The NBA Draft Is a Complicated Beast; Let’s Just Stay Out of It

Posted by Chris Johnson on April 18th, 2013

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

Every year brings its share of puzzling NBA Draft decisions, and most of the frustration is typically captured by one underlying theme: he left too early. This year’s draft enigma was confusing for an entirely different reason. It was confusing because Marcus Smart, a consensus top-five pick in next month’s draft, elected to return to Oklahoma State for his sophomore season. The commentary on Smart’s decision has been a disconcerting mix of perplexity, misunderstood motives and an unexpected dose of condescending admonishment, with almost no reactive excitement – the best freshman in college basketball, and one of the best players overall, is returning next season, and no one has anything positive to say about it?! Isn’t this the exact development we spend countless words and digital ink groaning about each and every summer?!

No decision has generated more Buzz than Smart's choice to play another year at Oklahoma State (AP Photo).

No decision has generated more Buzz than Smart’s choice to play another year at Oklahoma State (AP Photo).

The early draft decision headlines have served as collective petri dish dissection of Smart’s purportedly misguided decision. But guess what? Other players are making very important decisions about their professional futures, too, and not all of them are as procedural and predictable and academic as Smart’s relative draft-media monopoly might lead you to believe. I’ll offer you two recent decisions (or non-decisions) that, while nothing close to Smart-level Big 12 rippling waves, will change the ways their respective teams are evaluated entering next season.

First up is James Michael McAdoo, who announced Tuesday he plans to return to North Carolina for his junior season. It’s difficult to fathom now, but McAdoo was once considered among the very best players in the country last summer. He was supposed to help bridge the gap between the Kendall Marshall-Tyler Zeller super team and a new and customarily talented re-tooled Tar Heels group. You probably didn’t hear much about McAdoo last season, for reasons good and not, but as UNC picked up steam in February and into March, and the true latent potential of Marcus Paige and P.J. Hairston began to turn a mediocre transition season into a legitimately scary Third Round proposition, North Carolina offered an entertaining preview of the high-win outfit it can and should rightfully become next season. McAdoo was a major collaborator in coach Williams’ midseason small-ball transformation – wherein UNC eschewed a traditional two-big lineup in favor of using McAdoo at the five and Hairston as a “power forward” – and UNC can rekindle that dynamic next season with a highly touted recruiting class, more experience and a better collective comprehension of the system. The upshot for McAdoo is more wins, a bigger national spotlight and another chance to round out his game for NBA scouts. Good deal.

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Morning Five: 04.17.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 17th, 2013

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  1. In one of the least surprising early entry decisions ever Shabazz Muhammad announced that he would be leaving UCLA after one season during which he became two years older. Muhammad’s recruitment and arrival at UCLA was one of the more controversial ones and portended a career that was more hype than production. After Muhammad was reinstated (in part due to comments made by the boyfriend of a NCAA investigator on a cross-country flight) he showed flashes of ability that reminded people why he was considered the best player in his class for much of his senior year of high school, but those moments were separated by stretches of mediocrity and more ridiculous scandals including the ridiculous Gucci backpack controversy and the recent admission that he was actually a year older than he had previously stated. In the end, Muhammad did not live up to the ridiculous hype given to a recruit of his caliber, but he will probably end up being a lottery pick so we cannot really fault him for heading to the NBA, which he was been destined to do this summer even before he headed to Westwood.
  2. If Muhammad needed any extra motivation to head to the NBA the performance of James Michael McAdoo this past season should help Muhammad feel more secure in his decision to strike while the iron is hot. Now we will start of by admitting that Muhammad was a much more highly touted prospect and produced more as a freshman than McAdoo has done in either of his first two seasons at North Carolina, but McAdoo was considered to be a potential All-American this season. In the end his play was so uninspired that he has decided to return to Chapel Hill for his junior season. Writers and fans can make all of the comments about improving his game that they want, but the fact is that McAdoo probably played himself out of the late lottery this season. With a solid year next season McAdoo could get back into the lottery and make himself more money, but he will have to compete with what is expected to be a much deeper draft class in 2014.
  3. Unfortunately for Roy Williams, McAdoo will not be joined in the locker room by Reggie Bullock, who was named the team’s MVP yesterday and then promptly announced that he would be declaring for the NBA Draft. Bullock showed quite a bit of improvement between his sophomore and junior seasons (or he just started playing on a weaker team that focused more of the offense on him) as his points per game jumped from 8.8 to 13.9 and his shooting (field goal, three-point, and free throw) all improved. At this point Bullock is a borderline late first round pick so it is not unreasonable for him to leave school especially with how loaded next year’s Draft could be, but he needs to shoot well in his workouts if he doesn’t want to have his name called by Adam Silver.
  4. We have no idea who is in Vander Blue‘s ear, but they are costing him a year of free education and are probably sending him straight to Europe or the NBDL as he announced yesterday that he would be entering the NBA Draft. Blue put together a solid junior season, but even the most optimistic projection we have seen for Blue has him projected as a late second round pick. For all of Blue’s ability he cannot reliably hit a college three-pointer (30.3% last season) and he is undersized for a shooting guard, which is a bad combination. While we won’t have to watch Blue deal with the consequences of his decision (don’t watch much NBDL or Euroleague action), we will probably see Marquette suffer as a result of the loss of senior leadership in the backcourt next season.
  5. We already know plenty about the four players we have already mentioned, but there is one intriguing NBA Draft prospect who was highly regarded coming out of high school about  whom we know very little–Norvel Pelle. After failing to meet the NCAA’s academic qualifying standards, Pelle, who was once the #1 center in the class of 2011, has been floating in a no-man’s land and now must prove himself to NBA teams in a series of workouts over the next few months. Pelle certainly has the tools and at 6’1o or 6’11″ he is very close to the magic 7′ mark–time to let the hair grow a little–that gets you drafted as long as you can walk and chew gum a the same time (and sometimes even if you can’t) so we don’t doubt that he will get looks from NBA teams, but he needs to prove himself in workouts if he wants to get drafted.

