From Punching Bag to Prize Fighter: Mason Plumlee’s Journey to the NBA

Posted by mpatton on April 24th, 2013

When he arrived at Duke, Mason Plumlee – despite his obvious upside — was actually ranked below teammate Ryan Kelly, according to the Recruiting Services Consensus Index. Kelly was ranked #14 in the class, while Plumlee was #18. Even more fascinating to look back at are Plumlee’s Draft Express archives. Coming out of his first season at Duke, the scouting service looked for Plumlee to continue to develop as a stretch four! To be fair, he did hit 21 threes in 38 games in his prep senior season (unfortunately his shooting percentage is unavailable), but Plumlee’s transformation from a flat-shooting, athletic, potential-stretch four to one of the premier post players in college basketball is a compelling story.

Miles Plumlee (AP Photo)

Mason Plumlee underwent a compelling transformation at Duke (AP Photo).

During his freshman year Plumlee was buried behind Brian Zoubek, Lance Thomas and older brother Miles Plumlee. He still contributed significant minutes to the 2010 national championship team, but he was raw in the purest sense of the word. His sophomore efficiency profile, with two glaring exceptions, actually started looking a lot like the NPOY candidate we saw this year. The two massive improvements Plumlee made since that season were in terms of volume and taking care of the basketball. But obviously, the numbers don’t tell the whole story. Mason Plumlee was a very different player as a senior than he was as a sophomore.

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Who Won The Week? TCU, Nate Wolters, and San Diego…

Posted by CNguon on February 8th, 2013

wonweekWho 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: TCU

The Horned Frogs started out their Big 12 tenure on a bad note, going 0-8 in conference and losing only one of those games by fewer than 10 points. And then #2 Kansas came to town. Recipe for disaster, right? It was, just not for the team you would expect. The Horned Frogs pounced on the Jayhawks early, holding them to two points in the first 13:39 of the game. But TCU was able to hold up for the rest of the game, never letting Kansas lead and nabbing a 62-55 victory. Never mind that TCU lost by 17 against a Texas team with two conference wins on Saturday; the Horned Frogs nabbed one of the biggest regular-season upsets ever.

TCU's upset over Kansas was one of the biggest shockers in recent memory (Star-Telegram/Rodger Mallison)

TCU’s upset over Kansas was one of the biggest shockers in recent memory (Star-Telegram/Rodger Mallison)

(Related winners: Other teams bidding for a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament; Kansas fans who are wary of being a No. 1 seed. Related losers: Kansas – see below.)

LOSER: Kansas

Thanks to getting shelled by a team Ken Pomeroy said had a 3 percent chance of winning a few days after losing a fast-paced shootout against Oklahoma State, the Jayhawks have their first losing streak since January 2006. Kansas got torn up by the perimeter scoring of the Cowboys, whose guards Markel Brown and Marcus Smart had 28 and 25 points respectively. Meanwhile, the Jayhawks shot a tick above 40 percent from the field, eventually falling 85-80 at home. But Kansas doubled down on its offensive woes in Fort Worth, shooting under 30 percent against TCU. Primary ballhandlers Elijah Johnson and Naadir Tharpe combined to go 5-of-27 from the floor Wednesday with three assists and five turnovers. (Against the Cowboys, the pair combined to go 6 of 21 from the field with 10 assists and five turnovers.) It looks like the Jayhawks need to find someone capable of playing consistently at point guard, lest their otherwise-championship-caliber team go to waste in a year with no dominant team.  Read the rest of this entry »

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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 Weekly Five: 07.17.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on July 17th, 2012

