ACC Morning Five: 12.29.11 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on December 29th, 2011

Only one game last night, but tonight we resume full-on Atlantic Coast Conference action. Last night was the debut of Alex Len, a 7’1″ big man from the Ukraine who is as skilled as he is giant. He looked pretty good in his debut for Maryland. Then again, this picture from his Twitter account is even better:

Alex Len Will Break You

I, for one, am excited for a season with 100% more Alex Len.

  1. Shelby Star: North Carolina State is moving the ball incredibly well. Over the past four games, 75% of Wolfpack field goals have been assisted. As a team, they are averaging 17.4 APG, good for second best in the ACC, behind only North Carolina. This is pretty impressive, but the article doesn’t get into how good NC State looks in terms of tempo free statistics. According to Ken Pomeroy’s rankings, the Wolfpack actually leads the ACC in percentage of field goals assisted (62.8%) and are the 26th passing-est team in the country. For reference, last year the team only assisted on 55.3%, not even ranking within the top one hundred nationally. The statistics seem to back it up:  the culture of the Wolfpack is really changing.
  2. Boston Globe: It’s easy to disparage Matt Humphrey, the shot-hogging, terribly inaccurate inexplicable focal point of Boston College‘s terrible offense. That’s a shame too, because it’s easy to forget that Humphrey is a person, in truth, just another college kid. He had a hard time fitting in at his old school and after an awkward year of waiting is having a hard time fitting in at his new school. Julian Benbow’s profile of the swing man is a must-read for anyone who wants to better understand one of the most confusing players in the ACC.
  3. Washington Post: Paul Jesperson made his college debut on Tuesday, playing for short-handed Virginia which lost two players to transfer over the weekend. Jesperson, this time last week, had expected that he wouldn’t be playing until next season, taking a redshirt. This profile goes over how Jesperson made the decision to step up for his team and take to the big stage of college basketball.
  4. Baltimore Sports Report: The ACC is not very good this year. The typically excellent league is in a down year, and the conference’s combined non-conference record reflects the overall weakness of this year. While Duke and North Carolina appear to be as strong as ever, the ACC middle class appears to have fallen through the basement. Still, the non-conference schedule isn’t completely finished and the article includes some speculation about how a number of teams (notably Miami and Maryland) might be able to finish strong.
  5. ESPN: A nearly twenty year old record is poised to fall. Between 1992 and 1994, North Carolina won 25 home games in a row, setting a Dean Smith Center Record that remarkably stood up, even in the midst of two national championship runs. When the Tar Heels take on Elon tonight, they have a shot of tying a record that neither Vince Carter, Raymond Felton, or Tyler Hansbrough could match. A win on Sunday against Monmouth would break the record. These kinds of streaks are ultimately meaningless in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a nice reflection of what this team has accomplished so far.
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ACC Game On: 12.21.11

Posted by KCarpenter on December 21st, 2011

There was only a single ACC game last night, but it was a doozy. After a last-second C.J. Leslie shot, the Wolfpack narrowly escaped with a win against St. Bonaventure on the road. Of course, North Carolina State shouldn’t have needed the last minute heroics, but a win is a win in Rochester or Raleigh. Tonight, there is a nice slate of games, including the latest installment in a fun inter-conference series.

The Marquee Match-Up

  • Texas at North Carolina at 7:00 PM on ESPN2

The Longhorns and the Tar Heels have played a December game for the past few years, and despite Texas’s recent winning streak, the games are usually fairly close. With a highly-touted North Carolina team playing in Chapel Hill, Roy Williams‘ squad comes to this game as the clear favorite. Texas is young and small, but the ability to field a lighting-quick line-up that features J’Covan Brown and freshman sensation Myck Kabongo could challenge North Carolina. Kendall Marshall is the straw that stirs the powder-blue drink and unfortunately, he lacks the lateral quickness to defend fast guards. Since both players demand coverage, this isn’t an issue that can be solved by merely throwing Dexter Strickland at the problem. Still, if the Tar Heels stand poised to struggle defensively against the speed of Texas, the Longhorns will have their own defensive problems with a long and tall North Carolina team.

