Maryland Refuses To Feed The Post

Posted by KCarpenter on January 24th, 2012

Being a big man is tough. Your job is to set screens, battle for position, and when you get it, hopefully your guards will get you the ball so that you have a chance to score. Failing that, you can always hope to grab an offensive rebound from a missed shot for a putback. Good coaches of course get their big men to do more complicated things than that, but boiled down to the bare essentials: This is the life of a forward or center.

If you have a big man who is skilled on offense, you want him to get as many touches of the ball as possible to give him plenty of chances to score. In general, this is the easiest way to score in college basketball (provided you have a skilled offensive big man). For some reason, Maryland has decided to ignore this principle. The Terrapin forwards and centers take a good number of shots, but it’s mostly due to their own skill at getting offensive rebounds. Outside of that facet of the game, the Terrapin big men barely get a chance to score. At least, that’s what my eyes kept telling me after watching Maryland play against Temple and Florida State. So I decided to go to the numbers and check.

Poor Maryland Bigs

Sure enough, outside of super role-player Miles Plumlee, the main three Terps in the frontcourt rotation have fewer field goal attempts per game than any of the other talented rebounding forwards in the ACC once offensive rebounds per game are subtracted. This is odd, because though Maryland has the near-magical scoring power of Terrell Stoglin, this is a team that often has trouble on offense. While Sean Mosely is a very capable offensive player, Pe’Shon Howard and Nick Faust have not provided any kind of offensive efficiency from the guard position, posting offensive efficiency ratings of 80.0 and 83.9, respectively. That’s ugly. Meanwhile, touch-starved James Padgett, Ashton Pankey, and Alex Len are posting offensive efficiency ratings of 108.4, 113.4, and 96.5, respectively. Padgett and Pankey’s ratings are easily the second and third best on the team after Stoglin, and Len’s lower rating (caused by turnovers) hides the fact that he leads the team in true shooting percentage with an incredibly solid 63.0% mark.

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ACC Game On: 01.17.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on January 17th, 2012

Now, in the cool light of Tuesday we open up with a conference where Boston College and North Carolina have the same ACC record and we can answer the big question of the weekend with a firm nod: Yes, this is real life. The question that remains is simple: Which teams are for real? Florida State made a ridiculously impressive statement against North Carolina on Saturday, but the Seminoles had been maddeningly inconsistent up to this point. Meanwhile, Maryland has looked like a brand new team after Pe’Shon Howard and Alex Len joined with the team, though ironically, it’s been the play of neither that has been the most impressive.

Terrell Stoglin Takes 36.8% of Maryland's Shots. That's A Lot.

The Gut Check

  • Maryland at Florida State at 9:00 PM on ESPNU

Florida State may have pounded North Carolina, but they looked abysmal against a really rough-looking Clemson team. Florida State should be able to hammer Maryland without much difficulty at home, but the Terps have been full of surprises and this match-up has a number of pivot points that could make things really interesting. While the Seminoles have a sterling defense, they are (and have been for the past few years) curiously weak on the defensive glass. This is a problem because Maryland’s James Padgett‘s reign of terror on the offensive glass shows no sign of slowing. Padgett easily remains the best offensive rebounder in the country and his efficiency in the post, particularly on second-chance points, can be a deadly weapon. For Leonard Hamilton‘s squad, the strategy will be the same-as-it-ever-was: Pressure the perimeter to force turnovers and try to bait the team’s worst offensive players into taking too many shots. Sadly for the Terrapins, the shot-happy-but-accuracy-challenged tandem of Nick Faust and Pe’Shon Howard seems pretty susceptible to falling right into this trap. More good news for the Seminoles? Maryland doesn’t force many turnovers, which has been Florida State’s weakness all year long. Will it come down to  a shootout between Terrell Stoglin and a newly confident Deividas Dulkys? Stoglin shoots more than anyone in the ACC, but if anyone is prepared to match fire with fire, the Dulkys that we saw on Saturday was far from gun shy.