Bonus: Late last night news broke that Oklahoma State star freshman Marcus Smart would be returning for his sophomore season. Honestly, we have no idea why he would do this as he is a top-five pick on every mock draft we have seen. With how loaded next year’s incoming freshman class is there is no guarantee that he will improve his draft position. He clearly has some things that he can work on with his game (29% from 3 and 1.25 assist-to-turnover ratio), but we have no idea why he would have to work on that in Stillwater. Having said that the Big 12 suddenly got a lot more interesting next season.

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2012-13 Rush the Court All-America Teams

Posted by KDoyle on April 3rd, 2013

If this was baseball, a batting average of .333 would represent Hall of Fame type numbers. Back in November when our group of RTC pollsters and hoop experts selected their preseason All-America teams, just five names lived up to expectations that we originally had placed on them: Indiana’s Cody Zeller, Creighton’s Doug McDermott, Ohio State’s DeShaun Thomas, Michigan’s Trey Burke, and Kansas’ Jeff Withey. In fact, the only player who was named to the preseason All-America First Team and finished there was McDermott. If there is one thing to take away from this exercise, it’s that projecting player performance is far from an exact science.

McDermott Was Our Only Preseason First Teamer Who Stayed There

McDermott Was Our Only Preseason First Teamer Who Stayed There

The 10 players we selected as preseason All-Americans who failed to live up to our hype were: Murray State’s Isaiah Canaan, Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum — let’s remember McCollum missed more than half the season due to injury — UNLV’s Mike Moser, Missouri’s Phil Pressey, Ohio State’s Aaron Craft, San Diego State’s Jamaal Franklin, North Carolina’s James Michael McAadoo, North Texas’ Tony Mitchell, UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad, and Florida State’s Michael Snaer. It would be foolish to think that most of these players did not have exceptional seasons — look no further than Canaan, who averaged 21.8 PPG, 3.5 RPG, and 4.3 APG for the Racers this year. He had a very good senior season, but it’s not his fault that a guy like Victor Oladipo came out of nowhere to prove he was one of the best players in the country. Of course, there were a few disappointments, and we can look right at Mitchell as the most obvious example. Whether fair or not, expectations were probably too high for Mitchell, who many project to be a future NBA player. Mitchell averaged 13.0 PPG and 8.5 RPG, but his team slogged to a rough 12-20 season.

With that out of the way, let’s dive into the players who met or exceeded our expectations this season. After tallying up the votes from our nine experts, here are the 2012-13 RTC All-America Teams.

Note on methodology: voters took postseason performance into consideration. Players earned three points for a First Team vote, two points for a Second Team vote, and one point for a Third Team vote. Burke, Porter, and Oladipo were consensus First Team All-America selections.

