Leslie McDonald Reinstated; PJ Hairston Still Pending

Posted by mpatton on December 18th, 2013

Big news out of Chapel Hill today as Leslie McDonald was reinstated by the NCAA effective immediately, allowing him to play in tonight’s game against Texas. McDonald was suspended  for the first nine games of North Carolina‘s season for accepting impermissible benefits, including “the use of luxury cars, payment of parking tickets, a cell phone and lodging,” per the NCAA’s release. He will also be required to donate almost $1,800 to charity.

Leslie McDonald gives Roy Williams another offensive weapon. (credit: Jeffrey A. Camarati / North Carolina athletics)

Leslie McDonald gives Roy Williams another offensive weapon. (credit: Jeffrey A. Camarati / North Carolina athletics)

The strangest part of the story comes in the details of the NCAA’s release. While the general consensus has been that the NCAA has been holding up the decisions of McDonald and PJ Hairston for some unknown reason, it was revealed that North Carolina only submitted a reinstatement request on December 11 (after initially reporting the case in late October). The request was completed yesterday, so there was a very quick turnaround in Indianapolis while the holdup appears to have been in Chapel Hill. Raising even more eyebrows was the final line of the NCAA’s release: “At this time, McDonald’s reinstatement request is the only one the NCAA has received from North Carolina.” That means that it is the school that is still investigating the facts in Hairston’s case, rather than the NCAA. Hairston’s case is certainly more complex than McDonald’s, so it makes sense his case would take longer to sort out.

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College Basketball By The Tweets: A Big Weekend and #FreePJ In Cameron

Posted by David Harten on December 17th, 2013

bythetweets

With Saturday marking the first weekend where college football didn’t dominate the sports schedule, college basketball took full advantage, with some pivotal non-conference games on the docket, a few featuring Top 25 teams and some others that made an argument to be ranked.

If you’re starting with Top 25 teams, you have to begin with No. 18 Kentucky at No. 11 North Carolina on Saturday, where the Tar Heels kept their head-scratching narrative going with an 82-77 victory in the Dean Dome. Marcus Paige dropped 23 points, including a 10-of-10 performance from the free throw line. After losing to Belmont at home and UAB in Birmingham, UNC has now notched victories over several of the top teams in the nation, beating the AP’s top three preseason teams in America. As you’ll see, you can attribute their elevated play to hot shooting against elite defensive teams, but it’s pretty impressive that Roy Williams’ bunch is doing all this without P.J. Hairston in the lineup (more on him at the bottom).

Another game that really caught the public eye on Saturday was No. 1 Arizona heading to the Crisler Center to take on Michigan. The Wildcats came back late and held on to win to preserve their spot at the top of the polls. While Brandon Ashley led the Cats with a team-high 18 points, Aaron Gordon put up his own nice performance of 14 points, five rebounds and two assists, but saved his best for what he did defensively in the second half against a red-hot Glenn Robinson III.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Previewing Kentucky’s Visit to Chapel Hill

Posted by Lathan Wells & Matt Patton on December 14th, 2013

Today’s match-up between North Carolina and Kentucky in Chapel Hill looks a bit different than it did on paper at the start of the season. Some Kentucky fans talked up a perfect 40-0 record before reality set in with losses to a veteran, talent-laden Michigan State team and a more physical, driven Baylor squad. Neither loss is a bad one, of course, but both brought the Wildcats back to the realization that this year would not be a simple strut to the national championship game. North Carolina, meanwhile, has suffered puzzling losses to Belmont at home and UAB in a winnable game on the road, but also stunned then-#1 Michigan State in East Lansing and defending national champion Louisville on a neutral floor. No one seems to know what to make of this Tar Heels squad, especially with PJ Hairston and Leslie McDonald still swimming in NCAA limbo. Today marks the renewal of the rivalry after a one-year hiatus between these goliath programs, each with plenty of question marks at this early stage of the season. RTC ACC microsite columnists Lathan Wells and Matt Patton break down the game in point/counterpoint style below.

