ACC/Big Ten Challenge Presents Giant Opportunity For Michigan

Posted by Bennet Hayes on December 2nd, 2013

What to Make of Michigan Heading to Duke in the Headliner of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge

Nobody ever said life after Trey Burke was going to be easy. Despite entering the season with both a top 10 ranking and preseason All-American (again) to lead the way, John Beilein had to know that this group of Wolverines would be a work in progress. Gone was not only the transcendent Burke, but also backcourt mate Tim Hardaway, Jr., a highly accomplished player in his own right. Also of concern: The fact that this year’s preseason All-American, Mitch McGary, entered the season on the mend. The bruising sophomore is recovering from a back injury, and even with a (relatively) healthy back a season ago, he had averaged only 7.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game as he got acclimated to college basketball. Was he really ready to deliver All-American type production? Every team entered this season with question marks, but Michigan faced as many as any of their preseason top-10 cohabitants.

Michigan And Mitch McGary Will Attempt To Reassert Themselves At Cameron Indoor On Tuesday Night

Michigan And Mitch McGary Will Attempt To Reassert Themselves At Cameron Indoor On Tuesday Night

The Wolverines are now seven games into the season, and the top-10 ranking is gone. The same cannot be said for those pesky preseason questions. Michigan is 5-2 on the year, with an overtime victory over Florida State ranking as its lone victory of consequence (seriously, the average Pomeroy rating for the other four Wolverine conquests is 297). The back injury ultimately caused McGary to miss just two games, but his production since returning has hardly been like that of an All-American: 8.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.0 BPG in 25 minutes per game. I’m not in the habit of judging a guy off of five post-injury games, but the jury remains out on whether McGary can live up to those expansive preseason expectations.

Nor has a verdict been offered on the Michigan point guard situation. Nobody expected Derrick Walton to become Trey Burke, but the freshman has averaged nearly as many turnovers (2.4 per game) as assists (3.3 per game), while also ceding crunch time minutes to backup Spike Albrecht. In the two Michigan losses (to Iowa State and Charlotte), Walton has averaged just 19 minutes a game. Clearly John Beilein is not ready to fully hand over the reins to the talented youngster, but like McGary, there’s still plenty of time for Walton to grow into his expected role.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ACC M5: 12.02.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on December 2nd, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. CBS Sports and NBC Sports: After Duke lost another game to a very good team after leading most of the game, the popular question is whether or not the Kansas and Arizona losses are reasons to toss Duke out as a national contender. There’s no doubt, the losses bring up some concerns (though my question was “Why did Mike Krzyzewski randomly start playing zone?”). But not many teams are as big and athletic as Kansas and Arizona. Those are tough match-ups for Duke, which is still a young team. It’s not a surprise they struggled. The other story that didn’t get a ton of publicity after the game is how quiet Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon were in the second half for Duke. The backcourt holds the key.
  2. NBC Sports and Tar Heel Blog: Speaking of raising questions, North Carolina didn’t exactly silence its doubters by losing a close game at Roy Williams protege Jerod Haase’s UAB Blazers. The Tar Heels got killed on the boards, and the Blazers concentrated on stopping Marcus Paige with considerable success. Look for Michigan State to key on Paige again this week. Until someone else shows the ability to be the man in his place, there’s no downside. That said, I personally wouldn’t be surprised to see the Tar Heels pull out the win because (1) I have no idea what to think about this team and (2) Roy Williams is Tom Izzo’s kryptonite.
  3. Burlington Times-News: NC State looked significantly better against Eastern Kentucky and showed the ability to score against a zone–albeit a shorter, less athletic one than Syracuse will trot out in ACC play. Promising signs came from Jordan Vandenberg, who set a career high, and TJ Warren, who managed 26 points in the second half. This team is already improving, which is a good sign. To keep up his success on the recruiting trail, Mark Gottfried needs to keep showing player and program development.
  4. Tomahawk Nation: If you haven’t watched Florida State, you should know that Leonard Hamilton’s team looks for real. The Seminoles came a touch-foul away from taking Florida to overtime on the road. Michael Ojo and Boris Bojanovsky looked terrific. The twin sophomore towers kept the game within reach. Ojo in particular is a completely new player. Hamilton is the best coach in the league at developing big men. Last year Ojo looked completely lost. This year, he still has his moments, but is much more confident with the ball and is a terror on the boards. This team is good (much better than anyone predicted), but the next couple years could really be special.
  5. Duke Basketball Report: Barry Jacobs took a look at the hottest ACC teams historically from downtown. Number one? Virginia Tech. Yep, this year’s Hokie team is shooting an unbelievable 45.5% from deep. This year’s Duke team is third on the list. Notre Dame and Pittsburgh also check in at over 40%. Unfortunately for Virginia Tech, that percentage is likely to drop, which will hurt its already mediocre offensive efficiency.

