ACC Game On: 02.21.12

Posted by KCarpenter on February 21st, 2012

In-State Rivalry Rematches

  • North Carolina at North Carolina State at 8:00 PM on ACC Network or
  • Virginia at Virginia Tech at 9:00 PM on ESPNU

NC State Could Really Use This Win (Star-News)

When North Carolina State played the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill, the game turned into a 19-point rout thanks to North Carolina’s domination on the boards. In Raleigh, the Wolfpack will take a stand to try to avenge the January loss and to make a statement that will guarantee them a shot at March Madness. Right now, NC State sits right on the bubble with no wins better than Texas and Miami. A victory over North Carolina would go a long way towards ensuring that the Wolfpack goes dancing. At home, Mark Gottfried’s team will have an edge with what will surely be a raucous home crowd fired up by “Hessgate” and the natural rivalry. NC State is a very good rebounding team and the fluke bad performance in the previous meeting of these teams is largely owed to the foul trouble and limited mintes of Richard Howell, by far the team’s best rebounder. If Howell and all the other key pieces can stay on the floor, the Wolfpack very well might walk away with a signature win.

In an otherwise disappointing season, Virgina Tech’s upset of Virginia stands as a clear highlight for the Hokies. For the Cavaliers, the game was their first without starting center Assane Sene and the loss seemed to demonstrate how much they missed him. In the rematch at Blacksburg, Virginia seeks to settle the score and prove that the loss was a fluke and that they have adjusted to life without Sene. The Tar Heel and Wolfpack showdown might get more attention, but there’s liable to be plenty of heat (if not speed) in the clash between these two in-state rivals.

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ACC Morning Five: 01.31.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 31st, 2012

  1. Washington Post: Remember how Lefty Driesell complained about Maryland naming its court after Gary Williams? Well, he’s still talking. I’ll just pick out some choice quotes:

    “Everybody’s gonna think well Gary Williams’s players are the ones that put Maryland on the map. You know, Maryland was on the map before Gary got there.
    [On Georgia State’s court being named after him] Yeah, it sure is. Well, you know, they never had a successful program before I got there. Never.
    I think Mark Turgeon’s gonna win a couple of national championships.
    [On how Williams should have been honored] Well, I don’t know. You know, he got banners up there for winning the national championship. Maybe like the Orioles do, put a statue out back.”

    The moral of the story is Driesell isn’t happy and isn’t hiding his opinions.

  2. Beyond the Arc: Mike Miller sat down with Adam Rowe of Duke Hoop Blog to talk about the Blue Devils. One thing I really wish Rowe had mentioned is the lack of a versatile wing on the perimeter defensively. Kyle Singler was a big part of Duke’s defense the last four years. Combine his versatility with Nolan Smith’s on-ball pressure and you got a top defensive team despite not having ludicrous athleticism (as Arizona exposed in the NCAA Tournament). This year’s team doesn’t have that versatility and only Tyler Thornton applies great on-ball pressure. One of the more interesting points Rowe made was that Thornton is often credited as a great defensive stopper when he really is just good at playing physical defense and getting into passing lanes (though I think stopping, outside of shot-blockers, is generally a team stat on defense).
  3. ACC Sports Journal: Frank Haith had a reputation in the ACC “as a nice guy who recruited good players and did a middling job molding them into competitive teams.” Frankly, that’s probably generous. Haith was frequently panned, especially following last season when he brought back an experienced and talented squad but did little with it. But Haith’s success at Missouri stands in stark contrast with perceptions at Miami. Is it the perfect storm of the right players? I don’t know. What I do know is that Haith put on a miniature coaching clinic last night against Rick Barnes (another ACC coaching alum) when he went zone against Texas, shutting down J’Covan Brown entirely on the final possession of Missouri’s one-point win over the Longhorns in Austin.
  4. The State: Bad news coming out of Clemson, as Milton Jennings will be suspended because of  “‘failure to comply’ with the team’s academic standards.” Failure to comply is an interesting word choice — maybe just a slip of the keys, but that doesn’t sound like a grade issue. It sounds like a cheating, class cutting or missed assignment issue. The last of those options seems the most likely as Jeff Borzello tweeted yesterday that Jennings “should be back soon.” It hasn’t been a great season for Jennings off the court between this and getting into it with Brad Brownell.
  5. Washington Post: I always love it when coaches talk some trash. And Shaka Smart fired some shots across the Commonwealth of Virginia, saying “the reality is if you go by the numbers, if you go by postseason, if you go by even guys going to the NBA, the best programs in the state are in the CAA. It’s really not even close.” My guess is Tony Bennett has something to say about that. Most years Seth Greenberg would probably be a little more outspoken too.

