Rushed Reactions: Maryland 72, Clemson 59

Posted by IRenko on February 23rd, 2013

rushedreactions

I. Renko is an RTC correspondent based in D.C. and the author of the weekly column, The Other 26. He filed this report after Saturday afternoon’s game between Maryland and Clemson. Follow him on Twitter @IRenkoHoops.

Three key takeaways:

  • Maryland’s Tournament Hopes Are Alive — Last weekend’s win over Duke gave the Terps’ Tournament hopes a big boost, but a letdown loss at Boston College on Tuesday left them on the thinnest of ice. A loss to Clemson at home would have been a big blow, and it seemed a real possibility when the Tigers pulled to within a point just after halftime. But a 21-6 run gave the Terps a comfortable 16-point cushion with 11:20 to play, and from there, they eased to a comfortable 13-point win, keeping their Tournament hopes alive. While acknowledging his team’s somewhat slow start, head coach Mark Turgeon was quite happy with the Terps’ second-half performance, crediting their defense even more than their offense for enabling them to take control.
  • Maryland’s Freshman Frontcourt May Be Its Future — Sophomore Alex Len has been the focus of the media’s attention for most of the year, but Maryland’s freshmen frontcourt shows signs of being a real force for years to come. Jake Layman, Charles Mitchell, and Shaquille Cleare were averaging just 5.2, 5.5, and 4.2 points coming into today’s game, but they scored 12, 8, and 10 respectively today. More than that, they showed a certain kind of maturity and poise that belied their status as freshmen. The 6′ 8″ Layman is a swing forward with the athleticism, quickness, and shooting touch to play on the perimeter. He has been a full-time starter since late January, and the confidence and skill he displayed against Clemson show why. Mitchell and Cleare are a pair of big bodies who are still refining their post moves, but are strong finishers and rebounders who use their bulk to great effect. They added 6 and 7 boards apiece today and were a big reason Maryland was able to dominate the paint against a typically stout Clemson defense. Their physicality will suit the Terps well when they make the transition to the Big Ten.
  • Clemson’s Offense Is In A Deep Funk – The Tigers have a strong defense, as they showed in taking Miami the distance last week in a 45-43 loss. But their offense has struggled and especially badly of late. This was the fifth straight game in which they scored less than a point per possession. For a team that is likely looking forward to next season already, the news gets worse — two of their three leading scorers, Devin Booker and Milton Jennings, graduate this year. That leaves a heavy load for K.J. McDaniels, who managed seven points against Maryland, and Jordan Roper, who scored a very inefficient 13 points on 5-of-15 FG shooting.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ACC M5: 01.31.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 31st, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Yahoo! Sports: Here are some fun facts about Shane Larkin. He stopped playing baseball after his little league manager told him, “Whoever taught you to hit didn’t know what he was talking about” (his dad, Barry Larkin, is a Hall of Fame baseball player). Also, at one point in his high school career Jeff Bzdelik was pursuing Larkin pretty hard and Larkin seemed pretty interested. Bzdelik never offered. Now Larkin is a top-three point guard in the ACC (Erick Green, then he and Quinn Cook seem pretty comparable). But Larkin’s development is one of the better stories in the ACC this season. He was an exciting player last year, but made as many stupid plays as jaw-dropping ones. This year, he’s much more in control and Miami’s a better team for it.
  2. Washington PostBefore Michael Snaer’s game-winning dagger last night (see #5, below), Mark Turgeon said Maryland‘s loss to Florida State earlier in the season “probably was the toughest.” My guess is that buzzer-beater didn’t help. The Florida State loss was when Maryland started to slip (or the competition exposed the Terrapins). Maryland was in control most of that game, leading by eight points twice (the second time coming with less than seven minutes to play in the game). But both times it looked like Maryland might stretch things out before the Seminoles came clawing back.
  3. Charleston Post and Courier: Like most of his career, Milton Jennings has been very inconsistent this season. Some days he’s the star of the show. Others he might as well not exist. Travis Sawchik noticed that one determining factor in Jennings’ performance is whether he’s playing at home or on the road. At Littlejohn Coliseum Jennings is shooting nearly 60% from the floor and is good for over 13 points a game. On the road? He’s shooting an abysmal 23% from the floor and is averaging six points a game. Jennings feeds off positive energy, and the crowd at Clemson gives him energy. The crowds on the road makes him tentative. Brad Brownell’s team would benefit a lot if Jennings could become more consistent. He’s the team’s second best player, and it desperately needs him on the road.
  4. Duke Chronicle: This is the best article I’ve seen on Seth Curry‘s injury this year. It’s old news that Curry misses a significant number of Duke’s practices, but I hadn’t read that he “can’t really jump off [his] right leg” or that Tyler Thornton’s job in practice is to emulate Curry (which might explain some of Thornton’s threes). It’s got to be tough for Duke — not to mention Curry — as the team has changed it’s offense pretty significantly since Ryan Kelly went down with his injury.
  5. Tomahawk Nation (video via NBC Sports): So Michael Snaer hit another buzzer-beater — his second this week, fourth in ACC play. This time Snaer stole a win from Maryland. However the biggest news for Florida State fans is the matter of turnovers. Miscues have killed the Seminoles the past few years, but they only gave the ball up six times (less than 10% of possessions) against Maryland. That’s what kept them close enough so that Snaer’s late-game heroics could do the rest. An injured Ian Miller (who, similar to Seth Curry, isn’t practicing) was very productive, even engineering the final play with his drive and kick to Snaer. The moral of this story: Florida State isn’t dead yet. The Seminoles still need to steal a win or two against Duke, NC State or Miami and have a strong showing in the conference tourney, but there’s hope.