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ACC Morning Five: 01.02.11 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 2nd, 2012

  1. Boston Globe: Al Skinner got fired from Boston College because of the perception that he wasn’t recruiting at the same level he used to (currently, he’s still looking for that next college job as an AAU coach). But if you look at the recruits he had lined up for the Eagles before he left, they’re all performing very well at various schools around the country. I still don’t see a go-to guy on Boston College’s team if you add this bunch to the roster, but it’s certainly worth mentioning after the Eagles fell to 5-8 after being blown out by Harvard.
  2. Orangeburg Times and Democrat: It was a long flight home for Clemson after losing two of its three games in the Diamond Head Classic. Because of Oliver Purnell’s notorious non-conference schedules the Tigers are off to their worst start since 2003 at a disappointing 7-6. Despite generous preseason numbers, Clemson saw its ranking from Ken Pomeroy drop steadily over the first few weeks as the losses continued piling up. Barring a miraculous conference season (read: winning the ACC Tournament), it looks like Clemson’s streak of five straight NCAA Tournament appearances will end.
  3. Washington Times: Maryland quietly bettered its resume with six straight wins, albeit against unimpressive competition. The Terrapins finally got a wire-to-wire win against Samford Saturday thanks to strong games from Pe’Shon Howard, Terrell Stoglin and Nick Faust. The win came after Mark Turgeon threw the entire team out of practice the day before. Faust finally found the basket from long range (playing off the ball has helped his game). Today the team looks to continue its winning streak against Cornell before heading into conference play.
  4. Baltimore Sports Report: Luckily, expansion speculation and rumors have died down, but the moves from earlier this year leave several conferences with the challenge (or in the ACC’s case, opportunity) of rebranding (or reestablishing) the conference with its new members. The Big East has the most work to do, trying to move from a regional to national footprint, while the ACC looks to reclaim its basketball dominance with Syracuse and Pittsburgh preparing to join in the next couple of years. It was one thing to talk about, but the augmented conferences will be very interesting to watch going forward.
  5. Wilmington Star News: What were the top 10 ACC stories of 2011? Brett Friedlander does a pretty good job paring the list down, but I totally disagree with his ordering. I know Miami‘s scandal has fallen out of the news with other scandals and its ongoing investigation, but it or conference expansion has to be number one. Mark Gottfried‘s hire was a big splash in North Carolina, but it was way less important than Gary Williams’ retirement or overall coaching upheaval for the conference. The list is still worth a read.

EXTRA: Finally, take a second and read over the inspiring story of a Duke fan who couldn’t pull against Pennsylvania yesterday because the school saved his life after his liver failed.

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ACC Game On: 12.08.11 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on December 8th, 2011

Georgia Tech had the best night out of all the ACC teams, beating a pretty good Georgia team in Athens. The Yellow Jackets, in addition to putting together their usual solid defensive effort, displayed a versatile and balanced offense that saw five different players score in double figures while the team shot 52.1% from the field. If Georgia Tech can put together some more nights like this one, they will easily exceed expectations.

Georgia Tech Won in Athens For the First Time in a Long Time (AP/C. Compton)

Wake Forest and Maryland both nearly took losses but managed to get the win in games that should not have been that close. The Demon Deacons faced the white-hot fury of High Point‘s Nick Barbour who went nova and scored 35 points and hit 7 threes from beyond the arc.  Wake Forest also struggled on the boards, allowing High Point to grab twelve offensive rebounds while only securing two of their own. The net result of this rebounding difference helped to create a significant shot disparity where Wake Forest shot the ball only 48 times compared to the High Point’s 63 attempts. That Wake Forest won this game despite these factors is almost impressive. The Demon Deacons were hyper-efficient on offense, shooting 58.3% from the field and making 18 free throws. That this team could turn in such an impressive offensive performance and still come within four points of losing to High Point isn’t a great sign for the future, though. Maryland’s close win had a similar flavor as bad defense nearly undermined a clicking offense. The Terrapins put together a nice evening on offense, including a truly solid game from Nick Faust that included 13 points on five field goals while leading the team with six rebounds, five assists and two blocks. The narrow three-point margin of victory, however, is far from comforting to Terrapin fans.

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Behind the Numbers: Who Is Killing Their Own Team?

