ACC M5: 11.05.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on November 5th, 2012

  1. Fayetteville Observer: The paper has unveiled a nice collection of articles and stories previewing the coming basketball season in the ACC, but my favorite is this listing of “under the radar” players. The list includes those who may not have the fame or star power (yet) of some of their contemporaries, but will nonetheless make a difference this season. The list is a blend of freshmen and players coming off seasons spent on the bench due to injury (Olivier Hanlan of Boston College is an example of the former and Julian Gamble at Miami illustrates the latter), but also highlights a few players who may be poised to grab your attention, notably Malcolm Brogdon of Virginia and K.J. McDaniels from Clemson.
  2. CBS Sports: No list of coaches on the hot seat would be complete without Jeff Bzdelik, the coach of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. While Bzdelik’s tenure in Winston-Salem has been filled with all sorts of complicating factors and problems, the fact remains that Wake Forest fans ultimately expect their team to win. After two miserable years of life at the bottom of the conference, this is a pivotal year for the program. Though Bzdelik will rely heavily on freshmen this season, Wake’s record needs to improve if the coach wants to keep his job.
  3. Testudo Times: Exhibition games are often fairly meaningless, but that doesn’t stop college basketball fans from trying to see if they can learn something about their team from them. Ben Broman looks at how Maryland performed in an exhibition against Indiana University (PA) and walks away with some interesting observations. Notably, the strong performances by freshmen Seth Allen and Charles Mitchell were unexpected and clear highlights, while mediocre performances by Alex Len and James Padgett offered reasons for concern. Clearly Terrapin fans were hoping for more polished and refined play from their returning frontcourt, but Mitchell’s voraciousness on the glass (15 rebounds in only 18 minutes) and Allen’s poise, ball-handling, and playmaking suggest that the incoming freshman class might make a big difference for Maryland.
  4. Wilmington Star News: Mason Plumlee is once again ready to be a featured part of this year’s Duke team. The ultra-athletic power forward come to Durham as a clear NBA lottery pick filled with talent, yet over the course of a mostly excellent college career he has failed to string together consistent performances, often vanishing at key moments. Now a senior, Plumlee is looking at a final chance to take a leading role on a team that has been largely perimeter-oriented in recent years. While there is some mention of how Duke’s lack of a featured true point guard in recent years has relegated the forward to supporting role status, Plumlee is optimistic about Tyler Thornton and Quinn Cook playing a more traditional distribution role.
  5. Raleigh News & Observer: Down Tobacco Road, North Carolina has it’s eye on not a senior but a freshman big man. Joel James, however, is not the typical UNC freshman post player. While recent seasons have showcased the acumen of UNC’s strength and training staff in turning post players who look more like “posts” than “players” into more muscular athletes ready to bang down low (see: Ed Davis, Tyler Zeller, John Henson and yes this year’s version, Brice Johnson), James arrived at Chapel Hill as big as any freshman in recent memory.  At 6’10″ and somewhere around 265 pounds, James offers true center size and muscle. Though relatively inexperienced as a basketball player, the coaches seem to be bullish on James and it looks like he may start his career as, well, a starter.
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ACC Team Previews: Clemson Tigers

Posted by KCarpenter on October 24th, 2012

Throughout the preseason, the ACC microsite will release a preview for each of the 12 teams. Today’s victim: the Clemson Tigers.

Last season, the Clemson Tigers flirted with sneaking into the NCAA Tournament before wilting in the conference tournament. Brad Brownell‘s squad go off to a dubious start, losing home games to the likes of Coastal Carolina and the College of Charleston and continuing shaky play on the road by losing to Hawaii and Boston College. Yet something strange happened as the season went on: The Tigers notched victories against North Carolina State, Virginia, and Florida State, finishing the season on a fairly impressive 5-2 run. It would have taken an unlikely run to the ACC Tournament championship game, but Clemson was not as impossibly far from dancing as their  16-14 record (8-8 in conference) might indicate. The question remains, however, can the Tigers move forward?

