On NC State and Gambling: Why the Wolfpack Defense Has to Improve, Or Else

Posted by mpatton on January 10th, 2013

Matt Patton (@rise_and_fire) is an RTC correspondent and an ACC microsite writer. He filed this report after NC State’s win over Georgia Tech last night in Raleigh.

NC State is probably the second best team in the ACC. The Wolfpack are experienced and talented. But they’re also a mixed bag thanks to their less than stellar defensive efficiency. The Wolfpack is a team of runs on both ends of the floor. These aren’t the normal runs of basketball cliche, they’re the runs of a degenerate gambler. On defense the gambler is often Rodney Purvis leaking out before NC State secures the rebound. Nearly two-thirds of the time, it’s a good gamble because the Wolfpack corrals the rebound. Otherwise NC State’s defense struggles to get reset, and the opponent gets a second chance with the odds in its favor. On offense the gambler is generally Lorenzo Brown or CJ Leslie looking for the home run play but instead turning the ball over.

Rodney Purvis is already an emotional leader for NC State. (Photo: Ethan Hyman / Raleigh News & Observer)

Rodney Purvis is already an emotional leader for NC State. (Photo: Ethan Hyman / Raleigh News & Observer)

Those runs outlasted Boston College and Georgia Tech in the final minutes. Experience, talent and conditioning helped too. Those runs almost brought the Wolfpack back from what looked like a blowout against Michigan. Those runs never made an appearance in Oklahoma State’s rout of the Wolfpack. The runs come at a defensive cost, but NC State’s offense is elite because of its defensive gambles. It is unstoppable in transition for four reasons: the Purvis leak, Brown is a terror leading the break, Leslie runs the floor as anyone without the last name “Zeller,” and the icing on the cake is Wood trailing after that. Long story short, everyone but Richard Howell (one of the best defensive rebounders in the ACC) is a great option. Lots of options with a capable floor general leads to transition success better or comparable to any team in the country.

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ACC M5: 12.21.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on December 21st, 2012

morning5_ACC

  1. Chicago Tribune: Apparently some marginal prospect quietly and unobtrusively decided to accept a basketball scholarship to a little known college yesterday. Just kidding. Jabari Parker is going to Duke because he liked the school and thought Michigan State wasn’t a great fit with Branden Dawson already filling the role that Parker expects to play. It’s a huge get for Duke as Parker was the clear number one prospect in the Class of 2013 before Andrew Wiggins decided to reclassify.
  2. State of the U: He’s not Jabari Parker, but Miami landed a nice verbal commitment for the season after next in four-star shooting guard Adonys Henriquez. Head coach Jim Larranaga and his staff have been busy trying to prepare the Hurricanes program for the departure of its veteran core. Since Henriquez is in the high school Class of 2014, he won’t be able to provide immediate help next season, but it is good to see that the recruiting work of Miami is bearing some fruit.
  3. Washington Post: If you are undecided in terms of a potential career, I’d like to recommend becoming an assistant coach for the Maryland Terrapins. Apparently assistant Dalonte Hill is due a $25,000 bonus if Maryland makes the NCAA Tournament, while Bino Ranson and Scott Spinelli only receive $16,667 in bonus pay if the team goes dancing. Hill makes $307,440 in guaranteed pay, while Spinelli makes only $207,440. Ranson gets $182,400 with an extra $25,000 for media work. Sure the hours are long, the travel is crazy, and there is little to any semblance of job security, but when you make that much as an assistant, it doesn’t seem like such a bad trade-off.
  4. Yahoo! Sports: North Carolina is not very good at basketball this year and people are talking about it after the Tar Heels were embarrassed against Texas on Wednesday night. The reasons why North Carolina is losing aren’t complicated: bad defense, wildly inconsistent offense, and a seeming inability to compete with the top rebounders in college basketball. If there is any solace in these problems, it’s the simple fact that these are fairly common issues for a team that is relying heavily on inexperienced big men. These things happen while power forwards and centers figure out how to be effective on the collegiate level. The good news is that most of these players will almost certainly get better with experience and time. Unfortunately for the Tar Heels, with conference play mere weeks away, the team really doesn’t really have that much time to jump-start this season.
  5. Wilmington Star News: The Bob Cousy Award watch list was announced this week and it includes seven ACC players. The fairly comprehensive list has 80 names, but it will be cut down to 20 by New Year’s Day. Of the seven, Erick Green and Lorenzo Brown are probably playing at the highest level, but Quinn Cook and Pe’Shon Howard are very talented distributors on good teams (a factor that probably plays a bigger role than most would care to admit). Shane Larkin is in a similar situation to Howard, but both probably need superlative performances to make the cut.  Freshman Montay Brandon of Florida State is unlikely to make the next round since there are at least two other players on his own team who are probably better point guards than him (Devon Bookert and Ian Miller have higher assist percentages and offensive efficiency scores). Dexter Strickland is unlikely to be listed as one of the nation’s top 20 point guards, mostly because he plays at the point guard position for fewer than 10 minutes a game, spending the bulk of his time at shooting guard.
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Night Line: Richard Howell is a Crucial Piece For Evolving Wolfpack

