ACC M5: 11.08.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on November 8th, 2012

  1. Inside Carolina: In the Roy Williams era, it hasn’t been too difficult for North Carolina to score. The combination of a brisk tempo and a humming offense has meant that Chapel Hill residents have gotten used to gaudy scores and the discounted biscuits that come when UNC scores over 100 during a home game. This year, however, it seems more likely that the team will derive more of its identity from defense. While John Henson and Tyler Zeller were great interior defenders, the perimeter defense of the Tar Heels was inconsistent at best last season. This year, with speedy Marcus Paige at the point and gifted defenders Dexter Strickland and Reggie Bullock on the wings, it seems likely that UNC could have one of the better perimeter defenses in the Roy Williams era.
  2. Raleigh News & Observer: Down the road in Raleigh, North Carolina State is thinking about defense as well. Despite the lofty expectations that have been placed upon the Wolfpack, one of the easily spotted weaknesses for this team is defense. In Mark Gottfried’s first year, NCSU had a middling defense, and with the departure of paint protector DeShawn Painter and the ball-hawking tandem of C.J. Williams and Alex Johnson, there is concern that the defense could get worse. Still, the Wolfpack has been focusing on defense in practice, striving to improve in areas where the team fell short. C.J. Leslie and Richard Howell were often the cornerstones of NCSU’s interior defense last season, but both struggled to stay on the court due to foul trouble. Each is working on defending without fouling while maintaining the same intensity that served the team so well last year. Increased time on the court for either will do nothing but help North Carolina State become the elite team that many pundits are expecting.
  3. Washington Post: The immediate eligibility of Dez Wells is a story with a lot of big time basketball implications for the Maryland Terrapins. On a human level it’s a big story for Wells, his family, his mentor, his teammates, and the Maryland basketball family as they all stood by him and hoped for the best when things looked bleakest for Wells. Sexual assault is a heinous offense that is psychologically damaging to its victims in a way that few other crimes are. To be wrongfully accused of committing this crime and to lose your place at school and on your basketball team is a heavy load for a young man to carry. It’s hard not to be happy for Wells who seems to have found a new and supportive home in College Park. His newfound eligibility is really just the cherry on top.
  4. The Virginian-Pilot: James Johnson is the only rookie coach in the ACC this year, and his road will be far from easy as he tries to rebuild a Virginia Tech program that seemed permanently stuck just outside the NCAA Tournament under Seth Greenberg. The departure of Greenberg made things seem even more difficult as players transferred and recruits like Montrezl Harrell de-committed. The scary thing is that it could have been much worse. Erick Green, the senior star point guard of the Hokies, considered transferring away from Blacksburg as well but Johnson’s appointment (previously an assistant under Greenberg) to the head spot tipped the scales in favor of VT. Now the Hokies are going to try to enjoy a rebirth as an up-tempo team that complements a blistering, frantic attack with the determined inside presence of a now-healthy Cadarian Raines. Little is expected of Virginia Tech this season, but it sounds like Johnson and Green hope to surprise the rest of the ACC.
  5. Washington Times: Last year, Virginia had a watershed moment with coach Tony Bennett. The Cavaliers were respected as one of the toughest defenses in the nation and Mike Scott was garnering praise as a potential All-American. When Bennett left Washington State to take on the project of rebuilding Virginia, it was clear that this wouldn’t be an easy job with a quick solution. It’s somewhat surprising then that Bennett was able to talk Washington native Joe Harris into following him to the other side of the country to play for a rebuilding team. Entering his third year, however, Harris is poised to take a starring role on a team that is expected to again make plenty of noise in the conference. Harris has NBA size and skills and, in a featured role for Cavaliers (including some time at the point with Jontel Evans out), the sharpshooting guard will hopefully see some more of  the seeds of his and Bennett’s hard work blossom.
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ACC Preseason Power Rankings

Posted by mpatton on November 6th, 2012

With all of the ACC previews behind us, it’s time to put everything together in our first ACC Power Rankings of the season.