EXTRA: Joe Harris has ups.

Share this story

ACC M5: 11.18.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on November 18th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Pitt News: Great article from a couple of weeks ago from Pittsburgh student Jasper Wilson, who spent some time with Panther alumnus Ricardo Greer. Greer was a star (though he took a backseat role to All-American Brandin Knight his senior season), who graduated in 2001. Now Greer plays basketball in France, where he’s played the majority of his professional career. Wilson does a great job illuminating Greer’s life with the boons and challenges that come with playing basketball in Europe. Really great work.
  2. Run the Floor: Suffice to say Boston College‘s season hasn’t opened the way Steve Donahue planned. The Eagles are 1-4. Their one win came by three, at home against a bad Florida Atlantic team (the same team Duke beat by more than thirty points). Their losses are all to decent teams (Providence, Massachusetts, and Toledo), but decent losses don’t help your RPI–especially home losses against Toledo. Donahue’s team may just be taking some time to come together, but their performances are starting to look eerily consistent.
  3. CBSSports.com: Gary Parrish thinks that Lebron’s Decision influenced consensus top-five recruits Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor in their decision to pick a school together. It’s an interesting idea, and I think it also applies to the super-classes that John Calipari has strung together. Jones and Okafor chose Duke, giving the Blue Devils the top class in the country for next season. Consensus top-ranked prospect Okafor, a back to the basket center, will give Mike Krzyzewski his most skilled big since at least Carlos Boozer (and possibly Elton Brand). 
  4. Tar Heel Blog and One Foot Down: A couple of ranked teams got embarrassed this weekend. Lathan’s article from Friday looks especially prescient after North Carolina lost to Belmont at home. The Tar Heels went a shocking 22-48 from the free throw line, which certainly contributed to their loss. But they also choked up a six-point lead in the final minutes thanks to some hot shooting from Belmont. Notre Dame also lost at home to Indiana State (the first November loss of Mike Brey’s tenure) thanks to putrid offense and absolutely nothing from its backcourt. [side note: Syracuse also produced an abhorrent free throw line this weekend, putting up the old 12-28 from the charity stripe]
  5. Charlottesville Daily Progress: Virginia‘s loss to VCU raised a lot of questions about the team’s ability to close games. Yes, Tony Bennett is playing an inexperienced point guard, but that’s no excuse for letting any game close on a 10-1 run. After the game, Bennett noted that his team needed to be mentally stronger (quoting Bob Knight in the process). Unfortunately, mental strength won’t cause a shot-creator to appear. Joe Harris is one of the best players in the ACC, but he’s not a guy that will break you down at the end of the shot clock. He has to find a way to be more effective (probably drawing a foul on a drive into the lane) because Virginia won’t come close to it’s potential if it continues playing like it did against the Rams.
Share this story

ACC M5: 11.15.13 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on November 15th, 2013

morning5_ACC

Before we get to the news, someone may want to help find Steve Donahue find Boston College’s wheels.