Posted by BHayes on December 19th, 2012

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Bennet Hayes is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @HoopsTraveler on Twitter. Night Line runs on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s games.

Fresh off a Sweet Sixteen run a year ago and carrying a roster bursting with raw ability, NC State began the season as one of the sexier national title contenders. Pack star CJ Leslie was voted ACC Preseason Player of the Year, pundits touted Lorenzo Brown as the nation’s best point guard, and Scott Wood found many a short list of the nation’s best shooters. Heck, even the incoming freshman class was bringing the buzz, as three ESPN Top-50 recruits made the roster that much scarier. There certainly are plenty of reasons for optimism residing on that NC State roster, but one of the most important ones has too often been overlooked. Richard Howell’s game lacks the sizzle of his more celebrated teammates, but the 6’8” forward’s dependable contributions have been crucial for this enigmatic team. Howell quietly posted another double-double (his fourth straight) in NC State’s 88-79 win over Stanford tonight, and as the talented Pack continues to move forward and carve out an identity, rest assured that the gritty senior will be the rock at the core of the evolution.

His Game May Not Always Be Pretty, But Richard Howell Consistently Produces

His Game May Not Be Pretty, But Richard Howell Consistently Produces

Howell nearly averaged a double-double a season ago, posting season averages of 10.8 points and 9.2 rebounds per game.  He’s upped those numbers to 14.1/9.6 this year, and has shot an eye-popping 63% from the field as an upperclassman.  Ironically, the most telling Howell statistic may be his three-point shooting numbers from the last two years – 0-of-2 on three-point attempts.  In an era loaded with bigs too often dreaming of being J.J. Redick, it’s refreshing to see a guy who knows, glamorous or not, where he’s most effective to his team. But Howell’s contributions go well beyond the stat sheet. On a team that has been accused of careless and disinterested play at times, the senior is a source of relentless energy — a bruising, tough banger who rarely takes a play off. Furthermore, as Mark Gottfried preaches the value of a consistent, focused effort on both ends of the floor to the enigmatic Leslie, he can instruct his star to simply turn and look at the guy next to him, for Howell is the perfect embodiment of those principles.

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Set Your DVR: Week of 12.18.12

Posted by bmulvihill on December 18th, 2012

setDVR

Brendon Mulvihill is the head curator for @SportsGawker and an RTC contributor. You can find him @TheMulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

We are in the midst of the calm before the conference season storm. Students are finishing up finals and preparing to head home for the holidays. We have a few interesting match-ups to keep an eye on this week, so make sure to put them on as you finish up your holiday wrapping. Let’s get to the breakdowns.

Last year's Cincinnati-Xavier brawl was ugly, so now everyone loses next season (AP Photo)

Let’s Hope We Don’t Have Another Scene Like This in the Xavier-Cincinnati Game on Wednesday (AP)

Stanford at North Carolina State  9:00 PM EST, Tuesday on ESPN2 (***)

