Wake Forest Sticks to the Script and Loses Badly on the Road

Posted by KCarpenter on February 6th, 2013

Kellen Carpenter is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after last night’s game between UNC and Wake Forest in Chapel Hill.

So far in conference play, Wake Forest has shown that it can’t make or defend shots. This isn’t a slight against the hardworking Demon Deacons, but just what the numbers have revealed. Since the beginning of conference play, Wake Forest has been the worst team on both ends of the floor in terms of effective field goal percentage. The team averages a meager 43.9% on offense while allowing opponents to shoot 53.9%. They have yet to win a conference road game. After a blowout loss against North Carolina last night, very few of these facts have changed.

Wake Found Familiar Territory in Chapel Hill

Wake Found Familiar Territory (and Result) in Chapel Hill

In the 87-62 rout, North Carolina managed an eFG% of 58.9% while Wake Forest managed only 45.4%. Things like offensive rebounds and turnovers can change some of the conditions of the game, but one essential truth stands: You have to be able to put up more points than your opponent, and right now, Wake Forest can’t do that. Sure, the Demon Deacons have a pair of good home wins against NC State and Virginia (good-ish, I should probably say), but those look more and more like aberrations. After the game, Wake head coach Jeff Bzdelik said, “We always lose our confidence quickly… you can see it in [the players’] eyes.” In a frank discussion with the media he admitted that his team wasn’t mentally tough enough, and as head coach, that responsibility lay with him.  Bzdelik looked grim and almost too ready to explain all the things he and his team did poorly, seemingly at a loss to figure out how to fix the team’s problems, explaining how much of a focus cutting down on turnovers was in the lead-up to this game. “The emphasis was not turning the ball over and obviously we didn’t do a good job.”

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Who Is The Second Best Guard In The ACC?

Posted by KCarpenter on January 30th, 2013

There’s no doubt that Erick Green has been the best guard in the ACC this season. He scores and makes plays at a hyper-efficient rate while playing a ton of minutes at a very fast pace. No other guard in the conference has performed as consistently and as well. He’s miles ahead of the competition, but it’s not because of a lack of quality guards in the league. In fact, the ACC has a plethora of talented guards, playing well for a lot of different teams. Let’s get down to the big question though: If Erick Green is the best guard in the ACC, who is the second best?

Who Is the Second Best Guard In The ACC?

If you had asked this question not all that long ago, the answer might have been an easy one: Seth Curry. The Duke shooting guard is enjoying a strong year as a perfect complementary piece on this Duke team. Is Curry really the second best guard in the conference? What about undefeated Miami’s Durand Scott or the lead guard of another team that beat the Blue Devils in NC State’s Lorenzo Brown? What about some of the conference’s other great shooting guards like C.J. Harris or Joe Harris? None of these are crazy choices. Does Curry stack up?

Curry’s elite skill is scoring. He’s fourth in the conference in points per game and he is the second best guard in this measure after Erick Green. He’s not a volume scorer, but rather very efficient, posting an offensive efficiency mark of 114.2 this season with a usage rate of 22.1%. This is very good. However, from an efficiency standpoint, Curry is nowhere close to Reggie Bullock‘s silly numbers. Averaging a 129.1 offensive efficiency on 19.1% usage rate, Bullock is shooting better than Curry from every part of the floor: three-pointers, two-pointers, and from the free throw line. Bullock is a better play-maker, a better rebounder on both ends, has more steals and blocks, and by just about every account is a better defender. Curry has a slight edge in turnovers, and a serious advantage at getting to the line.  Still, it would be difficult to argue that Curry is playing better basketball than Bullock.

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North Carolina’s P.J. Hairston Thriving in Complementary Role for Tar Heels

Posted by Jimmy Kelley on January 25th, 2013

Jimmy Kelley is an ACC correspondent for Rush the Court. You can follow him on Twitter @DevilsinDurham.

The concept of the sixth man in basketball is based around an extremely talented player sacrificing minutes for the better of the team, knowing that his role is to lead the second unit and provide energy when the starters aren’t clicking quite the way they should. These players have a feel for the moment. They are like closers in baseball, waiting their turn to make a difference, with the best players coming through so often it feels automatic. Never someone you want to rely on but always a perfect ace in the hole, North Carolina’s P.J. Hairston has thrived in this role and his play has told the story of the Tar Heels’ season as well as any.

