ACC Preview: Boston College’s Burning Question

Posted by Matt Patton on October 24th, 2014

Last place or not last place?

It’s not easy taking over a slumping program in a conference that just added three perennial Top 25 programs. It’s even harder when you can’t start until April and you lose your two of your three best players before you even take the job. That’s where Jim Christian stands a little over six months after replacing Steve Donahue. Perhaps his most important battle, though, was won when Olivier Hanlan decided to stay in Chestnut Hill. Hanlan’s presence — along with a graduate transfer and a healthy center — are the only reason this is a burning question at all.

Jim Christian needs to change the culture in Chestnut Hill (photo credit: Ted Fitzgerald/Boston Herald)

Jim Christian needs to change the culture in Chestnut Hill (photo credit: Ted Fitzgerald/Boston Herald)

Any look at Boston College this season has to start with Christian, a former coach at Kent State, TCU and then Ohio before coming to Chestnut Hill. He built a solid MAC program at Kent State, improving nearly every year while he was there. During his last year at TCU, he turned one of the worst programs in the country into a middling Mountain West team with a few solid wins (including one over Virginia). But there’s not much data from which to judge his time at Ohio, and he’s never coached in a major conference.

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Morning Five: 03.19.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 19th, 2014

morning5

  1. Bruce Pearl still has a few months left on his show-cause penalty, but that isn’t stopping Auburn from hiring him to a six-year deal worth $14.7 million. Since it appears that the NCAA won’t raise any objection with the hiring (the lead investigator on the case works for Auburn now) it seems like a great move by Auburn. We would be tempted to question Pearl’s decision to take the Auburn job, but when you have been blacklisted by the NCAA for three years and technically still are you have to take what is available. Our only question is that now that the door has been opened by Auburn, how long will Pearl stay there before moving on to a better job. The school appear to be weary enough of that they included a clause where he will have to pay $5 million if he leaves within two years meaning that he will actually lose money on the deal if he does so.
  2. We would not have considered Boston College’s decision to fire Steve Donahue that surprising if not for Pete Thamel’s recent report that they were retaining Donahue. Assuming that Thamel’s sources were good it is a pretty abrupt change of course for the program. Having said that it seemed like it would only be a matter of time before Donahue was gone as he was 54-76 in four seasons with his first season being by far his most successful. Boston College is one of the more interesting job openings because many people consider a spot with great potential because of its proximity to several great AAU and high school programs, but nobody has been able to tap into that potential.
  3. Donahue was not the only big name who was shown the door yesterday as Washington State fired Ken Bone yesterday. Bone went 80-86 in five seasons and had a difficult task of following up Tony Bennett, who went 69-33 in his three seasons there while leading the Cougars to two NCAA Tournament appearances including a Sweet Sixteen (and is also doing an ok job in Charlottesville). Pullman might not seem like a great destination to the outside observer, but it is still in the Pac-12 and has quite a bit of talent in the region to draw from. If they are able to lure one of the names mentioned in the link above they could be competitive in the Pac-12 in the not too distant future.
  4. We had almost forgotten about the strange circumstances under which Providence suspended Rodney Bullock and Brandon Austin. The pair of prized freshmen were suspended on November 6 for “not upholding their responsibilities as student-athletes” and nobody paid much attention to it after that except when Austin transferred to Oregon. Now it appears that a woman is claiming that the pair sexually assaulted her on November 3–three days before they were suspended. We aren’t going to say that the two events are related, but the optics don’t look good. Outside of the obvious legal implications we have to wonder what this will mean for Austin, Bullock, and Providence administrators.
  5. The transfer market is starting to heat up as two big names–UNLV’s Bryce Dejean-Jones and Temple’s Anthony Lee–entered it in the past few days.  Dejean-Jones was UNLV’s leading scorer this year, but had some off-court issues that likely led to his decision to transfer for his senior year. He is on pace to graduate this summer so he will likely be able to play next season with the graduate student transfer waiver. Lee averaged 13.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game and has also decided to transfer for his senior year. Lee has already graduated and is expected to use a graduate student transfer waiver.
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Morning Five: 03.14.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 14th, 2014

