The Unofficial RTC ACC Superlatives

Posted by Lathan Wells on March 11th, 2014

While the more official hardware is beginning to be handed out, like Player and Coach of the Year and the All-ACC team’s, it’s worth looking at some more under-the-radar superlatives that players and coaches have earned through the course of the regular season on the precipice of ACC Tournament time in Greensboro.

Here are five awards that RTC found to be equally as important as some of their more official brethren:

Most Selfless Upperclassman: Joe Harris, Virginia.

His scoring dipped more than four points a game from a year ago as he watched Malcolm Brogdon become the go-to scorer and clutch player on the team, plummeting from preseason ACC Player of the Year prognostications seemingly from the first game’s opening tip. Nonetheless, Harris’ willingness to play team ball and enlarge his leadership role helped Virginia to their first outright ACC Title in 33 years and a current two-seed projection in the NCAA’s. Harris is a senior, so it’s rare for a player to back off in his final season and allow team success to trump personal statistics. Harris is still a force, but now knows he can operate in the background to help his team’s season become even more special.

Joe Harris' selflessness helped Virginia win the ACC regular season (UVAsports)

Joe Harris’ selflessness helped Virginia win the ACC regular season (UVAsports)

Best Coaching Job Outside of Charlottesville: Roy Williams, North Carolina.

Tony Bennett absolutely deserved the COY award for his unbelievable reclamation job with Virginia, but no one dealt with more adversity this year than Williams. Between the PJ Hairston and Leslie McDonald saga, the academics issues brought to light by a former adviser, and the up-and-down start to the year with no set rotation and inconsistent effort, Williams had a ton on his plate in trying to get this team into postseason play. The Tar Heels won 12 conference games in a row, including a split with rival Duke, and own possibly the best non-conference wins of any team in the country. It’s arguably Williams’ best coaching job in Chapel Hill to date. Read the rest of this entry »

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ACC M5: 02.25.14 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on February 25th, 2014

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  1. GoHeels.com: It may get a little dusty, so make sure to grab the tissues before reading Adam Lucas’ story on Meredith Stapleton‘s trip to see North Carolina beat Duke. Sometimes sports fandom eclipses the event itself. This qualifies. It’s a moving and expertly written story that captures exactly what the game meant for one fan among over 20,000 others.
  2. Sports Illustrated: Seth Davis talked with Tony Greene, the referee who made the controversial call in the Syracuse-Duke game before ejecting Jim Boeheim. Unsurprisingly, officials around the country sent messages of support to him afterward. That doesn’t mean he got the call right, though. Davis and Greene don’t discuss the call itself, although he lauds Greene for his demeanor after ejecting Boeheim. That said, how many refs act differently? Their job is to keep their cool, especially after throwing someone out.
  3. Baltimore Sun: Speaking of Boeheim, he was in top salty form after the Orange eked out a win last night at Maryland. After the game, Mark Turgeon noted that he thought a foul should have been called with under 10 seconds left that would have sent the Terrapins to the line down one. Boeheim had this to say: ”They shot 27 free throws. If anybody is going to complain about the officiating, I’m going to complain. And I think I did enough of that Saturday. Five times that we saw them going to the basket that there was no foul and there was a foul called five times. You want to talk about one play? I’ll talk about five times. If they didn’t turn it over 18 times, they wouldn’t have had to worry about that.” Unfortunately for everyone in attendance, he didn’t drop the mic.
  4. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: If Pittsburgh is going to take its program to the next level, Jamie Dixon needs better players. There’s no denying that he’s a great coach and one of the best developers of talent in the ACC. But you just can’t win it all without five-star recruits. Interestingly, it appears Dixon is doing his best to bring more life to his recruiting. Whether that’s because of the rule changes, conference realignment, or at the athletic department’s behest, we’ll never know.
  5. Syracuse Post-Standard: Good look at foul differentials across the ACC. North Carolina had the biggest road-home swing, with a -24 foul differential on the road and an equal and opposite number at home. Syracuse, unsurprisingly has the best home differential. Maryland is the worst at home and on the road. One thing I’d like to see removed from the analysis is garbage-time fouls, which likely skew away splits (where you’re more likely to be losing at the end of games).