Fun Fact: Richard Howell is on pace to break NC State’s foul record of 110 (set by Ilian Evtimov). He already has 73 in the books and doesn’t appear to be slowing down.

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One Down, Ten to Dance: NC State Looks Forward After Win Against Maryland

Posted by mpatton on January 9th, 2012

Mark Gottfried made himself very clear both before and after NC State‘s ACC opener against Maryland: his goal is to make the NCAA tournament. He knows 11-5 in conference play should lock up an at-large bid (the Wolfpack would be 22-9), so he wants 11 conference wins. His team is one game closer after beating the Terrapins 79-74. The score doesn’t really reflect the game, which NC State led nearly the whole way.

The one thing that was clear watching Gottfried’s squad is they have the talent to make the Big Dance. They are long and athletic up front–especially with the offseason transformation undergone by Richard Howell. CJ Leslie looks much better than when I saw him last season. He is still dominant in transition, but now he is much more comfortable around the basket. Where last year, he settled far too often for the 15-foot jump shot, against Maryland Leslie attacked the basket and boards to earn 19 points and ten boards. Leslie still needs to work on taking care of the basketball, finishing with five turnovers for the game.

CJ Leslie Dominated Maryland in the Conference Opener. (Ethan Hyman / Raleigh News & Observer)

As for the rest of the frontcourt, Howell struggled in the first half because of foul trouble, but came out swinging in the second to finish with 10 points. Maryland frosh Alex Len clearly struggled to keep pace with the athletic frontcourt late in the game, which allowed DeShawn Painter a couple of open transition lay-ups.

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ACC Morning Five: 01.04.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 4th, 2012

  1. Duke Basketball Report: Florida State is off to a rough start, and the triple-overtime loss to Princeton fit right into the Seminoles’ disappointing non-conference season. But how rare is a 3OT game? Apparently, very rare. Barry Jacobs has a very interesting look at all games that went to three overtimes or more. NC State has the most quadruple-overtime games (two), but Georgia Tech takes the day because of its undefeated record in triple-overtime games.
  2. Wilmington Star News: Brett Friedlander takes a look at some of the unknowns going into conference play. I think the biggest question will be how Virginia will perform against more familiar (and talented) teams. Now, whether NC State can make the Big Dance, I’m not nearly as optimistic. Sure, it’s still possible, but barring a Texas resurgence the Wolfpack are in serious trouble as far as quality wins are concerned.
  3. Washington Post: An underreported aspect of Maryland’s turnaround has been Terrell Stoglin‘s defense. The sophomore scoring machine didn’t start when Mark Turgeon wanted to send a message about Stoglin’s effort on the defensive end of the floor, and apparently, the move worked. Now, the Maryland seven-game winning streak is pretty difficult to put a finger on because of the mediocre quality of opponents it has played the last few weeks, but winning games is winning games.
  4. Winston-Salem Journal: NC State’s Lorenzo Brown, CJ Leslie and DeShawn Painter have all gotten praise at various times for their performances this season. One guy a little more under the radar is Richard Howell, who is absolutely dominating the glass for the Wolfpack this season. Howell pulled down 12 or more rebounds for the fourth consecutive time over the weekend against Western Carolina. It’s that kind of unnoticed play that will give Mark Gottfried’s team the grit to succeed in the conference schedule.
  5. Carolina March: Here’s an interesting idea from Carolina March: piggy-back on bowl games with basketball games the night before. Miami, Georgia Tech, Maryland and three North Carolina schools all have bowl games very close to their campuses. Why not have a basketball game that tries to capitalize on the excitement surrounding their respective bowl games? It’s worth a thought, especially for Georgia Tech and Miami, which have both really struggled filling the stands consistently.

