Sentimental Value: On the Notion of an ACC Regular Season Crown

Posted by Christopher Kehoe on March 14th, 2014

Since many of the ACC’s founding members sprang from what was known as the ‘Southern Conference’ in 1953, the ACC adopted many of the SoCon’s mannerisms and bylaws. The Southern Conference traditionally anointed a champion via their postseason tournament and out of that came their postseason automatic bid. Ever since the ACC formalized the wording of a similarly fateful decision in 1961, the ACC regular season title has been all but a formality. The idea behind awarding a postseason victor in a short and somewhat chaotic multi-day tournament setting was to provide a free-for-all environment that was both entertaining and unpredictable. This ACC Tournament gave lower seeded teams who had a less successful regular season a chance at making The Big Dance. And back in the day and age where these rules were first enacted, only 15 teams were awarded chances at the NCAA Tournament, making a bid all that more valuable and cherished.

Is ACC Tournament success a strong indicator of NCAA Tournament success?

Is the ACC Tournament success a strong indicator of NCAA Tournament success? Florida State parlayed a win in the tournament in 2012 into a solid showing in the Big Dance.

In a format where games are played on top of each other with little or no rest or time to prepare, less superior teams would essentially be able to pull a win out regardless of their records. But while all the other major conferences today at least recognize officially the regular season champion, why has the ACC lagged behind is perplexing to say the least. The ACC finally began paying homage to the regular season winners in 1990, and retroactively recognized the winners from 1954-1989 in that same year. But why it took them so long, and why more conferences do not go along with the Ivy League method of a regular season champion is beyond me. ESPN‘s entrance into the foray and emphasis placed on Championship Week may have something to do with it, glamorizing the end of season postseason tournaments as bubble bursting madness.

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Rushed Reactions: Virginia 64, Florida State 51

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on March 14th, 2014

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ACC Microsite writers Matt Patton and Brad Jenkins will be reporting live from Greensboro at the 2014 ACC Tournament throughout the week.

Three Key Takeaways from Virginia’s ACC quarterfinal win over Florida State.

Virginia's Anthony Gill Slams Home Two of His 16 Points Off The Bench. (Photo: Robert Willett/newsobserver.com)

Virginia’s Anthony Gill Slams Home Two of His 16 Points Off The Bench.
(Photo: Robert Willett/newsobserver.com)

  1. Virginia got back to being Virginia. After allowing Maryland to score 1.14 points per possession in the last game of the regular season, the Cavaliers got back to doing what they do best – stifling opposing offenses. Florida State only managed 51 points in 59 possessions, which is much more in line with how Virginia played in the 17 ACC games prior to its season-ending loss at Maryland. The Cavaliers were particular stingy in the first 10 minutes of the second half, while extending a five-point halftime lead to a fifteen-point spread. For the game, Virginia forced 15 turnovers and limited Florida State to only three three-point baskets and 11 free throw attempts.
  2. Florida State appears headed to the NIT. The Seminoles are probably on the wrong side of the NCAA bubble. Most experts had them as one of the last four out of the bracket before today’s game, so this loss pretty much seals the deal. One of Florida State’s season-long problems, ball-handling, showed up again in this one, as the Seminoles committed seven turnovers in the game’s first 10 minutes. The early miscues kept Florida State from building an early lead. The Seminoles started the game aggressively and held a 5-0 edge in offensive rebounds early before Virginia methodically took control of the game. Senior Okaro White led the Seminoles with 17 points but only four came after half-time.
  3. Virginia is a deep and versatile basketball team. Another key to the game was Virginia’s bench led by Anthony Gill, who finished with 16 points and five rebounds in 26 minutes. Gill really came through in the first half, providing inside points and energy that was sorely needed with starting big men Akil Mitchell and Mike Tobey combining for only two first-half points. And with Malcolm Brogdon having his worst scoring game since ACC play began, senior Joe Harris responded with an aggressive offensive game. All this indicates the depth and versatility of this Virginia squad, making it hard on opposing teams to focus on any one or two players.