Share this story

Michael Snaer Hits A Buzzer Beater, Because Of Course He Does

Posted by KCarpenter on January 25th, 2013

Who will hit the buzzer-beaters in the ACC after Michael Snaer graduates this year? The conference’s most reliable provider of last second miracle shots did it again — a banked three as time expired gave the win to a Florida State team that trailed Clemson for most of the game. In a season where road wins have been hard to come by, it looked like the Tigers might just pull out the victory in Tallahassee. Powered by the forward tandem of K.J. McDaniels and Devin Booker, the pair combined for 30 points and 10 rebounds, offsetting the dreadful performance by the mercurial Milton Jennings (who managed to make only one of his seven attempts from the field and turned the ball over five times).

Yet two newcomers to the Seminoles’ team managed to put Florida State back in the game. Kiel Turpin, a 7’0″ center, didn’t score (or even attempt) any baskets or grab a single rebound in the first half. Leonard Hamilton, despite all this, saw it fit to play Turpin in the second half as well, and it was a good decision. Turpin scored a game high 16 points, all in the final 20 minutes of play. The big man had some help from the backcourt too, as freshman Devon Bookert, not to be confused with Clemson’s Devin Booker, was a non-factor in the first half (outside of a pair of made free throws). Yet, Bookert would close out the game by recording a perfect shooting night that netted the Seminoles 11 points in the most efficient manner possible.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

More Than A Big Stiff: Forwards With A Little Extra Something in Their Skill Set

Posted by KCarpenter on January 18th, 2013

In Duke’s win over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Mason Plumlee put up 16 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks while playing all 40 minutes. That’s excellent production and exactly the kind of statistics you would expect to see out of your star big man. What you might not expect to see is that Plumlee also tallied three steals and a couple assists. In fact, the 6’10” Plumlee managed to tie starting point guard Quinn Cook in steals and placed second behind him in assists. That’s an impressive demonstration of Plumlee’s versatility, but it’s also a huge boon for his team.

Mason Plumlee Is One of the Leading NPOY Candidates

Mason Plumlee Is One of the Leading NPOY Candidates

Generally, folks underrate the importance of steals, but with a moment of consideration it’s easy to see why they are so important. Like the obviously important offensive rebound, a steal gives you an opportunity for a shot you wouldn’t normally have, and like an opponent’s unforced turnover, it ends your opponent’s possession without a shot. Steals are very valuable to a team, and if your guards are wracking up steals at close to the average rate, getting above average production in a category like steals from your forwards and centers can lead to a team gaining a big advantage. When the biggest guy on your team can earn your squad extra possessions? It’s nothing but a good thing. So who in the ACC contributes in these unusual categories?

