20 Questions: Who is This Year’s Indiana?

Posted by Brian Otskey (@botskey) on November 7th, 2013

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Who is this year’s Indiana? Whoa, that is a loaded question that certainly won’t endear me to one particular fan base. This exercise is essentially an educated guess based on unknowns, so remember to take this with a big grain of salt. Before we begin, here is a little refresher for those who may have forgotten some things about last season. The 2012-13 Indiana Hoosiers were the nation’s preseason No. 1 team, an ultra-talented group that went 26-5 in the regular season and won the Big Ten with a 14-4 league record. Despite bowing out to Wisconsin in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament, the Hoosiers locked up the top seed in the East Region, eventually falling to fourth-seeded Syracuse in the Sweet Sixteen as Tom Crean and his club simply had no answer for Jim Boeheim’s vaunted 2-3 zone. In a year where IU fans had dreams of at least another Final Four and possibly a national championship, the Hoosiers’ season ended with a resounding thud – a full two rounds short of the ultimate goal, Atlanta.

Jabari Parker has arrived in Durham but will it be enough to vault Duke past the Sweet Sixteen? (credit: RNO)

Jabari Parker has arrived in Durham but will it be enough to vault Duke past the Sweet Sixteen? (credit: RNO)

So, who fills that unlucky role this season (if anyone)? This question is inherently difficult because of the simple fact that I have to choose a highly-ranked team, all of them capable of making the Final Four, winning a national championship and making this article look incredibly foolish. But I’m going to go with Duke. Mike Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils enter the season ranked No. 4 in the nation in both the AP and USA Today/Coaches polls. However, this is a considerably different Duke team from last year’s 30-6 outfit that advanced to the Elite Eight. Gone are Coach K’s top three scorers: Seth Curry, Mason Plumlee, and Ryan Kelly. Coming in is Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood along with the nation’s seventh-ranked recruiting class, headlined by the player some folks feel is the best incoming freshman in the nation, Jabari Parker. Sharpshooter Andre Dawkins also returns after a year off. Without Plumlee and his terrific inside presence, this Duke team will have a different look in 2013-14. Krzyzewski has admitted as much in many preseason interviews, but adjusting his playing style to fit the talents and skills of his team is not going to be a problem for the Hall of Famer and winningest coach in men’s Division I history.

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Duke Looking to Run Early and Often With This Year’s Roster

Posted by Chris Kehoe on October 26th, 2013

Duke’s roster this season is merely a shell of its former self. Gone is the backbone of the team, gone are the three seniors, gone are the leaders, gone are 47.9 PPG. You get the point. Duke lost its three leading scorers and a huge part of its 30-win Elite Eight team. Yet people are excited about the prospects of this team, even perhaps more excited than last season. Duke returns both its junior floor general, Quinn Cook, and its sophomore shooting guard and McDonald’s All-American, Rasheed Sulaimon. Another two McDonald’s All-Americans return in sophomore forward Amile Jefferson and redshirt sophomore center Marshall Plumlee. Where Duke changes up the offensive schemes and flips the script is with the two future NBA swingmen on the roster, Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood and blue-chip freshman Jabari Parker.

Quinn Cook calls Duke's new offense 'a point guard's dream' (USA Today)

Quinn Cook calls Duke’s new offense ‘a point guard’s dream’ (USA Today)

Don’t be mistaken, though, Duke is still Duke. They will continue to have shooters spotting up around the arc for open looks: postgraduate sniper Andre Dawkins, freshman Matt Jones, Sulaimon, Cook, and even senior perimeter stopper Tyler Thornton all can and will fire away with a green light from deep. But as ESPN.com’s Eamonn Brennan pointed out in a recent excerpt about Duke, Mike Krzyzewski above all adapts to his team’s strengths. And with a team full of athletic and versatile players like Parker, Sulaimon, Hood, and Jefferson, Krzyzewski has this year’s team poised to run early and often. “Last year’s team couldn’t run like this team can now,” senior captain Thornton exclaimed.