Brad Brownell Has a Young Team With a Tough Early Schedule Ahead of Him

Newcomers

The Tigers are going to welcome a whole raft of freshmen this season as Brownell tries to replenish the team’s depleted ranks. The freshmen class consists of a wide range of fairly talented recruits, though no one player is heralded as a game-changing savior. Adonis Filer and Jordan Roper are capable point guards, but this year they will, barring a surprise, come off the bench, serving as a second string in the guard rotation. Similarly, Landry Nnoko and Josh Smith are gifted big men, but they will almost certainly start behind the veteran Clemson frontcourt. Finally Jaron Blossomgame might be the slowest to be integrated into the rotation on account of a broken leg that he suffered last spring. Blossomgame, however, might be able to help the Tigers the most. Though he is small for an ACC power forward at 6’7″, he may be able to offer support at the swingman position, where Clemson only fields one prototypical small forward in K.J. McDaniels.

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ACC Summer Recess: Clemson Tigers

Posted by KCarpenter on July 24th, 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: Clemson.

Where They Stand Now

It’s hard to remember the momentum that Clemson had at the end of the season, but the Tigers really picked it up as the season wore on. After a dismal 3-6 conference start, Brad Brownell‘s team rallied and went 5-2 down the stretch, bringing the team to a perfectly even 8-8 finish. A first round conference tournament flameout against Virginia Tech didn’t exactly end the season on a high note, but it’s important to remember that this Clemson team managed to beat the likes of Florida State, Virginia, and North Carolina State over the course of the season. In all, last season was probably a step back for the Tigers, but nowhere close to the catastrophes that some of the other conference teams endured.

Who’s Leaving

The Tigers are taking a big blow to their rotation due to that scourge called graduation: sensational scorer Andre Young, the versatile Tanner Smith, and valuable rotation players in Catalin Baciu and Bryan Narcisse.  The loss of the two veteran starters, Young and Smith, will give the team a very different feel in the coming year. The pair easily led the rest of the team in minutes played in 2011-12.

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The Way Too Early ACC Freshmen Review

Posted by KCarpenter on February 3rd, 2012

It’s been something of a down year for sensational ACC freshmen after last year’s excellent class. Still there have been some real gems, and though the Rookie of the Year Honor was pretty much wrapped up by the time the first conference game was tipped, most spots on the ACC All-Freshman Team are wide open. A lot of highly-touted recruits have flopped or underperformed, a lot of talented guys haven’t won minutes over their more experienced teammates, and in general, the youngsters have played pretty inconsistently. If voting for the All-Freshmen team was held tomorrow, here’s who I would vote for.

  • G Austin Rivers (Duke)

Rivers Was Anointed An All-ACC Freshman a Long Time Ago

Barring a miracle, Rivers has Rookie of the Year wrapped up. Leading a top-flight Duke team, he’s the only freshman whose average has cracked double digits. He leads the balanced and talented Blue Devils with 14.1 PPG. Rivers game isn’t perfect; he struggles to do much beyond scoring and his offensive efficiency leaves something to be desired at 103.2. Still, he’s the leading scorer on the best offense in the ACC and that makes any other deficiency seem somewhat trivial. If highlight reel appearances were a statistical category, Rivers moves would leave all the other rookies in the dust.

  • G Shane Larkin (Miami)

With an expected backcourt of Malcom Grant and Durand Scott leading the talented Hurricanes, it didn’t seem like there was a lot of room for 5’11″ freshman like Larkin to get a lot of playing time beyond spells off the bench. Somehow though, Larkin proved so valuable to Jim Larranaga that the Hurricanes went to a three guard lineup starting the energetic guard alongside his more experienced teammates. In his first year, Larkin has already managed to jump to the top of the ACC steals charts, averaging 1.9 SPG alongside Lorenzo Brown and Jontel Evans. In terms of tempo-free statistics, Larkin leads the ACC, getting a steal on 4.8% of opponents posessions (this also happens to be the 14th best mark in the nation). Outside of being an all-round pest on defense, Larkin leads ACC freshmen with 2.5 APG and shoots a very respectable 37.5% from behind the arc. With these skills, Larkin is going to be breaking the hearts of other teams fans for the foreseeable future.

