RTC 2013-14 Post-NBA Draft Deadline Top 25

Posted by KDoyle on April 30th, 2013

Although we are less than a month removed from Louisville’s win over Michigan in the National Championship game, it certainly isn’t too soon to look ahead to what the 2013-14 season has in store. With this past Sunday the deadline to declare for the June NBA Draft, we now have a much better idea who the top teams in the country should be once the ball is tipped again in November. In looking at the top of our Post-NBA Draft Deadline Top 25, there are three teams bunched together separated by just three votes — in fact, Louisville and Michigan State are knotted together at the top. It isn’t all too often that a team wins it all, graduates its starting point guard, has its best frontcourt player leave for the NBA, and is still perhaps the top team in the nation, but that’s the case for Rick Pitino and his Cardinals. With Russ Smith and Chane Behanan returning, Louisville will be the early favorites to win the AAC — the ACC, keep in mind, doesn’t come for UofL until 2014. Michigan State received good news on Sunday when Adreian Payne announced he would be returning to East Lansing for his senior season. Payne’s return, coupled with the return of Gary Harris — the Big Ten Freshman of the Year — and Keith Appling, make the Spartans a legitimate championship contender next season. Lastly, there’s Kentucky. Did you really think Cal & Co. weren’t going to be up there? They may not be ranked #1 at this point, but with a downright scary recruiting class incoming boasted by the Harrison twins and Julius Randle — perhaps the top Class of 2013 recruit — the Wildcats’ expectations are sky high. Despite not finishing in the Top 25 and losing at Robert Morris in the NIT, Kentucky will enter 2013-14 as a top three team in the RTC .

The usual Quick ‘n Dirty after the jump…

2013-14 RTC Top 25

Quick n’ Dirty:

Whether it is through an exceptional recruiting class, or an impressive finish to the 2012-13 season coupled with a strong nucleus returning, the following four teams surged upward — and for good reason.

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Even Without Kendall Marshall, UNC is a Better Passing Team This Year

Posted by KCarpenter on March 4th, 2013

Quick gut check: Is this year’s North Carolina team better at moving the ball than last year’s team? My gut told me there was no chance, especially when that team had Kendall Marshall, the all-time ACC single season leader in assists. My gut was wrong. Well it’s possible that this team doesn’t quite have the passing flair of Marshall, but as a team, this group knows how to move the ball better than last year’s squad. The 2011-12 North Carolina team assisted on 58.1% of its made field goals as opposed to this year’s mark of 61.0%. It’s the best mark in the conference, and against Florida State on Sunday, the Tar Heels’ passing acumen was on full display.

A Better Passing Team Without This Guy? Blasphemy! But True.

A Better Passing Team Without This Guy? Blasphemy! But True.

North Carolina assisted on 20 out of 31 made field goals against the Seminoles, a 64.5% mark for the game.  While the Roy Williams era North Carolina teams have always racked up assists at a pretty quick rate, the way that this team does it is fairly unusual. The norm for UNC has been a dominant point guard in the mold of Raymond Felton, Ty Lawson, and Kendall Marshall — floor generals who exert a tight control over the game. Yet young Marcus Paige hardly fits that description. Granted, Paige has been playing with increased confidence and better passing during the Tar Heels’ five-game winning streak, amassing an easy nine assists during the course of the game. But, for the most part, this year, UNC’s assists have come from a three-headed monster.

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North Carolina’s Lineup Issues Demand a Change: Here’s a Solution

Posted by KCarpenter on February 13th, 2013

Andrew Jones makes a compelling case describing the problems that North Carolina has faced this season — the short story is that the Tar Heels haven’t been getting very effective play out of the post or at the point guard position. The slightly longer story is that a lot of North Carolina’s lineups are deeply flawed, most notably the starting version. Up to the first official timeout, North Carolina has been outscored 48-17 in the past five games. This jaw-dropping number tells a simple story: UNC’s starters don’t make for a very effective offensive unit. This point has been most effectively tracked by the incomparable Adrian Atkinson, whose Twitter feed is a treasure trove of North Carolina lineup data. Still, if I had to pick a single telling fact, it would be this one: In conference play, North Carolina’s starters have posted an offensive efficiency of 76.1 while EVERY OTHER LINEUP has an average offensive efficiency of 107.2. North Carolina’s starting lineup is a problem. But, how does Roy Williams solve it?