How will North Carolina slow down Julius Randle? (M. Zerof/USA Today)

How will North Carolina slow down Julius Randle? (M. Zerof/USA Today)

Lathan: Kentucky’s strength obviously lies in its overall athleticism, but it seems that its dominance in the paint early has been the key to their victories. Do you see them overwhelming North Carolina there, or do the guards have to be the difference?

Matt: Kentucky has to get something from its guards, as North Carolina is one of the few teams in the country with the size to match up against the Wildcats in the frontcourt. That said, Willie Cauley-Stein and Julius Randle are tough for anyone to stop. Randle’s strength and athleticism makes him an impossible match-up, but the real key is that Kentucky has to play good defense. It’s no coincidence that Kentucky’s two losses have come during the only two times opponents have topped 1.1 points per possession against them. But I’ll ask a similar question. No one on North Carolina, apart from Marcus Paige, has shown the ability to make a three, and Kentucky has the second best two-point field goal defense in the country. Which will give first: Kentucky’s defense or North Carolina’s offense?

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Morning Five: 11.21.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 21st, 2013

morning5

  1. After Friday’s recruiting coup, Duke fans have to be feeling pretty good about next season even if some of the flaws of this year’s team are starting to become apparent. Today the hopes for next season could be ratcheted up another level as Justice Winslow, a five-star small forward, makes his college announcement and based on what many recruiting analysts are saying Duke is expected to be his choice although he is also considering Arizona, Florida, Stanford, UCLA, and Texas A&M. Winslow is reportedly being recruited by Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones, the two top-five recruits who committed to Duke last Friday and played with Winslow on the US National Team. If Winslow opts to head to Durham, the Blue Devils should have the #1 class wrapped up and most likely will be your preseason #1 next season.
  2. The fortunes of Duke Mondy and Dante Williams have taken quite a turn in the past week. During their trip to play at Cal last week the two players were accused of rape charges that were quickly dropped, but were suspended indefinitely from the team for their actions although they had already been cleared of the rape charges. Yesterday, Oakland announced that the two players were back on the team after a two-game suspension. We won’t get into the moral issues of the suspension and what they did since this is not really the place to discuss that, but we will note our amusement at the school’s internal review of the incident. What investigation could the school, which has no power out in California (the school is based in Michigan), have conducted in such a short period of time? We have no problem with them letting the two play again, but the idea of a legitimate internal review seems ridiculous.
  3. There is a tendency to overstate the historical importance of sports figures and we have seen it with plenty of individuals. One individual who we feel deserves all of the praise that he has received for his social work is North Carolina legend Dean Smith. Yesterday, Smith was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey were among the other individuals honored at the ceremony. The only other men’s basketball coach who has been bestowed the honor is John Wooden. The last few years have been difficulty for Smith and his family due to health-related issues so we hope that they were able to enjoy the day and the honor.
  4. On the other side of the spectrum for North Carolina is the ongoing case of P.J. Hairston. The North Carolina junior who was last seen recreating Grand Theft Auto in the Research Triangle has been left in eligibility limbo while the school looks into his case. Yesterday, after weeks of inactivity in the case (at least publicly), Haydn Patrick “Fats” Thomas, the man linked to the rental cars that Hairston was driving, pleaded guilty to charges of possession of a firearm by a felon, drug possession with intent to distribute, and possession of drug paraphernalia from a December 2012 arrest. Thomas will be sentenced to 36 months of supervised probation, receive a suspended sentence of 23 to 47 months in jail, and must complete 100 hours of community service in the next 12 months. This case appears to have nothing to do with Hairston, but the charges that Thomas pleaded guilty to will not help his cause with UNC administrators looking at his case although the team’s poor play so far this season might.
  5. We would have loved to have been in East Lansing to witness the scene at the local Taco Bells when Michigan State students showed up expecting free tacos, but were turned away as the school had decided not to continue its promotion with the company of giving away free tacos when the team scored 70 points or more. In a move that may have prevented chaos on the Michigan State campus Taco Bell has decided to reestablish the tradition although it will be company-sponsored and not school-sponsored. We suspect with the faster pace that the Spartans appear to be playing at this season Michigan State students will be claiming quite a few free tacos this winter.
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UNC Offense Has No Identity Without Its Suspended Backcourt