  1. Virginian Pilot: Bob Molinaro focuses on Virginia Tech‘s football program when talking about the challenges that will face the new Hokies athletic director, but the basketball program may prove just as challenging. James Johnson may very well be the man for the job in Blacksburg, but Virginia Tech has to invest more in its basketball program to overcome its geographical challenges. I liked the James Johnson hire then (though the timing was atrocious), and like it now. But it was a risk and new athletic directors aren’t always the most patient of bosses.
  2. Syracuse Post-Gazette: Good reporting from Donna Ditota on player views about getting paid. While most acknowledged that getting paid would be “complicated,” all but Baye Keita (and Joe Harris) thought players should be paid. Harris is particularly interesting, as he would likely benefit from a rule allowing him to make money off of his likeness. Here’s the thing: No one in their right mind should argue against full cost of attendance scholarships. And I have a lot of trouble arguing against athletes being allowed to make money on the side. Yes, it has to be regulated, but having a complex problem to solve doesn’t mean you should just ignore it.
  3. Grantland: I’ll sum up Mark Titus’s ACC preview. He likes Duke; he likes CJ Fair, Jabari Parker and TJ Warren (though I think he underestimates the number of people who know about Warren); and he loves Wake Forest‘s fan meltdown. Titus doesn’t love Virginia, which is surprising, although he may be right after the Cavaliers choked their game against VCU away. But all of Fair’s love and questions about Syracuse’s Tyler Ennis have obscured another big part of Syracuse’s future success: Jerami Grant. Grant’s brother has gotten plenty of love at Notre Dame, but this Grant will be much more important to Syracuse this season than in the past.
  4. Greensboro News & Record: Want to see a newspaper for a decent-sized city use an outdated Excel graph format that looks like it belongs in a paper from 2005? Today’s your lucky day! But Mark Thompson’s article is actually pretty interesting. Thompson looked at ACC fouls last season compared to this season and found that league fouls are up 3.8 fouls per game so far. It would be interesting to see the numbers for every team, although the sample size (and schedule variance) would be an issue. Also interesting is that other conferences have seen a more substantial increase in whistles. All I know is that there was a hideous stretch in the second half of Duke vs. Kansas where neither team could play 12 seconds without picking up a dumb foul. Let’s hope that stops.
  5. Blogger So Dear: In a bizarre last-minute signing day drama, Isaac Haas didn’t sign a letter of intent as expected to play at Wake Forest. All experts now point toward the 7’2″ center signing with UAB. What’s odd is that Haas’ uncle sent an inspirational tweet, prompting fans to wonder whether his scholarship offer was rescinded (according to Dan Collins at the Winston-Salem Journal, it wasn’t). Can’t blame a teenager for changing his mind, but it feels like we’re missing some facts from this story.
Share this story

Preseason ACC Microsite Awards: Joe Harris Preseason POY

Posted by Matt Patton on November 9th, 2013

The ACC microsite is happy to announce our preseason Player of the Year and all-ACC teams, as selected by the five writers contributing this season.

Preseason All-ACC

Some Notes:

  • Seven of 15 teams had at least one selection to the teams. Virginia and North Carolina led the way with two selections each.
  • Virginia’s Joe Harris received three of five votes for preseason ACC Player of the Year. Jabari Parker and CJ Fair received one vote each.
  • Harris and Fair were unanimous selections for the first team.
  • Duke’s Rodney Hood actually tied Virginia’s Akil Mitchell for votes, but Mitchell’s one first-team vote put him over the top in a tie-breaker.
  • Ryan Anderson, Quinn Cook, Travis McKie, Rasheed Sulaimon and Okaro White each received one second-team vote.
  • The first team has two seniors (Harris and Fair), two sophomores (Olivier Hanlan and TJ Warren) and one freshman (Parker).
  • The second team has more experience than the first team with three juniors and two seniors.
Share this story

