Award Tour: Burke vs. Porter, McLemore vs. Smart and Larranaga vs. JTIII

Posted by DCassilo on March 8th, 2013

awardtour

David Cassilo is an RTC columnist who also writes about college basketball for SLAM magazine. You can follow him at @dcassilo.

With just one regular season game to go, nothing is decided. It’s another example of how unpredictable this season has been. For Player of the Year, it’s down to Trey Burke and Otto Porter Jr. Both players have carried their teams and made everyone around them better. Then there’s Freshman of the Year, which is down to Ben McLemore and Marcus Smart. They are a couple of players who have been impacts guys from the opening game. And Coach of the Year? It’s Jim Larranaga’s to lose, but lately, it looks like he’s trying to lose it.

The final update of this will run on Tuesday of next week, so make sure to look out for it.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

10. Marcus Smart – Oklahoma State (Last week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 14.9 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 4.3 APG, 3 SPG

I’ve written about Smart so many times this season that I need to give myself a moment to step back and admire how well-rounded he is as a player. His 3.0 SPG are third best in the country. He’s a guy I’ll always want on my team.  This week: March 9 vs. Kansas State

9. Deshaun Thomas – Ohio State (Last week – 9)
2012-13 stats: 19.8 PPG, 6.2 RPG

A rematch of this 2012 Final Four matchup highlights the best of the remaining Big Ten non-conference games.

Thomas and Withey are in the top-10.

Oddly enough, the Buckeyes have played their best basketball when Thomas has played his worst. Still, he’s scored at least 14 points in each game of this four-game winning streak. In most other conferences, he would be the Player of the Year. This week: March 10 vs. Illinois

8. Kelly Olynyk – Gonzaga (Last week – 8)
2012-13 stats: 17.7 PPG, 7 RPG

You would be hard-pressed to find many players that are more efficient than Olynyk. The junior shot 68.8 percent from the field while attempting over 10 shots per game. It will be fun when the rest of the country figures out who he is this March. This week: Regular season over.

7. Cody Zeller – Indiana (Last Week – 7)
2012-13 stats: 16.5 PPG, 8. RPG

It will go down as a disappointing year because of the expectations, but Zeller still improved his scoring and rebounding averages in his sophomore season. The most surprising thing, though, is that there is a Hoosier ahead of him on this list. This week: March 10 at Michigan

6. Doug McDermott – Creighton (Last week – 6)
2012-13 stats: 23.4 PPG, 7.6 RPG

McDermott closed the regular season out in style with 41 points against Wichita State. Although he will probably get a few first-place votes, what ultimately held him back was the struggles of his teammates. This week: Regular season over.

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Set Your DVR: Weekend Edition

Posted by bmulvihill on March 8th, 2013

setDVR

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

With the first tickets to the Big Dance being given out this weekend and regular season titles still up for grabs in the Big East, Big Ten, ACC, and A-10, it should be one amazing weekend of college hoops. It’s the most amazing time of the year, so sit back and enjoy. Let’s get to the breakdowns!

#17 Syracuse at #6 Georgetown – 12:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN (****)

Better Make It a Double.

Boeheim is looking for answers at Syracuse.

  • Syracuse broke a three-game losing streak this week against DePaul while Georgetown lost for the first time in 11 games against Villanova. With the loss, the Hoyas dropped into a three-team tie for first place in the Big East with Marquette and Louisville. The Orange have struggled recently and had a tough time against the Hoyas defense two weeks ago at the Carrier Dome. Jim Boeheim’s team only went 4-20 from downtown and could not get anything going from their guards. The Hoyas struggled on offense as well but were able to rely on Otto Porter once again who put in 33 points. In order for Syracuse to snap out of this funk, they need to get more production from guards Brandon Triche and Michael Carter-Williams. If both players can take better shots by driving the ball to the hoop, we will see a completely different Syracuse team. Georgetown put Villanova on the foul line 42 times earlier this week. Given the size of Triche and Carter-Williams, both players should be going straight to the basket in an attempt to draw fouls or get lay-ups. Keep a close on both players, as they are the keys to this game. If they are settling for jumpers, Syracuse is going to struggle again.

