ACC Mega-Preview: Duke Tops Power Rankings

Posted by Matt Patton (@rise_and_fire) on November 8th, 2013

Over the last two weeks, we have previewed each team individually to go with several more articles to get you ready for ACC basketball starting later today. Links to the previews can be found in each of the preseason power rankings listed below. Also look for our preseason conference awards later which will publish later today.

ACC Basketball Twitter Must-Follows (Chris): 

  • Part I (general ACC tweeters)
  • Part II (Maryland, Clemson, Wake Forest, Boston College, Miami, Pittsburgh,  and Georgia Tech)
  • Part III (Virginia, Duke, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Florida State, North Carolina, and NC State)

Early Season Tournaments (Brad):

  • Part I (Boston College, Virginia Tech, and Clemson)
  • Part II (Florida State, North Carolina, Maryland, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse)
  • Part III (Duke, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Virginia, and Miami)

Seven Nonconference Games to Watch (Brad)

PRESEASON POWER RANKINGS

Duke Blue Devils 1. Duke (75): Unanimous selection for the top spot, Coach K hopes this year’s more athletic group of players can thrive at a faster pace of play. Duke is a national contender this season.
Syracuse Orange 2. Syracuse (67): Their loaded front court and a legendary coach will help make seamless transition to the ACC, bringing their length and vaunted 2-3 zone along with them. Frosh point guard Tyler Ennis is the difference between a very good team and a great one.
North Carolina Tar Heels T3. North Carolina (64): The development of the young frontcourt will be key for a team with plenty of upside, but a daunting non-conference schedule and the suspensions of PJ Hairston and Leslie McDonald loom early.
Virginia Cavaliers T3. Virginia (64): ACC stars Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell are back in Charlottesville. If the point guard position has more offensive output than last season, this team has all the pieces to be an ACC contender.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish 5. Notre Dame (52)Mike Brey has to find a way to replace Jack Cooley‘s production in the post, but the Fighting Irish bring back one of the best backcourts in the ACC. The Fighting Irish look like a border-line top-25 team heading into the season.
Maryland Terrapins 6. Maryland (48): Losing Seth Allen for a spell and Alex Len to the lottery will hurt, but Dez Wells‘ brilliance and Maryland’s overall athleticism should propel them to new heights under Mark Turgeon assuming they can cut out some of their turnovers.
Boston College 7. Boston College (43): A veteran core and a bona fide star could take Boston College to the next level, provided Steve Donahue does something about the team’s dreadful defense. If Dennis Clifford is healthy, this team has a shot at the NCAA Tournament.
Pittsburgh Panthers 8. Pittsburgh (41): The Panthers have three solid returning starters to build around, but will need their new big men to make an immediate impact after Steven Adams’ surprising decision to bolt for the NBA Draft. Also how will the new officiating rules affect Jamie Dixon‘s style?
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 9. Georgia Tech (31): The tandem of sophomores Robert Carter, Jr. and Marcus Georges-Hunt will prove even more effective as the Yellow Jackets look to make strides, but their young core is a few years away from making noise. Tennessee transfer Trae Golden should be an upgrade over Mfon Udofia at point guard.
NC State Wolfpack 10. NC State (29): TJ Warren could be one of the most talented players in the conference, but there is an enormous amount of departed experience to replace in Raleigh. Mark Gottfried‘s talented group of freshmen will be expected to contribute early and often.
Florida State Seminoles 11. Florida State (27): The Seminoles need last year’s newcomers to all make a big leap this year even to stay in the upper middle of the ACC. The key is getting back to elite team defense, though Okaro White is one of the better returning offensive wings in the ACC.
Miami Hurricanes 12. Miami (23): The best thing returning for the Hurricanes is head coach Jim Larranaga, an expert at putting pieces together to form a solid team. Unfortunately, the pieces leave a lot to be desired. Belgian star Manu Lacomte may surprise ACC fans, though.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons 13. Wake Forest (19): For the first time since coming to Winston-Salem Jeff Bzdelik has experience, but do the Demon Deacons have the talent to finish above .500 and save his job? Conference expansion didn’t help.
Clemson Tigers 14. Clemson (11): A bad team is going to get worse as the program takes what is probably charitably going to be called “a rebuilding year.” Tune in for KJ McDaniels, whose shot-blocking makes him a good pick for ACC defensive player of the year.
Virginia Tech Hokies 15. Virginia Tech (6): Erick Green is gone, and there isn’t anyone stepping up to replace him on a team destined to rest in the ACC cellar this year. Things could be ugly for James Johnson‘s second season in Blacksburg.