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ACC M5: 11.07.13 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on November 7th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Baltimore Sun: According to Jeff Barker’s Public Information Act request, Maryland “sought to influence the debate [over the school's move to the Big Ten] with a plan to lobby media pundits and plant positive comments into fan message boards.” Specifically, the department targeted ESPN‘s Scott Van Pelt, as “It would be in our best interest to let Van Pelt break the story and talk about all of the positives.” That’s not a great look for Maryland or Van Pelt, who was in fact a positive voice soon after the decision went public.
  2. Raleigh News & Observer: Luke DeCock has a good look at the three Triangle basketball teams through one important question that needs to be answered. Duke‘s question is probably the most interesting, as it’s the most recent to appear: How will Rasheed Sulaimon adapt to his new role? On the surface, there’s not a lot here. But consider that Sulaimon played poorly in Duke’s first exhibition and didn’t play at all in the Blue Devils’s second (reportedly because he was recovering from illness). Now factor in that when Coach K announced the likely starters for this year he only listed four, and Sulaimon — who started most of last season — didn’t make the list. It should be interesting to keep an eye on this going forward.
  3. Syracuse Post-Gazette: Jim Boeheim is warming up his saltiness for the season with a mini-rant on graduation rates. Last month the NCAA released its annual graduation statistics and Syracuse‘s number wasn’t great (47%). This wasn’t news to Boeheim, who lost two scholarships due to the APR a couple of years back, but that didn’t keep him from touching on the subject in a postgame presser recently. His argument is that Syracuse shouldn’t be punished for players choosing to leave the program. While the take certainly makes sense, other schools that have many early departures (ahem, Kentucky) don’t struggle with the APR because they force students departing for the NBA Draft to remain academically eligible through their spring semesters. It’s really not that hard to figure out.
  4. Blogger So Dear: The gentlemen over at Blogger So Dear sat down and wrote a short prediction for the upcoming season. They chose Wake Forest at #11, hot on the heels of NC State’s young team (though one writer had the Demon Deacons as high as #9). The only two unanimous votes for All-ACC went to Joe Harris and CJ Fair. They also make a good argument for Tony Bennett winning Coach of the Year, as his team looks poised to comfortably make the NCAAs this season and normally a big jump earns attention in that award category (regardless of the actual coaching job done).
  5. Orlando Sentinel: The ACC’s newest potential star from Alaska is Florida State’s Devon Bookert. He is definitely the player to watch on Florida State this year, as he had a very promising finish to last season. There are still plenty of reasons to question the Seminoles otherwise, but Bookert will likely surprise many ACC fans just as he apparently has surprised his teammates. He’s likely the difference between an average Florida State team this year and a horrible one.
Share this story

ACC Team Preview: Virginia Cavaliers

Posted by Lathan Wells on November 5th, 2013

Typically, a rash of transfers is a major indictment of a college basketball program. It can signify instability, a coach who has lost control of his locker room and/or the faith of the young men he coaches, or a program that no longer offers the just desserts most college athletes seek. At the University of Virginia, where head coach Tony Bennett is now in his fourth season at the helm, the opposite appears to be the case. Though Bennett has lost six scholarship players to transfer since 2011, none of the departed left on acrimonious terms. This offseason, Paul Jesperson (who started 33 games last year at guard) and Taylor Barnette left the program for greener pastures, but it wasn’t because of a problem within the confines of the Cavaliers’ program. It was because Bennett finally has the depth and talent he’s been building toward since he arrived in Charlottesville, and there just wasn’t enough playing time to go around. Bennett has indicated his understanding of the depth “quandary“:  “Guys being the ninth, 10th or 11th guy and being patient and waiting are harder to come by. It’s not just here. It’s everywhere. It’s more of the immediate gratification of society nowadays. You hate that. [...] You want guys to dream of playing professionally, but sometimes that’s not the way it’s going be.”