morning5

  1. The coaching carousel continues to turn with most of the movement off of it. The latest departure is Ben Braun, who was fired after six seasons at Rice. As it appears to be the trend these days Braun officially “stepped down”, but when you go 63-128 you don’t really step down as much as the school lets you save face especially when the biggest story of your tenure was about accusations of your athletic director making racially insensitive comments towards your players and an assistant coach that were reportedly ignored by you and your staff. Braun’s time at Rice might not have been that successful, but he does have 613 career wins (465 at the Division I level) and made it to two Sweet 16s so he will probably end up being an assistant in the not too distant future.
  2. One job that apparently will not be opening up is Boston College as they have reportedly decided to stick with Steve Donahue. Given Donahue’s 54-76 record it would not have been shocking to see Boston College move in a different direction, but it is somewhat refreshing to see a school give a coach a little more time to work things out particularly at an ACC school. Having said that Boston College was one of the most disappointing teams in the country this year going 8-24 despite having a roster that most would consider competitive to at least be in the middle of the ACC standings. Donahue should expect to have most of his rotation back for next season so perhaps the school is giving him one more season to show some improvement before they decide to move on.
  3. It seems like we are dealing with a lot of cases where schools attempt to dismiss a student-athlete only to have the student fight back. One of the most notable involves Dez Wells, who was dismissed from Xavier only to end up at Maryland and play right away thanks to a NCAA waiver. In addition to obtaining that waiver Wells also sued the school for his dismissal claiming that they ignored the evidence the prosecutor provided. Xavier tried to have the suit dismissed, but on Tuesday a federal judge refused Xavier’s motion to dismiss the case. The judge also denied Wells’ request to have his appeal overturned, but it appears that Wells will get his day in court against the school.
  4. If you are looking for a potential cult figure to latch on to for the NCAA Tournament you could do a lot worse than Ethan Wragge. You probably know Wragge from his tendency to shoot and make ridiculously deep three-point attempts. You may have seen his performance against Villanova or if you are a regular reader of this column you have probably seen Luke Winn’s shot charts for Wragge. When you combine that with how great of a college player his mother was you have the potential for a frequently mentioned story in March particularly if Wragge (and some guy named McDermott) can lead the Bluejays deep in the NCAA Tournament.
  5. We get hear plenty of stories during March. Usually they are inspirational, but sometimes they are just dumb. The one involving a deluded Kentucky fan who got a tattoo “2014 Nati9nal Champions UK” definitely falls into the latter camp. Doing this in the preseason would have been a little presumptuous, but the fan got the tattoo yesterday. The ridiculousness of doing that might be the primary focus of this story, but our favorite part has to be the tattoo artist, who asked that his now nationally (in)famous tattoo not be attributed to him and instead asked to not be named.
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ACC Tournament Observations: Bzdelik and Johnson Hot Seats Remain Toasty

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on March 12th, 2014

ACC Microsite writers Matt Patton and Brad Jenkins will be reporting live from Greensboro at the 2014 ACC Tournament throughout the week.

For the first time in its storied history, the ACC Tournament is a five-day event. Of course that was a necessary evil of expanding the conference to 15 schools, but Wednesday afternoon’s action represented the dawn of a new era in tournament history. In the afternoon session, two coaches positioned on the proverbial hot seat led their teams with mixed results. Twelfth-seeded Wake Forest shot a season-high 61 percent on its way to a 81-69 win over #13-seed Notre Dame; while in the second game of the day, #15-seed Virginia Tech hung close but fell 57-53 to #10-seed Miami.