First Team All-America

No Doubt Burke Won Over Many With His March Performances (AnnArbor.com)

No Doubt Burke Won Over Many With His March Performances (AnnArbor.com)

  • Trey Burke, SO, Michigan (consensus) (18.8 PPG, 6.8 APG, 1.6 SPG, 3.1 A/TO). After spearheading arguably the nation’s most potent offense during the regular season, Burke was named a First Team All-American by the AP. His virtuoso performance in the South Region semifinal against Kansas where he singlehandedly brought Michigan back in the final minutes of regulation supplanted himself as not just a surefire First Teamer here at RTC, but perhaps the National Player of the Year as well. More than just his knack for hitting the big shot, Burke’s most impressive attribute may be as a distributor; boasting a 3.1 A/TO ratio is downright impressive given the responsibility John Beilein has bestowed upon him in running the offense.
  • Otto Porter Jr., SO, Georgetown (consensus) (16.2 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.8 SPG, 48.0% FG, 42.2% 3FG). Many often lamented Georgetown’s stagnant Princeton-style offense as the reason for its lack of production, but imagine where the Hoyas may have been this season without Porter. The sophomore emerged as one of the nation’s best players after consecutive games in Brooklyn where he led Georgetown past then #11 UCLA and nearly upset top-ranked Indiana the following night. Porter was expected to be a key cog for Georgetown this season after averaging just south of 10.0 PPG as a freshman, but his outburst was a surprise to many this year. His stark improvement with his three-point shot — a 22.6% to 42.2% increase — has made Porter a much more complete player, and bodes well for his future at the next level.
  • Victor Oladipo, JR, Indiana (consensus) (13.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 2.1 SPG, 59.9% FG, 44.1% 3FG). A role player in his first two seasons at Indiana, Oladipo emerged as Indiana’s best and most valuable player as a junior, surpassing more celebrated teammate Cody Zeller in that regard. While his offensive game improved in nearly every department — how often is it that a guard shoots 60% from the field? — it was Oladipo’s defense which made him an invaluable part of Tom Crean’s team. There may not be a better on-ball wing defender in the country as Oladipo created havoc — to borrow a term from Shaka Smart — on the perimeter. In looking at just his statistics, one would think Oladipo is a 6’10 power forward given his high shooting percentage and rebounding totals; that’s what makes him such a unique and dominant player.
  • Doug McDermott, JR, Creighton (26) (23.2 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 54.8% FG, 49.0% 3FG, 87.5% FT). Perhaps the most prolific and talented offensive player in college basketball, it came as no surprise to find McDermott’s name on the First Team All-America list. His shooting percentages in all three departments are off the charts, and were a big reason Creighton was tops in the nation in team 3FG% and third in 2FG%; McDermott went off for 20+ points in 26 of his 36 games this season. While his defensive and athletic abilities are both question marks, there’s no denying that McDermott is a natural scorer who is a threat to score from anywhere on the floor. Assuming he returns for his senior season, McDermott will most likely eclipse the 3,000-point mark as a collegian which has only been done seven times in history.
  • Kelly Olynyk, JR, Gonzaga (24) (17.8 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.1 BPG, 62.9% FG). Playing behind Robert Sacre and Steven Gray for his first two seasons at Gonzaga, Olynyk averaged just 12.3 MPG as a freshman and 13.5 MPG as a sophomore. For his redshirt junior season, however, he owned the frontcourt. A legit seven-footer, Olynyk runs the floor like an athletic forward and scores in a variety of ways. His 62.9% FG was especially impressive considering he spent a fair amount of time outside of the paint in Gonzaga’s offense. He was the biggest reason that Gonzaga ascended to its first-ever #1 ranking in the polls and commensurate #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Second Team All-America

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Rushed Reactions: #8 North Carolina 78, #9 Villanova 71

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 22nd, 2013

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Brian Goodman is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report from the Kansas City pod of the West Region.

