Duke Looking to Run Early and Often With This Year’s Roster

Posted by Chris Kehoe on October 26th, 2013

Duke’s roster this season is merely a shell of its former self. Gone is the backbone of the team, gone are the three seniors, gone are the leaders, gone are 47.9 PPG. You get the point. Duke lost its three leading scorers and a huge part of its 30-win Elite Eight team. Yet people are excited about the prospects of this team, even perhaps more excited than last season. Duke returns both its junior floor general, Quinn Cook, and its sophomore shooting guard and McDonald’s All-American, Rasheed Sulaimon. Another two McDonald’s All-Americans return in sophomore forward Amile Jefferson and redshirt sophomore center Marshall Plumlee. Where Duke changes up the offensive schemes and flips the script is with the two future NBA swingmen on the roster, Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood and blue-chip freshman Jabari Parker.

Quinn Cook calls Duke's new offense 'a point guard's dream' (USA Today)

Quinn Cook calls Duke’s new offense ‘a point guard’s dream’ (USA Today)

Don’t be mistaken, though, Duke is still Duke. They will continue to have shooters spotting up around the arc for open looks: postgraduate sniper Andre Dawkins, freshman Matt Jones, Sulaimon, Cook, and even senior perimeter stopper Tyler Thornton all can and will fire away with a green light from deep. But as ESPN.com’s Eamonn Brennan pointed out in a recent excerpt about Duke, Mike Krzyzewski above all adapts to his team’s strengths. And with a team full of athletic and versatile players like Parker, Sulaimon, Hood, and Jefferson, Krzyzewski has this year’s team poised to run early and often. “Last year’s team couldn’t run like this team can now,” senior captain Thornton exclaimed.

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Who Won the Week: Duke, UC Irvine and Texas (sorta) …

Posted by Kenny Ocker on December 21st, 2012

wonweek

Who Won the Week? is a regular column that will outline and discuss three winners and losers from the previous week. The author of this column is Kenny Ocker (@KennyOcker), an Oregon-based sportswriter best known for his willingness to drive (or bike!) anywhere to watch a basketball game.

WINNER: Duke

Mason Plumlee has led Duke in rebounding 10 times in 11 games as the Blue Devils are 11-0 while ranked third in strength of schedule. (AP Photo)

Mason Plumlee has led Duke in rebounding 10 times in 11 games as the Blue Devils are 11-0 while ranked third in strength of schedule. (AP Photo)

The week couldn’t have gone much more perfectly for the Blue Devils than it did. Achieve top ranking? Check. Land a top recruit? Check. Win both games handily? Check and check. Yes, Duke should probably send some flowers to Butler for knocking off preseason favorite Indiana, but who would have looked at the two teams before Saturday and thought the Hoosiers were better? Outside of the state of Indiana, I’m guessing few would. The Blue Devils (11-0) have the nation’s best body of work, and have dominated it in such a fashion that they look to be the nation’s top team convincingly, and this is before prized prospect Jabari Parker picked Mike Krzyzewski’s squad over Michigan State and BYU. On the court, Mason Plumlee, who has led Duke in rebounding 10 times so far, carried his team to an 88-47 win over Cornell with 18 points and nine rebounds Wednesday and followed that up the next night with 21 points and 15 boards in a 76-54 win over Elon. And as an added bonus, the youngest Plumlee, freshman Marshall, already made a brief return to the court against Cornell coming back from a foot injury.

(Related winners: Mason Plumlee, Butler. Related losers: Indiana, Michigan State, BYU, Cornell, Elon, and especially North Carolina – more to come.)

LOSER: Eastern Kentucky

The Ohio Valley’s Colonels started their season off hot, winning nine straight games before a weekend matchup at also-undefeated Illinois. The major-conference team expectedly pulled Eastern Kentucky apart, winning 66-53, but it was what happened next that wrapped up a bad week in Richmond, Ky. On a rare road trip to a MEAC school, the Colonels were tripped up by North Carolina A&T, who pounded the ball inside while shooting 55 percent from the field and stifling Eastern Kentucky’s guard-oriented offense by holding it to 40 percent shooting. The Bulldogs also nearly doubled up the Colonels on the glass, sealing the game. So much for a hot start.

