ACC Mega-Preview: Duke Tops Power Rankings

Posted by Matt Patton (@rise_and_fire) on November 8th, 2013

Over the last two weeks, we have previewed each team individually to go with several more articles to get you ready for ACC basketball starting later today. Links to the previews can be found in each of the preseason power rankings listed below. Also look for our preseason conference awards later which will publish later today.

ACC Basketball Twitter Must-Follows (Chris): 

  • Part I (general ACC tweeters)
  • Part II (Maryland, Clemson, Wake Forest, Boston College, Miami, Pittsburgh,  and Georgia Tech)
  • Part III (Virginia, Duke, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Florida State, North Carolina, and NC State)

Early Season Tournaments (Brad):

  • Part I (Boston College, Virginia Tech, and Clemson)
  • Part II (Florida State, North Carolina, Maryland, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse)
  • Part III (Duke, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Virginia, and Miami)

Seven Nonconference Games to Watch (Brad)

PRESEASON POWER RANKINGS

Duke Blue Devils 1. Duke (75): Unanimous selection for the top spot, Coach K hopes this year’s more athletic group of players can thrive at a faster pace of play. Duke is a national contender this season.
Syracuse Orange 2. Syracuse (67): Their loaded front court and a legendary coach will help make seamless transition to the ACC, bringing their length and vaunted 2-3 zone along with them. Frosh point guard Tyler Ennis is the difference between a very good team and a great one.
North Carolina Tar Heels T3. North Carolina (64): The development of the young frontcourt will be key for a team with plenty of upside, but a daunting non-conference schedule and the suspensions of PJ Hairston and Leslie McDonald loom early.
Virginia Cavaliers T3. Virginia (64): ACC stars Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell are back in Charlottesville. If the point guard position has more offensive output than last season, this team has all the pieces to be an ACC contender.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish 5. Notre Dame (52)Mike Brey has to find a way to replace Jack Cooley‘s production in the post, but the Fighting Irish bring back one of the best backcourts in the ACC. The Fighting Irish look like a border-line top-25 team heading into the season.
Maryland Terrapins 6. Maryland (48): Losing Seth Allen for a spell and Alex Len to the lottery will hurt, but Dez Wells‘ brilliance and Maryland’s overall athleticism should propel them to new heights under Mark Turgeon assuming they can cut out some of their turnovers.
Boston College 7. Boston College (43): A veteran core and a bona fide star could take Boston College to the next level, provided Steve Donahue does something about the team’s dreadful defense. If Dennis Clifford is healthy, this team has a shot at the NCAA Tournament.
Pittsburgh Panthers 8. Pittsburgh (41): The Panthers have three solid returning starters to build around, but will need their new big men to make an immediate impact after Steven Adams’ surprising decision to bolt for the NBA Draft. Also how will the new officiating rules affect Jamie Dixon‘s style?
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 9. Georgia Tech (31): The tandem of sophomores Robert Carter, Jr. and Marcus Georges-Hunt will prove even more effective as the Yellow Jackets look to make strides, but their young core is a few years away from making noise. Tennessee transfer Trae Golden should be an upgrade over Mfon Udofia at point guard.
NC State Wolfpack 10. NC State (29): TJ Warren could be one of the most talented players in the conference, but there is an enormous amount of departed experience to replace in Raleigh. Mark Gottfried‘s talented group of freshmen will be expected to contribute early and often.
Florida State Seminoles 11. Florida State (27): The Seminoles need last year’s newcomers to all make a big leap this year even to stay in the upper middle of the ACC. The key is getting back to elite team defense, though Okaro White is one of the better returning offensive wings in the ACC.
Miami Hurricanes 12. Miami (23): The best thing returning for the Hurricanes is head coach Jim Larranaga, an expert at putting pieces together to form a solid team. Unfortunately, the pieces leave a lot to be desired. Belgian star Manu Lacomte may surprise ACC fans, though.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons 13. Wake Forest (19): For the first time since coming to Winston-Salem Jeff Bzdelik has experience, but do the Demon Deacons have the talent to finish above .500 and save his job? Conference expansion didn’t help.
Clemson Tigers 14. Clemson (11): A bad team is going to get worse as the program takes what is probably charitably going to be called “a rebuilding year.” Tune in for KJ McDaniels, whose shot-blocking makes him a good pick for ACC defensive player of the year.
Virginia Tech Hokies 15. Virginia Tech (6): Erick Green is gone, and there isn’t anyone stepping up to replace him on a team destined to rest in the ACC cellar this year. Things could be ugly for James Johnson‘s second season in Blacksburg.