Williams is Grasping For Answers, So Here's One - Change the Starting Lineup

Williams is Grasping For Answers, So Here’s One – Change the Starting Lineup

Jones makes the argument that a lot of the difficulty hinges on the fact that the starting lineup includes two non-scorers: Desmond Hubert at center and Dexter Strickland at shooting guard. Combine this with Marcus Paige‘s inability to find the bottom of the net on most outings, and you end up with a lineup that can basically only count on Reggie Bullock and James Michael McAdoo to score. Both Jones and Atkinson have an easy fix for the Tar Heels’ offensive woes: just add P.J. Hairston to the mix. It makes sense: According to Atkinson, with Bullock, Hairston, and McAdoo in the lineup at the same time, North Carolina has a net efficiency of +21.1 while posting a net efficiency of +0.2 when the trio aren’t playing together. On paper, the change seems clear — these three guys need to play together more often.

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ACC M5: 02.12.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 12th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Tar Heel Blog: North Carolina‘s starting lineup has been a point of contention among fans the entire season. If it’s not replacing Desmond Hubert, it’s replacing Dexter Strickland. The Tar Heels have been getting off to awful starts to games, but it’s not all Hubert and Strickland’s faults. James Michael McAdoo deserves much of the blame in the frontcourt, as he’s currently shooting a smooth 4-of-18 from the field in ACC games up to the first media timeout. Strickland and Marcus Paige are a combined 4-of-20 from the field. Whatever the reason, North Carolina has to quit digging itself such early holes.
  2. ESPN: There’s a very strong argument to be made for putting Miami atop the polls this week. The Hurricanes are on an amazing 11-game winning streak that includes arguably the most impressive performance of the year against Duke. With all its players available (admittedly, a smaller sample size) the Hurricanes are 11-0 with the best BPI of any team in the country (Duke is second, and no one else is close). If polls were power rankings, there’s no question Miami should be at the top. Even with the status quo logic of the polls, there’s a very good chance the Hurricanes will make the top spot for the first time in program history this season.
  3. CBSSports.com: Virginia is going to be a fascinating case study to watch up until Selection Sunday. Bracketologists appear divided on the Cavaliers. One camp (e.g., Jerry Palm) says they have no chance. Their RPI is too low. Their horrid non-conference schedule (with a couple of abysmal losses to boot) sinks their hopes. But other camps (e.g., Andy Glockner) paint a more positive picture of the Cavaliers. Their non-conference schedule was hurt by normally decent teams (like Old Dominion) playing like cellar-dwellers and failure to make the winners’ bracket of the Preseason NIT. Long story short: No one really knows…
  4. Duke Basketball Report: Duke‘s prolific three-point shooting is fairly well-documented. The Blue Devils are shooting over 40% for just the third time in team history since the deep ball was added to the college game two and a half decades ago. The team is also shooting far more threes a game than its previous highly successful shooting years. One interesting fact that Barry Jacobs unveiled is that Duke led the ACC in three-point shooting for three of Coach K’s four national championships. The Blue Devils have always shot the long ball fairly well, but Duke didn’t start relying heavily on the three until 1994-95, the year after Coach K’s epic run of seven Final Fours in nine seasons ended.
  5. NBCSports.com: Seth and Stephen Curry have passed Tyler and Ben Hansbrough as the highest scoring brother duo in college basketball history. Seth Curry‘s year at Liberty definitely helped (his scoring average has never recovered after his transfer to Duke), and although he has always been an efficient scorer at Duke, his numbers as a Blue Devil aren’t jaw-dropping. After averaging 20 points per game at Liberty his freshman year, he’s averaged 9.0, 13.2 and 16.8 points per game in his next three seasons in Durham. It’s frankly sort of surprising there haven’t been many more dominant scoring pairs of brothers.
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ACC M5: 02.06.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 6th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. US Basketball Writers Association: The USBWA named Miami’s Shane Larkin the Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week after Larkin led the Hurricanes to a couple of road wins to move to 8-0 (they’re now 9-0) in conference play. Larkin’s stats from the two games are impressive across the board as he scored 19 points on over 60% shooting with four assists, four steals, three rebounds, and a block to boot. Not bad numbers for a guy who is probably 5’10″ on a good day. The Hurricanes have a very favorable final half of conference play looming. The game at Duke notwithstanding, Miami will likely be favored in the rest of the games.
  2. Raleigh News & Observer: For the first time since his injury, Dexter Strickland looked like himself defending Erick Green. It’s hard to really notice changes in defense, but it seemed like Strickland has been a step slower this year. Also offensively, my hypothesis for his struggles are that being slightly less explosive has led to more jump shots and more time for defense to get in position. But something underreported so far this season is a new wrinkle in his game: the assist. Last year Strickland’s assist rate was 13.6. This year it’s 23.6! That’s a huge improvement (and shows he’s nearly as effective a distributor as Marcus Paige).
  3. Shelby Star: Even just halfway through the season, conference awards look like they’re going to be controversial this season. Starting with player of the year, which realistically will go to one of Erick Green, Mason Plumlee or to a player on Miami (right now Larkin has the hot hand, but Kenny Kadji is equally important on both ends of the floor). Rookie of the year should also be interesting, though Olivier Hanlan would get my vote unless Rasheed Sulaimon or TJ Warren goes on a tear. Regardless, individual story-lines are very interesting going into the second half of conference play.
  4. Gobbler Country: Speaking of Green, this is a takedown of his award candidacy from the Virginia Tech faithful. I would actually be a lot more generous to Green. I think he’s a great player with very solid statistics across the board, but it’s impossible to ignore his team’s struggles. His team is so bad that you have to take him out of consideration for national awards. Virginia Tech isn’t deep enough to handle Robert Brown’s slump or Cadarian Raines’ offensive disappearances. No one player can do it alone. That shouldn’t take away from Green’s abilities as a scorer, but one can’t look at stats in a vacuum.
  5. Duke Basketball Report: Continuing the theme of midseason reviews, Al Featherston took a look at the ACC’s NCAA chances with four teams sitting squarely on the bubble: North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and Florida State. The Tar Heels are in the best shape and appear to be trending in the right direction. Virginia has good enough wins to make the Big Dance, but its losses are incredibly troubling. Maryland and Florida State need marquee wins and fast. Both–especially the Seminoles–will need to do major work in the ACC Tournament, barring winning out in conference play.