EXTRA: I’ll leave you with this, courtesy of Bomani Jones.

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Who’s Got Next? Romelo Trimble Gives Maryland a McDonald’s All-American

Posted by Sean Moran (@seanmohoops) on February 11th, 2014

http://rushthecourt.net/mag/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/whosgotnext.jpg

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Sean Moran, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to discussing the recruitments of the top uncommitted players in the country. We also encourage you to check out his contributions at The Intentional Foul dedicated to recruiting coverage and analysis. You can also follow Sean at his Twitter account @Seanmohoops for up-to-date news from the high school and college hoops scene. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Note: Scout.com used for all player rankings.

Romelo Trimble: McDonald’s All-American

Gary Williams was known for getting the most out of his players, not for recruiting McDonald’s All-Americans. In fact, the last Burger Boy to attend Maryland was shooting guard Mike Jones, a product of the 2003 high school class. Now almost 11 years later, current Terrapins head coach Mark Turgeon is trying to raise the talent level in College Park to compete in the NCAA Tournament. After missing out on the Harrison twins last year, four-star guard Romelo Trimble is set to become Turgeon’s first McDonald’s All-American at his current job. The 6’3” point guard from Bishop O’Connell High School in Northern Virginia is currently ranked as the No. 8 point guard and No. 35 player overall in the class of 2014.  The school is known as a basketball powerhouse that competes in the prestigious Washington Catholic Area Conference (WCAC) and was once the home of current L.A. Laker Kendall Marshall.


Trimble is a powerful guard who has a rare combination of size, strength and speed. A natural shot-maker, Trimble has worked hard over the years to improve his actual point guard play. If a defender gets too close to him, he can bully his way into the paint for a short jumper or a layup. If the defender sags off, Trimble has range from well beyond the three-point arc. Just this week Trimble scored 26 points and added 12 rebounds and six assists in an upset win over rival Paul VI and then scored a career-high 47 points against another WCAC foe on Sunday.

Trimble is currently the primary leader to earn All-Met Player of the Year in the DC, Maryland and Virginia high school area. While he should be able to step in immediately to play for Maryland when the Terps start Big Ten play, Turgeon is also hoping that he will bring his winning attitude to the Terps. As a junior, Trimble led O’Connell to the WCAC championship and last summer he led his DC Assault AAU program into numerous tournament championship games.

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ACC M5: 02.05.14 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on February 5th, 2014

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  1. Hampton Roads Daily Press: Here’s a good look at three of the most efficient guards in the ACC: London Perrantes, James Robinson, and Tyler Ennis. Ennis and Robinson may best Ty Lawson’s assist-to-turnover ratio (although neither can touch his other offensive numbers), and it’s even more impressive when you remember that all three are freshmen and Ennis is the only one likely to leave school sooner rather than later. Their teams also currently reside in the top three in the conference standings (though Duke is hot on their trail).
  2. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Jamel Artis is going to be really good in a couple of years for Pittsburgh. Injuries are never good, but they always open the door for different players to see more time. Artis has been soaking up some of Durand Johnson’s leftover minutes, and he made the most of his newfound playing time in the team’s loss to Virginia. Like many other young players in the league (think: a young Ian Miller at Florida State), Artis is mostly held back by his defense. Once that comes around, he could become one of Pittsburgh’s top options in a hurry.
  3. Washington Post: Let’s just say that after a disappointing performance against North Carolina — especially in the first half — I think Mark Turgeon may have gotten a little too optimistic that all of his yelling was paying off. Now, playing in Chapel Hill is no easy feat, and it’s easy to make the Bzdelikian argument that it would have been a totally different game if North Carolina hadn’t started with an 11-0 lead. But Maryland gave up that lead. And it gave up another run to close the first half. Those flat stretches offensively are what Turgeon needs to find a way to avoid. Maybe yelling will be the answer. Maybe a healthy Seth Allen will. But there’s still a lot of work to do.
  4. Duke Basketball Report: Barry Jacobs does a good job dismantling a context-less stat from a Virginia broadcast that the Cavaliers are 32-2 when holding opponents under 50 points with Tony Bennett at the helm. The ACC as a whole this season is 30-3. The one bit of context that makes the statistic more meaningful is that Virginia usually plays with an abnormally slow tempo (meaning an opponent scoring 50 against the Cavaliers likely played better than an opponent failing to reach 50 against the Tar Heels).
  5. SBNation: Great story from SBNation on Kendall Marshall‘s NBA resurrection. Marshall looked like he might be destined for Europe just a couple of months ago, but now he’s starting at point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers. What remains to be seen is how he can improve his defense (which will be the determining factor on a team not coached by Mike D’Antoni). But all facets of his game weren’t clicking in Phoenix, and James Herbert points to a change of attitude from the former North Carolina guard.
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ACC M5: 01.20.14 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on January 20th, 2014