A History Lesson

  • Virginia at Seattle at 10:10 PM

Seattle used to be a basketball powerhouse. Elgin Baylor led the Redhawks to an NCAA championship game in 1958, where the team lost to Kentucky. Since then, Seattle vanished off the college basketball map, playing in the NAIA for over twenty years before rejoining the NCAA in 2001. This year is only the third season that Seattle has played in Division I since the seventies. I bring this up as a way of explaining that Seattle University is still in the process of rebuilding its program since what were effectively fallow years. Playing in historic KeyArena, the newly nationally-ranked Cavaliers have a very good chance at extending their win streak against the over-matched Redhawks.

A Rare Sight

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Checking In On… the ACC

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 2nd, 2011

Matt Patton is the RTC correspondent for the ACC.

Reader’s Take

 

Top Storylines

  • ACC/Big 10 Challenge: I’m not sure we can call it a challenge this year, as the ACC was dismantled 8-4 (with two of those wins being upsets). I don’t put much stock in the Challenge results although I do think it’s the best of the conference duels. I also think the Big 10 is a much better basketball conference than the ACC. The lone conference highlights came from Wake Forest and Virginia. The Demon Deacons got their second straight BCS-conference victory over Nebraska (on the road no less). To put the milestone in perspective, last season, Wake Forest didn’t win any road games against BCS competition and only won two home games against major conference schools. Meanwhile the Cavaliers rebuffed their critics (read: me) by beating a talented, well-coached Michigan squad.
  • Tar Heel Questions: North Carolina may be the best team in the country, but  any aura of invincibility was shattered by UNLV bum rushing the Tar Heels out in Las Vegas. UNLV played extraordinarily well: it exploited mismatches, slammed North Carolina inside and knocked down open shots. The Tar Heels left with major questions about who will take over games in tough spots, and whether John Henson and Tyler Zeller could step up inside in big moments. The big men reverted back to earlier seasons’ form, Henson settling for ill-advised jumpers and Zeller settling for no shots at all.
  • Austin Rivers Criticism: High profile recruits going to high profile schools generate high profile expectations. But less than ten games into the season, in my opinion, is a little early to say that Austin Rivers cannot fit into Duke’s system. The statements are coming from Duke fans, Duke haters, and journalists alike. It’s true that Rivers hasn’t seamlessly moved to the college game, but he’s been Duke’s best offensive threat so far this season. Watch the Duke – Ohio State game: the only two offensive factors for Duke were Rivers and Mason Plumlee. Rivers has a well-documented crossover that allows him to get to the rim at will. With a little better shot selection and the occasional pass to open teammates, he’ll be near the top of college basketball’s offensive players relatively soon.
  • Pre-Season Tournaments: We know Duke won the Maui Invitational for the fifth time, but how did other ACC schools fare in tournament play? Boston College took sixth at the 76 Classic (which, for the record has been a “Classic” since 2007) thanks to an overtime win over UC Riverside. Clemson has yet to take place in the Diamond Head Classic (est. 2009), but will take to Hawaii in late December with the possibility of playing a very talented Xavier squad. Florida State struggled at the Battle 4 Atlantis, getting beat by Harvard in the second round before losing a very close game against defending national champion Connecticut in the third place game. Georgia Tech had a mixed trip to the Charleston Classic (est. 2008), losing to St. Joseph’s and LSU with a win against VCU thrown in. Maryland struggled in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, getting blown out by likely NCAA Tournament teams Alabama and Iona. Miami will join Florida, Texas A&M, and FAU at the Orange Bowl Classic in mid-December. North Carolina came away with its first loss from the Las Vegas Invitational. NC State got some very valuable experience from the Ticketcity Legends Classic (est. 2007) losing to Vanderbilt in a close game but coming from behind to beat Texas. Virginia took fourth at Paradise Jam highlighted by a close (but bad) loss to TCU in the first round. Virginia Tech was competitive at the NIT Season Tip-Off, winning the third-place game over Oklahoma State after playing well in a loss to Syracuse. Finally, Wake Forest lost a very close game to Dayton, was blown out by Arizona State, and bounced back with a win over Texas Tech to take seventh at the Old Spice Classic (est. 2006).
  • Boston College’s Identity: Boston College isn’t good, but the Eagles might be better off if Matt Humphrey passed the torch to Patrick Heckmann. Regardless, the Eagles will probably struggle a lot this season, but Heckmann has proven to be very efficient offensively so far.

