With the Game on the Line, Which ACC Players Get the Call?

Posted by Christopher Kehoe on February 1st, 2014

The ACC is chock full of great athletes and even greater coaches. In such a highly competitive environment, there is bound to be a plethora of close finishes. Even the elite coaches can’t physically will their teams to victory, but instead have to rely upon the players who have ice in their veins. Some coaches prefer a heady point guard who can wind the clock down, penetrate into the paint at the right moment, and then fire off a pinpoint pass to a shooter on the wing for the win. Other coaches prefer a more traditional route of isolation basketball, putting the ball in the hands of the best player, someone who can rise up over the defense or break down his defender one-on-one.

Michael Snaer breaks the heart of many Duke fans in CIS

Michael Snaer breaks the hearts of many Duke fans in CIS

The list of memorable ACC finishes could fill an entire book, provoking court rushes and jubilant celebrations for one team and a traumatic letdowns for another. The most recent that comes to mind from Tobacco Road was Duke’s Austin Rivers buzzer-beater in Chapel Hill two years ago. That same season, and only a month prior to Rivers’ game winner, Duke was shocked at home by Michael Snaer‘s three at the horn to snap a 45-game Duke home winning streak. Flash forward to the present and both Snaer and Rivers are long gone from their respective campuses as new faces and even a few teams litter the ACC landscape. With that in mind, who are the players that ACC coaches most want with the ball in their hands and the game on the line this season? Here are 10 players who have their coaches’ trust in those game-ending situations. 

  • Tyler Ennis, Syracuse: The freshman point guard from Canada has won Jim Boeheim as well as his teammates’ confidence and has solidified himself as the go-to presence for this year’s undefeated Syracuse team. Look no further than Ennis’ play in the final minutes of Syracuse’s home win over old rival Pittsburgh, as the Orange eked out a victory late, largely thanks to Ennis.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Closing Out the ACC Microsite

Posted by mpatton on April 29th, 2013

Well, it was an up-and-down year in the ACC filled with injuries, March disappointments and one season for the history books. We here at the RTC ACC Microsite loved chronicling every minute of it. We’ll still be providing periodic coverage throughout the summer, looking towards the NBA Draft and next year, but this marks the official end of the 2012-13 season for us. If you start getting nostalgic, here are some good places to start (in chronological order).

  • Preseason ACC Awards: Still riding the highs of my Michael Snaer mancrush after his transcendent performance in the 2012 ACC Tournament, he took the preseason ACC POY nod. We clearly meant Olivier Hanlan, not Rodney Purvis when we picked the consummate scoring frosh, we just didn’t know it yet. At least we finished one for three by picking Jim Larranaga to win COY.
This Miami team will forever be etched in the history book of ACC greats. (Photo: Robert Mayer / USA TODAY Sports)

This Miami team will forever be etched in the history book of ACC greats. (Photo: Robert Mayer / USA TODAY Sports)

  • The Martin Report feels like forever ago, but the academic jokes from North Carolina‘s rivals won’t stop for a long time. And those questions the report danced around are still out there.
  • Akil Mitchell is the best returning frontcourt man in the ACC, and Kellen was all over it last December. Especially without the likes of Mason Plumlee, Devin Booker and Alex Len, it’s fine to pencil him onto your 2013-14 preseason All-ACC teams right now.
  • Speaking of being ahead of the curve, it took us until three days into 2013 to take note of Hanlan and his freshman teammate Joe Rahon. After one of the best rookie performances in ACC Tournament history, it’s safe to say it won’t take that long next year. Also, with Scott Wood and Seth Curry graduating, it’s hard to see much competition for best shooter in the ACC.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

2012-13 Rush the Court All-America Teams

Posted by KDoyle on April 3rd, 2013

If this was baseball, a batting average of .333 would represent Hall of Fame type numbers. Back in November when our group of RTC pollsters and hoop experts selected their preseason All-America teams, just five names lived up to expectations that we originally had placed on them: Indiana’s Cody Zeller, Creighton’s Doug McDermott, Ohio State’s DeShaun Thomas, Michigan’s Trey Burke, and Kansas’ Jeff Withey. In fact, the only player who was named to the preseason All-America First Team and finished there was McDermott. If there is one thing to take away from this exercise, it’s that projecting player performance is far from an exact science.

