Checking In On.. The ACC

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 22nd, 2011

Matt Patton is an ACC microsite writer for RTC.


Reader’s Take I

Top Storylines

  • Coach K Gets 903: Mike Krzyzewski made basketball history by passing his mentor Bob Knight on the all-time wins list. The record is a testament to Krzyzewski’s consistent excellence over the last three decades. It was an incredible accomplishment and dictated the better part of a week’s coverage.
  • Eligibility and Injuries Plague ACC: The ACC has five players out with eligibility issues, seven are out with significant injuries, and one is out after violating team rules. Alex Len (Maryland) may have his eligibility after he sits out ten games (he’ll be back in late December), but DeQuan Jones (Miami) is out indefinitely because of the NCAA’s ongoing investigation into allegations of the Nevin Shapiro scandal; Shane Larkin (Miami) is awaiting word on his eligibility after transferring from DePaul; Thomas de Thaey (NC State) is waiting for his amateur status to be reviewed; and Ian Miller (Florida State) will miss at least first semester due to eligibility issues. On the injury front, JT Thompson and Marquis Rankin (Virginia Tech) are out for the season while Pe’Shon Howard (Maryland), Antwan Space (Florida State), Julian Gamble and Reggie Johnson (Miami), and Leslie McDonald (North Carolina) are out indefinitely with various injuries. Wake Forest’s Ty Walker is suspended for violating the team’s honor code but is expected back against Seton Hall. Yikes.
  • Virginia Hype Came Too Soon?: Kellen Carpenter hit the nail on the head in his preview of the Cavaliers. He pointed out lack of offensive balance and inability to make twos as the two biggest questions facing Tony Bennett’s squad. The team has had success from inside the arc in its wins, bu looking at the boxscore from their loss to TCU reveals the Cavaliers shot less than 40% on two-point attempts. Mike Scott was still solid, but the rest of the team struggled a lot. The other problem is Virginia’s crawling tempo makes it very difficult to come back from deficits.
  • Mark Gottfied Can Recruit (and possibly coach, too): Mark Gottfried came into Raleigh with high expectations from the Wolfpack fanbase. So far, he has lived up to all of them. Gottfried has a top-five recruiting class sealed up thanks to signing TJ Warren, Rodney Purvis, and Tyler Lewis in the early period; he has another potential star possibly joining the ranks in Amile Jefferson. He also managed to get NC State its best non-conference win in quite a while with a huge comeback against Texas. One of the biggest problems with last year’s team was it could not come from behind. I generally chalked it up to effort or general pessimism that comes with frequent losses. Gottfried seems to have turned things around at least a little. Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

ACC Game On: 11.16.11 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on November 16th, 2011

ACC Game On will periodically review recent games involving ACC teams and take a look forward at key upcoming matchups.

Mike Krzyzewski has surpassed Bob Knight’s record of all-time wins. He did so on the appropriately grand stage of Madison Square Garden, defeating Michigan State. It’s a great accomplishment for the man and for Duke University. What’s not so great? The job that Mason Plumlee, Miles Plumlee, and Ryan Kelly did to prove Mitch McGary wrong.  Combined the three were responsible for seven recorded field goal attempts. This total ties Seth Curry and Austin Rivers, who individually each took more shots. This total is also less than half of the total shots taken by Andre Dawkins, who made six three-pointers in the game. The team won, so there’s no sense in raising a fuss, but box scores like that make it hard to disagree with the diagnosis that “all their big men do is set screens and rebound and that they don’t get a lot of touches.”

Mr. 903

The rest of the ACC was rather dull last evening as Virginia Tech, Miami, and Virginia all walked away with relatively easy wins. Unsurprisingly, All-ACC candidates Mike Scott, Durand Scott and Malcolm Grant put up good but not incredible numbers to lead their teams to easy wins.

Things were a little more interesting in Blacksburg, however, as Dorenzo Hudson went off for 31 points on only thirteen shots. He got to the line twelve times, and didn’t miss from the charity stripe. It was a bravura performance against an overmatched Florida International team. Meanwhile, Dorian Finley-Smith continues his campaign as the ACC’s most intriguing freshman, leading his team in rebounding, assists, and steals while scoring fifteen points. If Seth Greenberg can adapt his team to the style and talents of this point-power-forward, the Hokies have a real chance to shake things up in the ACC.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ACC Game On: 11.15.11 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on November 15th, 2011

ACC Game On will periodically review recent games involving ACC teams and take a look forward at key upcoming matchups.