Video of the Day: Props to Michael Snaer who continued his string of clutch shots with a buzzer beating lay-up at Georgia Tech.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qyUK9ip58nM

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It’s A Love/Hate Relationship: Volume VII

Posted by jbaumgartner on January 31st, 2013

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC columnist. His Love/Hate column will publish each week throughout the season. In this piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball.

Five Things I Loved This Week

I LOVED…. Kansas guard Ben McLemore. I’ve been captivated this guy since the first time I turned on a KU game this year – the only comparison for pure smoothness as a freshman might be Melo at ‘Cuse. I can usually judge a guy’s talent by how willing I am to prioritize his Thursday snoozer at 8:30 PM on ESPN2. Do I delay dinner? Do I push work off till tomorrow? Do I accidentally forget about Date Night just to marvel at a net-snapping three when the Jayhawks are already up 20? If the answer to any of those is yes, I’m hooked. And for me, McLemore is that year’s player. Watch out for this KU team – they might just have all the pieces.

Mancrushing on Ben McLemore

I LOVED…. trying to figure out Duke.  27 points. TWENTY-SEVEN POINTS. The Miami Hurricanes looked like a pro team taking on the high school JV squad – running, slamming, jamming… even Barry Larkin was lovin’ it. So is Ryan Kelly that important to the Blue Devils? Is he the difference between cutting down the nets and a Hurricane doormat? Is he worth all 27 of those points? I guess we’ll find out.

I LOVED…. in a way that only a true John Calipari hater could love, the following headline: “Wiltjer, Noel Help Kentucky Upset Mississippi.” How a team full of Top 10 recruits can “upset” anyone is beyond me. They must realllllly be underachievers to pull off that one…..