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ACC M5: 01.16.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 16th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. BC Interruption: Duke isn’t the only team dealing with an injured critical player. Because of Boston College’s struggles last year, it’s easy to overlook this team’s hardship. Dennis Clifford was the Eagles’ best player in Spain this summer. He hasn’t been 100% all year though. First it was his ankle. Now it’s his knee, and Steve Donahue doesn’t sound optimistic about the seven-footer. Clifford gives Boston College one of the more interesting frontcourts in the league when he’s healthy and allows Ryan Anderson to play the four. Here’s to hoping the Eagle’s big man can get totally healthy before next season.
  2. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia Tech has gotten over its roster turmoil, but the bench has been inconsistent of late. Assistant coaches Chad Dollar, Josh Postorino, and Billy Schmidt were all suspended for a game. Brian Gregory refused to comment on the matter, and the athletic department spokesman was just as vague. Smart money is on small NCAA infractions, though Postorino was arrested in early December for DUI and had to sit out five games.
  3. Greenville News: In Clemson’s win against Virginia, Milton Jennings showed glimpses of what made him a McDonalds’ All-American in high school. He put up 21 points on 13 shots with 11 rebounds to boot. Combined with Devin Booker, who has looked good all year, and the Tigers looked to be achieving their potential. Against Wake Forest Tuesday night, the Tigers still won (and by a significant margin), but Jennings disappeared again. He only took five shots. Even though the Tigers got by with KJ McDaniels stepping up, Clemson needs Booker and Jennings on their A-games this year.
  4. Charlotte Observer: Mike Krzyzewski did everything but use the phrase “freshman wall” when describing Rasheed Sulaimon‘s recent struggles. The freshman’s plight has been lost in the wake of Ryan Kelly’s injury, but Duke needs Sulaimon back to early season form on both ends of the court. The silver lining is that Sulaimon has stayed aggressive, and it feels like if he can just have a good game offensively, everything else will turn around. It’s too early for Sulaimon to be hitting the conditioning wall freshmen often get late in the season.
  5. Washington Post: Speaking of disciplinary issues, Mark Turgeon has also been dealing with “immaturity issues” amongst his players. Against Miami it was Shaquille Cleare who sat, but Turgeon made the issue sound more widespread. It’s still not clear where this Maryland team will wind up. The Terrapins dominated low and mid-majors during nonconference play–especially on the boards; and they have plenty of depth. If they can solve their leadership issues, they will be able to make a run for the Big Dance. But right now, Turgeon is on the outside looking in.

EXTRA: “Graduation gap persists between athletes and students in ACC” is a pretty strong headline. And the North Carolina study came to an even stronger conclusion: “the ACC ranks last among the NCAA’s 30 Division I men’s basketball conferences, boasting the largest gap in graduation rates between players and the general full-time student body.” Unfortunately, the article glosses over several very important points including how transfers and professional departures treated as well as how many years do athletes get to graduate. Still it is an interesting study.

Share this story

Three Thoughts From Florida State’s Weekend Win at Clemson

Posted by mpatton on January 7th, 2013

Florida State dominated the first half of its game against Clemson over the weekend before the Tigers clawed their way back in the final 20 minutes to cut the deficit to three. Clemson couldn’t quite get over the hump to pull off the home win, but the game gave insights into both teams going forward.