The Upper Level Of The Greensboro Coliseum Was Curtained Out On Wednesday. (Photo: Brad Jenkins/RTC)

The Upper Level Of The Greensboro Coliseum Was Curtained Off On Wednesday
(Photo: Brad Jenkins/RTC)

Knowing that interest for the opening round games was not going to be very high, the ACC decided not to include Wednesday’s games as part of its ACC Tournament ticket package. With most traveling fans reluctant to come to Greensboro that early, the ACC office also knew that attendance would be low. The league therefore decided to curtain off the Coliseum’s upper level for today’s games, like when UNC-Greensboro plays its home games in the building. The result is a more intimate-feeling arena, but the real goal is to avoid the embarrassment of exposing all the empty seats in the vast upper level of the Greensboro Coliseum. Estimating crowd size is an inexact science but there appeared to be around 6,000 to 8,000 fans in attendance for the afternoon games.

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Duke’s Quest For Tempo-Free History Rolls Through Chestnut Hill

Posted by Matt Patton on February 9th, 2014

Since Ken Pomeroy first rolled out his ratings for the 2002-03 season, no team has finished with an offensive efficiency above 124.0 (a record set by Chris Paul and Wake Forest’s 2004-05 team). After trouncing Boston College on the road with its second most efficient game of the season, Duke’s adjusted offensive efficiency for this year is now an astounding 128.9 points per 100 possessions. The Blue Devils steamrolled a small Eagles team with an unbelievable performance from Jabari Parker, who finished with 38 points on 17 shots (leaving five points at the free throw line). They did it with an opening 32-9 run in the first 11 minutes of the second half. They did it dominating points off turnovers (15-3) and second chance points (22-7).

Jabari Parker was a force of nature against Boston College. (credit: Stephan Savoia / AP)

Jabari Parker was a force of nature against Boston College. (credit: Stephan Savoia / AP)

Admittedly, Boston College’s defense leaves a lot to be desired. Good defense doesn’t give up nearly 70 percent shooting over the course of a half at home. But Duke’s offensive polymathy is what makes them so dangerous. Duke normally has four three-point shooters on the floor at any given time. Once entirely ignored by Seth Greenberg, Tyler Thornton is shooting nearly 53 percent from three-point range (mostly wide open spot-ups). Five truly dangerous shooters (not counting Thornton despite his gaudy percentage) makes Duke a lot less susceptible to “dying by the three,” instead riding the night’s hot hands up the scoreboard.

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ACC M5: 01.30.14 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on January 30th, 2014

morning5_ACC

  1. Syracuse Post-Standard: I’m late to the party on this Post-Standard series, “10 Reasons why Duke is hated.” First let’s talk about the piece from Tuesday on Duke’s lack of NBA success. It’s fair to say Brent Axe is standing in a glass house here — and we won’t even talk about the “I could do 10 posts on bad calls Tim Higgins has made against SU alone” comment. Syracuse has had two NBA All-Stars since Jim Boeheim took over: Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Coleman (who only went once). That’s three fewer than Duke over the last 10 years. But Wednesday’s piece takes the cake, with Axe writing what feels like a fanboy blog piece on Duke’s “dark side.” This isn’t to say the national media doesn’t put Duke on a pedestal — it most certainly does. But long story short, this series looks pretty ridiculous on a newspaper blog (a paper, theoretically capable of reporting on scandals in the conference), and crosses the fine line between fun trolling and unprofessional potshots.
  2. Daily Orange: In a better example of Syracuse journalism, the student paper continued its “2-3 Series” talking about how Jim Boeheim teaches his teams to feel the zone instead of “reacting” to the play. Specifically, it looks at Hakim Warrick, who — like most post players — took time learning the rotations. That’s one reason I (and Stephen Bailey) don’t think Jim Boeheim will ever fully embrace the one-and-dones. All it takes is one disinterested or lost player to ruin a zone (unlike man-to-man, where you make sure a weak link guards a non-factor).
  3. ACC: The ACC announced this year’s ACC Legends, which will be honored at the ACC Tournament in March. It’s a good thing the league is expanding because it’s really having to stretch on some of these — no offense to Sam Ivy, who was a “linchpin” in Bob Staak’s teams at Wake Forest — teams that never made the NCAA Tournament. I was happy to see Julius Hodge honored for his nine four years of playing for NC State. And Al Thornton probably deserves to be an ACC legend based on this play alone.
  4. Boston Globe: Boston College was 5-14 going into its game against Virginia Tech last night (winning by 24). Steve Donahue admits to over-scheduling his team, but he would have been killed for playing a Clemson-like schedule. He also cites Ken Pomeroy’s numbers as proof of Dennis Clifford’s impact on his team’s defense. The only question now is how many wins Donahue needs to notch to keep his job.
  5. Cardiac Hill: Pittsburgh has a lot of wins, but is is still missing a marquee victory that helps its resume stand out. A down conference and horrid non-conference schedule doesn’t make the search for a capstone win any easier. The Panthers have two more chances for a good one — at home against both Virginia and Syracuse. Losethose games and you could be looking at a 25-win major conference team that somehow ended up on the bubble. The Panthers also have the conference tournament to prove their worth, but time is running out.