(Related winners: North Carolina A&T, the 457 Bulldogs fans who watched the game in person. Related losers: Murray State and the Ohio Valley Conference, which both need every break they can get come March.)

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ACC M5: 12.20.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on December 20th, 2012

morning5_ACC

  1. Sun News: In what was billed as the biggest game in Coastal Carolina history, Clemson did its part to make the night memorable for the Chanticleers. In an unseemly collapse, Clemson lost to Coastal Carolina on the road as a follow-up to last year’s home loss. With a final score of 69-46, the Chanticleers were convincing in their win over the Tigers while Brad Brownell’s team looked nothing more than hapless. Milton Jennings went 2-of-16 from the field and had five turnovers in 31 minutes, a throwback performance for the forward who seemed on the cusp of a solid offensive year. This game raises some troubling questions about the Tigers’ ability to merely compete in the ACC this season.
  2. News & Observer: Texas delivered the other big ACC loss of the night, pulling away from a North Carolina team that threatened to rally but never held on to any momentum. UNC played a lethargic brand of turnover-heavy basketball that resulted in easy baskets for the Longhorns and a furious Roy Williams. Texas has had a disappointing season so far, dealing with the NCAA-imposed absence of Myck Kabongo and a loss to lowly Chaminade in the Maui Invitational. Yet against the Tar Heels, Texas looked sharp. Meanwhile, in Chapel Hill, it’s safe to assume that the players and coaching staff are going to have to rethink the team’s approach or else North Carolina will likely continue to look lost on the basketball court.
  3. Wilmington Star News: While Duke easily won its last game against Cornell, the match-up came with a tinge of disappointment. Marshall Plumlee, the third of the Plumlee brothers, was set to make his Duke debut after a stress fracture had robbed him of the opening games of the season. Plumlee was on the court for about two minutes before returning to the bench with a “slight sprain.” The forward will likely sit out the next game against Elon as a precaution, but there has yet to be any indication whether this injury is serious.  It wasn’t the debut that Plumlee wanted,  but as long as this new injury doesn’t keep him out for long, I’m sure he will have other chances to make an impression on the court.
  4. Fox Sports South: It’s hard to make too much of this, because it seems like this has happened often in recent years, but Miami has put together a nice string of victories and appears to finally be a legitimate contender for the conference title. The Hurricanes have looked good before, only to wilt under the weight of the conference schedule. Yet, the early returns are convincing: Miami looks really good. While experience suggests that we can’t be sure about this team, the bouquet of victories against Michigan State, Massachusetts, and Charlotte is very respectable.
  5. Washington Post: The heavier players lost weight and the skinnier players gained muscle. In essence, that’s the bare bones of what a coach wants out of his strength and conditioning coach. At Maryland, the team and staff are working hard to do far more than meet this low standard. Kyle Tarp has done a remarkable job transforming the bodies of the Terrapin players and his methods and results seem like something that lots of other programs should seek to emulate (perhaps especially whoever ends up with former UCLA center Josh Smith).
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ACC M5: 12.11.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on December 11th, 2012