Three Key Takeaways:

PJ Hairston and Friends Survived the Villanova Comeback

PJ Hairston and Friends Survived the Villanova Comeback

  1. UNC showed it’s an improved team, but still highly vulnerable. For most of the first half, North Carolina dissected the Wildcats in as precise a fashion as you could imagine. UNC quietly stuck to their game plan of keeping their offense perimeter-oriented, rarely foraging into the paint against Villanova’s interior defense (aside from transition opportunities), and converted jump shot after jump shot. The Tar Heels went on a stretch where they made nine out of ten attempts and tallied just one offensive rebound before halftime. P.J. Hairston and James Michael McAdoo took smart, calculated shots within the offense, rarely driving out of control or into the teeth of Villanova’s defense. Things started to become unglued when the Tar Heels got too loose and some of the bad habits that got  them into trouble early in the ACC schedule seeped back in, and Villanova erased a 20-point lead. At that point, though, North Carolina started hitting jump shots again and surged back ahead for good on a Bullock three.
  2. Villanova failed to capitalize on opportunities. It may sound off, given the fact that Villanova overcame a 20-point deficit, but missed layups, turnovers and a lack of bench contributions doomed the Wildcats in the second half. Despite manhandling North Carolina on the glass (37-28), Jay Wright’s team couldn’t keep up with the Tar Heels, as they traded twos for threes late in the second half. Given its limitations, Villanova played well on the whole and should be proud of its effort Friday night, but it might be hard for them to shake the idea that it could have been playing Sunday afternoon if not for a few breaks.
  3. UNC’s three-point shooting is good enough to send any team packing. Villanova’s perimeter defense has been suspect all season, a biproduct of the Wildcats’ lack of quickness, but it’s not all that hard to picture North Carolina keeping up their hot shooting. P.J. Hairston led all scorers with five made treys, but two other players hit half their attempts, and if that keeps up, it will be tough for its next opponent (probably Kansas) to key in on any one perimeter threat. The Tar Heels are prone to sloppy stretches, and that showed tonight, but they can hide many of those mistakes with some good old-fashioned bombing.

Star Of The Game. P.J. Hairston - 23 points, 7-of-11 FG, 5-of-8 3FG, three assists – Every time North Carolina needed a basket, Hairston was there to deliver it. Not only was he important to UNC’s hot start, but he helped steady the ship in the middle third of the game. The sophomore is now 25-of-54 from distance (46.2%) in his last seven games.

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NCAA Game Analysis: Second Round, Friday Evening

Posted by KDoyle on March 22nd, 2013

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#2 Georgetown vs. #15 Florida Gulf Coast – South Region Second Round (at Philadelphia) – 6:50 PM ET on TBS

Florida Gulf Coast is one of the better stories in this year’s NCAA Tournament. Only in their sixth year as a Division 1 program, the Eagles are riding their first winning season in history thanks to the hiring of former Florida State assistant Andy Enfield. In Enfield’s first year, they finished 15-17, but were a game away from the NCAA Tournament as they lost to Belmont in the Atlantic Sun finals. This year, Florida Gulf Coast has been the team to beat, and it began with an early season win over Miami (FL). FGCU’s style of play greatly differs from today’s opponent, the Georgetown Hoyas. The Hoyas are predicated on a stingy zone defense that rarely allows for clean looks at the basket, and they play at a snail’s pace. Led by Otto Porter, Georgetown has a legitimate star that can carry them deep into the NCAA Tournament. FGCU very much likes to get up and down the floor with Sherwood Brown and Bernard Thompson leading the attack. If FGCU is able to get out in the open floor and score in transition, they’ll keep it close for much of the game. Problem is that not many teams control the pace of a game quite like Georgetown—that’s what makes them such a difficult opponent as they force the opposition to play their style of game. Historically, Georgetown has struggled in the NCAA Tournament under John Thompson III as they’ve failed to reach the second weekend in four of six appearances under him, but many believe this is a different Hoya team. FGCU is playing with house money and expect them to make a game of this, but in front of a heavy Georgetown crowd in Philadelphia the Hoyas are simply too much in the end.