  • Last season, Stanford was outshot by NC State but ended up winning the game at the free throw line. It’s not reasonable to think they can pull the upset this year on the road given the offensive struggles the Cardinal is having. Since Johnny Dawkins took over the Stanford program in 2009, the Cardinal have never experienced a two-point field goal percentage over 50%. This year is no different, as the team is currently at 46% from two (26% from three). I don’t know the road record of teams shooting under 50% from inside the arc, but I have to imagine it’s not good. With losses to the three best teams they have faced thus far — Belmont, Missouri, and Minnesota — the Cardinal are in desperate need of a signature win prior to the Pac-12 conference season. The shooting and talent gap with NC State may be too difficult for them to overcome, especially in Raleigh. NC State is shooting the ball extremely well and is led by talented offensive threats like C.J. Leslie and Lorenzo Brown. You will still want to keep an eye on the free throw situation, though. In both of their losses this season, the Wolfpack put their opponents on the line much more than they were able to get there. If Chasson Randle is pushing the action and driving to the hoop, Stanford can stay in this game. If the Wolfpack can play solid defense without fouling him, it should be curtains for the Cardinal.

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ACC M5: 12.17.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on December 17th, 2012

morning5_ACC

  1. The Telegraph: Georgia Tech is about to look different. Stacey Poole, a sophomore transfer from Kentucky, is now eligible to play for the Yellow Jackets and his younger brother Solomon Poole was recently cleared by the NCAA as well. The brothers were both highly-rated guards in high school and have the potential to make a big difference for Brian Gregory’s team. While Mfon Udofia and Brandon Reed offer veteran leadership at the guard spots, the Poole brothers offer the team additional depth and some breathing room that the guard rotation has been missing.
  2. Sun Sentinel: Miami may have a team loaded with veteran talent, but sophomore Shane Larkin has become a major key to the Hurricanes’ early success. The speedy point guard has been an ironman, playing more available minutes (88.2%) than any other player in the conference. With an increased scoring responsibility, Larkin has responded by taking his shooting to a higher level. His true shooting percentage is 68.1%, as Larkin is posting truly gaudy numbers from the field. While his shooting is likely to cool off as the season wears on, the sophomore’s greatly improved play will be key to a potential match-up against Arizona in the Diamond Head Classic.
  3. Fox Sports South: Few players are as important to their team as NC State’s Lorenzo Brown. While the Wolfpack is loaded with talent, Brown is the clear catalyst that turns a group of talented players into a truly effective team. It’s no secret to the team or to their opponents that the fortunes of Mark Gottfried’s team hinge on the combo guard. When Brown plays well, the team wins; and when he doesn’t, the team struggles. With apologies to freshman Tyler Lewis, Brown is the team’s only proven distributor and playmaker. As talented as this team is, without an active playmaker, their ball movement and offense grinds to a halt. It’s just like the old proverb says: As Lorenzo Brown goes, so goes the Wolfpack.
  4. SB Nation:  Boston College center Dennis Clifford is apparently close to returning to action after a right ankle injury sidelined the sophomore. Though BC has several talented options at the forward position, Clifford is a true seven-footer who is a capable and proven running mate for Ryan Anderson. Fellow sophomore KC Caudill has been used sparingly by head coach Steve Donahue this season, while Andrew Van Nest, the 6’10” transfer from Harvard, has struggled to see consistent minutes.
  5. Tallahassee Democrat: What’s wrong with Florida State? Everyone’s favorite ACC parlor game took a turn for the intense when the Seminoles lost three in a row, and the team’s most recent landslide win against hapless Maine on December 9 did little to assure fans that the defending ACC Tournament champions were ready to repeat. So what’s wrong with Florida State? Maybe it’s the freshmen. In recent years, no one would dare call Leonard Hamilton’s teams “soft,” but that’s the very concern that the coach lays out when discussing his new post players who simply aren’t yet accustomed to the tenacious and physical play inside that has been a hallmark of the Seminoles in recent years.
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Set Your DVR: Week of 12.04.12

Posted by bmulvihill on December 4th, 2012

Brendon Mulvihill is the head curator for @SportsGawker and an RTC contributor. You can find him @TheMulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

It’s Jimmy V. Week and the college football regular season has come to end. That means college hoops takes center stage at universities across the country and we couldn’t be happier. Let’s get to the breakdowns.