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ACC Team Preview: Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Posted by Matt Patton on October 31st, 2013

Some members of the Wake Forest faithful put together money to fly a banner proclaiming “Fire Ron Wellman around BB&T Field at the beginning of October. Alas, at the last minute the air-advertisement company backed out, leaving the disgruntled fan sentiment grounded in a metaphor that seems perfect to describe Demon Deacon athletics as a whole. The hunt for Wellman’s job originally started because of his vocal support for head basketball coach Jeff Bzdelik. Bzdelik’s tenure in Winston-Salem has been abysmal (like, 1-24 on the road in conference play abysmal), but Wellman still supports him.

Wake Forest Preview 2013

Luckily, Bzdelik oozes charisma and makes great PR moves. Well maybe not. He did announce that Wake Forest won’t have a team captain this year despite having a four-year senior who has been one of the best players on the team since his freshman year. More than most jobs in the ACC, Wake Forest requires a coach that’s either willing to take a lot of risks or has that one in a million charm (put the two together, and you get the late Skip Prosser). Otherwise it’s too easy to get overshadowed by North Carolina, Duke and NC State just down the road. Bzdelik possesses none of these traits. Now it should be clear why a large portion of the fan base wants Bzdelik and Wellman gone.

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ACC M5: 10.16.13 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on October 16th, 2013

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  1. The Mikan Drill: It’s no secret Jeff Bzdelik needs a decent season badly. Last year’s recruiting class brought in much needed depth and talent, but three- and four-star players usually take a year or two before they become effective at the college level. Unfortunately, Bzdelik probably can’t wait two years for Codi Miller-McIntyre to flourish running his offense. Josh Riddell does a good job highlighting Miller-McIntyre’s strengths and weaknesses running the team last year. The bottom line is that he has to make better decisions.
  2. Washington Post: Speaking of point guards who need to make better decisions, Seth Allen was one of the more exciting players to watch last season. He has a gift for quick penetration, but his lightning first step often went faster than his risk assessment, which led to many turnovers and bad shots. This year Mark Turgeon will expect Allen to step into a leadership role in a very different, wing-oriented offense. Going small should open up the lane, but Allen’s decision-making may very well decide Maryland’s efficiency.
  3. ESPN: Jim Boeheim sat down with Seth Greenberg and Andy Katz and talked about everything from media days (which he was salty about) to joining the ACC (which he’s now excited about) to specific player development. Boeheim also briefly hits on the hot-button topic of pay-for-play late in his interview. For those who prefer reading to podcasts, Jeremy Ryan of Nunes Magician transcribed some of Boeheim’s interview.
  4. One Foot Down: Sticking with ACC expansion teams, One Foot Down takes a comprehensive look at Notre Dame’s frontcourt. The Fighting Irish have to replace one of the most productive interior workhorses of last year’s all-Big East workhorse in Jack Cooley. That said, Mike Brey’s team has a good deal of experience inside, which could be something to exploit against perimeter-heavy teams like Duke or Maryland.
  5. The Daily Tar Heel: While the scandal still stays an arm’s length away from the basketball program, indictments continue to trickle out of District Attorney Jim Woodall’s office. Three people have been indicted so far: the agent, a former North Carolina tutor, and now Georgia realtor Patrick Jones is on the hook for paying $725 to someone associated with an athlete. Don’t expect this issue to be resolved quickly, but also don’t expect it to end in the death penalty for North Carolina sports at the end, either.

EXTRA: Time for a shameless plug. Walter Carey talked with Maryland alumnus Len Elmore, Duke alumnus Mike Gminski and Fayetteville Observer columnist Bret Strelow. It’s the first part of Rush the Court‘s preseason interview series, and is full of interesting tidbits previewing conference play with three of the more knowledgeable experts in the business.