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ACC M5: 03.03.14 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on March 3rd, 2014

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  1. Charlottesville Daily Progress: First things first, Virginia showed the world it was ready for the bright lights with a doubter-silencing beatdown of Syracuse to clinch the ACC regular season title (its first since Ralph Sampson). Sure, you can still bag on the unbalanced schedule and the ugly non-conference games all you want, but this Virginia team isn’t playing games. The Cavaliers were the first team this year to beat Syracuse in convincing fashion, the fans stormed the floor, and the nets were cut down. Tony Bennett compared the noise at the game to a Taylor Swift concert. With the win, three ACC teams have a shot for the final one seed (assuming one wins out).
  2. Backing the Pack: Virginia wasn’t the only team to reach emotional extremes this week. NC State also finds itself on new ground under Mark Gottfried. For the first time since he was hired, the NCAA Tournament is effectively off the table (barring a miraculous ACC Tournament run) after getting blitzed by Miami at home. This team had really over-performed most people’s (including my own) expectations, so the loss wasn’t that surprising. Though it was icing on the cake after the brutal loss to North Carolina earlier last week. Now Gottfried has to show that he can motivate a team with new goals.
  3. Orlando Sentinel: Leonard Hamilton relies heavily on a mercurial sophomore class. Four play over 20 minutes a game, and Michael Ojo gets significant time off the bench. Unsurprisingly, the season has been somewhat of a roller coaster, dismantling a very good Virginia Commonwealth team early in the year and losing to Miami at home three weeks ago. The Seminoles hold a decent position on the bubble. They still have work to do, but a home finish against a reeling Syracuse team might be just what the bracketologist ordered.
  4. Washington Post: John Feinstein touches on a great point. Last week was the first big ACC game (from a national perspective) not involving Duke and North Carolina in a very long time. The last time Duke or North Carolina didn’t finish at least second in the regular season was 2003 when Wake Forest finished first and Maryland was second. Also a good point from Brian Gregory on the side effects of expansion: “I feel like I started out trying to construct a building,” Gregory said. “Just when I got the foundation built, I found out that someone has already built three new penthouse units on top of me.”
  5. Washington Post: Keeping things with Feinstein to close things out. It was Dean Smith‘s 83rd birthday Friday, so it’s worth reading a couple of anecdotes about him.

EXTRA: Jim Boeheim and Mike Krzyzewski went on Dan LeBatard’s radio show together and gave an amusing interview — especially the first few minutes. Suffice to say five years ago, no one and I mean no one would have expected Coach K to do an interview like this one.

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ACC M5: 02.24.14 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on February 24th, 2014

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  1. WRAL Sports Fan: What a game. Before we even get to the controversial call, Syracuse and Duke on Saturday night was another evenly-matched contest in one of the best atmospheres of the season. One thing that is lost in the early season tournaments that are increasingly drawing better lineups is the raucous home environments. Moving forward, I thought the call should have been a block (especially under the new rules), but it was a closer decision than many gave it credit for. To me Rodney Hood was set (his feat “shuffled,” but didn’t go anywhere), but he never quite got squared up with CJ Fair. A tough 50/50 call was bound to go against the Orange late there, but it’s unfortunate that it somewhat overshadowed a second terrific game. So with that said, let me second Adam Gold in saying that the ACC has to find a way to make this happen twice a year (and go ahead and queue up the same piece with North Carolina and Louisville for next season).
  2. Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician: Oh, and there was Jim Boeheim‘s rant that resulted in his ejection. It was epic. It was a perfect “10” in photoshop-ability. He also embraced it after the game, saying “I thought I got out there pretty good. I was quick; I stayed down; I didn’t get injured.” It was Boeheim’s first ejection in a non-preseason game, and to be clear, I don’t blame him for losing it. I don’t think he was “making a point” to the league or its officials, but I also don’t think the two techs cost his team the game either. Long story short: enjoy the meme.
  3. Sports Illustrated: Lastly, here’s a good preview from Pete Thamel that looked at the relationship between Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Boeheim. Other than their penchant for salty press conferences, age, and  significant figures in the wins column, there aren’t all that many similarities between Coach K and Boeheim. But their differences also probably help each other somewhat. Boeheim pointed to Krzyzewski’s ability to teach mental preparation. My guess is that Krzyzewski has learned some things beyond the intricacies of the 2-3 zone from Boeheim too.
  4. Washington Post: It’s always a treat when John Feinstein writes on the ACC. This time, he writes about Virginia and the 180 that the team did after Tennessee took them behind a woodshed in Knoxville. The Cavaliers now sit in control of their own destiny in sole possession of first place in the ACC. Likely favored to win the (increasingly unbalanced) ACC regular season title, they will almost certainly get a double-bye in next month’s ACC Tournament. The one big test remaining for Tony Bennett’s team — Syracuse at home — will also be a chance to confirm to the Selection Committee that this team is as good as its record.
  5. Tomahawk Nation: Leonard Hamilton‘s team has revived its NCAA chances with a win at Pittsburgh yesterday. Meanwhile, the Panthers likely earned themselves a very uncomfortable position on the bubble. One surprise is how much success that ACC teams are having at Pittsburgh this season, a school known for its great home-court advantage. Part of that may be that this team has over-performed against mediocre and poor teams. Regardless, we should have plenty to talk about with the NCAA Tournament bubble in this league during the last couple of weeks of conference play.
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Duke Dominates Florida State in Coach K’s 900th Win at Duke

