ACC Summer Recess: Miami Hurricanes

Posted by mpatton on July 25th, 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: Miami.

Where They Stand Now

Jim Larranaga Has Plenty of Talent Back in Coral Gables for his Second Year

Miami comes off of another simultaneously successful and disappointing season after finishing 9-7 in ACC play (as modestly predicted last November) last year. The mediocre season led to a two-seed in the NIT, where the Hurricanes got trounced in the second round by Minnesota thanks to a horrendous defensive effort. Still, for Jim Larranaga‘s first season — especially one damaged by the Nevin Shapiro scandal and numerous injuries — a conference record above .500 shouldn’t be taken for granted. The Hurricanes never made the jump from a good team to a great one, but two high-profile wins at Duke and against Florida State showed the potential hidden in the roster.

Who’s Leaving

Malcolm Grant and Dequan Jones hit the road after finishing their final seasons of eligibility, but don’t overrate Grant’s departure. Last year Grant took major steps backward offensively, never finding his shot. For the first three years of his career, Grant was one of the country’s best shooters. He averaged significantly over 40% from deep those years, taking over 200 threes in 2010-11. Three-point shooting made up for his poor finishing skills and lackluster mid-range game, but Grant went cold from downtown in 2011-12 finishing the year at a tepid 33%.

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ACC Afternoon Five: 03.07.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 7th, 2012

Technical difficulties kept us from getting this up this morning. So here goes… an Afternoon Five.

  1. Tallahassee Democrat: Deividas Dulkys got a pretty special family night surprise when his family from Lithuania surprised him the day before the game by showing up at his girlfriend’s apartment. Dulkys had quite the showing at the game including aunts from Chicago and his host family from Nevada, but no one told him that his parents and sisters were going to make the trip across the globe to see him play at Florida State for the first time. Stepping back a little, the Seminoles are also looking at their best chance to win the ACC Championship in program history.
  2. Wilmington Star News: Speaking of special senior nights, Ty Walker‘s was supposed to be one of redemption. After three years of falling short of expectations and an indefinite suspension that kept him out for the first semester, his senior night was supposed to represent the new leaf he turned over this year. On the basketball court he was more active than ever, blocking shots with reckless abandon and fitting in surprisingly well for his first few games back. “I know people aren’t always going to be satisfied [...] but at least I gave them something,” Walker noted. His mom even surprised him by flying across the country for his senior night last week. This article from Brett Friedlander gets at Walker’s side of the story.
  3. Culpepper Star-Exponent: On the heels of the New York Times look at one of college basketball’s vaguest advantages, Whitelaw Reid finds a specific case. Now without seeing more data, I’m a little skeptical. The variable is what brand of basketball teams use. The home teams choose the ball. Virginia uses Nike basketballs; Sammy Zeglinski likes Wilson. The evidence (besides Zeglinski saying it has a “spongy feel”) is that two of the senior’s best games came against Maryland, a team that uses Wilson balls. As Reid points out, the NCAA Tournament also uses Wilson balls, so we should get at least one more data point to evaluate Zeglinski’s claim.
  4. Raleigh New & Observer: It’s a speculation time of year: March Madness, the NFL Draft and that sports purgatory before the NBA Playoffs and baseball season’s starts. It’s also about time to start talking about who is leaving college for the NBA. As Caulton Tudor points out, 13 of 15 All-ACC selections were underclassmen. I don’t really agree with Tudor’s rankings. Maybe I’m naive, but I think Terrell Stoglin will stick it out at least one more year in College Park. He’s far from a sure bet, and needs to show a wider range of skills to attract first round eyes. The same would apply for Glen Rice, Jr., but his indefinite suspension will definitely be a factor. I think the sure-fire departures are Harrison Barnes, John Henson and CJ Leslie. Who knows with Austin Rivers? If he gets a lottery promise, I expect him to leave (which seems likely considering the dearth of good guards this year). Still, this is something that will become very important in a few weeks.
  5. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Congratulations Brian Gregory, Mark Turgeon, Jim Larranaga and Mark Gottfried. You finished your rookie year in the ACC. For many coaches, the second year is the toughest, but Turgeon and Gregory were trying to build up programs left in disarray after Gary Williams and Paul Hewitt’s respective departures. Larranaga has plenty of talent, but he only should lose DeQuan Jones and Malcolm Grant from an already talented team; Gottfried’s team will return plenty of firepower and boasts the top recruiting class in the conference. Factor in an extra year of experience against the league titans, and we should expect more success from the conference as a whole next year.
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ACC Morning Five: 02.21.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 21st, 2012