  1. BC Interruption: The US Department of Education published athletic revenues and profits for athletic departments. A quick note before looking at these numbers: profit can be very misleading. Athletic departments aren’t designed to turn profits, as in many cases, all revenue goes towards paying debts, contracts and travel. The revenue numbers can be misleading too, though less so. Case in point: Louisville’s basketball revenues nearly double those of Duke and North Carolina. How’s it possible for an admittedly strong regional brand to almost equal the sum of two of the three most popular teams in the country? The answer: the Yum! Center. The school’s state-of-the-art downtown arena brings in quite a deal of revenue, which presumably counts towards the basketball numbers. It’s still really interesting stuff.
  2. Duke Basketball Report: Ken Pomeroy (and many others) have pointed to Duke’s apparent struggles on the glass as a potential Achilles heel this season. Duke Basketball Report went back into the archives and checked on the rebounding figures from Coach K’s tenure in Durham. The reality is that neither one is wrong. Duke‘s rebounding is at its weakest point this year, but does that mean it will come back to haunt the Blue Devils? Probably at some point. But also remember that Krzyzewski has had great success without great rebounding teams and Marshall Plumlee should help augment the Blue Devils’ board-crashing upon his return.
  3. College Hoops Daily: How did Wake Forest go from being a regular contender in the ACC to a perennial conference doormat? Well, Skip Prosser died; Dino Gaudio signed a team full of players with off-court issues and didn’t win enough to merit the exceptions; and athletic director Ron Wellman hired his friend Jeff Bzdelik. Bzdelik hasn’t improved in his three years leading the team and isn’t likable enough to mask his less than stellar results with charm. This season’s freshman class is really his first real step forward, but the product on the court looks largely the same. Bzdelik may be a great basketball coach, but he’s got to start showing progress right now if he wants to stick around much longer (see: Mark Turgeon).
  4. Washington Post: Speaking of Turgeon, he’s trying some new ways to avoid turnovers. Now, whenever a Maryland player commits a turnover in practice, he performs five push-ups. One interesting thing about the Terrapins’ turnover problem is that it’s not just one player responsible for all the miscues. Eight — yes, you read that right — Maryland players are averaging at least 1.5 turnovers a game. Do the math, and it’s not hard to see why the Terps are last in the conference in turnover margin.
  5. Hartford Courant: Connecticut never really stood a chance in conference realignment. At least not against Louisville. Despite the two schools’ recent head-to-head results, the Cardinals are obviously a football program headed in the right direction. It’s harder to say that is true with Connecticut. Attendance is struggling and strong academics can’t make up for lukewarm fan support. Less importantly, the Huskies don’t share a border with Indiana (Notre Dame, anyone?) or Ohio, a football talent hotbed.
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Night Line: Mason Plumlee’s Post Dominance Keying Duke’s Phenomenal Start

Posted by EJacoby on November 29th, 2012

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

Plenty of elite teams have impressed in the opening month of this season, but Duke is in a tier by itself when it comes to a complete resume. After exacting revenge on Ohio State from last season’s drubbing with a 73-68 victory over the Buckeyes on Wednesday night, Mike Krzyzewski’s team has now defeated three top-five teams in November. That doesn’t even include victories over Minnesota and VCU, as well, two other likely NCAA Tournament squads. In Wednesday’s win, Duke trailed by eight points at halftime to a tougher-looking Buckeyes squad while itself looking fatigued, and it needed a significant second half spark to change the tone of the game. That’s where it turned to Mason Plumlee, who turned momentum back on Duke’s side with two monster alley-oops from point guard Quinn Cook. Blue Devil fans have waited three long years for Plumlee to become a dominant post force who successfully harnessed all of his athletic potential, and tonight’s 21-point, 17-rebound effort in a comeback win over an elite opponent shows just how far the big man has come.

Mason Plumlee has Duke soaring up the rankings through victories over elite opponents (AP Photo)

We knew Duke had the depth, shooting, and coaching to remain an ACC contender this season, but Plumlee’s transformation into a dominant, All America-caliber forward gives the team a chance to reach greater heights than almost anyone imagined. Through seven games, the 6’10” senior is now averaging 19.9 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game on 65% shooting from the field; all good for top-five rankings in the ACC. But what’s most astonishing about Plumlee’s stats is his free throw percentage, which at 79% is an exponential improvement over his career 50% shooting coming into this season. Never mind the massive 8.8 PPG  jump; an increase of 30 points on a go-to player’s free throw percentage is enough to change the entire dynamic of an offense. As Jay Bilas consistently pointed out during Wednesday’s ESPN broadcast, Plumlee plays with improved aggressiveness near the basket this season now that he’s not afraid to get fouled. The senior converted 9-12 freebies tonight while also producing a game-high in scoring and rebounding.