#16 Georgetown vs. Texas – 7:00 PM EST, Tuesday on ESPN (***)

Expect Otto Porter to Bounce Back Against Texas (AP/R. Sutton)

  • The big question in the Georgetown-Texas game is where are the points going to come from on both sides. The Hoyas are coming off the ugliest game college basketball has seen in quite some time. While they beat Tennessee on Friday night by a score of 37-36, coach John Thompson III cannot be happy with how his team is performing on the offensive end. On the other side, the Longhorns are struggling to score as well. They are shooting an eFG% of 48.7% on the season against teams like UT-Arlington, Sam Houston State, and Chaminade (a game in which they lost). Expect this game to be a defensive slugfest. No one wants to see a disaster similar to Georgetown-Tennessee, but this game has that kind of feel. The Hoyas have the length advantage once again in this match-up and should be able to take advantage on the boards, and it’s unlikely that Georgetown forward Otto Porter will be held in check again. So keep a close eye on how he responds to his eight-point performance on 4-11 shooting against the Vols. While the Texas defense has been strong, their competition does not give us much to go on. The Longhorns will continue to struggle without point guard Myck Kabongo in the lineup regardless.

#21 North Carolina State vs. Connecticut  9:00 PM EST, Tuesday on ESPN (***)

  • Since UConn’s surprise win against Michigan State in the opener, the Huskies have come back to earth and played very mediocre basketball. A close win against Quinnipiac and a loss to New Mexico showed that Kevin Ollie’s team still has a lot of work to do. NC State is on the verge of a very disappointing non-conference season already with losses to Oklahoma State and Michigan, and a too-close-for-comfort game against UNC-Asheville. The good news for the Wolfpack is that their offense performed much better against Michigan, shooting almost 60% eFG in the loss. Look to see if they can put together a complete game for the first time this season against a quality opponent. The guard match-ups between UConn’s Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright and NC State’s Rodney Purvis and Lorenzo Brown should be fun to watch. However, the difference in this one should be the Wolfpack’s frontcourt of C.J. Leslie and T.J. Warren. NC State just has more scoring options across the lineup than the Huskies.

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ACC M5: 11.20.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on November 20th, 2012

  1. CBS Sports and USA Today: Surprising no one, conference realignment chatter dominated ACC press with Maryland‘s official announcement that it would accept the Big Ten’s invitation and join that league in 2014. But where should the ACC go from here? Matt Norlander argues that the league should embrace its basketball roots looking forward. Dan Wolken spoke with David Wilkins, chairman of Clemson’s Board of Trustees, who added, “I’d say that Clemson is very excited about our football program right now and we’d like to see a team added that adds to the football prowess of the ACC, but that’s a decision for the presidents to make based on a lot of factors.” Stability-wise, the conference needs to put football first or not expand at all. Basketball just doesn’t make enough money for conferences with the way the NCAA television deals are currently set up.
  2. Sporting News: Mike DeCourcy is not impressed by Maryland’s decision. He makes a good point that despite why decisions are made (ahem, money), we’ll evaluate their success by how Maryland sports do in the Big Ten. The going theory has been that more money means more success, but DeCourcy makes an interesting point that Maryland is making itself into a geographic outlier. It’s true that in the age of chartered jets teams might not care as much about close road games, but parents and potential recruits do.
  3. Tallahassee Democrat: Terrance Shannon loves coming off the bench so much that he went to Leonard Hamilton before the season to make sure he could still fill the Seminoles’ sixth man role. Luckily for Florida State, Shannon does well coming off the bench. The best asset he has is his motor, which makes him invaluable as a substitute by adding energy to the game. It’s rare that you see a college player who’s both motivated and willing to not start, which speaks to Shannon’s maturity and one reason why Hamilton’s program has been so successful the last few years.
  4. Charlotte Observer: NC State got a harsh reality check from a good Oklahoma State team over the weekend. The game saw miserable performances out of veterans Lorenzo Brown and CJ Leslie. Joe Giglio damningly noted that Leslie looked like “old Leslie,” the immature and indecisive Leslie from his freshman year. Brown struggled on both ends of the floor, with his defense probably reflecting a general level of frustration.
  5. SBNation: And one last shout-out to conference expansion. Jason Kirk lays out a very good argument for the ACC taking Louisville over Connecticut: (1) it gives Notre Dame a close geographic rival while making the conference footprint more contiguous; (2) it’s a much better football program with decent local recruiting; and (3) the Cardinal athletic department is just more profitable than Connecticut’s by a long shot. The only drawback is Louisville’s academics, but right now the ACC has a very strong academic brand and needs to buck up its football cachet, not the other way around.
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ACC M5: Opening Night Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on November 9th, 2012