Well, the ACC vs. NC State feud isn’t getting any quieter. The conference reprimanded referee Karl Hess for not following protocol, and he released a statement to NC State explaining his reasoning (he apparently thought Chris Corchiani and Tom Gugliotta were getting too close to the scorers’ table). Apparently, Mark Gottfried talked to the students about the incident. I couldn’t get a working link to the Facebook video, but this is the transcript (h/t Luke DeCock):

I think it was weak. It was bad and I thought the official was completely out of line 100%. I’m disappointed, quite frankly, in the ACC, because not only did he throw out two of NC State’s greats, he threw out two of the ACC’s greats, and the league is supporting the official rather than supporting former great players. The former great players, in my opinion, were embarrassed and wronged when they shouldn’t have been. I don’t think you can have rabbit ears like that if you’re a referee and start throwing people out. I was disappointed in the whole thing. So they gave a reprimand tonight to the official, but it was pretty weak in my opinion.

UPDATE: WTVD uploaded the video.

Your move, Swofford.

  1. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Brian Gregory is doing a good job with one area Paul Hewitt struggled by reaching out to Georgia Tech alumni. He’s invited them to games and practices, trying to keep the school’s myriad alumni connected despite a rough inaugural season. Malcolm Mackey, the Yellow Jackets’ all-time leading rebounder, complimented Gregory on his former boss (Tom Izzo) and his new basketball team. Alumni support should help Gregory recruit the Atlanta area, which is crawling with five-star talent.
  2. Washington Post: Georgetown and Maryland should play each other in basketball. Both schools have plenty of history, but for whatever reason the two programs are at a stalemate. Because of the stalemate, Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson laid down an ultimatum: The Terrapins won’t be playing Georgetown in any sport until the basketball series questions are worked out. Mark Turgeon sounds game for it, but there’s a lot of coachspeak going on that makes it difficult to assess Turgeon’s real motive.
  3. Hampton Roads Daily Press: Jim Larranaga knows the CAA well. He coached George Mason long before heading to Coral Gables. He’s been to a Final Four. Why not talk some smack and lobby for your NCAA Tournament chances in the meantime? Basically, Larranaga thinks it’s a down year for the CAA, which lacks quality wins. “In short, Larranaga on Monday was like a politician on the campaign trail. He stretched the truth and went negative.”
  4. Tallahassee Democrat: Florida State‘s senior class is having a special year. They just became the winningest class in Florida State basketball history. It’s pretty impressive to see what Leonard Hamilton has done with the Seminole program. He’s changed it from irrelevant to top-tier and a consistent NCAA Tournament presence.
  5. NBC 41: Really bad news for Georgia Tech, who already owns the worst record in conference play. The team’s best player (seriously he was the best scorer, rebounder and facilitator on the team), Glen Rice Jr., has been suspended indefinitely. If the Yellow Jackets already can’t win, there’s no way they can win without him.
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ACC Morning Five: 02.08.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 8th, 2012

  1. Tallahassee Democrat: Ira Schoffel hits a home run with this profile on Leonard Hamilton. It’s lengthy, but totally worth the time it takes to read. It’s really unfortunate that it will be buried by Duke – North Carolina previews today. Schoffel spent time with many of Hamilton’s friends and family from his days in Gastonia, North Carolina. He may not look it, but Hamilton is the second oldest coach behind Mike Krzyzewski in the ACC. The FSU head coach has had a really inspirational journey from Gastonia to Tallahassee. Even above and beyond the high school story, Hamilton’s coaching resume is very impressive too. Before the year I said Bernard James might have the best story in college basketball, but I might have been wrong. His coach may have him beat.
  2. Raleigh News & Observer: Lame title aside, this is a terrific piece on Austin Rivers from Jack Daly. Rivers went from being a walking cliche — the talented but selfish son of an NBA coach — when he arrived at Duke to something far more compelling once he took the court. Sure, he’s made mistakes. But he’s also Duke’s best offensive weapon. His critics jumped on his early season struggles and have tended to alter the criticisms instead of the narrative as his game improves. It’s clear he has a chip on his shoulder, but I haven’t heard that chip really expressed openly until this piece. He talks about trying to succeed in the shadow of Doc Rivers and the wealth of expectations and dearth of praise (at least at the college level) for his achievements. Daly finishes the piece with a perfect quote from Rivers:

    People always ask what makes me hungry now: I haven’t done anything yet. I haven’t done anything yet. I had a great high school career, I was No. 1 – I don’t care. No one cares about that anymore. At Duke, I haven’t won a national championship, I haven’t won an ACC Tournament, I don’t play in the NBA. I haven’t done anything. I have everything that can motivate me.

