ACC M5: 02.12.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 12th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Tar Heel Blog: North Carolina‘s starting lineup has been a point of contention among fans the entire season. If it’s not replacing Desmond Hubert, it’s replacing Dexter Strickland. The Tar Heels have been getting off to awful starts to games, but it’s not all Hubert and Strickland’s faults. James Michael McAdoo deserves much of the blame in the frontcourt, as he’s currently shooting a smooth 4-of-18 from the field in ACC games up to the first media timeout. Strickland and Marcus Paige are a combined 4-of-20 from the field. Whatever the reason, North Carolina has to quit digging itself such early holes.
  2. ESPN: There’s a very strong argument to be made for putting Miami atop the polls this week. The Hurricanes are on an amazing 11-game winning streak that includes arguably the most impressive performance of the year against Duke. With all its players available (admittedly, a smaller sample size) the Hurricanes are 11-0 with the best BPI of any team in the country (Duke is second, and no one else is close). If polls were power rankings, there’s no question Miami should be at the top. Even with the status quo logic of the polls, there’s a very good chance the Hurricanes will make the top spot for the first time in program history this season.
  3. CBSSports.com: Virginia is going to be a fascinating case study to watch up until Selection Sunday. Bracketologists appear divided on the Cavaliers. One camp (e.g., Jerry Palm) says they have no chance. Their RPI is too low. Their horrid non-conference schedule (with a couple of abysmal losses to boot) sinks their hopes. But other camps (e.g., Andy Glockner) paint a more positive picture of the Cavaliers. Their non-conference schedule was hurt by normally decent teams (like Old Dominion) playing like cellar-dwellers and failure to make the winners’ bracket of the Preseason NIT. Long story short: No one really knows…
  4. Duke Basketball Report: Duke‘s prolific three-point shooting is fairly well-documented. The Blue Devils are shooting over 40% for just the third time in team history since the deep ball was added to the college game two and a half decades ago. The team is also shooting far more threes a game than its previous highly successful shooting years. One interesting fact that Barry Jacobs unveiled is that Duke led the ACC in three-point shooting for three of Coach K’s four national championships. The Blue Devils have always shot the long ball fairly well, but Duke didn’t start relying heavily on the three until 1994-95, the year after Coach K’s epic run of seven Final Fours in nine seasons ended.
  5. NBCSports.com: Seth and Stephen Curry have passed Tyler and Ben Hansbrough as the highest scoring brother duo in college basketball history. Seth Curry‘s year at Liberty definitely helped (his scoring average has never recovered after his transfer to Duke), and although he has always been an efficient scorer at Duke, his numbers as a Blue Devil aren’t jaw-dropping. After averaging 20 points per game at Liberty his freshman year, he’s averaged 9.0, 13.2 and 16.8 points per game in his next three seasons in Durham. It’s frankly sort of surprising there haven’t been many more dominant scoring pairs of brothers.
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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: 01.31.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 31st, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Yahoo! Sports: Here are some fun facts about Shane Larkin. He stopped playing baseball after his little league manager told him, “Whoever taught you to hit didn’t know what he was talking about” (his dad, Barry Larkin, is a Hall of Fame baseball player). Also, at one point in his high school career Jeff Bzdelik was pursuing Larkin pretty hard and Larkin seemed pretty interested. Bzdelik never offered. Now Larkin is a top-three point guard in the ACC (Erick Green, then he and Quinn Cook seem pretty comparable). But Larkin’s development is one of the better stories in the ACC this season. He was an exciting player last year, but made as many stupid plays as jaw-dropping ones. This year, he’s much more in control and Miami’s a better team for it.
  2. Washington PostBefore Michael Snaer’s game-winning dagger last night (see #5, below), Mark Turgeon said Maryland‘s loss to Florida State earlier in the season “probably was the toughest.” My guess is that buzzer-beater didn’t help. The Florida State loss was when Maryland started to slip (or the competition exposed the Terrapins). Maryland was in control most of that game, leading by eight points twice (the second time coming with less than seven minutes to play in the game). But both times it looked like Maryland might stretch things out before the Seminoles came clawing back.
  3. Charleston Post and Courier: Like most of his career, Milton Jennings has been very inconsistent this season. Some days he’s the star of the show. Others he might as well not exist. Travis Sawchik noticed that one determining factor in Jennings’ performance is whether he’s playing at home or on the road. At Littlejohn Coliseum Jennings is shooting nearly 60% from the floor and is good for over 13 points a game. On the road? He’s shooting an abysmal 23% from the floor and is averaging six points a game. Jennings feeds off positive energy, and the crowd at Clemson gives him energy. The crowds on the road makes him tentative. Brad Brownell’s team would benefit a lot if Jennings could become more consistent. He’s the team’s second best player, and it desperately needs him on the road.
  4. Duke Chronicle: This is the best article I’ve seen on Seth Curry‘s injury this year. It’s old news that Curry misses a significant number of Duke’s practices, but I hadn’t read that he “can’t really jump off [his] right leg” or that Tyler Thornton’s job in practice is to emulate Curry (which might explain some of Thornton’s threes). It’s got to be tough for Duke — not to mention Curry — as the team has changed it’s offense pretty significantly since Ryan Kelly went down with his injury.
  5. Tomahawk Nation (video via NBC Sports): So Michael Snaer hit another buzzer-beater — his second this week, fourth in ACC play. This time Snaer stole a win from Maryland. However the biggest news for Florida State fans is the matter of turnovers. Miscues have killed the Seminoles the past few years, but they only gave the ball up six times (less than 10% of possessions) against Maryland. That’s what kept them close enough so that Snaer’s late-game heroics could do the rest. An injured Ian Miller (who, similar to Seth Curry, isn’t practicing) was very productive, even engineering the final play with his drive and kick to Snaer. The moral of this story: Florida State isn’t dead yet. The Seminoles still need to steal a win or two against Duke, NC State or Miami and have a strong showing in the conference tourney, but there’s hope.

