ACC M5: 12.14.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on December 14th, 2012


  1. Tallahassee Democrat: Yesterday, Michael Rogner suggested Okaro White becoming more aggressive would help the Seminoles. Another thing to consider is that Florida State did very well in transition against Maine. Part of its success was Maine’s strategy, but the Seminoles reportedly wanted “to establish ourselves in transition,” according to head coach Leonard Hamilton. This year’s team isn’t quite the beast defensively inside the arc as the past few Seminole teams, so it makes sense to try to get more turnovers (on paper the team should be lethal in transition). Definitely keep an eye on this as we get closer to conference play.
  2. Winston-Salem Journal: Things are getting uglier and uglier at Wake Forest. Jeff Bzdelik will not be taking any more live calls on his radio show. Apparently the move isn’t to “deflect criticism,” but it definitely looks that way. The show’s producers are trying to cut down on long-winded callers wanting to vent instead of ask questions. Host Stan Cotten and some colleagues at IMG College made the call to move to a format of all pre-recorded questions.
  3. Charlottesville Daily Progress: Whitey Reid took a look at ranking the “pleasant surprises” for Virginia, but may have forgotten to point out the forest through the trees. It’s true Teven Jones, Akil Mitchell and Darion Atkins have all surprised people, but what about the team as a whole? If you told me Virginia would be 8-2 with wins over Wisconsin and Tennessee at this point in the season and were missing Jontel Evans for most of it, I would have laughed at you. This team has really outperformed my expectations and Jones, Mitchell, Atkins and Tony Bennett all deserve credit.
  4. Keeping It Heel: I think Rich Martin really underrates Ty Lawson (who I think everyone underrates because he played with Tyler Hansbrough) and Kendall Marshall in this article when he compares the two former Tar Heels with Marcus Paige. It’s true they had more cohesive pieces surrounding them when they showed up in Chapel Hill, but they were two of the best point guards in college basketball of the last decade. Paige shows flashes of brilliance — much like Quinn Cook last season for Duke — but he really feels a year or two away from being an ACC-caliber frontman. It will be really interesting to see over the next month how Roy Williams trims his rotation. Paige is probably the best offensive option and he (again, like Cook) has to be the guy for this team to be great, but he’s not starting from the same place as Marshall or Lawson.
  5. The Examiner: Miami is a team we could learn a lot about over the next couple of weeks. The Hurricanes picked up an ugly loss early (without Durand Scott), but looked great in their ACC/Big Ten Challenge win over Michigan State. They have a good chance to find themselves ranked if they beat undefeated Charlotte, coming out of a 13-day hiatus for exams. Especially with North Carolina and NC State looking vulnerable early, Miami could find itself in a good position to challenge for the runner-up position in the league. Also Garrius Adams and Bishop Daniels should be rejoining the team sometime next semester, which will help with depth.

EXTRA: Luke Winn’s Power Rankings are always worth the time, though they’re a little light on ACC meat as of late. This week he looked at Mason Plumlee‘s progression from much-maligned contributor to Player of the Year contender. Essentially, Plumlee’s stats are identical to his sophomore season with a few exceptions: He’s drawing fouls like a mad man, he’s hitting his free throws and he’s not turning the ball over. He’s also involved in a lot more possessions. Regardless, it’s really interesting how something as trivial as free throw shooting can affect the overall perception of a player.

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ACC M5: 10.29.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on October 29th, 2012

  1. Baltimore Sun: Maryland transfer Dez Wells‘ story is complicated. He was suspended four games after contributing to the Xavier-Cincinnati brawl last season; then he was expelled from Xavier after being accused with sexual assault. An Ohio grand jury refused to indict him on those allegations and the prosecutor assigned to the case called the school’s action against Wells “an injustice,” presumably because the university jumped to conclusions of improper behavior. The NCAA has denied Maryland’s appeal for Wells immediate eligibility, and good arguments can be made for both sides of the debate. However, the author’s allusion that Maryland is in the NCAA crosshairs while high profile schools like Kentucky skate by seems farfetched.
  2. State of the UState of the U caught up with Miami junior Rion Brown, who showed major improvements last season. Brown calls for Miami fans to take a more active role cheering on the team this season. He noted that Jim Larranaga no longer spends his time teaching philosophy, instead focusing on basketball; he also thinks the Hurricanes will be a faster team than last year. Brown is an under-the-radar guy Miami will really need to perform well if this season is going to live up to the hype.
  3. Washington Post: Virginia Tech took a couple of steps back last season, finishing a disappointing 4-12 in conference play. The Hokies have a bona fide star in Erick Green, but he will need his teammates to step up their offensive production if Virginia Tech hopes to improve significantly this season. Mark Giannotto points to Robert Brown and Jarell Eddie on the perimeter as two players who need to take big steps forward this season. Eddie largely works as a set-shooter, reaping the rewards of Green’s penetration. Brown has the athleticism to take the ball inside, but he needs to improve his halfcourt offensive efficiency.
  4. The ACC got some very good news recently as the NCAA released its graduation success rates (GSR) at the end of last week. The conference is tops of the six power conferences in GSR for football, men’s basketball, and baseball. While it’s not a perfect metric by any means, the GSR is better than the federal graduation rate, which ignores transfers altogether (while the GSR conversely holds schools accountable for transfers leaving in poor academic standing).
  5. Hampton Roads Daily Press: Virginia’s backcourt got a little thinner for the beginning of the season, as freshman Teven Jones has been suspended for the team’s season opener. The Cavaliers have already lost defensive specialist Jontel Evans for a while as he recovers from surgery to heal a stress fracture in his foot. This leaves freshman Taylor Barnette and two-guard Joe Harris to run the point to start the year. Tony Bennett desperately needs someone to take the reins until Evans returns.
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ACC Team Previews: Virginia Cavaliers