EXTRA: ACC Digital Network Video of the Day: Analyst (and North Carolina alumnus) JR Reid looks at shot-blocking and specifically John Henson.

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Set Your TiVo: 12.16.11 to 12.18.11

Posted by Brian Otskey on December 16th, 2011

Brian Otskey is the Big East correspondent for RTC and a regular contributor. You can find him @botskey on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

With Dead Week mercifully over, we finally have some good games to enjoy this Saturday despite Sunday being a very slow day in the hoops world.

#6 Baylor @ BYU – 2:00 PM EST Saturday on BYU TV (****)

Perry Jones Leads Baylor into Provo Saturday (AP)

  • The Bears have had difficulty on the road in past seasons but they already passed one important test, demolishing Northwestern in Chicago a couple weeks ago. This game, however, will be an even better measure to see where the highly-rated Bears are really at. The Marriott Center is a notoriously difficult place to play but Baylor has a clear talent edge in this game. BU welcomes Gary Franklin, now eligible after the first semester, to an already highly skilled roster. Franklin didn’t play all that well at California last season but he was a four star recruit out of high school. He should help the Bears out at the point guard position, a place where turnovers are still an issue. Baylor averages 16 turnovers a game and that will be dangerous playing on the road against a team like BYU that likes to push the pace. 5.8 of those 16 turnovers come from the point guard position so Scott Drew is hoping that Franklin can help handle the ball. How Franklin will fit in alongside Pierre Jackson and A.J. Walton remains a question mark.
  • BYU’s top six scorers are all 6’5” or taller, an important factor against the length and athleticism of Baylor’s front line. Noah Hartsock, Brandon Davies and Charles Abouo do the bulk of the damage for Dave Rose, as those three are his top scorers and rebounders. Hartsock in particular has been outstanding, scoring in double figures in every game thus far. All three will have to play well in order for BYU to pull the upset because Baylor’s front court is strong, deep and talented. With Quincy Acy blocking 3.3 shots a game, BYU’s big men should find it more difficult to score inside on Saturday. The Cougars have to get their outside game going as well. Baylor’s defense is very average against the three and BYU has three big deep threats, Abouo, Stephen Rogers and Brock Zylstra. Going up against the top-ranked interior defense in the nation, BYU needs its outside shots to fall in order to win. However, the Cougars can’t afford to settle for threes if they aren’t falling. They must get something going in the paint, even against such a strong defense, in order to balance out their offense.
  • This is an important game for both clubs. Baylor has played only two teams of note so far while BYU’s best win is over a mediocre Oregon team. Baylor shoots well (49.1% FG) but the biggest difference this season has been its defense. The Bears allow only 33.3% shooting inside the arc and their defensive efficiency has been terrific. Both teams get most of their offense from their respective front courts but Baylor may have the ultimate edge with Cory Jefferson off the bench. He adds some scoring punch and, more importantly, rebounding and depth for the Bears. For the Cougars to win, they’ll have to force turnovers to get points in transition because it’ll be awfully tough to score inside in the half court. In addition to making its threes, BYU must rebound well and get to the line while putting the Baylor big men in foul trouble. However, BYU ranks #295 in free throw rate and Baylor doesn’t foul too often. Although BYU rarely loses at home, this is a game Baylor can win. There are some who still doubt the Bears but a win here would put them on their way towards legitimate national recognition.