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ACC M5: 03.08.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 8th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. USA Today: This is a phenomenal article from Mike Lopresti on the 30-year anniversary of the shocking NC State national championship over Houston (which, in awesome time consuming news, you can watch in its entirety on Youtube). Two of the three most important pieces to that game are dead–Jim Valvano and Lorenzo Charles (the dunker)–but the legacy lives on through countless ESPN replays. There are very few moments in sports where the ecstasy of winning was so raw and powerful as it was watching Valvano run one direction before sprinting towards the mob by the NC State basket. 
  2. Indy Weekly: Jeff Bzdelik press conferences are worth the price of admission. He often comes across as an odd combination of aloof and irascible. After the Demon Deacons took a beating from CJ Leslie and NC State, Bzdelik offered this sage take on Leslie’s game:

    “When he wants to be, if he really wants to be, he can be”

    That’s actually a pretty fair summation of Leslie’s career. Bzdelik should’ve known he was two syllables away from a haiku, but such is life.

  3. The ACC: The conference released its All-ACC Academic teams Thursday. Four of the 14 players call Duke home, and over half of them are freshmen. Mason Plumlee is the fourth Duke player to ever make the team two years in a row; Jarell Eddie also made the team for a second straight year. All in all nine schools made the cut, but Virginia, NC State and Florida State did not. To qualify you had to have a 3.00 GPA both this year and over the course of your entire career (which explains the high number of freshmen on the team).
  4. Washington Post: It’s not a secret that Mark Turgeon and Roy Williams are close. The interesting part of this article is twofold: (1) with Maryland’s coming departure to the Big Ten, Mark Turgeon won’t have to worry about taking advice from a direct competitor, and (2) the author’s language when talking about Turgeon and Maryland’s departure. “Changing conferences wasn’t part of the deal. Turgeon came to Maryland to be a part of the tradition-rich ACC. [...] But there’s only one Tobacco Road.” North Carolina bias aside (Maryland’s not on Tobacco Road and if anything, the reverence surrounding Tobacco Road irritated Gary Williams as much as anything), but Turgeon always speaks in favor of the move publicly.
  5. This doesn’t need any analysis. (But really Tony Bennett, you didn’t want to double team the guy with three game winners this year before he got the ball?) Michael Snaer put the shakes on Joe Harris before getting the old-fashioned three point play to beat Virginia.