  3. CBSSports.com: Continuing the DukeNorth Carolina rivalry trope, Brett Friedlander sat down with several former and current Tar Heels to talk about why they chose the school in Chapel Hill over the one eight miles south in Durham. Former Tar Heel big man Eric Montross seems to hit the nail on the head, calling the decision a “gut feeling” of one school over the other. Whether it’s North Carolina’s adjacent museum, the banners, or meeting Michael Jordan — Tar Heel players walk away from visits just knowing… On the flip side I suspect many players who choose Duke feel the same about Cameron Indoor and its many banners overhead as well. The atmospheres are undeniably different, but the two team’s histories share an excellence.
  4. Chicago Tribune: Miami is quietly building an NCAA Tournament resume now that Reggie Johnson is back in the line-up. The Hurricanes have won five of their last six games and four straight including the overtime win at Duke. That said, the “surprise” part of Miami’s bid foundation (for me) is that it’s taken this long to take hold. Certainly Johnson’s injury didn’t do Jim Larranaga any favors, but if you asked me which new coach was doing the worst job at the start of conference season, I wouldn’t have hesitated calling out the former George Mason coach. Miami still has a lot of work to do. I think it splits with Florida State and avenges a home loss to NC State. If the Hurricanes take care of that business, they’ll have 11 conference wins with the disclaimer that the ugly first half of the season was without Johnson (really 10 wins and a solid performance in the ACC Tournament could do the trick, but better safe than sorry).
  5. Fayetteville Observer: In honor of Duke and North Carolina, Stephen Schramm sat down with @thedevilwolf, one of the best trollers in the business. If you follow ACC basketball much on Twitter, you probably know his handle (but not his name). In addition to timely trolling, he’s also good for insightful comments during games and over on Duke Hoop Blog. Schramm also mentioned another mysterious Tobacco Road Twitter celebrity, @TarHeelWire, who disappeared suddenly after nearly two years of constant tweeting on North Carolina athletics when more and more people sought the identity of the man behind the handle.

EXTRA: Troy Machir over at Ballin’ Is A Habit put out his 2011-12 All-Hair-Team, and the list starts with Mike Scott and his many cornrow designs. No other ACC players make the cut (though Miles Plumlee‘s high and tight makes a defensive cameo).

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ACC Morning Five: 02.01.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 1st, 2012

  1. Huffington Post: Dave Ungrady found out that one of CJ Leslie‘s role models is Maryland’s tragic hero, Len Bias. While Leslie is definitely thinner than Bias, their games do have a little resemblance. Leslie has a long way to go before claiming a spot with the all-time ACC great, but his developing jumper and tremendous athleticism definitely evoke some memories of Bias’ play. Leslie’s parents also used Bias’ story to teach him a valuable lesson about the dangers of drugs — especially for star athletes.
  2. Miami Herald: First year ACC coaches Jim Larranaga and Mark Turgeon have a history. Back when Turgeon was the coach of Wichita State and Larranaga was the coach of George Mason, they faced off three times in two seasons. George Mason took the first two meetings, a BracketBuster matchup and again in the Sweet Sixteen (en route to the school’s Final Four appearance). But Turgeon’s Shockers had the last laugh, beating the Patriots the night they hung the Final Four banner the next season. Hopefully, this history will raise the stakes on this week’s game at Miami.
  3. Hampton Roads Daily Press: It’s becoming a bit of a broken record with this Virginia team. Every game is low-scoring, and every game is close. Critics point to Virginia Tech’s upset over the Cavaliers as proof that the team’s system creates “too close for comfort” games night in and night out. Yet again on Tuesday, Virginia eked out a win over a lesser ACC opponent, Clemson, on the back of a great shooting night. Mike Scott and Joe Harris won the Cavaliers the game, going 15-20 from the field for 39 points. The game was a perfect advertisement for Scott’s incredible season, as he finished with 10 rebounds in addition to the nearly 20 points. That said, despite the strong veteran performances, Clemson had a chance to tie the game with under a minute to play, down three with the ball. Even though Virginia survived, that’s the danger of low-possession basketball. Late-game runs can totally erase a very strong performance.
  4. Sports Illustrated: Florida State was in trouble after a 20-point beat-down to Clemson. Even I jumped off its bandwagon. Between a lackluster conference opener and only managing 10 points in the first half against Princeton (who is currently 1-2 in the Ivy League), it looked like the Seminoles were totally out of it.  But the team finally came together. A major reason is that Bernard James stepped up and got everyone on the same page. Regardless of a change of attitude, the Seminoles’ resurgence has been incredible. They’ve stopped turning the ball over and are one of the top shooting teams in the ACC. It’s likely that those two stats may regress a little bit, but I still expect Leonard Hamilton’s team will be here to stay.
  5. Lost Lettermen: Take a look at the top 10 uniforms (and worst) in college basketball. Maryland checks in as the worst uniforms in the conference (and second worst in the country), though I think there’s a little grief being piled on from the team’s atrocious football digs. Boston College also earns a spot in the bottom 10 thanks to too large of lettering and a clash in styles. Not surprisingly, Duke checks in to the ‘good’ top 10 (its home whites are classic) and North Carolina sits at the very top of the list.
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It’s A Love/Hate Relationship: Volume IX