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on January 26th, 2014

After a little over eight minutes of play Saturday afternoon in Cameron Indoor Stadium, Duke held an 11-10 lead over Florida State, but their coach was not pleased. During the second media timeout, Mike Krzyzewski ripped off his jacket and then proceeded to rip into his team. The Blue Devils responded by outscoring the Seminoles 32-15 during the remainder of the half and maintained a double-figure lead throughout, winning 78-56. It was a milestone win for Krzyzewski, who joined Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim as the only coaches with 900 career wins at a single school.

Mike Krzyzewski Fires up Duke During First Half versus Florida State. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Mike Krzyzewski Fires up Duke During  the First Half versus Florida State.
(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Here’s what had Coach K so upset. Duke had executed the defensive game plan well early, forcing Florida State into seven turnovers before that second media timeout, but the Blue Devils had wasted that effort with otherwise casual play – four turnovers of their own, 3-of-16 shooting, and only two free throw attempts. Perhaps even more troubling was the four consecutive fast break opportunities that his team had allowed Florida State during that time. Duke was fortunate that the Seminoles only converted on two of those chances with Ian Miller missing a wide-open three and Robert Gilchrist misfiring on those two attempts from the line. From that point on, Duke was much more aggressive. Even though the Blue Devils struggled to make shots — as most teams do against the tall and athletic Seminoles — the Blue Devils found other ways to score. Duke dominated the boards, grabbing more offensive rebounds (27) than Florida State did in total (24), and repeatedly attacked the basket, shooting 43 free throws compared to 18 for the Seminoles. Duke also had a huge edge in bench points (42-11) but part of that was because Rodney Hood (18 points) was unable to start the game due to an interesting uniform issue that required him to borrow shorts from a teammate.

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Florida State Has Returned To Its Old Ways Defensively

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on December 23rd, 2013

After missing the NCAA Tournament in 2012-13, this season Florida State has the look of the Seminole squads that made four straight trips to the Big Dance in the previous four seasons. That means a return to the kind of defense that Leonard Hamilton‘s prior teams have been known for. This was confirmed in Saturday’s 60-55 win over previously unbeaten and #22 ranked Massachusetts in the Orange Bowl Classic. The Minutemen were held well under their season scoring average of 84 coming into the game and the win improved Florida State’s record to 8-3.

Leonard Hamilton

Leonard Hamilton Has Florida State Playing Great Defense Again

A look at the numbers confirms the fact that this Florida State team is performing almost identically to those during the four-year stretch (2008-09 through 2011-12) that made the NCAA Tournament. The statistics also reveal just how different the Seminoles were in 2012-13 and why that team ended the NCAA Tournament streak with a subpar 18-16 record.