EXTRA: McDonalds All-American teams were announced on Wednesday and seven (eight if you pretend Maryland isn’t leaving next summer) will play in the ACC next season. Four will play for Duke and three for North Carolina. Syracuse recruit Chris McCullough would likely have been a burger boy, but he’s ineligible for the recognition as a fifth-year player.

VIDEO EXTRA: The ACC Digital Network is doing an interesting series miking up coaches from around the league. Here’s Virginia Tech’s James Johnson.

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A Popular Preseason Dark Horse Pick, Boston College Has Failed to Live Up to Expectations

Posted by Chris Kehoe on December 31st, 2013

Boston College has had a resoundingly disappointing season, to say the least. Coming into the year with elevated expectations based on their youth and potent inside-out combination of Olivier Hanlan and Ryan Anderson, the Eagles have not even held a .500 record yet. Their defense is porous, ranking an astonishingly bad 298th in the nation out of 351 Division I basketball teams. They also haven’t shot the ball well from deep, yet have persisted in making it a staple of their offense. A top-40 schedule with games against UConn, Providence, UMass, USC, Maryland, Toledo and VCU have all resulted in losses. At some point this team needs to win a few marquee games in order to thrive in a top-heavy ACC, and although they won’t lack for those opportunities, it seems like the rest of the season will be spent in hopes of securing a non-NCAA postseason bid and building for the future.

Olivier Hanlan, Boston College

Olivier Hanlan is shouldering a large burden this season. (Boston Globe)

Boston College fans had good reason to believe in this squad coming into this season, as the Eagles returned all of their major players including the ACC ROY Hanlan, versatile big man Anderson, and guard Joe Rahon. The team finished the 2012-13 season relatively strong, winning four out of its last five games with an extremely young team that lacked depth and ACC experience. Much was made out of the momentous leap expected from Hanlan, the seemingly unstoppable Canadian guard who dropped an ACC freshman record 41 points in the first round of last year’s ACC Tournament.

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Otskey’s Observations: Episode VI

Posted by Brian Otskey (@botskey) on December 18th, 2013

Battle For Iowa Lived Up To Its Billing

For my money, the best game in recent days was Iowa State’s thrilling win over Iowa on Friday night at Hilton Coliseum. This game was the true essence of what college basketball is all about. It was a heated in-state rivalry between two quality teams in a crazy atmosphere, smack dab in the middle of a basketball-crazed state. It is simple: This was a fun game, period. Although Fred Hoiberg’s Cyclones came away victorious, you may be somewhat surprised to find out that my biggest impression taken from this game was just how good Iowa is. I actually thought the Hawkeyes were the better team for most of this contest. Don’t get me wrong, Iowa State played really well. After all, it beat a team I thought was very impressive so that should tell you something about the Cyclones as well. I thought Iowa had a terrific game plan and evidence of top-notch coaching and scouting was present throughout the game.