Despite Boston College going out of it’s way to pull a Molly Hatchet (“Flirtin’ With Disaster“), none of the four ACC teams suffered an upset on Monday night. Blow outs were the rule of the day for Florida State, Virginia Tech, and Georgia Tech who pulled away from their mid-major competitors without much difficulty. In Chestnut Hill, Steve Donahue managed to start four freshmen and a transfer student, an odd choice (though logical considering his roster), but one that he might have been regretting as the game against New Hampshire rolled on. An uncomfortably close game, the Eagles eked out a close three-point win. While no single player looked particularly impressive for BC, the team was marked by that distinctive Donahue-style: BC shot only 37.5% overall, but managed to shoot 44.4% from beyond the arc. Yep, that’s the new look Boston College.

BC Defeated UNH In Its Typical Manner (Boston Globe/M. Lee)

The three blowouts around the ACC were not particularly interesting aside from a few individual performances. In Tallahassee, Florida State easily handled a Central Florida team that, despite reinstating three key contributors who had been held out out of their opener, suffocated under the Seminoles’ oppressive defense. Bernard James, who struggled in the season opener with an ankle injury, got the early breakout we expected, scoring eighteen points on 8-9 shooting, while also lodging eleven rebounds and three blocks. In Blacksburg, Dorian Finney-Smith failed to replicate his stat-sheet-stuffing heroics of the season opener, attempting only two shots and missing them both (though he still managed to grab seven rebounds). The lead scorer for the Hokies was freshman Robert Brown, who quietly lodged his second double figure scoring game coming off the bench. With Georgia Tech, Daniel Miller, a 6’11” center, somehow managed to lead the Yellow Jackets in assists, dishing out six dimes while scoring fourteen points and grabbing fifteen rebounds. All of these marks were career highs for the sophomore whose freshman campaign was largely undistinguished. If Miller breaks out for Georgia Tech, it could make a big difference for a team that is trying to climb out of the conference cellar.

For The Record

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ACC Preseason All-Conference Teams

Posted by mpatton on November 8th, 2011

Now that our individual team previews are done, it’s time to look at individual players. With only five all-ACC selections from last season returning there are plenty of open spots to fill, so here are our Preseason all-ACC Teams for the 2011-12 season.

2011-12 Preseason All-ACC Teams

Looking at our projections, North Carolina, Miami and Duke lead the way with eight, six and five selections, respectively. No surprise with Harrison Barnes checking in as the consensus ACC Player of the Year, or Austin Rivers as the ACC Rookie of the Year (though Kellen wants to keep an eye on Maryland’s Nick Faust for the ROY award).

My personal honorable mentions are Virginia Tech’s Erick Green, Maryland’s Sean Mosley and NC State’s Richard Howell. I’m especially surprised Mosley didn’t show up on any of the teams, but his middling campaign last season probably did him in. Green appears to be in the right place to take over for departing Hokies Malcolm Delaney and Jeff Allen, but he’s got a ways to go based on the Virginia Tech games I went to last season. Finally, Howell had a sneaky good season last year for the Wolfpack and could be a great frontcourt presence alongside CJ Leslie.

My biggest reach was putting Terrell Stoglin on the first team. He was a decent player last year (who averaged over 20 points per game pro-rated at 40 minutes), but he’ll really need to make some waves if he wants to crack the first team this season. Malcolm Grant and Kendall Marshall are the safer choices for that final guard spot. My reasoning is that Marshall will be hidden statistically behind Zeller and Barnes. In general, Roy Williams point guards are under-appreciated because they don’t put up sick numbers, but with Marshall the case is a little different. He’s a very polished player, but I see him as the perfect complimentary player. North Carolina wouldn’t be nearly as good as a team without him, but by himself he’s not spectacular. Thus, I voted him onto the second team in favor of Maryland’s ascendent sophomore.

On the second team Kellen and I differed on power forwards: he chose Mason Plumlee; I chose Travis McKie. Again for me the key was relative importance. Mason Plumlee may be more talented than McKie, but I’ll be shocked if he’s as important for Duke as McKie is for Wake Forest (and really I’m not sold that McKie isn’t more talented). Duke’s bigs are certainly going to be critical this year, but I think the mere fact that there are three of them (Mason, Miles and Ryan Kelly) will dilute each one’s share of the limelight. I did include Miles on my third team because reports from Durham laud him as Duke’s backbone.