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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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Set Your DVR: Week of 01.21.13

Posted by bmulvihill on January 21st, 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.

We just had one of the most memorable weekends in recent memory in college hoops. Every game seems to be up for grabs and it’s making for an exciting season. This week should be no different as each conference has its share of important match-ups. Let’s get to the breakdowns!

Cincinnati at #3 Syracuse – 3:30 PM PM EST, Monday on ESPN (***)

boeheim

Jim Boeheim’s Team Looks Great After This Weekend

  • Cincinnati barely snapped a three-game home losing streak on Saturday with an overtime win against Marquette. The Bearcats were without star guard Cashmere Wright as he continues to heal up from a knee injury. Wright is day-to-day so we don’t know quite yet if he will be available against Syracuse, though. If he is unable to play, his three-point shooting will be missed greatly against the Orange’s match-up zone defense. Although, even if he plays, the size of the Orange backcourt will surely create issues for the 6’0″ guard. In its huge win at Louisville over the weekend, Syracuse proved its size and length on defense makes Jim Boeheim’s team a clear title contender. Both of these teams excel on the offensive glass, so keep a close eye on which team is getting more second-chance opportunities and making the most of them — this could be another place where the Syracuse size makes a difference. More than likely this game will be won on the defensive end.  However, if the Bearcats don’t find a better shooting stroke quickly, this game will not be close regardless of their defensive effort. They shot 41.4% eFG against Marquette, so a shooting number like that won’t cut it against Syracuse.

#12 Michigan State at Wisconsin – 7:00 PM PM EST, Tuesday on ESPN (****)

  • It felt like Iowa was due for a big win at home and it happened to come against Wisconsin on Saturday. After the Badgers’ huge win against Indiana last week, the weekend loss to Iowa brought the team back to reality, but they don’t get much rest with the Spartans coming to town. In order for the Badgers to beat the Spartans, they must play their typically great defense. Bo Ryan‘s squad is 1-4 against teams that shoot over 50% eFG against them so it’s clear that they do not have the offense to go back and forth with teams. Luckily, the Spartans are not a great shooting team with nine games under 50% eFG themselves on the season. This should make for a very close defensive-oriented contest in Madison. Keep an eye on free throws, as they will be a major factor in determining the outcome. Wisconsin must play good defense without fouling; if they are sending Michigan State to the line early in each half, they could very easily drop two games in a row. Look for Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix to be all over Wisconsin forward Jared Berggren, forcing someone else on the Badgers to beat them. This should be another slugfest in the Big Ten.

