ACC M5: 01.22.14 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 22nd, 2014


  1. Sports Illustrated: Good stuff on CJ Fair here, whose two sporting idols are Carmelo Anthony and Michael Jordan. Anthony makes sense for a multitude of reasons: Fair is also from Baltimore, has the same Syracuse pedigree, and Anthony has one of the best mid-range games in the world. Jordan? More of a stretch. Here I’ll turn to Kelli Anderson: “A few years ago Fair read an interview in which Jordan was asked how he stayed motivated to give his best effort every single game, even against lesser competition. Jordan’s response: There might be a family out there seeing him for the first time, and he wanted to make a good impression.”
  2. Tallahassee Democrat: The end of Florida State’s recent game at Virginia got ugly. After an admittedly unnecessary alley-oop with 18 seconds left, Justin Anderson was called for a technical foul. During the stoppage in play, some players started jawing. As the officials were separating the teams, London Perrantes and Okaro White continued talking and Perrantes appears to have shoved White. White shoved him back, whereupon two Virginia players then left the bench and were ejected. After a lengthy review from the officials, a double-technical was assessed to White (his fifth personal) and Perrantes. After the game in the handshake line, there was a second scuffle catalyzed by more contact between the two. Long story short: White was “publicly reprimanded” by the ACC, but the league won’t take further action.
  3. Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician: Syracuse starting forward Dujuan Coleman is out for the year. To be clear, Coleman starts over Jerami Grant, but Grant plays a far larger role in the Syracuse rotation. Coleman only averaged 13 minutes per game this season, but without him Jim Boeheim effectively plays seven players (and Michael Gbinije has only played between four and 11 minutes in any of the team’s five conference games). That’s not a lot of depth available, which means that four guys are likely to suit up for 30-plus minutes per game from here on out. Depth is overrated — especially on teams that mostly play zone — but the Orange lose much of their wiggle room if a player gets sick, injured, or in foul trouble.
  4. Washington Post: Glad to see Mike Wilbon take up for tradition here. Wilbon once worked the Maryland beat and currently serves on the board at Northwestern. He didn’t mince words when talking about Maryland’s move to the Big Ten: “Because if it’s not [a windfall], it just destroys the tradition and the history of rivalries, and the competition, and just says, ‘Okay, let’s pimp ourselves out, we’re going to go for the money.'” What sparked the commentary was NC State fans chanting “A-C-C” in the closing seconds of their win over the Terrapins on Monday night.
  5. Tar Heel Blog: Great piece on why Roy Williams didn’t recruit any wing players for this season. The obvious answer is that he didn’t expect to need any with Reggie Bullock and PJ Hairston expected to be available. But the issue is more complex than that, and Brian Barbour does a good job looking at a lot of different angles here. Recruiting issues tend to play out a couple of years later (except at Kentucky), but right now, I tend to agree with the theory that North Carolina is suffering because of early defections (both transfers and departures for the NBA) along with a couple of players who haven’t developed like Williams hoped.

VIDEO EXTRA: Mark Gottfried was psyched after NC State’s win without TJ Warren.

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ACC Preview Revisited – Part Three

Posted by Chris Kehoe on January 3rd, 2014

As we continue to revisit our ‘ACC Mega-Preview’, here is the third part of our recap with the bottom five projected teams profiled below. Keep in mind that the teams are ranked here based on the RTC preseason ACC rankings. The analysis of each determines whether each team was ranked too high or low at the start of the season.

To review Part One and Part Two of this feature, click through the links.

11). Florida State Seminoles (9-3)