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ACC Afternoon 10: 03.06.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 6th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Winston-Salem Journal: Dan Collins equates Wake Forest‘s tipping point to getting easy baskets in transition. If the Demon Deacons do, they do well. If not, you get the idea. The issue with that theory is Wake Forest isn’t a team that forces turnovers. The Demon Deacons struggle more on offense than defense, so when they can score (easily or with difficulty), they perform well. Their struggles are much more complex than just getting points in transition. In their two blowout losses to Maryland, Wake Forest was beaten by Maryland’s frontcourt in College Park and Dez Wells in Winston-Salem. Maryland is also notorious for turning the ball over. Regardless, this makes me want to go back and watch some Wake Forest games to see what makes them tick.
  2. Sports on Earth: This article does a good job addressing the challenge ahead of Duke’s opponents with Ryan Kelly now back. Essentially Kelly is the linchpin on both ends of the floor: He opens the lane up for Mason Plumlee, Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon to score, but he also helps shut it down as a versatile, wily defender. Other than Kelly, Duke didn’t play that well against Miami on Saturday night. However, things clicked — though not playing the conference’s best defense helped — after a slow start against Virginia Tech on senior night.
  3. Tallahassee DemocratTerrance Shannon‘s three minutes were the bright sunshine through the rainy day at Chapel Hill. He didn’t play well, but having him back at all after his gruesome injury is terrific news. The next steps for Shannon are obviously to continue getting back into game shape. On the whole, this has been a very quiet year in the ACC injury-wise (other than Kelly’s foot). Here’s to hoping everyone stays healthy for postseason play.
  4. Boston Globe: Sunday’s upset of Boston College over Virginia was special. Dick Kelly, the Eagles’ longtime SID, was diagnosed with ALS two years ago. This year he was awarded the USBWA award for courage for his fight against the disease. Kelley still keeps in close contact with the athletic department, and after freshman Joe Rahon hit the game-winning shot, it was clear even the younger players know Kelley well.
  5. Airball Free Throw@WXMoose took the time after NC State‘s too close win at Georgia Tech to recap the game in GIFs. This may be the funniest post I’ve read all year.
  6. BC Interruption: If you’re not a diehard ACC basketball fan or a fan of Boston College, you probably don’t know about Eddie Odio. He was supposed to redshirt his freshman year but played his way into the lineup. This year he’s averaging four points in a little under 20 minutes a game. But how he gets those points is why you should know him. Odio was a “standout volleyball player.” This should tip you off that he can seriously jump. Odio’s dunks are one of the many reasons watching Boston College is more enjoyable this year. His entire game still isn’t at the ACC level, but his athleticism certainly is. If Odio can bulk up a little bit and work on his jump shot (he’s only shooting 17% from deep this season), he’ll be even more fun to watch in future seasons.
  7. Gobbler Country: Sticking with player profiles, Gobbler Country did a nice homage to Erick Green. It follows Green’s Virginia Tech career and how he started life buried on the bench as a freshman before Dorenzo Hudson’s injury gave him the chance he needed his sophomore year. This year, Green’s numbers are truly phenomenal. It’s easy to say, “Well, he’s on a bad team” and brush them off. But efficiency-wise, Green is far and above the best ACC player out there. Sure, Mason Plumlee and Shane Larkin could never come close to his usage rate. Each has too many other weapons on their respective teams. But Green deserves as much recognition as he can get and probably the ACC Player of the Year award.
  8. Baltimore Sun: Pe’Shon Howard has had a tough year. He started the year as captain and leader of a team that many thought was dangerous. Midway through the year his captaincy was revoked and he sat out Maryland’s marquee win over Duke. Howard was also plagued by season-long cold shooting with a horrible tendency to turn the ball over, and often looked lost on both ends of the floor. Still, his performance against Wake Forest looked like he’s getting back on track — especially defensively. But unlike Mark Turgeon’s problem child last season, Howard appears to be responding to his criticism and looks like he’ll be returning to College Park next year. The Terrapins will be better for it.
  9. Charlotte Observer: If you’ve watched much of Duke this season, it’s hard not to notice the bond between Mike Krzyzewski and Mason Plumlee. Plumlee may still make some of the same errors he did as a freshman and sophomore, but they’re not from a lack of effort. He’s extremely focused this season (on winning a national championship), and his enthusiasm has helped to build a great relationship with the Duke coach. I’m not sure there’s a Plumlee-esque senior leader on next year’s team, but if I had to guess that person would be Tyler Thornton.
  10. Chattanooga Times Free Press: The last line of this story about Shane Larkin may reveal the real reason Larkin quit baseball:

“Shane used to always be known as my son,” the elder Larkin told ESPN last week. “Now I’m known as Shane’s father, and I couldn’t be happier about that.”

But whatever the true reason, Larkin is phenomenal. He’s the most exciting, important and consistent player on the ACC’s best team. If he wants to truly cement his legacy in Coral Gables, he needs to lead his team to the ACC Championship and/or the Elite Eight. Truthfully, his legacy as a ‘Cane is already safe, but those achievements would put him over the top. He’s also got the best team he’ll ever have at Miami, so now is the time.

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Erick Green and Mason Plumlee Are all-ACC First Team, But Who Should Join Them?

