ACC Teams Struggling to Adapt to Styles of New Programs

Posted by Christopher Kehoe on January 16th, 2014

Much was made of the three former Big East teams entering the league this season and having to adapt to the ACC’s style of play. This notion was supported by the simple fact of sheer numbers; the returning ACC teams would number 12 teams while the Big East was sending over only three units. What did not get enough preseason attention was how the ACC as a whole would adapt to the very different styles of play of the three incoming teams, all quite successful programs in their own rights. Notre Dame under head coach Mike Brey is known for its selfless team basketball, execution, cutting and the extra pass, while developing a litany of elite low post big men like Luke Harangody, Jack Cooley, and now Garrick Sherman. While the Irish lost its best player in Jerian Grant for the year, their style of play was on display and ultimately decided the outcome in a statement win against Duke.

Pitt's James Robinson is a large reason they are 16-1 (Photo: pittsburghpanthers.com)

Pitt’s James Robinson is a large reason the Panthers are 16-1 (Photo: pittsburghpanthers.com)

Syracuse’s famous 2-3 zone has helped in establishing itself as one of the best teams in the nation and has put the Orange among a group of three unbeaten teams remaining. Their defense has flummoxed ACC opponents to the tune of allowing only 50.0 PPG to ACC foes through their first four games. They clearly have taken charge and dominated the tempo in their outings, most recently holding UNC a full 30 points below its season average of 75.6 PPG. While it remains early in the ACC race, so far it seems obvious that both Syracuse and Pittsburgh have been forcing their own tempo and style of play on their opponents and not vice versa. Jamie Dixon’s Panthers are known for their toughness and gritty play, both of which were evident in their recent 12-point road victory over N.C. State. Famed ESPN analyst Dick Vitale confirmed this theory and perception when he noted: “There are certain programs that get certain labels that help them big-time psychologically… the mindset is where you’re at a negative before you ever start playing, and I think Pittsburgh has that, that label of being tough.”

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Pittsburgh’s Toughness Leads To Big Comeback Win Over N.C. State

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on January 4th, 2014

Back in October at ACC Operation Basketball, Pittsburgh Head Coach Jaime Dixon sounded as though he had something of a chip on his shoulder. It was as if he wanted the ACC media to know that moving from the Big East to the ACC was not a move up in competition for Pittsburgh. He had good reason to think that way, with the Big East rated higher than the ACC in nearly ever conference metric over the last several seasons, and with Pitt the winningest team in the Big East over the last dozen years. Plus, all the talk about this year’s ACC being the greatest basketball conference ever was based on the power of the schools it was bringing in from the old Big East.

The Pitt Panthers Surround N.C. State's Anthony Barber During 74-62 Pitt Win. (Photo: Ethan Hyman, www.newsobserver.com)

The Pitt Panthers Surround N.C. State’s Anthony Barber During 74-62 Pitt Win.
(Photo: Ethan Hyman, www.newsobserver.com)

Dixon must have been wondering if perhaps he had been mistaken when he witnessed his team down 17-2 after the first six minutes against N.C. State in Raleigh Saturday afternoon. But the veteran Panthers came roaring back, cutting the deficit to eight at halftime before dominating the second half on the way to a 74-62 win. Leading the way were seniors Lamar Patterson (22/8) and Talib Zanna (15/9). In particular, Patterson had an outstanding second half, with 17 points, six rebounds, and five assists after the intermission. Here are some takeaways for each team after their first game of ACC play.

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Big East M5: 10.09.12 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on October 9th, 2012

  1. CBS Sports rolled out a few major parts of its college basketball season preview yesterday, including the “expert” picks for this season and Jeff Goodman and Gary Parrish’s picks for preseason All-American honors. Goodman, Parrish, and Jeff Borzello picked Louisville to win the Big East this year, with Matt Norlander and newcomer Doug Gottlieb choosing Syracuse. The Cardinals also proved to be a popular Final Four pick, with Goodman choosing the Cards as his preseason national champion.  Bob Huggins also makes a cameo as Goodman’s coach of the year pick. The All-American picks were less Big East-friendly; only Georgetown forward Otto Porter cracked the four teams listed, with a fourth team selection alongside Kansas block artist Jeff Withey and Lehigh’s Duke-killer C.J. McCollum.  Pittsburgh freshman Steven Adams cracked the All-Freshman second team. The Kiwi center is expected to man the middle for the Panthers, and help prevent a second straight disappointing season for Pittsburgh in its final Big East campaign.  These lists include a number of incoming blue-chip freshmen and mid-major superstars, while the Big East has a number of consistent contributors aiming for breakout seasons.  It will be interesting to see if the conference is better represented on these lists come March.
  2. Hopefully for Pitt, Adams’ signing turns out to be worth the effort, because it put a lot of stress on head coach Jamie Dixon. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Dixon suffered a pulmonary embolism after one of the 16-hour flights from Wellington, New Zealand, and was hospitalized after he discovered he was having difficulty breathing.  The article goes on to describe Adams’ unique story, one that I’m sure will spread quickly if the seven-footer helps the Panthers make it back to the top of the Big East and into the NCAA Tournament in 2013.
  3. In yesterday’s ’5′, we told you about Georgetown’s new athletic training facility, which is set to break ground in the “very near future.” Well, Connecticut is following suit in upgrading their facilities… the school just doesn’t want people to know how it’s doing it.  According to Boston.comHusky sponsor Webster Bank will be footing some of the bill for these new facilities, but the university declines to disclose various other financial agreements, like the one with Webster, as well as the identities of many private donors. The legal matters involved in situations like this are not nearly as fun as the basketball implications (unless you’re into that sort of thing), so my biggest takeaway from this situation is that UConn is moving swiftly to stabilize its program as a national contender in the post-Calhoun era. We’ve seen other Big East programs get major boosts from upgraded facilities recently, like Syracuse with it’s Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center and Louisville with the Yum! Center, as well as Kentucky who just opened some ritzy new basketball-focused dorms. Nailing down the coaching situation, whether that’s Kevin Ollie or someone else, is important, but new practice facilities should definitely help UConn sell itself on the recruiting trail going forward.
  4. Those of you in the Mid-Atlantic region will be able to catch quite a few Georgetown (and Big East) basketball games on MASN this season.  The Big East slate here includes the Hoyas’ trips to Marquette, South Florida, and Rutgers, as well as home games against Providence, Seton Hall, and DePaul. In my experience, there are few things worse than trying to find a way to watch your team’s less marquee match-ups on television, so I fully support any agreement that will get more league basketball on TV. If we’re being honest, the real winners here are the DMV-area Western Carolina fans who will be able to catch their December 10 bout with the Hoyas.
  5. Former St. John’s guard Nurideen Lindsey‘s hardship waiver was granted by the NCAA this weekend, and the feisty guard will be able to open the season with his new team Rider this season.   The 6’3″ Lindsey was very impressive in his short, nine-game St. John’s career, during which he averaged 12.4 and 2.8 assists per game. In his debut against William and Mary, for example, Lindsey scored a season high 19 points and added four assists. Later in the year, he added 18 points and two assists in an 81-72 loss to then-#16 Arizona. Lindsey and the Broncos open their season at home against Robert Morris on November 9.
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