Posted by KCarpenter on December 1st, 2011

A lot of the effort in basketball analytics goes towards the good things that players do that do not appear in the box score. This is the driving idea behind Michael Lewis’s seminal New York Times feature, “The No-Stats All-Star,” an early look at analytics in the NBA primarily focused on Darryl Morey, Shane Battier, the Houston Rockets, and adjusted plus/minus. This makes sense: finding hidden strengths is the coach’s angle while finding hidden value is the economist’s angle. As a result of the fine work of smart guys with formulas and others with a willingness to watch a lot of games closely, Charles Jenkins and Nate Wolters were household names last season. This, of course, assumes that your household is filled with basketball dorks, but you get the idea.

Faried Was An Underappreciated Star

Finding diamonds in the rough is a noble pursuit and talking up the greatness of underexposed and underrated players is a worthwhile task (Hey there, Kenneth Faried!). Sometimes, however, there is a joy in using analytics and “advanced” statistics to look for the guy who is hurting his team the most.  Let’s ignore the diamonds and go straight for the rough.

How does a player hurt his team? Well, when push comes to shove, there are basically only two ways: offensively and defensively. Sadly, however, contemporary box scores assign no grade for bad defense to the individual outside of counting how many fouls (which could very well be offensive) a player commits. Our primary understanding of player’s individual defense comes only in positive contributions like blocks, steals, and defensive rebounds while the effect on an opponents shooting percentage is measured at a team level. The noble effort of Luke Winn, David Hess, and others that has sought to enact Dean Oliver’s defensive charting schemes is a good start at really quantifying individual defense, but a very small percentage of Division I games have been looked at in this way making the approach of limited use to someone who wants to look at the whole of college basketball. So, acknowledging that analytic approaches to finding bad defensive players are limited, let’s at least take a quick look at fouls.

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Who’s Got Next? Stokes Denied Appeal, Pronouncing Muhammad’s Name is an Issue…

Posted by Josh Paunil on November 23rd, 2011

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Josh Paunil, the RTC recruiting guru. We encourage you to check out his website dedicated solely to college basketball recruiting, National Recruiting Spotlight, for more detailed recruiting information. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to who the hot prospects are at the lower levels of the sport. If you have any suggestions as to areas we’re missing or different things you’d like to see, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Lead Story: Jarnell Stokes Still Ineligible For His Senior Season

Jarnell Stokes Is Ineligible For His Senior Basketball Season. (Wildcat Blue Nation)

Top-20 Recruit Left Searching For Other Options. The TSSAA Board of Control, the body of people responsible for deciding whether Class of 2012 power forward Jarnell Stokes can play basketball his senior season, announced Monday that they denied his appeal to the August ruling that said he cannot play in the 2011-12 season. Stokes was initially ruled ineligible by Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association executive director Bernard Childress after transferring from Central High School (TN) to Southwind High School (TN). Stokes has lived in the same address for the past nine years in the Southwind district but was able to attend Central on an academic exemption as a freshman. However, Stokes’ academic record over the last three years doesn’t meet any of the ten TSSAA guidelines that would have allowed him to transfer and become eligible at Southwind this season. Despite the setback, Stokes and his family still have several other options. One option, something that Stokes’ father says is a possibility, is that Stokes can graduate early and enroll in college in January (keep in mind though that he is still uncommitted). Another option he has is to return back to Central, but his father says that almost certainly won’t happen. Stokes is a good enough player though that, even if he doesn’t player basketball this year, the likes of Arkansas, Memphis and Kentucky will still recruit him and his recruitment should be unaffected.

What They’re Saying

  • Senior standout Ricardo Ledo on who Providence is going after: “We’re trying to get [Class of 2012 power forward] Chris Obekpa, we’re trying to get [Class of 2013 center] Nerlens Noel, we’re going hard at him. We’re trying to get [Class of 2012 small forward] JaKarr Sampson.”

Ricardo Ledo Says Providence Is Going After Chris Obekpa, Nerlens Noel And JaKarr Sampson.

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ACC Game On: 11.18.11 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on November 18th, 2011

ACC Game On will periodically review recent games involving ACC teams and take a look forward to key upcoming matchups.