Posted by Jimmy Kelley on March 4th, 2013

Jimmy Kelley is an ACC correspondent for Rush the Court. Follow him on Twitter @JimmyKelley_

Unlike the ACC Player of the Year Award, All-Conference honors are handed out based on who had the most outstanding season in relation to the other players in the league. However, much like the POY award, there are different schools of thought about how the team should be ordered. Do you honor the five best players regardless of position, or do you fill it out like any other team with one player from each of the guard, forward and center spots? Personally I believe in the former and based on that there are two players who simply cannot be left off of this year’s All-ACC first team: Erick Green of Virginia Tech and Mason Plumlee of Duke. But who has earned the other three spots? There are a handful of contenders for those three slots with a few playing their way onto the team and a few others on their way out.

Mason Plumlee Erick Green

Mason Plumlee and Erick Green are shoo-ins for All-ACC honors.

After Plumlee and Green the first logical place to look is at who has played well in big games and has the stats to back up their play on the court. The first three players that come to mind here are Richard Howell, Shane Larkin and Joe Harris. Each plays a major role for his team, each is his team’s steadying force and each player has had a transcendent game against Duke.

Howell’s may be the easiest case to make because he is the truest center in the league and is averaging 12.3 points and 12.3 rebounds in ACC games (12.8 PPG/11.1 RPG overall) and his 16-point, 18-rebound effort against Duke was one of the first truly impressive games of the ACC season. He is the rock on an otherwise inconsistent team that has gotten mixed results from both their talented freshman class and star junior forward, C.J. Leslie. This has not been the season many thought was in store for the Wolfpack, but without Howell it could have been much worse.

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Award Tour: Huge Week Carries Otto Porter to the Top of the NPOY List

Posted by DCassilo on March 1st, 2013

awardtour

David Cassilo is an RTC columnist who also writes about college basketball for SLAM magazine. You can follow him at @dcassilo.

As we hit March, the NPOY race looks like it’s down to four players: Trey Burke, Victor Oladipo, Mason Plumlee and Otto Porter Jr. While it’s almost certain that one of those four will take home the hardware, it’s almost impossible to decide on a clear front-runner. Look around the Internet, and you’ll see each of those players No. 1 somewhere. In a season with no clear-cut best team, a race like this for Player of the Year is fitting. Can’t wait to see how it all plays out over the next 17 days.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

10. Jack Cooley – Notre Dame (Last week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 14.4 PPG, 11 RPG

Cooley & Martin Will Likely Be Overlooked Again (AP Photo/J. Raymond)

Cooley has had a lot to celebrate this season. (AP Photo/J. Raymond)

One of the few players from a major conference to average a double-double, Cooley has been a quiet force on an overlooked Notre Dame team. He’s not going to make any top 10 highlight reels, but he is going to be the reason the Irish win games. This week: March 2 at Marquette, March 5 vs. St. John’s

9. Deshaun Thomas – Ohio State (Last week – 8)
2012-13 stats: 19.8 PPG, 6.1 RPG

The Ohio State junior is what he is — a scorer who can do some rebounding. He does both every single night, regardless of defense. Thomas is a really good college player that is close to being a great one. This week: March 5 at Ohio State

8. Cody Zeller – Indiana (Last Week – 5)
2012-13 stats: 16.3 PPG, 8.1 RPG

Zeller has shown a knack for disappearing in big games, and Tuesday’s loss to Minnesota was no different. He went just 2-of-9 from the floor before fouling out with nine points. He can’t do that in March. This week: March 2 vs. Iowa, March 5 vs. Ohio State

7. Kelly Olynyk – Gonzaga (Last week – 9)
2012-13 stats: 17.8 PPG, 6.9 RPG

As Gonzaga appears poised to grab the No. 1 ranking, Olynyk is on a tear. The junior has made at least 70 percent of his shots in his last four games. Regardless of competition, that’s pretty impressive. This week: March 2 vs. Portland

6. Doug McDermott – Creighton (Last week – 7)
2012-13 stats: 22.8 PPG, 7.7 RPG

At a time when his team desperately needed it, McDermott had one of his best games of the season on Wednesday for Creighton. The junior finished with 32 points and 11 rebounds against Bradley. He will need to do that routinely for this team to go anywhere. This week: March 2 vs. Wichita State

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Can Cody Zeller Continue to Stay Out of Foul Trouble?

