knew after last season. Smith just knew in 1997.
  2. Roy Williams has filled out his coaching staff with a couple of former players in Bobby Frasor and Jackie Manuel. Technically they aren’t coaches. Frasor is the assistant video coordinator and Manuel is the strength and conditioning coordinator. Coincidentally, both alumni-turned-employees played for Williams’ championship teams in 2005 and 2009.
  3. Baltimore Sun – Tracking the Terps: You can criticize Mark Turgeon for many things, but not about his candidness. After a blowout loss to Iona (an experienced team which many will likely predict to upset someone in the Big Dance), Turgeon said: “This is the biggest challenge I’ve ever had in coaching. It’s not even close. To me, the kids have got to care more. I’ve taken over programs before that were picked low in their league, but the kids did what they were supposed to do.” Turgeon’s attack feels risky to me. He has a young team that’s also shorthanded. Terrell Stoglin only took up point guard duties just last week because of Pe’Shon Howard’s injury. At the same time, lack of effort needs to be nipped in the bud immediately. As Turgeon is showing, it’s a delicate balance one has to walk as a high-major college basketball coach.
  4. Charlotte Observer: In the wake of Ryan Harrow’s transfer, Lorenzo Brown has really stepped up for NC State. Against Princeton he dropped 16 points and dished eight dimes — including one for the game-winning shot to Deshawn Painter. On the game-winning play the Charlotte Observer‘s JP Giglio said, “it was the kind of assertive play N.C. State has been missing from the point guard position for the better part of 20 years.” I’m not sure I’d go that far, but Brown has game and will be the X-factor for a young, talented Wolfpack team.
  5. Lexington Herald-Leader: Jerry Tipton set out to answer the question, “since the John Wooden-led UCLA dynasty ended in 1975, which program sets the standard for excellence?” Unsurprisingly Seth Davis, Robyn Norwood and Blair Kerkhoff all chose either Duke or North Carolina at the top spot. Jay Bilas hinted at an elite tier of programs that included eight teams. I’d tend to agree, although Kentucky should be very close behind.
EXTRA: In non-basketball related news, Miami has officially withdrawn itself from bowl contention this year to help placate the NCAA Committee of Infractions currently investigating the mammoth Nevin Shapiro scandal. The postseason ban is the second bout of self-enforcement. You’ll recall that the first was the suspension of several football players, and DeQuan Jones from the basketball team.
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