This year’s FSU team is currently ranked #27 in Ken Pomeroy’s overall rankings, which is right in line with their NCAA Period average final ranking of 29.5 and much better than last season’s #121. The improvement is entirely on the defensive end of the court. Last year, Florida State’s #82 finish in Pomeroy’s offensive efficiency was actually better than their NCAA Period average of #126. But after a Pomeroy average of #6 in defensive efficiency during their NCAA Period, the Seminoles dropped all the way down to #190 last season. This year’s team has brought that back to where Hamilton is used to seeing it, currently at #7 in the nation.

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ACC M5: 11.22.13 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on November 22nd, 2013

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  1. College Basketball Talk: Huge props to Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton. I think we’ll look back on yesterday’s game seeing that Virginia Commonwealth was somewhat overrated, but the Seminoles gave the Rams an old-fashioned woodshed beating in Puerto Rico. Hamilton’s team has gotten back to its defensive principles this season, and the Seminoles dominated the game from a shot selection standpoint. This team plays smart basketball and is undefeated with a road win against a decent Central Florida team and last night’s whipping of a very good VCU squad. Maybe it’ll turn out to be a flash in the pan, but right now Florida State has the best resume in the ACC by a mile.
  2. ESPN: While this article was only published yesterday, I imagine it was written before Boston College got off to a 1-4 start. Now that start includes a really close loss to Connecticut (Olivier Hanlan missed a layup to tie the game with 11 seconds left), but it also includes a puzzling home loss to Toledo. I still like this team’s makeup and think the Eagles will be a tough game for everyone in the conference. I really think the Eagles have struggled learning to play as a front-runner rather than a plucky underdog. But Steve Donahue has to turn things around quickly — it’s very difficult to make the Big Dance after such a slow start.
  3. Hampton Roads Daily Press: Duke athletic director Kevin White is “unabashedly bullish” on an ACC-centric cable channel in the near future (circa 2016). I tend to disagree. While the network may provide a short-term financial boon, I think the cable TV market is moving quickly towards an online a la carte service. This isn’t to say having a talented and devoted production team wouldn’t be beneficial, but everyone points to the Big Ten Network with its high revenues when I believe it may prove to be a hindrance as people begin to purchase television differently. This will be an interesting story to follow over the next few years.
  4. Washington Post: Jarrell Eddie apparently learned a lot as Erick Green‘s roommate last season. And while the advice he got isn’t mind-blowing, it’s interesting to see how businesslike Green was in his approach to the game: “You’ve got to be in the gym all the time.” The Hokies will only go as far this year as Eddie will take them. He has the potential to be a very good scorer, and as one of two seniors on the squad it’s up to him to set the standards for the team. He admits to being complacent last year (citing it as a reason for his inconsistency), but any complacency this year will prove far worse, as Green isn’t around anymore to save the day.
  5. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: With struggling attendance, Georgia Tech is trying some creative marketing tactics to get people to come to its games. I don’t understand this at all, but if you buy your ticket through LivingSocial, you get to shoot a free throw after the game (along with a more sensical hot dog and soda). The free throw isn’t for a contest or anything. Presumably you just wait in line with the other people who sat in the upper deck with LivingSocial tickets and then line one up from the charity stripe afterward. I don’t understand it, but might as well give it a shot, right?
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ACC M5: 11.19.13 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on November 19th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Run The Floor: Expect a break from the constant “ACC is the best conference ever” articles we got used to in the preseason. The conference’s performance to date has been less than satisfactory, to say the least, which Michael Rogner makes very obvious with the categories: “Could have been a statement win but wasn’t,” “Losses at home to plucky mid-majors,” “Home losses to teams which were beaten by Coppin State or Winthrop,” and “Losses to teams whose mascot is a yippy dog wearing a sweater.” Bottom line: The best conference on paper is sputtering a bit at the start. Also, Boston College fans should be very wary of the team’s slow start if they have any NCAA Tournament hopes at all.
  2. College Basketball Talk: Everyone get ready for the semi-annual “Roy Williams can’t coach” meme after a lackluster start from the lineup challenged Tar Heels. Now’s the time everyone will take quotes and throw on their imaginary coaching hats where they are sure they could do more than Williams with the current roster. But here’s the thing: North Carolina is playing a lot of people (read: the rotation at center and members of the eligible backcourt not named Marcus Paige) either before they’re ready, or out of position. Rob Dauster makes an important point that Williams is likely focused on getting players acclimated to his system. But another worthwhile point is that this roster is going to struggle without PJ Hairston.
  3. Richmond Times-Dispatch: Trevor Thompson has been a very pleasant surprise this season for Virginia Tech. The team’s relative success has also been a surprise — especially considering the conference’s lackluster start (see above). Thompson has earned a spot in the rotation, though with CJ Barksdale‘s return last night his role probably will be more limited. Regardless, Thompson played well in the second and third games of the season. James Johnson desperately needs depth at the forward position, so Barksdale’s suspension may end up being a positive for the Hokies.
  4. Tomahawk Nation: Ian Miller drew a lot of praise from Leonard Hamilton following Florida State‘s win against Tennessee-Martin. Obviously, the level of competition for Florida State hasn’t been high thus far (though a road win against UCF will likely prove valuable), but right now Miller appears to be getting back to the player many thought he could be until his injury last year. Miller was known as an explosive scorer, but has worked very hard the last two years at getting better on defense. If he can become a good defender, it will help the Seminoles dramatically on the perimeter. The real test will come this Thursday against Virginia Commonwealth. The Rams and their havoc defense look like trouble for turnover-prone Florida State, but Devon Bookert and Miller are much better than they were a year ago. If they can limit turnovers and Ram fast breaks, I like Florida State’s chance at keeping things competitive.
  5. Fox Sports Carolinas: Lauren Brownlow highlighted the best and worst from early ACC play. Surprise finisher on her week’s All-ACC team? Donnavan Kirk. For the record, any Miami player making the list will be somewhat of a surprise this year. Brownlow also highlighted two Maryland players — Shaquille Cleare and Nick Faust – whose struggles have been killing the Terrapins this season. Cleare managed more turnovers than points and assists in the loss to Oregon State, while Faust’s career-long shooting slump has continued into his junior season. Strangely enough, Faust had the reputation of a shooter coming into College Park as a freshman. To be fair, maybe he’s just trying to make up for Pe’Shon Howard‘s transfer.

