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


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)


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


  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. 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


  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


  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. 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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The RTC Interview Series: ACC Preview with Len Elmore, Mike Gminski & Bret Strelow, Part I

Posted by Walker Carey on October 15th, 2013

Rush The Court is back with another edition of One on One: An Interview Series, which we will bring you periodically throughout the offseason. If you have any specific interview requests or want us to interview you, shoot us an email at

With the college basketball season nearly upon us, we thought it would be a good idea to gather some expert opinions on the nation’s major college basketball conferences. As part of our national preview of the ACC, RTC Correspondent Walker Carey recently had the pleasure of speaking to several ACC experts in Maryland basketball legend and ESPN analyst, Len Elmore, Duke basketball legend and CBS analyst, Mike Gminski, and the ACC reporter for the Fayetteville Observer, Bret Strelow. (Ed. note – we spoke to each individual separately, but for the sake of expediency, combining their answers into a round table format made the most sense.)

Rush the Court: What kind of impact do you think the additions of Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse has on the ACC as a basketball conference?

Gminski, Elmore and Strelow Give Their Thoughts on the ACC This Season

Gminski, Elmore and Strelow Give RTC Their Thoughts on the ACC This Season

Len Elmore: It is clearly going to make a tough ACC even tougher. Adding those three established programs into an already tough conference – with Duke and North Carolina plus upstart Virginia and a Maryland team that seems primed to do some damage – is going to lead to a lot of jockeying up an down within the league standings.

Mike Gminski: I think it definitely strengthens the conference. The ACC is adding three established programs that are used to winning and going to the NCAA Tournament. They are coming to the ACC from the Big East, which was a great conference. Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse are all coming into the ACC looking to play in the upper half of the league immediately. From that standpoint, the addition of those three teams makes the ACC one of the top conferences in the country.

Bret Strelow: A lot of people have been very vocal about this. Mike Krzyzewski has probably been the first and foremost voice about it, as he believes that this will make the ACC the strongest league in, perhaps, history. I think the Big East had 11 teams make the NCAA Tournament a few years back and I think a lot of people are pretty optimistic that the ACC can at least push towards double-digit berths. I think a double-digit number would be on the high end with a baseline around seven or eight teams. Adding Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse is a big deal because those are three teams that win a lot of games year in and year out. I think the ACC had four teams in the Tournament last year, as the league had taken a step back a bit. But with the addition of those three teams, I think the league will be back to being a power league within college basketball.

RTC: Duke lost its three leading scorers from last season (Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly, and Mason Plumlee), yet it is still projected to win the ACC. What is it about this year’s Duke squad that has expectations so high?

Elmore: They have blue-chippers coming into the fold. They have two of the best newcomers in the country – from what I have been told – in Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood and freshman Jabari Parker. These guys are coming in ready to play. Hood and Parker will have help from players like Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon. Duke might not have the biggest team in the country, but it has guys who will be able to compete all over the court. It certainly could be the most athletic team in the ACC.

Gminski: This is going to be a different team for Mike Krzyzewski. It is not going to have the bigs that it has had in the past, so the style of play will be different. I think this year’s squad will play a bit more like Krzyzewski has coached his Olympic teams. They are going to be very diverse, much more up-tempo, and will have some versatility. They have two great new guys in Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood and freshman Jabari Parker. A lot of people thought that even though Hood did not play last year, he might have been Duke’s best player in practice. Jabari Parker comes into the fold after being one of the best high school players in the nation. They will not have that big guy inside this season, but they will be much bigger and more athletic on the perimeter. I think they are going to be a very interesting team to watch.

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Morning Five: 10.07.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on October 7th, 2013


  1. With Louisville set to begin their title defense in about a month, they got some more good news when it was announced that Kevin Ware, who suffered a horrific compound fracture in the team’s Elite 8 game versus Duke, had been cleared to practice with the team. Although we do not know what this means in terms of when Ware will actually start suiting up again for the Cardinals it does suggest that he is ahead of the timetable–a return to playing in games in 2014–that Rick Pitino had previously set for him. We have all seen the clips of Ware’s rehab including ones of him dunking, but it remains to be seen whether Ware will have his explosiveness back and if he will be able to play at full intensity or if the injury will continue to be in the back of his mind.
  2. Ware’s injury and his progress might make more headlines due to the high-profile way he sustained it, but the right ankle of Gary Harris is probably more significant to this season’s national title picture. According to Jeff Goodman, Harris is “about 75 percent” and expected to return to practice this week. The Spartans return four of their five starters from last season and should be aiming for nothing less than a national championship, but it is Harris who is their most dynamic player and if they are to win a title he will need to be healthy, which is not a given as he already spent much of last season nursing a right shoulder injury.
  3. If Larry Kryskowiak gets fired from his job at Utah and is unable to find a job in basketball again, it appears that he could have a career in law enforcement to fall back on. The third year Utah coach, who caught a bicycle thief about a week ago, helped catch a suspect who is believed to have stolen several thousand dollars worth of equipment from the Utah athletic department. According to reports, the basketball team’s video offices were among several offices in the athletic department that were targeted by the individual. When the campus police distributed a description of the suspect, Krystkowiak told his team to be on the lookout for the individual and when a former player took a photo of a suspicious individual other eyewitnesses confirmed it was the suspect. When a track coach notified Krystokowiak that he had seen the suspect on campus, Krystowiak and several of his assistants began to chase the suspect around campus before finally cornering him in a locker room and waiting for the cops to arrest him.
  4. It turns out that there are actually some people at North Carolina who are legitimately bothered by all of the ridiculous stuff going on at the school. Jack Halperin, a tutor at UNC for 23 years, resigned his post in an open letter to Roy Williams that was published in Friday’s Daily Tar Heel citing Williams’ decision to allow PJ Hairston to remain on the team. While we do feel that the way that Williams has handled the Hairston leaves something to be desired, the decision is far from the most embarassing thing that the school has been involved in (see the investigation into the school’s African and Afro-American Studies program). Still we guess that everybody reaches their breaking point and Hairston just happened to be Halperin’s.
  5. This year was already going to be a challenging one for Tom Crean, but now that the third of his three four-star freshmen–Stanford Robinson–is injured it might be time to adjust the expectations for Hoosier fans. Robinson, a guard out of Findlay College Prep, is out indefinitely after injuring his right knee during Hoosier Hysteria on Friday night. The type and extent of Robinson’s injury has not been disclosed at this point, but he is the third Hoosier freshman to sustain an injury with Troy Williams (right hand) and Luke Fischer (left shoulder) being the other two. Even Noah Vonleh, the Hoosiers’ top recruit, is getting over an ankle injury. While none of the injuries appear to be that significant on their own the string of injuries will only make it more difficult for the young team to get used to playing together and could lead to more early-season struggles for the Hoosiers.
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The RTC Offseason Podcast: August Doldrums Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 19th, 2013