  1. ACC Sports Journal: Props to Robbie Harms over at ACC Sports Journal for putting together this exhaustive mass of links on ACC alumni playing in the NBA summer league. Who would’ve thought Miles Plumlee would be named to the Orlando All-Summer League team? A lot of former ACC stars are participating and this page is sure to catch you up on all of the latest.
  2. Winston-Salem Journal: Jeff Bzdelik is adding seven freshman to his roster for this year. The group is already on campus, prepping for the upcoming season, and without question expectations will be high for this bunch. Wake Forest was a major disappointment the last two years, so everyone is expecting some level of progress this year. In news not directly related to basketball, none of the new additions have cars — so they’re getting plenty of off-court bonding time getting rides from Travis McKie — and Codi Miller-McIntyre can bench 300 pounds.
  3. Run the Floor: Michael Rogner is cautiously bullish on the Hurricanes, as they return more talent than anyone else in the ACC. Assuming Reggie Johnson is back to 100% healthy, Shane Larkin makes the leap towards more consistency and Rion Brown continues to develop, the Hurricanes should be an ACC contender this year. To be fair, many writers have been fooled in the past by a good Miami roster (I submit this quote from my article from January 11 as evidence: “Every year I overrate the Hurricanes.”), but this year feels different.
  4. ESPN: Andy Katz recently sat down with Brian Gregory, who’s keeping expectations for next year, his second season at Georgia Tech, realistic. Gregory talked a little about freshman impact and where his team needs to improve this season. Namely, he put the weight on the guards to become better distributors, naming Mfon Udofia, Brandon Reed and Daniel Miller as the guys who need to step up for the Yellow Jackets. Most interestingly, Katz asked Gregory about whether we can expect this year’s team to look more like his old Dayton teams. Gregory responded by saying that this team would be more like those teams, but still not totally there. All three answers from the head coach emphasize that this year as a rebuilding year.
  5. USA Today: Mike Krzyzewski took a lot of flak for supporting Joe Paterno in the days and weeks after he got fired. Not surprisingly, Coach K updated his comments about Joe Pa with the release of the Freeh Report.

EXTRA: Incoming North Carolina freshman JP Tokoto can dunk.

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ACC Weekly Five: 07.02.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on July 2nd, 2012

  1. ESPN: Rodney Hood, the impressive freshman guard from Mississippi State, has made his decision. Hood is going to be a Blue Devil, helping to ensure that the reliably-loaded Duke backcourt remains one of the conference’s best for years to come. As a transfer, Hood will sit out the coming year, but he will have three years of eligibility after that. It’s a great pick up and the latest salvo that shows that Duke will continue to be a potential destination for discontented guards across the country (cf. Seth Curry).
  2. News & Observer: North Carolina State has named its first Hall of Fame class. While the  Hall is designed to honor collegiate athletes and coaches from many different programs at NC State, basketball is certainly given its due in this inaugural class. Legendary coaches Everett Case and Jim Valvano are to be honored along with the greatest ACC basketball player of all time, David Thompson. NC State’s women’s basketball program will also have two inductees, longtime coach Kay Yow and the program’s all-time leader in points and rebounds, Genia Beasley. It’s a good start to enshrining the traditions of one of the most storied basketball programs in college basketball.
  3. CBS Sports: The Virginia Cavaliers struck decisively to win a recruiting battle early. Devon Hall, a four-star point guard in the 2014 high school class, has not only committed to Virginia but he has also reclassified to the class of 2013. The Cavaliers could certainly use some help at this position and Hall looks like the kind of player who could potentially contribute as soon as he sets foot on campus.
  4. Charlotte Observer: Former ACC players did well in the NBA draft last Thursday, with eight players selected across the two rounds. North Carolina had four first round picks led by Harrison Barnes, while Duke’s Austin Rivers and Miles Plumlee were also selected in the first round. One of the finest moments in the draft came with the rousing applause and standing ovation when Florida State’s Bernard James was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers (though a trade with Dallas actually will see James with the Mavericks in exchange for Tyler Zeller going to Cleveland). Meanwhile, Mike Scott’s selection by the Atlanta Hawks may go down as one of the savviest value picks of the draft. Of the notable ACC players who went undrafted, the conference’s leading scorer, Terrell Stoglin from Maryland, didn’t hear his name called on Thursday night. Stoglin had a number of pre-draft workouts with NBA teams and it seems likely he will get invited to one or more training camps, though that likely doesn’t lessen the sting.
  5. News & Observer: Lorenzo Brown‘s knee surgery apparently went well. His medical team repaired a partially torn right meniscus and Brown is only expected to miss between two to four weeks, though head coach Mark Gottfried stressed that they are in no hurry to get Brown back on the court before he has had a chance to fully heal. Considering how scary the phrase “knee surgery” can be in college basketball, this is nothing but good news for Brown and North Carolina State.
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Assessing The Rising NBA Draft Prospects Who Could Land In First Round