FSU's defense has given Leonard Hamilton reason to smile again

FSU’s defense has given Leonard Hamilton reason to smile again

  • Signature wins: #10 VCU, #22 UMass
  • Signature losses: #14 Michigan, #15 Florida
  • Reasons for optimism: Florida State has tangled with a very difficult schedule thus far and responded well above its preseason perception. Thanks to their talented trio of Ian Miller, Aaron Thomas and Okaro White, Florida State has outdone expectations through a return to their days of defensive dominance under defensive whiz and head coach Leonard Hamilton. The emergence of massive center Boris Bojanovsky as a formidable interior presence has helped anchor the frontline, and by playing hard-nosed basketball against a very competitive early slate of opponents before conference play begins, FSU has set itself up well to overachieve and claw its way into the crowded ACC picture.
  • Reasons for pessimism: It will be tough for Florida State to keep up its scorching shooting percentages through conference play, and the rhythm it has built may break down over the wear and tear of consistently equivalent and superior teams in the ACC. While the Seminoles rank highly in field goal percentage, they don’t have a long-range threat on the roster who can consistently knock down threes when they are zoned. If one of their big three gets into foul trouble, which has happened to White already this season (he is averaging 3.2 personal fouls per contest), they will struggle to replace a player of his offensive importance.
  • Forecast: Florida State has a bright season ahead, likely beating some solid opponents and losing a few very close games to stronger foes. Without star recruit Xavier Rathan-Mayes and missing out on the Andrew Wiggins sweepstake, most folks thought Hamilton’s team would struggle to keep its head above water this season. It has proved many people wrong with its tenacious defensive principles intact and a solid well-rounded scoring attack. Florida State has firmly leapfrogged several teams projected in front of it and can be expected to challenge for an NCAA Tournament bid by continuing on this trajectory. 

12). Miami Hurricanes (8-5)

  • Signature wins: Arizona State
  • Signature losses: George Washington
  • Reasons for optimism: Not much was expected of this Miami team after losing almost all of its squad from an historic 2012-13 season. Losing the likes of ACC POY Shane Larkin, Kenny Kadji, Reggie Johnson, and Durand Scott would weigh on any team, but Jim Larranaga’s group has looked more formidable than expected. Behind the strong play of Rion Brown, Garrius Adams and Donnavan Kirk, Miami won’t set the world on fire this season but has a good team that could upset some more talented squads in conference play. They are certainly athletic, physical, and well-coached and will not back down from any challenge. Read the rest of this entry »
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ACC M5: 11.14.13 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on November 14th, 2013


  1. Winston Salem Journal: Somehow missed this a couple of weeks ago, but this is an awesome mini-series on the history of the ACC. Things are broken down by decade with all the top coaches, players and quotes highlighted. If you’ve got a few minutes, it’s definitely worth reading all the way through. Also who knew Frank McGuire felt so offended by the full-court press?
  2. Sports Illustrated: And make it two great Andre Dawkins stories. Seth Davis did some great reporting on Dawkins’ struggle with depression following his sister’s death. It’s really hard to read these stories and know that someone didn’t get any help for over a year while he was hurting so much. It seems like Dawkins is in a much better place now, and props go out to the Duke staff for directly intervening when they did. Though for all of the positivity in this story and surrounding Dawkins’s return this season, he’s only logged two total minutes in Duke’s two games this season. Obviously, it may be a matter of rust or conditioning (or an embarrassment of wealth on the wing, more likely), but here’s to hoping Dawkins finds his way back into the rotation.
  3. Lynchburg News Advance: Normally, game recaps don’t deserve a spot in the M5, but not all wins are created equal. After a bad horrendous opening loss to South Carolina Upstate, Virginia Tech showed some major grit in coming back from 19 down in the first half to beat West Virginia on Tuesday. The Hokies were left for dead after getting down 29-10, but freshman Ben Emolgu and UNC Wilmington transfer Adam Smith combined for 41 points in the victory. James Johnson has to be pleased both with the win and the production of his newcomers, who will be crucial if the Hokies hope to exceed expectations in conference play.
  4. Reuters (via Chicago Tribune): A couple of big news items are hidden in this piece. First, the ACC Tournament will not be going to New York in 2016. It will be going to Washington, DC. Alas, Maryland won’t be able to revel in the home court advantage, as the Terrapins will be playing in the Big Ten Tournament in Chicago that season. Geographically, the capital city makes sense (thanks to the new northern schools’ collective impact on the ACC footprint), and flights should be easy to come by. Second is that the official date for Louisville leaving the American conference has been set for July 1, 2014 (a year earlier than scheduled).
  5. Orlando Sentinel: Okaro White was thrust into a leadership position last year. Sure, Michael Snaer was the heart and soul of Florida State’s team, but White was expected to help manage the youngest team Leonard Hamilton has trotted out in recent memory. That was a big change from being an important offensive player on a team of juniors and seniors. This year, White sounds more ready for the challenge — which is also easier because the team he’s leading is a year older. Experience is a big part of playing good defense (see, Duke’s defense on Tuesday night). The game is faster and the systems more complicated than anything players see in high school or AAU, and already, Florida State’s experience is paying dividends.
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Preseason ACC Microsite Awards: Joe Harris Preseason POY