P.J. Hairston, North Carolina

North Carolina’s P.J. Hairston has been one of the Tar Heel’s more important players in 2012-13 as the team’s sixth man. (Getty Images)

Hairston ranks third on the team in both scoring (11.9 PPG) and rebounding (4.2 RPG) and has been a perfect change of pace when replacing Dexter Strickland and his defense-first mentality in the lineup. A gifted scorer, Hairston’s play in relief of Strickland has been been one of the primary determinants of how the Tar Heels’ offense performs on a nightly basis. When Hairston is hot, the entire team benefits. Of the 17 games Hairston has played in this season — he sat out the 83-59 thrashing at Indiana — the Tar Heels have won 13 and are outscoring their opponents by just over 12 points per game. In those games Hairston’s scoring average jumps up a point to 12.8 per game, but in an odd twist, his minutes drop just a tad (from 20.2 per game overall to 19.4 per game) in those wins. With less time on the floor, Hairston has actually been more effective. His shooting percentage in those wins is 42 percent which is noticeably higher than his overall average (39 percent). A true sixth man, Hairston is at his best when operating at full speed in short bursts.

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Set Your DVR: Weekend Edition

Posted by bmulvihill on January 25th, 2013

setDVR

Brendon Mulvihill is an RTC contributor. You can find him @TheMulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

While this weekend’s slate of games doesn’t quite match last weekend’s, there are several conference match-ups that are vitally important in the Big Ten, ACC, and Mountain West. The theme of the weekend is “must win”. The action should be great, so don’t sleep on these games. Let’s get to the breakdowns!

#5 Louisville at Georgetown – 12:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN (****)

  • Louisville is trying to avoid a three-game losing streak, as they head on the road to Georgetown. Another loss by the Cardinals and Rick Pitino may have to do some reevaluating or reshuffling. For Georgetown, a fourth loss in the Big East this early would certainly put them on the verge of irrelevance. This game is the first of three straight home games for the Hoyas before heading on the road to Rutgers. If they can string together some wins prior to their match-up against Marquette next month, the Hoyas can keep themselves in the thick of the Big East race. In Louisville’s two losses to Syracuse and Villanova, they have struggled against the length of both teams. They simply could not get good shots over the taller players from the Syracuse and Nova. They shot 46.6% eFG and 44.8% eFG against those two teams. Georgetown is another long team. In order for Louisville to avoid a three-game skid, they must figure out a way to hit shots. Creating turnovers without capitalizing on them will not get it done on the road. The Hoyas on the other hand still need to protect the ball and play at their pace. If they are turning the ball over, which they have been doing in conference play, and the pace speeds up, it will be a big problem for John Thompson III‘s squad.

    Can Russ Smith Get Louisville Back On Track? (Credit: Getty Images)

#10 Minnesota at Wisconsin – 2:00 PM EST, Saturday on BTN (****)

  • Minnesota has lost three straight games while Wisconsin has lost two straight. Because the Big Ten is so tough this year, it’s too early to say that either team would be out of the race with another loss. However, it will make things much more difficult. The Gophers are struggling on defense in conference play and when they get aggressive, they are fouling. They are also turning the ball over at a rate of 24%. This isn’t the same team we saw in non-conference play. They have put themselves in a must win situation very early in Big Ten play. Similarly, Wisconsin is struggling after their big win against Indiana. They need to continue to play at their pace. If Minnesota can speed this game up with its great athletes, Wisconsin will have a tough time competing. Play close attention to Jared Berggren on the glass. He has to have a monster rebounding game in order for the Badgers to win. If Wisconsin can find a way to get to the line, they can make it four losses in a row for the Gophers.

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Lessons Learned: ACC Weekend Wrap-Up

Posted by KCarpenter on January 21st, 2013

There were no big upsets in the ACC this weekend, but there were some big-time performances that are worth mentioning. The rest of college basketball offered some thrilling upsets and close finishes, but the Atlantic Coast Conference offered some sublime moments of its own in individual achievement and failure.