Texas A&M vs. #10 Florida (at Sunrise, FL) – 2:30 PM EST Saturday on FSN (***)

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Checking In On… the ACC

Posted by mpatton on December 14th, 2011

Matt Patton is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic Coast Conference. You can follow him on Twitter @rise_and_fire.

Reader’s Take


Top Storylines

  • Wake Forest’s Dynamic Duo: The Demon Deacons may not be the prettiest team to watch, but CJ Harris and Travis McKie are lighting up the box score. We knew (even if I, in a gaffe of all gaffes, left him off my All-Freshman team last year for Ryan Harrow) Mckie was going to be one of the ACC’s top players this year, but Harris has been a very pleasant surprise. The pair are efficiently combining for nearly 57% of Wake Forest’s points through the first 10 games of the year. Harris has already made as many threes as he made all last season on 18 less attempts, and he’s significantly more effective inside the arc. It remains to be seen how Harris will adapt to the defenses of ACC play, but so far he has to be leading the “surprise of the year” category.
  • Duke’s Post Presence: That’s right: after two solid years of berating the Plumlees as overrated and generally poor basketball players, it’s time to give credit where it’s due. Mason Plumlee has developed into a very good big man. No, he can’t make a free throw to save his life, but he’s much better offensively everywhere except the boards than he’s been the last few years. He developed a couple of solid post moves, stopped turning the ball over as much and learned to hold his ground on defense. If he can either learn to crash the offensive glass or hit 60% of his free throws, I’m confident in saying he’ll be one of the top three or four bigs in the ACC this season.
  • That’s right, the ACC Digital Network launched this season. Check out JR Reid break down North Carolina‘s softness and the conference power rankings. So far the coverage is fairly limited, but as it expands this could become one of the better sources of information for ACC fans.

Power Rankings

  1. North Carolina (8-2) stays atop the rankings with a hard-fought win over Long Beach State, which better get rewarded by the Selection Committee in March for playing such a tough non-conference schedule. The Tar Heels dominated on the inside with John Henson and Harrison Barnes leading the scoring, but it is worth noting that this is  another game where four Tar Heel starters played more than 30 minutes. Read the rest of this entry »
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ACC Game On: 11.22.11 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on November 22nd, 2011

ACC Game On will periodically review recent games involving ACC teams and take a look forward to key upcoming matchups.

It’s going to be a long season for Boston College. I thought that maybe the dismal performance against Holy Cross could be explained away by the absence of Patrick Heckmann, but I was wrong. Massachusetts has the makings of a very talented team, but make no mistake: Boston College is bad. There is no reason to be surprised, but there is also no reason to expect Boston College will not improve. The Eagles with a few exceptions are a team of freshmen. The difference between a freshman in November and a freshman in March can be huge, especially in terms of shooting. Just ask Harrison Barnes. This team shouldn’t go winless this year even though it might feel like it today.

North Carolina State, on the other hand looked excellent in a spectacular comeback against Texas. Richard Howell was neutralized by foul trouble but C.J. Leslie and a healthy Scott Wood came off the bench to deliver a much-needed scoring punch from the Wolfpack. Being able to win on a neutral court with your best big sitting on the bench seems like a pretty good omen  for a team with a challenging schedule over the next month.

Even Without Ryan Harrow, C.J. Leslie And Lorenzo Brown Have Started To Deliver On The Promise They Showed As Freshmen

Duke coasted to the finish after being challenged early on by a persistent Tennessee team that was ultimately simply over-matched. One thing to note early this season is the tight Blue Devils rotation. While Miles Plumlee came off the bench for some effective minutes and Tyler Thornton has been offering his customary amount of foul-happy pressure defense, the starters are seeing the bulk of the minutes so far. This line-up is far from solidified, but the reliance on the starters is something to keep an eye on.