The streak is over. The Atlantic Coast Conference’s short reign as the only undefeated conference in college basketball came to an end last night as both Georgia Tech and Maryland fell in the opening round of their respective tournaments. Against Saint Joseph’s and Alabama, neither team could figure out ways to score, particularly from long range. Georgia Tech and Maryland went a combined 3-24 from behind the arc.

While Georgia Tech was able to successfully go inside to manufacture some offense, the Yellow Jackets’ inability to stymie Saint Joseph’s perimeter attack (the Hawks shot over 50% on three-pointers) compounded with GT’s own terrible three-point shooting added up to a  thirteen-point loss. Where Georgia Tech was able to at least have some success on offense, Alabama completely shut down Maryland. In addition to going 2-12 on threes, the team shot 26.5% from the field. On a Maryland team whose strength is supposed to be guard play, Alabama held the Terrapins’ starting trio of Sean Moseley, Terrell Stoglin, and Nick Faust to 2-23 combined shooting. That’s right, Maryland’s starting guard rotation shot 8.6% from the field. While it would be nice to give all credit to the sensational Alabama defense that didn’t allow a single Maryland player to score in the double figures, the truth is that it wasn’t all Alabama. Maryland played poorly and looked lost on offense. If Maryland is going to win more than a handful of games this year, the backcourt is simply going to have to play better.

Shaka Smart's VCU Rams Will Take On The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in Charleston

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ACC Game On: 11.17.11 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on November 17th, 2011

ACC Game On will periodically review recent games involving ACC teams and take a look forward at key upcoming matchups.

The Atlantic Coast Conference remains unbeaten, although it took a timely jumper by North Carolina State’s Deshawn Painter to maintain the currently perfect winning record of all conference teams. The Wolfpack’s game against Princeton was the highlight of a mostly lackluster slate of games last night. Mark Gottfried‘s team, already playing without C.J. Leslie, lost Scott Wood to an ankle injury two minutes into it. That, combined with insanely hot shooting by Princeton in the first half made a manageable game suddenly very challenging. Despite being down by three at the half, N.C. State rallied behind the sterling play of Lorenzo Brown to pull out the win in the final seconds. Brown led the team in points, assists and steals, contributing sixteen, eight, and five respectively, as well as snagging five rebounds.

Lorenzo Brown Came Up Big For N.C. State

Clemson and Florida State easily took down their opponents, using highly effective offenses to complement already lethally effective defenses. Both teams shot over 50% from the field, with Florida State managing an impressive 57.1%. For Clemson, the all-round play of Tanner Smith has continued to help the Tigers in myriad ways. Smith led his team in assists and rebounding while also scoring eleven points.

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ACC Preseason All-Conference Teams

Posted by mpatton on November 8th, 2011

Now that our individual team previews are done, it’s time to look at individual players. With only five all-ACC selections from last season returning there are plenty of open spots to fill, so here are our Preseason all-ACC Teams for the 2011-12 season.

2011-12 Preseason All-ACC Teams

Looking at our projections, North Carolina, Miami and Duke lead the way with eight, six and five selections, respectively. No surprise with Harrison Barnes checking in as the consensus ACC Player of the Year, or Austin Rivers as the ACC Rookie of the Year (though Kellen wants to keep an eye on Maryland’s Nick Faust for the ROY award).

My personal honorable mentions are Virginia Tech’s Erick Green, Maryland’s Sean Mosley and NC State’s Richard Howell. I’m especially surprised Mosley didn’t show up on any of the teams, but his middling campaign last season probably did him in. Green appears to be in the right place to take over for departing Hokies Malcolm Delaney and Jeff Allen, but he’s got a ways to go based on the Virginia Tech games I went to last season. Finally, Howell had a sneaky good season last year for the Wolfpack and could be a great frontcourt presence alongside CJ Leslie.