TJ Warren Blew Up Against Clemson Sunday

TJ Warren Blew Up Against Clemson Sunday

  1. T.J. Warren Is A Scoring Machine. Sure, Warren went 0-for-6 against Maryland, contributing exactly zero points in the close loss, but make no mistake, that game wasn’t typical. In the game against Clemson, the North Carolina State forward scored 21 points. Yes, he wasn’t technically the game’s high scorer thanks to Devin Booker’s 27-point gem, but Warren’s performance was more impressive. Warren’s 21 points came in a mere 25 minutes that featured the freshman shooting 9-of-11 from the field, hitting a three, and grabbing six rebounds to help his team. Warren’s offensive production borders on the freakish. Coming off the bench, Warren is averaging an offensive efficiency rating of 129.2, which is the 20th best mark in all of Division I basketball. Of course, because of Scott Wood’s sweet shooting, Warren isn’t even the deadliest offensive weapon on his own team, but he is certainly a force to be reckoned with.
  2. Assertive Reggie Bullock Is Terrifying. The only player in the conference with an offensive efficiency greater than Wood and Warren is North Carolina’s Reggie Bullock. Bullock has posted an offensive efficiency of 131.5, driven by incredible three-point shooting (47.7% on 88 attempts this season), low turnovers and strong offensive rebounding for his position. Bullock, also arguably the team’s best defensive player, unleashed his offensive fury on Saturday against Maryland, amassing 21 points in the first half alone and leading North Carolina to an early lead against the Terrapins. Bullock has struggled to assert this season, often vanishing from the team’s offense and deferring to others to the point of fault. On Saturday, Bullock demonstrated how his newfound aggresiveness could help the team: His shooting opened up space for James Michael McAdoo to operate and he drew extra defensive attention that made it easier for Dexter Strickland and Marcus Paige to handle the ball and make plays. This North Carolina team is still deeply flawed, but when Reggie Bullock takes the lead, the team is significantly better. Read the rest of this entry »
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ACC M5: 01.21.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 21st, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Syracuse Post-Gazette: This is the second part of a cool series. Basically the Syracuse Post-Gazette is previewing ACC road sites through the eyes of Wake Forest freshman Tyler Cavanaugh, who was a Syracuse high school star. His two words to describe Clemson: “orange” and “old.” That probably doesn’t do Littlejohn Coliseum enough justice for getting loud (which it is even when it’s below capacity), but Cavanaugh also mentions lesser-known tidbits like the visitors’ locker room is on the third floor. It’s funny, though, that despite his Syracuse upbringing he didn’t fire any shots at the town.
  2. Washington Post: Maryland is lucky it didn’t lose to North Carolina by 30 points over the weekend. The Terrapins played abysmally in the first half, turning the ball over a remarkable 14 times. The game came on the heels of a season-saving home win against NC State, but unfortunately, that win may say as much about NC State and the ACC as it does Maryland. Mark Turgeon’s team looks like a tough defensive group that gives a strong effort (they did fight back to only lose by 10 at the buzzer), but will really struggle to find much offensive rhythm away from home. That simply won’t cut it on Selection Sunday.
  3. Charlottesville Daily Progress: Speaking of teams with wildly varying performances, Virginia crushed Florida State at home this weekend. The win makes sense in terms of the Cavaliers’ ACC play at home, but does little to separate them from the middle of the pack in the ACC. Right now Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and even NC State look like teams you don’t want to face on their respective home courts, but look totally different on the road. The key for a team to join Miami and Duke at the top of the standings will be that it needs to establish some consistency on the road.
  4. Burlington Times News: Reggie Bullock and James Michael McAdoo showed up in a big way against Maryland. Bullock finally looked like he realized he was the best player on the Tar Heels, nearly matching his career high in the first half. McAdoo picked up the pace in the second half, keeping Maryland at arm’s length while UNC held onto its lead. This was also North Carolina’s first win when its offense didn’t step up to the plate (outside of a dominant first couple of minutes). Unlike most Roy Williams teams, this one has to learn how to win ugly and on the defensive end instead of just running opponents to death.
  5. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: New Georgia Tech athletic director Mike Bobinski has got plans for the Yellow Jackets. Ken Suguira laid out Bobinski’s plan in nine simple points. The most interesting ones were his stress on selling tickets and his history of increasing gifts. The first may seem obvious at first, but if you have watched a Georgia Tech basketball game the last couple of years (and even when Paul Hewitt fielded competitive teams), there’s a lot of room for improvement there. The two should run hand-in-hand, and Bobinski’s history in finance and development should serve him well. Not to use a horrible pun, but if he can bring the buzz back to Georgia Tech athletics, there’s an incredibly fertile basketball recruiting background in his backyard for the program to become very good very quickly.
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Set Your DVR: Weekend Edition