Duke Blue Devils 1. Duke has all of the pieces to be a much better team than last year’s team. While the recruiting class is small, don’t forget redshirt freshmen Alex Murphy and Marshall Plumlee. Mason Plumlee may be the focal point of the Blue Devil offense. But the big question is how improved will Quinn Cook be?
NC State Wolfpack 2. NC State has the most complete team on paper. Add three top-shelf recruits to a talented returning group that includes two potential conference players of the year, and there’s bound to be plenty of hype. But will the Wolfpack be able to overcome their defensive woes (and the historical defensive woes of Mark Gottfried) and play like the end of last season, or will they play like the rest of the year?
North Carolina Tar Heels 3. North Carolina (tied) lost a lot from last year’s team with the four leading contributors with Reggie Bullock as the sole returning starter. But Roy Williams reloads instead of rebuilds. James Michael McAdoo may be the best player in the league, and Bullock looks ready to step up production. Freshman point Marcus Paige has big shoes (or at least a lot of shoes) to fill, but he’ll have help from backcourt veterans Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald.
Florida State Seminoles 3. Florida State (tied) may fall on its face, but Leonard Hamilton and Michael Snaer have earned the right to be taken seriously after knocking Duke and North Carolina off en route to the conference championship. Keep an eye on Okaro White and Terrance Shannon this season. You can trust Hamilton’s team to bring it defensively, but can they stop turning the ball over?
Miami Hurricanes 3. Miami (tied) looked rough in its exhibition loss, but there’s no denying the talent on this roster. The Hurricane frontcourt of Reggie Johnson and Kenny Kadji is the best in the league; Durand Scott and Shane Larkin make an exciting backcourt duo; and there’s no shortage of athletic wings to help fill out the lineup. But can Jim Larranaga realize his team’s talent?
Maryland Terrapins 6. Maryland also has a lot of talent on its roster, but the Terrapins were abysmal offensively last season. To make matters worse (though potentially better in the long run), Terrell Stoglin is no longer with the team. Nick Faust and Alex Len need to make big improvements for Maryland to finish in the top half of the conference. Keep an eye on Maryland’s freshmen.
Virginia Cavaliers 7. Virginia has some interesting pieces, and Tony Bennett‘s system appears very effective. But the Cavaliers don’t have Mike Scott and his mid-range game to bail mediocre offensive possessions out anymore. This team will rely on its tenacious defense because it’s hard to see the offense being consistently effective.
Virginia Tech Hokies 8. Virginia Tech hired James Johnson to replace Seth Greenberg, and Greenberg left Johnson with some real talent. The Hokies are a sleeper to finish in the top half of the conference if Erick Green, Jarell Eddie and Cadarian Raines mesh well. Depth will be an issue, but those three are very good players. Johnson also has established relationships with the players, which should make his transition smoother.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons 9. Wake Forest is really young. But a strong freshman class joining two of the best scorers in the league should make the team marginally more competitive than the last two years. Don’t sleep on Travis McKie. McKie is a match-up nightmare for every team, and shouldn’t surprise anyone when he averages close to 20 points a night.
Clemson Tigers 10. Clemson probably should be ranked higher than this. Certainly based on roster talent and previous results, the Tigers look better than tenth in the league. That said, Milton Jennings and Devin Booker haven’t shown the consistency to take over primary roles. If Jennings lives up to his McDonald’s All-American billing and Booker gets more aggressive, this team could finish much closer to the middle of the pack.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 11. Georgia Tech (tied) looks OK on paper, but didn’t add anything significant from last season’s 4-12 campaign. This points to another rough season in Atlanta, though Glen Rice Jr.’s sudden departure may prove more of a blessing than a curse.
Boston College 11. Boston College (tied) will be a significantly more watchable team this season. The team is still young, and still low on ACC-caliber talent. But the sophomore trio of Ryan Anderson, Patrick Heckmann and Dennis Clifford are the real deal. They also all improved a lot just over the course of last season (except Heckmann, who went down with mono).
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Our Robot Overlords Like Duke More Than Their Humanoid Counterparts

Posted by KCarpenter on October 30th, 2012

In the past couple days, the wizards of college basketball statistics have waved their wands and conjured up some preseason predictions for ACC teams. Of course, describing the process as magic is a great dis-service to these fine folks. Instead of engaging in arcane processes only explained in a cryptic language, these bold souls have happily popped open the hood on their future predicting machines and offered to show us what exactly they did. Ken Pomeroy gladly explains his methodology on his website, while Dan Hanner lays out the logic and mechanisms behind his predictive system at Basketball Prospectus. So, with a theoretical understanding of what these two are doing, we can now look at the predictive rankings from Pomeroy and Hanner and see how these predictions differ from the results predicted by the ACC’s coaches and the ACC media.