My biggest reach was putting Terrell Stoglin on the first team. He was a decent player last year (who averaged over 20 points per game pro-rated at 40 minutes), but he’ll really need to make some waves if he wants to crack the first team this season. Malcolm Grant and Kendall Marshall are the safer choices for that final guard spot. My reasoning is that Marshall will be hidden statistically behind Zeller and Barnes. In general, Roy Williams point guards are under-appreciated because they don’t put up sick numbers, but with Marshall the case is a little different. He’s a very polished player, but I see him as the perfect complimentary player. North Carolina wouldn’t be nearly as good as a team without him, but by himself he’s not spectacular. Thus, I voted him onto the second team in favor of Maryland’s ascendent sophomore.

On the second team Kellen and I differed on power forwards: he chose Mason Plumlee; I chose Travis McKie. Again for me the key was relative importance. Mason Plumlee may be more talented than McKie, but I’ll be shocked if he’s as important for Duke as McKie is for Wake Forest (and really I’m not sold that McKie isn’t more talented). Duke’s bigs are certainly going to be critical this year, but I think the mere fact that there are three of them (Mason, Miles and Ryan Kelly) will dilute each one’s share of the limelight. I did include Miles on my third team because reports from Durham laud him as Duke’s backbone.

However, both of our teams (mine especially) did a lot of projecting for this season. The only locks feel like Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller and Mike Scott (and it’s conceivable Zeller falls to the second team depending on his role). Player and coach turnover left the ACC relatively unknown this season, but Friday players start earning their spots.

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ACC Morning Five: 11.04.11 Edition

Posted by mpatton on November 4th, 2011

  1. USA Today: Another year and another season-crippling injury for Seth Greenberg and the Hokies. Last year it was Dorenzo Hudson and JT Thompson. This year Thompson tore his other ACL and will miss his second straight season. You have to feel for Thompson, but Greenberg pointed out the silver lining: “Our main focus right now is his health and preparing him for his graduation this December. […] Now is not the time to discuss a sixth year.” Thompson’s injury is a big blow for Virginia Tech, where Thompson was expected to be a major leader and contributor this season. In 2009-10 he averaged 7.3 PPG and 4.6 RPG in just over 20 minutes a game.
  2. Miami Herald: Jim Larranaga got his first official (exhibition) win on the Miami sideline last night against Florida Southern, 88-78, but it wasn’t easy. The Hurricanes trailed by five at the half and by ten halfway through the second half. Garrius Adams caught fire late, aiding a late 28-6 run with three treys in two minutes. Malcolm Grant led the way for Miami with 26 points on a fantastic 8-12 shooting performance, but Durand Scott wasn’t far behind with 23 points and seven rebounds (that rebounding will be crucial while Reggie Johnson is out). The bad news was the Hurricanes finished with significantly more turnovers (17) than assists (10).
  3. United States Navy: The host of the Quicken Loans Carrier Classic, the USS Carl Vinson, is getting ready for the Veterans’ Day game. Construction crews started building the court on Tuesday that is expected to seat 7,000 people. It should be finished by November 9 to allow both teams to practice on the new court the day before the game. In the case of inclement weather (quite unlikely in San Diego), the crew is also constructing a smaller court in the ship’s hangar bay though it has far less seating for spectators.
  4. Detroit Free Press: Duke target Mitch McGary has opted for John Beilein and Michigan over Duke and Florida. McGary will be the Wolverines’ first McDonalds All-American in ten years (the last was Daniel Horton in 2002). My guess is this means that Duke will really turn up the heat on Tony Parker, another incredibly talented class of 2012 power forward. It is starting to look like NC State may sport the best 2012 recruiting class in the conference.
  5. ACCSports.com: Ryan Davis caught up with new Maryland coach Mark Turgeon to talk about the upcoming season. It sounds like Nick Faust will be called on from day one, and Turgeon expects Sean Mosley to live up to the expectations people set for him last year. One interesting question was comparing this year’s Maryland team to last year’s Boston College team. I’d tend to agree with Turgeon that the teams are very different (namely, the Eagles were lights out from beyond the arc, while Maryland should make its money on defense), but I hadn’t thought about the other comparisons (very shallow benches, new coaches, and solid returners). Although I don’t think the comparison is apples to apples, I think it should be heartening for Terrapin fans that Boston College saw the success it did facing similar problems.
Finally, it is NC StateNorth Carolina week (in football)! For those readers not familiar with ACC football (I don’t blame you), this is the nationally-irrelevant Tobacco Road rivalry of the gridiron. The two coaches celebrated the occasion by swapping insults before the schools’ chancellors ended the feud by calling each other to apologize.
  • Everett Withers (UNC): “I think the kids in this state need to know, you know, the flagship school in this state. […] They need to know it academically. I think if you look at our graduation rates as opposed to our opponent’s this week graduation rates for academics or football, I think you’ll see a difference. I think if you look at the educational environment here, I think you’ll see a difference.”
  • Tom O’Brien (NC State): “As far as the flagship, here is a guy that’s on a football staff that ends up in Indianapolis. If you take three things you can’t do in college football, you have an agent on your staff, you’re paying your players and you have academic fraud. I mean, that’s a triple play as far as the NCAA goes. […] Our guys go to school, they’re not given grades and they graduate […] It’s a little tougher here if you have to go to school and you’re expected to have a syllabus and go to class. I think our guys earn everything they get here. And certainly all our graduates earn everything they get at this university.”
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ACC Team Previews: Maryland