However, both of our teams (mine especially) did a lot of projecting for this season. The only locks feel like Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller and Mike Scott (and it’s conceivable Zeller falls to the second team depending on his role). Player and coach turnover left the ACC relatively unknown this season, but Friday players start earning their spots.

Share this story

Naismith Preseason Top 50: Tobacco Road or Bust

Posted by KCarpenter on November 7th, 2011

While I suppose that the official list will go up sometime this afternoon, Jeff Goodman went ahead and released the Naismith Award Preseason List. It’s not too surprising for folks that have been looking at similar lists all summer long. The biggest and completely unsurprising news is that four North Carolina players are on the list: Harrison Barnes, John Henson, Tyler Zeller, and Kendall Marshall. Other than that? Only one other ACC player was tapped for the list, Duke‘s Austin Rivers, who was one of only seven freshmen included. So, considering that the Wooden Watch List excludes freshmen, the big two preseason national player lists are essentially the same as far as the ACC is concerned.

Austin Rivers Is The Only ACC Player Not From UNC To Make The Naismith Pre-Season List

This is kind of annoying. Much like the Wooden list, the Naismith list reaffirms the fact that the national media doesn’t seem to think that there is much top tier talent in the ACC outside of Tobacco Road. I understand that it’s in all likelihood another down year for the conference, but overall, this must be frustrating to the league’s other great players like Mike Scott, Malcolm Grant, and Durand Scott. That’s all without even mentioning a player like Seth Curry too. It’s amazing that a potential breakout star guard at Duke who is the brother of Steph Curry and the son of Dell Curry is still apparently operating under the radar. I feel like there is very little doubt that by the end of the season, the national media will be talking about the Duke junior as one of the nation’s best, so I find it really odd that he didn’t crack either list.

The only rationale that I can think of for the lack of non-Tar Heel players is a strong national belief that there are very few tremendously talented individuals in the ACC this year. Maybe it’s the wide array of new faces in the conference or an overall lack of familiarity with the cast of characters in a conference that suddenly seems very young. In any case, the task is clear for the top-flight conference players who don’t live in Chapel Hill: You are going to have to work harder to make a name for yourself this year. Get to it, gentlemen.