Messrs. Pomeroy and Hanner in the Lab…

The calculated predictions do differ from the polls in some significant ways, notably both Hanner and Pomeroy’s system favor Duke to be the best team in the conference, while the coaches and media favor NC State. The reasons for this are fairly obvious and have everything to do with how excited people get over highly-touted freshmen.  While both of the calculated systems take into consideration new players, both systems take a fairly reasoned and cautious view of their impact. So while the conference’s coaches and reporters might be swept up in Rodney Purvis Mania,  the computers are more measured in their optimism. With that taken into consideration, it’s easy to see how such systems would favor Duke, a team that was very good last year and lost relatively little compared to other league contenders like North Carolina and Florida State.

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ACC M5: 10.24.12 Edition

Posted by EMann on October 24th, 2012

  1. USA Today:  Miami Heat forward and former Duke star Shane Battier, recently offered some very high praise for his teammate, LeBron James. Battier said, “LeBron could have played at Duke, and I don’t say that about a lot of guys.” What Battier means is that few NBA players, particularly those of James’ caliber, would have been mentally tough enough to play for Coach K. Even though LeBron would likely have played at Ohio State if the one-and-done rule had been in effect when he was entering the professional ranks, it certainly can’t hurt Duke that one of its all-time greats is considering the game’s best player an honorary Blue Devil.  Additionally, James and Krzyzewski have enjoyed a great relationship during Coach K’s seven-year stint as the head coach of Team USA.
  2. Washington Post:  Despite Virginia Tech only having eight scholarship players this season, first year-head coach James Johnson is still intent on running an up-tempo offense. This would be a massive change from the Seth Greenberg era, when Virginia Tech regularly played one of the slowest paces in the ACC (aside from Tony Bennett’s glacial Virginia squads). During the team’s opening scrimmage, a larger percentage of the offense came in transition than from half-court sets. While it may be difficult for Virginia Tech to have success with this style in this season, Johnson wants to make this a long-term staple of his system. With some success this year, this could become a great recruiting tool up in Blacksburg.
  3. ESPN:  From the world of the bizarre: While on their overseas trip to Paris this offseason, most of Virginia’s basketball team managed to get trapped in a hotel elevator. In something that seems ripped from a bad movie or a claustrophobic person’s worst nightmare, head coach Tony Bennett narrates a video that describes this ordeal. It appears as though the players didn’t realize that the elevator capacity needed to be taken seriously, while also failing to adjust for the fact that basketball players are generally quite a bit larger than the average human. At the very least, it should have been a bonding experience for the team.
  4. Raleigh N&O:  The saga involving Tyler Hansbrough’s mother, Tami, continues. The university’s audit of Hansbrough (the former gifts officer) and her boyfriend and former boss, Matt Kupec, who was the head of UNC’s fundraising department before his resignation, has been completed. North Carolina determined that Kupec misspent $17,000 on a total of 13 trips under investigation, with much of it used on trips that he took with Hansbrough. Some of these trips were to go see the Tyler’s younger brother, Ben, play at Notre Dame, and several involved the use of UNC Medical Air planes. Kupec could potentially face criminal charges for his misconduct, and this scandal was just one of many likely responsible for UNC chancellor Holden Thorp’s recent resignation.
  5. Sports Illustrated: SI ran an interesting piece about the most influential college basketball teams of all-time.  Following the usual suspects (Texas Western in 1966, and the 1979 Michigan State and Indiana State teams led by Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, respectively), only one ACC team made the cut:  the 1974 NC State national champions. This team, led by David Thompson — the player who introduced otherworldly athleticism to college basketball — Tommy Burleson, and Monte Towe, broke UCLA’s streak at the time of seven straight national titles. NC State hopes to rekindle some of its past glory with this year’s squad.  Even if they can make a run, they will obviously not hold a candle to the unbelievable team that brought the Wolfpack its first national title.
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ACC Team Previews: Virginia Tech Hokies

Posted by EMann on October 18th, 2012

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

Virginia Tech finally escaped the the wrong side of the bubble last year… by coming nowhere near the bubble. The Hokies’ 2011-12 season was a massive disappointment, as the squad finished below .500 and 4-12 in the ACC. However, Virginia Tech was probably a better team than their record indicated. In ACC play (including the ACC Tournament), the team was 5-9 in games decided by five points or less, so it was clear that luck was not on their side. This season, more importantly, was the final nail in the coffin for Seth Greenberg, one of the ACC’s most vocal coaches. Greenberg was fired in April, not just due to his team’s inability to make the NCAA Tournament (only once in his tenure), but also due to his inability to retain assistant coaches and retain continuity in the program.