Posted by jbaumgartner on January 31st, 2012

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC columnist. His Love/Hate column will publish each week throughout the season. In this piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball.

Five Things I Loved This Week

I LOVED….big men getting down the floor. There is no seven-footer who runs the court better than UNC’s Tyler Zeller, and given the lack of fast break basketball in the NBA, that claim could probably even go a little further. It’s so funny to me – we’re literally talking about a 94-foot sprint that takes just a few seconds. Zeller isn’t the most graceful runner so it’s just pure effort. Why don’t more big guys take after him? Yes, it helps to have a faster pace and a quality point guard so that you get more consistent rewards/dunks, but there are plenty of cookies and easy stat padders for any big man who chooses to bust it up and down the floor.

I LOVED….trying to figure out exactly what I like most about this Kentucky team. I mean, just take a look at this stat sheet. Five players in double figures and no one over 13.5 PPG, three of those players at 6.5 or more boards a game, shooters, big men, ball control – while I like to hate on John Calipari, he’s taken a lot of talent and molded them into a winning machine thus far. More importantly, they seem to have really grown since some of those early games.  Heck, they’re even making 70.5% of their free throws. When that happens with a Calipari squad, you know things are rolling.

Calipari Has Another Great Team This Year

I LOVED….debating whether Saint Mary’s can run the table in the WCC. Mainly I loved typing that sentence and not talking about Gonzaga for once. This league has really worked hard to get some non-Zag recognition, and Saint Mary’s has spearheaded that charge. With the thumping that the Gaels put on the Zags already this year, they certainly have a shot to pull out a rare victory in Spokane. If they get past that one, we could see the first undefeated WCC season since the Zags in 2008-09, and the first non-GU team since who knows when.

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ACC Morning Five: 01.30.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 30th, 2012

  1. CBSSports.com: Gregg Doyel hits the nail on the head in this column (by the way, Doyel covered the ACC for the Charlotte Observer before going to CBSSports.com and wasn’t exactly close with Mike Krzyzewski over the years) on Duke‘s Cameron Crazies. The one caveat is that he didn’t really offer a solution to the boredom and lack of ownership. For comparison’s sake Coach K offered his thoughts (courtesy of Duke Hoop Blog):

    “Our crowd sometimes becomes fans instead of part of the game. Overall, our crowd has been part of what we’ve done. They haven’t come there to watch us play. They’ve come there to compete with us. I think this year it’s more of watching us play and cheering us on. When you do that you don’t really understand the game situations as well. You don’t have a feel for the game. You can’t be as on point. That doesn’t mean we don’t love them. But, this team needs it more and would benefit from that support.”

    I think both Doyel and Krzyzewski are probably right. The Cameron atmosphere was developed as Duke got more talented. It gradually became more and more controlled in the 1990s and eventually morphed to its present state. Other than big games (I’m thinking of Maryland and North Carolina recently) and big-time players, the Crazies don’t seem as connected with the game as in the past. It has started to feel like more of a show. Basically, I think Coach K describes the current issue that led to the problem brought up by Doyel.
    Author’s Note: As a side note, Coach K gave a pretty scathing press conference after Duke beat St. John’s at home. It’s worth a watch.

