ACC M5: 12.05.12 Edition

Posted by EMann on December 5th, 2012

  1. Yikes. It’s not quite at the level of Clemson’s futility in Chapel Hill, but Boston College has now lost to Harvard for the fifth season in a row. While Harvard has shared or won the Ivy League title the last two years, the team was not expected to be quite as formidable considering the absence of two key contributors from its NCAA Tournament team last season. Although Ryan Anderson had 23 points on 11-12 shooting, Boston College’s anemic defense (Harvard’s starters were 25-41 from the floor) was definitely the culprit in this loss. Boston College’s expectations are not high this season, but consistently losing to Ivy League opposition is not something that teams aspiring to improve in the ACC typically have on their to-do list.
  2. NC State finally got the marquee win it needed to assure everyone not to push the panic button in Raleigh quite yet. Wearing uniforms stitched with “Don’t Ever Give Up,” emblematic of former Wolfpack coach Jimmy Valvano’s famous speech at the ESPYs shortly before his death, the Wolfpack got a 69-65 win over Connecticut in the event that bears the late coach’s name. While NC State’s vaunted freshmen struggled, veteran forwards Richard Howell and CJ Leslie each had double-doubles in the Wolfpack’s victory. Beating UConn doesn’t quite carry the cachet that a win in Ann Arbor would have had, but seeing NC State finally emerge victorious in a nationally-televised match-up should help the Wolfpack begin to recover from the burdens that everyone’s preseason expectations may have placed on them.
  3. Chapelboro: Freshman point guard Marcus Paige of North Carolina is expected to return to action this weekend against East Tennessee State, after missing UNC’s victory over UAB last weekend following an elbow injury. With negative x-rays supporting the decision, head coach Roy Williams is confident that Paige will be able to play. Getting the freshman back should be helpful for the Tar Heels, who have had a lot of uncertainty with their lineup this season. Williams says that while his team is small, it is not necessarily quick enough to play overly aggressive defense, so they have practiced a zone. Having a healthy Marcus Paige in the lineup is important for North Carolina as the team hopes he can continue to improve and become a consistent, steadying presence during ACC play.
  4. Tallahassee Democrat: The calling card of Florida State’s recent success has been its exceptional defense. However, head coach Leonard Hamilton has not seen the consistent effort that his recent teams have put together at the defensive end this season. The statistics bear him out: the Seminoles are only ranked 80th in Ken Pomeroy’s defensive efficiency rankings, by far their worst mark in the last five years (the Seminoles were in the top 15 the last four years, including finishing first twice). Hamilton is particularly worried about his team’s defensive intensity as Florida State faces Florida next, a team ranked second in the overall Pomeroy rankings and third on offense. Hamilton hopes that playing their in-state rival can provide a return to the intensity that his team has shown in years past.
  5. Clemson’s T.J. Sapp has decided to transfer away from the program. Sapp, a sophomore guard who has started all seven of Clemson’s games this season, gave no reason for his decision to leave. Even though Sapp was starting, he was averaging only about 15 minutes per game this season. Sapp’s decision to transfer leaves Brad Brownell with three guards with the potential to slide into his starting spot:  freshman Adonis Filer, sophomore BYU transfer Damarcus Harrison, and freshman Jordan Roper. Out of those players, Filer has used the most possessions when he has been in the game, with Filer and Roper having extremely similar offensive ratings, slightly superior to Harrison.
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Morning Five: 12.05.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on December 5th, 2012