Posted by Matt Patton on November 9th, 2013

The ACC microsite is happy to announce our preseason Player of the Year and all-ACC teams, as selected by the five writers contributing this season.

Preseason All-ACC

Some Notes:

  • Seven of 15 teams had at least one selection to the teams. Virginia and North Carolina led the way with two selections each.
  • Virginia’s Joe Harris received three of five votes for preseason ACC Player of the Year. Jabari Parker and CJ Fair received one vote each.
  • Harris and Fair were unanimous selections for the first team.
  • Duke’s Rodney Hood actually tied Virginia’s Akil Mitchell for votes, but Mitchell’s one first-team vote put him over the top in a tie-breaker.
  • Ryan Anderson, Quinn Cook, Travis McKie, Rasheed Sulaimon and Okaro White each received one second-team vote.
  • The first team has two seniors (Harris and Fair), two sophomores (Olivier Hanlan and TJ Warren) and one freshman (Parker).
  • The second team has more experience than the first team with three juniors and two seniors.
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ACC Mega-Preview: Duke Tops Power Rankings

Posted by Matt Patton (@rise_and_fire) on November 8th, 2013

Over the last two weeks, we have previewed each team individually to go with several more articles to get you ready for ACC basketball starting later today. Links to the previews can be found in each of the preseason power rankings listed below. Also look for our preseason conference awards later which will publish later today.

ACC Basketball Twitter Must-Follows (Chris): 

  • Part I (general ACC tweeters)
  • Part II (Maryland, Clemson, Wake Forest, Boston College, Miami, Pittsburgh,  and Georgia Tech)
  • Part III (Virginia, Duke, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Florida State, North Carolina, and NC State)

Early Season Tournaments (Brad):

  • Part I (Boston College, Virginia Tech, and Clemson)
  • Part II (Florida State, North Carolina, Maryland, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse)
  • Part III (Duke, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Virginia, and Miami)

Seven Nonconference Games to Watch (Brad)