Virginia Preview 2013

Last year’s Cavaliers turned in a solid if unspectacular year, winning 23 games and going 11-7 in the ACC. Unfortunately, the team’s lack of a solid non-conference schedule and a poorly-timed late-season swoon in league play cost them a shot at an NCAA Tournament bid. Virginia lost its last three ACC games, the last of which was an unceremonious blowout at the hands of NC State in the ACC Tournament’s first round, and with an RPI bordering on the bubble, they were relegated to participating in the NIT. This year’s team, with the return of proven starters like Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell and an influx of newcomers with promise at the biggest position of need for this team (point guard), has the expectations of exceeding last year’s successes. This is a team bent on gaining entry to, and making noise in, the Big Dance.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

2013-14 RTC Preseason All-America Teams

Posted by Walker Carey on November 5th, 2013

seasonpreview-11

With the season tipping off Friday night, there’s no better time to roll out our preseason First, Second, and Third All-America Teams. More than anything, these three groups of outstanding players are here to foster and encourage discussion. Our crack panel of eight national columnists provided ballots over the last week or so, and this, perhaps unsurprisingly, is where we ended up.

First Team All-America

team1Andrew Wiggins, Kansas (unanimous) – Wiggins begins his career in Lawrence as one of the more ballyhooed freshmen in recent memory. The 6’8″ swingman, who was unanimously considered the top player in the Class of 2013, committed to Kansas in April following a recruiting process that was primarily kept close to the vest. While some of the hype surrounding the dynamic freshman may be a bit overblown, it is impossible to deny Wiggins’ credentials, as he was named 2013 Naismith Prep Player of the Year, 2013 Gatorade National Player of the Year, and Mr. Basketball USA. Wiggins has already acknowledged that he would like to be a one-and-done and enter the 2014 NBA Draft, so it is logical to see why expectations are so high in Lawrence this season.

Factoid: It is not exactly a surprise that Wiggins is a top-flight athlete when you consider the fact that his father, Mitchell Wiggins, had a lengthy professional basketball career and his mother, Marita Payne-Wiggins, won two silver medals for Canada as a sprinter in the 1984 Summer Olympic Games.

Doug McDermott, Creighton (unanimous) – McDermott’s ability to score from anywhere on the court makes him one of the most feared offensive players in the country. It is rare for a two-time First Team All-American to return to school, but that is the case with McDermott, who spurned the NBA to return for his senior season in Omaha. With Creighton making the big move from the Missouri Valley to the Big East this season, the Bluejays are going to be counting on him to fill the stat line each night out – and McDermott is good enough to come through for them.

Factoid: Due to Creighton guard Grant Gibbs receiving a rare sixth-year of eligibility from the NCAA (and thus, needing a scholarship), McDermott will be an extremely talented walk-on for the 2013-14 season.

Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State – The reigning Big 12 Player of the Year shocked the basketball world when he announced in mid-April that he would return to Stillwater for his sophomore season. The Flower Mound, Texas, native is widely considered the best returning player in all of college basketball. Smart brings a little bit of everything to the floor. His 6’4″ frame is elite for the point guard position and he uses that size as well as any perimeter player in the country. The leadership and intangibles that Smart provides are also second to none. After Oklahoma State finished third in the Big 12 during Smart’s freshman season, it is projected to contend with perennial powerhouse Kansas for the conference crown this season.

Factoid: Making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2010, Oklahoma State’s stay in the 2013 event was a short one. The Cowboys, a five-seed, were upset in the Round of 64 by 12-seed Oregon. This loss affected Smart’s decision to return to school, as the setback helped him realize he was not ready to be one-and-done in a Cowboy uniform.

Russ Smith, Louisville – Smith returns to Louisville for his senior season looking to lead the Cardinals to a repeat as national champions. “Russdiculous” is coming off a season that saw him average 18.7 points per game and take home the Most Outstanding Player of the Midwest Regional. While Smith gets a majority of his attention for his performance on the offensive end of the court, he is also a defensive stalwart who keys the relentless full court pressure of the Cardinals. Even though Smith certainly figures to be Louisville’s most explosive player this season, you better believe he will still at times do some things on the court that will drive Rick Pitino crazy.