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on February 26th, 2013

Deepak is a writer for the Big Ten microsite of Rush The Court. Follow him on Twitter for more about B1G hoops at @dee_b1g.

After 27 games which include just three losses, you begin to wonder if the Hoosiers have any glaring weaknesses that can be exploited during the postseason. At the beginning of the year, especially after Derek Elston’s injury, I wasn’t sure if they would have enough interior depth to beat elite teams in case Cody Zeller picked up a couple of quick fouls in the first half. Because if Zeller is forced to sit, Tom Crean would would have to go with a smaller lineup of Christian Watford, Will Sheehey or (gulp) freshman Hanner Perea in the frontcourt. Although Watford and Sheehey are capable of defending a 6’8” power forward, they wouldn’t be as effective on the offensive end if forced to exert so much energy on defense. But looking back at the Hoosiers’ season so far, Zeller has somehow managed to stay out of foul trouble, a very impressive feat considering that the Hoosiers have already played Minnesota and Michigan State. He has picked up four fouls in just three games: against Jacksonville, Penn State, and Georgetown. Opposing coaches can clearly see that with Zeller on the bench, the inside is open, but they haven’t yet succeeded in exploiting that weakness. Let’s examine how he has managed to stay out of foul trouble and if it could be an issue in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.

ody Zeller has shown that he is a smart player on defense. (Photo credit: Sandra Dukes/US Presswire)

Cody Zeller has shown that he is a smart player on defense. (Photo credit: Sandra Dukes/US Presswire)

Crean has done an effective job of putting Zeller in comfortable positions on the defensive end of the floor. By using the zone against good offenses for certain stretches of the game, Zeller is not asked to face off against the opposition’s best forward. Let’s take both of the games against Michigan State to illustrate this game plan:

Spartan forwards Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne have the size and the footwork in the paint to get Zeller into foul trouble, but neither was successful in either of their attempts this season. Zeller covered the paint as part of the zone during the first game in Bloomington and even though it opened up some opportunities for Payne to attack through the backdoor (resulting in a couple of highlight dunks), it kept Zeller from picking up easy fouls. The zone helps “hide” the sophomore forward for a decent portion of the game. When forced to play man, Crean opted not to put Zeller on Nix, but used Watford there instead. At first glance, asking Watford to guard Nix seems like a terrible idea, but Zeller was quick to double-team the MSU big man and force him to pick up his dribble. Very rarely do big men in college possess a great ability to pass the ball out of a double team, especially if a seven-footer with quick hands is trying to swat the ball from behind. Nix scored just eight points in each of the two games against Indiana. The zone combined with smart defensive positioning has helped Zeller stay out of foul trouble and this strategy could be used against any other team that has a similarly versatile forward in the low post.

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Set Your DVR: Week of 02.25.13

Posted by bmulvihill on February 25th, 2013

setDVR

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

There are four games left in the regular season for most teams and the conference battles are still going strong. The last week and a half of the season should be exciting for everyone. Let’s not waste any time and get to the breakdowns.

#11 Syracuse at #19 Marquette – 7:00 PM EST, Monday on ESPN (****)

Michael Carter-Williams Has Been a Revelation This Season

Can Michael Carter-Williams cause Marquette to turn the ball over?