Johnson faces many challenges in his first year as a Division I head coach. (USA Today)

Before his firing, two members of Greenberg’s staff left during this offseason, and it was the second time in three years he had to replace multiple members of his coaching staff. Greenberg’s firing, which shocked the man himself, also made it very difficult for Virginia Tech to hire the best coach available in the coaching carousel and also drastically hurt their player retention/recruiting due to the strange timing of the move. New coach James Johnson was an assistant under Greenberg for five years before taking an assistant coaching job at Clemson. Johnson had held the position at Clemson for all of 2 1/2 weeks before the Virginia Tech job became vacant. Virginia Tech hopes that Johnson can help provide the continuity (and the urge for a more difficult non-conference schedule) that eluded Greenberg, while also building on Greenberg’s positive moves towards making Virginia Tech a viable threat to perennially contend towards Tournament bids, a difficult task for a coach at a school where football is certainly prioritized.

Newcomers

This is where Virginia Tech’s suddenly thin roster is apparent. Three-star forward Marcus Wood is the only scholarship freshman on the team, following the de-commitment of Montrezl Harrell (who later chose Louisville) in the wake of Greenberg’s firing. Wood should see immediate playing time as an athletic forward who can hopefully replace the role of the transferring Dorian Finney-Smith (they have nearly the same build, 6’8” and just under 200 lbs.). Virginia Tech also added a walk-on guard, Marcus Patrick, a high school teammate of Wood, who could compete for some bench minutes on this scant roster. Adam Smith, who transferred from UNC Wilmington, will sit out the 2012-13 season. Read the rest of this entry »

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ACC M5: 10.18.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on October 18th, 2012

  1. Raleigh News & Observer: The media agree with the coaches. North Carolina State will enter the season tabbed as the number one team in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The preseason poll, of course, came out in conjunction with the ACC’s Operation Basketball, a media event where coaches and players meet with the press and face some very early judgment from the fourth estate. The last time the media pegged the Wolfpack to win the conference, it was the 1974-75 season.  Also like the coaches, the media picked C.J. Leslie as the likely player of the year and Rodney Purvis as the preseason rookie of the year. Though I’m sure Mark Gottfried and the Wolfpack know they will have to earn these accolades, it still must feel good for Wolfpack fans to ease up on the “no one believes in us” mentality that has defined the team in the past few seasons.
  2. Sporting News: It’s not often that people can talk about how you have slimmed down and you still weigh 290 pounds, but that’s exactly what Miami’s Reggie Johnson has accomplished. The bulky center was over 300 pounds in the past few seasons, but he’s ready to face this campaign with more muscle and less pudge. Johnson’s sheer size has made him a force in the paint, but the addition of some muscle, strength, and agility means that one of the most physically imposing players in the league may have become quite a bit more dangerous. Johnson’s increased offensive prowess comes not just from physical improvements, but from a refinement in his skill set. Coach Jim Larranaga praises the ease with which Johnson finishes with either hand and notes, terrifyingly enough, that Johnson’s prowess at shooting the three may mean that the biggest center in the ACC might soon be hoisting bombs from deep.
  3. Daily Press: Of course, Operation Basketball is not just about the individual coaches, players, and teams, but about ACC basketball as a whole and the plans the member schools and the conference commissioner have for the future. As it often is, one of the hot topics was the potential location of the ACC Tournament. Though John Swofford was quick to point out that future tournament sites would probably be much in line with what the league has done in the past, there were some intriguing possibilities to the north and the south of the traditional conference stronghold of Greensboro. To the south, observers have noted that Orlando and Miami are likely candidates for a future tournament. To the north, the leading candidates seem to be Pittsburgh, Washington, DC,  and, somewhat surprisingly, Brooklyn. The newly completed Barclays Center is apparently, while not an official candidate for this round of site selection, a possibility that the league seems excited about.
  4. Washington Post: Though Operation Basketball is traditionally a day of easy optimism for most of the coaches in the conference, there is always the harsh reality that not every team can have a winning record. Sadly, Virginia Tech and new head coach James Johnson are more likely to end up on the bottom of the conference than near the top. Though the Hokies return a legitimate conference star in Erick Green, the team will only have eight scholarship players for the season, which is unfortunate considering that James Johnson favors a fast-paced offense and a pressure-focused defense. While both tactics are certainly workable for the Hokies, these tactics tend to be exhausting for players and are more typically executed by teams that count depth as a strength. It will be interesting to see how the somewhat mismatched available personnel and Johnson’s coaching style mesh in this coming season.
  5. Wilmington Star News: Typically, this is the time of the year when lots of stories about the increased leadership of this or that player is having a positive influence on the freshmen and underclassmen who are still learning the ropes. These stories tend to be really similar and, unfortunately, kind of run together. The clear winner of this year’s “veterans help rookies” genre is the tale of Wake Forest senior C.J. Harris and his 2002 Jeep. Apparently, only three players on this year’s WFU team have cars, meaning that the younger Demon Deacons are constantly bumming rides and borrowing teammates’ cars.  This is a silly detail, but one that’s much more interesting and humanizing than stories about seniors teaching freshmen the value of practice.
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ACC Summer Recess: Virginia Cavaliers