  1. Washington Post: While most of the ACC is starting out their season (tonight!) with some overmatched competition (with apologies to Virginia who will take on George Mason), Maryland is opening their season with a real challenge. Though this year’s Kentucky team is totally different from the beast that dominated college basketball last year, the Wildcats are still stacked with top recruits and still led by John Calipari. Maryland plans to put up a fight however, and the sudden eligibility of sensational wing Dez Wells puts a little muscle behind that hope. Though Calipari is making his traditional noise about how he feels his team is overrated and how he is concerned about the Terrapins, there is no doubt that Maryland is the underdog in this fight.
  2. Backing the Pack: Meanwhile in Raleigh, there remains at least one question: who will be the North Carolina State‘s fifth starter?Lorenzo Brown, C.J. Leslie, Richard Howell, and Scott Wood are no-brainer starters for Mark Gottfried, but the final starting slot has not yet been named. Gottfried said that he isn’t sure who will start, while adding the caveat that he doesn’t think it matters too much. The most probable choice is that the coach will go with highly-touted freshman guard Rodney Purvis, though there is an outside chance that the spot will be earned by T.J. Warren. Of course, it could always be some wild card option, but these two are the most logical choices.
  3. ESPN: In Chapel Hill, Roy Williams is dealing with a similar issue. Freshman Marcus Paige has been named a starter along with veterans Dexter Strickland, Reggie Bullock, and James Michael McAdoo. This leaves one open spot for North Carolina, and considering the named starters, the spot belongs to a big man. In the exhibition game, Desmond Hubert got the start, but freshman center Joel James shined when he got his turn. Williams suggests that little used sophomore Jackson Simmons and spindly freshman Brice Johnson could also get the start, but Hubert and James are the clear frontrunners for the spot with James holding an edge.
  4. Fox Sports: After a year spent playing home games in other peoples’ gyms, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets finally have a home court. Tonight the first game tips off at McCamish Pavillion, the new name for the renovated Alexander Memorial Coliseum. The building connects the Yellow Jackets to their storied past while also showcasing a dramatic environment for home games. While certainly new video and sound equipment are clear upgrades, the coolest addition to this court has got to be GT’s embrace of theater-style lighting, the effect of lighting the court while keeping the stands relatively dark, an unabashedly neat effect that evokes Madison Square Garden and the Staples Center when the Los Angeles Lakers are playing (the Clippers use a different, more traditional lighting scheme). It’s a neat idea and one that will hopefully add some extra atmosphere to the rechristened Thrillerdome.
  5. Wilmington Star News: The preseason Wooden Award Watch List has been released and six ACC players have been unsurprisingly tapped for the list. North Carolina State’s C.J. Leslie and Lorenzo Brown, Duke’s Mason Plumlee and Seth Curry, North Carolina’s James Michael McAdoo, and Florida State’s Michael Snaer represent the conference on the list. Considering that this list fairly closely mirrors most folks’ All-ACC First Team, there isn’t too much to complain about, though C.J. Harris and a couple players from Miami may have a reason to grouse. As always, this list doesn’t include any of the impact freshmen who are expected to make their mark upon the conference, though they will surely be added once they show what they can do in the college game.
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Introducing the ACC’s Preseason Awards

Posted by mpatton on November 8th, 2012

With play starting around the nation tomorrow, it’s time for the ACC microsite’s 2012-13 preseason awards.

Player of the Year

The player of the year vote was split between Michael Snaer and Lorenzo Brown. Both guys need their respective teams to do very well to be in the running for the award. Brown probably needs success a little more, as the NC State roster has a lot of talent already on it. If the team does poorly, it will reflect on its floor general. His numbers probably won’t be that flashy, but if he improves even half of what he did from his freshman season to last season, he’ll be one of the most well-rounded players in the league. One struggle Brown may have is in terms of the “most talented” versus “most important” argument that plagued Kendall Marshall at North Carolina last season. Marshall didn’t have the best numbers, but he was more critical to his team’s success than any of his teammates. Brown could face similar questions (or just a split of the vote) if CJ Leslie has a monster year. But Brown has the advantage over Marshall in that he’s much more complete as a basketball player.