Posted by Lathan Wells on November 16th, 2013

North Carolina has the look of a team that is completely unsure of who its offensively. Coming into the year facing uncertainty regarding player suspensions and the role both holdovers and newcomers are going to be asked to play in light of these circumstances, the Tar Heels have struggled mightily in their first two contests of the season. Marcus Paige, a point guard/facilitator by nature, has willed the team to victory twice with his new-found proclivity for seeking his own shot. But it’s very clear, facing a brutal non-conference schedule, that this is a Tar Heel team with a serious identity crisis and in jeopardy of getting off to an extremely poor start to the 2013-14 season.

The Tar Heels are struggling without their perimeter threats (credit: Associated Press)

The Tar Heels are struggling without their perimeter threats (credit: Associated Press)

Having played twice against mediocre but motivated opponents, it’s evident that this team is in trouble. The indefinite suspensions of P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald due to separate NCAA compliance issues have left Roy Willaims’ team in flux, both in terms of how to practice and prepare for games as well as the roles that returning and new players alike are being asked to assume. Paige, having played an entire freshman campaign at the point, is now asked to play shooting guard while freshman Nate Britt attempts to orchestrate the offense. He’s had to be North Carolina’s main offensive threat in both of the uneven victories over Oakland and Holy Cross. While Paige’s scoring has escalated (he tallied a career high in points and field goal attempts against Holy Cross, with 23 and 17 respectively) and proved vital in both wins, it’s evident that this team is qutite average without its two absent wing players, and that Paige as the primary offensive weapon is not going to be enough for them to excel over the course of a full season.

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ACC M5: 11.13.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on November 13th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Hampton Roads Pilot: Virginia Tech athletic director Jim Weaver announced he will be stepping down at the end of the year due to health reasons. Weaver has Parkinson’s disease and needs both hips replaced. Weaver’s departure very much puts the Hokie administration in limbo, as the university is also currently looking for a president. The plan is to hire the president first, so he or she can give the go ahead on the athletic director. That’s the best case for stability. Though the turmoil in the administration may indirectly put some pressure on James Johnson, as the new athletic director may want to make his or her mark early.
  2. Atlanta Journal Constitution: Brian Gregory earned himself a one-year extension, which seems a show of tepid support from the relatively new athletic director, Mike Bobinski. A single year is nothing to clamor about, and it likely was the minimum required to help ease the minds of recruits and their parents. With the extension, Gregory is under contract until the end of the 2018 season (and if you do the math, next year’s class would be seniors in the final year of Gregory’s contract).
  3. Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician: Jim Boeheim is doing his best to temper expectations heading into the season. But as the author points out, Syracuse generally wins a whole lot of games and experiences success regardless of the players lost the previous season. But possibly more important when defining expectations for this year’s team is considering the hot streak–defensively–last year’s team went on to reach the Final Four. Syracuse didn’t look like a contender for much of the season, but things came together when it mattered most.
  4. Baltimore Sun: You would have thought an unranked Connecticut outrebounded Maryland by 30 in a rout based on Mark Turgeon‘s comments after the game. The Huskies outrebounded Turgeon’s team by three boards and won by one. More importantly, Maryland missed far more shots than its opponent. The Terrapins actually won (barely) the rebound percentage battle. Long story short, Turgeon may be upset with his team’s effort on the glass, but Maryland is still a good rebounding team.
  5. Keeping It Heel: Every day that passes without more concrete news is another day that fuels rumors that PJ Hairston may be permanently ineligible. What started as a message board rumor has quickly gained steam (and some legitimacy) yesterday. The story still doesn’t make a ton of sense, but apparently hinges on the fact that Hairston wasn’t entirely truthful with the NCAA or Roy Williams. The latter seems unlikely (why would he still be practicing if Williams was planning to kick him off the team), but the former is definitely in play considering the NCAA’s loose definition of evidence. Alexander Hines takes a look at the Tar Heels without Hairston, which would obviously be a huge blow.
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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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20 Questions: Will PJ Hairston’s Eligibility Make or Break UNC This Season?