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ACC M5: 03.28.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 28th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Blogger So Dear: Wake Forest improved markedly this season under Jeff Bzdelik. But this isn’t a good sign going forward, as Bzdelik’s first recruit — Chase Fischer – is reportedly planning to transfer. That’s a bad look on a very young team that lacks perimeter depth (much less outside shooting). Throw in this six-part interview with Ron Wellman from Dan Collins of the Winston-Salem Journal and Gary Parrish’s blackjack metaphor looks more and more fitting. Lacking tangible results (i.e., wins) Wellman’s only defenses for keeping Bzdelik on board are that he inherited an impossible situation to turn around quickly (true), and that he’s building a strong foundation of players who love the program. This latest news calls the latter into question.
  2. Richmond Times-Dispatch: Speaking of transfers from programs that look to be in a rough spot going into next season, Robert Brown has decided to transfer closer to home (likely somewhere in Florida) following his roller coaster sophomore season. His transfer puts the Hokies in a tough spot, as James Johnson likely would have looked for Brown to carry an increased load next year, especially in the scoring column. Johnson has a couple of wings coming in this year, but who knows if they’re ready to compete at the ACC level night in and night out.
  3. WRAL: Mark Gottfried ended his 48-hour Twitter hiatus by seemingly quashing any UCLA rumors saying, “#WPN I am committed to being at @NCState for a long time [sic] Still as dedicated to rebuilding the program as I was 2 yrs ago when I arrived.” But coaches often do these sorts of vague non-denials. The truth is that if UCLA wants Gottfried, the school will have to shell out a ton of money for him (notably, it will have to cover his $3.5 million buyout). That said, I think this is a “dream job” trump card if Gottfried is offered the job. Basically, despite Gottfried’s tweet, this is still something to watch.
  4. CBSSports.com: Jeff Goodman has a nice piece on the resurgence (or “surgence”?) of Miami‘s basketball program. The real challenge lies ahead, both for this year’s team and going forward. Miami’s ACC championship means a lot to many fan bases, but a deep run in the NCAA Tournament would solidify the program’s status in what looks to be a rebuilding year next season. But if Jim Larranaga can keep the excitement going, Miami could very well be on its way to a consistently relevant program. Think about it… It’s in Miami — how hard can it be to get college kids to come live by the beach for four years?
  5. Raleigh News & Observer: Chris Collins took the Northwestern job, which he will start as soon as Duke’s season is complete. Rumors are that he’ll be hiring Greg Paulus to join his staff (Paulus has been working as a video coordinator for Ohio State, so he knows the Big Ten well). Coach K sounded thrilled for Collins, who’s coached as K’s right hand man at Duke since 2000. The immediate impact for the Blue Devils is that Nate James will move back into his previous position as an assistant coach.
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ACC M5: 03.27.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 27th, 2013

