ACC Morning Five: 04.02.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on April 2nd, 2012

  1. Draft Express: This is a very good breakdown of Kendall Marshall‘s game from Joseph Treutlein. The short version is pretty straight forward: Marshall is an elite passer and game manager, but he doesn’t look for his own offense and is a defensive liability. I don’t think Marshall will ever be a good defender, but Ricky Rubio definitely made him some money this year with his passable perimeter defense. Trerutlein’s points about Marshall looking for his own offense more definitely paint an optimistic picture (though I expect he’ll need to rely far more on his jumper than driving at the next level). The bottom line is Marshall is a very good point guard in a draft nearly empty of NBA-ready point guards.
  2. Washington Post: This is a cool look back at Maryland’s national championship and the expectations of that season ten years ago. In a way, it’s reminiscent of Duke’s crushing beatdown from UNLV in 1990, the way the Terrapins rebounded from a crushing loss to Duke (after they held a 22-point lead) in 2001. Only two members of that Maryland team are still in the NBA (Steve Blake and Chris Wilcox), but don’t let that make you think the team has forgotten. It sounds like one man off the roster, from Gary Williams to Juan Dixon, could recount that season from start to finish.
  3. ACC Sports Journal: Andrew Skwara doesn’t mince words as he grades six ACC seasons. So far Florida State leads the way with an A with Duke tailing with a B thanks to the Blue Devils’ embarrassing loss to Lehigh. I think the second half of the conference (alphabetically speaking) is a little more interesting to evaluate: What grade for NC State after a disappointing regular season and terrific postseason run? What about Miami? Were Wake Forest’s improvements good enough to earn a decent mark?
  4. South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Good news for Coral Gables, as Kenny Kadji announced he will return to Miami for his senior season. Kadji will be critical for the Hurricanes’ success because he gives Jim Larranga a stretch four to help open up the paint for Reggie Johnson and Durand Scott. Johnson will still be the biggest piece: if he comes back and gets in shape, Miami could contend for a top three or four conference finish. If he doesn’t, the Hurricanes are looking at the middle of the pack.
  5. Yahoo!: Duke stayed America’s favorite college basketball team this year, edging out Kentucky and North Carolina. I would like to see more poll numbers, but Duke’s national brand certainly plays a huge role in a study like this (my guess is Duke, North Carolina and Kentucky are fairly close, but even other blue-bloods lack the national audience to maintain their relevance. However, with Duke taking what looks to be a step backwards next year, could the Wildcats and Tar Heels may overtake the Blue Devils.
EXTRA: Lance Pugmire sat down with James Worthy to talk about his NCAA title from 30 years ago (interestingly and unrelatedly, the ACC won championships in 2002, 1992 and 1982).
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ACC Afternoon Five: ACC Tournament Thursday Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on March 8th, 2012

It’s that special time of year. The tournament begins today in Atlanta and the teams of the Atlantic Conference are buzzing with the excitement and desperation of the opportunity to make closing arguments. Lots of teams have a lot to prove, but let’s zero in on some of the more interesting subplots of today.

  1. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: It’s an oft-repeated refrain, but it’s one that deserves further examination: The ACC Tournament isn’t what it used to be. In 1983, this same paper referred to the tournament as the toughest ticket in sports. Today, tickets will be available at the gate. Though the tournament sold out last year, in 2009 and 2010 tickets went on sale to the general public. The last time that happened? 1966. The excitement around the league isn’t what it used to be and, granted, this year’s Atlanta location is much farther away from Tobacco Road than Greensboro, but it’s still a sad and sobering story to see the decline of the once great conference.
  2. Raleigh News & Observer: For the first time, television viewers in ACC country will have a choice about which broadcast of the tournament they want to watch. In years past, viewers in places like the Research Triangle in North Carolina got a “local” broadcast by Raycom sports, while the rest of the nation got ESPN’s coverage. Due to the conditions of the new ESPN television deal, ESPN’s ACC Tournament broadcasts will not be blacked out in areas that typically watch ACC play on Raycom. This may seem like a fairly inconsequential development to fans, but as Luke DeCock describes, this is a major battle ground for the high-stakes rating wars of big time college sports. The numbers are staggering and the implications interesting.
  3. Washington Times: Patrick Stevens takes a look back at Maryland‘s season and is a little weirded out by what he sees. The Terrapins have had a very odd year plagued by injuries, NCAA suspensions, and a huge changing of the guard with the retirement of Gary Williams. Despite the heroics of Terrell Stoglin and others, Maryland’s season has been little more than disappointing. Though the team clearly seems to want to try to make a run as deep as possible into March, it’s very clear that Mark Turgeon is mostly looking to put this season in the rear view.
  4. Boston Globe: How would you feel if you went into the ACC Tournament as the last seed? I’d feel pretty terrible, but the Eagles of Boston College are, as much as possible, optimistic about the team’s opportunities. Like Maryland, the Eagles acknowledge that their brightest days are certainly well ahead of them, and look back on the past season with shaking heads. Still the team is at least saying the right things: Yes this team will be better in two years, but we are also looking to be better now. Boston College knows it played pretty poorly during the regular season, but the team seems to truly believe that they are a better team now. This is probably true, but now all that remains to be seen is if that matters.
  5. Blogger So Dear: Do you want to see all the teams in the first round of the tournament compared to Bojangles menu items? Of course you do.
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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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