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ACC M5: 10.23.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on October 23rd, 2013

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  1. Miami Herald: The biggest news out of ACC country yesterday was the conclusion of the NCAA’s investigation into Miami. We will have more on that later today, but Michelle Kaufman has an interesting perspective. Rather than looking at the punishments, she asks, “Where are they now?” The answers are damning to say the least: Nevin Shapiro is in prison, two lead NCAA investigators moved on, and Frank Haith and Cecil Hurtt are still in coaching positions. It’s not hard to figure out why the NCAA didn’t hammer the Hurricanes.
  2. Wilmington Star News: It’s no secret Roy Williams’s system develops elite college point guards. The Tar Heels have three of the ten Bob Cousy Award trophies on campus. This year Marcus Paige joins fellow ACC floor generals Quinn Cook, Devon Bookert (an interesting choice), Eric Atkins, and Tyler Ennis on the preseason Cousy Award watch list. None are considered the favorites for the award (ahem, Marcus Smart), but all are point guards to watch in ACC play.
  3. Raleigh News & Observer: While Mark Turgeon didn’t seem concerned about recruiting to Maryland once he moves to the Big Ten, Mike Brey is. Brey is considering scheduling Georgetown in the future to keep his in with the DMV. On a side note I think Laura Keeley underestimates the difference in media money between Big Ten and ACC schools. It is true that it is only a few million this year, but the ACC just renegotiated its deal. Also Maryland’s athletic department was facing fiscal crisis, which made the money that much more important.
  4. Baltimore Sun: Speaking of Maryland, some tough news out of College Park yesterday, as Terrapin assistant Dalonte Hill started a leave of absence following his third DUI charge in the last five years. Hill’s importance to Maryland recruiting cannot be overstated, as he has close ties to the premier AAU team from the area.
  5. Syracuse Post-Standard: You want a dark horse rookie of the year candidate? Look no further than Tyler Ennis, who is Jim Boeheim’s only point guard this season. That means Ennis will have a large role for Syracuse this year, potentially a more integral role than Duke’s Jabari Parker who will have his playing time eaten into by a roster chock full of athletic wings.
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Rushed Reactions: #1 Louisville 85, #2 Duke 63

Posted by WCarey on March 31st, 2013

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Walker Carey is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after the Elite Eight NCAA Tournament game between #1 Louisville and #2 Duke in Indianapolis.

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. Louisville’s mental toughness was incalculable. With 6:33 remaining in the first half, Louisville reserve guard Kevin Ware ran out to defend a three-point attempt from Duke guard Tyler Thornton and what seemed like a routine play turned into a very gruesome sight at Lucas Oil Stadium. Ware’s leg snapped as he landed and he suffered a broken leg. Ware’s teammates were deeply affected by the horrible scene on the court, as both guard Russ Smith and forward Chane Behanan were in tears. As Ware was taken off on a stretcher, Smith, Behanan, and forwards Gorgui Dieng and Montrezl Harrell were locked in an embrace near midcourt. The Cardinals led 21-20 when Ware went down and it would have been completely understandable if they had been unable to overcome the emotions that came with the injury. However, the Cardinals recovered in very impressive fashion – finishing the first half with a 35-32 lead and then exploding in the second half to outscore the Blue Devils 50-31 during the second 20 minutes of the game. Louisville coach Rick Pitino, his coaching staff, and senior point guard Peyton Siva deserve a great deal of credit for guiding the team through what was undoubtedly a very tough time.
  2. The Cardinals flat out owned the second half. At the second half’s under-16 media timeout, the game was tied at 42, but from that point forward the game was completely dominated by the Cardinals. After the 42-42 tie, Louisville outscored Duke 43-21. The Cardinals’ defensive effort in the second half was so suffocating that they held a very good offense to just a 32.1% mark from the field over the final 20 minutes of the game. Duke stars Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly, and Mason Plumlee were never really able to make a huge impact and its guards Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon were held to a combined 4-of-21 performance from the field. Siva and Smith took over for Louisville on the offensive end of the court, seemingly getting into the lane at will. After shooting a respectable 46.4% from the field in the first half, the Cardinals were even better from the field in the second half, making 59.3% of their attempts in the second frame. Louisville completely dominated the second half and when it is able to put forth a performance like that, it is an impossible team to beat.
  3. Louisville is the clear favorite to cut down the nets in Atlanta. When the Cardinals became the overall number one-seed on Selection Sunday, they were viewed as a definite favorite to advance to the Final Four in Atlanta. Two weeks later, Louisville has advanced to Atlanta and is the only one-seed still alive in the field. The Cardinals are set to play nine-seed Wichita State on Saturday in a semi-final where they will have a definite talent advantage even though the Shockers were able to pull off upsets of West Region one-seed Gonzaga and two-seed Ohio State. In the other semifinal, four seeds Michigan and Syracuse will meet for a right to advance to the national title game. While there will be a lot of talent on display next weekend, no team has as much talent and experience as Louisville and this is why it should definitely be viewed as the clear favorite to cut down the nets when all is said and done.