Posted by EJacoby on June 27th, 2012

As part of our NBA Draft series, we have been breaking down in full scouting reports all the top prospects who could hear their names called in the first round on Thursday. Included in our profiles are the 35 top prospects as consensus-ranked back in mid-May. But now we’re a day away from the draft, and there’s been plenty of movement around the bottom end of those consensus rankings. Teams have gotten to see the prospects go through measurements, tests, and interviews at the Chicago Combine as well as individual and group workouts in private practice settings. As always, there are some guys moving up at the last minute who weren’t in the mix six weeks ago but could find their way into the first round. Who will become this year’s Norris Cole, the guard from Cleveland State who shot up draft boards late in the process last year and got selected #28 overall? We’ll detail these rising prospects who didn’t make our original cut and we didn’t get a chance to break down in full.

Athletic guard Jared Cunningham is gaining some first round buzz (Pac-12 photo)

Some of the players we detailed back in May who were fringe first-rounders at the time are now falling as likely second-rounders. Scott Machado, Kevin Jones, and Darius Miller, especially, are all projected outside of the top 35 by Draft Express and NBADraft.net at this time. That doesn’t mean these guys won’t get selected in the first round, but the buzz simply isn’t as strong leading up to draft night as some other prospects that we overlooked. Three names – excluding foreign players – who are now rising above these players in terms of consensus rankings heading into draft night are Jared Cunningham, Kim English, and Miles Plumlee. We’ll detail each prospect with a quick and dirty breakdown, including what has caused each player to rise in the past few weeks.

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ACC in the NCAAs: Scouting Duke vs. Lehigh

Posted by KCarpenter on March 16th, 2012

Nate Wolters of South Dakota State and De’Mon Brooks of Davidson both got their chances to make their name known on Thursday, but both failed to lead their teams to the upset. On Friday, another batch of one-man offenses get their shot at making an impression. For Lehigh, C.J. McCollum is the guy. He takes 33.7% of the Mountain Hawks shots and thankfully converts the shots at a very efficient rate. He’s not just a scorer, though he does average 21.9 PPG, and he manages to pitch in with most statistical categories, averaging 3.5 APG, 2.6 SPG, and 6.5 RPG, which is all the more impressive when you consider that McCollum is only 6’3″. He’s a stud, completely capable of carrying his team when it needs him, and his team is going to need a lot out of him when Lehigh plays Duke.

Lehigh's C.J. McCollum Is an Elite Guard

Lehigh hasn’t beaten a single team that made the tournament. The Mountain Hawks’ best wins are a pair of wins against Bucknell, the regular season champions of the Patriot League. That’s it. The best that Lehigh can do, when trying to present evidence that the Mountain Hawks can hang with the Blue Devils, is mention that they lost to Michigan State and Iowa State by only nine points apiece. Lehigh has yet to beat, or even closely lose to a tournament caliber team. There is little reason to think that Duke won’t pummel the hapless Mountain Hawks. Yet, for the sake of argument, if Lehigh were to beat Duke, let’s think about what that victory would look like.

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Bracket Prep: South Region Analysis

Posted by KDoyle on March 12th, 2012

Throughout Monday, we will roll out our region-by-region analysis on the following schedule: East (9 AM), South (11 AM), Midwest (2 PM), West (4 PM). Here, Kevin Doyle breaks down the South Region from top to bottom. Also, be sure to follow our RTC South Region handle on Twitter for continuous updates the next two weeks (@RTCsouthregion).

You can also check out our RTC Podblast with Kevin breaking down the South Region here.

South Region

Favorite: #1 Kentucky (32-2, 16-0 SEC). Shouldn’t really need much of an explanation here. The most talented team in the nation — unquestionably — the Wildcats will be the odds-on favorite to not just emerge from the South Region, but also to cut down the nets in New Orleans. Anthony Davis and Terrence Jones spearhead a terrifyingly good starting five.

