ACC M5: 01.21.14 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on January 21st, 2014

morning5_ACC

  1. Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician: Here’s a good brief context piece on where Syracuse is this season. The national media has started paying attention to college basketball again, and not surprisingly, as one of the best teams in the country, Syracuse has been getting its fair share of love. So has Tyler Ennis. But we’re just now getting to the point in the season where people start talking about undefeated seasons. Here’s where I (mostly) side with Sean Keeley: Syracuse isn’t going undefeated. Trips to Pittsburgh, Duke, Virginia and Florida State all but guarantee that. In fact, four of the team’s last five games are on the road. My only disagreement is that I think Wichita State has a reasonably good chance to finish the regular season undefeated. Not a great chance, but not zero either. Keeley nails everything else.
  2. Charleston Post and Courier: Don’t look now but Clemson is 4-1 in conference play. Yep, the same Clemson we picked eighth and the conference media picked –gulp, 14th — is tied for second in the loss column (along with Pittsburgh and Virginia). That said, it’s about to get real for the Tigers. They play five of their next six games on the road, including trips to Pittsburgh, North Carolina, Florida State and Syracuse. Yeesh. The most winnable game there looks like — double gulp — at North Carolina? Clemson has to find a way to keep its collective head over the next couple of weeks, or our 7-9 finish with a trip to the NIT prediction might not look too far off.
  3. Tallahassee Democrat: Florida State’s Boris Bojanovsky and Michael Ojo are totally different players this season, but Tony Bennett did a good job shutting the pair down by doubling them every time they got the ball in the post. I’m not sure how long the tactic will be effective though because both players measure over seven feet. So long as they keep their heads about them when doubled, they should be able to pass out to an open player. But if this proves an effective strategy for other teams (which admittedly won’t have double-teams as readily accessible as Bennett’s pack-line), it could spell trouble for the Seminoles.
  4. Real GM: Awesome stuff from Dan Hanner, who took a look at how teams have fared with and without different players in the lineup. From the ACC, he has stats for Notre Dame, Maryland, North Carolina, NC State and Georgia Tech. Most surprising was Jordan Vandenberg‘s defensive impact: Without him in the lineup NC State’s defense is 11.1 points worse per 100 possessions. That’s a huge difference. By comparison, Georgia Tech is only 2.1 points per 100 possessions worse on defense without Robert Carter, and Notre Dame is 3.7 points per 100 possessions worse without Jerian Grant. The sample size for a lot of this is pretty low, but still great to see the trends.
  5. Sports Illustrated: Seth Davis spends a good amount of time discussing Bruce Pearl to kick off his weekly “Hoop Thoughts” column. He notes several things of interest: (1) Pearl is a Boston College alumnus; (2) Pearl “has received several serious inquiries from Division I schools to be a head coach, but as he put it, ‘the opportunities were not at the level that I would be interested in.’” The first we already knew, but it is worth a reminder that Boston College sits at 5-13 on the year. The second point is interesting because Pearl’s show-cause doesn’t expire until August this year. That makes me think that the offers were from low-major schools hoping to hit a home run. And while the Eagles probably wouldn’t pay Pearl quite what Tennessee did (partially because his market value dropped with the NCAA business), that’s somewhere where “at the level” makes more sense. Food for thought.
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ACC M5: 12.12.13 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on December 12th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Charlotte Observer: Good article from Barry Jacobs on Jordan Vandenberg‘s emergence as an important contributor this season for NC State. The seven-footer from Melbourne, Australia, spent his first four years riding the pine thanks to a combination of depth, conditioning and readiness for the college game. But this season he’s in much better shape and is proving valuable on both ends of the floor thanks to his 70 percent shooting and lack of turnovers along with (awkward) shot-blocking on the other end of the floor. His transformation is Brian Zoubek-ian in some ways, although Vandenberg’s rebounding lags behind substantially.
  2. Gobbler Country: I’m not sure how many road conference games Virginia Tech will win this year, so it’s important to document them all. And the Hokies are now guaranteed to be tied for the top spot for the first three weeks of conference play! I also like rewarding thorough recaps that give a game context (through individual grades). That said, the Hokies are better than I expected and they were definitely the better team versus Miami over the weekend. I’m with Gobbler Country in that I want James Johnson to play Cadarian Raines more. That said Raines also tends to disappoint my lofty expectations, but I really do think he’s got the tools to be the second or third option for this team. But I’ve said that before to no avail. The good news is that Jarrell Eddie is excelling in the go-to guy role, which is especially important considering the rest of the roster.
  3. One Foot Down: In a more timely but less optimistic tone, Notre Dame lost at home to a good (certainly not great) North Dakota State team last night. Slowly that’s becoming the hallmark of the ACC, as everyone but Duke, Syracuse, Florida State and Pittsburgh owns a loss to a plucky mid-major squad. Notre Dame’s interior defense was abysmal, as NDSU’s Marshall Bjorklund scored 26 points on 14 shots. Jerian Grant finally put up a stinker at the worst possible time, making zero field goals for the game. It looks like the Fighting Irish were way overvalued coming into the season, alhough the team still has a couple of shots to get a marquee non-conference win.
  4. USA Today: Nicole Auerbach does a good job writing about the frequent comparisons between Jabari Parker and Grant Hill. Both are in the running for most talented Duke players ever (although there’s no comparison between their accomplishments). It’s interesting that Coach K stressed that Hill was “graceful” but that he wants Parker to be “powerful.” The two certainly aren’t mutually exclusive, but it may point to where Krzyzewski would like to see Parker play more as the season progresses. Logically, it makes sense to play Parker out of the post: Duke has a plethora of guards (and Rodney Hood) who can all shoot the three, and Amile Jefferson hasn’t given the team much post balance. Parker in the high post should be lethal against a zone as he continues to make better decisions.
  5. AP (via Sports Illustrated): Sidney Lowe pleaded guilty to failing to file tax returns while the head coach at NC State, which brings one of the more puzzling stories of recent memory to a close. Lowe could not have been a more public figure (he coached at North Carolina’s largest university) and he was employed by the state, so it’s not possible he thought the state wouldn’t notice. Lowe was given a suspended sentence (meaning he’ll likely avoid jail time if he avoids breaking the law over the next year), along with $79,000 in restitution.
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New Starting Lineup Working for NC State