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ACC M5: 01.18.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 18th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Fox Sports Carolinas: After losing at Maryland, there was a surprising amount of this sort of chatter going on among fans in particular. “Does the Wolfpack’s loss invalidate win over Duke?” I think that’s a dumb question. The loss was on the road to a good team desperate for the win. Do NC State‘s players wish they had won? I’m sure. But that doesn’t make the loss any more damning. NC State is probably not the top five team some thought it was coming into the season. But it’s also not the team that struggled to beat Boston College. And nothing about that loss at Maryland took away from the previous win.
  2. Washington Post: Speaking of that game, Mark Turgeon was livid with his team’s execution. “There wasn’t one timeout they did what I asked. Not one.” Given Maryland’s recent play on the offensive end, it’s hard to criticize the Terrapins’ coach. My guess is we will see Turgeon settle on a point guard when either Seth Allen or Pe’Shon Howard start running the plays he asks. In the long run it has to be the more offensive-minded Allen, but that may not be for a year or more (think Quinn Cook at Duke).
  3. Tar Heel Blog: The arguments surrounding PJ Hairston starting over Dexter Strickland are pretty interesting. Most seem to think Roy Williams has settled on Hairston coming off the bench and providing a spark. This made a lot of sense when he was the guy who might hit four threes or miss a ton of shots, but this year he appears to have really improved his shot selection and in turn his consistency. But until Hairston’s defensive efficiency comes close to matching Strickland’s, don’t expect any major changes from Williams.
  4. Soaring to Glory: Boston College needs to win close games if it wants fans to believe it has improved from last season. But the fact that so many more of the Eagles’ games are close this season is a big sign of improvement. This year the Eagles aren’t playing teams close for 30-35 minutes and then getting run off the floor at the end like last season. This year they are competing throughout the game, and also Dennis Clifford is still nowhere close to 100%. No one likes excuses, but it’s hard to win close games without one of your two best players.
  5. CBSSports.com: Cool work here from Jeff Goodman and Jeff Borzello. The two talked with four coaches who played Duke about the best way to beat the Blue Devils. The answers are interesting. Every one of the coaches thought Mason Plumlee was the key player, since his offense in the middle opened things up for the shooters outside. Interestingly, they all cited different weaknesses related to defense. One said defensive rebounding; one said guarding ball screens, especially specific to Seth Curry; one said their limited bench; and one implied a shallow defense that you can get by if you can withstand the pressure. Overall, I would agree with all four in that order of importance.
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ACC M5: 01.02.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 2nd, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Tallahassee Democrat: Coming into this season we knew experience might be an issue for Florida State. But very few people saw Ian Miller’s foot injury coming, so nobody understood what a large part the freshmen would play. Montay Brandon, Aaron Thomas and Devon Bookert  are still figuring things out, but they’ll make the Seminoles a force come conference play. It will be interesting to watch their progression, as Leonard Hamilton has rarely showcased freshmen in his system.
  2. Winston-Salem Journal: Skip Prosser may not have been able to coach defense, but he was one of the most beloved coaches in college basketball. His style reflected his personality: flashy and likable. Walt Corbean, now an assistant at Wake Forest and someone who once played for Prosser, best described it: “He held me to that same standard. And I think that’s always stood out in my mind, that he treated us as men, and it wasn’t about what you were bringing to the team, but that you were a part of his program.”
  3. Durham Herald Sun: Compared with older brother Stephen Curry and father Dell Curry, Seth Curry may seem average or even a bit of a bust. But he’s having an incredible season so far this year for Duke. He and Virginia Tech’s Erick Green are duking it out to be the best guard in the ACC (though Michael Snaer will probably have something to say about that before March). In honor of his play, Duke recently named Curry the third captain of the team (along with Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly).
  4. ESPN: In honor of future ACC legend Jim Boeheim reaching 900 wins, Jeremy Lundblad took a look at the other coaches with a chance to reach the mark in their careers. I only have a couple more suggestions: Brad Stevens should be higher on potential alone (he’s only36!) and Bill Self should be number one. Bob Huggins has a chance at reaching 900 victories, but he’s an old 59. Roy Williams’ recent health scare may keep him from coaching until he’s 70. Regardless, it’s a fun conversation starter.
  5. KenPom: Ken Pomeroy simulated every conference’s season 10,000 times and reported the winners. The ACC was the second least suspenseful race with Duke winning the league 8,797 times to Virginia’s 476 times. That said, Pomeroy’s system’s fatal flaw is overrating teams like Virginia (whose slow tempo leads to much larger per possession efficiency margins). Most interestingly, North Carolina only won the league 143 times (less than 1.5%) thanks to its tough conference schedule, where it has to play the top seven ACC teams twice and the bottom four only once.
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Who’s Got Next? Decision Looming For An Injured Jabari Parker…