McDermott Was Our Only Preseason First Teamer Who Stayed There

McDermott Was Our Only Preseason First Teamer Who Stayed There

The 10 players we selected as preseason All-Americans who failed to live up to our hype were: Murray State’s Isaiah Canaan, Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum — let’s remember McCollum missed more than half the season due to injury — UNLV’s Mike Moser, Missouri’s Phil Pressey, Ohio State’s Aaron Craft, San Diego State’s Jamaal Franklin, North Carolina’s James Michael McAadoo, North Texas’ Tony Mitchell, UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad, and Florida State’s Michael Snaer. It would be foolish to think that most of these players did not have exceptional seasons — look no further than Canaan, who averaged 21.8 PPG, 3.5 RPG, and 4.3 APG for the Racers this year. He had a very good senior season, but it’s not his fault that a guy like Victor Oladipo came out of nowhere to prove he was one of the best players in the country. Of course, there were a few disappointments, and we can look right at Mitchell as the most obvious example. Whether fair or not, expectations were probably too high for Mitchell, who many project to be a future NBA player. Mitchell averaged 13.0 PPG and 8.5 RPG, but his team slogged to a rough 12-20 season.

With that out of the way, let’s dive into the players who met or exceeded our expectations this season. After tallying up the votes from our nine experts, here are the 2012-13 RTC All-America Teams.

Note on methodology: voters took postseason performance into consideration. Players earned three points for a First Team vote, two points for a Second Team vote, and one point for a Third Team vote. Burke, Porter, and Oladipo were consensus First Team All-America selections.

First Team All-America

No Doubt Burke Won Over Many With His March Performances (AnnArbor.com)

No Doubt Burke Won Over Many With His March Performances (AnnArbor.com)

  • Trey Burke, SO, Michigan (consensus) (18.8 PPG, 6.8 APG, 1.6 SPG, 3.1 A/TO). After spearheading arguably the nation’s most potent offense during the regular season, Burke was named a First Team All-American by the AP. His virtuoso performance in the South Region semifinal against Kansas where he singlehandedly brought Michigan back in the final minutes of regulation supplanted himself as not just a surefire First Teamer here at RTC, but perhaps the National Player of the Year as well. More than just his knack for hitting the big shot, Burke’s most impressive attribute may be as a distributor; boasting a 3.1 A/TO ratio is downright impressive given the responsibility John Beilein has bestowed upon him in running the offense.
  • Otto Porter Jr., SO, Georgetown (consensus) (16.2 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.8 SPG, 48.0% FG, 42.2% 3FG). Many often lamented Georgetown’s stagnant Princeton-style offense as the reason for its lack of production, but imagine where the Hoyas may have been this season without Porter. The sophomore emerged as one of the nation’s best players after consecutive games in Brooklyn where he led Georgetown past then #11 UCLA and nearly upset top-ranked Indiana the following night. Porter was expected to be a key cog for Georgetown this season after averaging just south of 10.0 PPG as a freshman, but his outburst was a surprise to many this year. His stark improvement with his three-point shot — a 22.6% to 42.2% increase — has made Porter a much more complete player, and bodes well for his future at the next level.
  • Victor Oladipo, JR, Indiana (consensus) (13.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 2.1 SPG, 59.9% FG, 44.1% 3FG). A role player in his first two seasons at Indiana, Oladipo emerged as Indiana’s best and most valuable player as a junior, surpassing more celebrated teammate Cody Zeller in that regard. While his offensive game improved in nearly every department — how often is it that a guard shoots 60% from the field? — it was Oladipo’s defense which made him an invaluable part of Tom Crean’s team. There may not be a better on-ball wing defender in the country as Oladipo created havoc — to borrow a term from Shaka Smart — on the perimeter. In looking at just his statistics, one would think Oladipo is a 6’10 power forward given his high shooting percentage and rebounding totals; that’s what makes him such a unique and dominant player.
  • Doug McDermott, JR, Creighton (26) (23.2 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 54.8% FG, 49.0% 3FG, 87.5% FT). Perhaps the most prolific and talented offensive player in college basketball, it came as no surprise to find McDermott’s name on the First Team All-America list. His shooting percentages in all three departments are off the charts, and were a big reason Creighton was tops in the nation in team 3FG% and third in 2FG%; McDermott went off for 20+ points in 26 of his 36 games this season. While his defensive and athletic abilities are both question marks, there’s no denying that McDermott is a natural scorer who is a threat to score from anywhere on the floor. Assuming he returns for his senior season, McDermott will most likely eclipse the 3,000-point mark as a collegian which has only been done seven times in history.
  • Kelly Olynyk, JR, Gonzaga (24) (17.8 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.1 BPG, 62.9% FG). Playing behind Robert Sacre and Steven Gray for his first two seasons at Gonzaga, Olynyk averaged just 12.3 MPG as a freshman and 13.5 MPG as a sophomore. For his redshirt junior season, however, he owned the frontcourt. A legit seven-footer, Olynyk runs the floor like an athletic forward and scores in a variety of ways. His 62.9% FG was especially impressive considering he spent a fair amount of time outside of the paint in Gonzaga’s offense. He was the biggest reason that Gonzaga ascended to its first-ever #1 ranking in the polls and commensurate #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Second Team All-America