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ACC Team Preview: Boston College Eagles

Posted by Kellen Carpenter on November 1st, 2013

This is Steve Donahue’s fourth year as coach of Boston College and the question is floating through the air: Is it the year? After an abysmal sophomore season where Donahue floundered with a nearly all-freshman class, last year was a turning point for the program. Sure, the team only went 7-11 in league play and lost in the second round of the ACC Tournament, but it was still progress and the groundwork that Donahue has laid looks strong. This year, the hard work starts to pay off. Boston College is ready to make some noise… with one big catch.

boston-college-preview-2013]

In 2011-12, the freshman pair of Ryan Anderson and Lonnie Jackson gave Boston College some hope for the future. Now, as juniors, both have clear roles in the Eagles’ team system. Anderson is capable of a double-double every night while Jackson is the team’s designated sharp-shooter on a team loaded with outside shooting. The two offer veteran leadership on a squad that basically lacked significant contributions from upperclassmen for the past two years. On top of that foundation came the dynamic freshmen duo of Joe Rahon and Olivier Hanlan. Though only a freshman, Rahon provided an instant steadying presence at point guard and ultimately led all freshmen in the conference in total minutes played. Hanlan, however, brought more to the team than a steady presence. The dynamic freshman guard played well all season, but he came on with a fury at the end of the year, setting the ACC Tournament record for scoring by a freshman with 41 points against Georgia Tech. He would ultimately win ACC Freshman of the Year.

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ACC M5: 10.22.13 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on October 22nd, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Backing the Pack: Is Virginia flying under the radar? Well, according to returning win shares, the Cavaliers are criminally underrated. The past two years, returning win shares has correctly picked the ACC champion while remaining mostly accurate throughout the standings with a couple of big exceptions (here’s looking at you, Virginia Tech). Win shares make Tony Bennett’s squad the team to beat in the ACC thanks to Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell returning. Duke still comes in second by a significant margin, if you were wondering.
  2. Syracuse Post-Standard: Donna Ditota checked in on Wake Forest’s Tyler Cavanaugh, Steve Donahue and Notre Dame (separately, of course). I can’t say it enough: Don’t overlook Boston College this year. The Eagles aren’t the most talented bunch in the ACC but they have boatloads of experience and could make a dramatic leap if they can avoid the injury and sickness bugs. Also of note is Ditota pointing out Mike Brey’s football-inspired strategy of redshirting most of his freshmen. However, this year Demetrius Thomas should see plenty of playing time as a true freshman. His minutes could represent a crack in Brey’s system.
  3. Duke Basketball Report: Barry Jacobs took a look at the most three-point reliant players in the ACC last season. Three of the top 11 players most in love with shots from beyond the arc ended up transferring away from the league. That leaves Lonnie Jackson, Patrick Heckmann (Boston College) and Pat Connaughton (Notre Dame) as the trio of returning starters who most rely on shooting from deep. This season you can almost certainly expect to add Duke’s Andre Dawkins to the list.
  4. AP (via Panama City News Herald): Today is a big day in Coral Gables. Miami (and the rest of the world) is set to find out the results of its appeal to the NCAA’s Committee of Infractions surrounding all the Nevin Shapiro-related allegations. If the NCAA has its long-term self-interest in mind, it will accept Miami’s self-imposed bowl bans and move on. If it wants to shed more light on the embarrassingly cavalier investigation of the Hurricanes that ended in the firing of many compliance employees — the NCAA will bring the hammer down. Donna Shalala, Miami’s president, has never come across as frightened of or intimidated by the organization, so I suspect a harsh punishment would be appealed in the judicial system shortly thereafter.
  5. KenPom.com: Stat geeks rejoice! Ken Pomeroy has changed his algorithms to discount blowouts. While the new results don’t make for huge swings in his ordering, they did help knock Wisconsin and Belmont down a peg or two.
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Rushed Reactions: Miami 69, Boston College 58

Posted by mpatton on March 15th, 2013

rushedreactions

Matt Patton is an ACC microsite writer. He filed this report from the ACC quarterfinal match-up between Miami (FL) and Boston College this afternoon.