Posted by mpatton on October 27th, 2011

Maryland was very unlucky last season. It ranked 330th out of 345 schools according to Ken Pomeroy’s statistical “Luck” element, falling just in between ACC compatriots Clemson and Georgia Tech. However, the team’s flaws contributed as much to its close losses as anything else. First and foremost, Sean Mosley took a step back from a very promising sophomore season and became a virtual non-factor on offense. Terrell Stoglin‘s brilliant play masked Mosley’s absence for much of the season, but the lack of a consistent third option killed the Terrapins down the stretch. Additionally, Jordan Williams had an Achilles’ heel: poor free throw shooting. Williams was the rock of last year’s Maryland squad, but his inability to shoot foul shots well forced him to take on a reduced role at the end of games.

Terrell Stoglin and Jordan Williams Would've Made a Dynamic Duo at Maryland

Looking back at Maryland’s year is like reading The Little Engine That Could(n’t). Gary Williams‘ squad was competitive, only being blown out twice by a middling opponent (once by Miami and once by Virginia Tech). Those two bad losses, though, were balanced byonly two decent wins (vs. Clemson and Florida State). For whatever reason Maryland couldn’t break into that next tier last year.  The year was so frustrating that after hearing Jordan Williams was departing for the NBA Draft, Hall of Famer Gary Williams departed for the cool breezes of retirement. While inconsistency — especially on the recruiting trail — marked the last few years of his tenure, Williams-coached teams regularly flourished during ACC play in the early 2000s especially the 2002 National Championship team headlined by Steve Blake, Lonny Baxter and Juan Dixon. But the stresses of constantly having to reload from lost players and assistant coaches finally caught up to the head coach after Jordan Williams left his team with very few players and nothing to speak of in the front court. The good news is that the very capable Mark Turgeon was hired away from Texas A&M to take the helm in College Park. Read the rest of this entry »

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Of Polls and Quotes: ACC’s Operation Basketball

Posted by KCarpenter on October 20th, 2011

The Atlantic Coast Conference likes to get a little fanciful sometimes. What most conferences would simply call a “media day” gets a grander name in the ACC: Operation Basketball. A little over the top, but what can you do? In any case, it’s a fun event where all the coaches and a handful of players commit to talking to the press all day long, giving interview after interview while the media expresses its gratitude the only way it knows how: by taking a pre-season poll and naming preseason all-ACC Teams!

Several Heels Find Themselve as Preseason all-ACCers

The short story of the poll and the preseason awards is unsurprising: North Carolina was tabbed as the number one team, though not unanimously as two rogue voters put Duke at the number one spot. In a somewhat surprising development, Wake Forest was not picked to finish last. That honor instead went to Steve Donahue’s ultra-young Boston College. Equally surprising was the vote for Player of the Year where Harrison Barnes was not the unanimous pick. That’s not really too shocking by itself but the the only other player receiving POY votes was John Henson , who received the only two other votes that didn’t go to his teammate. At least a couple of ACC beat journalists must really love defense.

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