Posted by KCarpenter on July 30th, 2012

Over the next four weeks we’ll be taking a step back and looking at each team in the ACC to assess where each program — and the conference as a whole — stands before we totally turn our attention to the 2013-14 season later this fall. Today’s target: Virginia.

Where They Stand Now

Bennett Will Need to Find Some Replacements Next Season

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

Who’s Leaving

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

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ACC Summer Recess: Virginia Tech Hokies

Posted by mpatton on July 17th, 2012

Over the next four weeks we’ll be taking a step back and looking at each team in the ACC to assess where each program — and the conference as a whole — stands before we totally turn our attention to the 2013-14 season later this fall. Today’s target: Virginia Tech.

Where They Stand Now

Virginia Tech surprised most people last year. The Hokies were picked in the middle of the pack by pretty much everyone. It was supposed to be a “down year” in the sense that people expected Seth Greenberg‘s perennial bubble team to not be one of the last teams out on Selection Sunday. Non-conference play went as expected: the Hokies lost all three games they played against tough competition and won the other 11. Then the ACC slate hit like a dump truck.

Virginia Tech started 1-6 in conference play with losses to league cellar dwellers Boston College and Wake Forest. Until beating Clemson by five in their final regular season match-up, the Hokies’ three wins came by a total of five points. No conference team played opponents as consistently close (Virginia Tech saw all but four of its conference games decided by single figures), but no team saw fewer conference wins either. It was the last straw for the athletic department brass, which waited until April 23 to let Greenberg go.

Erick Green

Erick Green Has First Team All-ACC Potential this Season.

In his stead is last year’s Assistant Head Coach, James Johnson. Johnson is a great choice for the job, though he failed his first assignments. Top recruit Montrezl Harrell de-committed from the program to go to Louisville, and rising star Dorian Finney-Smith transferred to Florida. Still, Johnson knows the Virginia Tech team well and he knows the program.

Who’s Leaving

Long story short: a lot of people. The Hokies lose Dorenzo Hudson and Victor Davila to graduation; they lose Allan Chaney and Finney-Smith to transfer; and they lost Harrell’s commitment along with their head coach Greenberg.

Hudson and Davila were the team’s second and fourth-leading scorers, respectively. They combined to average 18.4 points and 7.0 rebounds a game. While Finney-Smith was still very raw offensively, he contributed a lot on defense and by crashing the glass. He was highly rated coming out of high school (#18 by ESPN, #27 by Scout and #31 by Rivals), largely thanks to his potential.

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ACC Weekly Five: 05.29.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on May 29th, 2012

It’s that quiet time for the ACC, but a number of folks are making noise even in the dead of late spring.