Posted by Bennet Hayes on November 9th, 2013

seasonpreview-11

When the Tar Heels left Coral Gables last February 9 as victims of a violent Miami beatdown, an NCAA Tournament bid was far from a certainty. NIT discussion had grown ever-real for one of college basketball’s flagship programs, and the aimless Heels headed north still seeking an identity. Enter P.J. Hairston. Roy Williams inserted his sixth man into the starting lineup four days later, playing the 6’5” Hairston as a de facto power forward in a small-ball lineup. The new look Heels would lose a tight one to Duke in Cameron that night, but they went on to win eight of their last 10 contests, comfortably earning an NCAA Tournament bid in the process. That lineup undoubtedly assisted in creating an identity on the court for UNC, but it’s no reach to say that P.J. Hairston was the key to salvaging the Carolina season.

UNC Will Miss The Spark That P.J. Hairston Supplies

UNC Will Miss The Spark That P.J. Hairston Supplies

Oh, what a difference an offseason can make. The headlines have come fast and furious all summer: a speeding ticket, an arrest for marijuana and gun possession, reckless driving, illegal benefits in the form of a rental car. All were transgressions attached to Hairston in the past six months, which has left his eligibility in a case of serious limbo right now. While we hope Hairston can get everything together for his own sake, it also leaves Roy Williams’ bunch in a tricky predicament heading into this season. We don’t know when (or if) Hairston will be back; will the man who saved the Heels’ season a year ago be needed to avoid disappointment this time around?

It’s pretty obvious that UNC will be a worse team without Hairston on the court. Not only did his insertion into the starting lineup set off that impressive end of year run, but his production was phenomenal throughout the year. He made 49 percent of his two-point field goals, 40 percent of three-point attempts, and 78 percent from the free throw line — shooting splits that helped give birth to an Offensive rating of 120.3, the 63rd best total in the nation. The most surprising element of efficiency in Hairston’s game last season, given his erratic reputation on (and now off) the court, was a minuscule turnover rate of 10.7 percent. It’s a metric that catch-and-shoot players (who rarely have to handle the ball) often shine in, and while Hairston does his fair share of spotting up, his dribble-drive game is used often enough for this percentage to really impress. Hairston may not always be the most willing defender (despite having all the necessary tools), but there really is no weakness in his offensive game.

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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)

PRESEASON POWER RANKINGS

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 M5: 10.29.13 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on October 29th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Run the Floor: Michael Rogner released his ACC preview and it’s worth a look. It can be biting (poor Paul Jesperson), but it’s a good read to catch up on all the teams around the conference in one place. The most interesting question raised in the preview is about Florida State’s defense. One argument for why the Seminoles suffered last season is that their front line was very young. This year the seven-footers are all a year older, but it’s unclear if one is ready to take charge of the paint. It may be another bizarro year in Tallahassee for Leonard Hamilton‘s team where his offense is better than his defense — especially if Ian Miller stays healthy.
  2. AP (via Fox Sports): Brian Gregory is a little noncommittal about Georgia Tech’s potential success this season. He sounds optimistic but quickly points out that the Yellow Jackets have a ways to go. One thing that you should know about his team is that they are talented. Not stacked like some teams in the league, but better and more experienced than you might think. Unfortunately, that was also true of Gregory’s Dayton teams that always seemed to have an offensive ceiling. Georgia Tech is definitely moving in the right direction as a program, but if it’s not significantly better offensively this year, there will be cause for concern.
  3. CBSSports.com: Yesterday morning, it was unclear when we’ll know about PJ Hairston‘s suspension. According to Roy Williams the decision should be made before the season opener in two weeks. He also offered this gem of a Williams-ism when asked about Hairston’s status:

    “Well crap, the NCAA made a decision on (Texas A&M quarterback) Johnny Manziel in frickin’ two days… It’s not all my choice kind of thing. I really don’t believe I’ll suspend him for half a game either.”