Seth Curry And Duke Got Undressed By The Buckeyes On Tuesday. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

Power Rankings

  1. North Carolina (6-1): The Tar Heels may have suffered their first loss, but they’re still the best team in the ACC. They got a very good win at home against Wisconsin on Wednesday night, and did it playing Wisconsin’s style. That’s good and bad as it means they succeeded playing a very uncomfortable game thanks to very good defense, especially from Dexter Strickland. However, it also means Wisconsin controlled the tempo. The good news is Kentucky is a very young team that likes to run. This plays right into North Carolina’s hands as it has much more experience running fast, but staying in control.
  2. Duke (7-1): The Blue Devils got absolutely handled at Ohio State on Tuesday, but they still have the best wins in the conference (at least number of quality wins). The worst news in the loss was Ryan Kelly’s disappearance on offense. He and Seth Curry absolutely have to have a positive impact on that end of the floor for Duke to live up to expectations this season. On a more positive note, Mason Plumlee looks like he’s made at least part of the leap people have been expecting since he arrived (still too many turnovers, but very solid otherwise). Read the rest of this entry »
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Matt Humphrey, Patrick Heckmann and the Identity of Boston College

Posted by KCarpenter on November 28th, 2011

Boston College does not have a good team this year. It’s likely to get better as the year goes on, but any amount of improvement is still likely to find the Eagles in the basement of the ACC. This weekend seems like it might be a microcosm of the rest of the season for BC: Friday saw the young team eke out an overtime win against equally woeful UC Riverside thanks to the heroic effort put forth by Patrick Heckmann and his 32 points on 13 shots scoring performance. Then, on Sunday, the team got blown out by New Mexico. Matt Humphrey led the way with a very inefficient 12 points on 18 shots. This looks to be the future of Boston College: Tough wins behind Heckmann or the team chucking up misses on the way to clear routs.

Patrick Heckmann is an Efficiency Dream (AP/A. Gallardo)

Heckmann’s early promise has been pointed out and analyzed before, so I’m not going to waste a lot of time talking about the clear-cut best player on the team. However, I will use him for the sake of comparison: So far this season, he has scored 69 points for his team on 38 shots. Humphrey, the second leading scorer, has scored 66 points. It has taken him a whopping 73 shots. In per game terms, Heckmann is taking 7.6 shots a game and making them at 47.4% rate. Humphrey is taking 12.2 shots a game and making them at a 27.4% rate. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that offense is being allocated inefficiently. This team needs to fall behind Heckmann, giving him more touches while simultaneously decreasing Humphrey’s role in the offense.

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ACC Team Previews: Boston College

Posted by KCarpenter on October 26th, 2011

Usually, replacing the winningest coach in a program’s history is a thankless task. Yet somehow, Steve Donahue came out of the 2010-11 season smelling like roses. Taking over for longtime head coach and flex offense enthusiast Al Skinner, Donahue led Boston College to a 21-13 season and 9-7 conference record, a significant improvement over the 2009-10 season. Donahue was lucky to inherit a veteran team, stocked full of seniors and a first round NBA draft caliber talent in Reggie Jackson. Still, while that season was an improvement over the previous one, it too ended in disappointment: a second-round ACC Tournament exit against Clemson and a March spent watching other teams play basketball.

Boston College Will Miss Reggie Jackson This Season

As for the summer turnover, well, it was near-complete. The downside of a team of mostly seniors is that seniors have this habit of graduating. The starting lineup was completely wiped out and the bench was decimated. Calling this year a rebuilding year is an understatement. Donahue is bringing in nine freshmen and two transfers to totally re-fashion a team that barely has anything in common with last year’s team. As for the newcomers? Well, the recruiting services didn’t think too highly of them. Despite bringing in so many players, Rivals rates BC’s 2011 crop as only the 9th best in the ACC. However, Donahue thinks that this is deceiving, considering the recruiting services focus more on raw athletic talent. Donahue got his kind of guys: Guys who can shoot, pass, and dribble even if they aren’t as naturally physically gifted as some of their peers. Years recruiting at Cornell means that Donahue has the potential to be a more wily recruiter than you might expect: Luring a player to a program without the ability to offer athletic scholarships has a tendency to hone recruiting skills. Similarly, the scholarship restriction in the Ivies drove Donahue further abroad, giving him a chance to extensively network and now he has a chance to snag players that might not even be on the radar of other ACC schools. Much has been made out of the heavy California contingent in BC’s freshmen class, but Donahue’s explanation as why he recruits so heavily from the Golden State is cogent and well-thought outUsing Euroleague style ball as his model, it seems clear that the coach is assembling a team that will thrive on open perimeter shots generated by fast and frequent ball movement.