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Rushed Reactions: North Carolina 83, Florida State 62

Posted by mpatton on March 15th, 2013

rushedreactions

Matt Patton is an ACC microsite writer. He filed this report after Friday night’s game between UNC and Florida State in the ACC quarterfinals from Greensboro.

Three Key Takeaways:

Michael Snaer is done in the ACC.

Michael Snaer is done in the ACC.

  1. Seminole Interior Defense: The striking thing watching this game wasn’t that North Carolina was torching Florida State from three. That happens, and it happens to good defensive teams. What was surprising is how easily North Carolina got into and scored in the lane. When all was said and done the Tar Heels finished with 36 points in the paint and made 14 of their 22 attempts inside the arc (for the second half). Part of the problem was that Florida State started sleepwalking through the motions after getting down 20. But this team has given up a lot more layups than Leonard Hamilton-coached teams of yore. A youthful front line is probably the problem for two reasons: (1) the Florida State fives don’t know where they’re supposed to be; and (2) they let the game impact their defense. Both are reasons not to despair long-term about the Seminoles, as experience will help drastically.
  2. Snaer’s Last ACC Game: Michael Snaer owned the best stat line on the floor (8-of-12 shooting for 20 points to go with five assists, two blocks and a steal), but couldn’t plug the holes in his team’s defense. The line was a fitting way for him to go out, but the game couldn’t have been worse. Snaer is the most competitive player I’ve ever covered, but this game wasn’t competitive thanks to hot shooting and team youth. After the game, Roy Williams talked about his brief comment to Snaer in the handshake line: “I told him he was a heck of a player, I enjoyed watching him play, and I told him that maybe that doesn’t make him feel good right now but maybe he could appreciate it later because I’m a huge fan of his.” Coach K has given Snaer similar praise. Count me in as well.
  3. Paige’s Rebound: In his two games before this Marcus Paige had a combined 13 turnovers. Against Florida State, he had 10 assists and one turnover. It helped that his teammates were hitting shots when he found them, but Paige’s vision was tremendous. He played smart and within his limits — which may be the hardest part of being a point guard in Roy Williams’ system. If he plays to this level, North Carolina is an excellent team.

Star of the GamePJ Hairston (honorable mention to Snaer) dominated the game from the moment he touched the ball. His stat line by the time he left with a little over four minutes left was 7-11 from the field, 21 points and a couple of steals. But his stat line doesn’t do his performance justice. He was making everything from beyond the arc: When Florida State had a hand in his face, it didn’t matter; when it was a step-back from 22 feet, it didn’t matter. He started the game with two threes after Florida State turnovers before two back-breaking threes down the stretch in the first half took the Tar Heel lead from two to 10. His threes fed his team energy and sucked the soul out of Florida State, who looked like dead men walking by the final buzzer.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Rushed Reactions: Florida State 73, Clemson 69

Posted by mpatton on March 14th, 2013

rushedreactions

Matt Patton is an RTC correspondent and ACC microsite writer. He filed this report after Thursday night’s ACC Tournament game between Florida State and Clemson.