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Duke’s Ryan Kelly: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Posted by mpatton on November 26th, 2012

Ryan Kelly may be Duke‘s most important player. Just look at the Blue Devils’ tailspin last season when he went down with an injured foot. In Duke’s losses last year Kelly averaged five points a game (not including the two Ls he missed due to injury). In Duke’s wins he averaged over 13 points a game. That’s a striking difference. Kelly’s averages from last season are identical to this season (11.8 points per game and just over five rebounds per game), though he’s seen a dramatic drop in his efficiency from beyond the arc and at the charity stripe. The free throw problem is probably a short-term slump and his three point percentage will also likely rise but remain below last season’s excellent 41% mark. But don’t let identical output and depressed percentages confuse you: Kelly is an improved player whose game has evolved a lot even since last season.

Duke really missed Ryan Kelly at the end of last season. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The most quantifiable change has come in his shot selection. Last year over 40 percent of Kelly’s shots were threes; this year just over 30 percent of his attempts come from distance. Rather than taking low-percentage contested twos, Kelly’s mid-range game is flourishing. At 6’11”, he’s virtually impossible for more athletic wings to guard, instead drawing power forwards to the perimeter where he has the advantage. Instead of settling for threes this season, he’s taken one or two steps inside the arc, where he’s nearly automatic. Kelly also appears to be more comfortable operating out around 12-16 feet from the basket, as his turnovers are down this year, potentially because he isn’t forcing things as much.

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ACC M5: 10.16.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on October 16th, 2012

  1. ESPN: The ACC coaches have submitted their preseason poll and the results are unsurprising: North Carolina State is the favorite to win the conference, with Tobacco Road rivals Duke and North Carolina rounding out the top three. While North Carolina State hasn’t won the regular season ACC title since 1989, it’s not a big surprise that the coaches like their chances this year. The coaches’ picks of C.J Leslie and Rodney Purvis, both Wolfpack players, for Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year respectively, is an easy explanation of the reason that so many of the conference’s coaches are big on NC State.
  2. Raleigh News and Observer: Duke started practice in an unusual venue yesterday. Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina played host to the Blue Devils as they practiced in front of a group of soldiers at the U.S. Army base. Mike Krzyzewski, of course, is a graduate of West Point and former Army captain. In addition to standard practice, the Duke team slept in the barracks Sunday night, got up for an early morning workout and run, and braved an obstacle course on the base.  It seems like it was a memorable experience for both the soldiers who got to watch and participate in the Duke practice as well as the players who got an inside look at the machinations of Fort Bragg.
  3. CBS Sports: On a more disappointing note, Marshall Plumlee, the youngest of the Plumlee brothers, has suffered a stress fracture in his foot. He’ll miss 6-8 weeks for Duke, and although he was not expected to be a major contributor to this year’s team, the obvious loss of depth and size inside is always something that gives coaches a cause for concern. Older brother Mason and Ryan Kelly will have to stay healthy themselves lest Duke become painfully thin on the interior over the first month of the season.
  4. Syracuse Online: The Orange have a verbal commitment from Chinonso Obokoh, a springy center from Rochester. Of course, while Syracuse continues to play in the Big East this season, their incoming move to the ACC means that Obokoh will become part of the first class of Syracuse basketball players that play their conference games solely in the Atlantic Coast Conference — still a strange thought. Obokoh joins highly-ranked gurd Tyler Ennis as the first two building blocks for Syracuse’s incoming class.
  5. NCAA: The governing organization of college basketball has issued a few new interesting guidelines for the upcoming season. These rules include an extra set of standards for correctly determining block/charge calls that seem to be aimed at making the offensive foul a bit harder to draw. The NCAA is also emphasizing coach and bench decorum with a set of explicit standards about what warrants a sportsmanship technical. In news sure to disappoint Roy Williams, “emphatically removing one’s coat” is specifically singled out as an inappropriate action. Perhaps, the implementation of  the new policy banning slippery floor decals will placate him?
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Morning Five: 10.16.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 16th, 2012