  2. ACC Sports: Adrian Atkinson (normally our North Carolina defensive-charting connoisseur) took a look at Duke’s most used lineups this season. Remember, he’s only using Duke’s conference games so the sample size is fairly small, meaning you should take the efficiencies with a grain of salt. That said, I think his overall conclusions are fairly interesting. Duke’s most effective lineup is Tyler Thornton, Seth Curry, Austin Rivers, Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly. It’s a little surprising to me that this lineup isn’t used more often given the fact that its defensive efficiency is so outrageous. It’s also worth noting that Duke’s defense drops off dramatically by just replacing Thornton with Andre Dawkins. Even worse than that (shockingly) is replacing Ryan Kelly with Miles Plumlee (which leads me to believe that both Plumlees are good defenders at the five, but horrid defenders at the four). Anyways, these numbers are fascinating and worth a look.
  3. Fox Sports South: Apparently, Harrison Barnes isn’t a fan of pink shoes. At halftime against Georgia Tech Sunday, Barnes switched from the team’s pink kicks to the normal ones. Andrew Jones makes it sound like Barnes really struggled in the pink footwear, but Barnes was 4-8 from the field with 11 points at the half. More interestingly, Barnes shared his pregame soundtrack and meal. Tunes: John Legend. Food: “I always eat mashed potatoes, rice, spaghetti, chicken and steak [...] Two pieces of chicken, one piece of steak, [and the] steak’s cooked medium.”
  4. Palm Beach Post: If you told me one ACC coach would get a midseason contract extension I wouldn’t have been surprised. Pretty much all but two coaches appear to be doing strong jobs; Jeff Bzdelik and Jim Larranaga are the outliers (I also would probably hold my horses on Steve Donahue and Brian Gregory until I see them recruit, but that’s different). But it was Larranaga who got himself a three-year extension through 2019. Larranaga looks older than many of his coaching brethren, but he’s only 62. My guess is that the extension came (at least in some part) indirectly associated with the current NCAA investigation of Miami athletics.
  5. Charleston Post and Courier: It’s not directly related to the ACC, but former Georgia Tech coach Bobby Cremins is taking a short medical leave that will probably last until the end of the season. Cremins did a terrific job putting College of Charleston on the map the last few years, though his trip to the Final Four at Georgia Tech stands as his career’s crowning achievement. Assistant coach Mark Byington will take over in his stead. The details of Cremins’ medical issues weren’t announced, though it’s reportedly not life-threatening and may be sleep-related.

EXTRA: Dan Wolken thinks college basketball should push its season back to January (moving March Madness to May) in order to shirk college football and the NFL, attempting to keep casual sports fans from ignoring the regular season. It may be in the NCAA’s best monetary interest, but I can’t see something this drastic happening without a big push. Still it’s an interesting piece.

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ACC Morning Five: 01.24.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 24th, 2012

  1. Inside Carolina: The question of the week is how will North Carolina deal with losing Dexter Strickland. The simple answers are Stilman White (who has racked up just over 60 minutes of playing time this year) will be Kendall Marshall’s backup at point, and Reggie Bullock will replace Strickland in the starting line-up. Bullock has really come into his own this year, and many Tar Heel fans were already calling for him to start due to his huge offensive upgrade over Strickland. He also always draws the toughest defensive assignment when he’s on the floor because his length and athleticism make him a terrific perimeter defender. Not surprisingly, Roy Williams is not considering pulling Leslie McDonald’s red-shirt (McDonald isn’t a point guard). One of Williams’ ideas to keep Marshall out of foul trouble: “I may just decide to play a 2-3 zone the whole game and put Kendall in the middle and tell him never to foul.”
  2. Orlando Sentinel: In our no-brainer move of the week, the ACC named Michael Snaer its Player of the Week after he knocked down not one, but two huge threes in Florida State’s upset bid at Duke. Austin Rivers also took rookie of the week honors after settling into conference play with 19 points in the Blue Devils’ loss to the Seminoles. Both performances were pretty significant. Rivers proved he could be “the guy” against tough defenses, and Snaer continued his streak of games scoring in double figures. For both teams to be successful, those trends will have to continue.
  3. Raleigh News & Observer: For the first time in several years, the North Carolina-NC State game feels important beyond the rivalry. NC State looks like a NCAA tournament team but still needs a marquee win to hang its hat on. The Tar Heels have shown some mortality. Even when both teams were ranked in Herb Sendek’s final season with the Wolfpack, his downplaying of the rivalry kept it from feeling like a big deal. Mark Gottfried is not Sendek. I personally think the Wolfpack starting five can hang with the Tar Heels. And I’m very excited to see Lorenzo Brown and Kendall Marshall face off at the point guard spot although I wouldn’t be surprised to see Reggie Bullock guarding Brown.
  4. Fox Sports Carolinas: Duke still has issues defensively and at the point guard position. In the past the Blue Devils have been fine without a point guard, but this year the offense is focused on the interior. The Plumlees need someone to get them the ball. So far, only Quinn Cook has shown the ability to do that consistently (but his turnover issues made him an extreme liability against Florida State). Defensively, Duke lacks the athleticism and flexibility of past teams that had both good on-ball defenders and flexible wings, like Kyle Singler, to make Mike Krzyzewski’s over-playing man-to-man defense effective. They have to fix both issues to be a legitimate contender. Period.
  5. Miami Herald: Jim Larranga is getting tired of his team’s lack of progress. I’d be frustrated too: the Hurricanes had one assist to nine turnovers at the half and shot 2-20 from three against NC State. Kenny Kadji’s play has been about the only positive thing for the Hurricanes so far this season. Reggie Johnson’s injury really set him and the team back, as he still hasn’t been able to get near game shape. Durand Scott and Malcolm Grant have both been plagued by inconsistent play.