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  1. Baltimore Sun: Jay Williams made a comment about how Maryland was playing “a little bit tight” and wondered if it had to do with Mark Turgeon‘s willingness to bench players who make mistakes. It’s an interesting thought. Certainly benching players means those players can’t produce, and if benching or coaching tirades are too frequent, I think they could affect a player’s confidence. But I doubt that’s a frequent problem. Now, micromanaging games from the sideline — that is a problem.
  2. Winston-Salem Journal: Travis McKie‘s production is down a lot this season. A smart man once told me something that makes lots of sense. McKie thrived at the four. Now, forced to play the three, he’s struggling (at least in comparison to his superb sophomore campaign). Maybe it’s because of his defenders’ quickness. Maybe it’s because he is now forced to play farther from the basket. I don’t think Codi Miller-McIntyre’s offensive surge is part of the problem because McKie has always played with a high usage guard in CJ Harris (a very different player, but still), but the Demon Deacons need him to really come into his own to get over the next proverbial hump.
  3. Hampton Roads Pilot: Malcolm Brogdon has quietly been Virginia’s most used player (ignoring Mike Tobey, who plays fewer than 20 minutes a game) — more than Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell. In addition to being the team’s top scorer in ACC play, Brogdon is the team’s second leading rebounder. His range still needs some work, but Virginia is a lot more dangerous as a team with multiple “go-to” guys beyond just Harris. They also need to finish near the top of the conference rankings in order to make the Big Dance. The Florida State sweep will look good, but a home win against Syracuse in the penultimate game would do wonders.
  4. Chapelboro.com: Roy Williams is playing around a bit with lineups to try to keep his team fresh during games. Williams has always been one to use a large rotation, so that’s not surprising. Perhaps more surprising is that Coach K appears to be making his rotation deeper, playing 10 guys for decent minutes in Duke’s last couple of games. Over the last five games, the two ACC teams most set in their rotations were Boston College (34% played by its main rotation) and Syracuse (39.9% played by its starters). Remarkably Syracuse’s second most popular rotation played 32.1% of minutes (more than any team but the Eagles). In contrast Duke (10.9%) and Maryland (9.9%) changed rotations frequently. All data here courtesy of Ken Pomeroy.
  5. Syracuse Post-Standard: Rakeem Christmas has improved dramatically on the offensive end during his time at Syracuse. He’s shooting a ridiculous 73.6 percent from the floor (thanks in large part to lots of dunks and put-backs), but he’s also become a serviceable player in the post. Not that you would make him the center of Syracuse’s offense or start up the Dream comparisons, but he’s no longer a player who can be completely ignored on offense. And that’s one reason Syracuse’s offense has made such a big step forward this season.
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ACC M5: 01.16.14 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on January 16th, 2014