Three Key Takeaways:

Donahue has Boston College moving towards ACC contention.

Donahue has Boston College moving towards ACC contention.

  1. Zone Read: Around the under-eight media timeout in the first half, Steve Donahue switched to a loose zone. To that point, Miami had been clicking offensively, but the zone bothered the Hurricanes. It helped tremendously that Julian Gamble, Reggie Johnson and Tonye Jekiri all had two fouls, which partially neutralized the Hurricanes’ interior advantage. But Miami settled for jumpers and heavily contested shots, missing nine of its next 10 shots. The Hurricanes also turned it over three times. That allowed Boston College to finish on a 19-4 run and take a lead into halftime.
  2. Going Small: With five minutes left in the game, Jim Larranaga took Julian Gamble out, leaving Rion Brown, Trey McKinney-Jones, Shane Larkin, Durand Scott and Kenny Kadji on the floor. Essentially that’s Kadji with four guards and wings (all under 6’6″). After the game Jim Larranaga talked about the switch extensively:

    “Thank goodness we were able to go small in the last five minutes. We don’t have a lot of perimeter subs so we couldn’t have done it earlier, even though we know that’s probably the best way to guard them. We were able to do that in the last five minutes and pull away and get a nice win and move on to the semifinals. [...] The whole key in guarding Boston College, they do such a great job with ball screens and hitting the role man and hitting or finding another open man. When you’re bigger you’re slower in your rotation so the last five minutes we went to the small lineup and we switched most of them so there is no open man and we trapped with our big guy to be the aggressor at the end of the floor, both ends of the floor and both of those things worked at that time in the game.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Olivier Hanlan Buries Georgia Tech and Scoring Record

Posted by mpatton on March 14th, 2013

Matt Patton is an RTC correspondent and an ACC microsite writer. He filed this report from Thursday afternoon’s ACC Tournament in Greensboro.

With about six and a half minutes left in the first half, ACC Rookie of the Year Olivier Hanlan had four points on six shots. Boston College was down 12, but its press looked lackadaisical and its offense stagnant. During the under-eight media timeout Steve Donahue told Hanlan to be more aggressive and that Mfon Udofia was breaking the press by getting off to a quick start. Hanlan cut off Robert Carter Jr.’s pass, ran right into the big Georgia Tech freshman, drawing the and-one. The game was never the same and the Eagles ended up winning by 20 points.

Olivier Hanlan Couldn't Miss and Boston College Routed Georgia Tech. (photo: Chuck Liddy / Raleigh News & Observer)

Olivier Hanlan Couldn’t Miss and Boston College Routed Georgia Tech. (photo: Chuck Liddy / Raleigh News & Observer)

Hanlan went on to hit the rest of his shots to score a ludicrous 41 points on 18 attempts. Over half his points came from beyond the arc, but his performance was so much more than good shooting. He hit runners, he hit lay-ups, he created, he spotted up, he drew fouls. Hanlan’s final shot summed up his performance perfectly. On a crisp pass from Ryan Anderson, he squared up and took his 10th three. The ball went all the way around the rim and off the backboard before falling through the net for the last of his 41 points. The performance broke Harrison Barnes 2011 scoring record for a freshman, but Steve Donahue pulled Hanlan with two minutes left, keeping Lenny Rosenbluth’s ACC Tournament record intact.

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Boston College’s Ryan Anderson and Olivier Hanlan Have Eagles Headed in Right Direction

Posted by Jimmy Kelley on January 12th, 2013

Boston College

Ryan Anderson (left) and Boston College are 1-2 in the ACC but have lost their games by a combined eight points. (Michael Ivins/US Presswire)

Jimmy Kelley is an ACC correspondent for RTC. You can find him on twitter @jp_kelley or, for Duke-related ramblings, @DevilsinDurham

Boston College was one of the original schools to read the tea leaves and bolt from the Big East to the ACC. While their tea leaves may have read “go before UConn does” instead of “save yourself!”, the Eagles have been a fixture of the ACC landscape for some years now despite only having a few competitive seasons.