Posted by KCarpenter on October 26th, 2012

Throughout the preseason, the ACC microsite will release a preview for each of the 12 teams. Today’s victim: the Virginia Cavaliers.

The past season was excellent for the Virginia Cavaliers. Sure, the team only went 9-7 in the conference and exited the NCAA Tournament in a spectacular flame-out against Florida in its first game. Still, last season was a success for Tony Bennett. The team nearly ran the table in their non-conference slate except for a strange flukish loss to TCU. This impressive run included victories against Michigan, Drexel, Oregon, George Mason, and LSU. In conference play, Virginia was less consistent (though admittedly they played one of the tougher league schedules), with their two best wins coming against North Carolina State and Miami. Mike Scott‘s career year and Bennett’s pack line defensive scheme powered the Cavaliers to one of Virginia’s best seasons in the past few seasons. With Mike Scott now gone, can the Cavaliers match or better their high-water mark?

Tony Bennett Appears to Have the Cavaliers on the Upswing


The Cavaliers are bringing in a small army to bolster their depleted ranks. Teven Jones, Justin Miller and Taylor Barnette represent the incoming guard rotation. All three initially figured to see only back-up and spot minutes with incumbent senior point guard Jontel Evans taking up most of the time at point guard. Unfortunately for Evans, a stress fracture in his foot has the feisty defender and playmaker sidelined for the beginning part of the season. Unless Bennett elects to hand the keys to his team to senior walk-on, Doug Browman, these three freshmen will likely undergo a sudden baptism by fire.

At the wing, the freshman class brings in some potential future starters. Justin Anderson and Evan Nolte both have a nice array of skills, athleticism, and size at the small forward slot, where Virginia had only Paul Jesperson and converted shooting guards before the arrival of these two. If these guys can play defense to the coaching staff’s satisfaction, it’s likely that they will see plenty of minutes, and indeed, potentially a spot in the starting rotation.

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ACC Summer Recess: Virginia Cavaliers

Posted by KCarpenter on July 30th, 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 target: Virginia.

Where They Stand Now

Bennett Will Need to Find Some Replacements Next Season

Heading down the stretch, it looked like Virginia was poised to have a moment. Mike Scott was easily one of the two best players in the conference and there was an instant where it looked like the Cavaliers might have the juice to win the ACC. A team that played insanely tough defense just couldn’t find enough offense, though, losing two of its last three games, dropping one to North Carolina State in the first game of the ACC Tournament and getting totally obliterated by Florida in its NCAA Tournament opener. It was a crushingly disappointing end to one of the best seasons of Virginia basketball in years.

Who’s Leaving

In terms of seniors, Virginia is losing its bedrock in Scott, who was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in the early second round after a storied career in Charlottesville. Also hurting their frontcourt depth, seven-footer Assane Sene, was injured and then left the team at the very end of the season, though he would have otherwise presumably graduated and moved on anyway. Finally, the Cavaliers lose Sammy Zeglinski, a reliable veteran guard. During last season, the transfer plague that has dogged Virginia struck again, sending K.T. Harrell to Auburn and James Johnson to San Diego State.