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  1. Baltimore Sun: Initially Mark Turgeon and Brenda Frese (Maryland’s women’s basketball coach) didn’t support the school’s move to the Big Ten. Turgeon went so far as to say that all the coaches he has talked to, except [football coach] Randy [Edsall], “are upset and opposed” to the move. It means Turgeon will have to redecorate his office, which currently has ACC team logos strewn about, and it will also potentially impact recruiting. Another fascinating tidbit from Jeff Barker’s piece is this excerpt from James Shea: “For some time, I have been bothered that these ‘traditional rivalries’ have provoked toxic reactions from abusive language at the games to riots and car burnings after victories.” Clearly Maryland’s ulterior motive was taking Duke off its schedule for good so the College Park fire department can get some rest.
  2. ESPN: Tyler Ennis has had a remarkable freshman season so far. Based on win shares, he’s the most valuable freshman in the country and it’s not even close. His gaudy total probably comes from his elite assist-to-turnover ratio (4.2:1) or his knack for racking up steals. Whatever the case, I’m not sure anyone predicted Ennis would immediately prove to be one of the best point guards in the ACC. But he’s only got one challenger for rookie of the year, and Jabari Parker has not had a good start to conference play.
  3. Duke Basketball Report: Guess how many halves of basketball in the last four years played by an ACC team finished with the team scoring fewer than 18 points? 26! And we’ve already had five of those this season. Clemson has two of the three with two 10-point halves over that time. As you might expect this recent low-scoring trend coincided with the ACC’s new group of coaches who have successfully stolen the slowest major conference title from the Big Ten even if they can’t win the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
  4. One Foot Down: Notre Dame is reeling. The Fighting Irish have looked just awful in conference play — the win against Duke excluded. Their most recent loss came to Maryland in a game where Mike Brey’s squad led by nine before going ice cold to start the second half. The good news is that Notre Dame can try and right the ship this weekend with a home game against Virginia Tech. The bad news is that three early losses won’t help come March, in ACC Tournament seeding, or Selection Sunday.
  5. Tar Heel Blog: Good take here on the North Carolina scandal and how it’s starting to get ugly. There’s a lot of miscommunication going on right now as the university claims it hasn’t seen the data, but whistleblower Mary Willingham claims the school can get the data themselves. CNN went way above and beyond her actual findings — making claims about the athletic department in general up to the present — in its initial reports (including claiming to have the data in a second article while linking to her four-year-old thesis). We may get some sort of resolution soon, or at least a comment from the administration, as the student newspaper has reported that Willingham sat down with the Chancellor.
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ACC M5: 01.08.14 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on January 8th, 2014