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on December 9th, 2013

Although it’s still very early, NC State is showing signs that this may not be quite the down year many were predicting. After a lackluster 2-2 start to the season, head coach Mark Gottfried made some major lineup changes that are starting to pay big dividends during a four-game winning streak. The most obvious change is the return of seven-foot center Jordan Vandenberg, who missed the first four games due to an injured ankle, but he’s not the only newcomer to the starting lineup. Although all five opening game starters are now healthy, three of those players are coming off the bench.

T.J. Warren is Averaging 26 ppg in Last Four Games (photo: Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

T.J. Warren is Averaging 26 ppg in Last Four Games
(photo: Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Without Vandenberg in the lineup, the Wolfpack had to use all three freshmen bigs to man the post. When their highly regarded recruiting class was formed, BeeJay Anya, from famed DeMatha Catholic High School in Maryland, was NC State’s highest rated post recruit. Kyle Washington from Brewster Academy in New Hampshire was the next highest, with the third post player of the class, Lennard Freeman from Virginia’s Oak Hill Academy, less celebrated than the other two. Ironically the three freshman bigs are performing in the exact opposite order when compared to expectations. Anya, who was listed at 275 pounds for his senior year of high school, inexplicably reported to Raleigh over the summer at 337 pounds and is currently listed at a hefty 325. He simply cannot play effectively at that weight. Out of necessity, Anya played about 10 minutes per game in the team’s first five contests, but only a total of three minutes in the last three.

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Morning Five: 11.04.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 4th, 2013

morning5

  1. As we enter Opening Week of the 2013-14 college basketball season, we want to make everyone aware of all the cross-platform offerings we have available this year at RTC. Longtime readers are already familiar with our eight microsites focused on each of the major basketball conferences (click on the round conference buttons in the top right corner of the page). We also want to make you aware of our TumblRTC page, dedicated as the site’s “eyes and ears,” where we’ll be sharing interesting hoops-related things we find throughout the season. We’re also unveiling Rush the Court TV, our own YouTube channel devoted to capturing the best videos that the sport has to offer. Poke around over there for a while — you’ll find video streams for each major conference, this year’s Midnight Madness events, a bunch of oddball clips among other things, and of course, all the best RTCs. On the social media front, we hope that you’ll continue to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, as we plan on doing some really cool and creative things through those platforms this season, but we’ve also got a new Instagram account and hope you’ll engage with us there too (read: send us pics!). Welcome back.
  2. Over the weekend there were plenty of exhibition games including several that featured highly ranked teams nearly getting beaten by unknown programs, but as we have often said the only thing notable that can happen in these games is somebody getting injured. Unfortunately for Providence it appears that happened to them with starting point guard Kris Dunn injuring his right shoulder in an exhibition win over Rhode Island College. The extent of the injury is not known at this time, but it is particularly concerning for Providence as it is the same shoulder that he tore last year that forced him to miss the first month of the season. The Friars open up at home against Boston College on Friday night, but based on what Ed Cooley is saying it seems unlikely that Dunn will play in that game.
  3. Like Providence, George Washington also suffered a big loss as sophomore forward Patricio Garino fractured his finger during a practice two weeks, but the school did not release the information until late last week. Garino, a selection to the preseason Atlantic 10 All-Conference All-Defensive Team, had surgery on his finger on October 25 and is expected to be out for several weeks although there is no clear timetable on his return. As a freshman last season, Garino averaged 8.8 points, 2.1 assists, and 2.3 steals per game, but had much bigger things expected of him this season. Mike Lonergan will have to figure out a way to move players around until Garino return, but fortunately for the Colonials their schedule during November appears to be manageable.
  4. North Carolina State will be without fifth-year senior center Jordan Vandenberg for 4-6 weeks after he suffered a grade 3 sprain of his left ankle. While Vandenberg’s production during his time in Raleigh has been minimal the lack of experience on this NC State team will make his absence more significant than you might expect from looking at his numbers. We won’t go so far as to say that Vandenberg would have been a major contributor, but his losing 25 pounds summer at least suggests that he was motivated to make the most of his final season in Raleigh.
  5. On Friday night, less than two months after committing to play for UCLA then backing out, Trevon Bluiett to committed to play for Xavier. Blueitt’s recruitment has been particularly interesting because his initial commitment to UCLA was preceded by UCLA hiring his former high school coach, which seemed to suggest that a package deal was in place (something that is certainly not unique, but seemed unusual for a program with UCLA’s pedigree and a player of Blueitt’s caliber–a 4-star prospect). Blueitt eventually decided that Los Angeles would be too far from his home (in Indianapolis) and had narrowed down his choices to Butler, Memphis, Michigan State, and Xavier before eventually committing to Xavier.
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