  1. We are still waiting on an update on the status of Danny Berger, the Utah State junior, who collapsed at practice yesterday afternoon and required the use of a defibrillator before being transported to a hospital near Salt Lake City. Berger, who was averaging 7.6 points and 3.6 rebounds per game this season, had started every game for the Aggies this year. The Aggies have a difficult game tonight against BYU, but at this point we are sure that is a distant thought in the minds of the coaches and players.
  2. Fresh off completing the #1 recruiting class for 2013, John Calipari was back at work picking up Karl Towns Jr., who was considered the top player in the class of 2015 before he reclassified to the class of 2014 while committing to Kentucky yesterday. If this recruit’s name sounds familiar and you don’t follow the recruiting circuit closely (Towns was just a freshman last year) it is because he played for the Dominican Republic National Team this past summer–a team coached by Calipari. So while Mike Krzyzewski was busy coaching LeBron, Kobe, and company to another gold medal, Calipari was coaching and building a relationship with another top recruit who eventually committed to playing for him in the future. In terms of recruiting, it continues to be John Calipari’s world and we are all just living in it.
  3. As if their matchup against Arizona on Saturday was not enough of a test without the services of Milton Jennings, things just got a little tougher for Clemson with the announcement that T.J. Sapp has left the team and will be transferring at the end of the semester. Sapp has started all seven games this season, but only averaged a little over 15 minutes per game did not reveal the reason for his transfer (guessing probably in search of more minutes) or his potential destinations. For their part the school and coaching staff said that they both left under good terms for whatever that is worth since we doubt any institution would say otherwise for risk of alienating potential incoming recruits.
  4. We are very familiar with the wild emotional swings of college students, but even by those standards the announcement that Antonio Bryer would be returning to the Southern Illinois team after quitting the team earlier in the day for personal reasons is bizarre. Obviously the school won’t release the information regarding the issues surrounding Bryer’s decisions and we doubt that Bryer will talk about it so we are guessing that this remain one of the more bizarre unexplained roster moves of the season. Bryer is expected to play tonight against Western Kentucky so perhaps he will address the issue, but we doubt it.
  5. Last week we mentioned that Tulsa athletic director Ross Parmley had been suspended for his involvement in gambling. Yesterday the school officially cut ties with Parmley by firing him in an announcement that was revealed publicly via an e-mail to faculty, staff, and students. When we first heard about the allegations against Parmley we knew that it was only a matter of time before he got fired. Now the big question is whether Tulsa will face any sanctions if the school had any knowledge of Parmley’s gambling activities.
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ACC Team Previews: Clemson Tigers

Posted by KCarpenter on October 24th, 2012

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

Last season, the Clemson Tigers flirted with sneaking into the NCAA Tournament before wilting in the conference tournament. Brad Brownell‘s squad go off to a dubious start, losing home games to the likes of Coastal Carolina and the College of Charleston and continuing shaky play on the road by losing to Hawaii and Boston College. Yet something strange happened as the season went on: The Tigers notched victories against North Carolina State, Virginia, and Florida State, finishing the season on a fairly impressive 5-2 run. It would have taken an unlikely run to the ACC Tournament championship game, but Clemson was not as impossibly far from dancing as their  16-14 record (8-8 in conference) might indicate. The question remains, however, can the Tigers move forward?

Brad Brownell Has a Young Team With a Tough Early Schedule Ahead of Him

Newcomers

The Tigers are going to welcome a whole raft of freshmen this season as Brownell tries to replenish the team’s depleted ranks. The freshmen class consists of a wide range of fairly talented recruits, though no one player is heralded as a game-changing savior. Adonis Filer and Jordan Roper are capable point guards, but this year they will, barring a surprise, come off the bench, serving as a second string in the guard rotation. Similarly, Landry Nnoko and Josh Smith are gifted big men, but they will almost certainly start behind the veteran Clemson frontcourt. Finally Jaron Blossomgame might be the slowest to be integrated into the rotation on account of a broken leg that he suffered last spring. Blossomgame, however, might be able to help the Tigers the most. Though he is small for an ACC power forward at 6’7″, he may be able to offer support at the swingman position, where Clemson only fields one prototypical small forward in K.J. McDaniels.

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ACC Summer Recess: Clemson Tigers

Posted by KCarpenter on July 24th, 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: Clemson.

Where They Stand Now

It’s hard to remember the momentum that Clemson had at the end of the season, but the Tigers really picked it up as the season wore on. After a dismal 3-6 conference start, Brad Brownell‘s team rallied and went 5-2 down the stretch, bringing the team to a perfectly even 8-8 finish. A first round conference tournament flameout against Virginia Tech didn’t exactly end the season on a high note, but it’s important to remember that this Clemson team managed to beat the likes of Florida State, Virginia, and North Carolina State over the course of the season. In all, last season was probably a step back for the Tigers, but nowhere close to the catastrophes that some of the other conference teams endured.

Who’s Leaving

The Tigers are taking a big blow to their rotation due to that scourge called graduation: sensational scorer Andre Young, the versatile Tanner Smith, and valuable rotation players in Catalin Baciu and Bryan Narcisse.  The loss of the two veteran starters, Young and Smith, will give the team a very different feel in the coming year. The pair easily led the rest of the team in minutes played in 2011-12.