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  1. Gobbler Country: And I’ve fallen for SEO devilry! An article titled “Can Syracuse Go Undefeated” turned out to be an incredibly cautious Virginia Tech preview. But I’ll take a stab anyways: no. That said, the Orange may have a better chance than anyone originally thought in the preseason, but their home scare over the weekend against Miami proves that it just takes one off night against a good team (which is bound to happen). The ACC is weaker than expected this year, but Syracuse hasn’t played a murderer’s road of a schedule — I don’t see the Orange finishing with fewer than three losses in conference play.
  2. Tar Heel Blog: Speaking of a game Syracuse might lose (and soon), North Carolina is heading to upstate New York this Saturday to play a game where anyone who claims to know the outcome is lying. Between Syracuse’s home court advantage and the Tar Heels’ frequent zone struggles, I’ll take Syracuse. But this article is about the recent national media attention on North Carolina’s academic issues. Since the New York Times put the program on the front page last week, Bloomberg, Businessweek and CNN have joined the hunt.
  3. Baltimore Sun: Mark Turgeon is a more optimistic man than I. Somehow losing on the road to Pittsburgh by 20 made him more positive than when he was started league play with two straight wins. That game only made his team’s flaws seem more deeply rooted. His offense often stalls and struggles taking care of the ball; the defense is prone to giving up big runs (often thanks to the previous point); and, his best two players have a great habit of disappearing. I’m not particularly confident that the turnover problem will go away anytime soon, but he can try to run the offense in a way to force Dez Wells and Jake Layman to be more aggressive.
  4. Charlottesville Daily Progress: Who’s ready for the inevitable Virginia egg-laying tonight at home against Wake Forest? The Cavaliers are trying to compete with North Carolina and Notre Dame for the ACC’s most volatile team. The fact is that Virginia needs to go undefeated at home in ACC play (with a good record on the road to boot) to stand a chance at making the NCAA Tournament. But that means they have to score enough points to win, and they may have to beat the Demon Deacons with Joe Harris at less than 100 percent. Flip the coin and you have a Wake Forest team looking for its second road conference win in the Jeff Bzdelik era. Should be fun to watch.
  5. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Robert Carter‘s injury sounds a lot worse than it did. Meniscus injuries are some of the weirdest injuries in sports. Sometimes players are back literally hours after surgery; sometimes not for months. Brian Gregory tabs Carter’s prospects of a return this season as “very doubtful.” Carter was a huge part of Georgia Tech’s rotation, and the team’s two offensive outings since losing him haven’t been promising. After posting an abysmal 87.0 points per 100 possessions against Maryland, the Yellow Jackets followed it up with a mere 92.9 points per 100 possessions against Duke’s porous defense. Both of their opponents also managed effective field goal percentages over 55.0 — that’s not a good look on either end of the floor.
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ACC M5: New Year’s Eve Edition

Posted by mpatton on December 31st, 2013

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  1. Tallahassee Democrat: Boris Bojanovsky is a totally new player this season (so is Michael Ojo for that matter, but that’s for another story). After playing basketball in Spain, the athleticism and speed of the game required the 7’3″ center to ratchet up his intensity. This year, those adjustments are paying off big. Currently Bojanovsky is shooting almost 75 percent from the floor and leads the Seminoles in blocked shots. He still needs to work on remaining on the court, though, as he and Ojo tend to draw more whistles than they commit fouls.
  2. Charlottesville Daily Progress: Pretty sure Virginia has now entered the danger zone. The Cavaliers gave up 87 points at Tennessee (where NC State won last week) and lost by 35 in a pitiful performance. If Jon Pence’s numbers are right, Tennessee finished the game with an offensive efficiency of 142.6, which is Virginia’s second-worst defensive showing in the Tony Bennett era (the first coming in 2010 against Washington). To put that number in context, it would be Boston College’s worst-game defensive efficiency of the season. Somewhat troubling is that this is the second poor defensive performance by the Cavaliers in as many games. Rust coming out of the break may have played a factor — and Tennessee making everything it shot, including a half-court buzzer-beater to end the first half certainly contributed — but this performance is inexcusable for a good defensive team.
  3. Backing the Pack: NC State owned double-figure leads in the second half of its last five games, but all those leads were cut to at least five and the Wolfpack lost the game to Missouri. The trend is concerning, but it also makes some sense with a young team. Even more important factors are an inexperienced primary point guard, streaky shooting, and an over-reliance on TJ Warren’s offense. The experience part will change over time, but Mark Gottfried needs to keep working on his team’s execution with leads, as conference teams will look a lot more like Missouri than Detroit. On the bright side, the transitive property says NC State will beat Virginia by 42 at a neutral site.
  4. Baltimore Sun: Mark Turgeon may be “starting over” now that Seth Allen is back in the lineup, but he’s got a lot of work to do before the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee joins him. Also, North Carolina Central isn’t a team to overlook (just ask NC State), but it could be a deal-breaker come March. That said, Turgeon’s coachspeak is exactly what the Terrapins need right now, with one primary exception. They need to remember they’re 1-0 in road conference games. That’s big. So is avoiding the inaugural ACC Tournament Wednesday slate of games.
  5. Inside Carolina: That sound was everyone in Chapel Hill collectively exhaling. Roy Williams quieted some of the retirement rumors recently spurred by Jason King’s Bleacher Report article on his radio show by noting that “I’ve wanted to go six to 10 more years” despite his wife wanting him to quit a decade ago. The x-factor is obviously his health, but it’s clear he wants to keep coaching while he still can. He also talked about Joel James’ return, which Williams expects to happen in the second or third conference game, depending on his continued progress.
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Three Thoughts on Maryland’s Win at Boston College

Posted by Matt Patton on December 14th, 2013

Maryland stopped its two-game skid with a road win to open conference play, and meanwhile the Eagles slipped to 3-7 in another poor defensive performance.

