ACC M5: 12.13.13 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on December 13th, 2013

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  1. Gobbler Country: Excellent interview with Virginia Tech alumnus Malcolm Delaney. Delaney is currently playing basketball in Europe with Bayern Munich. It’s very interesting to hear about his strategy for making a career out of basketball. To this point he’s only had one-year contracts in order to play his way into better leagues, but Delaney is looking to sign for longer now that he’s in a more stable league. He obviously sees his basketball career from a business perspective, and reading this piece you definitely get the feeling he won’t run into some of the bankruptcy issues many former athletes experience.
  2. Syracuse Post-Standard: Mike Waters calls any advantage the new rules afford Syracuse because of its zone defense “overstated” and “misguided,” and statistically, he’s correct. However, I think playing zone is an advantage with respect to the new rules. Sure, Syracuse’s zone is about attacking and getting in passing lanes, and the Orange are only slightly above average in  how often they send opponents to the free throw line. But essentially — compared to the rest of college basketball, at least — Syracuse has the same free throw rate it did last year (because free throw rates went up with the new rule changes). But the responsibilities in a man-to-man defense are more likely to result in arm bars or hand checks when a defender gets beat, whereas in the zone there’s more help waiting. Waters is right that these advantages are being overblown.
  3. Backing the Pack: Apart from the horrible pun on Cat Barber’s name, this is an interesting article on NC State‘s improved defense this season. Only there’s one issue — I’m not sure where they got the team data, as rough calculations using Ken Pomeroy’s numbers shows the Wolfpack with a worse defensive efficiency than last season. It is notable that TJ Warren has improved his defensive rebounding percentage by nearly 50 percent compared to last season. This may be a product of not playing with Richard Howell as much as anything.
  4. Indianapolis Star: Mike Brey is sticking to his guns. After a disappointing loss to North Dakota State where the Bison scored nearly 1.1 points per possession against his team, Brey pointed to needing “to find that rhythm again on the offensive end.” What context we get makes it sound like he was disappointed that his team didn’t score more efficiently, not that he thought his defense was impeccable. But it’s still refreshing to see a coach, whose historical success comes mostly on one end of the floor, recognize his strengths.
  5. Sports Illustrated: Rodney Hood, who most considered a late first-round pick (or second-rounder), has jumped up several mock drafts and big boards around the web. Chad Ford has him at #11, while Sports Illustrated and Draft Express both have him at #14. Hood needs to establish more consistency, especially in the marquee games, to solidify his chance at the lottery.
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ACC M5: 12.03.13 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on December 3rd, 2013

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  1. Backing the Pack: Brief tempo-free comparison between TJ Warren‘s stats last season and this season. Somehow despite being involved in 10 percent more possessions and shooting more than a third of the Wolfpack’s shots when he’s on the floor, Warren is essentially just as efficient this year as he was last year. The big difference is that he’s turning the ball over less, which makes up for his slightly depressed shooting percentage. That’s terrific news for NC State. If Warren can draw more fouls, look out.
  2. Duke Basketball Report: Want to know how much North Carolina misses PJ Hairston (and to a lesser extent Leslie McDonald)? Well Barry Jacobs found it. Currently Marcus Paige has hit 85 percent of the team’s threes this season. For comparison, Trevor Cooney is the next most important distance shooter at 56.8 percent (comparable to Scott Wood for NC State last year). His teammates have hit a whopping three long balls on the entire season. That’s one simple scouting report. Going forward someone in light blue needs to find some range, or look for teams to start sagging off everyone else at 20 feet and beyond.
  3. Syracuse Post-Standard: Speaking of somewhat obscure statistical tidbits, props to Patrick Stevens for hunting down ACC coaching records in November (and read the article for his asides). Jim Boeheim and Mike Krzyzewski are neck and neck… for second place. Jamie Dixon actually leads the way, having only lost three games in the month of November at Pittsburgh. I suspect Dixon’s record will go down as early season tournaments continue to get better fields, though.
  4. Chicago Tribune: This article is only peripherally related to the ACC, but cool story here from Chris Hine on Fran McCaffery and his close ties to Notre Dame. McCaffery was an assistant at Notre Dame and is currently good friends with Mike Brey. Interestingly, their friendship goes back to their assistant coaching days on the recruiting trail. His wife also played basketball in South Bend. But now McCaffery, who is in his fourth year at Iowa and has his best team there yet, is the favorite.
  5. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Pittsburgh has been one of the biggest surprises of the year (for me), and Lamar Patterson, last week’s ACC Player of the Week, is a big reason why. He’s playing very efficiently all the way across the board. Patterson is shooting better, more often, assisting more, turning the ball over less, fouling less and drawing more fouls. Oh, and he’s also grabbed more steals. That’s amazing. Right now he’s playing like an ACC Player of the Year contender. If Patterson continues his torrid Renaissance Man production into December and beyond, Pittsburgh absolutely will be one of the favorites in the ACC this season.
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ACC M5: 12.02.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on December 2nd, 2013