Share this story

ACC Morning Five: 11.04.11 Edition

Posted by mpatton on November 4th, 2011

  1. USA Today: Another year and another season-crippling injury for Seth Greenberg and the Hokies. Last year it was Dorenzo Hudson and JT Thompson. This year Thompson tore his other ACL and will miss his second straight season. You have to feel for Thompson, but Greenberg pointed out the silver lining: “Our main focus right now is his health and preparing him for his graduation this December. […] Now is not the time to discuss a sixth year.” Thompson’s injury is a big blow for Virginia Tech, where Thompson was expected to be a major leader and contributor this season. In 2009-10 he averaged 7.3 PPG and 4.6 RPG in just over 20 minutes a game.
  2. Miami Herald: Jim Larranaga got his first official (exhibition) win on the Miami sideline last night against Florida Southern, 88-78, but it wasn’t easy. The Hurricanes trailed by five at the half and by ten halfway through the second half. Garrius Adams caught fire late, aiding a late 28-6 run with three treys in two minutes. Malcolm Grant led the way for Miami with 26 points on a fantastic 8-12 shooting performance, but Durand Scott wasn’t far behind with 23 points and seven rebounds (that rebounding will be crucial while Reggie Johnson is out). The bad news was the Hurricanes finished with significantly more turnovers (17) than assists (10).
  3. United States Navy: The host of the Quicken Loans Carrier Classic, the USS Carl Vinson, is getting ready for the Veterans’ Day game. Construction crews started building the court on Tuesday that is expected to seat 7,000 people. It should be finished by November 9 to allow both teams to practice on the new court the day before the game. In the case of inclement weather (quite unlikely in San Diego), the crew is also constructing a smaller court in the ship’s hangar bay though it has far less seating for spectators.
  4. Detroit Free Press: Duke target Mitch McGary has opted for John Beilein and Michigan over Duke and Florida. McGary will be the Wolverines’ first McDonalds All-American in ten years (the last was Daniel Horton in 2002). My guess is this means that Duke will really turn up the heat on Tony Parker, another incredibly talented class of 2012 power forward. It is starting to look like NC State may sport the best 2012 recruiting class in the conference.
  5. Ryan Davis caught up with new Maryland coach Mark Turgeon to talk about the upcoming season. It sounds like Nick Faust will be called on from day one, and Turgeon expects Sean Mosley to live up to the expectations people set for him last year. One interesting question was comparing this year’s Maryland team to last year’s Boston College team. I’d tend to agree with Turgeon that the teams are very different (namely, the Eagles were lights out from beyond the arc, while Maryland should make its money on defense), but I hadn’t thought about the other comparisons (very shallow benches, new coaches, and solid returners). Although I don’t think the comparison is apples to apples, I think it should be heartening for Terrapin fans that Boston College saw the success it did facing similar problems.
Finally, it is NC StateNorth Carolina week (in football)! For those readers not familiar with ACC football (I don’t blame you), this is the nationally-irrelevant Tobacco Road rivalry of the gridiron. The two coaches celebrated the occasion by swapping insults before the schools’ chancellors ended the feud by calling each other to apologize.
  • Everett Withers (UNC): “I think the kids in this state need to know, you know, the flagship school in this state. […] They need to know it academically. I think if you look at our graduation rates as opposed to our opponent’s this week graduation rates for academics or football, I think you’ll see a difference. I think if you look at the educational environment here, I think you’ll see a difference.”
  • Tom O’Brien (NC State): “As far as the flagship, here is a guy that’s on a football staff that ends up in Indianapolis. If you take three things you can’t do in college football, you have an agent on your staff, you’re paying your players and you have academic fraud. I mean, that’s a triple play as far as the NCAA goes. […] Our guys go to school, they’re not given grades and they graduate […] It’s a little tougher here if you have to go to school and you’re expected to have a syllabus and go to class. I think our guys earn everything they get here. And certainly all our graduates earn everything they get at this university.”
Share this story

ACC Team Previews: Miami

Posted by mpatton on October 21st, 2011

Remember when we said Wake Forest had a rough season last year? I’m pretty sure Miami would be willing to trade. Compared to a few losses and off-the-court struggles for the Demon Deacons, the Hurricanes etched their names on Tablet Historical of NCAA Infractions after former booster (and current Ponzi scheme felon) Nevin Shapiro unleashed a barrage of NCAA violations that made Butch Davis and Jim Tressel cringe.

I’m not sure “impermissible” is a strong enough word to cover cash payments, hookers, and everything in-between. Now factor in the disappointment of an underachieving (and extremely unlucky) basketball team, the departure of the basketball coach, and a star player going down for the first half of this season with an injury, and you’re on a level to empathize with Hurricane fans.

Reggie Johnson is Out with a Knee Injury: Can Miami still Reach Its Potential?

Moving the focus back to basketball, last year was a disaster for the Hurricanes. No, they weren’t totally non-competitive, but in some ways that just makes things worse. The team was primed for success with a down conference and returning star power, but a hideous 1-6 start to conference play saw preseason expectations evaporate quickly. Looking back at the roster and season they had, I have to wonder if Frank Haith wasn’t on the hot seat anyway: he had only made the NCAA Tournament once in the last seven years despite several talented teams. His last four seasons were better, with Miami averaging over 20 wins and I’d be remiss not to mention the relative apathy for basketball south Florida has, but still.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Of Polls and Quotes: ACC’s Operation Basketball

Posted by KCarpenter on October 20th, 2011

The Atlantic Coast Conference likes to get a little fanciful sometimes. What most conferences would simply call a “media day” gets a grander name in the ACC: Operation Basketball. A little over the top, but what can you do? In any case, it’s a fun event where all the coaches and a handful of players commit to talking to the press all day long, giving interview after interview while the media expresses its gratitude the only way it knows how: by taking a pre-season poll and naming preseason all-ACC Teams!