Roddy Peters will be a great player at Maryland. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)

Roddy Peters will be a great player at Maryland. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)

  1. Ryan Anderson and Joe Rahon are in shape this year, and Anderson kept the game close at the beginning. He was really the only active Boston College player early, cutting and finishing with a couple of two-handed dunks that kept Maryland from running away. However, a big concern was how Anderson disappeared after the first four minutes and throughout the second half. He only took two shots in the second period (making both; he also had two assists), which just won’t cut it in most games. Anderson needs to work on staying aggressive. Most of the game Steve Donahue played him at the four, where he’s really tough to guard because of his perimeter shooting. Rahon is listed at the same weight, but it’s clear he worked on his conditioning this summer. He finished last season on a high note, and his stats this season are a cut above. That said, I’m pretty sure Steve Donahue would happily take Rahon’s offensive stats from last season in exchange for him becoming an elite defender. Read the rest of this entry »
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ACC M10: 12.10.13 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on December 10th, 2013

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Author’s note: As technical difficulties prevented yesterday’s M5, please accept 10 blurbs as repayment.

  1. Boston Globe and BC Interruption: Both of these stories were written following Boston College‘s loss to USC. The former stressed Steve Donahue’s point of view: “The bottom line is we have a group of kids who are not playing with confidence.” The latter was from a fan, calling for Donahue’s job. Strangely enough the two aren’t that far off from each other. This was Donahue’s year to show he could make the leap, and he scheduled accordingly. Unfortunately his team didn’t play like the group that almost played spoiler in the ACC Tournament last season. They played like the athletically overmatched group that they are on paper. The team’s performance last March shows its potential (as do countless previews coming into this season), but Brian Favat is right about the season effectively being over barring a miraculous conference run. What exactly has been the problem?
  2. BC Interruption: Defense! The fine bloggers over at BC Interruption are breaking down the Eagles and their technical difficulties so far this season, starting with transition defense. Luckily, Boston College doesn’t turn the ball over that often, but the second GIF example certainly points to a team running at half-speed. That’s what Steve Donahue has to fix before the end of the season to keep fans in his corner. Everyone knows he won’t beat anyone as an elite recruiter (although he is a good evaluator of talent), but he’s got to show that his X’s and O’s can create a competitive team if he wants to stick around Chestnut Hill a lot longer. The one thing people forget about the Eagles this season is that they’re still pretty young — not nearly as young as the last two seasons, but well below average nevertheless. That’s the main reason I’d probably lean towards giving Donahue another season after this one.
  3. Streaking the Lawn: Speaking of ACC teams with rough starts, Virginia appears to have taken a step backwards since last season. The big reason for that is the Cavaliers’ sudden propensity to turn the ball over. Weirdly enough, this is a spot Jontel Evans isn’t missed (at least on paper), but all of Virginia’s players are turning it over at a higher rate than last season. That combined with stop-and-go offense certainly points to point guard issues (something many forecasted as the team’s Achilles heel). Whatever the underlying reason, Tony Bennett needs to get more offensively from Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell.
  4. Baltimore Sun: Filling out our trio of below mediocrity is Maryland. Mark Turgeon held true on his promise to start Varun Ram against George Washington, although the redshirt junior played fewer minutes than he had in the blowout loss to Ohio State. But Ram isn’t the answer, and I expect Turgeon knows this. Seth Allen isn’t the answer either, which is why Turgeon has to find another way to curb the team’s rampant turnovers. As Dez Wells and Allen mature, I expect both to get better at valuing the basketball, but expecting any changes overnight is naive.