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Bracket Prep: Midwest Region Analysis

Posted by BHayes on March 18th, 2013

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Throughout Monday, we will roll out our region-by-region analysis on the following schedule: East (9 AM), Midwest (11 AM), South (1 PM), West (3 PM). Here, Bennet Hayes (@HoopsTraveler) breaks down the Midwest Region from top to bottom. Also, be sure to follow our RTC Midwest Region handle on Twitter for continuous updates the next two weeks (@RTCmidwestregion).

You can also check out our RTC Podblast with Bennet breaking down the Midwest Region, which will drop both on the site and on iTunes Tuesday.

Midwest Region

Favorite: #1 Louisville (29-5, 17-4 Big East). It stands to reason that the top overall seed in the field is also the favorite to emerge from the Midwest Region. No team enters the NCAA Tournament hotter than Louisville, winners of 10 straight games and 13 of 14. Consider the Cards’ dominant second half of the Big East Tournament championship game a final warning for this field of 68 – there is no scarier team in this tournament.

"No Sleep Until Atlanta" For Siva, Pitino And The Rest Of The Louisville Cardinals, Your #1 Overall Seed

No Sleep Until Atlanta For Siva, Pitino And The Rest Of The Louisville Cardinals, Your #1 Overall Seed

Should They Falter: #2 Duke (27-5, 14-5 ACC). It’s been a quiet few days for the Blue Devils, as the weekend’s ACC discussion largely revolved around Miami. But there they lurk at the bottom of the Midwest Region, poised as ever for a March sprint. Let’s not forget that the Devils’ ACC Tournament loss to Maryland was the first time Duke had lost with a healthy Ryan Kelly, and the senior’s clean bill of health is a far greater blessing for the Blue Devils than a #1 seed ever could have been. Duke also owns a victory over Louisville from back in November, albeit one with an asterisk attached – Cardinal big man Gorgui Dieng missed the Battle 4 Atlantis title game. For now though, Coach K and company are happy to let Louisville absorb all the buzz as the region’s favorite, while the dangerous Blue Devils attempt to navigate a manageable road to Indianapolis.

Grossly Overseeded: #6 Memphis (30-4, 19-0 Conference USA). Bracket projections had the Tigers anywhere between a #6 and a #9 seed. Josh Pastner’s team maxed out its seed line by receiving the #6, but now comes the hard part – beating an NCAA Tournament team. Memphis did that just once in the regular season (a win over #14 seed Harvard), a rare gap in the resume for any team in the field, much less a team so highly seeded. Let’s put it this way — Middle Tennessee, the most controversial at-large selection in this field and a potential Third Round opponent of the Tigers, had two more victories over NCAA teams, and just one more loss than Memphis. That’s not to say that the Blue Raiders are a better team than Memphis (although perhaps we will get to find that out), but you get the point.   

Grossly Underseeded: #12 Oregon (26-8, 15-6 Pac-12). Likely the most underseeded team in the entire field. Sure, the Ducks slogged their way to the finish line of the regular season, but the return of Dominic Artis and an impressive three-game run to win the Pac-12 Tournament had most bracketologists predicting a spot in an #8/#9 game for Oregon. Committee chair Mike Bobinski admitted that the Ducks were actually on the #11 seed line and had to be moved down as a result of logistical issues elsewhere in the bracket, but either way, this team is better than their double-digit seed would indicate.

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Who Won The Week? TCU, Nate Wolters, and San Diego…

Posted by CNguon on February 8th, 2013

wonweekWho Won the Week? is a regular column that will outline and discuss three winners and losers from the previous week. The author of this column is Kenny Ocker (@KennyOcker), an Oregon-based sportswriter best known for his willingness to drive (or bike!) anywhere to watch a basketball game.

WINNER: TCU

The Horned Frogs started out their Big 12 tenure on a bad note, going 0-8 in conference and losing only one of those games by fewer than 10 points. And then #2 Kansas came to town. Recipe for disaster, right? It was, just not for the team you would expect. The Horned Frogs pounced on the Jayhawks early, holding them to two points in the first 13:39 of the game. But TCU was able to hold up for the rest of the game, never letting Kansas lead and nabbing a 62-55 victory. Never mind that TCU lost by 17 against a Texas team with two conference wins on Saturday; the Horned Frogs nabbed one of the biggest regular-season upsets ever.