Three Key Takeaways:

  1. Epic Almost-Collapse: Florida State had a 13-point lead with two minutes to play. Two turnovers, a missed dunk, a flagrant foul and a fouled three-point shooter later, the Seminoles were lucky to have a six-point lead (Clemson missed four field goals over that stretch). The Tigers proceeded to hit two unbelievable threes to cut the lead to two with 13 seconds to play, but Michael Snaer iced the game with four straight free throws to close it out. But Florida State looked flummoxed the last two minutes. It didn’t help that a couple of close calls went the other way, but the team lost its poise. After the game, Leonard Hamilton said, “It was like we were trying to invent ways to give the game back to Clemson.” In the end, Florida State hit more free throws and won, but it shouldn’t have been that close.
  2. Terrance Shannon makes Florida State a different team: Much of this year, Florida State has been muscled around inside by ACC opponents. With a young front line — only made younger by Terrance Shannon‘s injury — it wasn’t that the Seminoles were soft. They just didn’t play smart. They often got out of position and gave up easy buckets uncharacteristic of Hamilton’s system. But Shannon provides a spark of strength and experience that really turned the tables in the second half. He’ll be critical to the Seminoles’s chances against North Carolina tomorrow. So far the Tar Heels have struggled with big, physical teams and Shannon fits the description to a T.
  3. Clemson free throws: Clemson shot a smooth 19-of-31 from the free throw line (61.3%). The team missed four free throws in the final two minutes that would have made it even closer than it was. In the past 10 years, Clemson has only finished in the top 200 of Division I in free throw shooting twice. The only time the Tigers ended up in the top half was Brad Brownell’s first season. You want a big reason for Clemson’s rep as a team that chokes? Don’t look further than 15 feet.

Star of the GameOkaro White played like a man possessed tonight. He was everywhere for Florida State. He knocked down jumpers when Clemson let him, or he used the threat of a jump shot to get into the lane. He had several strong moves in the paint. After all was said and done he finished 8-of-11 from the field, good for 24 points in 39 minutes. You may not be familiar with Hamilton’s system, but it’s not every day someone plays essentially the whole game (he played 12 guys against Clemson). Snaer was the only other player to log 39 minutes, which highlights the two most important players for this squad.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ACC M5: 03.08.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 8th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. USA Today: This is a phenomenal article from Mike Lopresti on the 30-year anniversary of the shocking NC State national championship over Houston (which, in awesome time consuming news, you can watch in its entirety on Youtube). Two of the three most important pieces to that game are dead–Jim Valvano and Lorenzo Charles (the dunker)–but the legacy lives on through countless ESPN replays. There are very few moments in sports where the ecstasy of winning was so raw and powerful as it was watching Valvano run one direction before sprinting towards the mob by the NC State basket. 
  2. Indy Weekly: Jeff Bzdelik press conferences are worth the price of admission. He often comes across as an odd combination of aloof and irascible. After the Demon Deacons took a beating from CJ Leslie and NC State, Bzdelik offered this sage take on Leslie’s game:

    “When he wants to be, if he really wants to be, he can be”

    That’s actually a pretty fair summation of Leslie’s career. Bzdelik should’ve known he was two syllables away from a haiku, but such is life.

  3. The ACC: The conference released its All-ACC Academic teams Thursday. Four of the 14 players call Duke home, and over half of them are freshmen. Mason Plumlee is the fourth Duke player to ever make the team two years in a row; Jarell Eddie also made the team for a second straight year. All in all nine schools made the cut, but Virginia, NC State and Florida State did not. To qualify you had to have a 3.00 GPA both this year and over the course of your entire career (which explains the high number of freshmen on the team).
  4. Washington Post: It’s not a secret that Mark Turgeon and Roy Williams are close. The interesting part of this article is twofold: (1) with Maryland’s coming departure to the Big Ten, Mark Turgeon won’t have to worry about taking advice from a direct competitor, and (2) the author’s language when talking about Turgeon and Maryland’s departure. “Changing conferences wasn’t part of the deal. Turgeon came to Maryland to be a part of the tradition-rich ACC. [...] But there’s only one Tobacco Road.” North Carolina bias aside (Maryland’s not on Tobacco Road and if anything, the reverence surrounding Tobacco Road irritated Gary Williams as much as anything), but Turgeon always speaks in favor of the move publicly.
  5. This doesn’t need any analysis. (But really Tony Bennett, you didn’t want to double team the guy with three game winners this year before he got the ball?) Michael Snaer put the shakes on Joe Harris before getting the old-fashioned three point play to beat Virginia.