This season will not be a deviation from the trend, but the baby Eagles are playing a fun brand of basketball and have two bonafide ACC players leading the way in sophomore forward Ryan Anderson and freshman guard Olivier Hanlan. Through three conference games this season, BC has looked like a team that, when everything is going well, can threaten any team on any given night. With a quality win over Virginia Tech and close losses to N.C. State and Wake Forest, Steve Donahue’s boys are growing in confidence every game. Read the rest of this entry »

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ACC M5: 01.07.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 7th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Fought and Won One: Pack Pride writer Austin Johnson took the time to compare all ACC teams to TV shows, doubling his post as an ACC Power Rankings. If you bumped Virginia and (gasp) Boston College up a couple of notches, Miami up one, and dropped North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest I would be right there with him on the rankings. The best comparison is for Georgia Tech with Parenthood:

    Quietly putting together some really good performances but no one is really watching. Also, I don’t watch Parenthood, I just know its by the same guy who did Friday Night Lights and its apparently been very good this season if you like crying. Hopefully there’s not as much crying on GT’s team.

    He hits the nail on the head with the Yellow Jackets as a potential sleeper team in the conference. Not a great team by any means, but definitely one that should surprise a few people.

  2. Hampton Roads Daily Press: Virginia Tech coach James Johnson got a rude introduction to ACC play Saturday. Part of the Hokies’ issue is with depth. After Seth Greenberg’s late dismissal, Virginia Tech’s recruiting class started to fall apart, leaving the Hokies short on scholarship players. Thanks to injuries two walk-ons–Christian Beyer and Will Johnston–have seen a big uptick in minutes. The two are playing big minutes for Johnson’s undermanned squad, but a feel-good story doesn’t always have good consequences. The Hokies’ depth will be one of their biggest issues all season.
  3. Raleigh News & Observer: NC State gutted out a win at Boston College Saturday. The Eagles were in it until the very end. Joe Giglio came away with three thoughts: an ugly win is still a win; props to Steve Donahue; and ACC officiating can be incredibly irritating. I agree with all three. I thought the game said much more about the Eagles than it did the Wolfpack (though it certainly brought to mind flashbacks to Sidney Lowe’s teams at least in terms of intensity). Donahue has done a very strong coaching job. He is still filling his roster with ACC-caliber players, but the team is much better than last season.
  4. Baltimore Sun: It’s hard to remember because of his struggles to start the season, but Jake Layman was Mark Turgeon’s second best recruit coming into this year. Layman’s issues on and off the court overshadowed his potential (though not his hair). Against Virginia Tech Layman finally found his groove, putting up 18 points in the first half alone. “It’s ACC time, and we all stepped up,” Layman said after the game. You don’t want to read too much into a home blowout over a mediocre Virginia Tech team, but if it lights a fire under Layman things look very good for Mark Turgeon going forward.
  5. Charlotte Observer: Like most expected Wake Forest took a beating on Saturday at Duke. Jeff Bzdelik is still trying to diagnose the symptoms as growing pains, but the “Buzz Out” t-shirts growing in popularity amongst Demon Deacon fans make it clear the fans see a different issue. Bzdelik’s problem is the growth hasn’t come to fruition. First it was this incoming class, which to be fair could still turn things around with time to mature. Now it is Shelton Mitchell (a top-50 2014 recruit). Bzdelik needs to show improvement now not later or Ron Wellman may join the movement.
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ACC M5: 12.10.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on December 10th, 2012