Devyn Marble

Devyn Marble and his mates were outstanding. But Iowa State was just a little bit better. (AP)

One specific example of great scouting came late in the first half when Roy Devyn Marble got in the middle of a dribble hand-off by Georges Niang and broke it up, leading to two Iowa points on the other end. Marble read the play perfectly and it paid off for his team. Fran McCaffery’s squad excelled in transition and got almost anything it wanted offensively on the low block with Aaron White leading the charge. Iowa ran some beautiful half-court sets that resulted in plenty of clean looks, especially for White and Marble. The Hawkeyes dominated the glass (but did not take full advantage of it) and answered the bell nearly every time Iowa State put together a charge, except for the final minute where it wound up costing them the game. Iowa simply didn’t make the plays it needed to win late, highlighted by Mike Gesell’s two missed free throws. McCaffery and his team can learn a lot from this game but in the end it is on the players to step up and lead down the stretch. Whether that’s Marble (most likely), White, Gesell, or someone else, Iowa needs someone to be “the man” in order to take the next step and contend at the very highest level in the Big Ten.

Michigan Back On Track?

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An Unstoppable Force Meets No Objection at Conte Forum

Posted by Matt Patton on December 14th, 2013

With seven minutes left in the game and his team down four points, Dez Wells took over the game. He scored 18 of Maryland‘s final 28 points, but that doesn’t do the performance justice. Every possession Maryland looked to run down the clock before he barreled into the lane, drawing six fouls before all was said and done. But Wells’ performance said as much about Boston College as it did about him.

Steve Donahue's team is struggling defensively, but better than its record. (Boston College Athletics)

Steve Donahue’s team is struggling defensively, but better than its record. (Boston College Athletics)

Boston College’s season has been bad. If you factor in the high expectations for the Eagles, who brought essentially everyone back from last year’s squad, it has been downright abysmal. Steve Donahue‘s team is 3-7, with one of those wins coming at home in overtime against a bad Sacred Heart team. Offensively, the team is very good. Defensively, it’s a train wreck. As Wells took over the game in Chestnut Hill, Boston College’s defensive lapses piled up. Every possession became a struggle. After the game Donahue cited his team’s youth, noting that players started focusing on their man instead of rotating to help — which is paramount against a score-first player like Wells.

But this game was a microcosm of Boston College under Steve Donahue. Statistically, he’s never had a good defensive team, at Cornell or at Boston College. His teams have never cracked the top half of Division I. But he’s never had a team as bad as this one either. Right now the Eagles are ranked 300 out of 351 teams in defensive efficiency according to Ken Pomeroy, the lowest of a major conference team by more than 25 spots. Watching Maryland for all but one stretch confirmed the metrics. This team did a poor job on rotations, often losing a man in the corner, or failing to step into Wells’ driving lane once he got past the initial defender.

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ACC M10: 12.10.13 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on December 10th, 2013

morning5_ACC

Author’s note: As technical difficulties prevented yesterday’s M5, please accept 10 blurbs as repayment.