EXTRA: Tonight at the game against Duke, Maryland will be dedicating its court to Gary Williams (apparently there were a couple of events last night too). It should be a pretty special event, and Scott Van Pelt hinted there would be some very cool stuff. I’m not sure if the ceremony will be televised, as it starts before the game. I’ll pass along any good videos I find.

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ACC Morning Five: 01.19.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 19th, 2012

  1. South Florida Sun-Sentinel: This is a great story from Steve Gorten on Malcolm Grant‘s relationship with Jim Larranaga. Grant’s brother died at the end of December from a heart attack, which has put a lot of pressure on him this season. Since his brother’s death, Grant’s basketball game has struggled. But his relationship with his coach seems to be getting stronger, and, oh yeah, Grant led the team in scoring with 16 points in its win over Clemson.
  2. Washington Times: Alex Len jumped out to a torrid start after finally getting his eligibility, but ACC play has seen his production drop off sharply. First, he’s playing better teams that are bigger and more physical. Secon, he’s probably struggling with the pace. The good news is that Florida State is probably Len’s worst possible matchup. The Seminoles are long, strong and athletic. You saw them body up North Carolina’s frontcourt, so it’s no surprise that the freshman center struggled. But Maryland needs Len to produce more, both offensively and defensively, for the Terrapins to fulfill the role of “spoilers” this year.
  3. Fox Sports South: Florida State’s recent offensive explosion is just the most recent conference event to overshadow the two-loss Virginia Cavaliers. But don’t forget about Tony Bennett’s squad, which still has the third-best resume in the conference. Like his team, Joe Harris has gone under the radar for the Cavaliers this season. He’s not flashy, but the 6’6″ shooter is averaging over 12 points a game for a very slow team. His three-point percentages are slightly down from last season, but he’s significantly improved his game inside the arc, knocking down more shots and not turning the ball over. Mike Scott deservedly draws most of the attention, but don’t overlook his supporting cast.
  4. Durham Herald-Sun: The last two years he’s been at Duke, Andre Dawkins has started fast and faded in January. This year, the slump struck early. However, coming off of strong games against Virginia and Clemson, Dawkins may be surging at the right time this season. The one question I have is about Dawkins’ defense. There’s no doubt he can jump (he doesn’t dunk much, but his jams are highlight-reel worthy) and his size makes him an asset on the perimeter. But Dawkins has been a suspect defender from the get-go at Duke. I’m not sure if it’s lateral quickness or slow acceleration, but he always feels a step behind the play. If he can bolster his defense, there’s no doubt his minutes will improve as well.
  5. Carolina March: I’m not sure anyone looked at North Carolina‘s game at Virginia Tech as anything more than a potential road test before the season started. Now? There are major questions about both teams: One is reeling after losing its first three conference games against one of the weakest schedules; the other is coming off a 33-point woodshedding. The bottom line is that both teams are desperate for the win. Normally, I’d say “North Carolina is more talented and will be coming out swinging after reading about its ‘mental toughness’ and ‘intensity’ the last couple of days,” but the Hokies may be even more desperate for the win. This should actually be a very good gauge of North Carolina’s toughness, as I expect Greenberg’s squad to really battle the Tar Heels.

EXTRA: This is the first I’ve ever heard of it, but there’s apparently a national championship for student sections. The weird thing is, I don’t see any real reasoning behind the schools vying for the title. In the ACC, Duke, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami, Virginia and Wake Forest are the representatives. I’m not sure if you’ve taken the time to watch Miami play this year, but the Hurricanes are lucky to put 200 students in the stands. Georgia Tech is also struggling with attendance in large part because of the team’s expectations and not having a stadium in which to play. Clemson is notoriously loud, but how did Maryland and NC State not make the conference cut? Consider me baffled.