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  1. CBS Sports and NBC Sports: After Duke lost another game to a very good team after leading most of the game, the popular question is whether or not the Kansas and Arizona losses are reasons to toss Duke out as a national contender. There’s no doubt, the losses bring up some concerns (though my question was “Why did Mike Krzyzewski randomly start playing zone?”). But not many teams are as big and athletic as Kansas and Arizona. Those are tough match-ups for Duke, which is still a young team. It’s not a surprise they struggled. The other story that didn’t get a ton of publicity after the game is how quiet Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon were in the second half for Duke. The backcourt holds the key.
  2. NBC Sports and Tar Heel Blog: Speaking of raising questions, North Carolina didn’t exactly silence its doubters by losing a close game at Roy Williams protege Jerod Haase’s UAB Blazers. The Tar Heels got killed on the boards, and the Blazers concentrated on stopping Marcus Paige with considerable success. Look for Michigan State to key on Paige again this week. Until someone else shows the ability to be the man in his place, there’s no downside. That said, I personally wouldn’t be surprised to see the Tar Heels pull out the win because (1) I have no idea what to think about this team and (2) Roy Williams is Tom Izzo’s kryptonite.
  3. Burlington Times-News: NC State looked significantly better against Eastern Kentucky and showed the ability to score against a zone–albeit a shorter, less athletic one than Syracuse will trot out in ACC play. Promising signs came from Jordan Vandenberg, who set a career high, and TJ Warren, who managed 26 points in the second half. This team is already improving, which is a good sign. To keep up his success on the recruiting trail, Mark Gottfried needs to keep showing player and program development.
  4. Tomahawk Nation: If you haven’t watched Florida State, you should know that Leonard Hamilton’s team looks for real. The Seminoles came a touch-foul away from taking Florida to overtime on the road. Michael Ojo and Boris Bojanovsky looked terrific. The twin sophomore towers kept the game within reach. Ojo in particular is a completely new player. Hamilton is the best coach in the league at developing big men. Last year Ojo looked completely lost. This year, he still has his moments, but is much more confident with the ball and is a terror on the boards. This team is good (much better than anyone predicted), but the next couple years could really be special.
  5. Duke Basketball Report: Barry Jacobs took a look at the hottest ACC teams historically from downtown. Number one? Virginia Tech. Yep, this year’s Hokie team is shooting an unbelievable 45.5% from deep. This year’s Duke team is third on the list. Notre Dame and Pittsburgh also check in at over 40%. Unfortunately for Virginia Tech, that percentage is likely to drop, which will hurt its already mediocre offensive efficiency.

EXTRA: Joe Harris has ups.

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ACC M5: 11.11.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on November 11th, 2013