  • Both of these teams are coming off losses that have dropped them one game behind Georgetown for the Big East lead. The final four games of the season are certainly no cakewalk for Syracuse as they have to play at Marquette, home against Louisville and DePaul, and then at Georgetown to close out the regular season. Marquette has it slightly easier as the will play at home against Syracuse and Notre Dame and then on the road against Rutgers and St. John’s. The Orange are 4-4 in their last eight games and have struggled offensively. They shot below 40% eFG in all four of the losses. Their three-point shooting has been particularly bad as they have gone 5-of-14, 3-of-14, 4-of-23, and 4-of-20 in those games. A road game at Marquette will not be easy since the Golden Eagles are 9-0 at home this year. Turnovers have been the problem for Marquette but mostly away from the Bradley Center — if Marquette can protect the basketball and the perimeter, they can win this game. Syracuse simply needs to knock down its open shots. If they are going to break out of their three-point shooting slump, Marquette is the team to do it against because Buzz Williams’ perimeter defense is suspect at best. Watch out for James Sutherland, as he has been hot and cold from deep since returning to the Orange lineup. If they can get a solid performance from him, SU will be in good shape. Also, keep an eye on the match-up between Michael Carter-Williams and Junior Cadougan. Cadougan is prone to turning the ball over, so if Carter-Williams can use his long arms to poke a few balls away and get the Orange out on the break, his team has a definite shot at a big road win against Marquette.

#7 Kansas at Iowa State – 9:00 PM EST, Monday on ESPN (****)

  • Iowa State took Kansas to the brink in their first contest in early January, only to cave in overtime at Allen Fieldhouse. With four games to play in the Big 12 season the Jayhawks are currently tied with Kansas State for the lead, which puts the Cyclones squarely in the spoiler role. In the first game, Iowa State shot the ball an absurd 38 times from three. Expect more of the same in this contest as Kansas possesses a significant size advantage down low. Given that advantage, look for them to pound the ball inside to Jeff Withey early and often. Iowa State has no answer for Withey inside. If he is able to establish himself in the paint, it opens the floor for Ben McLemore to take over. If Kansas can defend the three and utilize its advantage in the paint, they should have no problem knocking off the Cyclones. However, if you see that three-pointers are raining down from Fred Hoiberg’s squad early, it’s going to be another nailbiter.

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Award Tour: Trey Burke And Marcus Smart Rise to the Top

Posted by DCassilo on February 22nd, 2013

awardtour

David Cassilo is an RTC columnist who also writes about college basketball for SLAM magazine. You can follow him at @dcassilo.

Wouldn’t it be fun to have a real college all-star game? First of all, it would give every team a break it needs, and second, seeing the top players face off would be great. Imagine something like Trey Burke, Victor Oladipo, Doug McDermott, Jeff Withey and Kelly Olynyk against Marcus Smart, Deshaun Thomas, Otto Porter Jr., Mason Plumlee and Cody Zeller. Personally, I would love to see Burke and Smart run their teams against each other. I know there is some lame all-star game during Final Four weekend, but a mid-season game is something that the NCAA should consider.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

10. Marcus Smart – Oklahoma State (Last week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 15 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 4.4 APG, 2.9 SPG

It’s amazing that Smart not only is this great already but also has so much room for improvement. In the double-overtime loss against Kansas on Wednesday, he was the most important player on the floor despite going 2-of-14 from the field. One more offseason of workouts will make him a lethal player. This week: February 23 at West Virginia, February 27 at TCU

9. Kelly Olynyk – Gonzaga (Last week – 10)
2012-13 stats: 17.9 PPG, 6.9 RPG

Kelly Olynyk's Breakout Year Has Gonzaga As One Of The Nation's Elite Offensive Teams (USA Today Sports Images)

Kelly Olynyk’s Breakout Year Has Gonzaga As One Of The Nation’s Elite Offensive Teams (USA Today Sports Images)

There is likely no better frontcourt tandem in the nation than Olynyk and Elias Harris. The two combine to average 32.5 PPG and 14.4 RPG. There are few teams in the country that will be able to match up with that duo in the NCAA Tournament. This week: February 23 vs. San Diego, February 28 at BYU

8. Deshaun Thomas – Ohio State (Last week – 8)
2012-13 stats: 20.1 PPG, 6 RPG

Thomas is just a straight-up gunner. He takes 16 shots per game and has scored in double-figures in every game this season. It seems nearly impossible to completely take him out of a game defensively. This week: February 24 vs. Michigan State, February 28 at Northwestern