Posted by CLykins on December 19th, 2012

whos-got-next

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Chad Lykins, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to discussing the recruitments of the top uncommitted players in the country. We also encourage you to check out his contributions dedicated solely to Duke Basketball at Duke Hoop Blog. You can also follow Chad at his Twitter account @CLykinsBlog for up-to-date breaking news from the high school and college hoops scene. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Note: ESPN Recruiting used for all player rankings

Duke and Michigan State Await Jabari Parker’s Decision

With every second, minute and hour that passes, so does the ever-growing anticipation regarding the impending collegiate decision from Jabari Parker. In a press conference that will be held on Thursday afternoon at Simeon Career Academy (Illinois) and televised on ESPNU at 4:00 PM ET, the nation’s No. 2 overall ranked player will decide between BYU, Duke, Florida, Michigan State and Stanford.

Through three games, Jabari Parker is averaging 5.0 points and 4.7 rebounds while still recovering from a summer injury

Through three games, Jabari Parker is averaging 5.0 points and 4.7 rebounds while still recovering from a summer injury

As Parker continues to weigh every option imaginable with each program, four of the five schools listed have set out to make their final efforts in securing the 6’8″ small forward. Florida conducted an in-home visit on Monday night, followed by Duke on Tuesday and Michigan State will be front and center at the Parker household on Wednesday. He also heard from BYU earlier this week. While Parker insists that each school is still in the mix, virtually everyone with a beating pulse will tell you that it’s either Duke or Michigan State at the end. Both schools have been actively pursuing Parker since he was a freshman in high school and have made him their top priority from the class of 2013 ever since.

Depending on what you’ve read or heard throughout the week, both sides feel extremely confident with their position in this recruitment. The Parker family has done an outstanding job at not showing any favoritism toward any one school and has been extremely tight-lipped leading up to Thursday’s announcement. Information indicating who has surged ahead of one another is purely speculation between school insiders and basketball analysts. Although chances are high that Parker has already decided on a school, this recruitment is still considered a toss-up between the Blue Devils and Spartans until the final words are spoken from the young man himself.

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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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Night Line: Mason Plumlee’s Post Dominance Keying Duke’s Phenomenal Start

Posted by EJacoby on November 29th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @EJacobyRTC on Twitter. Night Line runs on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s games.

Plenty of elite teams have impressed in the opening month of this season, but Duke is in a tier by itself when it comes to a complete resume. After exacting revenge on Ohio State from last season’s drubbing with a 73-68 victory over the Buckeyes on Wednesday night, Mike Krzyzewski’s team has now defeated three top-five teams in November. That doesn’t even include victories over Minnesota and VCU, as well, two other likely NCAA Tournament squads. In Wednesday’s win, Duke trailed by eight points at halftime to a tougher-looking Buckeyes squad while itself looking fatigued, and it needed a significant second half spark to change the tone of the game. That’s where it turned to Mason Plumlee, who turned momentum back on Duke’s side with two monster alley-oops from point guard Quinn Cook. Blue Devil fans have waited three long years for Plumlee to become a dominant post force who successfully harnessed all of his athletic potential, and tonight’s 21-point, 17-rebound effort in a comeback win over an elite opponent shows just how far the big man has come.

Mason Plumlee has Duke soaring up the rankings through victories over elite opponents (AP Photo)

We knew Duke had the depth, shooting, and coaching to remain an ACC contender this season, but Plumlee’s transformation into a dominant, All America-caliber forward gives the team a chance to reach greater heights than almost anyone imagined. Through seven games, the 6’10” senior is now averaging 19.9 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game on 65% shooting from the field; all good for top-five rankings in the ACC. But what’s most astonishing about Plumlee’s stats is his free throw percentage, which at 79% is an exponential improvement over his career 50% shooting coming into this season. Never mind the massive 8.8 PPG  jump; an increase of 30 points on a go-to player’s free throw percentage is enough to change the entire dynamic of an offense. As Jay Bilas consistently pointed out during Wednesday’s ESPN broadcast, Plumlee plays with improved aggressiveness near the basket this season now that he’s not afraid to get fouled. The senior converted 9-12 freebies tonight while also producing a game-high in scoring and rebounding.