  1. IMG Academy: In an interview given last week, Kendall Marshall revealed that he had also fractured his elbow at the same time that he suffered his season-ending scaphoid injury. There was no way that Marshall was going to play any more games for North Carolina after the injury, but it makes the Marshall’s-injury-is-fake crowd seem even more insane and conspiratorial.
  2. Sports Illustrated: Virginia Tech has landed an intriguing transfer in UNC Wilmington freshman Adam Smith. The rising sophomore will be forced to sit out a year, of course, but he could provide some real scoring punch for the Hokies.  After all, despite being a 5’11” freshman, Smith wasn’t shy during his time in Wilmington, taking a team high 30.1% of the shots when he was on the floor.  Smith is the first player that new coach James Johnson has landed, a solid get, if not an absolute blockbuster.
  3. Washington Post: In slightly weirder transfer news, former starting Albany guard Logan Aronhalt will be joining the Maryland Terrapins, great news for a team whose backcourt seemed thin since the departure of Terrell Stoglin. The weird part about the news is that Aronhalt was part of an Albany team that actually played against Maryland last season at the Comcast Center. Aronhalt’s mention of appreciating the fine facilities there as a contributing factor in his decision to transfer will likely give some coaches pause come scheduling time. Still, the veteran guard looks to contribute immediately to the young team in College Park; already equipped with his undergraduate degree, he’ll be taking advantage of the graduate school exception for transfers to play this coming season.
  4.  Herald-Sun: Kentucky coach John Calipari recently made waves with his announcement about his vision for Kentucky’s non-conference schedule. Buried under a lot of overdone outrage about his insistence on playing mostly if not only neutral site non-conference games, ACC fans got the welcome news that Calipari remains committed to the renewal of the series with North Carolina and has been working to get a series going with Duke. Considering that Duke and Kentucky are two of the best non-conference rivals in all of college basketball, it’s hard not to applaud a regular squaring-off of blue bloods.
  5. Fayetteville Observer: North Carolina State coach Mark Gottfried caught a really big fish but ended up in the water. This is not a metaphor, but everyone keep this anecdote in mind in case it feels like one as next season progresses with some of the biggest recruits in the country all showing up on campus in Raleigh.
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ACC Weekly Five: 05.14.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on May 14th, 2012

  1. ESPN: Andy Katz has a report with details about next season’s new conference schedule.  With each team set to now play 18 conference games while the conference membership stays at 12, the 2012-13 schedule will be fairly unique. Each team will play a home-and-home series with seven teams, while playing the four other teams only once. According to associate commissioner Karl Hicks, the schedule will be designed explicitly for balance in the coming season, with no plans to set a rotation for future years. Frankly, as a fan: This is great. Unbalanced schedules aren’t a particularly fun part about college basketball yet they have played a big role in shaping tournament seeding in recent years. More conference games and more balance? All for it, assuming Hicks does a good job.
  2. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Money, money, money. The ACC renegotiated its television contract with ESPN to extend to 2026-27. The deal is worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $3.6 billion dollars and essentially means a 33% increase in revenue to each of the anticipated 14 member schools. The deal was brokered to factor in the new additions of Pittsburgh and Syracuse, both expected to participate in ACC play by the 2013-14 season. It’s refreshing to see that money is being kept out of amateur athletics and that the ideal of the student-athlete remains untainted by commercial interests.
  3. USA Today: Of course, not everyone is happy about the deal. Florida State, defending ACC Tournament champion, former football powerhouse and currently cash-strapped institution, has been muttering discontentedly over the recent television deal. Granted, a lot of the muttering appears to stem from misconceptions or misunderstandings, but the fact remains that the Seminoles want (and need) more money. While the new television deal is expected to bring in $17 million dollars a year, the current year’s athletic department budget has a projected shortfall of $2.4 million dollars. The temptation in Tallahassee is to seek membership with the Big 12 Conference, a league currently in negotiations for a contract that would deliver well over $20 million per year (particularly with the added draw of Florida State). While the school currently remains committed to the ACC, it’s hard to see a world where the Seminoles wouldn’t be thinking long and hard about this move.
  4. The Daily Press: James Johnson might well remember why he left Virginia Tech in the first place. The new Hokies head coach finds himself with a problem as VT continues to take big hits from transfers. Dorian Finney-Smith, an all-freshman team selection as well as perhaps the biggest recruit in Virginia Tech history, is requesting a transfer (Memphis or Florida seem to be the likely destinations). On top of losing Finney-Smith, incoming freshman Montrezl Harrell won’t be coming in after all — the top-100 recruit has requested a release to attend a different school.
  5. The News and Advance: On a positive note, Virginia coach Tony Bennett has survived the Wahoos’ rash of transfers to secure a more permanent place for himself in Charlottesville, earning a five-year extension at the school. In the turnover-wracked conference, it’s nice to see a guy putting down some roots. Bennett led the Cavaliers to one of its best seasons in a long time in 2011-12. The rest of the ACC can look forward to facing the tough and cramped pack line defense for years to come!
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ACC Weekly Five: 05.07.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on May 7th, 2012