Virginia beat Drake rather unimpressively and Jontel Evans was the least impressive of them all. He played 33 minutes and managed to log a stat line of one point, one assist, one steal, three turnovers, and three fouls. If he doesn’t improve, Virginia might need to shake up its starting line up.

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ACC Game On: 11.21.11 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on November 21st, 2011

ACC Game On will periodically review recent games involving ACC teams and take a look forward to key upcoming matchups.

This weekend, the top of the conference rolled while the bottom of the conference struggled and we got a clearer picture of the abilities and limitations of a number of the teams in the ACC. Thursday morning, every team in the conference was undefeated, but by Sunday night, half of the conference had already dropped games. For the most part, this divide clarifies the current haves and have-nots. North Carolina, Duke, Florida State, and Miami all held steady, handily winning their games. Joining the undefeated teams are Virginia Tech, who has an extended hiatus until taking on Syracuse, and somewhat surprisingly, Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons have so far had an admittedly easy schedule, but making it through an easy schedule without an upset is something that has challenged Wake’s ACC brethren.

On Friday, Boston College lost to Holy Cross in what wasn’t even really an upset, but is certainly disappointing nonetheless for Eagles fans. Playing without Patrick Heckmann (tweaked ankle), the leading scorer against New Hampshire, BC’s offense faltered while the defense remained as porous as ever. Holy Cross shot over 50% from the field and from beyond the arc. As it stands, Boston College looks like it will have serious trouble stopping any team from scoring.

Florida State Looked Great This Weekend, While Boston College Looked Terrible

Maryland played twice this weekend, winning the game they should have won, against Colorado, but losing to an Iona team that had already come pretty close to upsetting Purdue. For the Terrapins, turnovers look to be a real problem going forward. Against Iona, Maryland committed twenty-six miscues compared to Iona’s ten. Combine the poor offensive execution with allowing the Gael’s to shoot 55.2% from the field and it’s a recipe for disaster.

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ACC Game On: 11.16.11 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on November 16th, 2011

ACC Game On will periodically review recent games involving ACC teams and take a look forward at key upcoming matchups.

Mike Krzyzewski has surpassed Bob Knight’s record of all-time wins. He did so on the appropriately grand stage of Madison Square Garden, defeating Michigan State. It’s a great accomplishment for the man and for Duke University. What’s not so great? The job that Mason Plumlee, Miles Plumlee, and Ryan Kelly did to prove Mitch McGary wrong.  Combined the three were responsible for seven recorded field goal attempts. This total ties Seth Curry and Austin Rivers, who individually each took more shots. This total is also less than half of the total shots taken by Andre Dawkins, who made six three-pointers in the game. The team won, so there’s no sense in raising a fuss, but box scores like that make it hard to disagree with the diagnosis that “all their big men do is set screens and rebound and that they don’t get a lot of touches.”

Mr. 903

The rest of the ACC was rather dull last evening as Virginia Tech, Miami, and Virginia all walked away with relatively easy wins. Unsurprisingly, All-ACC candidates Mike Scott, Durand Scott and Malcolm Grant put up good but not incredible numbers to lead their teams to easy wins.

Things were a little more interesting in Blacksburg, however, as Dorenzo Hudson went off for 31 points on only thirteen shots. He got to the line twelve times, and didn’t miss from the charity stripe. It was a bravura performance against an overmatched Florida International team. Meanwhile, Dorian Finley-Smith continues his campaign as the ACC’s most intriguing freshman, leading his team in rebounding, assists, and steals while scoring fifteen points. If Seth Greenberg can adapt his team to the style and talents of this point-power-forward, the Hokies have a real chance to shake things up in the ACC.