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  1. Sports Illustrated: The absolute must-read of the day comes courtesy of Luke Winn, who got pretty awesome access to follow Miami around before its games against Pacific and Illinois. My personal takeaways were that Jim Larranaga seems like a really fun guy to play for and that this team fits his coaching personality very well. It’s also not surprising at all that Julian Gamble led the team’s postgame celebratory freestyle.
  2. CBSSports.com: Gary Parrish absolutely kills it in this response to Ron Wellman‘s backing of Jeff Bzdelik yesterday. Kills it. Bzdelik is losing the Wake Forest fan base at an accelerating rate. Wellman is out pretty far out on this limb and while I understand not wanting to go back on his word (even if he won’t tell anyone exactly what that was), he has to balance that pride with Wake Forest’s present situation. I think Bzdelik is better than his record, maybe even a lot better. He’s also got a great group of players on his team. But that can’t excuse his sorry performances — both in the loss column or the public relations department. And his lack of (tangible) success at Colorado doesn’t help calm the critics. Unfortunately, Bzdelik is a coach who leaves a program better than he found it and is trending upwards but hasn’t shown the ability to achieve at the highest level. It’s a tough place to be.
  3. CBSSports.com: According to most of the national media, Chris Collins is the “heavy favorite” to land the Northwestern job after interviewing with the school on Monday. The announcement may come before or around the time this article gets posted. Duke alumni are doing well in the job market right now, as Bobby Hurley was just hired to coach Buffalo and Jeff Capel reportedly has received interest from at least two schools. Assuming at least one leaves, expect Nate James to resume his old position as a Duke assistant coach.
  4. Miami Herald: Unfortunately not all of today’s Miami news could be freestyles and celebratory dances. Reggie Johnson – apparently requiring knee surgery — won’t make the trip with the team to the Sweet Sixteen. While Johnson has played a much smaller role this year, the Hurricanes have struggled with foul trouble at times throughout the season. He was an extra body, good for a ton of rebounds and a couple of points every game. Now Julian Gamble, Kenny Kadji and Tonye Jekiri will have to find a way to replace Johnson’s productivity. Gamble sounded hopeful to get Johnson back in time for the Final Four.
  5. Raleigh News & Observer: While neither have officially announced, reports came out yesterday that CJ Leslie and Lorenzo Brown are planning to head for the NBA (though Brown’s mother denied the rumors and Leslie vaguely denied them on his Twitter account). Their departures wouldn’t be surprising, but another name is starting to show up on numerous draft radars: TJ Warren. Warren’s loss would be a huge blow to NC State next season, but his great freshman campaign makes him a likely first round pick. IF this report is true, I’d expect all three to turn pro in a heartbeat.
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Morning Five: 03.27.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 27th, 2013