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ACC Evening Five: 12.19.11 Edition

Posted by mpatton on December 19th, 2011

He’s not in the ACC anymore, but Frank Haith is making a name for himself at Missouri. He certainly walked into a roster loaded with talent, but the players are thriving under his system. Vahe Gregorian of StlToday.com has a terrific profile of Haith’s seamless transition to the Big 12 as well as a look back at his past. It’s worth a read.

  1. Tar Heel Fan Blog: John Feinstein has a new book, One on One, which hit the shelves in time to pick it up for the holidays. The book was originally supposed to be a biography of Dean Smith, but Smith’s declining health forced Feinstein to change topics. The book is a collection of anecdotes from his years covering sports. Tar Heel Fan Blog posted a great anecdote about Feinstein’s interview with the legendary North Carolina coach. “You should never be proud of doing the right thing,” [Smith] said. “You should just do it.”
  2. Raleigh News & Observer: Rodney Purvis is focusing on more than basketball. He is also trying to be a strong student despite his learning disability. Being an elite athlete is like a full-time job, but Purvis’ mother claims they spend just as much, if not more, time working on academics. In addition to raising his SAT scores, this preparation should prove invaluable for Purvis once he gets to NC State.
  3. Wilmington Star News: Speaking of Christmas gifts for ACC fans, Brett Friedlander suggests Bethany Bradsher’s The Classic: How Everett Case and His Tournament Brought Big-Time Basketball to the South, which “chronicles the 12-year history of the late, great Dixie Classic. It’s a well-written, painstakingly researched account of a time during which basketball became an obsession in North Carolina, and an event whose importance went far beyond the games on the court.”
  4. Roanoke Times: Virginia Tech has a lot of young talent like Erick Green and Dorian Finney-Smith, but if the Hokies are going to reach their potential, they need seniors like Dorenzo Hudson and Victor Davila to step up. Against Campbell, both of the seniors–at least temporarily–snapped their slumps. Both led the team with 15 points. That’s the kind of production Seth Greenberg needs (and truthfully, maybe even more from Hudson) going forward from his leaders.
  5. Aiken Standard: Four Clemson freshmen got major playing time in the Tigers’ win over Winthrop. KJ McDaniels, Bernard Sullivan, TJ Sapp, and Rod Hall all saw major playing time in the 20-point victory. Brad Brownell claimed the increased playing time was a combination of improvement and trying to get some more experience for the freshmen. The experience probably won’t pay off much this year, but next year Brownell will need the young guys to step into the shoes of Andre Young and Tanner Smith, the team’s top scorers so far this season.

EXTRA: Syracuse‘s game against NC State was a reminder of two things. One, the Orange are really good and deserving of that #1 ranking (though I personally think they’re the fourth-best team in the country). Two, it was a reminder of the Bernie Fine scandal and the shadows surrounding college athletics. But the team hasn’t let the alleged crimes distract it. Mark Gottfried was impressed enough to think the Orange could make it to Louisiana this year.

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Conference Report Card: ACC

Posted by Brian Goodman on April 28th, 2011

Matt Patton is the RTC correspondent for the ACC.

Conference Recap

The ACC had a down year though North Carolina’s Kendall Marshall-led resurgence and Florida State’s Sweet Sixteen appearance helped a little bit. Before and during the season, Duke was the runaway favorite in the conference: Kyrie Irving’s toe injury obviously was the pivotal point that brought Duke back down to earth. Equally pivotal (in the reverse direction) was Marshall’s move to starting point guard for North Carolina. With Larry Drew II at the helm, there is no way the Tar Heels could have come close to surpassing Duke for the regular season title. The down year did not really surprise most people, and despite lofty preseason expectations (read: people forgot how highly rated North Carolina was to start the season) I think the perception is that the league at least lived up to preseason expectations with a couple of notable exceptions: NC State, Wake Forest, and Virginia Tech. NC State had NCAA Tournament talent, but did not come anywhere close to sniffing the Big Dance; Wake was arguably the worst major conference team in the country; and Virginia Tech once again found itself very highly seeded in the NIT. On the flip side, Clemson and Florida State both exceeded expectations.

Roy Williams and Kendall Marshall led a mid-season resurgence that resulted in a trip the Elite Eight. (News Observer/Robert Willitt)

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