  1. Devin Booker could be first-team All-ACC. Here, “could” implies that it is possible based on his abilities — not that it is likely to happen. Erick Green will probably steal the spot on first team thanks to his incredibly high usage and gaudy scoring numbers, but Booker looked tremendous against the Seminoles’ long, inexperienced front line. He has got a wide array of post moves, good range (though not as good as his brother’s), and the strength of an ox.
    Devin Booker is under-utilized by Clemson. (Photo Credit: IPTAY Media)

    Devin Booker is underutilized by Clemson (Credit: IPTAY Media)

    Why head coach Brad Brownell couldn’t find a way to get Booker the ball more often is beyond me. Part of the blame falls on Booker, who disappears for large stretches of the game, but much of the responsibility goes to the Clemson guards and Milton Jennings, who tried to do way too much. If the Tigers are going to finish decently this season, they have to get Booker’s usage up significantly. The ball has to run through him. He was every bit as impressive as Mason Plumlee was on Saturday by finishing with 19 points and 11 boards on 8-of-11 shooting. Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Florida State Hangs On to Win at Clemson, But Same Flaws Remain

Posted by mpatton on January 5th, 2013

Matt Patton (@rise_and_fire) is an ACC Microsite writer and RTC correspondent. He filed this report after Saturday afternoon’s ACC clash between Florida State and Clemson in Littlejohn Coliseum.

On the first possession of its conference opener at Littlejohn Coliseum Saturday afternoon, Florida State looked like the defending conference champions. The Seminoles forced a shot clock violation with its suffocating ball pressure and two blocks near the rim. That possession fueled their fire, as the Seminoles ran out to a double-figure lead behind great shooting — specifically from Okaro White (who made three early three-point field goals) and Ian Miller (who hit both of his shots from deep). At one point Michael Snaer singlehandedly forced a Clemson turnover in the backcourt. Clemson bounced back somewhat, but still trailed by 13 at the half.

Florida State really misses Bernard James on defense.

Florida State really misses the days of the vaunted Bernard James Chris Singleton defense.

The second half was a different story. The Seminoles looked entitled, not determined. Snaer allowed the officials to frustrate him and Clemson slowly but surely climbed back into the game. The Tigers forced some untimely turnovers, hit big shots and killed FSU on the boards. Luckily for (and probably thanks to) Florida State, Milton Jennings was horrible all game. He committed five turnovers, and made several crucial defensive mistakes down the stretch. FSU escaped with a 71-66 win, but a victory doesn’t disguise the fact that Florida State’s defense was undressed in the second half. They had no answer to Devin Booker once he got the ball. Booker finished 8-of-11 from the field for 19 points and 11 boards. He looked unstoppable and Florida State’s front line looked soft or uncoordinated depending on its personnel.

That said, Florida State has some positives to take away from this game. First and foremost, it survived in a hostile environment when the whistle was blowing the other way most of the afternoon. Also Snaer looked pedestrian on offense. White had a great first half, showing off his potential, before playing the role of wallflower for much of the second half. Long story short, the Seminoles have a long way to go and an uphill battle to fight before Selection Sunday — this team needs to get a lot better.

Share this story

Morning Five: 12.07.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on December 7th, 2012

  1. The news that have the Twitterverse buzzing yesterday was the news that next season might start out with four games being played simultaneously at Cowboys Stadium. The idea, which is being proposed by Mark Hollis (the man who brought us the Carrier Classic and the game at Ramstein Air Base in Germany), is on the surface ridiculous, but when you dig a little deeper. . . it is even more ridiculous. Look, we appreciate the fact that Hollis is trying to come up with a way to promote college basketball, but at some point gimmicks stop being cute and start becoming ridiculous. There have already been a number of writers who have went into detail about why this would be a logistical nightmare (dealing with whistles, shot clocks, etc from the other three games) so we won’t go into too much detail other than saying somebody needs to put a stop to this madness. As we noted on Twitter yesterday we don’t need gimmicks to market college basketball we just need a quality product on the floor.
  2. Most programs tend to maintain a similar style of play, but as Corey Schmidt as Basketball Prospectus notes that is not always the case. Earlier in the week he pointed out a handful of teams that were playing at a significantly faster pace than last year and yesterday he released his list of teams playing at a significantly slower pace than last year. Most of them can be explained by a change in coaches, but there are several teams that have managed this transformation while keeping the same coach. It will be interesting to see if these trends will continue once conference play starts.
  3. It appears that Clemson does not have a three strikes policy for Milton Jennings as they have reportedly decided to bring their troubled senior forward back after a two-game suspension following an arrest for marijuana possession. Jennings is expected to be back for the team’s game against Arizona on Saturday. We appreciate the thought of trying to help a young adult out by keeping him in the program and (hopefully) on track to get a college degree, but the timing of this seems a little too convenient for a repeat offender.
  4. We have mentioned the pending death of the Big East for a while now and if you were not convinced perhaps the reports on their upcoming TV football contract may change your mind. According to reports the Big East is looking at a deal near $60-80 million per season, which might sound like a decent amount of money until you consider they were expecting well over $100 million per season going into negotiations and the Pac-12 has a $250 million per season deal. If the new TV deal is around the reported range then the schools would be looking at shares around $4-5 million per season compared to over $20 million per season for Pac-12 schools.
  5. As much as we hate to say it college football and the revenue it brings in through its TV contracts is really what drives realignment (see the above point). This point is further driven home by data from recently released figures from the federal government looking at the revenue of the various athletic departments and the share that comes from football. The figures also demonstrate the large gap between the haves and have-nots. We still have a hard time getting behind schools who say they cannot afford to give players a stipend, but when you see such a large gap between schools that are still in BCS conferences you start to understand why there is so much dissension about finances at the NCAA level.
Share this story