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ACC Morning Five: 11.16.11 Edition

Posted by mpatton on November 16th, 2011

And then there was one…undefeated conference! That’s right, the ACC is the last conference standing with no losses. Just yesterday the SEC continued its tradition of losing to a SoCon and Big South team (congrats to Elon and Coastal Carolina for the wins); Kent State took care of West Virginia and Miami knocked off Rutgers to down the Big East; Kansas and the Big 12 took one on the chin from Kentucky; last and definitely least, the Pac-12 was embarrassed as UCLA managed to lose by 20 at home to the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders; and Michigan State lost to Duke at Madison Square Garden to seal the Big Ten’s fate. For those of you keeping score at home, the ACC is now a combined 22-0 after a little over a week of action.

  1. ESPN: Dana O’Neil and Jay Bilas do a great job capturing Mike Krzyzewski‘s career in wake of the Blue Devil victory over Michigan State to give him the all-time Division I wins record. O’Neil reflects on the more important things that the number 903 reminds us of. Most important are his family followed closely by his mentors and students from the game — basically, she takes this moment to reflect on Coach K’s career. Bilas’ reflection as a former player is much more personal. He describes his own recruitment, using it for a microcosm for Krzyzewski’s eventual rise to greatness. Bilas points to Coach K’s ability to bring out his player’s innate “toughness” in order to maximize his team’s potential (Author’s Note: Bilas has a slightly unconventional definition of “toughness” that’s worth checking out). Together these two pieces do a good job placing Duke’s legendary coach and his career in some kind of perspective.
  2. Boston Herald (via Baltimore Sun): Mark Turgeon has swagger. He had it as a player, and he’s got it as a coach. How many guys would go up to Larry Brown and demand a spot on Kansas’ basketball team? This profile of Turgeon reminded me a lot of stories about Mike Krzyzewski’s playing days at Army (undersized point guard, leader, etc.). Turgeon’s sharp tongue and obsession with winning also parallel Coach K. But watching Turgeon on the court, his composure stands out above his spurts of emotion. I think he’ll end up as a great hire for Maryland in the long run.
  3. Washington Times: Speaking of Turgeon, the big news from Monday night was Maryland star Terrell Stoglin beginning the Terps’ game from the bench. Although Stoglin said the matter was private, it sounds like the message was that Turgeon’s offensive star needs to shift his focus to both ends of the court. Stoglin ended up playing over 30 minutes and leading his team in scoring with 22 points. Maryland doesn’t have the firepower to blow the socks off its opponents this season, so the Terrapins will need to rely heavily on not making mistakes and playing effectively on the defensive end.
  4. Gaston Gazette: NC State may not have CJ Leslie (or point guard Ryan Harrow, who transferred to Kentucky), but the Wolfpack look like they’ve turned things up to eleven relative to last season. Their opponents so far aren’t necessarily giant-killers, but in their first two games they’ve assisted on 47 of their 62 field goals including 15 of the first 16 against Morehead State. Additionally, their shallow front line has been incredibly effective. Slimmed down Richard Howell and Deshawn Painter have replaced Leslie’s production and some. Sophomore Lorenzo Brown has also stepped up to run the point after the team lost both of last year’s point guards.
  5. Charlotte Observer: Speaking of NC State, former Wolfpack legend Rodney Monroe is back in the States after a 15-year professional career overseas to try and turn around Southlake Christian’s floundering basketball program. Monroe holds the NC State all-time scoring record with 2,551 points (a little more than college basketball great David Thompson). He’ll have his work cut out for him, as last year the Eagles only managed one win.

EXTRA: North Carolina’s newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, noticed that Playboy released its Top 25 for college basketball recently. Headlining the list is North Carolina, but Duke is ranked fourth. Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller and Austin Rivers all make the magazine’s All-America team. The ACC love stops there though.

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ACC Game On: 11.14.11 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on November 14th, 2011

ACC Game On will periodically review recent games involving ACC teams and take a look forward at key upcoming matchups.

Every team in the Atlantic Coast Conference has played at least one game so far, except for Boston College which makes it’s debut tonight. Before we get to breaking down Monday night’s slate of games, let’s spend a little time taking a look at this past weekend and the first few games played by ACC teams. While most everyone stuck pretty closely to the script, there were a few pleasant surprises for ACC fans.