  1. Boston Globe and BC Interruption: Both of these stories were written following Boston College‘s loss to USC. The former stressed Steve Donahue’s point of view: “The bottom line is we have a group of kids who are not playing with confidence.” The latter was from a fan, calling for Donahue’s job. Strangely enough the two aren’t that far off from each other. This was Donahue’s year to show he could make the leap, and he scheduled accordingly. Unfortunately his team didn’t play like the group that almost played spoiler in the ACC Tournament last season. They played like the athletically overmatched group that they are on paper. The team’s performance last March shows its potential (as do countless previews coming into this season), but Brian Favat is right about the season effectively being over barring a miraculous conference run. What exactly has been the problem?
  2. BC Interruption: Defense! The fine bloggers over at BC Interruption are breaking down the Eagles and their technical difficulties so far this season, starting with transition defense. Luckily, Boston College doesn’t turn the ball over that often, but the second GIF example certainly points to a team running at half-speed. That’s what Steve Donahue has to fix before the end of the season to keep fans in his corner. Everyone knows he won’t beat anyone as an elite recruiter (although he is a good evaluator of talent), but he’s got to show that his X’s and O’s can create a competitive team if he wants to stick around Chestnut Hill a lot longer. The one thing people forget about the Eagles this season is that they’re still pretty young — not nearly as young as the last two seasons, but well below average nevertheless. That’s the main reason I’d probably lean towards giving Donahue another season after this one.
  3. Streaking the Lawn: Speaking of ACC teams with rough starts, Virginia appears to have taken a step backwards since last season. The big reason for that is the Cavaliers’ sudden propensity to turn the ball over. Weirdly enough, this is a spot Jontel Evans isn’t missed (at least on paper), but all of Virginia’s players are turning it over at a higher rate than last season. That combined with stop-and-go offense certainly points to point guard issues (something many forecasted as the team’s Achilles heel). Whatever the underlying reason, Tony Bennett needs to get more offensively from Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell.
  4. Baltimore Sun: Filling out our trio of below mediocrity is Maryland. Mark Turgeon held true on his promise to start Varun Ram against George Washington, although the redshirt junior played fewer minutes than he had in the blowout loss to Ohio State. But Ram isn’t the answer, and I expect Turgeon knows this. Seth Allen isn’t the answer either, which is why Turgeon has to find another way to curb the team’s rampant turnovers. As Dez Wells and Allen mature, I expect both to get better at valuing the basketball, but expecting any changes overnight is naive.
  5. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: According to Ken Pomeroy’s statistics, Pittsburgh has the 12th-ranked defense in the country, but Jamie Dixon still isn’t happy with it. Specifically, his team’s rebounding against Loyola Marymount appeared to get under his skin, despite winning the game by 17 points. This certainly sounds like a coach trying to keep his team focused heading into conference play. If you haven’t watched the Panthers play already, Lamar Patterson is worth the price of admission. He’s the quiet leader (who admittedly hasn’t played much real competition) for ACC Player of the Year at this point.
  6. Syracuse Post-Standard: Dajuan Coleman came to Syracuse loaded with potential but has still yet to earn a significant spot in the team’s rotation. But before you’re too quick to write him off as a bust, remember that it took three and a half years for Brian Zoubek to find his role on Duke’s 2010 national championship team. Like Zoubek, Coleman is an elite offensive rebounder but that’s where the comparisons should end. Big men generally take longer to adjust to the college game, and Jim Boeheim’s system is probably nothing like what Coleman saw in high school. His breakout season might not be this year, but expect progressively more good games as the season unfolds for the sophomore.
  7. South Bend Tribune: Jerian Grant is really blossoming this season. He’s on par with North Carolina’s Marcus Paige right now as far as best guards in the league as conference play trickles to a start. Grant is shouldering a similar load — strictly speaking about possessions here — but he’s much more efficient. The big difference between this year and the last couple has been Grant’s consistency. His two-point field goal percentage is up over 15 points and his three-point field goal percentage is up nearly 10 points. That’s outrageous. Also notable is that Notre Dame is 1-2 this season when Grant scores fewer than 19 points.
  8. Greensboro News-Record: Nate Britt is finally starting to look a like he’s ready to play significant minutes this season, which is very good news for a North Carolina team that’s not very deep at the two. Playing Britt allows JP Tokoto to move to his more natural small forward position. Marcus Paige will continue to be the star of this team unless PJ Hairston eventually comes back into the fold, but meaningful minutes for Britt can only help Roy Williams’ squad.
  9. Winston-Salem Journal: Devin Thomas is a big part of why Wake Forest is so much improved over last year. He’s arguably the best rebounder in the league, which evidences his high-level motor. His intensity has gotten him in trouble at times (see: Wake Forest’s game against Kansas), but it also gives him a bit of an edge. Also, what sort of odds would you have gotten at the beginning of the season on Wake Forest at 8-2 and Boston College at 3-6 at this point in the season?
  10. Fayetteville Observer: While its offense has taken a few steps back towards earth, Duke’s defense is finally coming around. A lot of the change is from an effort and focus standpoint. Mike Krzyzewski even slapped the floor a couple of times against Michigan to help fire up his team. What remains to be seen is if and how Duke can put it all together. If Marshall Plumlee can give Coach K productive minutes like he did against the Wolverines, Duke may retake its lofty ranking yet. If not, the team will be highly dependent on the match-ups before them.
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ACC M5: 12.06.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on December 6th, 2013