The Length And Athleticism Of Terrence Jones and Kentucky Are Just One Of Many Issues That Teams Face

Should They Falter: #2 Duke (27-6, 13-3 ACC). Austin Rivers does not play like a typical freshman and while Duke has its flaws on defense (perimeter defense, especially), the Blue Devils are more apt to make a run to the Final Four due to their balance on offense. Rivers and Seth Curry are prolific shooters/scorers in the backcourt, while the Plumlee brothers make for a formidable frontcourt. Much of Duke’s success hinges on junior Ryan Kelly’s health (sprained ankle). Kelly, while not a lockdown defender by any means, is 6’11″ and really helps in defending the three-point line for Duke. Even without a healthy Kelly, Duke still has an easier road to the Sweet Sixteen than other contenders in the South Region.

Grossly Overseeded: #11 Colorado (23-11, 11-7 Pac-12). Clearly, the committee thought higher of the Pac-12 than many others did. First, there was much debate whether this power six conference — far from “powerful” this season — would even receive an at-large bid, but they did in California. Secondly, Colorado was not on anybody’s radar prior to the Pac-12 Tournament as it stood at 19-11 with seven losses in conference play. Yet, winning the conference tournament propelled Colorado to a very respectable seed at #11. Many prognosticators had the Buffaloes at a #13 seed going into Selection Sunday.

Grossly Underseeded: #14 South Dakota State (27-7, 15-3 Summit). It is too big of a stretch to say that South Dakota State is “grossly” underseeded, but I do believe they were worthy of a #13 seed. When comparing the Jackrabbits to the #13 seed in this region, their resume is every bit as good, if not better, than New Mexico State: SDSU has a better overall record, higher RPI, more wins against the Top 100 RPI, and a more challenging non-conference schedule. Not to mention South Dakota State’s thrashing of Washington 92-73, even though the Huskies are not a Tournament team, is very impressive.

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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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ACC Morning Five: 02.13.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 13th, 2012

Apologies for the late posting. 

  1. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Brian Gregory is trying to make Georgia Tech tougher, scrappier. To start he has a list of “non-negotiables,” which grows as the year continues. Gregory started with attending class and turning in assignments. Now he’s added boxing out, closing out and helping on defense. The punishments for failing to do so? Having to execute a box out on the sidelines three times, having to close out the full length of the court in proper form and having to take three charges from teammates. It’s always interesting to get a look, however brief, behind the scenes.
  2. Raleigh News & Observer: Duke’s win over Maryland looked more dominant than it was. The Blue Devils struggled to keep the heat on all game, but ended on a 13-2 run that obscured just how competitive the game was. One constant was Miles Plumlee, who absolutely destroyed the boards. The eldest Plumlee finished with a Mike Krzyzewski-era record 22 rebounds in the win. After the game he cited Brian Zoubek as inspiration for his play this season.
  3. Searching For Billy Edelin: Terrell Stoglin wasn’t happy about the loss to Duke. He was even less happy about riding the pine for parts of the finish. Unfortunately, he displayed that frustration to the world fairly explicitly on Twitter following the game. Stoglin is owning the tweets though. He never said his account was hacked and never deleted them. To me that’s a good sign, but keep an eye on his attitude. He wouldn’t be the first or the last disgruntled player to depart early, but his loss would put the Terrapins back at least a year.
  4. Charlotte Observer: Here are four somewhat random thoughts on basketball. The second could be the most important, as we’re already seeing a very down attendance year. Moving the conference tournament to Atlanta won’t help, especially in Georgia Tech’s rebuilding season. Another interesting point is that the NCAA tournament won’t have any sites in North Carolina in 2013.
  5. Washington Post: Speaking of down attendance, Mark Giannotto takes a look at Virginia Tech‘s issues specifically. First, the Hokies have struggled a lot since knocking off Duke last season. Second, they raised the prices on the tickets. Combine the two with a middling economy and more games being televised, and that probably covers most of the issue. The question remains whether the problem is–like the athletic department thinks–a one year issue, or a long-term battle.
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ACC Morning Five: 02.08.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 8th, 2012

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

  3. CBSSports.com: Continuing the DukeNorth 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.
  4. 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).
  5. 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).