  4. AP: Brad Brownell is finding his silver lining in that next season the Tigers will return all their best players. That’s because he doesn’t have any seniors. Brownell is right, though — this is the turning point where Clemson becomes his program. But he’s also in a tough spot this season because the team relied so heavily on Devin Booker and Milton Jennings last year. KJ McDaniels is a very good player, but Booker was criminally underrated on both ends of the floor. Continuity may end up being great, but Brownell needs standouts for Clemson to get to the next level in the ACC.
  5. Duke Report: Non-Duke fans may want to avoid this interview with Christian Laettner (don’t worry, the video below is still awesome), who now has a basketball academy where he goes around doing coaching clinics for teams across the country (the best part that fits his personality perfectly: He offers a discount to teams in Kentucky and Connecticut because of the pain his buzzer beaters caused). Laettner offers advice to the incoming freshmen and talks noncommittally about moving up to coaching. He also douses Mike Krzyzewski in praise throughout the interview. It’s a good but a little over the top read.

EXTRA: Uncle Drew is back and still awesome.

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Morning Five: 10.29.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on October 29th, 2013

morning5

  1. Most of the major recruiting battles we follow involve coveted high school recruits, but as we have all seen sometimes the top junior college players can also have a big impact particularly when they wind up at the right program. So although yesterday’s announcement that Kadeem Allen, one of the top junior college players in the country, was committing to Arizona might not blow up the message boards it could still be a significant move. Allen is a 6’3″ guard who was a high-major recruit coming out of high school, but was unable to qualify so went to junior college in Kansas where he averaged 17.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game last year as a freshman on his was to junior college All-American honors. Assuming Allen honors his commitment he should have another year to learn the Arizona offense under T.J. McConnell before he will really have to compete for the job so even if Allen doesn’t work out Sean Miller should have plenty of time to find a replacement for McConnell.
  2. After missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time in seven years, Purdue was hoping to bounce back this season. Much of their hopes coming into the season appear to rest on the shoulders of sophomore center A.J. Hammons, but those hopes will have to be put on hold temporarily as Hammons was suspended for an unspecified violation of team rules. Hammons, who averaged 10.6 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game last season, will miss Purdue’s two exhibition games and its season-opener against Northern Kentucky. The actual suspension should not necessarily be a cause for concern for Boilermaker fans (Matt Painter said it was a conduct-related suspension and not one related to academics), but the fact that Hammons, who was supposed to lead the team this year (see our post on the topic published yesterday and written before the announcement), would be reckless enough to get suspended might be a reason to be worried.
  3. Speaking of reckless… Yesterday, Roy Williams announced that North Carolina would finally reveal P.J. Hairston‘s punishment in two weeks for his multiple transgressions over the summer. We have no idea what Hairston’s suspension will be since it has previously been announced that he would miss some regular season games, but has been practicing with the team. At this point, we doubt any significant suspension is coming (unless the NCAA steps in), but the length of Hairston’s suspension will be significant because the Tar Heels have some stiff competition early including a match-up against Louisville in their fifth game (potentially). Michigan State in their seventh game, and Kentucky in their ninth game. Without Hairston’s offense and experience these would likely be almost certain losses for the Tar Heels and would pose an interesting dilemma for NCAA Tournament seeding when Selection Sunday rolls around.
  4. Most of the season previews you will be reading over the next week will focus on the star players and occasionally some key role players, but as Mike DeCourcy notes in his piece on Evansville senior Bryce Weiler there is more to the college basketball experience than what most of us are exposed to. As DeCourcy notes, despite Weiler’s blindness (the result of congenital abnormalities when he was born four months premature) he has managed to become an integral member of an Evansville team that went from being a 9-21 team his freshman year to a 21-15 team last year (his junior year). For all of the ridiculous stories we see around college sports (ranging from the suspensions to individuals throwing away their careers) it is nice to see stories like this.