I LOVED…. how the real point of this season seems to be how many teams can claim and then quickly relinquish the coveted (or maybe at this point, despised) Number One ranking. Indiana, Duke, Louisville, Duke, and now Michigan. It’s a tribute both to the difficulty of winning on the road with today’s insane fans, but also to the parity of this year’s college crop. I wouldn’t feel comfortable putting money (sorry NCAA, I mean “friendly non-financially based wager”) behind any of these teams. But it should all add up to one crazy March.

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Lessons Learned: ACC Weekly Wrap-Up

Posted by KCarpenter on January 28th, 2013

What do you take away from an ACC weekend full of blowouts? Sure, Clemson only beat Virginia Tech by seven points, but the next most closely contested game was North Carolina State’s eight-point win over North Carolina, a score that hides how dominant the Wolfpack looked for long stretches of the game. Still, a team can reveal just as much about themselves in a lopsided tilt as in a closely contested contest. So let’s look at what we learned.

Georgia Tech Got in the Win Column Over the Weekend

Georgia Tech Got in the Win Column Over the Weekend

  1. Georgia Tech Might Not Be The Worst Team In The Conference. Just when you thought you had them pegged, Georgia Tech has to go and win a game to tie Boston College for worst team in the conference. Of course, Georgia Tech’s first win came against lowly Wake Forest, but then again BC’s only conference win was against Virginia Tech. So who is the front-runner for standings bottom-dweller? It probably actually isn’t Georgia Tech. A lot of the Yellow Jackets’ floundering has to do with their schedule: Three of their five games have been against the best three teams in the conference (Miami, Duke, and NC State). One of their losses was an overtime loss to Virginia Tech and the other was a road loss to North Carolina. Outside of some bad luck against the Hokies, Georgia Tech is playing up to expectations.  Fortunately, the schedule gets a little bit easier as the season rolls on and Tech will have plenty of chances to prove they can win. For what it’s worth, Ken Pomeroy’s system of Pythagorean projections has the Yellow Jackets as only the fifth worst team in the conference.
  2.  Erick Green Is A Machine, But It Doesn’t Matter. Virginia Tech is the worst team in the conference per Ken Pomeroy’s projections and it’s a shame. Despite all the tough losses — including this weekend’s defeat to Clemson — Erick Green has been playing sensationally. He plays hard and puts 25 points up each night and yet his team can’t give him any support. Green is running away with the league’s scoring title, averaging 25.2 PPG, while his next closest competitor, Mason Plumlee, is averaging 17.4 PPG. Green is the most efficient scorer on the list of top scorers too — he’s been excellent at just about everything he does this season. He’s easily been the best guard in the conference, but his team has just been dreadful. At the end of regulation, Virginia Tech has only finished ahead of their opponents once — beating Wake Forest by one point. The Hokies ended up winning another game in overtime against Georgia Tech by a more respectable five points, but I bring this up to emphasize how shaky Virginia Tech’s two conference wins have been despite Green’s brilliance. Read the rest of this entry »
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ACC M5: 01.18.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 18th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Fox Sports Carolinas: After losing at Maryland, there was a surprising amount of this sort of chatter going on among fans in particular. “Does the Wolfpack’s loss invalidate win over Duke?” I think that’s a dumb question. The loss was on the road to a good team desperate for the win. Do NC State‘s players wish they had won? I’m sure. But that doesn’t make the loss any more damning. NC State is probably not the top five team some thought it was coming into the season. But it’s also not the team that struggled to beat Boston College. And nothing about that loss at Maryland took away from the previous win.
  2. Washington Post: Speaking of that game, Mark Turgeon was livid with his team’s execution. “There wasn’t one timeout they did what I asked. Not one.” Given Maryland’s recent play on the offensive end, it’s hard to criticize the Terrapins’ coach. My guess is we will see Turgeon settle on a point guard when either Seth Allen or Pe’Shon Howard start running the plays he asks. In the long run it has to be the more offensive-minded Allen, but that may not be for a year or more (think Quinn Cook at Duke).