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ACC Evening Five: 12.19.11 Edition

Posted by mpatton on December 19th, 2011

He’s not in the ACC anymore, but Frank Haith is making a name for himself at Missouri. He certainly walked into a roster loaded with talent, but the players are thriving under his system. Vahe Gregorian of StlToday.com has a terrific profile of Haith’s seamless transition to the Big 12 as well as a look back at his past. It’s worth a read.

  1. Tar Heel Fan Blog: John Feinstein has a new book, One on One, which hit the shelves in time to pick it up for the holidays. The book was originally supposed to be a biography of Dean Smith, but Smith’s declining health forced Feinstein to change topics. The book is a collection of anecdotes from his years covering sports. Tar Heel Fan Blog posted a great anecdote about Feinstein’s interview with the legendary North Carolina coach. “You should never be proud of doing the right thing,” [Smith] said. “You should just do it.”
  2. Raleigh News & Observer: Rodney Purvis is focusing on more than basketball. He is also trying to be a strong student despite his learning disability. Being an elite athlete is like a full-time job, but Purvis’ mother claims they spend just as much, if not more, time working on academics. In addition to raising his SAT scores, this preparation should prove invaluable for Purvis once he gets to NC State.
  3. Wilmington Star News: Speaking of Christmas gifts for ACC fans, Brett Friedlander suggests Bethany Bradsher’s The Classic: How Everett Case and His Tournament Brought Big-Time Basketball to the South, which ”chronicles the 12-year history of the late, great Dixie Classic. It’s a well-written, painstakingly researched account of a time during which basketball became an obsession in North Carolina, and an event whose importance went far beyond the games on the court.”
  4. Roanoke Times: Virginia Tech has a lot of young talent like Erick Green and Dorian Finney-Smith, but if the Hokies are going to reach their potential, they need seniors like Dorenzo Hudson and Victor Davila to step up. Against Campbell, both of the seniors–at least temporarily–snapped their slumps. Both led the team with 15 points. That’s the kind of production Seth Greenberg needs (and truthfully, maybe even more from Hudson) going forward from his leaders.
  5. Aiken Standard: Four Clemson freshmen got major playing time in the Tigers’ win over Winthrop. KJ McDaniels, Bernard Sullivan, TJ Sapp, and Rod Hall all saw major playing time in the 20-point victory. Brad Brownell claimed the increased playing time was a combination of improvement and trying to get some more experience for the freshmen. The experience probably won’t pay off much this year, but next year Brownell will need the young guys to step into the shoes of Andre Young and Tanner Smith, the team’s top scorers so far this season.

EXTRA: Syracuse‘s game against NC State was a reminder of two things. One, the Orange are really good and deserving of that #1 ranking (though I personally think they’re the fourth-best team in the country). Two, it was a reminder of the Bernie Fine scandal and the shadows surrounding college athletics. But the team hasn’t let the alleged crimes distract it. Mark Gottfried was impressed enough to think the Orange could make it to Louisiana this year.

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ACC Team Previews: Clemson

Posted by mpatton on October 28th, 2011

Brad Brownell had by far the most success of any of the new ACC coaches last season. He certainly landed in a nice place, with two very talented senior leaders in Demontez Stitt and Jerai Grant. But in case you couldn’t tell, the man can flat out coach. After losing first round pick Trevor Booker, Brownell led the Tigers to their first NCAA Tournament win since Rick Barnes last did so back in 1997. This year he has a lot less to work with, but don’t think the Tigers won’t be fighting for an NCAA Tournament bid.

The first key for Clemson will be Andre Young. Young did a very good job last year sharing the backcourt responsibilities with Stitt. This year he needs to transition from off-the-ball sharpshooter who also spends time running the offense to floor general and, in announcer-speak, the straw that stirs the drink. Just behind Stitt in assists rate and offensive rating, it’s possible to argue he was the second most important player on the floor last season. Although it’s important to keep in mind that Young’s primary jobs were to allow Stitt to play off the ball some and keep opponents’ perimeter defenses honest, this year he’s going to need to really step into a bigger role, and it’s tough to tell how ready he’ll be.