EXTRA: Yesterday marked Len Bias’ would-be 50th birthday. Here’s a great article on Bias from Mike Wilbon’s archives.

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ACC Team Preview: Florida State Seminoles

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on November 4th, 2013

The 2012-13 Florida State Seminoles could best be described as one of the luckiest unlucky teams in recent ACC history. Coming off the school’s first ACC basketball championship the year prior, the Seminoles only returned four players and two of those suffered through difficult, injury-plagued seasons. Terrance Shannon and Ian Miller combined to miss 16 games and were never at 100 percent for the rest. Freshman Devon Bookert didn’t miss any games but was hobbled for the first half of the season while recovering from a preseason knee injury.

Florida State Preview

Now for the lucky part – Florida State’s record in close games. Counting a 73-69 win over Clemson in the ACC Tournament, the Seminoles were 9-1 in ACC games decided by five points or less. In games decided by three points or fewer, they were 6-0. Michael Snaer’s clutch play was certainly a factor in that record, but in those one-possession games you can’t just look at the last shot of the game. In such tight contests, any single possession throughout the game may have changed the outcome. That means one shot that rattled in instead of out, one bad call by an official, or one bounce of the ball off a random leg could make the difference in the game.

ESPN Insider John Gasaway looked at this in detail and wrote, “Indeed it’s not too much to say that Florida State was historically lucky in 2012-13, posting a 9-9 record in ACC play when the Seminoles’ level of performance would ordinarily fetch the team a 5-13 mark, or even quite possibly 4-14. Statistically, it was the most fortunate conference season recorded by any ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12 or SEC team in the last four seasons, meaning what the Seminoles did ranks No. 1 on a list with no fewer than 295 team-seasons.” Wow.