That Looks Like a National Championship Student Section if I've Ever Seen One (Stadium Journey)

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Miami’s DeQuan Jones Reinstated

Posted by mpatton on December 20th, 2011

Miami just got one of its missing pieces back according to the school’s release, which stated that senior DeQuan Jones can compete effective immediately. Jones was suspended for allegedly accepting impermissible benefits from renegade booster Nevin Shapiro. The Hurricanes got the go-ahead from the NCAA to reinstate Jones although they did not comment any further.

Here is the Miami’s official statement:

The University of Miami, after consultation with the NCAA, has announced that senior basketball player DeQuan Jones can return to competition immediately. In order to protect the integrity of the ongoing joint inquiry, the University will not comment further at this time.

DeQuan Jones Has Been Reinstated To Play For Miami.

What does the addition of Jones mean for the Hurricanes? Most importantly, they get a lot taller. Jones will immediately become the third-tallest player in Jim Larranga‘s rotation behind center Kenny Kadji and back-up center Raphael Akpejiori. But don’t expect Jones to be a savior on either end of the floor. He came to Coral Gables a consensus top-25 recruit based largely on his athleticism (see the video below from his freshman year for evidence), but Jones has struggled to live up to his hype, never having the breakout season many expected of him. However, don’t underestimate the importance of a tall, athletic player on a team that really struggles rebounding the ball. If Jones can be a little more consistent shooting the ball, he could be a very valuable fourth option for this team (once Reggie Johnson returns).

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ACC Morning Five: 11.07.11 Edition

Posted by mpatton on November 7th, 2011

  1. Fox Sports Carolinas: Fox Sports‘ Andrew Jones offers a throwback list of the top ten players “capable of significantly enhancing their team’s fortunes.” I only call the list throwback because Jones ignores the two extreme geographic points of the ACC (Boston College and Miami) when constructing his list. In general I agree with all of his selections, though I possibly would’ve substituted Miles Plumlee for Ryan Kelly based on recent reports. For Boston College, I would’ve chosen Danny Rubin (the most productive of the Eagles’ only three returning players), and I would choose sophomore Rion Brown for Miami.
  2. Boston Globe: Speaking of Boston College, Patrick Heckmann is hoping to make an impact on the Eagles this year, coming by way of Germany. This Globe piece gives a little insight into the recruiting world for international prospects, and Heckmann is a frosh out of Germany with a pretty unique story. He’s also a 6’6″ slasher who will get plenty of playing time for a young team. The story offers an especially interesting look at Heckmann’s decision in choosing Boston College over playing for a club team in Germany.
  3. Fayetteville Observer: Looking for more lists? Bret Strelow and Sammy Batten compiled a pretty interesting list of superlatives for ACC basketball that will definitelybe good for starting debates. Sure, Milton Jennings is a great breakout candidate and Staats Battle definitely has the coolest name in the conference, but is Andre Dawkins really the most underrated dunker? He dunks almost rarely, which makes each time feel special, but we need to see more frequency in order to garner a superlative. Also, I wonder why they chose to ask a freshman (Wake Forest’s Travis McKie) about the toughest arena. For the record he chose Clemson’s Littlejohn Coliseum, though this coming year will be McKie’s first trip to the unfriendly confines of Cameron Indoor Stadium.
  4. TarHeelBlue.com: North Carolina and NBA legend James Worthy will be elected into the college hoops hall of fame alongside of Virginia’s Ralph Sampson. Worthy was the first overall pick of the 1982 NBA Draft, led the Tar Heels to Dean Smith’s first NCAA Championship that same year (scoring 28 points on 13-17 shooting in the championship game), and is already a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
  5. Searching For Billy Edelin and Fayetteville Observer: A couple of ACC previews and predictions with more “controversial” picks. For Nick Fasulo at Searching For Billy Edelin, the conference is down. Fasulo’s most interesting predictions come in his individual accolades, where he picked Jim Larranaga as Coach of the Year and Tyler Zeller as Player of the Year. Personally, I see Zeller as more of a complement (as he was at the end of last season), but “everything is in place for this guy. Assuming he stays healthy, there should be no [...] unexpected things to limit his production,” Fasulo tweeted. The Fayetteville Observer‘s contrary nature shows up in its projected finish: Unlike the media, the newspaper projects Virginia to finish eighth in the conference (NIT-bound), while Miami takes the fourth place spot and earns an eight-seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Around the greater world of college sports, one of the most sickening alleged scandals in the history of college athletics came to light over the weekend. In a story that will turn your stomach, former Penn State football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky has been accused of 40 crimes (21 felonies and 19 misdemeanors) involving eight sexual abuse victims who were minors at the time. The worst part is that the PSU athletic department reportedly knew about some of the crimes and never reported them to the proper authorities despite extensive discussions internally. While the article is tough to read, Sara Ganim of The Patriot News does a great job breaking down the details of the case. As of today, Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley has been placed on administrative leave and Senior Vice President for business and finance Gary Schultz has stepped down (both have been accused of perjury), but I’d be surprised if the punishments end here based on the heinous nature of these allegations.