Posted by bmulvihill on January 4th, 2013

setDVR

Brendon Mulvihill is an RTC contributor. You can find him @TheMulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

The first weekend in 2013 dives head first into conference season. There are some key match-ups within the Big Ten and Big 12 that will set the tone early for who to watch over the next two months. Let’s get to the breakdowns!

#11 Ohio State at #13 Illinois – 2:15 PM EST, Saturday on BTN (****)

While Craft brings experience and relentless defense, losing Sullinger and Buford, and the outsized production loads they accounted for, will be an enormous hurdle for the transitioning Buckeyes (Photo credit: Jeff Hanisch/US Presswire).

Aaron Craft needs to lock down the perimeter against Illinois (Photo credit: Jeff Hanisch/US Presswire).

  • It seems odd to say that these two top 15 teams are in need of a win, but that appears to be the case in this particular match-up. Ohio State is 0-2 in its two big games against Duke and Kansas, leaving the Buckeyes without a marquee victory thus far, while Illinois has lost two of its last three games after starting 12-0. Illinois’ shooting has been quite poor over the last three games: star guard Brandon Paul has gone 5-of-18, 3-of-12, and 4-of-10 in that span. Alongside D.J. Richardson, the Illini guards will face a tough defensive test from OSU guards Aaron Craft, Lenzelle Smith Jr., and Shannon Scott. Paul is always capable of a breakout game, but keep a close eye on his shooting as Illinois typically goes the way he goes. In their two losses this season to Duke and Kansas, the Buckeyes have faced dominant post players. Illinois does not have that asset per se, so that bodes well for the Buckeyes, even in Champaign. Big forward Tyler Griffey is Illinois’ best inside option, but he could have his hands full on defense if he is matched-up against DeShaun Thomas. Craft and the Buckeye perimeter defense is the key to this game and it doesn’t appear that the Illinois defense is strong enough to keep Thomas from scoring. While it will be a raucous home crowd for the Illini, I think OSU pulls off the win.

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ACC Noon 5: 01.01.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 1st, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Streaking the Lawn:Awesome future non-conference news out of Charlottesville. One thing that’s been dying lately are home-and-home series with non-conference foes, but Virginia will (hopefully) iron out the details on a future head-to-head with local rival VCU. That should make for a really interesting series, and looks to benefit both parties. The Rams and Cavaliers get another marquee non-conference game to prove its strength come Selection Sunday. Fans get a potential budding rivalry played at a high level. Although there is a chance Tony Bennett’s pack-line, slow-down system will spontaneously combust when it meets Shaka Smart’s HAVOC scheme.
  2. Baltimore Sun: Jake Layman didn’t have a seamless transition when he got to College Park. He struggled academically and athletically in his first semester, but the freshman is looking for a new start for the new year. Layman has the chance to be a great four-year player for Mark Turgeon, but he just has to focus on “getting better every day.” Don’t expect Layman to be the Terrapins’ most important piece this season, but look for him to be more comfortable on and off the floor.
  3. Keeping It Heel: PJ Hairston seems to be growing into a more important role in Chapel Hill this season. He took full advantage of Reggie Bullock’s injury in the Tar Heels’ win over UNLV, playing 32 minutes, scoring 15 points on 10 shots, and grabbing four steals. If Hairston continues to improve — specifically on his shot selection and defensive intensity — don’t be surprised if Roy Williams pushes him to play starter minutes (or replaces Dexter Strickland in the starting lineup).
  4. SBNation Boston: Things are looking better in Chestnut Hill. No, the Eagles aren’t looking like contenders but Boston College has looked much better over its recent five-game winning streak. Specifically, the defense is greatly improved and freshmen Joe Rahon and Olivier Hanlan are both averaging double figures. Steve Donahue’s schedule hasn’t been littered with world-beaters, but there’s a lot to be said for learning how to win. This team should be more competitive — even if they don’t win more games — than last year’s squad.
  5. Chapelboro: Jeremy Gerlach wrote a travel guide for the ACC (albeit leaving Chapel Hill, Tallahassee, Atlanta, Winston-Salem and College Park off the list). With conference play tipping off this Saturday, you may want to do some research before picking your road trips. This article is an OK place to start, but I’d probably look a little more closely.
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Rushed Reactions, Maui Style: #11 UNC 95, Mississippi State 49