  5. If you are like us you have probably been been waiting impatiently for the season to start. To keep ourselves occupied we have been reading through all sorts of preview pieces, but two of the most interesting “previews” that we have seen come from Ken Pomeroy (featured as the current rankings) and Dan Henner (ESPN Insider access only), who have somehow produced a rating system to predict how good different teams are coming into the season using an algorithm that is probably way too complex for us to understand. One of the more interesting things about the aspects is how widely they differ on how they project some teams. John Templon took on the Herculean task of comparing the two rankings systems. The wide divergence for top teams (like Arizona, which is Hanner’s #8 team, but only Pomeroy’s #23 team) will probably draw the most attention, but the bigger spread for some other teams is probably more interesting for the overall comparison. It will be interesting to see how close these two preseason rankings end up to the final rankings when the season is done.
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ACC M5: 10.28.13 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on October 28th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Syracuse Post-Gazette: Mike Waters does a good job reporting on CJ Fair’s decision to come back to Syracuse for his senior season. Fair was right on the edge of declaring for the draft. But between very mixed feedback from the NBA’s Undergraduate Advisory Committee along with his father and coaches pushing for him to return, Fair ended up coming back. Fair’s inconsistent draft stock may have a lot to do with his previous role for Syracuse; while he was the team’s leading scorer and rebounder last year, Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche really ran the team. This year, with a freshman point guard in place, Jim Boeheim will need Fair to step into that first option role.
  2. Duke Basketball Report: Barry Jacobs took a look at the worst three-point shooters in the ACC. The only two players who took over 100 threes but still finished in the bottom 10 were Rion Brown (29.2%) — Miami’s streaky, bright shoe shod, lone returning wing — and rising Syracuse sophomore Trevor Cooney (26.7%). Miami desperately needs Brown to become an efficient scoring option, as he’s essentially the only returning scoring option. Another player who made the list is Florida State senior Ian Miller, whose offense will also be in high demand this season.
  3. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: The latest in the “adjusting to the less physical ACC” articles out of Pittsburgh, Kevin Gorman’s takeaway will be a little more interesting to follow. He points to Jamie Dixon’s recent recruiting of stretch fours instead of the bruising power forwards of old as a sign of changing times. While it’s true many ACC schools have a forward capable of stretching the floor, it’s also true that many have a bigger lineup better off staying near the paint. However, the new rules also put a value on spreading the floor, which could also influence future recruiting.
  4. Raleigh News & Observer: PJ Hairston may be in trouble with the NCAA but North Carolina fans understand how important he is for this team’s success. Despite (or because?) of his summer troubles, Hairston received the biggest ovation at Late Night with Roy last Friday before he went on to be the leading scorer in the scrimmage. But it’s still unclear for how long Hairston will be suspended. In other concerning news for the Tar Heel faithful, Roy Williams mentioned that the athletic department is also talking with the NCAA about Leslie McDonald‘s eligibility. If you recall, McDonald was shown on a website for a custom mouthguard company, leading to questions about his connection with that organization.
  5. KenPom.com: Ken Pomeroy’s preseason rankings are out. His methodology is pretty simple, although ACC fans may be upset with being the third-ranked conference in the country. Duke leads the way for the conference at sixth, followed closely by Syracuse (#9) and North Carolina (#10). Like myself, Pomeroy is bullish on Boston College (#37) this season. Virginia Tech (#154)? Not so much. I have a feeling Duke and Syracuse have pretty high Pomeroy-ian ceilings, as both lost a lot from last season, where I imagine Miami (#62) has a low cellar because of its stellar finish last season.
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