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  1. Duke Chronicle: Unsurprising news out of Durham as Duke’s student newspaper was the first to report that redshirt sophomore Alex Murphy will be transferring at the end of the semester. Despite starting his first two exhibition games last season, Murphy never found a consistent spot in the Duke rotation. Rumors are that he may head to Florida (his brother’s alma mater) or back to New England (he’s from Rhode Island). Murphy’s departure might open a few more minutes for Semi Ojeleye, though we are talking about very limited minutes.
  2. The Sporting News: Speaking of Duke, I don’t understand Mike DeCourcy’s grade for the Blue Devils after the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. He docks the Blue Devils half a letter grade because of Rasheed Sulaimon‘s DNP. Call me crazy, but if we are evaluating a team’s performance–which was by far its best of the season–maybe there’s good reason for the DNP. I definitely agree Duke with Sulaimon has the potential to be more dangerous than without him, but that doesn’t take away from Duke’s dominant performance against Michigan. Speaking of bones to pick, Boston College isn’t good, but it’s also not anywhere close to winning the “worst major team” title–or even the “worst ACC team” title (assuming Miami and Virginia Tech are still in the league).
  3. Alaska Dispatch: Your somewhat regular reminder that Devon Bookert is from Alaska (and the first non-Duke Alaskan ACC star). Bookert is an efficient shooter (and was incredibly so last season)–largely thanks to his shot selection–but sounds like he wants to continue making strides forward. But the increased offensive load has hurt his overall efficiency this season, as his three-point field goal percentage and assist rate have fallen significantly, while his turnover percentage remains high. All that said Bookert is one of the best players people tend to overlook in the ACC, and his play has a lot to do with Florida State’s early season success.
  4. BC Interruption: And everyone off the Steve Donahue bandwagon. While I stood up for Boston College’s pride earlier, this team is still a big disappointment. It’s offense improved compared to last season, but it’s defense is truly abysmal. Combine the slow start with an underwhelming early signing period and what do you get? Hot seat talk! I’m all for this proposal, which calls for Boston College to hire alumnus Bruce Pearl to turn the program around despite his show-cause, which remains in effect through next August. Though, I think there’s little downside giving Donahue one more year (so you can get the un-sanctioned Pearl immediately).
  5. Chronicle of Higher Education: Looking for more insight into the initial backlash to Maryland‘s move to the Big Ten? Freedom of Information Act requests have you covered! It’s interesting how when the initial rumors leaked out, Maryland fans were up in arms, as it feels mostly the opposite at this point (the PR firm may have paid off). It’s also amusing that John Swofford fired off a quick “we need to talk” email from his iPhone. Together with this article from the Baltimore Sun, we now have a good feel for Maryland’s actions and tone leading up to and immediately following its announcement to leave for the Big Ten.
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AAC M5: 11.21.13 Edition