ACC M5: 11.29.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on November 29th, 2012

  1. Miami Herald: Though the ACC/Big Ten challenge ended in a 6-6 stalemate, the Miami Hurricanes got the emotional highlight by upsetting the ranked Michigan State Spartans, causing a good ol’ fashioned court rush in Coral Gables. The Hurricanes have been on the verge of a big-time breakthrough in college basketball for years now and a nice win in November over a name-brand team at home is just the start that this team needed. After shaky losses to St. Leo’s in an exhibition and then to Florida Gulf Coast, it seemed like Miami was headed for another year as a firmly ensconced member of the ACC’s basketball middle class. This win is a warning shot to the rest of the ACC: Miami is ready.
  2. ESPN: As expected, the ACC has voted to add Louisville as a new member to replace departing Maryland. Louisville, when added, will have the highest budgeted athletic department in the ACC and a recent history of success across a wide range of sports. After this vote, it looks like the ACC is willing to stand pat, nominally content with 14 teams and the on-paper upgrade of swapping Maryland for UofL. Louisville’s mascot, notably, is a cardinal that has teeth that are frightening and increasingly nightmarish the more you think about it.
  3. CBS Sports: Of course, the apparent loser in the addition of Louisville is Connecticut, which has been eagerly anticipating a coveted invitation to the conference. Although the Huskies’ membership was apparently supported by Duke, North Carolina, Wake Forest, and Virginia, the importance of football and the harsh realities of the realignment landscape won out. Matt Norlander postulates that Louisville was targeted for right now because it is a school that had plenty of suitors in some of the other major conferences while Connecticut likely has little appeal to the same folks aside from the ACC. Connecticut’s geographic location as well as limited football relevance isn’t likely to draw the interest of the SEC or Big 12, while the Big Ten appears to have bigger fish to fry. The sad truth is that it seems highly likely that the ACC voted to add Louisville and not Connecticut because the conference feels confident that they are the only horse in the race to poach UConn.
  4. Post and Courier: Milton Jennings did not play for Clemson in the Tigers’ Wednesday night tilt against Purdue. The mercurial senior was arrested early Wednesday morning for possession of marijuana and was subsequently suspended by head coach Brad Brownell.  This is not Jennings’ first time in the doghouse, having been suspended on at least two other occasions for clashing with the coach and academic issues, respectively. Jennings has been the leading scorer for this Clemson team and was expected to be the focal point of the Tigers’ offense.
  5. Pack Pride: When North Carolina State takes the court against Connecticut in the Jimmy V Classic next week, the team will be wearing some sharp new uniforms intended to honor the event’s namesake and the legendary Wolfpack coach. It’s a nice tribute to Jim Valvano and the uniforms are certainly distinctive and special.