Factoid: Smith spent his fall interning with WHAS-TV in Louisville, working local high school football games on some Friday nights.

Julius Randle, Kentucky – Kentucky coach John Calipari brought in one of the best recruiting hauls in history for this season and the star of the class is the ultra-athletic Randle. The Plano, Texas, native arrived in Lexington as the second-best prospect in the Class of 2013 – only behind Andrew Wiggins – and early returns on Randle as a Wildcat forward have been overwhelmingly positive. Randle’s talent level is so elite that ESPN‘s Jeff Goodman declared in late September that he would take Randle over Wiggins with the first pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.

Factoid: Randle missed three months of his senior season at Prestonwood Christian due to a fractured foot, but he was able to return in time to lead the school to a Texas state championship.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ACC M5: 10.30.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on October 30th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Miami Herald: The first line of this Miami preview says it all: “UM is the only Atlantic Coast Conference team with no returning starters.” It’s going to be a rough year in Coral Gables if you compare the team to last season. But there are some intriguing players on this team. Notably Manu Lecomte and Tonye Jekiri. Lecomte is a talented freshman point guard, who played for several Belgian national teams. Jekiri is a little more raw, as he just picked up basketball at a later age, but his physical tools make him an exciting post prospect.
  2. ESPN: Joel James switched to wear number 42 this season. That’s right, the same 42 that Sean May, Jerry Stackhouse, and Brad Daugherty wore at North Carolina before him. That’s quite the trio to live up to (side note: May is one of the most consistently underrated college players because of his lack of NBA success, but he was ludicrously dominant for the 2005 postseason)–especially for someone who didn’t produce much last year. But James seems eager for the challenge, and the buzz out of Chapel Hill this offseason certainly points to a much improved year for him.
  3. Charlottesville Daily Progress: When you think Virginia, you probably don’t think NBA. Nothing about the Cavalier program (its history, its current style, etc.) immediately makes you think of the NBA Draft. But Tony Bennett has a deceptively talented team that could see as many as four or five players getting their names called. A lot has to go right, but certainly Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell will play professionally somewhere should they choose to do so. Mike Tobey is still a bit of an unknown, but the NBA has proven time and time again that being seven feet tall goes a long way (just ask Kwame Brown). And that’s not to mention Justin Anderson, whose athletic defense may pave the way to the bright lights.
  4. AP (via Washington Post): This year is Mark Turgeon‘s chance to prove he’s the man for the job at Maryland (I think he is). He got two rebuilding seasons at Maryland, as Gary Williams didn’t leave much in the cupboard. But now he has a deep roster of guys he recruited. No one expects the Terrapins to contend for the national championship this year, but Turgeon needs to make the NCAA Tournament. That shouldn’t be a problem if a point guard can limit the team’s turnovers.
  5. Georgia Tech: Brian Gregory had a press conference yesterday where he talked some about transitioning from high school to college. It’s easy for people to forget just how different the college game is from the high school game (or the difference between the NBA and college). Players have to adjust on the court and academically to a totally new environment. Most of Gregory’s interview is pretty run of the mill, but it’s cool to get a little chalk talk about areas that freshmen often are lacking coming from high school.
Share this story