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  1. Boston Globe: You can tell that Steve Donahue believes in his team if you just look at how he scheduled this season. Unlike the cream-puff schedules of the past, Donahue decided to take the RPI head on this season. That means five non-conference road games along with four neutral games. But more interesting than his scheduling considerations are a motive beyond making the Big Dance: “I think it’s important that we separate ourselves somehow. [...] Why would kids choose us? Why would fans be excited?” It’s very interesting that Donahue is already looking to carve out a niche in a bigger league where it certainly looks possible to get lost among the giants.
  2. Sports Illustrated: Donahue’s RPI experiment got off to an ugly start with an overtime loss at Providence thanks to the new rule changes. 55 fouls in 45 minutes. Six players fouled out. And like Pete Thamel points out, Boston College wasn’t known for committing lots of fouls last season (in fact quite the obvious), though the team certainly played physically. Here’s to hoping coaches and players adjust quickly so we can avoid anymore games like this one.
  3. Testudo Times: Here’s a good tempo-free heavy preview of Maryland this season. I’m most interested in the battle between Shaquille Cleare and Charles Mitchell for minutes. Here’s to hoping Maryland runs a twin towers line-up at least a little this season. This year Mark Turgeon has to get over the hump. I doubt his seat is hot (or even warm), as the athletic department probably wants some continuity going into the Big Ten–especially after the personnel nightmare following Gary Williams`s departure. But if Turgeon can’t get this team to the NCAA Tournament this season, red flags will start going up and he risks losing interest of a fan base that he’ll desperately need fully engaged as the Terrapins move to their new conference.
  4. Run The Floor: Michael Rogner is very high on Duke this season (and he has every right to be if the Blue Devils continue shooting better than 70% from the floor). He`s also very high on Virginia, a team many are snubbing in favor of the gravitas that comes with the North Carolina and Syracuse programs. The only starter Virginia has to replace this season is the offensively challenged Jontel Evans. Sure his on-ball defense will be missed, but opponents will also miss being able to ignore one player as long as he wasn’t at the rim. Sophomores Justin Anderson and Mike Tobey also look ready to make the sophomore leap.
  5. Burlington Times-News: NC State fans should be really happy about newcomer Desmond Lee`s play in its opener. While Cat Barber was getting most of the press this off-season, Lee looked like the second-best player behind TJ Warren (who was very quiet for half the game). If Lee, Barber, and transfer Ralston Turner all pan out, the Wolfpack will be a lot better than many predicted before the season.
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Preseason ACC Microsite Awards: Joe Harris Preseason POY

Posted by Matt Patton on November 9th, 2013

The ACC microsite is happy to announce our preseason Player of the Year and all-ACC teams, as selected by the five writers contributing this season.

Preseason All-ACC

Some Notes:

  • Seven of 15 teams had at least one selection to the teams. Virginia and North Carolina led the way with two selections each.
  • Virginia’s Joe Harris received three of five votes for preseason ACC Player of the Year. Jabari Parker and CJ Fair received one vote each.
  • Harris and Fair were unanimous selections for the first team.
  • Duke’s Rodney Hood actually tied Virginia’s Akil Mitchell for votes, but Mitchell’s one first-team vote put him over the top in a tie-breaker.
  • Ryan Anderson, Quinn Cook, Travis McKie, Rasheed Sulaimon and Okaro White each received one second-team vote.
  • The first team has two seniors (Harris and Fair), two sophomores (Olivier Hanlan and TJ Warren) and one freshman (Parker).
  • The second team has more experience than the first team with three juniors and two seniors.
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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: North Carolina State Wolfpack

Posted by Lathan Wells on November 6th, 2013

North Carolina State head coach Mark Gottfried’s squad entered last season with the loftiest expectations the program had seen in some time. His Wolfpack was ranked as high as #6 in preseason national polls and was chosen as the odds-on favorite to win the Atlantic Coast Conference. Instead, immaturity and inconsistency from a team loaded with talent landed the team in a fourth-place tie after the conference regular season.  NC State finished 24-11 and bowed out of its first-round NCAA Tournament match-up with Temple.

NC State Preview 2013

This year, expectations are drastically lower for Gottfried’s squad. Significant departures decimated his roster and left him with a very young team entering his third season in Raleigh. Gone are starters Richard Howell  and Scott Wood to graduation and C.J. Leslie and Lorenzo Brown to early entry. Add to that the transfer to Connecticut of highly-touted freshman Rodney Purvis, who had an up-and-down first season at NC State, and the Wolfpack find themselves down all five starters from a year ago. Gottfried has assembled an impressive recruiting class for 2013-14 (though it may pale in comparison to the one he’ll have next year), but replacing all of that scoring and experience will be a mighty task for this year’s team. Gottfried’s returnees this year have experience, but much of it was in reserve situations and in spare minutes giving the aforementioned starters a breather.