Posted by rtmsf on November 19th, 2012

rushedreactions

Some quick thoughts from today’s Maui Invitational quarterfinal game between UNC and Mississippi State…

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. The UNC Guards Are Big, Deep and Talented. This is a completely different type of North Carolina team from the last couple of seasons, and frankly, given a Roy Williams’ system that looks to get into transition at every available opportunity, it may work a little better. With all the size along the Tar Heel front line last year, it sometimes felt like the Heels got bogged down in the half court, but this year’s group doesn’t seem to have that same problem. At least not today, when a Mississippi State defense gave them every opening they wanted — to the tune of 15 threes (the fourth most in school history) and 21 assists — Roy Williams found a reason to be upset with his defense in the postgame (UNC held MSU to 27% shooting), but the fortunes of his team are going to ride on PJ Hairston, Leslie McDonald, Reggie Bullock, and Dexter Strickland (combined for 65 points today).
  2. Carolina’s Young Size is Raw But Promising. It won’t show up on the stat sheet as very impressive, but the trio of Joel James, Brice Johnson, Desmond Hubert and JP Tokoto is a collection of raw talent whose size, springiness and hustle are going to win Carolina some games this season. The seven-foot James is somewhat reminiscent of a young Brendan Haywood, while the beauty of the others is that they aren’t expected to score in favor of hustling and protecting the rim. Williams’ teams are at their best with featured guard and wing play, so this team’s interior corps, already seeming to already understand its role in the scheme, will serve the Heels well going into the heart of the season.
  3. Mississippi State Has a Long Way to Get Back to Respectability. Rick Ray seemed rather disappointed after this game, and why wouldn’t he be? The realization that his team is roughly 40 to 50 points worse than a top 10 opponent is humbling to say the least. His group of inexperienced players were clearly shaken by the match-up at the opening tip, finding themselves down 9-0, 29-6, and 40-15 at various parts of the first half. They were never able to figure out how to find a good shot in the UNC defensive creases, and turnovers (21) were a major problem. The one bright spot was the hustle and play of Gavin Ware off the bench — he contributed eight points, nine rebounds and two blocks against a much bigger front line.

Star of the Game. PJ Hairston, North Carolina. Hairston had the shot of the game (not the week, thanks to Rotnei Clarke) when his 60-footer at the buzzer of the first half found net. But his all-around game set the pace for the Tar Heels with 18 points (on 7-11 shooting), four rebounds, and three blocks this afternoon.

Quotable. We asked Roy Williams what he thought about Maryland leaving the ACC for the Big Ten, and this was his response:

  • “Stunned, shocked… Didn’t see it coming… Strange what’s going on with college athletics… Hate to see them go, but if they don’t want to be there… [hand motion waving goodbye].”

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ACC Week 1 Power Rankings

Posted by mpatton on November 16th, 2012

We’ve got a full week of game action as evidence to start evaluting these teams a bit better, so here goes…

Disclaimer: Power Rankings don’t imply which teams are best. They’re all about who has momentum right now. 