ACC M5: 10.24.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on October 24th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Run the Floor: Michael Rogner brings a fresh look at the NCAA punishments for Miami by comparing the school’s case and response directly with that of Saint Mary’s. As you might expect, the violations are not comparable in the least. The punishments? I’ll let Rogner’s piece speak for itself. For a little more context that likely led to these discrepancies, we have you covered. Not a great look for the NCAA.
  2. Daily Orange: The bigger TV money apparently wasn’t everything. Syracuse has already reportedly exceeded the basketball tickets sold last year (or any year in the past two decades, for that matter). Football and other sports have also seen a boost. Part of this may be the novelty of it all, and some stars certainly aligned with the Orange being very good this year and hosting Duke. Maybe the increased excitement among fans is what has Jim Boeheim warming up to the ACC, although he still stresses holding the ACC Tournament in either New York or Washington, DC.
  3. Washington Post: Maryland freshman Damonte Dodd sounds like a piece of what looks to be an incredible Big Ten frontcourt at Maryland in a year or two. Mark Turgeon touted him as an “energy guy,” but his athleticism should turn that energy into great skill. With Shaquille Cleare and Charles Mitchell also showing lots of promise in the post, Turgeon may have an embarrassment of riches should all three stay in College Park for a while and continue developing.
  4. ESPN: Eamonn Brennan wants everyone to get ready for the new-look Duke team this year. Unlike many coaches, Coach K adapts his teams to fit his personnel. Combine his flexibility with his recruiting and you understand why Duke has been so consistently good the last 30 years. This year’s Blue Devil team is a very different one from last year: It’s younger, more athletic, and perimeter-oriented. I’m guessing (hoping) that means a high-tempo, in-your-face defense, though we won’t know until the season starts. While you’re over at the Worldwide Leader, check out John Gasaway’s ACC team previews. (Clemson is free!)
  5. Richmond Times-Dispatch: Speaking of those ESPN previews, Gasaway picked Virginia second in the league behind Duke. It’s easy to forget how good Tony Bennett’s team was last season, although the Cavaliers were offensively limited outside of Joe Harris. This year Harris expects the team to be much more balanced, which is bad news for opponents if it is true. A healthy Mike Tobey would add another potent, hard-to-guard offensive weapon. The biggest challenge facing the Cavaliers is finding someone to run the offense without turning the ball over this season.
Share this story

ACC M5: 10.22.13 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on October 22nd, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Backing the Pack: Is Virginia flying under the radar? Well, according to returning win shares, the Cavaliers are criminally underrated. The past two years, returning win shares has correctly picked the ACC champion while remaining mostly accurate throughout the standings with a couple of big exceptions (here’s looking at you, Virginia Tech). Win shares make Tony Bennett’s squad the team to beat in the ACC thanks to Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell returning. Duke still comes in second by a significant margin, if you were wondering.
  2. Syracuse Post-Standard: Donna Ditota checked in on Wake Forest’s Tyler Cavanaugh, Steve Donahue and Notre Dame (separately, of course). I can’t say it enough: Don’t overlook Boston College this year. The Eagles aren’t the most talented bunch in the ACC but they have boatloads of experience and could make a dramatic leap if they can avoid the injury and sickness bugs. Also of note is Ditota pointing out Mike Brey’s football-inspired strategy of redshirting most of his freshmen. However, this year Demetrius Thomas should see plenty of playing time as a true freshman. His minutes could represent a crack in Brey’s system.
  3. Duke Basketball Report: Barry Jacobs took a look at the most three-point reliant players in the ACC last season. Three of the top 11 players most in love with shots from beyond the arc ended up transferring away from the league. That leaves Lonnie Jackson, Patrick Heckmann (Boston College) and Pat Connaughton (Notre Dame) as the trio of returning starters who most rely on shooting from deep. This season you can almost certainly expect to add Duke’s Andre Dawkins to the list.
  4. AP (via Panama City News Herald): Today is a big day in Coral Gables. Miami (and the rest of the world) is set to find out the results of its appeal to the NCAA’s Committee of Infractions surrounding all the Nevin Shapiro-related allegations. If the NCAA has its long-term self-interest in mind, it will accept Miami’s self-imposed bowl bans and move on. If it wants to shed more light on the embarrassingly cavalier investigation of the Hurricanes that ended in the firing of many compliance employees — the NCAA will bring the hammer down. Donna Shalala, Miami’s president, has never come across as frightened of or intimidated by the organization, so I suspect a harsh punishment would be appealed in the judicial system shortly thereafter.
  5. KenPom.com: Stat geeks rejoice! Ken Pomeroy has changed his algorithms to discount blowouts. While the new results don’t make for huge swings in his ordering, they did help knock Wisconsin and Belmont down a peg or two.
Share this story