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ACC M5: 04.04.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on April 4th, 2013

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  1. ESPN: With ACC play officially over, you can expect more of these pieces to pop up. Here’s a cool one from JA Adande (though Grant Hill probably contributed just as much) on talking to Hill about his career. Something younger fans might be surprised by is that Hill owned 29 (!!!) triple-doubles during his first five NBA seasons (and none since) before his career-defining injury took hold, which until recently was good for second most among active players. Hill is a guy that, should he want to be, could become a great coach. But there’s something about him that makes you think he’d probably be pretty good at whatever he ends up doing.
  2. Tar Heel Blog: USA Today released its annual coaching salary spreadsheet, but Brian Barbour noticed an oddity with Roy Williams‘ pay: North Carolina’s coach was listed at a remarkably cheap $1.7 million dollars a year (significantly under other top-tier coaches) despite other estimates of Williams’ salary being north of a couple million per year. This begs the question as to exactly where the data comes from and whether it takes into account the many sources of income coaches have. For instance, I expect Mike Krzyzewski‘s jaw-dropping $7.2 million figure includes everything. The figure reported for Williams may not include all of his extra income (bonuses, speaking engagements, basketball camps, Nike deals, etc.). But all told, North Carolina is getting a phenomenal deal with Williams. Per dollar as reported here, you couldn’t find a more accomplished coach in the country.
  3. Testudo Times: If you’re looking to catch up on Maryland hoops, this is a good round-up of links mostly covering the loss to Iowa but also talking about the future of Terrapins basketball. Maryland is a really interesting team going forward and it’s really unfortunate it won’t be in the ACC down the stretch of the careers of Seth Allen, Shaquille Cleare and Charles Mitchell. I think all four will be three- or four-year guys, and the group represents a phenomenal base for Mark Turgeon to build this program.
  4. State of the U: Speaking of looks towards the future, here’s a really optimistic take on Miami going forward. I agree completely that Shane Larkin‘s return is absolutely critical, but I think Miami will really struggle to get an at-large bid unless Tonye Jekiri just explodes this offseason (I think he’s a couple of years away though). Larkin is a really interesting take. His situation is very similar to Trey Burke’s last offseason, as an undersized point guard oozing with skill. The only difference — which, granted, is a huge difference — is that instead of a top-10 or top-five team coming back, Miami loses almost everything from this year’s team. I lean towards Larkin leaving Coral Gables, but if he gets specific criticism back from the official NBA Draft board there’s a good chance he’ll return.
  5. Raleigh News & Observer: NC State fans can back away from the ledge. TJ Warren will be back for his sophomore season to show off his skills as the number one scoring option on the team. Warren might have been the highest drafted of the Wolfpack players entering the draft had he gone, but he has the potential to break into the lottery if he has another year of high-efficiency numbers (with more teams focusing on him). Now the Wolfpack can move on towards filling out the rest of their roster instead of trying to keep everyone home.

EXTRA: This is a phenomenal take on the complexity of Mike Rice‘s “situation.” And the complexity doesn’t begin with Rice, it’s coaches who use similar tactics. Expect more on this later.

VIDEO EXTRA: In what’s becoming an annual tradition, Draft Express gave North Carolina and Duke McDonald’s All-American signees a place to vent some trash talk.

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ACC M5: 03.27.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 27th, 2013