Duke Blue Devils 1. Duke (2-0) stays on top of the rankings after taking care of business against Georgia State at home before knocking off the defending champion Kentucky Wildcats in the Georgia Dome. This team still has a long way to go, but they showed poise holding off a talented, albeit young, Kentucky team. While Seth Curry and Mason Plumlee owned the box score, Quinn Cook rose to the challenge and put in his bid for the starting spot. Minnesota is the next NCAA tournament-quality team on Thursday.
NC State Wolfpack 2. NC State (2-0) absolutely blitzkrieged its first two opponents, Miami (OH) and Penn State. Putting too much stock in beating the Redhawks by 38 is unwise. But that 17-point win over the Nittany Lions–despite Lorenzo Brown finishing an icy 1-12 from the field–is worth noting. Specifically, Tyler Warren was phenomenal going for 22 points (on 12 shots) and eight rebounds. The game tonight against Massachusetts should be a fun one.
North Carolina Tar Heels 3. North Carolina (2-0) looked lost on offense at times against Gardner-Webb, which is just a young team trying to learn to play together. James Michael McAdoo has been phenomenal through the first two games (he’s averaging over 20 points and 12 rebounds), and Reggie Bullock asserted himself against Florida Atlantic. This team should keep improving, but in time for the trip to Bloomington in a week and a half? That’s ambitious.
Maryland Terrapins 4. Maryland (1-1) looks a lot better than expected. Alex Len is going to be a top-10 pick. He absolutely ravaged Kentucky, which Maryland kept close to the bitter end before making mincemeat of Morehead State. Nick Faust still can’t shoot, but Seth Allen will be really fun to watch the next few years. The Terrapins need to work on consistent offense, but as Dez Wells gets more and more used to Mark Turgeon’s system, good things will happen.
Boston College 5. Boston College (1-1) played with a stacked Baylor team for 35 minutes after beating a bad Florida International team by double figures (still, that’s huge improvement over last year). This team will still struggle to win a ton of games, but Ryan Anderson‘s development into an All-ACC caliber player is accelerating the rebuilding process (he’s averaging 27 points and 12 boards a game). Dennis Clifford also got off to a solid start. The Eagles’ games against Dayton and Auburn should both be winnable this week.
Clemson Tigers 6. Clemson (1-0) beat down Presbyterian this week, which isn’t worth much on its own. But Devin Booker and Milton Jennings both played very well (combined to go 11-14 from the field for 26 points) and look like they’re ready to step into bigger roles for Brad Brownell this season. A near impossible test awaits this week in the form of Gonzaga.
Virginia Tech Hokies 7. Virginia Tech (3-0) scarfed three cupcakes this week, winning all three games by double figures. The “meat” of the nonconference schedule is still a ways off (and “meat” is used loosely to describe BCS-conference teams), but so far James Johnson‘s tenure is a success. He’ll need Robert Brown to continue producing offensively to relieve some of Erick Green‘s perimeter burden.
Florida State Seminoles 8. Florida State (1-1) is much better than its home loss to the South Alabama, but those are the kind of losses that will motivate this team to keep getting better. Michael Snaer is also in an early season slump, having only hit a third of the shots he’s taken. But the Seminoles’ 27-point beatdown of Buffalo (where they scored 95 points!) may right the ship. The next six games showcase three against possible NCAA tournament teams: BYU (today), Minnesota and Florida.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons 9. Wake Forest (1-0) played decently against Radford. The game was never free from doubt, but the Demon Deacons didn’t let the Big South Highlanders get the best of them this year. CJ Harris got to the charity stripe like a pro, but Travis McKie‘s 11 points left a little to be desired–especially against a team of this caliber. Turnovers are going to kill Wake Forest in at least two conference games this year.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 10. Georgia Tech (2-0) has balance, but can’t shoot. The Yellow Jackets need someone to step up from the perimeter to keep other teams honest (right now they make a smooth 17.6% of their shots from downtown. Two of Mfon Udofia, Daniel Miller and Kam Holsey need to become go-to guys on offense. Miller doesn’t appear to want that role.
Miami Hurricanes 11. Miami (1-1) needs to be careful not to become a dumpster fire. The team lost its exhibition against St. Leo and now lost to Florida Gulf Coast to ice the cake. This team looks phenomenal on paper, but sometimes things just don’t translate the way we expect. The same Reggie Johnson who made Mason Plumlee look like a child at Cameron Indoor Stadium last year has only hit one third of his shots against middling competition. There’s still time for Larranaga to turn this car around, but time is running out.
Virginia Cavaliers 12. Virginia (1-2), if Miami has to be careful, Virginia fans may already smell that trash burning. So far the Cavaliers lost to George Mason and Delaware. These wins (or struggles) could be statistical aberrations (if your style keeps opponents within striking distance, you’re bound to lose some unfortunate games), and Jontel Evans is out.Things aren’t off to a great start in Charlottesville.
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North Carolina Still Figuring Out Its Center Position Before Heading West…