TCU's upset over Kansas was one of the biggest shockers in recent memory (Star-Telegram/Rodger Mallison)

TCU’s upset over Kansas was one of the biggest shockers in recent memory (Star-Telegram/Rodger Mallison)

(Related winners: Other teams bidding for a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament; Kansas fans who are wary of being a No. 1 seed. Related losers: Kansas – see below.)

LOSER: Kansas

Thanks to getting shelled by a team Ken Pomeroy said had a 3 percent chance of winning a few days after losing a fast-paced shootout against Oklahoma State, the Jayhawks have their first losing streak since January 2006. Kansas got torn up by the perimeter scoring of the Cowboys, whose guards Markel Brown and Marcus Smart had 28 and 25 points respectively. Meanwhile, the Jayhawks shot a tick above 40 percent from the field, eventually falling 85-80 at home. But Kansas doubled down on its offensive woes in Fort Worth, shooting under 30 percent against TCU. Primary ballhandlers Elijah Johnson and Naadir Tharpe combined to go 5-of-27 from the floor Wednesday with three assists and five turnovers. (Against the Cowboys, the pair combined to go 6 of 21 from the field with 10 assists and five turnovers.) It looks like the Jayhawks need to find someone capable of playing consistently at point guard, lest their otherwise-championship-caliber team go to waste in a year with no dominant team.  Read the rest of this entry »

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ACC M5: 01.09.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 9th, 2013

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  1. NBC Sports: Rob Dauster nails why Virginia was able to shut North Carolina down over the weekend. I don’t necessarily agree with his first point (that Virginia didn’t take bad shots), but the fact that the Cavaliers showed no interest in offensive rebounding made up for any bad shots that could have lead to a Tar Heel fast break. Tony Bennett prepared his team to shut Roy Williams’ break down, and it worked well. The good news for North Carolina is that most teams won’t be able to match up as well in transition (with the initial or secondary breaks). But the bad news is that this team just isn’t as good at running the system as most of Williams’ better teams.
  2. Run the Floor: Moving down Tobacco Road to Durham, Duke fans have cause for concern. Mason Plumlee‘s free throw percentage has been trending downward since the beginning of the season (and continued its inaccurate nature against Clemson last night). Duke fans will never know whether it was a lack of confidence (possibly thanks to an airballed free throw against Ohio State) or just the fact that he has reverted to the same line-drive arc. Poor free throw shooting may kill his NPOY campaign, but as long as Plumlee stays aggressive in other aspects of the game, the Blue Devils should be just fine thanks to the number of other pieces surrounding him.
  3. ACC Sports Journal: Speaking of the pieces surrounding Mason Plumlee, Ben Swain paid tribute to the great season Quinn Cook has been having (in honor of Cook’s bizarre zero-point, 14-assist game against Wake Forest). Cook summarily dropped 27 points, six assists and grabbed five boards against Clemson last night. But it’s pretty amazing to look at the turnaround Cook has seen since last year when he was mostly an afterthought, especially on defense where he was prone to frequent lapses. Cook is one of Duke’s best players and may be its most important in terms of the stability he provides the Blue Devils. Not many people saw that coming.
  4. Hampton Roads Daily Press: On the topic of defensive lapses, Virginia Tech has had plenty of them. Where Seth Greenberg generally made the Hokies into a respectable defensive team (a physical one, if nothing else), James Johnson’s Hokies are quite poor on defense so far this season. They’re allowing 74.6 points a game and are ranked a full 180 spots below their average defensive ranking (#50) by Ken Pomeroy since joining the ACC. The problems? Bad interior defense, not forcing turnovers, and a failure to rebound.
  5. Washington Post: When people talked about Dez Wells as the difference-maker for Maryland in the preseason, I tried not to scoff because he had only joined the team in August. How is that enough time to get to know new teammates, much less fit in with them? But Wells has proven the believers right with his play so far. He’s already one of if not the most outspoken leader on the team, and when the Terrapins need a bucket in a tough situation, it’s never a bad guess that the ball will be in Wells’ hands. Props.
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ACC M5: 01.08.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 8th, 2013