  1. Boston Globe: Steve Donahue is trying to figure out how to best rebuild Boston College, but after losing to Harvard for the fifth straight year (and in non-competitive fashion), he called off practice. He assessed what the team is good at and what it isn’t, and, long story short: shooting and defense, respectively. With that in mind Donahue changed the look of the Eagles. He went out against St. Francis looking to score 75 or 80 points, and focused the defense on aggressiveness instead of implementing complex schemes. When the first half wasn’t going well, Donahue benched his star player Ryan Anderson for most of the second half. If the Eagles start looking better, we might look back and see coaching genius. If they don’t, we’ll see desperation.
  2. Fayetteville Observer: Richard Howell may be the most important player on NC State’s roster this season. He’s definitely not the most talented, but the senior consistently outworks everyone on the floor. Most people expected Lorenzo Brown or CJ Leslie to take the helm of this Wolfpack team, but Howell has been the guy who refuses to quit — he’s the guy that sparks the team and steps up in the big moments. This isn’t to say Howell is perfect, as he still attracts fouls at an alarming rate and lacks the polish to really be an offensive centerpiece. But he’s the type of guy who could bring the talented freshmen into the fold and build on the success Mark Gottfried’s team had to end last season.
  3. Charlottesville Daily Progress: Justin Anderson is going to be a special player for Tony Bennett if he stays all four years. Right now, he’s an incredibly athletic wing who adds a little flash to the slowest team in college basketball. But his greatness still comes in spurts. He’s taking too many threes, especially considering his skill set. Anderson is a guy who is going to give some very good teams fits during his career. Combine him with Bennett’s muck-it-up pack-line defense that keeps things close, and it certainly looks like a recipe for success.
  4. Washington Post: Mark Turgeon is still figuring out his rotation. Mostly Turgeon is trying to find his most effective combinations. Right now the Terrapins are playing a caliber of opponent that allows Turgeon to tinker a lot with very little risk. Even though he wasn’t on the team last year Dez Wells had a quote that certainly harkened back to a certain elite Terrapin from last season:

    “Nobody cares about who scores the points, nobody cares about the Terp of the Week, that stuff. That’s good for the team, and that’s good for the school, because they’re really behind us, but as a team we’re not worried about the accolades, we just want to win. Whether somebody scores 50 points or somebody doesn’t score at all, we’ll continue to pick that person up.”

  5. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Duke isn’t the only ACC team struggling to crash the boards this season. Georgia Tech has struggled with rebounding margin as well. Somewhat surprisingly, the Yellow Jackets’ advanced splits from Ken Pomeroy don’t back up Brian Gregory’s concerns. It’s true Gregory’s team is in the second half of the country in rebounding its own misses, but the team is actually a solid defensive rebounding team. But stats never give the whole picture, and it’s clear Gregory wants the team to box out more aggressively.

EXTRA: Brian Zoubek is still living the dream as a deluxe cream puff chef based in New Jersey. He planned on giving Duke a sampling of his craft after its trip to the Izod Center to play Temple.