August is arguably the deadest month of the college basketball calendar, but that didn’t stop the crew from putting together an RTC Offseason Podcast to review the last six or seven weeks of news since the NBA Draft went down in late June. Shane Connolly (@sconnolly114) came out of his summer hibernation to serve as our host, and the guys took on the topics of Division 4, what defines success for an NBA coach and whether summer basketball is roughly as relevant to future success as preseason football (full timeline below). We’ll be back in late September as we start to truly gear up for the 2013-14 season. See you then!

  • 0:00-12:25 – The Future of the NCAA
  • 12:25-20:07 – Butler sans Brad Stevens
  • 20:07-24:39 – Never-ending PJ Hairston Saga
  • 24:39-27:04 – Summer International Tournaments – News or Noise?
  • 27:04-32:48 – ESPN Tip Off Marathon
  • 32:48-43:08 – ESPN Gameday Schedule/wrap
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Morning Five: 08.16.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on August 16th, 2013


  1. A day after Roy Williams declared that he was tired of talking about P.J. Hairston (news to us since he didn’t talk about it as much as many would have liked him to) Bubba Cunningham, the school’s athletic director, reportedly said that he expects Hairston to miss some time, but still play this season. We certainly understand that Cunningham would like to convey a hopeful message and probably expected that his comments (made at a faculty retreat) would not make national news, but it seems awfully optimistic to think that Hairston will play this season given the publicly available evidence against him.
  2. Losing your best player to an injury is never a good thing, but the staff at California has to be thankful that Justin Cobb sustained a fracture to his right fifth metatarsal during a Pro-Am game on Monday night rather than later in the year. Cobb, who averaged 15.1 points and 4.8 assists per game last season, will be out 6-8 weeks, which means that he will probably miss the start of practice, but should be back for the team’s first game. In a strange way Cobb’s absence during the early practices could be seen as a positive as it would allow the team to get his back-ups more practice and accelerate their learning with Cobb out of  way letting them work with the starters.
  3. When Robert Upshaw signed with Fresno State it was a surprise to many as the 7-footer passed on many more well-known programs. Now that Upshaw has been dismissed from the team for violating an unspecified athletic department policy for the third time we can see where Upshaw might have otherwise ended up going. Despite a mediocre season in which he averaged an uninspiring 4.1 points and 3.8 rebounds per game Upshaw should have plenty of suitors and it appears that his family is already reaching out to potential destinations. The family has not offered any hints about where Upshaw is looking at, but it is worth noting that he originally committed to Kansas State before backing out when Frank Martin left the school to coach at South Carolina.
  4. We hate to be jaded about news that an athlete has gotten into legal trouble, but at this point it takes a lot of surprise. So when we heard that Marshall forward Elijah Pittman had been indicted on misdemeanor battery charges we were not exactly shocked (this isn’t a comment on Pittman since we don’t know anything about personally, but is instead reflective on the number of arrests we have written about in this space). What is surprising is the fact that we had not heard about the arrest yesterday when the indictment occurred on July 31 and the incident in question happened on October 10, 2012. According to the police report Pittman knocked another Marshall student unconscious at an off-campus apartment. Given the fact that Pittman was allowed to play last season–averaging 16.1 points and 4.2 rebounds per game–we doubt that he will miss any playing ime unless it is the result of jail time.
  5. With all of the movement we have seen with conference realignment we have wondered what will happen to some of the notable conference challenges. Perhaps the most notable one is the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, which will be back in a similar format this year. While most of the 12 games have some interesting angle (sorry, we are having a hard time getting too excited about Boston College at Purdue), the three big-time games are clearly Indiana at Syracuse, Michigan at Duke, and North Carolina at Michigan State. Although we do think that winning these competitions is largely overrated we will be interested to see how the ACC’s newest members fare as the ACC has lost its grip on the Challenge going 0-3-1 in the past four years after winning it the first 10 years, which also coincides with the Big Ten becoming arguably the premier basketball conference in the country.
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