  1. From the we’ll-believe-it-when-we-see-it department, ACC coaches on Monday squarely put NC State’s Mark Gottfried right into the conference crosshairs with their decision to pick his Wolfpack as the front-runner for the 2012-13 league championship. Whew. NC State received eight of the 12 first-place votes, with second-place Duke receiving three, and North Carolina receiving the other top vote. Nobody will deny that Gottfried returns the most talent in the ACC from a Sweet Sixteen team — and adds quite possibly the best freshman in the league to boot — but still, the Wolfpack were a 9-7 conference team last season and Gottfried has never been a coach who has consistently gotten it done in the regular season. His best two teams at Alabama went 12-4 in the SEC (2001-02 and 2004-05) and he wasn’t facing the likes of Mike Krzyzewski and Roy Williams when he was cementing those records. From our perspective, the league belongs to Duke and North Carolina until it’s taken from them (the last team to win the ACC outright other than Duke/UNC occurred a decade ago).
  2. While on the subject of Duke, the Blue Devil program made quite a bit of news on Monday. While spending the day 90 miles south of Durham at Fort Bragg, going through physical training drills and holding an inspired open practice in front of a number of US Army troops — apparently Duke players applauded the soldiers as they entered the gym — the school also announced some less inspiring news. Redshirt freshman forward Marshall Plumlee has developed a stress fracture in his left foot and will miss the next 6-8 weeks of practice, putting significantly more pressure on older brother Mason and senior Ryan Kelly to man the boards and shore up the low blocks defensively. This is especially true given that the Blue Devils will face an early-season murderer’s row of Kentucky in the Champions Classic on November 13, the Battle 4 Atlantis (including a loaded field of Minnesota, VCU, Memphis, Louisville, Missouri, and Stanford) soon thereafter, and Ohio State at in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge at the end of November.
  3. Coach K’s respect for the military of course comes from his time at West Point, where he played under a fiery disciplinarian named Bob Knight. The three-time national championship head coach, who has never struck us as much of a sentimentalist, is planning on auctioning his three Indiana championship rings, his Olympic gold medal (given to him by the LA Olympic Committee) as well as a sports coat and warmup jacket he received as the head coach for the 1984 US Men’s National Team (a squad that included Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing). With his regular speaking engagements plus his lucrative ESPN commentator gig, it’s unlikely that Knight is hurting for money — but, sensing that he could pay for his grandchildren’s college educations with one fell swoop through this auction — this was probably an easy decision for the 71-year old. The “Bob Knight Collection” will be auctioned off through Steiner Sports, ending on December 5 — if you have some money burning a hole in your pocket, that 1976 championship ring from the last undefeated team in college basketball would make for a great conversation starter.
  4. Harvard appeared to be on the verge of an Ivy League dynasty prior to a recent academic cheating scandal that has enveloped over 100 undergraduates including two of the basketball team’s best players, Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry. Still, there are hopes among Crimson faithful that Tommy Amaker’s team can bridge the gap this season while awaiting the return of its two stars in 2013-14 (both players withdrew from school this year, but plan on returning next season). Meanwhile, in coming off the school’s first NCAA Tournament appearance in over 65 years, the university is now backing a plan to build a brand-new basketball arena to replace its antiquated 1920s-era Lavietes Pavilion. The new arena will hold 2,700 people and be ready for the bouncing of balls some time between 2017-22. Whether Harvard will grow to become a regular NCAA Tournament participant by that date remains to be seen, but this next step in the progression of the program would not have been possible without the drive and vision for excellence that head coach Tommy Amaker had for Harvard basketball upon his arrival several years ago.
  5. Don’t expect any NCAA Tournament games in the great state of New Jersey anytime soon. The Meadowlands/Izod Center in East Rutherford has held multiple East Regionals (most recently in 2007), and the Prudential Center in Newark has taken that mantle more recently (hosting in 2011), but with the Monday’s publication of regulations licensing and outlining operating rules for Atlantic City casinos and racetracks so as to offer sports gambling, the NCAA’s long-running mandate of not offering its championships in states with such laws has gone into effect. Although there are currently no planned NCAA Tournament events scheduled in the Garden State, five other championships — including the Women’s NCAA Tournament East Regional in 2013 — have been pulled effective immediately. The natural outcome from this mandate is that the most prominent New York and Philadelphia arenas, including the Wells Fargo Center, the Barclays Arena, and Madison Square Garden, potentially stand to gain considerably in future bidding for NCAA Tournament sites. But hey, at least you can bet on the games in Jersey!
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ACC Summer Recess: Duke Blue Devils