  3. Tar Heel Blog: The arguments surrounding PJ Hairston starting over Dexter Strickland are pretty interesting. Most seem to think Roy Williams has settled on Hairston coming off the bench and providing a spark. This made a lot of sense when he was the guy who might hit four threes or miss a ton of shots, but this year he appears to have really improved his shot selection and in turn his consistency. But until Hairston’s defensive efficiency comes close to matching Strickland’s, don’t expect any major changes from Williams.
  4. Soaring to Glory: Boston College needs to win close games if it wants fans to believe it has improved from last season. But the fact that so many more of the Eagles’ games are close this season is a big sign of improvement. This year the Eagles aren’t playing teams close for 30-35 minutes and then getting run off the floor at the end like last season. This year they are competing throughout the game, and also Dennis Clifford is still nowhere close to 100%. No one likes excuses, but it’s hard to win close games without one of your two best players.
  5. CBSSports.com: Cool work here from Jeff Goodman and Jeff Borzello. The two talked with four coaches who played Duke about the best way to beat the Blue Devils. The answers are interesting. Every one of the coaches thought Mason Plumlee was the key player, since his offense in the middle opened things up for the shooters outside. Interestingly, they all cited different weaknesses related to defense. One said defensive rebounding; one said guarding ball screens, especially specific to Seth Curry; one said their limited bench; and one implied a shallow defense that you can get by if you can withstand the pressure. Overall, I would agree with all four in that order of importance.
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ACC Noon 5: 01.01.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 1st, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Streaking the Lawn:Awesome future non-conference news out of Charlottesville. One thing that’s been dying lately are home-and-home series with non-conference foes, but Virginia will (hopefully) iron out the details on a future head-to-head with local rival VCU. That should make for a really interesting series, and looks to benefit both parties. The Rams and Cavaliers get another marquee non-conference game to prove its strength come Selection Sunday. Fans get a potential budding rivalry played at a high level. Although there is a chance Tony Bennett’s pack-line, slow-down system will spontaneously combust when it meets Shaka Smart’s HAVOC scheme.
  2. Baltimore Sun: Jake Layman didn’t have a seamless transition when he got to College Park. He struggled academically and athletically in his first semester, but the freshman is looking for a new start for the new year. Layman has the chance to be a great four-year player for Mark Turgeon, but he just has to focus on “getting better every day.” Don’t expect Layman to be the Terrapins’ most important piece this season, but look for him to be more comfortable on and off the floor.
  3. Keeping It Heel: PJ Hairston seems to be growing into a more important role in Chapel Hill this season. He took full advantage of Reggie Bullock’s injury in the Tar Heels’ win over UNLV, playing 32 minutes, scoring 15 points on 10 shots, and grabbing four steals. If Hairston continues to improve — specifically on his shot selection and defensive intensity — don’t be surprised if Roy Williams pushes him to play starter minutes (or replaces Dexter Strickland in the starting lineup).
  4. SBNation Boston: Things are looking better in Chestnut Hill. No, the Eagles aren’t looking like contenders but Boston College has looked much better over its recent five-game winning streak. Specifically, the defense is greatly improved and freshmen Joe Rahon and Olivier Hanlan are both averaging double figures. Steve Donahue’s schedule hasn’t been littered with world-beaters, but there’s a lot to be said for learning how to win. This team should be more competitive — even if they don’t win more games — than last year’s squad.
  5. Chapelboro: Jeremy Gerlach wrote a travel guide for the ACC (albeit leaving Chapel Hill, Tallahassee, Atlanta, Winston-Salem and College Park off the list). With conference play tipping off this Saturday, you may want to do some research before picking your road trips. This article is an OK place to start, but I’d probably look a little more closely.
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ACC M5: 12.21.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on December 21st, 2012