Clemson's Andre Young Needs to Step Up This Season

After Young the Tigers desperately need a second option to step up. Milton Jennings, Tanner Smith and Devin Booker all have the talent and experience. The problem is none of them have lived up to their potential yet. Based on Smith’s play during the conference season last year (where he shot 39% from downtown), I’m inclined to choose him as the best second option but I think Smith thrives more as a rock-solid role player. You can count on him to efficiently put up ten or 12 points a game, but I’m not convinced he’ll exceed that with regularity. Booker showed flashes last year too, but mainly against less talented teams. It’s high time Clemson fans stopped comparing him to his older brother: even during his sophomore season, Trevor Booker was a much more efficient scorer. He didn’t settle for jumpers and shot well over fifty percent from inside the arc all four years. Unless Devin has put on some pounds and grit this summer, he won’t become a second or third option on offense.

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ACC Morning Five: 10.21.11 Edition

Posted by mpatton on October 21st, 2011

  1. Sports Illustrated: Luke Winn hits another home run with his analysis of Duke‘s team this year. The more stories I read about this Blue Devils’ team, the more excited I am to see Miles Plumlee suit up this season. Coach K is really hyping his front court, which will certainly play a crucial role if the Blue Devils hope to keep up with Tobacco Road rival North Carolina. Winn also spends time discussing Duke’s back court and the maturation that will be needed from freshman guard Austin Rivers.
  2. ESPN: The Worldwide Leader’s college basketball coverage continued Thursday with interesting posts from Dana O’Neil and Andy Katz. O’Neil highlighted five things she’s looking forward to from the ACC this season. Possibly the most interesting of her questions is whether or not NC State can get its “verve” back. It’s certainly possible with a relatively down conference and a team that is full of sneaky talent, but after last season’s relative mediocrity it’s tough to find a Wolfpack bandwagon to jump on. Katz gives some quick, lesser-reported facts from the conference media day, with a tidbit from each team (and two from Duke and North Carolina). My personal favorite part of the article is when Katz goes off on a tangent about Tony Bennett‘s and his shared love for network comedy Modern Family.
  3. Washington Post – Terrapins Insider: One under-reported part of Operation Basketball were the discussions on Gary Williams and his sudden retirement. Mike Krzyzewski nostalgically spoke about Williams’ career, praising both the great Duke-Maryland games over the past ten years and Williams’ legacy as a “lifer” of the same generation as Coach K, Jim Boeheim and Jim Calhoun: “People don’t approach — I’m not saying they don’t approach the game well — but they don’t approach it the same way we did. So you lose some of that.”
  4. Chicago Tribune: Former Miami coach Frank Haith still faces questions regarding his tenure in South Beach (excuse me, Coral Gables) thanks to Charles Robinson’s jaw-dropping exposé of Hurricane booster Nevin Shapiro’s utter disregard for the NCAA rulebook. For those who may not remember, Haith reportedly accompanied recruits to a strip club and knew about a $10,000 dollar gift to help land a recruit (for the record, Haith has denied both allegations). But according to Haith the questions are coming from the media, not his team at Missouri.
  5. Shakin’ the Southland: In the second part of their Clemson basketball preview, Shakin’ the Southland looks at the Tigers’ very youthful roster, which reflects a late coaching change that kept Brad Brownell from recruiting a strong sophomore class. One freshman to keep an eye on is TJ Sapp, who draws comparison to Clemson star Demontez Stitt. The opening part of their basketball preview analyzed Clemson’s schedule.

BONUS: SpartanJerseys.com noticed a Michigan State uniform in a clip about the patches being sewed on the Cardinals’ World Series jerseys. The interesting thing about the Spartan uniform: it’s camouflaged. A little deductive reasoning led the site to guess that the camo jerseys will be for the Carrier Classic game this November. The Michigan State jersey is white, which means North Carolina will probably be wearing its road blues (with camouflage of course). First, I’m confused why the uniform made the video in the first place. Second, I’m incredibly impressed someone noticed it. And third, could that be North Carolina’s jersey just off screen (top right corner)? It’s a cool idea (even if it’s a little gimmicky) to emphasize the special nature of the game with a shout-out to the US Armed Forces.

One Observant Viewer Noticed a Camouflaged Michigan State Uniform in This Video (h/t SpartanJerseys.com and Uni Watch)

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