  5. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: According to Ken Pomeroy’s statistics, Pittsburgh has the 12th-ranked defense in the country, but Jamie Dixon still isn’t happy with it. Specifically, his team’s rebounding against Loyola Marymount appeared to get under his skin, despite winning the game by 17 points. This certainly sounds like a coach trying to keep his team focused heading into conference play. If you haven’t watched the Panthers play already, Lamar Patterson is worth the price of admission. He’s the quiet leader (who admittedly hasn’t played much real competition) for ACC Player of the Year at this point.
  6. Syracuse Post-Standard: Dajuan Coleman came to Syracuse loaded with potential but has still yet to earn a significant spot in the team’s rotation. But before you’re too quick to write him off as a bust, remember that it took three and a half years for Brian Zoubek to find his role on Duke’s 2010 national championship team. Like Zoubek, Coleman is an elite offensive rebounder but that’s where the comparisons should end. Big men generally take longer to adjust to the college game, and Jim Boeheim’s system is probably nothing like what Coleman saw in high school. His breakout season might not be this year, but expect progressively more good games as the season unfolds for the sophomore.
  7. South Bend Tribune: Jerian Grant is really blossoming this season. He’s on par with North Carolina’s Marcus Paige right now as far as best guards in the league as conference play trickles to a start. Grant is shouldering a similar load — strictly speaking about possessions here — but he’s much more efficient. The big difference between this year and the last couple has been Grant’s consistency. His two-point field goal percentage is up over 15 points and his three-point field goal percentage is up nearly 10 points. That’s outrageous. Also notable is that Notre Dame is 1-2 this season when Grant scores fewer than 19 points.
  8. Greensboro News-Record: Nate Britt is finally starting to look a like he’s ready to play significant minutes this season, which is very good news for a North Carolina team that’s not very deep at the two. Playing Britt allows JP Tokoto to move to his more natural small forward position. Marcus Paige will continue to be the star of this team unless PJ Hairston eventually comes back into the fold, but meaningful minutes for Britt can only help Roy Williams’ squad.
  9. Winston-Salem Journal: Devin Thomas is a big part of why Wake Forest is so much improved over last year. He’s arguably the best rebounder in the league, which evidences his high-level motor. His intensity has gotten him in trouble at times (see: Wake Forest’s game against Kansas), but it also gives him a bit of an edge. Also, what sort of odds would you have gotten at the beginning of the season on Wake Forest at 8-2 and Boston College at 3-6 at this point in the season?
  10. Fayetteville Observer: While its offense has taken a few steps back towards earth, Duke’s defense is finally coming around. A lot of the change is from an effort and focus standpoint. Mike Krzyzewski even slapped the floor a couple of times against Michigan to help fire up his team. What remains to be seen is if and how Duke can put it all together. If Marshall Plumlee can give Coach K productive minutes like he did against the Wolverines, Duke may retake its lofty ranking yet. If not, the team will be highly dependent on the match-ups before them.
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Otskey’s Observations: Episode II

Posted by Brian Otskey (@botskey) on November 20th, 2013

Is there anyone out there who still thinks Marcus Smart made a poor decision in returning to Oklahoma State for his sophomore season? Smart is the star player on a team capable of making the Final Four and showed last night that he’s taking his commitment to improve all aspects of his game seriously. Remember, Smart was just a 40 percent shooter overall last season and an anemic 29 percent from three-point land. His talent is obvious but fine-tuning those skills are imperative if he wants to be successful at the next level of basketball. Consider last night’s 39-point performance against an overwhelmed Memphis squad a terrific start. Smart and his Cowboys blitzed the Tigers from the opening tip while the OSU guard enjoyed perhaps the hottest 10-minute stretch of basketball I have ever seen. Smart still has to prove he can hit jumpers with regularity and work on making better decisions, but he made significant progress last night, despite some ill-advised, quick shots and a couple of poor passes. Don’t forget about him: College basketball is not just all about Wiggins, Parker and Randle.

