- Tallahassee Democrat: Ira Schoffel hits a home run with this profile on Leonard Hamilton. It’s lengthy, but totally worth the time it takes to read. It’s really unfortunate that it will be buried by Duke – North Carolina previews today. Schoffel spent time with many of Hamilton’s friends and family from his days in Gastonia, North Carolina. He may not look it, but Hamilton is the second oldest coach behind Mike Krzyzewski in the ACC. The FSU head coach has had a really inspirational journey from Gastonia to Tallahassee. Even above and beyond the high school story, Hamilton’s coaching resume is very impressive too. Before the year I said Bernard James might have the best story in college basketball, but I might have been wrong. His coach may have him beat.
- Raleigh News & Observer: Lame title aside, this is a terrific piece on Austin Rivers from Jack Daly. Rivers went from being a walking cliche — the talented but selfish son of an NBA coach — when he arrived at Duke to something far more compelling once he took the court. Sure, he’s made mistakes. But he’s also Duke’s best offensive weapon. His critics jumped on his early season struggles and have tended to alter the criticisms instead of the narrative as his game improves. It’s clear he has a chip on his shoulder, but I haven’t heard that chip really expressed openly until this piece. He talks about trying to succeed in the shadow of Doc Rivers and the wealth of expectations and dearth of praise (at least at the college level) for his achievements. Daly finishes the piece with a perfect quote from Rivers:
People always ask what makes me hungry now: I haven’t done anything yet. I haven’t done anything yet. I had a great high school career, I was No. 1 – I don’t care. No one cares about that anymore. At Duke, I haven’t won a national championship, I haven’t won an ACC Tournament, I don’t play in the NBA. I haven’t done anything. I have everything that can motivate me.
- CBSSports.com: Continuing the Duke – North Carolina rivalry trope, Brett Friedlander sat down with several former and current Tar Heels to talk about why they chose the school in Chapel Hill over the one eight miles south in Durham. Former Tar Heel big man Eric Montross seems to hit the nail on the head, calling the decision a “gut feeling” of one school over the other. Whether it’s North Carolina’s adjacent museum, the banners, or meeting Michael Jordan — Tar Heel players walk away from visits just knowing… On the flip side I suspect many players who choose Duke feel the same about Cameron Indoor and its many banners overhead as well. The atmospheres are undeniably different, but the two team’s histories share an excellence.
- Chicago Tribune: Miami is quietly building an NCAA Tournament resume now that Reggie Johnson is back in the line-up. The Hurricanes have won five of their last six games and four straight including the overtime win at Duke. That said, the “surprise” part of Miami’s bid foundation (for me) is that it’s taken this long to take hold. Certainly Johnson’s injury didn’t do Jim Larranaga any favors, but if you asked me which new coach was doing the worst job at the start of conference season, I wouldn’t have hesitated calling out the former George Mason coach. Miami still has a lot of work to do. I think it splits with Florida State and avenges a home loss to NC State. If the Hurricanes take care of that business, they’ll have 11 conference wins with the disclaimer that the ugly first half of the season was without Johnson (really 10 wins and a solid performance in the ACC Tournament could do the trick, but better safe than sorry).
- Fayetteville Observer: In honor of Duke and North Carolina, Stephen Schramm sat down with @thedevilwolf, one of the best trollers in the business. If you follow ACC basketball much on Twitter, you probably know his handle (but not his name). In addition to timely trolling, he’s also good for insightful comments during games and over on Duke Hoop Blog. Schramm also mentioned another mysterious Tobacco Road Twitter celebrity, @TarHeelWire, who disappeared suddenly after nearly two years of constant tweeting on North Carolina athletics when more and more people sought the identity of the man behind the handle.
EXTRA: Troy Machir over at Ballin’ Is A Habit put out his 2011-12 All-Hair-Team, and the list starts with Mike Scott and his many cornrow designs. No other ACC players make the cut (though Miles Plumlee‘s high and tight makes a defensive cameo).