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ACC M5: 10.29.13 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on October 29th, 2013

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  1. Run the Floor: Michael Rogner released his ACC preview and it’s worth a look. It can be biting (poor Paul Jesperson), but it’s a good read to catch up on all the teams around the conference in one place. The most interesting question raised in the preview is about Florida State’s defense. One argument for why the Seminoles suffered last season is that their front line was very young. This year the seven-footers are all a year older, but it’s unclear if one is ready to take charge of the paint. It may be another bizarro year in Tallahassee for Leonard Hamilton‘s team where his offense is better than his defense — especially if Ian Miller stays healthy.
  2. AP (via Fox Sports): Brian Gregory is a little noncommittal about Georgia Tech’s potential success this season. He sounds optimistic but quickly points out that the Yellow Jackets have a ways to go. One thing that you should know about his team is that they are talented. Not stacked like some teams in the league, but better and more experienced than you might think. Unfortunately, that was also true of Gregory’s Dayton teams that always seemed to have an offensive ceiling. Georgia Tech is definitely moving in the right direction as a program, but if it’s not significantly better offensively this year, there will be cause for concern.
  3. CBSSports.com: Yesterday morning, it was unclear when we’ll know about PJ Hairston‘s suspension. According to Roy Williams the decision should be made before the season opener in two weeks. He also offered this gem of a Williams-ism when asked about Hairston’s status:

    “Well crap, the NCAA made a decision on (Texas A&M quarterback) Johnny Manziel in frickin’ two days… It’s not all my choice kind of thing. I really don’t believe I’ll suspend him for half a game either.”

  4. AP: Brad Brownell is finding his silver lining in that next season the Tigers will return all their best players. That’s because he doesn’t have any seniors. Brownell is right, though — this is the turning point where Clemson becomes his program. But he’s also in a tough spot this season because the team relied so heavily on Devin Booker and Milton Jennings last year. KJ McDaniels is a very good player, but Booker was criminally underrated on both ends of the floor. Continuity may end up being great, but Brownell needs standouts for Clemson to get to the next level in the ACC.
  5. Duke Report: Non-Duke fans may want to avoid this interview with Christian Laettner (don’t worry, the video below is still awesome), who now has a basketball academy where he goes around doing coaching clinics for teams across the country (the best part that fits his personality perfectly: He offers a discount to teams in Kentucky and Connecticut because of the pain his buzzer beaters caused). Laettner offers advice to the incoming freshmen and talks noncommittally about moving up to coaching. He also douses Mike Krzyzewski in praise throughout the interview. It’s a good but a little over the top read.

EXTRA: Uncle Drew is back and still awesome.

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Florida State and Maryland’s Turnover Quandary: Which School Can Fix the Problem?

Posted by Brad Jenkins on October 17th, 2013

If you are looking for the main thing holding back Maryland and Florida State from greater success last season, look no further than sloppy ball-handling. Those two teams finished right in the middle of the ACC standings, but also finished in the bottom two in conference game turnover percentage. The average team in the nation turned the ball over on 20% of its offensive possessions. In conference play, the ACC average was even better at 18.4%. Maryland was dead last in the league at 22.4% with Florida State slightly better at 21.2%. To put that in perspective, in an average game of 66 possessions, Maryland would turn the ball over three more times than an average ACC team. That’s three fewer scoring opportunities for a team that wasn’t all that great at shooting the ball anyway. The same was basically true with Florida State.  So does either squad look primed to reverse their turnover woes this year? The answer is that probably only one of these two squads has the ability and the will power to make it happen.

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Mark Turgeon Points to Better Ballhandling in 2013-14

Maryland looks to be the team with the best chance to break that heavy turnover chain on the offense. For starters, Mark Turgeon clearly is aware of the problem and has a goal of fixing it. In a September ESPN podcast he discussed it with Andy Katz and Seth Greenberg. In part of the interview he talked about trying to get better with ball-handling during the team’s summer trip, when he said, “We’ve worked really hard on a lot of things since the season ended. We weren’t great with the ball in the Bahamas, either. Some games, we were pretty good. One of the games, we were pretty bad, so it looked like last year. So it’s something we haven’t corrected but continue to think about.” Another thing is that Turgeon does not have a bad track record as a coach in this area. In fact from 2006-10 at Wichita State and Texas A&M, his teams finished among the top 90 teams in the country in this metric. Turgeon also knows that junior wing Dez Wells is a key to the team’s overall improvement because Wells’ 108 turnovers in 2012-13 are extremely high for a wing player. Even with two young point guards learning on the fly — freshman Roddy Peters and sophomore Seth Allen — look for Maryland to at least get close to the league average in offensive turnover percentage this season. That should be enough to give the Terps a good enough overall offense to reach their goal of becoming an NCAA Tournament team.