Posted by mpatton on August 8th, 2012

Over the next four weeks we’ll be taking a step back and looking at each team in the ACC to assess where each program — and the conference as a whole — stands before we totally turn our attention to the 2013-14 season later this fall. Today’s target: Duke.

Where They Stand Now

Duke fans are still reeling from an embarrassing upset bid from CJ McCollum and the Mountain Hawks of Lehigh, but the sour ending to the team’s season overshadowed a very strong year. The Blue Devils showcased the most flaws  it has had since the 2006-07 Duke team that went 22-11, but they managed to keep winning games. They beat a loaded North Carolina team on the road; they finished second in the conference; and, they won a loaded Maui Invitational. Ryan Kelly‘s late season injury stagnated one of the country’s best offenses, leaving Duke with a decent offense and mediocre defense for its last three games. Long story short, the Blue Devils managed to overachieve and disappoint last season.

Mason Plumlee is the Anchor to Duke’s Young, Potentially Great Front Line.

Who’s Leaving

Austin Rivers went to the NBA, Miles Plumlee graduated, Michael Gbinije transferred to Syracuse, and Andre Dawkins will redshirt. Despite frequent deserved criticism during his playing career, the eldest Plumlee’s strength and athleticism in workouts earned him a guaranteed contract with the Pacers. Gbinije saw very little playing time his freshman season, and with the additions of Rasheed Sulaimon and redshirt freshman Alex Murphy, he may not have seen much more next year. Gbinije’s lack of playing time puzzled many Duke fans because his length and athleticism were exactly what Duke’s perimeter defense needed. Fans concerns are probably overreactions: Mike Krzyzewski doesn’t have a history of sticking with experienced guys over more talented freshmen.

Rivers’ departure is harder to evaluate. On paper, it’s terrible. Rivers was the only playmaker on last year’s team. Without consistent play at point guard, Coach K relied on the freshman to create his own shot a lot of the time. However, Rivers’ season had its detractors. While the heat he took for being selfish was over the top, comments Seth Curry made earlier this summer to Shawn Krest certainly point to a lack of chemistry on last year’s team.

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ACC Morning Five: 04.03.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on April 3rd, 2012