Duke Blue Devils 1. Duke (75): Unanimous selection for the top spot, Coach K hopes this year’s more athletic group of players can thrive at a faster pace of play. Duke is a national contender this season.
Syracuse Orange 2. Syracuse (67): Their loaded front court and a legendary coach will help make seamless transition to the ACC, bringing their length and vaunted 2-3 zone along with them. Frosh point guard Tyler Ennis is the difference between a very good team and a great one.
North Carolina Tar Heels T3. North Carolina (64): The development of the young frontcourt will be key for a team with plenty of upside, but a daunting non-conference schedule and the suspensions of PJ Hairston and Leslie McDonald loom early.
Virginia Cavaliers T3. Virginia (64): ACC stars Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell are back in Charlottesville. If the point guard position has more offensive output than last season, this team has all the pieces to be an ACC contender.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish 5. Notre Dame (52)Mike Brey has to find a way to replace Jack Cooley‘s production in the post, but the Fighting Irish bring back one of the best backcourts in the ACC. The Fighting Irish look like a border-line top-25 team heading into the season.
Maryland Terrapins 6. Maryland (48): Losing Seth Allen for a spell and Alex Len to the lottery will hurt, but Dez Wells‘ brilliance and Maryland’s overall athleticism should propel them to new heights under Mark Turgeon assuming they can cut out some of their turnovers.
Boston College 7. Boston College (43): A veteran core and a bona fide star could take Boston College to the next level, provided Steve Donahue does something about the team’s dreadful defense. If Dennis Clifford is healthy, this team has a shot at the NCAA Tournament.
Pittsburgh Panthers 8. Pittsburgh (41): The Panthers have three solid returning starters to build around, but will need their new big men to make an immediate impact after Steven Adams’ surprising decision to bolt for the NBA Draft. Also how will the new officiating rules affect Jamie Dixon‘s style?
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 9. Georgia Tech (31): The tandem of sophomores Robert Carter, Jr. and Marcus Georges-Hunt will prove even more effective as the Yellow Jackets look to make strides, but their young core is a few years away from making noise. Tennessee transfer Trae Golden should be an upgrade over Mfon Udofia at point guard.
NC State Wolfpack 10. NC State (29): TJ Warren could be one of the most talented players in the conference, but there is an enormous amount of departed experience to replace in Raleigh. Mark Gottfried‘s talented group of freshmen will be expected to contribute early and often.
Florida State Seminoles 11. Florida State (27): The Seminoles need last year’s newcomers to all make a big leap this year even to stay in the upper middle of the ACC. The key is getting back to elite team defense, though Okaro White is one of the better returning offensive wings in the ACC.
Miami Hurricanes 12. Miami (23): The best thing returning for the Hurricanes is head coach Jim Larranaga, an expert at putting pieces together to form a solid team. Unfortunately, the pieces leave a lot to be desired. Belgian star Manu Lacomte may surprise ACC fans, though.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons 13. Wake Forest (19): For the first time since coming to Winston-Salem Jeff Bzdelik has experience, but do the Demon Deacons have the talent to finish above .500 and save his job? Conference expansion didn’t help.
Clemson Tigers 14. Clemson (11): A bad team is going to get worse as the program takes what is probably charitably going to be called “a rebuilding year.” Tune in for KJ McDaniels, whose shot-blocking makes him a good pick for ACC defensive player of the year.
Virginia Tech Hokies 15. Virginia Tech (6): Erick Green is gone, and there isn’t anyone stepping up to replace him on a team destined to rest in the ACC cellar this year. Things could be ugly for James Johnson‘s second season in Blacksburg.

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ACC Team Preview: Florida State Seminoles

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on November 4th, 2013

The 2012-13 Florida State Seminoles could best be described as one of the luckiest unlucky teams in recent ACC history. Coming off the school’s first ACC basketball championship the year prior, the Seminoles only returned four players and two of those suffered through difficult, injury-plagued seasons. Terrance Shannon and Ian Miller combined to miss 16 games and were never at 100 percent for the rest. Freshman Devon Bookert didn’t miss any games but was hobbled for the first half of the season while recovering from a preseason knee injury.

Florida State Preview

Now for the lucky part – Florida State’s record in close games. Counting a 73-69 win over Clemson in the ACC Tournament, the Seminoles were 9-1 in ACC games decided by five points or less. In games decided by three points or fewer, they were 6-0. Michael Snaer’s clutch play was certainly a factor in that record, but in those one-possession games you can’t just look at the last shot of the game. In such tight contests, any single possession throughout the game may have changed the outcome. That means one shot that rattled in instead of out, one bad call by an official, or one bounce of the ball off a random leg could make the difference in the game.

ESPN Insider John Gasaway looked at this in detail and wrote, “Indeed it’s not too much to say that Florida State was historically lucky in 2012-13, posting a 9-9 record in ACC play when the Seminoles’ level of performance would ordinarily fetch the team a 5-13 mark, or even quite possibly 4-14. Statistically, it was the most fortunate conference season recorded by any ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12 or SEC team in the last four seasons, meaning what the Seminoles did ranks No. 1 on a list with no fewer than 295 team-seasons.” Wow.

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Rushed Reactions: Florida State 73, Clemson 69

Posted by mpatton on March 14th, 2013


Matt Patton is an RTC correspondent and ACC microsite writer. He filed this report after Thursday night’s ACC Tournament game between Florida State and Clemson.