Andy Enfield has his FGCU squad playing great basketball. (AP)

Andy Enfield has his FGCU squad playing great basketball. (AP)

The RTC Certified Pick: Georgetown

#2 Ohio State vs. #15 Iona – West Regional Second Round (at Dayton, OH) – 7:15 p.m. ET on CBS
One of the nation’s most balanced teams, the knock on the Buckeyes for the longest time this season was that they didn’t have a secondary scorer to help out junior DeShaun Thomas. We’ll get to that in a second, but let’s just say that Iona never had such a problem. Senior guard Lamont “Momo” Jones has always been the main offensive weapon on this team, never afraid to look for his own shot, but the Gaels have always trusted guard Sean Armand and forward David Laury to chip in heavily in the scoring column. And as a result, the Gaels have one of the most efficient offenses in the mid-major ranks. The problem for Tim Cluess’ team is the complete inability to stop teams on defense; only nine times all season have they held an opponent below one point per possession in a game. Given that Ohio State is one of the best defensive teams in the nation (sixth in defensive efficiency per KenPom.com), you can expect the Buckeyes to at least slow Iona’s prolific offense. And given that Thad Matta has been getting significantly improved offensive play out of guys like Aaron Craft, Lenzelle Smith, LaQuinton Ross and Sam Thompson, you can expect the Bucks to take advantage of that buttery soft Gael defense. While Momo Jones, et al. have the ability to make some exciting plays when they’ve got the ball, their inattention to details defensively will allow the Buckeyes to have more than their share of exciting offensive plays as well.

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The ACC in the NCAA: Previewing UNC vs. Villanova

Posted by KCarpenter on March 22nd, 2013

Villanova is like Michigan State or Kansas to North Carolina. For whatever reason, these teams just feel fated to meet in the tournament. The last two times these teams met in the tournament were 2009 and 2005, with UNC headed towards a National Championship both times. Though hopes are not nearly so high for either of these teams this year, this match-up feels very familiar, even if all the players have changed. In a normal year, this Villanova team would be very well-equipped to deal with a Roy Williams coached North Carolina team. Jay Wright‘s squad is tough on the interior, allowing very few easy inside buckets and rebounding on their own glad with quite a bit of skill. Offensively, the team relies heavily on penetration to get to the foul line more than any other team in the country. It’s not hard to see how a team like this would frustrate the likes of Sean May, for example, with tough defense and eventual foul trouble.

Carolina Fans are Ready For Another March Run (Photo credit: Getty Images).

Carolina Fans are Ready For Another March Run (Photo credit: Getty Images).

Of course, this year’s Tar Heel squad is starkly different from the typical squads Williams has fielded in the past decade. Tough interior defense is all but irrelevant to a UNC team that attempts (and makes) more threes than just about any Carolina line-up of the Williams era. This perimeter oriented squad happily bombs away, using drives more than post-ups to earn a little space from the defender, and unfortunately for Villanova, this team isn’t particularly well-suited to handle this approach.

The Wildcats are an abysmal team against the 3-pointer with opponents converting 36.8% of attempts, good for 299th in Division I. Now, a clever critic might point out that 3-point defense is really more about limiting attempts than how many treys the opponent can successfully make, but this clever critic would be disappointed by this measure too. Villanova’s opponents have been able to take a rather high proportion of threes, attempting long bombs on 35.7% of field goal attempts. Offensively, it looks like the Tar Heels are a good fit to exploit the Wildcats’ flaws.

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Bracket Prep: South Region Analysis

Posted by KDoyle on March 18th, 2013

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Throughout Monday, we will roll out our region-by-region analysis on the following schedule: East (9 AM), Midwest (11 AM), South (1 PM), West (3 PM). Here, Kevin Doyle (@kldoyle11) breaks down the South Region from top to bottom. Also, be sure to follow our RTC South Region handle on Twitter for continuous updates the next two weeks (@RTCsouthregion).

You can also check out our RTC Podblast with Kevin breaking down the South Region, which will drop both on the site and on iTunes Tuesday.

South Region

Favorite: #3 Florida (26-7, 16-5 SEC). A month ago, Florida looked like it was destined for a #1 seed and primed for a Final Four run to Atlanta. The Gators were dismantling SEC teams — albeit some very weak teams — and had their potent offense clicking on all cylinders. But then Florida lost at Missouri, and then at Tennessee, and then at Kentucky. Questions began to arise, and rightly so. A team of Florida’s talent and experience should not be losing to SEC teams that will not even make the NCAA Tournament. They seemed unbeatable in the 2012 portion of the schedule, but played down to their level of competition in the SEC. That being said, it would not be smart to pick against Billy Donovan. Donovan has led Florida to the Elite Eight the past two seasons, and done so with largely the same group he has this year. Two seasons ago it was a loss to Butler as a #2-seed and last year a loss to Louisville as a #7-seed. Of their eight impact players, seven are upperclassmen and have extensive experience in the NCAA Tournament. Veteran leadership and NCAA Tournament experience cannot be discounted, and Florida has both in spades. In the “for what it’s worth” department, Pomeroy has Florida ranked #1 overall in his season-long rankings (fifth in offensive efficiency and second in defensive efficiency).