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ACC Morning Five: 01.30.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 30th, 2012

  1. CBSSports.com: Gregg Doyel hits the nail on the head in this column (by the way, Doyel covered the ACC for the Charlotte Observer before going to CBSSports.com and wasn’t exactly close with Mike Krzyzewski over the years) on Duke‘s Cameron Crazies. The one caveat is that he didn’t really offer a solution to the boredom and lack of ownership. For comparison’s sake Coach K offered his thoughts (courtesy of Duke Hoop Blog):

    “Our crowd sometimes becomes fans instead of part of the game. Overall, our crowd has been part of what we’ve done. They haven’t come there to watch us play. They’ve come there to compete with us. I think this year it’s more of watching us play and cheering us on. When you do that you don’t really understand the game situations as well. You don’t have a feel for the game. You can’t be as on point. That doesn’t mean we don’t love them. But, this team needs it more and would benefit from that support.”

    I think both Doyel and Krzyzewski are probably right. The Cameron atmosphere was developed as Duke got more talented. It gradually became more and more controlled in the 1990s and eventually morphed to its present state. Other than big games (I’m thinking of Maryland and North Carolina recently) and big-time players, the Crazies don’t seem as connected with the game as in the past. It has started to feel like more of a show. Basically, I think Coach K describes the current issue that led to the problem brought up by Doyel.
    Author’s Note: As a side note, Coach K gave a pretty scathing press conference after Duke beat St. John’s at home. It’s worth a watch.

  2. ACC Sports: Adrian Atkinson (normally our North Carolina defensive-charting connoisseur) took a look at Duke’s most used lineups this season. Remember, he’s only using Duke’s conference games so the sample size is fairly small, meaning you should take the efficiencies with a grain of salt. That said, I think his overall conclusions are fairly interesting. Duke’s most effective lineup is Tyler Thornton, Seth Curry, Austin Rivers, Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly. It’s a little surprising to me that this lineup isn’t used more often given the fact that its defensive efficiency is so outrageous. It’s also worth noting that Duke’s defense drops off dramatically by just replacing Thornton with Andre Dawkins. Even worse than that (shockingly) is replacing Ryan Kelly with Miles Plumlee (which leads me to believe that both Plumlees are good defenders at the five, but horrid defenders at the four). Anyways, these numbers are fascinating and worth a look.
  3. Fox Sports South: Apparently, Harrison Barnes isn’t a fan of pink shoes. At halftime against Georgia Tech Sunday, Barnes switched from the team’s pink kicks to the normal ones. Andrew Jones makes it sound like Barnes really struggled in the pink footwear, but Barnes was 4-8 from the field with 11 points at the half. More interestingly, Barnes shared his pregame soundtrack and meal. Tunes: John Legend. Food: “I always eat mashed potatoes, rice, spaghetti, chicken and steak [...] Two pieces of chicken, one piece of steak, [and the] steak’s cooked medium.”
  4. Palm Beach Post: If you told me one ACC coach would get a midseason contract extension I wouldn’t have been surprised. Pretty much all but two coaches appear to be doing strong jobs; Jeff Bzdelik and Jim Larranaga are the outliers (I also would probably hold my horses on Steve Donahue and Brian Gregory until I see them recruit, but that’s different). But it was Larranaga who got himself a three-year extension through 2019. Larranaga looks older than many of his coaching brethren, but he’s only 62. My guess is that the extension came (at least in some part) indirectly associated with the current NCAA investigation of Miami athletics.
  5. Charleston Post and Courier: It’s not directly related to the ACC, but former Georgia Tech coach Bobby Cremins is taking a short medical leave that will probably last until the end of the season. Cremins did a terrific job putting College of Charleston on the map the last few years, though his trip to the Final Four at Georgia Tech stands as his career’s crowning achievement. Assistant coach Mark Byington will take over in his stead. The details of Cremins’ medical issues weren’t announced, though it’s reportedly not life-threatening and may be sleep-related.

EXTRA: Dan Wolken thinks college basketball should push its season back to January (moving March Madness to May) in order to shirk college football and the NFL, attempting to keep casual sports fans from ignoring the regular season. It may be in the NCAA’s best monetary interest, but I can’t see something this drastic happening without a big push. Still it’s an interesting piece.

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