7. Doug McDermott – Creighton (Last Week – 7)
2012-13 stats: 22.5 PPG, 7.8 RPG

For all his accolades as a scorer, McDermott’s ability to rebound often gets overlooked. The 6’8″ junior has eight double-doubles so far this season and has hauled in as many as 13 rebounds in a game. This week: February 23 at St. Mary’s, February 27 at Bradley

6. Jeff Withey – Kansas (Last week – 6)
2012-13 stats: 13.4 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 4.0 BPG

At the most important part of the season, Withey is playing his best basketball. He’s had double-doubles in his last three games, which is something he hasn’t done all season. The 14 rebounds against Oklahoma State on Wednesday were a season-high. This week: February 23 vs. TCU, February 25 at Iowa State

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ACC M5: 02.21.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 21st, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Fox Sports: I would’ve said the ACC Player of the Year race was a dead heat as late as last week. But as long as Miami keeps dominating the league (even by low margins of victory), I’m starting to think Shane Larkin holds the best card. Barring some outrageous performances to close out the season (and at least one marquee win) Erick Green should be done. It may not be fair, but life isn’t fair. Mason Plumlee has a very good shot at the award too — assuming he bounces back to form after struggling against Maryland and looks good against Miami (a Duke win against Miami next Saturday would turn the tables somewhat). But Larkin is the most important player on the conference’s best team. At a minimum, he and Kenny Kadji are first-teamers.
  2. Orlando Sentinel: Great news out of Tallahassee, as Terrance Shannon has been cleared for no-contact practice. Shannon suffered a nasty neck injury early in conference play at Virginia. He had to be carted off the court in one of the scarier moments of the season. Apparently, Shannon sought a second opinion and will be back much sooner than expected. Assuming the rest of his rehabilitation goes according to schedule, it’s possible he’ll be back before the end of the season. Shannon adds tons of energy and toughness to a young Florida State front line.
  3. Duke Basketball Report: Every year there’s a team in the ACC (usually one in the lower tier) that plays more than its fair share of close games. This year three of the league’s bottom five teams are struggling to win the close ones. Just in conference games alone, Boston College, Clemson and Georgia Tech are a combined 4-15 in games decided by five points or fewer. Meanwhile, all of Florida State’s conference wins have been by five points or fewer (thank Michael Snaer for that 6-1 record in close games), while close games are a coin flip for Wake Forest and NC State. Miami is the only team unblemished in close games with a 4-0 record, although the Hurricanes have been flirting with disaster recently.
  4. Washington Post: That sound was Maryland falling back to the wrong side of the bubble after a brutal letdown loss at Boston College following its emotional upset win against Duke. Want to know what this Maryland team is starting to look dangerously like? A worse version of 2010-11 Virginia Tech. Ugly non-conference resume with no quality wins? Check. Talented roster shaped largely around two dynamic players but with a fatal flaw? Check (the Hokies couldn’t shoot; Maryland can’t hold onto the basketball). Huge upset win over Duke that boosted NCAA hopes dramatically immediately followed by a soul-crushing loss to Boston College? Check. NIT? Yes and to be determined.
  5. Kansas City Star: The details of Frank Haith‘s notice of allegations were released by Missouri. The reported “unethical conduct” charge was dropped to “failure to monitor” (which is far less severe). The big charge levied against Haith is that he failed to notify the athletic department of Nevin Shapiro’s instability and gave money to an assistant to pass along to the renegade booster. With the NCAA’s recent struggles, it’s hard to see Haith’s punishment with much teeth. If the NCAA does try to get medieval, expect him to fight back and potentially get a settlement. A suspension of some kind is the most likely punishment.
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ACC M5: 02.18.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 18th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Raleigh News & Observer: When Caulton Tudor drops a story, it’s good to make a point to listen to him. His three anecdotes in this piece don’t have any special significance but are a cool look back at recent and less recent college basketball history on Tobacco Road. He marvels at Christian Laettner (and his competitiveness against Shaquille O’Neal), Jim Valvano and Roy Williams in stories dating from three different decades. Stories like this are why Tudor will be missed after his retirement.
  2. Testudo Times: Maryland got the marquee win it desperately needed, providing more evidence about Duke’s horrible interior defense without Ryan Kelly along the way. Despite 25 turnovers (!) the Terrapins were led by Alex Len‘s evisceration of Mason Plumlee to a close victory that should prove very helpful on Selection Sunday. Duke’s excuse will be that it was the team’s third game in six days, but it was a team that got smacked in the mouth by the atmosphere at College Park and could never get any offensive flow together because of its poor defense. After the game, Mark Turgeon had some very interesting comments that placed the game at incredible importance to he and his family (who apparently had to leave game last week because fans were being so crude).
  3. D1scourse: Patrick Stevens took a look at the lowest scoring ACC games in the shot clock era after Miami-Clemson set a new low over the weekend at 45-43. Between 1985-86 and 2009-10, there were three games where neither team reached 50 points (two coming thanks to a 1986 Wake Forest team that went 0-14 in conference play and didn’t top the half-century mark five times). Since 2010-11 there have been five such games. People will probably read into this (extraordinarily interesting) stat and decry the recent down years in the ACC. But this trend, if you can call it that, comes down to new coaches — specifically Brad Brownell and Tony Bennett — with a little help from two very defensive minded teams (Florida State and Virginia Tech) last year.
  4. Shakin the Southland: This is a pretty thoughtful support of Clemson head coach Brad Brownell. One interesting thing is the harshness with which the author looks at Devin Booker and Milton Jennings. Both probably deserve the frustration, as they have rarely lived up to their talent (especially Jennings), but Booker in particular has kept Clemson reasonably close on his own in many games this year. Specifically, the article parallels Clemson and Virginia, tracking Brownell and Bennett in the process. Bennett has definitely had his share of success this year but don’t discount a very generous conference schedule. If (and it’s a big if) Brownell can consistently recruit ACC-caliber players, he’s a strong enough coach to win.
  5. Wilmington Star-News: On the heels of Ken Pomeroy’s surprising find that more teams lose when committing a foul up three with between five and 12 seconds left on the game clock, NC State found itself in that exact situation over the weekend. Conventional wisdom says that the team should foul, but the opportunity for an offensive rebound on a missed free throw probably pushes the needle the other way. Virginia Tech ran arguably the coolest set play of the year (it was illegal but still…) to get a tip-in from Jarell Eddie to tie everything up before losing by four in overtime. I think Mark Gottfried made the right choice considering his team’s obvious three-point defensive struggles.
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Believe Your Eyes: The ACC is a Bad Free Throw Shooting Conference