morning5

    1. Duke is still in the NCAA Tournament, but that has not stopped longtime assistant coach Chris Collins from taking time to interview for the now vacant Northwestern coaching job and is considered the frontrunner for the job. As far as first head coaching jobs go it could be a nearly ideal, low-stress job (outside of some high-powered alumni) for a school with no expectations (never made the NCAA Tournament) in a major conference. As an added bonus Collins would be returning to his home state where he was Illinois Mr. Basketball. Or it could be seen as a nearly impossible situation at a school with no tradition and relatively little financial support for its athletic program while competing in the premier college basketball conference in the country. We are guessing that the former argument will win out and Collins will probably take the job unless he harbors some aspiration of stepping directly into Mike Krzyzewski’s job as soon as he departs (without any prior head coaching experience that seems unlikely).
    2. Collins might be on the verge of taking over in Evanston, but he is not the only former Blue Devil taking his first coaching job as Blue Devil legend Bobby Hurley was announced as the new coach at Buffalo yesterday. Hurley (at least this one) is best known for his time guiding Duke to back-to-back titles in 1991 and 1992 while setting the NCAA record for career assists, but his family (particularly his father Bob Sr. as well as brother Dan) is better known for their coaching success. Bobby’s time on the sideline has been limited to serving as an assistant to Dan for the past three seasons so it shouldn’t be surprising that all of Bobby’s references in the official article are either from Duke or his family members. We are not sure if Bobby’s name and game as a player will translate on the sideline, but he certainly has the genes for it and for a program at Buffalo’s level it seems like a reasonable risk to take.
    3. One coaching position that does not appear to be opening up any time soon is Wake Forest who appears content on keeping Jeff Bzdelik as its coach despite his 34-60 record there and mounting disapproval from its fans. Fan displeasure with Bzdelik reached the point this season that he had to change his radio show to taking taped (pre-screened) calls instead of live calls and fans have taken ads out in local newspapers calling for his dismissal in addition to the standard website demanding that he be fired. Apparently Wake Forest’s defense of Bzdelik is that he has been cleaning up the mess left by Dino Gaudio and we hope that is what they believe because if it isn’t then what they are doing is a more subtle version of the two-finger salute that Marshall Henderson offered to fans on his way out of the NCAA Tournament.
    4. Before he became a national story for his model predicting the 2012 Presidential Election (and becoming the subject of scorn of Fox News) Nate Silver was more well-known in some circles for his work in sports. Not forgetting his roots, Silver comes back to sports particularly for big events like the NCAA Tournament. Of course, his work is focused on predicting things and following up on his pre-NCAA Tournament predictions he is offering updated odds on the Sweet 16 teams winning the national title. We are assuming that this won’t spark the kind of outrage that his Presidential Election predictions did, but there were some pretty significant shifts that might get the attention of some fan bases.
    5. Like the work of Nate Silver we have come to respect the work that The Harvard College Sports Analysis Collective puts out, but we are not afraid to call them out on their methodology when the occasion calls for it. And that appears to be the case with their analysis of how “crazy” this year’s NCAA Tournament has been. We are usually fans of people trying to quantify stuff instead of using useless, vague descriptions, but when people quantify the wrong stuff or use the wrong methods to get results you run into issues like HSAC appears to have done when they tried to analyze craziness by looking at average seeding of teams in the Sweet 16 rather than something like variation relative to performance against seed expectation. The latter is probably a better measure because a very low seeded team making a deep run is very different than a couple of middle-tier seeds making a deep run
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ACC M5: 03.22.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 22nd, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. ACC Sports JournalACC Sports Journal‘s Wake Forest Insider wrote the most comprehensive article on Ron Wellman and Jeff Bzdelik‘s tenure at Wake Forest that I’ve ever read. It also might be the best article I’ve read all year. The depth and knowledge the author shows is remarkable. It’s the remarkable long read where the structure of the article furthers the reader’s understanding. Before reading the article I had a totally different (and ignorant) perspective on Bzdelik’s future. There couldn’t be a better advertisement for ACC Sports Journal‘s  premium coverage. Bravo.
  2. Miami Herald: Ignoring every instinct to post the above article four more times, this article from Michelle Kaufman adds some depth to Miami‘s most surprising contributor this year–Julian Gamble. After Miami’s victory over North Carolina, Gamble charged for the stands to meet his mother and nephew. Gamble’s story is a unique one: his mother quit her job when to take care of her college-aged daughter’s newborn child (who had not one but two devastating conditions), pride be damned. Gamble grew up the father figure for his sick nephew, who helps drive him to succeed.
  3. Wilmington Star News: Marcus Paige‘s recent development is a big part of why North Carolina is a hot upset pick in its potential Round of 32 game against Kansas. Paige, one of the best interviews in the ACC, told Brett Friedlander that he expected the comparisons to Kendall Marshall to come because he and Marshall are both left-handed point guards. He also noted, “I’m sure me picking his number didn’t help stop them.” Paige is a totally different player than Marshall. He’s more of an offensive threat and the new smaller line-up leaves more space in the lane for him to attack and kick the ball out to shooters or dump it in to James Michael McAdoo. Regardless of the Tar Heels’s NCAA Tournament success this year, Paige looks to be a very solid point guard for years to come in Chapel Hill.
  4. Chicago Tribune: It looks like the two favorites for the open Northwestern job are Chris Collins and Bryce Drew, but both have obvious holes in their resumes. Collins, obviously, has never held a head coaching position (though he certainly holds a very involved role as an assistant at Duke). Drew only has two years of experience on him, and that experience is in the Horizon League. The big question isn’t whether Northwestern is interested: it’s whether Collins and/or Drew are. The benefits of Northwestern are obvious. It’s a head coaching gig in the Big Ten. The cons are that no one has had success there. That means a low bar, but it also means tough sledding.
  5. Orlando Sun-Sentinel: Speaking of players really improving this year for Miami, don’t overlook Durand Scott. He was uber-talented as a freshman but something was missing. Apparently, Scott slept through an entire day–missing everything from class to practice–which led his teammates to name him “shutter island”. Now his effort defines his play, as he’s become the Hurricanes’s go-to defensive stopper. It’s a pretty remarkable change from the past couple of seasons.

EXTRA: Roy Williams left Kansas fans with a bad taste in their mouths when he left for North Carolina (though it shouldn’t have been too bad, considering they turned around and hired Bill Self). But his love for the Jayhawks is still very real. They gave him his shot and he put in 15 years taking that program to the penultimate level. Who knows what his reception will be this year in Kansas City, but time heals all wounds (last year’s Elite Eight victory probably helps too).