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Morning Five: 07.05.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 5th, 2013

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  1. Brad Stevens, Brad Stevens, Brad Stevens. The talk of the college basketball world has been centered on the Wednesday afternoon announcement that the Butler head coach was leaving his post for the glamour and riches of the NBA’s Boston Celtics. Everyone, of course, has an opinion on this bold and very surprising move, so let’s sum up what folks are saying. First, from the Brad Stevens/Celtics side: Adrian Wojnarowski writes that Stevens represents the “changing face of [NBA] coaches” in its new era of statistical analytics; the Indy Star‘s Bob Kravitz says that he can’t blame Stevens for jumping to the league; Fox Sports‘ Reid Forgrave calls the move a “gutsy” one on the part of Danny Ainge and the Celtics; while SI.com‘s Ben Golliver argues that the Celtics’ decision to pluck a successful college head coach with no NBA experience is a worthwhile risk. As we tweeted when we heard the news on Wednesday, the move makes sense from a logical standpoint, but it just doesn’t feel right. Stevens embodied our perhaps romantic notion of a college lifer, and in the NBA, coaches are hired to be fired. It’s hard to see him not coming back to our game sooner rather than later.
  2. The other angle in this story is what will happen to Butler without Stevens now leading the program? As our own Chris Johnson writes, the loss of a superstar like Stevens cannot be overstated — the program will absolutely take a hit, regardless of who is chosen to replace him. The most recent report suggests that either Butler assistant Brandon Miller or Michigan assistant Lavall Jordan will get the job, with Miller presumably holding the inside track given the school’s 24-year run of promoting coaches from within the program (although Jordan has more Butler experience). The general sentiment among the hoops cognoscenti is that Butler will figure out a way to still be Butler. SI.com‘s Andy Glockner writes that Butler is in great position to remain relevant and successful, regardless of who they hire to take over for Stevens. The Sporting News‘ Mike DeCourcy thinks that the program may have a bit of a rude awakening with a new head coach suffering the indignities of a brutal Big East round-robin schedule next winter. But both Pat Forde and Matt Norlander move beyond that angle, arguing that college basketball as a whole is the real loser in Stevens’ move to the Celtics. Can’t disagree with that at all.
  3. From a coach on the way out of the college game to one sticking around, Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton received an extension through 2016-17 (and a $750,000 raise, to boot) to remain in Tallahassee as the head coach of the Seminoles. The timing is somewhat surprising given that FSU last year suffered its worst season (18-16) in nearly a decade under Hamilton’s tutelage, but his previous four years of NCAA Tournament appearances and an ACC Championship certainly show that Hamilton has his program in overall good shape. His new salary of $2.25 million annually puts him second behind only Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in terms of salaries among ACC coaches.
  4. We’re 51 weeks away from next season’s NBA Draft, but Mike DeCourcy took time during his Starting Five column this week to break down how he sees the top five picks going for 2014 (let’s just say that one-and-done is prominently featured). He also takes time to rip both FIBA — for its appalling lack of television broadcast options for the U-19 team — and Georgetown recruit LJ Peak, whose “psyche-out” trick using the school hats of suitors South Carolina and the Hoyas left a really bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths (ourselves included).
  5. Let’s finish the holiday week with some really good news on the health front: ESPN’s highlighter aficianado Digger Phelps has been declared cancer-free related to his bladder cancer diagnosis earlier this year. In just over one 12-month period, Phelps had survived both prostate and now bladder cancer, so it’s been a wild but ultimately successful year for the 72-year old television personality and former head coach. Phelps takes a lot of heat for some of his takes on ESPN’s Gameday show, but he’s always entertaining and we certainly hope that these health problems will remain behind him so that we can all enjoy many more years of green tie/highlighter pairings from January to March each season.
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