  1. Washington Post: Barry Svrluga tracked down the members of Maryland‘s national championship team from 10 years ago and put together a slideshow with updates. Some aren’t newsworthy (Gary Williams and Steve Blake), but I had no idea how much Lonny Baxter has bounced around since departing for the NBA. He’s currently in Siberia. Juan Dixon is in Turkey. A few are working with local AAU programs or their old high school teams.
  2. Chapelboro.com: The North Carolina assistant coaching search is finally over. ESPN College Gameday host and analyst Hubert Davis was hired by Roy Williams to replace Jerod Haase, who left to take the head coaching job at UAB. Davis has no coaching experience, but I don’t hate the hire. While I think the opinion that he’ll augment North Carolina’s name recognition in recruiting is misrepresenting things, his notoriety from people seeing him on TV will be an asset on the recruiting trail. He also just seems like a personable guy. On the other side of things, the group attacking the hire because he lacks coaching experience should probably pump the brakes too. Davis played more than a decade in the NBA; he knows basketball. It remains to be seen if he’ll be a go-getter, but I thought this was a decent hire.
  3. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: With all the recent coverage of coaches restricting transfers, the ACC gotten quite a bit of decent press. After Duke didn’t restrict Michael Gbinije at all (he ended up at Syracuse, which will be an ACC school by the time he starts playing), Brian Gregory talked about Georgia Tech’s policy, which restricts transfers from going to Georgia. The ACC has its own policy that forces athletes to sit out two years if they want to transfer to another ACC school. I think all conferences should move to this model and get rid of restrictions altogether (or maybe allow one regional rival which would also carry the two-year penalty). Nate Hicks and Glen Rice, Jr., are both transferring from Georgia Tech.
  4. Hampton Roads Daily Press: It sounds like James Johnson is taking his new responsibilities at Virginia Tech in stride. This comfort is the biggest advantage to hiring an assistant over going outside the program. Who knows how Johnson will be as a head coach, but I think Virginia Tech made the right move bringing him back to take over for Seth Greenberg.
  5. Raleigh News & Observer: Debbie Yow isn’t stopping at basketball relevance. She wants to put the rest of the NC State athletic department on the map and compete for the Director’s Cup — an award that tracks the top 25 schools across all sports. I also like that Yow prefers “Olympic sports” to “non-revenue sports” because it’s “more respectful.”

EXTRA: Unfortunately, there have been more rumblings about schools jumping ship from the ACC. I agree that the tipping point is Florida State. The Seminoles are a relatively recent addition to the conference and have the most to offer a prospective conference. I still believe that Florida and South Carolina have enough clout with the SEC that Florida State and Clemson have a long way to go before being invited to join the SEC. However, the author raises a very good point about the SEC not wanting to allow the Big 12 into the southeastern recruiting footprint (namely, Florida).

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Report: James Johnson Back as Virginia Tech’s Head Coach

Posted by mpatton on May 1st, 2012

According to the Washington Post, former associate head coach “James Johnson will be named Virginia Tech’s next head men’s basketball coach, according to a person in the athletic department with direct knowledge of the situation.” Athletic director Jim Weaver would not confirm the hire, but pointed to a press conference to be scheduled early this week.

James Johnson To Be Named Virginia Tech's Next Head Coach (photo credit: Mark Dolejs, US Presswire)

When Virginia Tech fired Seth Greenberg last week, my two primary issues with the move were the timing and lack of available candidates. Since the firing, I’ve done an about-face on my opinion: Now I believe Greenberg’s staff turnover and recent stagnation left Weaver with no other options. Half of coaching college basketball is recruiting players and keeping players around — assistant coaches are absolutely critical to that process. Without consistency on the coaching staff, it’s up to the head coach to make close relationships with all potential recruits and current players. That’s just not feasible. Additionally, high level assistants like Johnson take on large coaching responsibilities like defensive scouting.

The reason I was so against dismissing Greenberg was the timing made a slim crop of candidates even slimmer, which made it more likely that the replacement coach would be a step down from Greenberg. The only real in-house candidate was Johnson, who had just departed for Clemson. Based on the timing of Greenberg’s firing, Johnson’s departure was at least the straw that broke the camel’s back. Monday’s report supports this hypothesis. If the reports are true, I love the hire. Johnson knows the area, having grown up in Virginia and coached in Blacksburg. This should have the short-term advantage in re-committing top prospect Montrezl Harrell and keeping all of the current players on the roster. Johnson is definitely a risk — as all first-time head coaches are — but I’d rather see a school take a risk than fall back on a recycled coach.

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