  1. Hampton Roads Daily Press: Speaking of tall lanky game-changers in college basketball, Ralph Sampson finally was elected to the Naismith Hall of Fame. You can blame the delay on his injury-laden NBA career and a combination of Sidney Lowe, Michael Jordan, and Sam Perkins (who kept him from ACC Championships in 1983, 1982 and 1981 respectively). Sampson was truly a once-in-a-generation player. At 7’4″ and athletic, he was comfortable smoking opponents from inside and out. He’s also one of two players to be chosen the consensus national player of the year three times (Bill Walton is the other).
  2. Yadkin Valley Sports: This is a great article on Victor Davila, who watched his senior season evaporate from the bench with a groin injury. Davila is a product of Puerto Rico by means of the foothills of North Carolina. Here’s to hoping he finds some basketball success overseas before having to get a real job.
  3. Durham Herald-Sun: Steve Wiseman checks in with questions facing Duke in the offseason. I will try to answer them. Will Mason Plumlee return? No idea. Will Rasheed Sulaimon make an impact as a freshman? Yes. He’s a great shooter and looks like a solid defender (albeit in the McDonald’s All-American game). Will Duke pick up any transfers? I think Alex Oriakhi comes if Plumlee leaves; Trey Zeigler seems more likely. Strengths? Definitely scoring, though the defense should get better with the addition of Alex Murphy. Speaking of Murphy I think he will start next year, and Marshall Plumlee will get decent minutes off the bench (to commit fouls if nothing else).
  4. Fox Sports: Here’s Andrew Jones with Florida State‘s final report card for the season. I think he’s a little harsh on the Seminoles’ offense, though their nonconference play certainly merits a harsh rating. The real question is what Leonard Hamilton can put together losing so many players. The team was so deep last year that he’ll still have plenty of players coming back with experience, but things will look very different in Tallahassee next year (Michael Snaer is the difference to me).
  5. NC State Technician: While part of me agrees that CJ Leslie should stick around for another year (namely, he’s not a first round lock), I abhor these types of articles. Players know fans want them to come back. I think the jump Leslie made between last year and this year was the difference between a flame out career and sticking around in the NBA. He matured a ton between last year and this year. If Leslie comes back, he’s definitely preseason first team All-ACC and should be in the running for conference player of the year (on a team that might be picked on top of the league).

Today in Carefully-Framed Stats:

(That would be ignoring the ACC’s three consecutive championships from 1991-1993.)

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ACC Morning Five: 02.17.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 17th, 2012

  1. Raleigh News & Observer(photo): NC State coughed up a brutal game at Duke after leading by 20 in the second half. But the Wolfpack lost in style. Below is an image of Lorenzo Brown shooting over Andre Dawkins in the team’s special black-on-black jerseys:

    NC State's Threads Looked Good in Cameron (Credit: Chuck Liddy/News & Observer)

    But more interesting is the cursed history of black-on-black, which was brought to my attention by Patrick Stevans of the Washington Times. The last time the Wolfpack donned similar colors, they blew a 12-point halftime lead (the largest lead was 17) to fall 73-78 to Maryland in 2000. The final last night was 73-78.

  2. TarHeelBlue.com and Grantland: Miami lost a very tough game to North Carolina in Coral Gables. It would have backed up a weaker NCAA tournament resume with a second signature win. And the upset looked likely through the start of the second half with the Hurricanes leading most of the way. But combine a Harrison Barnes three with four straight forced Miami turnovers by the Tar Heels, and you have a lead that never disappeared. I link both articles because they show the two sides of a game. One (by a Duke fan) laments a loss that could be the difference-maker come Selection Sunday. The other talks about a team tired of being told about its struggles when by any reasonable measure, its 21-4 record should speak for itself.
  3. Duke Basketball Report: Barry Jacobs looked at the top rebounding performances in the ACC, inspired by Miles Plumlee‘s 22-board game against Maryland. It turns out no ACC player since 1971 has nabbed more than 24 rebounds. North Carolina’s Sean May leads the way with 24 rebounds in a win against Duke (seriously, people forget just how good a rebounder May was). He also clocks in tied for fourth since 2004 with 21 rebounds against Akron.
  4. Fayetteville Observer: Speaking of the Plumlees, Marshall Plumlee has learned a lot from red-shirting his first year. The season hasn’t been without frustrations, though an extra year of practice and time in the weight room should definitely benefit the raw frosh. Plumlee and fellow freshman Alex Murphy are sitting for their first years. And while I don’t know anything about their offensive games, both should be incredibly valuable defensive assets in the coming season. Murphy is a fairly athletic wing, who should be able to guard three positions. Plumlee was known as a defensive stopper in high school.
  5. Lost Letterman: Get excited Wake Forest fans! Demon Deacon recruit Devin Thomas made history last night, shattering a backboard. The game had to be suspended until today because of the damage. You can see the video below.