An aside: This is real satire. Take note Yes! Weekly.

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Rushed Reactions: Maryland 75, Wake Forest 62

Posted by mpatton on March 14th, 2013

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Matt Patton is an ACC microsite writer. He filed this report after Thursday evening’s Maryland-Wake Forest game from the ACC Tournament.

Three Key Takeaways:

Devin Thomas and the Wake Forest frontline made Alex Len a nonfactor. (photo: Chuck Liddy / Raleigh News & Observer)

Devin Thomas and the Wake Forest frontline made Alex Len a nonfactor. (photo: Chuck Liddy / Raleigh News & Observer)

  1. Close for 32 minutes: At the under-eight media timeout in the second half, it was all tied up 54-54. Over the course of the next six minutes Wake Forest went 4-of-10 from the charity stripe, turned the ball over twice (and would have a third time if the possession hadn’t pointed in its direction), and missed all six of its free throw attempts. Needless to say, Maryland pulled out to a double-digit lead and the game was over. Down the stretch the Demon Deacons just didn’t look invested. They had poor body language and settled for ugly jump shots. The lethargy carried over to their defense in a nasty cycle of bad play. The negative body language is troubling. Wake Forest hasn’t had any success away from home under Jeff Bzdelik (his teams have won one conference road game and no postseason games), which plays into it. But somehow the Demon Deacons have to break out of the cycle.
  2. Pe’Shon Howard saved the day: Pe’Shon Howard has had a tough year offensively — like he’s made three of 25 attempts from beyond the arc in conference play. He hit his only deep attempt today, and it turned out to be where momentum really shifted to Maryland. Right after Travis McKie and Arnaud Adala Moto combined to go 1-of-4 from the free throw line, Howard buried a three to put Maryland up four and the Terrapins never looked back. If Howard is hitting shots, Maryland is a much better basketball team.
  3. Devin Thomas will be a great ACC player: Devin Thomas is going to be a very very good ACC player. He’s a worker for Wake Forest in the paint and has the frame that should add pounds during the offseason. In 18 minutes, Thomas finished with eight points, four rebounds, two steals and a block. He’s got a long way to go in terms of developing an arsenal of moves, but right now he plays a little like James Michael McAdoo. He doesn’t have the physical gifts that McAdoo does, but he does a lot of the little things that win games.

Star of the Game: Dez Wells kept Maryland close to start the second half, scoring seven of the Terrapins’s first nine points. He finished the game with 21 points on 10 shots with four rebounds and a steal to boot. Wells also had to guard Travis McKie much of the night, and did a good job on the perimeter.

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ACC M5: 03.08.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 8th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. USA Today: This is a phenomenal article from Mike Lopresti on the 30-year anniversary of the shocking NC State national championship over Houston (which, in awesome time consuming news, you can watch in its entirety on Youtube). Two of the three most important pieces to that game are dead–Jim Valvano and Lorenzo Charles (the dunker)–but the legacy lives on through countless ESPN replays. There are very few moments in sports where the ecstasy of winning was so raw and powerful as it was watching Valvano run one direction before sprinting towards the mob by the NC State basket. 
  2. Indy Weekly: Jeff Bzdelik press conferences are worth the price of admission. He often comes across as an odd combination of aloof and irascible. After the Demon Deacons took a beating from CJ Leslie and NC State, Bzdelik offered this sage take on Leslie’s game:

    “When he wants to be, if he really wants to be, he can be”

    That’s actually a pretty fair summation of Leslie’s career. Bzdelik should’ve known he was two syllables away from a haiku, but such is life.