morning5_ACC

  1. Chicago Tribune: Apparently some marginal prospect quietly and unobtrusively decided to accept a basketball scholarship to a little known college yesterday. Just kidding. Jabari Parker is going to Duke because he liked the school and thought Michigan State wasn’t a great fit with Branden Dawson already filling the role that Parker expects to play. It’s a huge get for Duke as Parker was the clear number one prospect in the Class of 2013 before Andrew Wiggins decided to reclassify.
  2. State of the U: He’s not Jabari Parker, but Miami landed a nice verbal commitment for the season after next in four-star shooting guard Adonys Henriquez. Head coach Jim Larranaga and his staff have been busy trying to prepare the Hurricanes program for the departure of its veteran core. Since Henriquez is in the high school Class of 2014, he won’t be able to provide immediate help next season, but it is good to see that the recruiting work of Miami is bearing some fruit.
  3. Washington Post: If you are undecided in terms of a potential career, I’d like to recommend becoming an assistant coach for the Maryland Terrapins. Apparently assistant Dalonte Hill is due a $25,000 bonus if Maryland makes the NCAA Tournament, while Bino Ranson and Scott Spinelli only receive $16,667 in bonus pay if the team goes dancing. Hill makes $307,440 in guaranteed pay, while Spinelli makes only $207,440. Ranson gets $182,400 with an extra $25,000 for media work. Sure the hours are long, the travel is crazy, and there is little to any semblance of job security, but when you make that much as an assistant, it doesn’t seem like such a bad trade-off.
  4. Yahoo! Sports: North Carolina is not very good at basketball this year and people are talking about it after the Tar Heels were embarrassed against Texas on Wednesday night. The reasons why North Carolina is losing aren’t complicated: bad defense, wildly inconsistent offense, and a seeming inability to compete with the top rebounders in college basketball. If there is any solace in these problems, it’s the simple fact that these are fairly common issues for a team that is relying heavily on inexperienced big men. These things happen while power forwards and centers figure out how to be effective on the collegiate level. The good news is that most of these players will almost certainly get better with experience and time. Unfortunately for the Tar Heels, with conference play mere weeks away, the team really doesn’t really have that much time to jump-start this season.
  5. Wilmington Star News: The Bob Cousy Award watch list was announced this week and it includes seven ACC players. The fairly comprehensive list has 80 names, but it will be cut down to 20 by New Year’s Day. Of the seven, Erick Green and Lorenzo Brown are probably playing at the highest level, but Quinn Cook and Pe’Shon Howard are very talented distributors on good teams (a factor that probably plays a bigger role than most would care to admit). Shane Larkin is in a similar situation to Howard, but both probably need superlative performances to make the cut.  Freshman Montay Brandon of Florida State is unlikely to make the next round since there are at least two other players on his own team who are probably better point guards than him (Devon Bookert and Ian Miller have higher assist percentages and offensive efficiency scores). Dexter Strickland is unlikely to be listed as one of the nation’s top 20 point guards, mostly because he plays at the point guard position for fewer than 10 minutes a game, spending the bulk of his time at shooting guard.
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ACC M5: 12.19.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on December 19th, 2012

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  1. Wilmington Star News: North Carolina State entered this season as the favorite to win the ACC, but a few shaky games and some tough losses gave fans reason to doubt if this team could live up to its lofty expectations. Now, dodging the question of whether or not these expectations were ever reasonable, the Wolfpack is starting to look like a real contender. In a victory Tuesday night over Stanford, the team’s four core veteran starters all scored over 15 points and looked cohesive. Though NCSU’s vaunted freshman class was mostly quiet while the veterans did their thing, the signs are clear that this squad could be very good by the time March rolls around.
  2. Fayetteville Observer:  Mark Gottfried has given his team quite a bit of UCLA flavor, drawing upon his experience as an assistant coach for the Bruins for nearly 10 years, but the rest of the staff brings over some of that same culture. Director of Operations Jeff Dunlap played for UCLA, as did the Director of Player Development Larry Farmer. Of course, while Dunlap played during Gottfried’s time in Los Angeles, Farmer represents a different era. His teams went 89-1 and won three NCAA titles as a player on the legendary John Wooden squads that featured Bill Walton and Sidney Wicks. Farmer would later coach at UCLA for a few seasons in the 1980s, but those seasons naturally pale before his place as a player on the greatest dynasty in men’s college basketball. I can’t speak for how effective Farmer is or will be at developing NC State players, but if his talent is anywhere close to his acumen in telling stories about partying with Bill Walton, then he will definitely be a substantial resource.
  3. Washington Post: Very quietly, the Maryland Terrapins have put together a nice 9-1 record, blemished only by a surprisingly close season-opening loss to Kentucky. Now, granted, since that game, the caliber of competition that Maryland has been playing has been somewhat lacking, yet a win over a George Mason team that beat Virginia, a blowout victory over Northwestern, and a collection of convincing landslide wins over the likes of Monmouth and South Carolina State paint the picture of a team that could be very good. Alex Len has gone from unknown foreign prospect to one of the top prospects in the NBA draft, yet, somehow, Maryland remains unranked. It’s a small thing, and something that doesn’t really concern the team that much, but don’t be surprised when Maryland starts popping up in the polls sooner rather than later.
  4. ESPN: Dexter Strickland was never a point guard. In high school he played at the wing and, in his own mind, he was always a combo guard. Yet in his college career at North Carolina, Strickland has often been used at the point, spelling Larry Drew II, Kendall Marshall, and now Marcus Paige as needed. Somehow, the defense-and-dribble-drive focused guard became a true point guard, and so far this season, Strickland ranks fourth in the ACC in assists per game. Though he still plays the bulk of his minutes at shooting guard, a combination of experience and a more cerebral  approach to the game have made him one of the better distributors in the conference, and an asset to the Tar Heels as a second ball-handler and playmaker alongside the freshman Paige.
  5. Syracuse Online: Michael Gbinije had a very brief career at Duke before transferring to Syracuse. Yet, because of the strange alignment of this particular historical moment, namely both Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Boeheim passing the 900-win threshold and the weirdness of conference realignment, means that Gbinije will have managed to play under the two winningest coaches in college basketball history as soon as Boeheim passes Bob Knight. He is also notable (or he will be notable) as being the only player in history to play on two separate ACC teams once Syracuse arrives in the league next season. I wouldn’t say this really means anything in particular, but it’s a nice weird footnote.
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Rushed Reactions, Maui Style: #11 UNC 95, Mississippi State 49