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  1. Grantland: Shane Ryan gave an update on college basketball as a whole but not surprisingly focused on the ACC. His main league points: (1) Duke is one of two dominant teams this year, along with Michigan; (2) NC State‘s ceiling is the Sweet Sixteen; and (3) Maryland looks like the second best team in the conference. My only caveats: (1) I want to see Duke win an ugly game in a hostile environment before getting too deep into “dominant” talk; (2) NC State has shown the ability to play better defense and make the Sweet Sixteen with a worse team and anything can happen at the Big Dance; and (3) Virginia Tech wasn’t really a test and we shouldn’t judge the Terrapins too concretely until the next six games happen.
  2. College Basketball Talk: Eric Angevine talked with Marcus Paige about the Tar Heels’ loss to Virginia. Paige was very complimentary of the Cavaliers on offense and defense. He pointed to Virginia’s fighting through screens and the pack-line’s ability to take away driving lanes as big parts to its defensive success. The Cavaliers not needing help on screens clearly flustered everyone on North Carolina’s team to no end (aside from Reggie Bullock, who had a great night). But the Tar Heels won’t see many defenses like that going forward, so that’s not as troubling as the number of wide open shots Virginia had thanks to running players off those screens.
  3. Charlotte Observer: Quinn Cook and Tyler Thornton used to play for the same AAU team in middle school. Duke’s point guard pair’s longtime friendship definitely helps with team chemistry. It also probably played a big role in Cook’s dramatic improvement as a defender (seriously, watch some Duke tape from last year… he was one of Duke’s biggest defensive liabilities). Not to beat a dead horse, but there’s a closeness that pervades this Duke team that simply wasn’t there last year. That really close bond is also why Josh Hairston sees so many more minutes than the new, more talented, freshmen.
  4. Florida Today: Terry Whisnant is Florida State‘s best shooter. He’s part of the slew of combo guards Leonard Hamilton uses on a frequent basis, adjusting the rotation based on match-ups and who’s hot. It sounds like Whisnant would like more time, but understands his current role on the team. If the Seminoles start showing big improvements and get a couple of statement wins under their belts, that understanding may be a little less bitter. Regardless, if you’re looking for the man most likely to pull a Deividas Dulkys impersonation this season, Whisnant is your man.
  5. Hampton Roads Daily Press: Akil Mitchell was questionable for Sunday’s North Carolina – Virginia game thanks to a sprained ankle he suffered in practice. But Mitchell clearly didn’t want to watch from the sidelines, either. He gutted out the game, and played very well regardless. Interestingly, Mitchell wanted to keep his injury a secret before game time. He went as far as to tell his mother to remove a Facebook status discussing the injury. Now that the adrenaline and anti-inflammatories have worn off, don’t be surprised if Mitchell takes the next game off to let his ankle get better. But I’ll bet it was totally worth it to knock off the Tar Heels for the first time in the John Paul Jones Arena.
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Several Thoughts on Duke vs. Davidson

Posted by EMann on January 3rd, 2013

Duke outlasted Davidson 67-50 in a gritty, physical contest at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte last night. It was a game that was certainly a tale of two halves as the teams were tied 29-all at halftime before Duke went on a decisive 12-0 run early in the second half to virtually put away the game. I was in attendance and here were some of my thoughts about the game:

Mason Plumlee was hassled all night by Davidson's defense.

Mason Plumlee was hassled all night by Davidson’s defense. (AP)

  • Davidson’s Defending of Plumlee-National Player of the Year candidate Mason Plumlee had his worst game of the season, tallying only 10 points and seven rebounds. He attempted only seven shots and turned the ball over six times. Plumlee was held to only two points in the first half, and Duke’s big man never looked comfortable with Davidson’s immediate double-team every time he got the ball near the post, which led to several poor shots and turnovers. Or, they forced him to catch the ball on the perimeter where he could do much less damage. Plumlee showed flashes of improvement in the second half by making a very difficult hook shot midway through that stopped a brief Davidson spurt, but regardless, Davidson’s defense on Plumlee was largely responsible for how close the game was early, and other teams will likely watch this game tape closely to emulate Davidson’s defense on the big man.