Snaer edged out Lorenzo Brown for Preseason ACC Player of the Year. (Grant Halverson / Getty Images)

Snaer is a known quantity: he’s a supremely talented two-guard with a competitiveness and motor unrivaled around the conference. He’s so competitive that Leonard Hamilton has to pull him out a few minutes into important games to make sure he doesn’t go over the top. He’s one of the best defensive players in the country, but he doesn’t get many steals. He just shuts down passing lanes and makes every shot difficult. Watching some of the ACC Tournament last year, he looked like he was running circles around very good opponents. It’s not like he was putting up ludicrous numbers, but there was no question who the best player on both ends of the floor was for much of his games against North Carolina and Duke. Unlike Brown, Snaer may be able to still win if Florida State falters a little. The key for him (and Hamilton) is keeping his drive to a usable level and not letting it suffocate him.

In the end Snaer is more of a proven commodity. He’s also the reason we ranked the Seminoles so high despite losing major pieces from last year’s team. So our preseason ACC Player of the Year award goes to Michael Snaer.

Rookie of the Year and Coach of the Year after the jump.

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2012-13 RTC Preseason All-American Teams

Posted by KDoyle on November 8th, 2012

With the season tipping off tomorrow, there’s no better time to roll out our preseason superlatives and All-America teams: National Player of the Year, National Freshman of the Year, and First, Second, and Third All-America teams. More than anything, our preseason All-America teams are here to foster discussion. Our crack panel of 10 national columnists provided ballots over the last week or so, and this is where we ended up.

  • Preseason National Player of the Year—Cody Zeller, Indiana
  • Preseason National Freshman of the Year—Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA

First Team All-America

Cody Zeller, Indiana (unanimous)—The day Cody Zeller committed to play basketball for Tom Crean at Indiana was the day Hoosier basketball would officially begin its climb back to national relevancy and prominence. The first three years weren’t easy for Crean, who compiled a dismal 28-66 combined record during those seasons, but Zeller was his key recruit that led Indiana to a 27-9 record last year and a trip to the Sweet Sixteen. Named Mr. Basketball for the state of Indiana as a senior at Washington High School, Zeller was destined for big things right from the get-go. His ability to run the floor like a 6’5″ athletic forward—despite standing at 7’0″ — and sound post-game with a smooth jumper — is a joy for purists of the game to watch. Now, in his sophomore year, he has the Hoosiers eyeing a National Championship.

Zeller is Everyone’s Cover Boy, and With Good Reason… IU is Back

Factoid: Sophomore Cody Zeller may be bigger than life on the basketball court, but his talents are multi-faceted. Off the court, he goes by the moniker The Big Handsome around the Indiana campus.

Twitter: @czeller40

Doug McDermott, Creighton (unanimous)—The ability to score from virtually anywhere on the court—whether it is from in the post of either shoulder, or beyond the three-point line—McDermott is perhaps the most talented and feared offensive player in the country. Shooting better than 60% from the field and a ridiculous 48.6% from three, McDermott is poised to put up video game offensive numbers in the Missouri Valley. There may not be a more efficient offensive player in the game—averaging nearly 23 PPG on fewer than 15 shots is impressive.

If Zeller Falters, McDermott Could Take the NPOY Crown

Factoid: Similar to fellow preseason First Team All-American C.J. McCollum who is notorious for being lightly recruited out of high school, McDermott didn’t exactly have a laundry list of schools knocking on the basketball office door at Ames High School. In fact, his own father wouldn’t even offer him a scholarship to play at Iowa State. And now, well, he just may be the best player in college basketball.

Twitter: @dougmcd3

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ACC Team Previews: NC State Wolfpack

Posted by ARowe on October 29th, 2012

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

Newton’s first law of motion states that an object in motion stays in motion unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. To say that Mark Gottfried’s arrival as the NC State head basketball coach was enough to disrupt the forces behind the program’s motion is an understatement. From the time his tenure began, the attitude and aura surrounding the Wolfpack did a complete 180-degree turn. Gone was the subdued and listless Herb Sendek era, where the team flirted with success but could never conjure up the fire needed to overtake their blue blood neighbors. Also gone were the Sidney Lowe years, where excitement and potential reigned over actual results on the court.