Unsurprisingly, the star of the Carrier Classic was the aircraft carrier itself. The USS Carl Vinson was an incredibly cool setting for a basketball game. So cool, in fact, that the basketball game seemed like an afterthought. While North Carolina beat Michigan State, and John Henson was able to show off his shot-blocking ability by getting nine of them, it was his increased offensive arsenal (which he continued to demonstrate on Sunday against UNC Asheville) that should excite Tar Heel fans. But the real MVP of the event was probably the San Diego sky.

Neither Team Was As Good As The Setting

Belmont lived up to its reputation as a dangerous team and came within one point of upsetting Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke held the line and eked out a victory against the pesky and talented Bruins. This, combined with a blowout over Presbyterian confirms very little about this year’s Blue Devils. Rather, viewers learned a great deal more about Belmont and Presbyterian (one’s quite good and the other’s quite bad) than they did about the as-yet-enigmatic and still-emerging Blue Devils. Wins are wins though, and now Mike Krzyzewski has as many of them (902) as any men’s college basketball coach in Division I history.

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ACC Preseason All-Conference Teams

Posted by mpatton on November 8th, 2011

Now that our individual team previews are done, it’s time to look at individual players. With only five all-ACC selections from last season returning there are plenty of open spots to fill, so here are our Preseason all-ACC Teams for the 2011-12 season.

2011-12 Preseason All-ACC Teams

Looking at our projections, North Carolina, Miami and Duke lead the way with eight, six and five selections, respectively. No surprise with Harrison Barnes checking in as the consensus ACC Player of the Year, or Austin Rivers as the ACC Rookie of the Year (though Kellen wants to keep an eye on Maryland’s Nick Faust for the ROY award).

My personal honorable mentions are Virginia Tech’s Erick Green, Maryland’s Sean Mosley and NC State’s Richard Howell. I’m especially surprised Mosley didn’t show up on any of the teams, but his middling campaign last season probably did him in. Green appears to be in the right place to take over for departing Hokies Malcolm Delaney and Jeff Allen, but he’s got a ways to go based on the Virginia Tech games I went to last season. Finally, Howell had a sneaky good season last year for the Wolfpack and could be a great frontcourt presence alongside CJ Leslie.

My biggest reach was putting Terrell Stoglin on the first team. He was a decent player last year (who averaged over 20 points per game pro-rated at 40 minutes), but he’ll really need to make some waves if he wants to crack the first team this season. Malcolm Grant and Kendall Marshall are the safer choices for that final guard spot. My reasoning is that Marshall will be hidden statistically behind Zeller and Barnes. In general, Roy Williams point guards are under-appreciated because they don’t put up sick numbers, but with Marshall the case is a little different. He’s a very polished player, but I see him as the perfect complimentary player. North Carolina wouldn’t be nearly as good as a team without him, but by himself he’s not spectacular. Thus, I voted him onto the second team in favor of Maryland’s ascendent sophomore.

On the second team Kellen and I differed on power forwards: he chose Mason Plumlee; I chose Travis McKie. Again for me the key was relative importance. Mason Plumlee may be more talented than McKie, but I’ll be shocked if he’s as important for Duke as McKie is for Wake Forest (and really I’m not sold that McKie isn’t more talented). Duke’s bigs are certainly going to be critical this year, but I think the mere fact that there are three of them (Mason, Miles and Ryan Kelly) will dilute each one’s share of the limelight. I did include Miles on my third team because reports from Durham laud him as Duke’s backbone.

However, both of our teams (mine especially) did a lot of projecting for this season. The only locks feel like Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller and Mike Scott (and it’s conceivable Zeller falls to the second team depending on his role). Player and coach turnover left the ACC relatively unknown this season, but Friday players start earning their spots.

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