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  1. Sports Illustrated: The absolute must-read of the day comes courtesy of Luke Winn, who got pretty awesome access to follow Miami around before its games against Pacific and Illinois. My personal takeaways were that Jim Larranaga seems like a really fun guy to play for and that this team fits his coaching personality very well. It’s also not surprising at all that Julian Gamble led the team’s postgame celebratory freestyle.
  2. CBSSports.com: Gary Parrish absolutely kills it in this response to Ron Wellman‘s backing of Jeff Bzdelik yesterday. Kills it. Bzdelik is losing the Wake Forest fan base at an accelerating rate. Wellman is out pretty far out on this limb and while I understand not wanting to go back on his word (even if he won’t tell anyone exactly what that was), he has to balance that pride with Wake Forest’s present situation. I think Bzdelik is better than his record, maybe even a lot better. He’s also got a great group of players on his team. But that can’t excuse his sorry performances — both in the loss column or the public relations department. And his lack of (tangible) success at Colorado doesn’t help calm the critics. Unfortunately, Bzdelik is a coach who leaves a program better than he found it and is trending upwards but hasn’t shown the ability to achieve at the highest level. It’s a tough place to be.
  3. CBSSports.com: According to most of the national media, Chris Collins is the “heavy favorite” to land the Northwestern job after interviewing with the school on Monday. The announcement may come before or around the time this article gets posted. Duke alumni are doing well in the job market right now, as Bobby Hurley was just hired to coach Buffalo and Jeff Capel reportedly has received interest from at least two schools. Assuming at least one leaves, expect Nate James to resume his old position as a Duke assistant coach.
  4. Miami Herald: Unfortunately not all of today’s Miami news could be freestyles and celebratory dances. Reggie Johnson – apparently requiring knee surgery — won’t make the trip with the team to the Sweet Sixteen. While Johnson has played a much smaller role this year, the Hurricanes have struggled with foul trouble at times throughout the season. He was an extra body, good for a ton of rebounds and a couple of points every game. Now Julian Gamble, Kenny Kadji and Tonye Jekiri will have to find a way to replace Johnson’s productivity. Gamble sounded hopeful to get Johnson back in time for the Final Four.
  5. Raleigh News & Observer: While neither have officially announced, reports came out yesterday that CJ Leslie and Lorenzo Brown are planning to head for the NBA (though Brown’s mother denied the rumors and Leslie vaguely denied them on his Twitter account). Their departures wouldn’t be surprising, but another name is starting to show up on numerous draft radars: TJ Warren. Warren’s loss would be a huge blow to NC State next season, but his great freshman campaign makes him a likely first round pick. IF this report is true, I’d expect all three to turn pro in a heartbeat.
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Rushed Reactions: #9 Temple 76, #8 North Carolina State 72

Posted by IRenko on March 22nd, 2013

RTC_final4_atlanta

I. Renko is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report from Dayton after Friday’s Second Round game between #8 North Carolina State and #9 Temple. Follow him on Twitter @IRenkoHoops.

Three Key Takeaways:

NC State Finishes Off a Disappointing Season

NC State Finishes Off a Disappointing Season

  1. A Microcosm of N.C. State’s Season – There was some reasonable talk that an 8 seed was a bit low for N.C. State, but this game proved to be a microcosm of N.C. State’s inconsistent and, ultimately, underachieving season. The Wolfpack came out flat, with the offense looked tentative and sluggish, and the defense indifferent, en route to a 38-22 halftime deficit. They coughed up the ball 10 times in the first half against a Temple defense that ranks outside the top 300 in the nation in causing turnovers. And despite their size and athleticism advantage, their frontcourt trio of C.J. Leslie, Richard Howell, and T.J. Warren began the game settling for missed jumpers. They woke up in the second half, outscoring Temple 50-38, but it proved to be too little, too late.
  2. Temple Slowed the Wolfpack’s Transition Game Just Enough – Before the game, N.C. State’s players talked about the importance of getting out in transition. In the first half, Temple largely shut down this part of the Wolfpack’s offense, holding them to just five fast break points. It helps that the Owls take very good care of the ball (just five turnovers the entire game), minimizing transition opportunities. The Wolfpack pressed the issue in the second half, scoring 19 points on the break, allowing them to make this a competitive game. But the hole they dug themselves over the first 20 minutes with a stagnant offense was too deep to escape.
  3. The Charity Stripe Saved Temple From Collapse — With the Owls’ halfcourt offense out of rhythm in the second half, and their once formidable 17-point lead dwindling, they needed to scratch out any points that they could. After shooting just two free throws in the first half, the Owls managed 31 trips to the charity stripe in in the second half. They didn’t make it easy on themselves, shooting just 63.6 percent from the line, but they scraped together enough freebies to hold off N.C. State’s charge. Indeed, 20 out of the Owls’ 38 second-half points came from the free throw line.