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ACC M5: 11.12.12 Edition

Posted by EMann on November 12th, 2012

  1. Redshirt freshman forward Alex Murphy of Duke was an interesting DNP: Coach’s Decision during the opener against Georgia State on Friday. After starting both of Duke’s exhibition games, Murphy strangely did not appear in a game where the forward surely expected to receive minutes (Krzyzewski instead started three guards). Mike Krzyzewski said, “We did not get to the point where Alex could play,” and insinuated that he was not injured. This may be of concern to Blue Devil fans — while Murphy’s offensive game is unpolished, his quickness and size seem to make him an ideal player to utilize in Tuesday’s matchup against Kentucky. But if he can’t get off the bench against Georgia State, why would Kentucky be any different? In theory at least, Murphy would offer the size at the small forward position that Duke seemed to lack all of last season, so it could be a big picture concern down the road if he does not get some burn in early games.
  2. Washington Post: The Maryland Terrapins have plenty to build on following their 72-69 loss to third-ranked Kentucky in their season opener at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn Friday night. Sophomore forward Alex Len outplayed Kentucky’s top-ranked recruit Nerlens Noel to the tune of 23 points and 12 rebounds, and often looked like the best player on the court. Mark Turgeon was especially proud of his team coming back from a 13-point deficit while they fed on the crowd’s energy. While this very young Maryland team was ultimately disappointed to come up a little short in their upset bid, this game definitely showed that Maryland will be a force to be reckoned with in the upper echelons in the conference this season.
  3. The defending conference champions have a lot of work ahead of them. #25 Florida State dropped a stunner at home Friday to South Alabama, 78-73 in one of the biggest upsets in the first weekend of college basketball. Some of the most shocking numbers in the upset related to Florida State’s ineptitude on defense, which has typically been their linchpin in the Leonard Hamilton era. South Alabama shot 60% from behind the three-point arc (9-15), whereas last year Florida State only allowed opponents to shoot 30.9% from beyond the arc, and star Florida State guard Michael Snaer struggled with just 2-of-11 shooting and five turnovers. Don’t look for both a bad game from Snaer and the perimeter defense too often, but when it happens, the Seminoles are going to have a very hard time winning games.
  4. Lynchburg News and Advance: New Virginia Tech head coach James Johnson won his debut against East Tennessee State on Saturday, but cautioned that the season “was a grind,” and also noted that his players (especially senior guard Erick Green) were far more excited about the victory than he was. More importantly, Virginia Tech premiered some form of its intended up-tempo offense this season, and while the team started slowly, the Hokies eventually got things clicking from the perimeter, where they hit 10-25 from three-point territory. While we don’t want to read too much into just one victory, if Virginia Tech can continue to improve its up-tempo offense, Johnson’s team may sneak up on some people in the conference this year.
  5. Boston College and forward Ryan Anderson may have some newfound toughness and leadership this year. The sophomore, who led all rookies in the league in double-doubles last year, put up an impressive 29 points and 17 rebounds in the team’s 84-70 victory over FIU on Sunday. But it was a flagrant foul that probably illustrated the difference between last year’s team and this year’s, according to head coach Steve Donahue, who wants his team to be “nasty” on the court, something he felt did not happen enough last year. After FIU had rallied to tie the game in the second half, Anderson responded with a jumper, and then soon after was flagrantly fouled on a breakaway. After the play, his teammates rallied around him, and they only surrendered two more baskets during the rest of the game, which Anderson even said was a huge change from what would have happened last year. Any little bit helps for a team that struggled mightily last year, and a tougher Boston College squad can only help the conference.
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ACC M5: 11.02.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on November 2nd, 2012

  1. Run the Floor: If recruiting means anything, the ACC is well on its way to regaining its place as top basketball conference in the land. Not counting the Big East defections (all of which will improve the quality of the conference), 17 of the 75 committed players in the ESPNU Top 100 will play in the ACC during their collegiate careers. Unlike the last few years, it’s not just Tobacco Road hauling in the five-star prospects: it’s Florida State capitalizing on the publicity following its ACC championship; it’s Georgia Tech and Maryland starting to tap into their bountiful recruiting homes; and it’s NC State regaining its place among the relevant.
  2. Raleigh News & Observer: Luke DeCock and Caulton Tudor answered five burning questions about the ACC in this piece (albeit with a bit of a Tobacco Road tilt). The most interesting of the questions is whether ACC Tournament Friday can be saved. DeCock makes a very interesting suggestion: Leave lower bowl ticketing the same (tickets split between teams), but make the upper level general admission. Especially while the ACC Tournament is in Greensboro (and Duke, North Carolina and NC State are all relevant), the problem isn’t a shortage of fans. It’s a shortage of fans able of getting a handle on some tickets.
  3. Wilmington Star News: Speaking of NC State, CJ Leslie is ready to step up and lead this Wolfpack team. As a freshman, he had all of the ability in the world but often looked like a totally disinterested guy playing pick-up ball, choosing to troll the perimeter rather than get to work in the post. Down the stretch last season, Leslie found his groove. He used his athleticism to work over bigger defenders away from the basket and his height to frustrate smaller defenders. Based on his play at the end of last year, the biggest question about him coming out of high school — his maturity — is starting to look optimistic.
  4. Southern Maryland Online: After short stints playing overseas, former Maryland point guard Eric Hayes is coming back to College Park to try his hand at coaching. Hayes joined Mark Turgeon’s staff as a graduate assistant this season. His father was a very successful high school coach at Potomac High School for over two decades, which means Hayes spent his whole life looking at basketball through the eyes of a coach.
  5. The Heights: Austin Tedesco asked the question “Can [Boston College] be a new Duke?” And his very important point gets lost in the extreme nature of his question. His point boils down to the fact that a coach’s first real recruiting class’ success is very important in program building — meaning Ryan Anderson, Patrick Heckmann and Dennis Clifford will need to do well if Boston College is to improve significantly under Steve Donahue. However, the Duke comparison is a little more far-fetched for three simple reasons: (1) Duke had far more recent basketball success when Mike Krzyzewski took over over three decades ago; (2) Duke sits in a college basketball hotbed, both of local talent and local fandom; and (3) Coach K is a once-in-a-generation coach. Donahue may turn out to be an exceptional program builder, but to immediately compare him with the most successful coach in the modern era sets the bar unreasonably high.
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ACC Summer Recess: Boston College Eagles