  3. The ACC: The conference released its All-ACC Academic teams Thursday. Four of the 14 players call Duke home, and over half of them are freshmen. Mason Plumlee is the fourth Duke player to ever make the team two years in a row; Jarell Eddie also made the team for a second straight year. All in all nine schools made the cut, but Virginia, NC State and Florida State did not. To qualify you had to have a 3.00 GPA both this year and over the course of your entire career (which explains the high number of freshmen on the team).
  4. Washington Post: It’s not a secret that Mark Turgeon and Roy Williams are close. The interesting part of this article is twofold: (1) with Maryland’s coming departure to the Big Ten, Mark Turgeon won’t have to worry about taking advice from a direct competitor, and (2) the author’s language when talking about Turgeon and Maryland’s departure. “Changing conferences wasn’t part of the deal. Turgeon came to Maryland to be a part of the tradition-rich ACC. [...] But there’s only one Tobacco Road.” North Carolina bias aside (Maryland’s not on Tobacco Road and if anything, the reverence surrounding Tobacco Road irritated Gary Williams as much as anything), but Turgeon always speaks in favor of the move publicly.
  5. This doesn’t need any analysis. (But really Tony Bennett, you didn’t want to double team the guy with three game winners this year before he got the ball?) Michael Snaer put the shakes on Joe Harris before getting the old-fashioned three point play to beat Virginia.

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ACC M5: 02.19.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 19th, 2013

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  1. AP (via USA Today): Sometimes punchlines just write themselves. Apparently Sidney Lowe is in some hot water for not submitting federal tax returns for three straight years as NC State coach, which begs the question as to exactly how he thought that would fly. Filing tax returns shouldn’t be new, and there’s not a known history of Lowe evading taxes before he got to Raleigh, so this story is more than a little strange. I’d expect this to be resolved sooner rather than later, but it’s still an odd way for the former Wolfpack great turned less-than-mediocre coach to resurface in the headlines.
  2. Tallahassee Democrat: Anyone who’s watched Michael Snaer play over the past four years knows his best asset is his competitiveness. It’s also his curse. There’s a reason Leonard Hamilton often takes Snaer out early in the first half. He can get too jacked up on the energy in the game and start to force things. That used to happen a lot. It still happens sometimes, especially when teammates aren’t playing up to their abilities or a big call goes the wrong way. But Snaer’s gotten a lot better at playing within Florida State’s offense this season. He’s never going to be consistently levelheaded, but there’s also a reason he’s hit more ACC buzzer-beaters than anyone in recent memory.
  3. Raleigh News & Observer: Joe Giglio laid some reality on NC State fans, specifically the ones who think that the Wolfpack are still Final Four contenders. The last 10 ACC teams to reach the final weekend all finished league play with a margin of victory of greater than 10 points (unrelatedly, RPI-praisers should take note here, as it’s probably not a coincidence that margin of victory is related to NCAA success). Currently, NC State’s margin of victory sits right at 6.1 points a game and the squad has only one won game by double figures. That’s not elite.
  4. Winston-Salem Journal: It wouldn’t be ACC coverage without some talk of officiating (and a little hint of bias). The only thing missing from this article is the context surrounding the calls. One, a technical called against Jeff Bzdelik after a no-call on Kammeon Holsey (Wake lost by one); the other, a technical not called against Steve Wojciechowski after a blatantly missed double-dribble going into the half. The first was actually far more influential (a four-point swing in a very close game); the second turned out not to be. But it’s interesting the different amount of latitude that different coaches are afforded. However, not knowing exactly what was said (there are supposed to be “magic words” that will earn technicals if directed at officials), it’s hard to be too harsh on Brian Kersey.
  5. Testudo Times: Pe’Shon Howard is back after his indefinite (one-game) suspension. But after Howard’s suspension led to an upset over Duke, how much time will he actually see going forward? That remains to be seen. It’s valid to point out that Howard likely would’ve disrupted Maryland’s already choppy (thanks to a merciless number of turnovers) but effective offensive rhythm. But he’s also got more experience, which holds some value too. If he can find his jump shot — which is probably unlikely at this point — he’ll be an asset to Maryland. If not, Mark Turgeon should think about using him as a sub to spell Seth Allen and Dez Wells in very specific situations.

EXTRA: Somehow Holden Thorp managed to parlay his athletic and academic scandals into a great gig at Washington University in Saint Louis. I’m sure leaving his alma mater is still tough, but this sweet new job has got to make things feel a lot better.

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Wake Forest Sticks to the Script and Loses Badly on the Road

Posted by KCarpenter on February 6th, 2013

Kellen Carpenter is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after last night’s game between UNC and Wake Forest in Chapel Hill.