Several Heels Find Themselve as Preseason all-ACCers

The short story of the poll and the preseason awards is unsurprising: North Carolina was tabbed as the number one team, though not unanimously as two rogue voters put Duke at the number one spot. In a somewhat surprising development, Wake Forest was not picked to finish last. That honor instead went to Steve Donahue’s ultra-young Boston College. Equally surprising was the vote for Player of the Year where Harrison Barnes was not the unanimous pick. That’s not really too shocking by itself but the the only other player receiving POY votes was John Henson , who received the only two other votes that didn’t go to his teammate. At least a couple of ACC beat journalists must really love defense.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ACC Morning Five: 10.20.11 Edition

Posted by mpatton on October 20th, 2011

  1. Ballin’ Is A Habit: The gentlemen at BIAH do a great job previewing the ACC for the upcoming season. Nothing super surprising here, except they’ve got John Henson on the all-ACC second team. While it’s tough to distinguish Henson and Tyler Zeller (and I agree only one will make the first team, barring a truly phenomenal year from both), I think Henson’s defense merits first team consideration before Zeller’s offense. The other minor surprise I saw was that Malcolm Grant and Durand Scott make all-ACC teams, but Miami is ranked sixth. Assuming Reggie Johnson is back come January and the back court lives up to its potential, I think Miami could certainly challenge for a top four finish.
  2. Want the predictions from ACC media day without all of the fluff interviews from coaches and players? Not surprisingly, North Carolina ran away with the team and individual voting thanks to Harrison Barnes (John Henson actually garnered the final two Player of the Year votes). Three players made the all-ACC team for the first time since Duke’s loaded 2001-02 squad that featured Jason Williams, Carlos Boozer and Mike Dunleavy. Austin Rivers nabbed preseason Rookie of the Year. We’ll certainly have some insight on the the more qualitative information from the day later.
  3. Cavaliers Journal – Washington Post: Because of a mediocre season last year, Virginia has been flying under the radar for much of the offseason. But the Cavaliers are in a very good place to finish in the top half of the conference and grab an invitation to the NCAA Tournament. Sammy Zeglinski certainly sounds ready to take on the world: “We want to have success this year, but at the same time we need to go out and earn it. Nothing is gonna be given to us.” With Mike Scott back, this is looking like Tony Bennett’s year to make a leap within the league.
  4. Sports Illustrated: Luke Winn has an early look at North Carolina‘s prospects for next season. Initial reaction from the post: Harrison Barnes is not only going to be a great player in college and the NBA, but he’s going to make a great coach one day. His discussion with Winn on his early season struggles last year shows a self-awareness that goes beyond the average “I need to play better” response reporters often accept. As for the Tar Heels’ outlook, Winn’s remarks are short: “I don’t see anyone stopping them.”
  5. ESPN: The Worldwide Leader will be broadcasting more games than ever this season, broadcasting a total of 1,450 games across its many platforms. The best news for hoops junkies is that 1,100 of those broadcasts will be on ESPN3. This is also ESPN’s first year of the new ACC media deal that grants the network exclusive access to all men’s basketball games. And don’t worry Raycom fans, ESPN will be outsourcing many of the conference match-ups to your friendly neighborhood announcers.

BONUS: The Sporting News: [WARNING: NBA related] As you undoubtedly know, Mike Krzyzewski is more than just a college basketball coach. On the side he coaches the US Men’s Olympic team. Unfortunately, the NBA lockout is throwing a wrench into the normally straightforward process for selecting the national squad (watching games and inviting players). The biggest threat to the team is if the NBA decides to extend the 2011-12 season into next summer to account for the earlier missed games, but otherwise Coach K has a plan. If the season is cancelled there will be a training camp-tryout hybrid with 20 of the nation’s top players to assess who’s ready to go.

Share this story

CBS’s “Top 100 Players in College Basketball” Is A Very Silly List

Posted by KCarpenter on October 19th, 2011

We all know that lists of top players tend to be very silly. For a sport as big and expansive as college basketball, these lists can quickly become incredibly silly. Strange inclusions and weird snubs are almost inevitable. That said, the latest CBS Sports list of The Top 100 Players in College Basketball is just ridiculous. Still, lists are fun so let’s talk about this one and all the reasons that it’s just goofy.

All Systems Silly (

Of the top 100 players in college basketball, twelve are from the Atlantic Coast Conference.  Of the twelve best players in the ACC, half of them come from North Carolina, a quarter of them come from Duke, and one player each comes from N.C. State, Miami and Virginia. Here is the list of rankings, players, and schools. Below that, we’ll have ourselves a talk.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story