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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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ACC M5: 11.15.12 Edition

Posted by EMann on November 15th, 2012

  1. Charlottesville Daily Progress:  Virginia has limped out of the gates to a 1-2 start, including an embarrassing home loss to Delaware in the NIT Season Tip-Off. But the bigger story at play may be their injury issues. Senior point guard Jontel Evans, who was limited to just three minutes in the game against Delaware, has been struggling to recover from surgery to his right foot to repair a stress fracture. While Evans is not known for being an electrifying scorer or shooter, his steadying presence defensively (he made the ACC All-Defensive team last year), including leading the team in steals over the past two years, and offensively (leading the team in assists) would definitely help provide structure to an offense that has sorely struggled without him. With backup Malcolm Brogdon injured, Virginia has employed a myriad of options at the point, including leading returning scorer Joe Harris and a walk-on, among others, with a clear dropoff from Evans’ typical play. Virginia will certainly be patient with Evans’ return to an increased amount of minutes, but they surely must hope he can return in a fuller, healthier capacity soon before the team potentially has more crippling out of conference losses.
  2. If the ACC wants to gain more respect as a conference on the national scale (at least relative to the Big Ten and the presently constructed Big East), it cannot afford for teams thought of as likely to make the NCAA Tournament to have potentially resume-crushing losses before Thanksgiving. Virginia is 0-2 against the CAA, having lost to George Mason on the road (somewhat acceptable) and Delaware at home (not good). Preseason #25 Florida State dropped its opener at home to South Alabama, and Miami, projected fifth in the ACC, lost to Florida Gulf Coast, who is in just their second year with NCAA Tournament eligibility, though they were without starting guard Durand Scott (suspended) and forward Garrius Adams (injury). Regardless, these teams will likely be a bit more antsy on Selection Sunday than the pundits thought in the preseason.
  3. Charlotte Observer:  NC State has recently been the third wheel in the Triangle basketball scene, but that certainly has started to change under Mark Gottfried. In this Observer piece, Joe Giglio details Gottfried’s recruiting strategy, which is already starting to pay dividends. With NC State’s Sweet Sixteen run last year, Gottfried has already “earned street cred with the best players in the country,” according to recruiting expert Dave Telep. Along with their initial success in the coach’s first year, in addition with Gottfried’s tireless recruiting, his comfort with the media, and his commitment to a “system,” according to Giglio, Gottfried has enhanced NC State’s perception greatly — which is a huge aspect of the recruiting world. With six top 50 recruits signed or committed from the classes of 2012, 2013, and 2014, the Wolfpack has more top 50 recruits in those classes than either Duke or North Carolina. Gottfried will definitely be a force to be reckoned with for a long time, especially considering that he will likely outlast both of the Triangle’s other coaching giants (Gottfried is only 48 years old), barring a major surprise.
  4. A lot of ink has already been given to Seth Curry’s phenomenal game against Kentucky, especially in light of his nagging shin injury which has limited his practice time. But a story to continue to watch for at Duke this season is the play of sophomore point guard Quinn Cook, and Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News added his perspective to the situation. Cook, who started both of Duke’s exhibition games, has been benched in favor of Tyler Thornton in each of Duke’s regular season games. This is not to say that Cook has been terrible, as he played 30 decent minutes against Kentucky. By placing Thornton in the starting lineup in these two games, Coach K has signaled to Cook that nothing is guaranteed, and even Cook realized this about his early season performances, saying, “I played sub-par. I was thinking too much.” Cook has not been spectacular in Duke’s first two games, but it seems like he is definitely taking steps in the right direction. Duke will need him to continue to progress if they are going to be a serious title contender next spring.
  5. There was only one game involving ACC teams last night, as Georgia Tech prevailed in a slog over Presbyterian, 52-38. The Yellow Jackets actually trailed at halftime before overwhelming the Blue Hose with their size in the second half. The Yellow Jackets won despite shooting only 33.3% for the game. While Georgia Tech certainly avoided joining the club of ACC teams posting embarrassing early non-conference losses, coach Brian Gregory will certainly see room for improvement as the season goes on. This game was played as a result of negotiations which involved Georgia Tech’s football team opening against Presbyterian this season, interestingly enough.
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