Marcus Smart was terrific against Memphis last night.  (AP Photo).

Marcus Smart was terrific against Memphis last night. (AP Photo).

It was interesting to note that John Beilein benched freshman point guard Derrick Walton Jr. down the stretch of Michigan’s 77-70 loss at Iowa State on Sunday. Instead, Beilein went with sophomore Spike Albrecht at the point as the Cyclones managed to pull away and pick up a big win. Beilein is a highly-regarded coach but this was a questionable decision. In a November game in a tough environment, I’d prefer to see the freshman in there to get that experience, good or bad. Nobody is going to be Trey Burke so what’s the harm of seeing what your young point man can do in a pressure spot? Yes, Albrecht is still young too but Walton Jr. seems like the point guard of the future for the Wolverines. I don’t think this decision cost Michigan the game but it was something I noticed immediately. Beilein should have let it ride with his promising freshman in that situation.

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ACC M5: 11.20.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on November 20th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. ACC Sports Journal: Great article here from ACC historian Barry Jacobs on Dean Smith. I had no idea Smith was a math major. He will be receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom today, joining John Wooden and Pat Summitt as the only two college basketball coaches to receive the honor. It’s hard to overstate Smith’s influence on the ACC even today–and it’s impossible to overstate his importance at North Carolina. Jacobs does a great job synthesizing anecdotes to paint a picture of the man who now battles neurocognitive disease, a truly tragic fate for someone who was known for his quick mind. Roy Williams and Bill Gutheridge will join Smith’s family to receive the award on his behalf.
  2. Winston-Salem Journal: Pretty cool article from longtime Wake Forest beat writer Dan Collins (who has covered the Demon Deacons for more than two decades) on the recent death of Wake Forest super fan Tup Strickland. Tup’s husband Hugh attended a totally ridiculous 339 straight Wake Forest games–home and away. The Stricklands weren’t alumni (though many of their children and grandchildren are), they just fell in love with the hometown school.
  3. AP (via USA Today): Maryland‘s appeal to get the ACC lawsuit thrown out was struck down by a North Carolina judge yesterday. The ACC is suing Maryland for the $52 million exit fee (the ACC sued the Terrapins first, so the suit would be filed in a favorable court). The decision doesn’t mean Maryland will have to pony up just yet. It only means the Terrapins do not get the right to an appeal in a higher state court (though the court can grant that right). After this lawsuit we get to deal with Maryland’s countersuit. Bottom line: don’t expect to see a $52 million check coming out of College Park anytime soon.
  4. Washington Post: Speaking of the Terrapins, Mark Turgeon is thinking of starting freshman Roddy Peters at point guard after a strong performance in their loss to Oregon State. The decision would relieve Dez Wells of primary ball-handling responsibilities, allowing him to play his natural position. But that means Turgeon has to bench someone. The obvious choice is the struggling Nick Faust, though that substitution hurts Maryland’s perimeter defense a lot. It’s also possible that the Terrapins play smaller with transfer Evan Smotrycz off the bench. Then again, depending on the opponent small-ball could be an option (essentially playing two under-sized stretch fours) because Shaquille Cleare hasn’t exactly been lighting up the scoreboard.
  5. The Sporting News: I’m not sure whom Mike DeCourcy is writing this to. I’m also not sure why he’s talking about RPI at this point in the season. The ACC is the strongest basketball conference when you look at the programs at its top (especially when you think about adding Louisville). No one came into this year thinking it would be the strongest conference top to bottom right now. Even after Louisville comes, I’m not sure the top-heavy ACC is destined to be a RPI powerhouse unless rebuilding programs can continue gaining traction. Don’t get me wrong, the ACC has been mostly disappointing (even at the top), but the optimism from media day is still warranted.
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