Posted by mpatton on July 11th, 2012

Over the next four weeks we’ll be taking a step back and looking at each team in the ACC to assess where each program — and the conference as a whole — stands before we totally turn our attention to the 2013-14 season later this fall. Today’s targe: Boston College.

Where They Stand Now

The bottom of the ACC was a dumpster fire last season. Think of an acclerant cocktail of mediocre coaching, inexperienced youth and genuine lack of talent to make it extra volatile. Somehow Boston College, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech all finished conference play with four wins. However, if forced to pick the team occupying the lowest point in the conference cellar, Boston College would steal the honor. It wasn’t entirely the Eagles’ fault: Steve Donahue was in his second year of coaching and saw his roster truly gutted, leaving a motley crew of freshmen, transfers and walk-ons. To make matters worse, Donahue’s best player — Patrick Heckmann – went down with mononucleosis in January. The good news is that Donahue is a very capable coach. He stole a win against the eventual ACC Champion Florida State Seminoles, and his team significantly improved over the course of the season.

Patrick Heckmann Led the Eagles During Nonconference Play Last Season (AP/A. Gallardo)

Who’s Leaving?

The Eagles lose six players, including transfers Matt Humphrey (who is transferring to West Virginia, the second transfer of his career) and Gabe Moton. While the losses won’t help the Eagles, Humphrey didn’t fit well with Donahue’s system and Moton managed less than 20 minutes of playing time for a team that should only get better. The four departing seniors combined to play just over 23 minutes a game, contributing a combined 2.6 points and 1.7 rebounds a game.

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ACC Tournament: NC State Survives Boston College

Posted by mpatton on March 8th, 2012

Whatever the final score might say, Boston College was right with NC State until the last ten minutes. This is a story Eagles fans know well.

Boston College showed its youth early. The Eagles started the game 0-7 from the field with five turnovers. At that point, I wondered if they could keep the deficit below 30. NC State led 14-0, and it wasn’t even that close. The Eagles were being couldn’t hold onto the ball settled for contested threes when they could get off a shot. The deficit remained at double digits until Lonnie Jackson knocked down two threes in the last three minutes to cut the NC State lead to eight. Out of the Wolfpack timeout, Alex Johnson turned it over, giving Boston College the chance to cut the lead to five with a three. Instead, Patrick Heckmann missed a lay-up (he’s definitely still recovering from the month-long bout with mono earlier in conference play); Dennis Clifford committed an offensive foul; and all hell broke loose.

Steve Donahue's Work Cut Out for Him, but Pieces Starting to Emerge for the Eagles.

Still only down eight with the ball with 30 seconds left, Boston College looked ready to seize control of the momentum by adding to an 8-0 run to close out the half. Instead, Jordan Daniels committed a huge freshman turnover. He turned his back to Lorenzo Brown to look at Steve Donahue for the play. Next thing you know Brown picked his pocket and made him pay on the other end with the and-one. Brown missed the free throw, but another Boston College turnover (the team’s thirteenth of the half) led to CJ Williams’ first basket of the afternoon. Suddenly a potentially 10-0 or 11-0 run in favor of the Eagles was an 8-5 stretch, and the lead was back to 13. Those costly mental errors plagued Donahue’s team all season. They reflect the backcourt youth.

Conclusion and thoughts on NC State after the break.

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