So far in conference play, Wake Forest has shown that it can’t make or defend shots. This isn’t a slight against the hardworking Demon Deacons, but just what the numbers have revealed. Since the beginning of conference play, Wake Forest has been the worst team on both ends of the floor in terms of effective field goal percentage. The team averages a meager 43.9% on offense while allowing opponents to shoot 53.9%. They have yet to win a conference road game. After a blowout loss against North Carolina last night, very few of these facts have changed.

Wake Found Familiar Territory in Chapel Hill

Wake Found Familiar Territory (and Result) in Chapel Hill

In the 87-62 rout, North Carolina managed an eFG% of 58.9% while Wake Forest managed only 45.4%. Things like offensive rebounds and turnovers can change some of the conditions of the game, but one essential truth stands: You have to be able to put up more points than your opponent, and right now, Wake Forest can’t do that. Sure, the Demon Deacons have a pair of good home wins against NC State and Virginia (good-ish, I should probably say), but those look more and more like aberrations. After the game, Wake head coach Jeff Bzdelik said, “We always lose our confidence quickly… you can see it in [the players'] eyes.” In a frank discussion with the media he admitted that his team wasn’t mentally tough enough, and as head coach, that responsibility lay with him.  Bzdelik looked grim and almost too ready to explain all the things he and his team did poorly, seemingly at a loss to figure out how to fix the team’s problems, explaining how much of a focus cutting down on turnovers was in the lead-up to this game. “The emphasis was not turning the ball over and obviously we didn’t do a good job.”

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ACC M5: 01.24.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 24th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. NCAA: It’s safe to say Miami had its best day in a long time yesterday. Not only did the Hurricanes poleaxe Duke in arguably their best performance ever (relatedly, see the agony and the ecstasy), moving them to the top of the ACC leaderboard with two games over the nearest team in the loss column, but the NCAA announced major violations were commited by the NCAA in the investigation into Miami. So Miami moved into odds on favorite to win the regular season title, and potentially thwarted the NCAA thanks to overeager investigators? That’s a hell of a day. More on the NCAA situation later.
  2. Winston-Salem Journal: Speaking of schools riding high, it’s safe to say Wake Forest is still reveling in its win over 18th-ranked NC State. This might be the first article I’ve ever read praising Jeff Bzdelik since he arrived in Winston-Salem. Dan Collins describes a Wake Forest team that “was younger and deeper,” but didn’t stop there: “you’d see at team that was tougher and far more together [than NC State].” The Demon Deacons are a foul call away from being 4-2 in conference play, tied with Duke, North Carolina and NC State in the loss column. I’m not going to go as far as to say Bzdelik deserves an extension, but the man does deserve credit for his team’s success in the early goings.
  3. Backing the Pack: NC State‘s defense is heavily reliant on not committing (or being called for, depending on who’s talking) fouls. The outliers are UNC-Asheville and Stanford. The first can be filed away under “Puerto Rico hangover”, but the second is less easily explained. Fouls are only a symptom though. Watching the second half at the Joel, showed a lack of effort on defense: NC State tried to play defense with its hands and got whistled for it. Mark Gottfried needs to figure out what ails his team motivation-wise ASAP. The Wolfpack aren’t in any danger–yet–of missing the NCAA tournament, but they do have a big game coming up Saturday against North Carolina.
  4. Tallahassee Democrat: Florida State’s coaching staff admitted that they’re just as confused as the rest of us about the Seminoles’ inconsistent play. Just in the game I saw at Clemson they dominated the first half (they looked unbeatable for the first 15 minutes), came out coasting in the second half until Clemson clawed all the way back, and eked out a win with a tough final stretch. That seems to be the modus operandi for the whole season. It’s easy to want to blame the inconsistency on an inconsistent lineup–Hamilton often plays ten-plus players–but this strategy isn’t a new one.
  5. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Former Georgia Tech legend Bobby Cremins may be walking into a really interesting situation, as he was appointed to serve on the NCAA’s committee on infractions. Cremins should provide a different and much needed perspective for the committee, but he also should get a chance to witness the coming changes first-hand.
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