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ACC M5: 12.21.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on December 21st, 2012

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  1. Chicago Tribune: Apparently some marginal prospect quietly and unobtrusively decided to accept a basketball scholarship to a little known college yesterday. Just kidding. Jabari Parker is going to Duke because he liked the school and thought Michigan State wasn’t a great fit with Branden Dawson already filling the role that Parker expects to play. It’s a huge get for Duke as Parker was the clear number one prospect in the Class of 2013 before Andrew Wiggins decided to reclassify.
  2. State of the U: He’s not Jabari Parker, but Miami landed a nice verbal commitment for the season after next in four-star shooting guard Adonys Henriquez. Head coach Jim Larranaga and his staff have been busy trying to prepare the Hurricanes program for the departure of its veteran core. Since Henriquez is in the high school Class of 2014, he won’t be able to provide immediate help next season, but it is good to see that the recruiting work of Miami is bearing some fruit.
  3. Washington Post: If you are undecided in terms of a potential career, I’d like to recommend becoming an assistant coach for the Maryland Terrapins. Apparently assistant Dalonte Hill is due a $25,000 bonus if Maryland makes the NCAA Tournament, while Bino Ranson and Scott Spinelli only receive $16,667 in bonus pay if the team goes dancing. Hill makes $307,440 in guaranteed pay, while Spinelli makes only $207,440. Ranson gets $182,400 with an extra $25,000 for media work. Sure the hours are long, the travel is crazy, and there is little to any semblance of job security, but when you make that much as an assistant, it doesn’t seem like such a bad trade-off.
  4. Yahoo! Sports: North Carolina is not very good at basketball this year and people are talking about it after the Tar Heels were embarrassed against Texas on Wednesday night. The reasons why North Carolina is losing aren’t complicated: bad defense, wildly inconsistent offense, and a seeming inability to compete with the top rebounders in college basketball. If there is any solace in these problems, it’s the simple fact that these are fairly common issues for a team that is relying heavily on inexperienced big men. These things happen while power forwards and centers figure out how to be effective on the collegiate level. The good news is that most of these players will almost certainly get better with experience and time. Unfortunately for the Tar Heels, with conference play mere weeks away, the team really doesn’t really have that much time to jump-start this season.
  5. Wilmington Star News: The Bob Cousy Award watch list was announced this week and it includes seven ACC players. The fairly comprehensive list has 80 names, but it will be cut down to 20 by New Year’s Day. Of the seven, Erick Green and Lorenzo Brown are probably playing at the highest level, but Quinn Cook and Pe’Shon Howard are very talented distributors on good teams (a factor that probably plays a bigger role than most would care to admit). Shane Larkin is in a similar situation to Howard, but both probably need superlative performances to make the cut.  Freshman Montay Brandon of Florida State is unlikely to make the next round since there are at least two other players on his own team who are probably better point guards than him (Devon Bookert and Ian Miller have higher assist percentages and offensive efficiency scores). Dexter Strickland is unlikely to be listed as one of the nation’s top 20 point guards, mostly because he plays at the point guard position for fewer than 10 minutes a game, spending the bulk of his time at shooting guard.
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ACC M5: 12.14.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on December 14th, 2012