Picture of the Day:

Len Bias Posts Up Michael Jordan in 1984. (Manny Millan/SI) h/t SI Photo Blog

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ACC Morning Five: 11.04.11 Edition

Posted by mpatton on November 4th, 2011

  1. USA Today: Another year and another season-crippling injury for Seth Greenberg and the Hokies. Last year it was Dorenzo Hudson and JT Thompson. This year Thompson tore his other ACL and will miss his second straight season. You have to feel for Thompson, but Greenberg pointed out the silver lining: “Our main focus right now is his health and preparing him for his graduation this December. [...] Now is not the time to discuss a sixth year.” Thompson’s injury is a big blow for Virginia Tech, where Thompson was expected to be a major leader and contributor this season. In 2009-10 he averaged 7.3 PPG and 4.6 RPG in just over 20 minutes a game.
  2. Miami Herald: Jim Larranaga got his first official (exhibition) win on the Miami sideline last night against Florida Southern, 88-78, but it wasn’t easy. The Hurricanes trailed by five at the half and by ten halfway through the second half. Garrius Adams caught fire late, aiding a late 28-6 run with three treys in two minutes. Malcolm Grant led the way for Miami with 26 points on a fantastic 8-12 shooting performance, but Durand Scott wasn’t far behind with 23 points and seven rebounds (that rebounding will be crucial while Reggie Johnson is out). The bad news was the Hurricanes finished with significantly more turnovers (17) than assists (10).
  3. United States Navy: The host of the Quicken Loans Carrier Classic, the USS Carl Vinson, is getting ready for the Veterans’ Day game. Construction crews started building the court on Tuesday that is expected to seat 7,000 people. It should be finished by November 9 to allow both teams to practice on the new court the day before the game. In the case of inclement weather (quite unlikely in San Diego), the crew is also constructing a smaller court in the ship’s hangar bay though it has far less seating for spectators.
  4. Detroit Free Press: Duke target Mitch McGary has opted for John Beilein and Michigan over Duke and Florida. McGary will be the Wolverines’ first McDonalds All-American in ten years (the last was Daniel Horton in 2002). My guess is this means that Duke will really turn up the heat on Tony Parker, another incredibly talented class of 2012 power forward. It is starting to look like NC State may sport the best 2012 recruiting class in the conference.
  5. ACCSports.com: Ryan Davis caught up with new Maryland coach Mark Turgeon to talk about the upcoming season. It sounds like Nick Faust will be called on from day one, and Turgeon expects Sean Mosley to live up to the expectations people set for him last year. One interesting question was comparing this year’s Maryland team to last year’s Boston College team. I’d tend to agree with Turgeon that the teams are very different (namely, the Eagles were lights out from beyond the arc, while Maryland should make its money on defense), but I hadn’t thought about the other comparisons (very shallow benches, new coaches, and solid returners). Although I don’t think the comparison is apples to apples, I think it should be heartening for Terrapin fans that Boston College saw the success it did facing similar problems.
Finally, it is NC StateNorth Carolina week (in football)! For those readers not familiar with ACC football (I don’t blame you), this is the nationally-irrelevant Tobacco Road rivalry of the gridiron. The two coaches celebrated the occasion by swapping insults before the schools’ chancellors ended the feud by calling each other to apologize.
  • Everett Withers (UNC): “I think the kids in this state need to know, you know, the flagship school in this state. [...] They need to know it academically. I think if you look at our graduation rates as opposed to our opponent’s this week graduation rates for academics or football, I think you’ll see a difference. I think if you look at the educational environment here, I think you’ll see a difference.”
  • Tom O’Brien (NC State): “As far as the flagship, here is a guy that’s on a football staff that ends up in Indianapolis. If you take three things you can’t do in college football, you have an agent on your staff, you’re paying your players and you have academic fraud. I mean, that’s a triple play as far as the NCAA goes. [...] Our guys go to school, they’re not given grades and they graduate [...] It’s a little tougher here if you have to go to school and you’re expected to have a syllabus and go to class. I think our guys earn everything they get here. And certainly all our graduates earn everything they get at this university.”
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