    NC State will honor its former coach. (Photo Credit: Pack Pride)

Share this story

Morning Five: 11.29.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 29th, 2012

  1. The announcement that Louisville is heading to the ACC should not come as too much of a surprise given how far the Big East has fallen, but it is still huge news when one of the top 10 programs historically in college basketball and a top 25 program in college football (for now) moves conferences. The loss of Maryland to the Big Ten will have an impact on the conference (mainly the loss of the Duke-Maryland rivalry even if some members do not view it as much of a rivalry), but we cannot really view this as anything other than a major upgrade on the playing fields for the ACC. With the reported size of the Big Ten’s upcoming football contract it makes you wonder why they wouldn’t go after Louisville instead of Maryland (we think the impact of the D.C. media market is highly overrated).
  2. With the power conferences fighting over the marquee programs and the losing conferences pillaging the lower conferences for their top programs, the lower-tier conferences are often forced to do what essentially amounts to dumpster diving. Such is the case of Conference USA, which is reportedly set to add Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee State in 2014 to offset the losses of East Carolina and Tulane to the Big East. From a basketball standpoint this could be a slight win for Conference USA given the strength of the Middle Tennessee State program right now, but from an overall financial standpoint it is a considerable downgrade. Given all the movement we have seen in the past few days we would not be surprised to see much more in the near future.
  3. There has been so much going on with conference realignment and the NCAA’s investigations into incoming freshmen that we had almost forgot that Myck Kabongo was still sitting out until we heard that the NCAA is expected to release a statement about his eligibility later today with the likely punishment being a 10-game suspension. Kabongo’s eligibility issues stem from a trip he took to Cleveland earlier this year that was reportedly financed by a professional agent. If Kabongo is given the 10-game suspension he would not be able to return until the team’s game on December 19 at home against North Carolina and would allow him to play the entire conference schedule, but would mean he would miss the team’s upcoming games against Georgetown and UCLA.
  4. Normally we would have plenty of jokes about Joshua Smith, who has decided to stop playing for UCLA, but with all that has been going on with the Bruins lately we are seriously questioning whether Ben Howland has any control over this program. Outside of the recent ugly losses, this is the second high-profile departure from the program in the past week (Tyler Lamb was the other). Smith has apparently not decided whether he will stay at UCLA or transfer to another school to finish up his basketball career. If this is in fact the last that we have seen of Smith on the basketball court, this sequence will be his enduring legacy.
  5. We didn’t expect Clemson to be very good this year and their hopes of surprising us and other analysts took a hit when senior guard and leading scorer Milton Jennings was arrested for possession of marijuana early yesterday morning and he was suspended by the team for the third time in the past 13 months. From the details we have seen (he was arrested after police noticed the smell of marijuana when responding to a call about someone removing a smoke detector), it sounds like a relatively small violation in comparison to some of the other drug arrests that we see, but since it is Jennings’ third suspension in just over a year we are inclined to believe that this may be the last that we have seen of Jennings in a Clemson uniform.
Share this story

ACC Week 1 Power Rankings

Posted by mpatton on November 16th, 2012

We’ve got a full week of game action as evidence to start evaluting these teams a bit better, so here goes…

Disclaimer: Power Rankings don’t imply which teams are best. They’re all about who has momentum right now. 