Star of the Game: For much of the year, Temple has relied heavily — at times, too heavily — on point guard Khalif Wyatt, who takes almost 30 percent of the team’s shots. But graduate transfer Jake O’Brien‘s role as a complementary offensive piece increased over the season. He’s been getting more minutes, scoring more points, and given Temple a big man who can stretch the defense with his shooting. Today, he showed how valuable he is by scoring 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting (4-of-6 from three-point range). Though Wyatt finished with a team-high 31 points, that total came on 22 shots and was inflated by some late free throws. O’Brien’s efficient scoring is what fueled Temple’s first-half offensive surge.

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ACC M5: 03.07.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 7th, 2013

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  1. Winston-Salem Journal: The freshman of the year race will say a lot about the voters involved. There are four plausible winners: Olivier Hanlan, Rasheed SulaimonDevin Thomas and TJ Warren. Each one says something about the voter: Hanlan is the most important to his team’s scoring (high usage); Sulaimon is a key piece for a top team on both ends of the floor; Warren is the efficiency guru’s dream; but Thomas has intangibles. I don’t know whether he’s a leader, but he’s often the only spark Wake Forest has on a given night. Thomas crashes the boards and plays with effort regardless of the score. In the end, Hanlan deserves the award, though it’s true he has more opportunities to shine than Sulaimon or Warren. If Sulaimon has a monster game against North Carolina, he could take the award just by overcoming his recency bias.
  2. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Speaking of awards, Daniel Miller won’t win Most Improved Player, but he should be in contention. Last season Miller was a bumbling liability everywhere but in rebounding. This year, he’s much more efficient offensively. He’s still not looking for his own shot, but he’s cut down on turnovers and increased his field goal percentage. If he improves along the Richard Howell trajectory (still a big if), Miller could be a very important piece next season.
  3. South Florida Sun Sentinel: Miami started ACC play in dominant fashion. It’s ending the year looking mediocre. A lot of people are quick to point the finger at Reggie Johnson, who hasn’t been on top of his game. But Miami could just be regressing. The Hurricanes won plenty of close games (especially through the middle of conference play) and lost none. Now, some of those games are going the other way. There are two ways of looking at this phenomenon: (1) close games are coin flips; or (2) Miami doesn’t have the same swagger it had earlier in conference play. The first isn’t cause for concern; the second is.
  4. Washington Post: North Carolina’s smaller lineup gave Maryland fits. But the Terrapins struggle to find their flow offensively. The real test for the Tar Heel’s wing-heavy lineup is this Saturday against Duke. The Blue Devils are an elite offense with an elite big man (and a stretch four to help with double-teams). But win or lose, the Tar Heels will be in the Big Dance. Maryland, however, isn’t in nearly as good shape. The Terrapins need to do some work in the conference tournament.
  5. ESPN: Well, we may be getting a taste of conference realignment  a little early, as Notre Dame may join the ACC as soon as this summer, according to Brett McMurphy. That’s good news for the ACC, as it will lock Notre Dame into an agreement instead of just waiting for a better offer to come hit you in the face.
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NC State Forward TJ Warren is a Man Without a Position

Posted by Jimmy Kelley on February 27th, 2013

Jimmy Kelley is an ACC correspondent for Rush the Court. Follow him on Twitter @DevilsInDurham

At some point in the 118-year history of basketball it was decided that each player on the court had to have a set position with a skill set that lent something to the way the game was played. These positions — point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward and center — held up for the most part through the years with players falling into one of the positions based on their height, athleticism or abilities with the ball in their hands. Recently, however, these positions have become somewhat amorphous with the advent of the “stretch four” and “combo guard” creating their own archetypes on which young players can model themselves. One such player who defies all classification is NC State’s 6’8″, 233-pound TJ Warren — a man without a position.

TJ Warren, NC State

TJ Warren can take it to the post or off the bounce. But what position should we say he is? (Photo: Rob Kinnan, USA TODAY Sports)

Warren was a McDonald’s All-American in high school who could score in every way imaginable and even some ways that players hadn’t thought of yet. Physically he would fit into the old mold of a power forward but athletically he would fit more naturally into the small forward role. He isn’t a natural jump shooter which means his effectiveness on the wing would depend purely on his ability to get into the lane and score around the rim, much like a younger LeBron James before he developed his outside game. Warren has played both the small and power forward at times for the Wolfpack but giving him a position other than “forward” would pigeonhole his game too much, so we will just stick with the general term.

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