Is the Third Time the Charm for Boynton and His Gators?

Is the Third Time the Charm for Boynton and His Gators?

Should They Falter: #2 Georgetown (29-5, 15-5 Big East). Recent history is not on Georgetown’s side as John Thompson III has made a habit of exiting the NCAA Tournament too early. In fact, in the six NCAA Tournaments that JT3 has led the Hoyas to, they haven’t made it past the first weekend four times. The Hoyas won’t win any style points, but that doesn’t much matter. What they lack in flash they have in tough defense and methodical but effective offense. Not to mention that the Hoyas are also fortunate to have Otto Porter, the Big East Player of the Year, on their side. The emergence of Markel Starks as a second dependable scorer adds another dimension to the offense beyond him, though. Their adjusted tempo ranks 313th in the country — in other words, a snail’s pace — and inability to score in stretches on the offensive end doesn’t make them a sexy team to watch, but Georgetown is very comfortable playing grind-it-out kind of games making them an apt postseason team.

Grossly Overseeded: #7 San Diego State (22-10, 10-8 Mountain West). The Aztecs began the season with a 14-2 record and a 2-0 mark in Mountain West play, and appeared to be the class of the league alongside New Mexico. Since that blistering start, San Diego State is a pedestrian 8-8 and finished 9-7 in the MW. It is almost unfathomable that the Aztecs earned a much better seed than Pac-12 champion Oregon — prepare yourselves to hearing a lot about the Ducks’ seed in the coming days —and even a higher seed than fellow Mountain West member Colorado State. SDSU benefited from having a strong RPI (#28) and a challenging schedule which ranked in the top 20, but many prognosticators had them wearing road jerseys in their opening round game, not home whites.

Grossly Underseeded: #8 North Carolina (24-10, 14-7 ACC). After getting embarrassed by Miami and then suffering a tough road defeat to Duke, North Carolina looked like it was headed to the NIT; the Tar Heels had a 16-8 record and were just 6-5 in the ACC at the time. Roy Williams’ young group may have had unfair expectations placed on it in the preseason, but there is little doubt that they should be an NCAA Tournament team now. Their talent and maturation as a team began to show in the second half of ACC play by winning eight of their last 10 games including a narrow loss to Miami in the ACC Tournament Championship. North Carolina’s seed was hurt by having a 2-9 mark against the RPI top 50, but the way in which Carolina concluded the regular season shows that it was playing closer to the caliber of a #5 seed and shouldn’t be marred in the dreaded #8/#9 match-up with the top seed looming.

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ACC M5: 03.12.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 12th, 2013

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  1. ACC: The official first teams were released yesterday. As the blogosphere has become more involved in the voting, I’m starting to think we’ve seen the last of unanimous all-conference voting. This year, Mason Plumlee came the closest, finishing on the first team on 73 of the 77 ballots. The only really egregious misplacement — apart from the media leaving Michael Snaer off the all-defensive team — was filled by James Michael McAdoo on the second team. McAdoo is a very good player, but he often hurts North Carolina as much as he helps with his poor shooting and turnover-prone nature. On the other side of the coin, Devin Booker is criminally underrated and Reggie Bullock is a few spots too low.
  2. The Business Journal: They had to log some overtime, but the first phase of renovations to the Greensboro Coliseum are on schedule for the ACC Tournament. The main upgrades (so far) are in seating, which should be significantly more comfortable (both because the seats are wider and have cushions) along with some higher-end meal options. The renovations should help Greensboro in its quest to compete with future sites (Madison Square Garden), but its ACC heyday is done.
  3. Duke Basketball Report: Barry Jacobs hints at what stat guru Ken Pomeroy alluded to last month. A conference’s strength on the road versus home has very little to do with how good the conference is. The same can be said for teams, though road wins do say something about a team’s poise. A good example of this is Duke last year compared with Duke this year. Last year the Blue Devils were perfect away from home in conference play, but they clearly weren’t as good as this year’s group, which has struggled away from Cameron Indoor Stadium.
  4. Sports Illustrated: The big news Monday was that Notre Dame will join the ACC next year for basketball. The Fighting Irish also managed to avoid paying an exit fee by virtue of the “Mutual Commitment Agreement” that is also getting the Catholic Seven schools out free. This either means that Notre Dame joined forces with the basketball schools or was allowed its own agreement based on its independent status in football. Regardless, the Irish are coming our way very soon.
  5. New York Times: Connecticut is one of the only Big East members left without a home. Truthfully, despite its recent success, the school may want to consider dropping football (or playing football in a different league) in order to join the Catholic Seven. Barring more conference realignment, the Huskies are probably out of the ACC. That’s thanks in large part to Boston College, who reportedly doesn’t want another school encroaching on its New England market and doesn’t want the ACC any closer to requiring its members to join the ACC for hockey (which would mean the Eagles lose their direct connection with the prestigious Hockey East).
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Duke Reminds Everybody That It Might Be The Favorite In March