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ACC Morning Five: 01.25.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 25th, 2012

  1. Baltimore Sports Report: Patrick Guthrie offers his three suggestions for Mark Turgeon going forward. First, play Mychal Parker more. Parker was Gary Williams’ prized recruit coming into last year, but never really found a spot in the line-up. This year, he’s shown sparks of greatness and been more effective than freshman Nick Faust in particular. Second, get the ball to James Padgett. You never would’ve heard anyone say those words last season, but this year Padgett has shown flashes of developing a little like Richard Howell did over the last season for NC State. Finally, Guthrie asks Turgeon to pump the brakes on Alex Len. Here I’m a little more wary, as Len could be a crucial building block going forward. And his major “needs work area” seems to be adjusting to the physicality and athleticism of ACC play.
  2. Bright House Sports Network: Newly elected baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin sat down with Tiffany Greene to talk about his son at Miami. Shane Larkin has served the invaluable role of spark plug (think very poor man’s Nate Robinson) off the bench this year. Most people expected him to see very limited playing time because of Miami’s depth in the backcourt, but his strong play seems to earn him more and more minutes.
  3. Washington Post: Dorian Finney-Smith came to Blacksburg as the most touted recruit of Seth Greenberg’s tenure. He started the season off on fire, dominating the Hokies early opponents with double-doubles. The majority of his work was on the glass, but he was a capable scorer too. But the rigors of conference play have undermined Finney-Smith’s play. Having to guard Harrison Barnes certainly didn’t help, but based on all of Greenberg’s praise I expect Finney-Smith to end up just fine.
  4. Washington Post: Virginia‘s newest addition, Teven Jones, said the transition to college wasn’t too bad. Jones reclassified to join the Cavaliers this month. He won’t play (except on the scout team), but the time should give him the chance to learn Tony Bennett’s offensive system as well as get in some valuable academic credits. Luckily, Jones’ postgraduate school, Fishburne Military School, employed the pack-line defense. Probably the most interesting part of the article was Steve Yanda’s point about midyear classification becoming more popular in football (it basically gives you extra practice time), but not as much in basketball because it would take recruits away from their high school coaches midseason.
  5. Morganton News Herald: Roy Waters’ “Birth of ACC Hoops” is back for its third installment. This one is a little more local in taste, but I think it’s a good reminder of how regional sports used to be. To be fair, Roy Williams was born and raised in North Carolina. But none of the other conference coaches hail from their schools’ respective states (though, one interesting potential trivia nugget is both Brian Gregory and Jeff Bzdelik are from Mount Prospect, Illinois).
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ACC Morning Five: 01.20.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 20th, 2012

  1. USA Today: Nicole Auerbach sat down with Mike Scott the “dark horse” ACC Player of the Year candidate (I only use quotation marks because he should be the runaway candidate thus far, but I’m not sure the voters would agree). It’s an interesting interview that touches on Scott’s rehab, Virginia’s success and what it’s like to be a fifth-year senior. Apparently Scott put on a good deal of weight but lost 20 pounds trying to get ready for the season.
  2. Fayetteville Observer: Virginia will get some help in the depth department, at least in practice, from Teven Jones. Jones went to Fishburne Military School for what was supposed to be a postgraduate year, but after a semester his coach suggested he enroll with the Cavaliers. Jones originally drew coaching eyes on the gridiron as a wide receiver, but the combo guard looks like he could be an invaluable weapon offensively in the coming seasons for Virginia.
  3. Washington Post: File this away in the obvious section. Terrell Stoglin needs help from Maryland on the scoring front. He’s responsible for 30.7% of Maryland’s points, and the attention he receives probably makes him even more important than that. Take the Terrapins’ loss to Florida State: Stoglin seemingly dominated the game, scoring 27 points, but he didn’t score at all during the Seminoles’ “game-deciding” 21-5 run. Nick Faust, Sean Mosley, and even Alex Len have all shown flashes of scoring ability, but Mark Turgeon will really need someone to step up to compete in conference play.
  4. Tallahassee Democrat: Speaking of obvious stories, Florida State‘s offense is “suddenly on fire”. After a very slow start (I’m not even sure that does credit to its 10-point half against Princeton), this group of Seminoles is the first ever to score over 80 in back-to-back conference games. Part of the key has been the addition of Ian Miller, who was forced to sit out the beginning of the season. But the real key has been valuing the basketball. If the Seminoles score 80 points this weekend, they will beat Duke more times than not even in Cameron Indoor.
  5. Winston-Salem Journal: Mark Gottfried’s team is going to have to deal with something new–success. Well, if last night’s game was any indication, the Wolfpack dealt with it very well in a big win against Boston College. The score didn’t reflect just how dominant NC State was–especially in the first half (all said and done Richard Howell managed to outrebound the Eagles’ starters). Next up the Wolfpack have a road test against Miami before Mark Gottfried’s first game from the Dean Dome.

EXTRA: I managed to overlook this earlier in the week, but Gary Williams just started analyzing games for ESPN 980 in Washington DC. Williams already works as an analyst for the Big Ten Network, but this should be a chance to get his opinions on the ACC. He’s with the station until April 3.

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