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Morning Five: 12.02.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on December 2nd, 2011

  1. Luke Winn‘s Power Rankings are back this week with a bit of a surprise team at the top. Ok, not really, but his choice for the #1 spot is different than the pollsters have anointed this week, including our very own RTC Top 25 released on Monday. His rankings release on Thursday, though, and can anyone blame him after the beatdown that Ohio State put on Duke in Columbus Tuesday night? That is, until we see how Saturday’s little tilt between Kentucky and North Carolina goes. From our view of the world after three-plus weeks of action — Ohio State and Kentucky are the only two teams this year that have a chance to be great, while UNC, Syracuse, Duke, Wisconsin, Connecticut and a few others have a chance to be very, very good. Whether any will actually reach their potential is quite another story, but that’s why we do what we do.
  2. A new Rupp, same as the old Rupp? Apparently not, suggests a preliminary study from a Lexington task force that pushes a $110-$130M renovation of Kentucky’s venerable old barn, Rupp Arena, as the appropriate course of action over building an entirely new arena at a cost of three times that amount. The size and noise in that building is second to none in college basketball when at its peak, but even including some recent fan-friendly renovations in the last decade, the place isn’t as instantly gratifying to outside observers as some of the other venues around the country. Maybe these proposed renovations would help to eliminate some of the multi-purpose 70s feel of the place, which is probably what it needs to truly become a college basketball cathedral for the next 50 years.
  3. If the reports are accurate (and PJ Hairston himself would seem the best source), the freshman shooting guard for North Carolina who injured his wrist during the Heels’ hard-fought victory over Wisconsin Wednesday night will not play against Kentucky this weekend. This presents an issue with the perimeter shooting of the Tar Heels, who will come in to Lexington with only three players who have connected on four or more treys this season. Hairston, a 6’5″ wing with a nice stroke, has 14 of UNC’s 37 makes this year, which leaves Reggie Bullock (11-25) and Harrison Barnes (7-18) as the only other realistic perimeter threats. If UK goes long defensively on the perimeter and shuts down UNC’s three-point shooting Saturday, the Heels will need to have monster games from Tyler Zeller, John Henson and Barnes inside to have a good chance to win.
  4. While we’re on the subject of the biggest early-season game of the year (and perhaps the season), Kentucky’s Anthony Davis dropped a ridiculous line of 15/15/8 blks against St. John’s last night. After the game, he told Adam Zagoria that he’s “looking forward” to facing up against John Henson from North Carolina. He added that Henson “plays just like [him]” and no doubt believes that he will create just as much defensive havoc against the Heels as he has with everyone else this season. An NBA scout told Zagoria that he expects ten first round picks to be in uniform at Noon ET Saturday, with a couple more second rounders in the mix as well. While we’re resistant to the excessive hype machine of the modern 24/7 media environment, there’s no question that this game will be a doozy. Must-watch television for any sports fan this weekend, regardless of other obligations.
  5. Everyone feel free to rest their heads. There will be no third Plumlee taking the court for Duke this season, which means the gravitational pull that would no doubt result from nearly 21 feet and 7o0 pounds of Plumlee on the floor at one time will be averted. At least this season. Freshman Marshall Plumlee, equally as tall but a bit slighter than his older brothers Mason and Miles, will take a redshirt year and still have four years of eligibility remaining beginning next fall. Coach K already said in the preseason that he had no intention of playing “three 6’10” guys” for the sake of a novelty, but maybe the Plumlee dream will come through for us at some future point in the NBA next season.
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