Posted by KCarpenter on March 10th, 2013

It was over at the half. Coaches sometimes hate when others say that, but in Duke’s 69-53 victory over North Carolina, both Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski largely agreed–it was over at the half. Seth Curry was unstoppable, going 8-for-10 in the first stanza. He was closely guarded by Reggie Bullock and others, but in the end, nothing seemed to matter. “He toyed with us,” said Williams, and he wasn’t wrong. Curry led the Blue Devils to a 42 point first half (on 69.2% shooting) while a miserable looking North Carolina offense only managed 24 points (on 27.3% shooting).

Coach K Is Working His Magic Again

Duke scored at will, jumping out to a 14-0 run to start the game and one that ultimately decided it. North Carolina had nice spurts as the game went on, and the margin fluctuated, but ultimately the 14 points held up all the way to the final buzzer. Curry cooled off in the second half, and North Carolina did a better job getting close shots at the basket, but ultimately, a strong game plan and Mason Plumlee did wonders for keeping the Tar Heels at a distance. Plumlee looked more comfortable than he has in a long time, racking up 23 points on 15 shots as well as 13 rebounds. Mason’s board work can stand on its own, but it was all the more impressive for the number it did against James Michael McAdoo. While McAdoo had occasional success scoring on Plumlee, he was simply dominated on the boards. Usually playing as Carolina’s only big, McAdoo managed only 3 rebounds in 34 minutes. For reference, Plumlee had three times as many boards on the offensive end as McAdoo had on the defensive end. The Duke big man’s dominance on the boards kept Carolina at bay throughout the second half.

The Tar Heels did make a second half run, technically slightly winning the half 29-27 while shooting 41.4% to the Blue Devils’ 39.1%. Still, after spotting Duke 14 points to start the game and with Plumlee controlling the boards, the greatly improved play in the second half simply didn’t matter. Krzyzewski put it very simply in his post-game comments: “Obviously, we played really well tonight.” With Miami’s recent stumbles, Duke looks like the hottest and most talented team in the conference.

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Lessons Learned: ACC Weekend Wrap-Up

Posted by KCarpenter on March 5th, 2013

It was a boring penultimate weekend of Atlantic Coast Conference play where everything went according to plan and nothing exciting happened. Just kidding: It was a in fact a sensational weekend of games with some big time performances and massive upsets. There were also a couple of dull games where teams with “North Carolina” in their name easily defeated overmatched foes, but let’s try our best to ignore that as we examine some late lessons of the season.

  1. Boston College Really Likes Playing Teams That Just Beat Duke. In fact, the Eagles have proven themselves as the masters of the hangover game. A win over Virginia is more impressive than a win over Maryland, but what remains far more interesting is BC’s penchant for killing other team’s vibes. All but one conference victory (an early season tilt against Virginia Tech) has come after an opponent has won its previous game. Does this mean anything? Probably not, but if I was going to face Boston College after I had just won a game, I would do my best not to overlook the Eagles.
  2. Duke’s Win Over Miami Was Surprising For The Wrong Reasons. Let’s be totally clear: Ryan Kelly’s 36 points on 14 shots was one of the most sensational individual performances in all of college basketball this year. It also probably feels good for Duke fans to get revenge after Miami’s victory early in the season. Still, if I’m a Duke fan, I’m a little concerned. The Blue Devils were supposed to win this game, with most betting lines putting the team as a 5.5 point favorite. Kelly puts in one of the single most impressive and surprising performances of the year… and Duke only wins by 3 points at home? It was a big victory, no doubt, but shouldn’t it have been a lot bigger?