Posted by KCarpenter on November 11th, 2012

Kellen Carpenter is an RTC correspondent and ACC microsite writer. He filed this report after the UNC-Florida Atlantic game in Chapel Hill on Sunday.

North Carolina looks deep. In its 80-56 victory Sunday afternoon over the Florida Atlantic Owls, UNC showcased a scary depth and commitment to defense. Nine players played double-digit minutes, Florida Atlantic shot only 27.9% from the field, and the bench shined in what was an almost perfectly balanced effort by the starters and reserves. The bench contributed 39 out of 80 of North Carolina’s total points, with particularly good scoring games by Joel James, who scored 11 points, and Brice Johnson, who racked up 12 points in 12 minutes.

Joel James Appears to be the Strongest Candidate For UNC’s Center Position (AP Photo/Ted Richardson)

This of course brings up the still unanswered question of who will be the long term starter at the center position. Desmond Hubert started the first half of this game, but once again James earned the second half start. In 14 minutes of action, Hubert contributed zero points, three rebounds, two blocks, and two turnovers. Compared to the double-figure scoring efforts by James and Johnson (as well as eight rebounds for James and four for Johnson), it would be very strange if Hubert continued to start. James actually played more minutes than Hubert in this effort, and Johnson’s soft touch around the basket looks very impressive. With Roy Williams‘ stated trepidation about the defensive implications of playing Johnson and John Michael McAdoo at the same time, James seems like he may be North Carolina’s newest starter before too long.

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UNC: James Michal McAdoo Is A Star But The Rest Is Uncertain

Posted by KCarpenter on November 9th, 2012

Kellen Carpenter is an RTC correspondent and ACC microsite writer. He filed this report from Friday night’s UNC game versus Gardner-Webb.

James Michael McAdoo was expected to take a starring role for his North Carolina team and in the first game of this season, a 76-59 victory over Gardner-Webb, he showed what he could do as a star. With a career-high 26 points and 14 rebounds (eight of which were on the offensive glass), McAdoo is clearly on the path to fulfilling his first-team All-ACC expectations. The team as a whole however, is clearly one that is a work in progress.

McAdoo Was a Man Among Boys Tonight (AP/Ted Richardson)

Desmond Hubert earned the fifth Tar Heel starting spot in the post, but he struggled, tallying only four rebounds and failing to score while turning the ball over twice in 13 minutes. He was also memorably bowled over by Mike Byron just a few minutes after tip. Roy Williams made a change by starting Joel James in the second half, and, for his part, James played with a lot of energy but he struggled to stay on the court, accruing four fouls in only 14 minutes of play. The question of the frontcourt rotation is clearly an unsolved riddle for this team, with Williams freely experimenting and looking for a combination that was effective on both ends of the court. Brice Johnson looked polished on offense, but in limited minutes it’s hard to draw too many conclusions about him. Roy Williams said afterward that he isn’t sure who will fill this spot for the next game.

The backcourt rotation also presented a puzzle. Freshman point guard Marcus Paige started and managed to tally four turnovers and zero assists in his 28 minutes, not exactly an auspicious start for the team’s chief playmaker. On the perimeter, one of UNC’s supposed best shooting teams in recent memory managed to shoot 1-of-12 from the field while going 9-of-19 from the free throw line. Granted, a lot of the poor shooting from the stripe was due to McAdoo’s 6-of-11.

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