Posted by KCarpenter on February 15th, 2013

Last night, the Clemson Tigers defeated the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, 56-53. In the win, the Tigers shot 9-of-17 from the free throw line, good for a not-exactly-world-beating 52.9%. It was a below-average performance for Clemson, but not a massive outlier. On the season, the Tigers are shooting 66.5% from the line, which is the 254th best mark in Division I. Of course, ACC fans know, that for whatever reason, Clemson has been a bad free-throw shooting team for the better part of the past decade. The Tigers’ woes are old news. It’s not just Clemson that’s struggling with free throws this year, though: It’s the whole conference.

Take Note, ACC Players...

Take Note, ACC Players…

It’s strange to hear an entire conference of fans lament that their team is “terrible” at the charity stripe, yet that’s what I’ve heard this year. Of course, people’s observations are prone to all sorts of psychological biases, so maybe it just seems like everyone is bad at shooting free throws? Not really. Considering only conference games, the ACC teams are shooting 66.8% from the charity stripe — good for 30th best among 32 D-I conferences. In recent history, the ACC has been in the better half of free-throw shooting conferences every year since 2003. It’s not just one team dragging the average down, either: 10 of the 12 conference teams are having worse shooting years than they did last year. Only Duke and Florida State are shooting better than last season, due almost entirely to Mason Plumlee‘s significant improvement in the case of Duke and the graduation of Bernard James from Florida State.

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