    While Ryan Kelly's outstanding performance was great in the Duke win, the narrow victory might be a cause of some concern (Lance King)

    While Ryan Kelly’s outstanding performance was great in the Duke win, the narrow victory might be cause for some concern. (Lance King)

  3. Wake Forest Has Become Ridiculously Good At Drawing Fouls. Technically, Boston College and NC State have been better than the Demon Deacons in conference play, but you wouldn’t know that by watching the game against Maryland. In the first half, Wake was in the bonus with 9:47 to go in the period. In the second half, they were in the bonus with 16:13 left. That’s right. They reached the bonus before the first official timeout of the second half. James Padgett fouled out after 17 minutes, and in 10 minutes of play, Shaquille Cleare tallied four fouls. The Deacons ultimately lost this game, but this kind of foul-drawing performance suggests that this team might be particularly well-positioned to exploit the teams that foul the most in the conference — namely Virginia Tech, Virginia and Duke. Read the rest of this entry »
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The New Look Tar Heels Are Slowly Finding Their Way

Posted by BHayes on February 20th, 2013

Bennet Hayes is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @HoopsTraveler on Twitter. He filed this report from Tuesday’s game in Atlanta between Georgia Tech and North Carolina.

While we are not looking at our daddy’s Miami Hurricanes this season, it was only 10 days ago that a 26-point UNC loss in Coral Gables seemed to indicate that we also weren’t seeing a very familiar UNC team this year. It was not the first time that these Heels found themselves on the wrong side of a lopsided scoreboard (far from it, really), and with a visit to Cameron Indoor Stadium lurking next, head coach Roy Williams decided that something needed to change. Williams inserted wing PJ Hairston into the starting lineup at the four, giving the starting five a smaller, more explosive look. Immediate results were good, as Hairston went for 23 points in a close loss in Durham before erupting for a career-high 29 in a weekend victory over Virginia. Tuesday night’s match-up with Georgia Tech featured little in the way of Hairston fireworks, but another UNC victory serves as more proof that Roy may be on to something with his new, smaller approach.

P.J. Hairston, North Carolina

PJ Hairston’s Insertion Into The Starting Lineup Makes For A More Explosive Carolina Team (Getty Images)

Hairston may be the player most dramatically affected by the revamped lineup – and his post defense did little to dismiss this notion – but James Michael McAdoo has also been forced to play slightly out of position at the five. There will be nights down the road where McAdoo will be more tested in his own paint, but on this evening he was a terror everywhere else on the defensive end, jumping into passing lanes and fueling a relentless UNC transition attack. The Tar Heels collected 14 steals (McAdoo leading the way with four) and forced a young Tech team into 19 turnovers, a total that ended up far too high for Brian Gregory’s team to have any chance of keeping close to Carolina.

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Believe Your Eyes: The ACC is a Bad Free Throw Shooting Conference

Posted by KCarpenter on February 15th, 2013

Last night, the Clemson Tigers defeated the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, 56-53. In the win, the Tigers shot 9-of-17 from the free throw line, good for a not-exactly-world-beating 52.9%. It was a below-average performance for Clemson, but not a massive outlier. On the season, the Tigers are shooting 66.5% from the line, which is the 254th best mark in Division I. Of course, ACC fans know, that for whatever reason, Clemson has been a bad free-throw shooting team for the better part of the past decade. The Tigers’ woes are old news. It’s not just Clemson that’s struggling with free throws this year, though: It’s the whole conference.

Take Note, ACC Players...

Take Note, ACC Players…

It’s strange to hear an entire conference of fans lament that their team is “terrible” at the charity stripe, yet that’s what I’ve heard this year. Of course, people’s observations are prone to all sorts of psychological biases, so maybe it just seems like everyone is bad at shooting free throws? Not really. Considering only conference games, the ACC teams are shooting 66.8% from the charity stripe — good for 30th best among 32 D-I conferences. In recent history, the ACC has been in the better half of free-throw shooting conferences every year since 2003. It’s not just one team dragging the average down, either: 10 of the 12 conference teams are having worse shooting years than they did last year. Only Duke and Florida State are shooting better than last season, due almost entirely to Mason Plumlee‘s significant improvement in the case of Duke and the graduation of Bernard James from Florida State.

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