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  1. Tallahassee Democrat: Yesterday, Michael Rogner suggested Okaro White becoming more aggressive would help the Seminoles. Another thing to consider is that Florida State did very well in transition against Maine. Part of its success was Maine’s strategy, but the Seminoles reportedly wanted “to establish ourselves in transition,” according to head coach Leonard Hamilton. This year’s team isn’t quite the beast defensively inside the arc as the past few Seminole teams, so it makes sense to try to get more turnovers (on paper the team should be lethal in transition). Definitely keep an eye on this as we get closer to conference play.
  2. Winston-Salem Journal: Things are getting uglier and uglier at Wake Forest. Jeff Bzdelik will not be taking any more live calls on his radio show. Apparently the move isn’t to “deflect criticism,” but it definitely looks that way. The show’s producers are trying to cut down on long-winded callers wanting to vent instead of ask questions. Host Stan Cotten and some colleagues at IMG College made the call to move to a format of all pre-recorded questions.
  3. Charlottesville Daily Progress: Whitey Reid took a look at ranking the “pleasant surprises” for Virginia, but may have forgotten to point out the forest through the trees. It’s true Teven Jones, Akil Mitchell and Darion Atkins have all surprised people, but what about the team as a whole? If you told me Virginia would be 8-2 with wins over Wisconsin and Tennessee at this point in the season and were missing Jontel Evans for most of it, I would have laughed at you. This team has really outperformed my expectations and Jones, Mitchell, Atkins and Tony Bennett all deserve credit.
  4. Keeping It Heel: I think Rich Martin really underrates Ty Lawson (who I think everyone underrates because he played with Tyler Hansbrough) and Kendall Marshall in this article when he compares the two former Tar Heels with Marcus Paige. It’s true they had more cohesive pieces surrounding them when they showed up in Chapel Hill, but they were two of the best point guards in college basketball of the last decade. Paige shows flashes of brilliance — much like Quinn Cook last season for Duke — but he really feels a year or two away from being an ACC-caliber frontman. It will be really interesting to see over the next month how Roy Williams trims his rotation. Paige is probably the best offensive option and he (again, like Cook) has to be the guy for this team to be great, but he’s not starting from the same place as Marshall or Lawson.
  5. The Examiner: Miami is a team we could learn a lot about over the next couple of weeks. The Hurricanes picked up an ugly loss early (without Durand Scott), but looked great in their ACC/Big Ten Challenge win over Michigan State. They have a good chance to find themselves ranked if they beat undefeated Charlotte, coming out of a 13-day hiatus for exams. Especially with North Carolina and NC State looking vulnerable early, Miami could find itself in a good position to challenge for the runner-up position in the league. Also Garrius Adams and Bishop Daniels should be rejoining the team sometime next semester, which will help with depth.

EXTRA: Luke Winn’s Power Rankings are always worth the time, though they’re a little light on ACC meat as of late. This week he looked at Mason Plumlee‘s progression from much-maligned contributor to Player of the Year contender. Essentially, Plumlee’s stats are identical to his sophomore season with a few exceptions: He’s drawing fouls like a mad man, he’s hitting his free throws and he’s not turning the ball over. He’s also involved in a lot more possessions. Regardless, it’s really interesting how something as trivial as free throw shooting can affect the overall perception of a player.

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Duke Guards Feast on the Attention Placed on Mason Plumlee Inside

Posted by rtmsf on December 10th, 2012

Joe Dzuback is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after Saturday afternoon’s Temple-Duke game in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

“How good can this team become coach?” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski did not want to answer that question. Superstitious perhaps, or having coached nearly 38 seasons in Division I, he knows how quickly a team’s prospects can change. “I have had some pretty good teams… [“one or two” someone whispered)] …we’ve done ok.” Anyone who had watched Duke dismantle Temple to the tune of 90-67 on Saturday afternoon had to know the #2 Blue Devils were better than “ok.” Previews of this match-up dwelled on the role Temple’s guards played in the Owls’ 78-73 win last season, and the Owls’ prospects would rise or fall on guard play again. Both teams play three guards, but the similarity ends there. Duke’s guards look like… guards. Quinn Cook is 6’ 1” and 175 pounds. Seth Curry, who still wears a boot while not on the court to protect his ankle injured in Duke’s win over Ohio State, stands at 6’ 2” and 185 pounds. Rasheed Sulaimon (dubbed “Sulaimon the Great” by a member of the press after the freshman hit his first three of the game standing about four feet behind the three point line) is a 6’ 4”, 185-pound beanstalk. Tyler Thornton is a 6’ 1”, 190-pound “sixth man,” and the only other guard on the roster.

Despite a lingering ankle injury, Duke’s Seth Curry launches a three from well behind the three-point line. He made this second half attempt.

Temple head coach Fran Dunphy favors taller, thicker wings who move seamlessly between point guard and small forward. Will Cummings, a 6’ 2” sophomore who plays the point for Temple this season, is the only one of the seven players listed on the Temple roster as a “guard” or more appropriately “guard/forward” who could pass for a Duke mold guard. Khalif Wyatt, at 6’ 4” and 210 pounds, and Scootie Randall, 6’ 6” and 225 pounds, are “Philly guards,” whose build and style of play reminds fans of the Big 5 of Diante Christmas and Ramone Moore, two of the wings developed by Dunphy since he moved over from Penn four seasons ago. They are all built like safeties and each is as likely to roll off a screen, catch and shoot a three, as he is to put the ball on the deck and drive the lane for a layup. Christmas, Moore, Wyatt and Randall, along with 6’ 5”, 220-pound transfer Dalton Pepper, grew up in Philadelphia or in one of the surrounding Delaware Valley suburbs.

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