Duke Blue Devils 1. Duke (2-0) stays on top of the rankings after taking care of business against Georgia State at home before knocking off the defending champion Kentucky Wildcats in the Georgia Dome. This team still has a long way to go, but they showed poise holding off a talented, albeit young, Kentucky team. While Seth Curry and Mason Plumlee owned the box score, Quinn Cook rose to the challenge and put in his bid for the starting spot. Minnesota is the next NCAA tournament-quality team on Thursday.
NC State Wolfpack 2. NC State (2-0) absolutely blitzkrieged its first two opponents, Miami (OH) and Penn State. Putting too much stock in beating the Redhawks by 38 is unwise. But that 17-point win over the Nittany Lions–despite Lorenzo Brown finishing an icy 1-12 from the field–is worth noting. Specifically, Tyler Warren was phenomenal going for 22 points (on 12 shots) and eight rebounds. The game tonight against Massachusetts should be a fun one.
North Carolina Tar Heels 3. North Carolina (2-0) looked lost on offense at times against Gardner-Webb, which is just a young team trying to learn to play together. James Michael McAdoo has been phenomenal through the first two games (he’s averaging over 20 points and 12 rebounds), and Reggie Bullock asserted himself against Florida Atlantic. This team should keep improving, but in time for the trip to Bloomington in a week and a half? That’s ambitious.
Maryland Terrapins 4. Maryland (1-1) looks a lot better than expected. Alex Len is going to be a top-10 pick. He absolutely ravaged Kentucky, which Maryland kept close to the bitter end before making mincemeat of Morehead State. Nick Faust still can’t shoot, but Seth Allen will be really fun to watch the next few years. The Terrapins need to work on consistent offense, but as Dez Wells gets more and more used to Mark Turgeon’s system, good things will happen.
Boston College 5. Boston College (1-1) played with a stacked Baylor team for 35 minutes after beating a bad Florida International team by double figures (still, that’s huge improvement over last year). This team will still struggle to win a ton of games, but Ryan Anderson‘s development into an All-ACC caliber player is accelerating the rebuilding process (he’s averaging 27 points and 12 boards a game). Dennis Clifford also got off to a solid start. The Eagles’ games against Dayton and Auburn should both be winnable this week.
Clemson Tigers 6. Clemson (1-0) beat down Presbyterian this week, which isn’t worth much on its own. But Devin Booker and Milton Jennings both played very well (combined to go 11-14 from the field for 26 points) and look like they’re ready to step into bigger roles for Brad Brownell this season. A near impossible test awaits this week in the form of Gonzaga.
Virginia Tech Hokies 7. Virginia Tech (3-0) scarfed three cupcakes this week, winning all three games by double figures. The “meat” of the nonconference schedule is still a ways off (and “meat” is used loosely to describe BCS-conference teams), but so far James Johnson‘s tenure is a success. He’ll need Robert Brown to continue producing offensively to relieve some of Erick Green‘s perimeter burden.
Florida State Seminoles 8. Florida State (1-1) is much better than its home loss to the South Alabama, but those are the kind of losses that will motivate this team to keep getting better. Michael Snaer is also in an early season slump, having only hit a third of the shots he’s taken. But the Seminoles’ 27-point beatdown of Buffalo (where they scored 95 points!) may right the ship. The next six games showcase three against possible NCAA tournament teams: BYU (today), Minnesota and Florida.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons 9. Wake Forest (1-0) played decently against Radford. The game was never free from doubt, but the Demon Deacons didn’t let the Big South Highlanders get the best of them this year. CJ Harris got to the charity stripe like a pro, but Travis McKie‘s 11 points left a little to be desired–especially against a team of this caliber. Turnovers are going to kill Wake Forest in at least two conference games this year.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 10. Georgia Tech (2-0) has balance, but can’t shoot. The Yellow Jackets need someone to step up from the perimeter to keep other teams honest (right now they make a smooth 17.6% of their shots from downtown. Two of Mfon Udofia, Daniel Miller and Kam Holsey need to become go-to guys on offense. Miller doesn’t appear to want that role.
Miami Hurricanes 11. Miami (1-1) needs to be careful not to become a dumpster fire. The team lost its exhibition against St. Leo and now lost to Florida Gulf Coast to ice the cake. This team looks phenomenal on paper, but sometimes things just don’t translate the way we expect. The same Reggie Johnson who made Mason Plumlee look like a child at Cameron Indoor Stadium last year has only hit one third of his shots against middling competition. There’s still time for Larranaga to turn this car around, but time is running out.
Virginia Cavaliers 12. Virginia (1-2), if Miami has to be careful, Virginia fans may already smell that trash burning. So far the Cavaliers lost to George Mason and Delaware. These wins (or struggles) could be statistical aberrations (if your style keeps opponents within striking distance, you’re bound to lose some unfortunate games), and Jontel Evans is out.Things aren’t off to a great start in Charlottesville.
Share this story

ACC Preseason Power Rankings

Posted by mpatton on November 6th, 2012

With all of the ACC previews behind us, it’s time to put everything together in our first ACC Power Rankings of the season.