Posted by rtmsf on November 19th, 2012

rushedreactions

Some quick thoughts from today’s Maui Invitational quarterfinal game between UNC and Mississippi State…

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. The UNC Guards Are Big, Deep and Talented. This is a completely different type of North Carolina team from the last couple of seasons, and frankly, given a Roy Williams’ system that looks to get into transition at every available opportunity, it may work a little better. With all the size along the Tar Heel front line last year, it sometimes felt like the Heels got bogged down in the half court, but this year’s group doesn’t seem to have that same problem. At least not today, when a Mississippi State defense gave them every opening they wanted — to the tune of 15 threes (the fourth most in school history) and 21 assists — Roy Williams found a reason to be upset with his defense in the postgame (UNC held MSU to 27% shooting), but the fortunes of his team are going to ride on PJ Hairston, Leslie McDonald, Reggie Bullock, and Dexter Strickland (combined for 65 points today).
  2. Carolina’s Young Size is Raw But Promising. It won’t show up on the stat sheet as very impressive, but the trio of Joel James, Brice Johnson, Desmond Hubert and JP Tokoto is a collection of raw talent whose size, springiness and hustle are going to win Carolina some games this season. The seven-foot James is somewhat reminiscent of a young Brendan Haywood, while the beauty of the others is that they aren’t expected to score in favor of hustling and protecting the rim. Williams’ teams are at their best with featured guard and wing play, so this team’s interior corps, already seeming to already understand its role in the scheme, will serve the Heels well going into the heart of the season.
  3. Mississippi State Has a Long Way to Get Back to Respectability. Rick Ray seemed rather disappointed after this game, and why wouldn’t he be? The realization that his team is roughly 40 to 50 points worse than a top 10 opponent is humbling to say the least. His group of inexperienced players were clearly shaken by the match-up at the opening tip, finding themselves down 9-0, 29-6, and 40-15 at various parts of the first half. They were never able to figure out how to find a good shot in the UNC defensive creases, and turnovers (21) were a major problem. The one bright spot was the hustle and play of Gavin Ware off the bench — he contributed eight points, nine rebounds and two blocks against a much bigger front line.

Star of the Game. PJ Hairston, North Carolina. Hairston had the shot of the game (not the week, thanks to Rotnei Clarke) when his 60-footer at the buzzer of the first half found net. But his all-around game set the pace for the Tar Heels with 18 points (on 7-11 shooting), four rebounds, and three blocks this afternoon.

Quotable. We asked Roy Williams what he thought about Maryland leaving the ACC for the Big Ten, and this was his response:

  • “Stunned, shocked… Didn’t see it coming… Strange what’s going on with college athletics… Hate to see them go, but if they don’t want to be there… [hand motion waving goodbye].”

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