Gottfried and his staff converted that potential into sheer kinetic energy by the end of the 2012 season. It might not have been an immediate shift, as NC State finished just above .500 in conference play and ended the regular season with 22 wins and 11 losses. They were one of the last teams selected to participate in the NCAA Tournament, celebrating like they’d never tasted success before in one of the greatest images in college basketball last year.

Just making the Tournament wasn’t enough for these newfound media darlings. They went on one of the more improbable runs in the postseason, toppling 6-seed San Diego State, 3-seed Georgetown and nearly taking out eventual national runner-up Kansas in the Sweet Sixteen. The momentum generated by that three-game run has carried over into this year, with the ACC coaches and media voting NC State as the favorite to win the league. Gottfried’s second Wolfpack team blends talented veterans led by Lorenzo Brown, CJ Leslie and Richard Howell with heralded freshmen Rodney Purvis and TJ Warren.

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ACC M5: 10.26.12 Edition

Posted by EMann on October 26th, 2012

  1. Atlantic Coast Conference:  During the most recent wave of conference realignment, the academic caliber of the ACC has been stressed as a reason for why (or why not) certain schools were given invitations. Now, the ACC is not just known for its academics, but also the impressive performance of its student-athletes.  Overall, the ACC had a graduation rate for its athletes in all sports of over 87%, whereas the NCAA-wide average is 80%.  More specifically, in men’s basketball, the ACC was the only power conference with four schools topping the APR mark of 90, those being Duke, Wake Forest, North Carolina, and Virginia Tech.    This is a great bargaining chip for the conference and definitely bodes well for the future.  A more detailed summary for all sports can be found here.
  2. Washington Post:  After losing first-team all-ACC forward Mike Scott, Virginia is searching for answers in its quest to make consecutive NCAA Tournaments for the first time since 1995 (and their fourth of the  new millenium). Tony Bennett expects  junior Joe Harris, the team’s second leading scorer, to shoulder more of the offense. However, the team is not worried about replacing Scott, as forward Akil Mitchell said: “We don’t go into a season thinking, ‘Oh man, we gotta replace Mike.’ We go into a season looking at who we have and what we can do.” Bennett expects to have several players averaging between 8-12 points per game, which would definitely be a stark change from last season, where Scott took over 31% of the team’s shots while he was on the court.
  3. CBS Sports:  When thinking of elite point guards in the country this year, Jeff Goodman does not want you to forget about NC State’s Lorenzo Brown. Goodman believes that Brown is in a class with and even possibly above Missouri’s Phil Pressey, Ohio State’s Aaron Craft, and Michigan’s Trey Burke. Like a lot of the love for NC State as a team, it is largely based on his Sweet Sixteen run last season where Brown really excelled. If Brown is as good as Goodman thinks, then NC State should have a great chance to win its first ACC Championship since 1987 and possibly its first national title since the miracle win over Houston in 1983.
  4. CBS Sports:  Going along with the M5 entry from yesterday, highly touted forward Andrew Wiggins has officially reclassified back into the class of 2013. His father, Mitchell, a former Florida State player, confirmed the news. Wiggins, who will likely be the top-rated recruit even despite his reclassification, is strongly linked to either Kentucky or Florida State. While it would be difficult to bet against John Calipari at this point, Florida State is definitely still a strong contender for Wiggins’ services. If the precocious player wants to be the undisputed star on his team (which he might not, owing to his humble nature), Florida State would provide him that chance. Of course, Kentucky would provide the brightest lights in college basketball, and he would join at least three of the top 10 recruits in the class of 2013 if he commits there.
  5. Keeping it Heel:  North Carolina’s starting lineup appears to have three certainties going into its first exhibition game against Shaw this weekend:  freshman point guard Marcus Paige, sophomore forward James Michael McAdoo, and junior guard Reggie Bullock. The rest of the lineup and rotation are definitely question marks at this point, a large change from last year’s team when the starting five was extremely constant (notwithstanding injuries). It is likely (at least according to Matt Hamm), that Roy Williams will tinker with his roster a lot this season, which means that there should be considerably more different lineup combinations that we are used to seeing from the Tar Heels.
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