Duke Blue Devils 1. Duke has all of the pieces to be a much better team than last year’s team. While the recruiting class is small, don’t forget redshirt freshmen Alex Murphy and Marshall Plumlee. Mason Plumlee may be the focal point of the Blue Devil offense. But the big question is how improved will Quinn Cook be?
NC State Wolfpack 2. NC State has the most complete team on paper. Add three top-shelf recruits to a talented returning group that includes two potential conference players of the year, and there’s bound to be plenty of hype. But will the Wolfpack be able to overcome their defensive woes (and the historical defensive woes of Mark Gottfried) and play like the end of last season, or will they play like the rest of the year?
North Carolina Tar Heels 3. North Carolina (tied) lost a lot from last year’s team with the four leading contributors with Reggie Bullock as the sole returning starter. But Roy Williams reloads instead of rebuilds. James Michael McAdoo may be the best player in the league, and Bullock looks ready to step up production. Freshman point Marcus Paige has big shoes (or at least a lot of shoes) to fill, but he’ll have help from backcourt veterans Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald.
Florida State Seminoles 3. Florida State (tied) may fall on its face, but Leonard Hamilton and Michael Snaer have earned the right to be taken seriously after knocking Duke and North Carolina off en route to the conference championship. Keep an eye on Okaro White and Terrance Shannon this season. You can trust Hamilton’s team to bring it defensively, but can they stop turning the ball over?
Miami Hurricanes 3. Miami (tied) looked rough in its exhibition loss, but there’s no denying the talent on this roster. The Hurricane frontcourt of Reggie Johnson and Kenny Kadji is the best in the league; Durand Scott and Shane Larkin make an exciting backcourt duo; and there’s no shortage of athletic wings to help fill out the lineup. But can Jim Larranaga realize his team’s talent?
Maryland Terrapins 6. Maryland also has a lot of talent on its roster, but the Terrapins were abysmal offensively last season. To make matters worse (though potentially better in the long run), Terrell Stoglin is no longer with the team. Nick Faust and Alex Len need to make big improvements for Maryland to finish in the top half of the conference. Keep an eye on Maryland’s freshmen.
Virginia Cavaliers 7. Virginia has some interesting pieces, and Tony Bennett‘s system appears very effective. But the Cavaliers don’t have Mike Scott and his mid-range game to bail mediocre offensive possessions out anymore. This team will rely on its tenacious defense because it’s hard to see the offense being consistently effective.
Virginia Tech Hokies 8. Virginia Tech hired James Johnson to replace Seth Greenberg, and Greenberg left Johnson with some real talent. The Hokies are a sleeper to finish in the top half of the conference if Erick Green, Jarell Eddie and Cadarian Raines mesh well. Depth will be an issue, but those three are very good players. Johnson also has established relationships with the players, which should make his transition smoother.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons 9. Wake Forest is really young. But a strong freshman class joining two of the best scorers in the league should make the team marginally more competitive than the last two years. Don’t sleep on Travis McKie. McKie is a match-up nightmare for every team, and shouldn’t surprise anyone when he averages close to 20 points a night.
Clemson Tigers 10. Clemson probably should be ranked higher than this. Certainly based on roster talent and previous results, the Tigers look better than tenth in the league. That said, Milton Jennings and Devin Booker haven’t shown the consistency to take over primary roles. If Jennings lives up to his McDonald’s All-American billing and Booker gets more aggressive, this team could finish much closer to the middle of the pack.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 11. Georgia Tech (tied) looks OK on paper, but didn’t add anything significant from last season’s 4-12 campaign. This points to another rough season in Atlanta, though Glen Rice Jr.’s sudden departure may prove more of a blessing than a curse.
Boston College 11. Boston College (tied) will be a significantly more watchable team this season. The team is still young, and still low on ACC-caliber talent. But the sophomore trio of Ryan Anderson, Patrick Heckmann and Dennis Clifford are the real deal. They also all improved a lot just over the course of last season (except Heckmann, who went down with mono).
Share this story