Posted by mlemaire on November 21st, 2013

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  1. Sometimes, when you are afraid you won’t have enough news to fill the Morning Five, you have to pray to the College Basketball News Gods. They don’t always listen to your prayers, but when they do, they always answer them by sending Richard Andrew Pitino to save the day. After Louisville demolished Hartford on Tuesday night, Pitino could have just answered questions about the Kevin Ware speeding ticket by expressing his disappointment and moved on. Instead he took the time to make vague insinuations that the story only broke because a Kentucky fan tipped off the media outlets. It can’t be proven, but given the nature of this rivalry, absolutely no one would be surprised if Pitino’s suspicions were totally true. Ware’s suspension rumors from the summer were also supposedly started by someone in Big Blue Nation and let’s not pretend like Louisville fans are any nobler. They would be direct messaging every national college basketball writer in the country if they thought they could get Julius Randle suspended or even looked at by the NCAA. I’m not a proponent of trading in gossip but this is also partially what makes the rivalry between the teams so fun… so… uh… work those phones Cardinals’ and Wildcats’ fans!
  2. It’s a little bit surprising to hear that former Boston College coach Al Skinner never even bothered to call Shabazz Napier and at least feign interest just in case his preferred targets fell through. Napier wasn’t exactly a can’t-miss prospect coming out of prep school, but he did play in the Eagles’ backyard and was probably worth at least a phone call. Skinner’s loss (it is really Steve Donahue’s loss since he actually tried to recruit Napier but was too late) was Jim Calhoun’s gain as Napier has built himself into a conference player of the year candidate and the Huskies’ most important player. Napier gets a chance to indirectly exact his revenge tonight as the Huskies and Eagles square off at Madison Square Garden in the 2K Sports Classic. Donahue has a pair of solid sophomore guards in Olivier Hanlan and Joe Rahon, just don’t think for a second that either one of them is going to be able to stop Napier.
  3. The coronation of Troy Caupain as Cincinnati‘s point guard of the future will have to wait at least one more game after last night’s underwhelming performance. I won’t pick on the members of the media who were already starting to sing his praises because I was singing them just as loudly after his excellent all-around game against Appalachian State. But the beginning of the breakout that was supposed to happen against Campbell last night never materialized as Ge’Lawn Guyn played most of the minutes and Caupain missed the only two shots he took from the field to finish with one point, one rebound, one assist and one steal in just 14 minutes. I will readily admit that my itchy “breakout performer” trigger-finger got the best of me on this one, but I am not jumping of the Caupain bandwagon quite yet. Caupain is still more than a week away from his 18th birthday and he is already part of an AAC team’s rotation. He will undoubtedly have bouts of inconsistency throughout the season but he has a lot of room to grow and he is going to do that by playing a lot.
  4. The theme of the week for Temple is patience. Coach Fran Dunphy is preaching it. The student newspaper is preaching it; and star forward Anthony Lee is preaching it too. Although the Owls were picked to finish fifth in the preseason AAC coaches poll, it is now fair to wonder whether that prediction has more to do with the respect for Dunphy than it does with the Owls’ actual abilities. The outlook from KenPom is far less favorable (for those without the subscription, he is predicting the Owls finish 10-18) and the team is going to need to grow up in a hurry if they want to prove the prognosticators wrong. They have the pieces and a good amount of talent, but right now they aren’t particularly good in any facet of the game. They have been particularly bad from behind the three-point arc, shooting just over 26 percent from downtown, and they also rank near the bottom nationally when it comes to forcing turnovers. The hope is that some of this will improve as the team gets more comfortable and more experience, they just better hope that happens before its too late.
  5. I’m fine with giving Houston‘s TaShawn Thomas conference player of the week honors, as he has dominated in all four games this season. I am not fine with hyping Houston as a contender, however, not at least until they play someone even remotely worthwhile. They are still a bad defensive team, and while the offense is improving, it still isn’t that efficient and certainly not enough so to help them beat conference foes. The schedule doesn’t get any better against Howard, which rates as one of the worst teams in the country, so expect Thomas and Danuel House to get theirs in an easy win.  But the Cougars get a shot at Stanford at the Barclays Center on Monday and if they can beat the Cardinal, then I will consider to start to take the team seriously.
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