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Checking in on the… Pac-10

Posted by nvr1983 on March 5th, 2009

Michael Hurley is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 Conference.

News & Notes

  • Washington has clinched their first regular season Pac-10 title since 1985 and with a win against Washington State can clinch their first outright conference title since 1953.
  • Washington State’s first senior class of Taylor Rochestie, Aron Baynes, Caleb Forest, and Daven Harmeling is its first to defeat all nine Pac-10 rivals since 1989.
  • Darren Collison is shooting 91.8 percent (89-for-97) from the free-throw line this year good for second in the nation, and second on the UCLA all-time single-season chart.
  • It may not make Oregon feel any better, but Pomeroy College Basketball ranks Oregon’s schedule as the toughest in the nation.

Some three-point information

  • California still leads the nation in three-point accuracy, at 43.9 percent.
  • Junior guard Jerome Randle is two shy of the team record 68 set by Ryan Drew in 1990.
  • Theo Robertson has hit 52.2 percent of his three-point attempts this year which would be the highest in school history, and is first in California career percentage at 44.3.
  • Junior guard Tajuan Porter of Oregon is second all time in team history in three-pointers made with 269. The leader is Orlando Williams with 282.

Player of the week: Jon Brockman
Brockman scored 17.5 points per game and pulled down 10.5 rebounds in the two victories for Washington this past week. Brockman came up big in overtime against ASU scoring the first two baskets.

Honorable Mention
Freshman Klay Thompson scored 16.5 points per game this past week fueled in part by 7-for-15 shooting from three-point range. Thompson also pulled down seven rebounds in the victory over Arizona State. Darren Collison scored 14.5 points a game for UCLA in the past week when the Bruins bounced back with two wins. He also posted five assists a game. Arizona was winless this past week, but could not find much fault in Jordan Hill who averaged 21 points, and 9.5 rebounds per game.

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Checking in on the… Pac-10

Posted by nvr1983 on February 6th, 2009

Michael Hurley is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 Conference.

News and Notes

  • Arizona State‘s Rihards Kuksiks leads the nation in 3-point percentage, but is only third in the Pac-10. How is that possible? Well NCAA statistical leaders need to make a minimum of 2.5 per game from three-point range to qualify, while Pac-10 needs to make one per game and play in 75 percent of the team’s games. Theo Robertson is shooting 56.2% and Michael Roll is shooting 54.5%, both ahead of Kuksiks’s 46.7%. Either way Kuksiks has had a tough time the past two games going 3-for-20 from behind the arc.
  • Ben Howland‘s 13-4 record against California is his best against any team in the Pac-10.
  • UCLA’s recent victory over Stanford was UCLA’s largest victory over Stanford at Pauley Pavilion in over 30 years. It was also UCLA’s highest scoring game under Howland. UCLA shot 73% from 3-point range and only 62% from the free throw line. Maybe they should start taking their foul shots from behind the arc.
  • California, the best three-point shooting team in the nation at 47%, shot 2-for-16 from three-point range against USC.
  • UCLA dominated teams this week. The Bruins went 3-0 with average margin of victory over 21 points.
  • Darren Collison, who earlier this year broke the UCLA record for consecutive free-throws with 43, is shooting 94.4% from the line, which leads the nation.
  • Craig Robinson has turned it around for Oregon State. The Beavers have four wins in the first half of the Pac-10 schedule for the first time since 2002-03.
  • After another week of ups and downs in the Pac-10, there are really only two locks for the tournament at this point: UCLA and Washington. Four others (Arizona, Arizona State, California, and USC) still have work to do.

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