Three Key Takeaways:

  1. Epic Almost-Collapse: Florida State had a 13-point lead with two minutes to play. Two turnovers, a missed dunk, a flagrant foul and a fouled three-point shooter later, the Seminoles were lucky to have a six-point lead (Clemson missed four field goals over that stretch). The Tigers proceeded to hit two unbelievable threes to cut the lead to two with 13 seconds to play, but Michael Snaer iced the game with four straight free throws to close it out. But Florida State looked flummoxed the last two minutes. It didn’t help that a couple of close calls went the other way, but the team lost its poise. After the game, Leonard Hamilton said, “It was like we were trying to invent ways to give the game back to Clemson.” In the end, Florida State hit more free throws and won, but it shouldn’t have been that close.
  2. Terrance Shannon makes Florida State a different team: Much of this year, Florida State has been muscled around inside by ACC opponents. With a young front line — only made younger by Terrance Shannon‘s injury — it wasn’t that the Seminoles were soft. They just didn’t play smart. They often got out of position and gave up easy buckets uncharacteristic of Hamilton’s system. But Shannon provides a spark of strength and experience that really turned the tables in the second half. He’ll be critical to the Seminoles’s chances against North Carolina tomorrow. So far the Tar Heels have struggled with big, physical teams and Shannon fits the description to a T.
  3. Clemson free throws: Clemson shot a smooth 19-of-31 from the free throw line (61.3%). The team missed four free throws in the final two minutes that would have made it even closer than it was. In the past 10 years, Clemson has only finished in the top 200 of Division I in free throw shooting twice. The only time the Tigers ended up in the top half was Brad Brownell’s first season. You want a big reason for Clemson’s rep as a team that chokes? Don’t look further than 15 feet.

Star of the GameOkaro White played like a man possessed tonight. He was everywhere for Florida State. He knocked down jumpers when Clemson let him, or he used the threat of a jump shot to get into the lane. He had several strong moves in the paint. After all was said and done he finished 8-of-11 from the field, good for 24 points in 39 minutes. You may not be familiar with Hamilton’s system, but it’s not every day someone plays essentially the whole game (he played 12 guys against Clemson). Snaer was the only other player to log 39 minutes, which highlights the two most important players for this squad.

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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?

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ACC M5: 01.14.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 14th, 2013


  1. USA Today: In one of the cooler side stories of the year, NC State student Will Privette rushed the court… in his wheelchair. Pushed by the student body president, Privette led the charge to center court to celebrate the Wolfpack win over top-ranked Duke. As the mass of students came, he was knocked over before his 6’9″ savior, CJ Leslie scooped him up and held him “like how you’d hold a baby.” To add to the image Privette started screaming and cheering again once he realized he was safe. In the end only his wheelchair and phone were harmed.
  2. Charlottesville Daily Progress: Calling for an “offensive coordinator” echoes similar rumblings as some talk out of Tallahassee the last few years. But Jerry Ratcliffe points to a more troubling development for the Cavaliers than an over-reliance on defense. Clemson shut Virginia down by giving it a taste of its own packed-in defense. Don’t expect an elite team to change its defense completely, but Clemson may have given weaker teams a silver bullet to beat the Cavaliers.
  3. Winston-Salem Journal: Jeff Bzdelik may be saving his job. Combine signing a highly coveted top-50 recruit with a 2-1 record in ACC play, and suddenly Bzdelik’s seat is looking a whole lot cooler. There are still a lot of ACC games left to play though, so don’t set this in stone. At the end of the day, I don’t think Wake Forest is better than eleventh in the 12-team league, but so far it’s proving me wrong in a big way.
  4. Orlando Sentinel: The Seminoles couldn’t hand North Carolina its third loss in as many games Saturday, but they are starting to show positive signs in the frontcourt. Okaro White still has to work on being consistently aggressive, and Terrance Shannon needs to keep shot selection in the back of his head. Last but not least, some of the younger guys need to step up. In the long run (i.e. over the course of his four-year career), Boris Bojanovsky is where my money goes. But in the short run, Leonard Hamilton needs more from his veterans.
  5. AP (via ESPN): Fans out of Coral Gables may be able to breathe soon, as sources close to the NCAA’s investigation told the AP that the investigative gathering may be drawing to a close (assuming no other leads are unearthed in final interviews). This is a longtime coming and hopefully won’t put too much of a damper on Miami‘s great start to conference play.

EXTRA: You can find the second most inspirational story out of Raleigh Saturday below.

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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.

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