Share this story

ACC M5: 02.19.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 19th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. AP (via USA Today): Sometimes punchlines just write themselves. Apparently Sidney Lowe is in some hot water for not submitting federal tax returns for three straight years as NC State coach, which begs the question as to exactly how he thought that would fly. Filing tax returns shouldn’t be new, and there’s not a known history of Lowe evading taxes before he got to Raleigh, so this story is more than a little strange. I’d expect this to be resolved sooner rather than later, but it’s still an odd way for the former Wolfpack great turned less-than-mediocre coach to resurface in the headlines.
  2. Tallahassee Democrat: Anyone who’s watched Michael Snaer play over the past four years knows his best asset is his competitiveness. It’s also his curse. There’s a reason Leonard Hamilton often takes Snaer out early in the first half. He can get too jacked up on the energy in the game and start to force things. That used to happen a lot. It still happens sometimes, especially when teammates aren’t playing up to their abilities or a big call goes the wrong way. But Snaer’s gotten a lot better at playing within Florida State’s offense this season. He’s never going to be consistently levelheaded, but there’s also a reason he’s hit more ACC buzzer-beaters than anyone in recent memory.
  3. Raleigh News & Observer: Joe Giglio laid some reality on NC State fans, specifically the ones who think that the Wolfpack are still Final Four contenders. The last 10 ACC teams to reach the final weekend all finished league play with a margin of victory of greater than 10 points (unrelatedly, RPI-praisers should take note here, as it’s probably not a coincidence that margin of victory is related to NCAA success). Currently, NC State’s margin of victory sits right at 6.1 points a game and the squad has only one won game by double figures. That’s not elite.
  4. Winston-Salem Journal: It wouldn’t be ACC coverage without some talk of officiating (and a little hint of bias). The only thing missing from this article is the context surrounding the calls. One, a technical called against Jeff Bzdelik after a no-call on Kammeon Holsey (Wake lost by one); the other, a technical not called against Steve Wojciechowski after a blatantly missed double-dribble going into the half. The first was actually far more influential (a four-point swing in a very close game); the second turned out not to be. But it’s interesting the different amount of latitude that different coaches are afforded. However, not knowing exactly what was said (there are supposed to be “magic words” that will earn technicals if directed at officials), it’s hard to be too harsh on Brian Kersey.
  5. Testudo Times: Pe’Shon Howard is back after his indefinite (one-game) suspension. But after Howard’s suspension led to an upset over Duke, how much time will he actually see going forward? That remains to be seen. It’s valid to point out that Howard likely would’ve disrupted Maryland’s already choppy (thanks to a merciless number of turnovers) but effective offensive rhythm. But he’s also got more experience, which holds some value too. If he can find his jump shot — which is probably unlikely at this point — he’ll be an asset to Maryland. If not, Mark Turgeon should think about using him as a sub to spell Seth Allen and Dez Wells in very specific situations.

EXTRA: Somehow Holden Thorp managed to parlay his athletic and academic scandals into a great gig at Washington University in Saint Louis. I’m sure leaving his alma mater is still tough, but this sweet new job has got to make things feel a lot better.

Share this story

ACC M5: 02.11.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 11th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Raleigh News & Observer: Andrew Carter’s midseason look at the ACC is a good read, although one phrase stuck out when he described Mason Plumlee. Carter justified Plumlee as the conference player of the year (a reasonable choice) by saying: “Plumlee is the most important player on the conference’s best team.” We’re halfway through the season, Miami owns a dramatic win over the Blue Devils and won (in a great game) at the school responsible for Duke’s other loss. It’s high time Miami was considered the conference’s best team. Plumlee may be the ACC Player of the Year (he’s arguably more important to Duke’s success than any one player on the Hurricanes), and I think Duke has a slight edge at home. But that doesn’t undermine Miami’s success. The Hurricanes are the best team until proven otherwise.
  2. Tar Heel Blog: Speaking of Duke, a bit of controversy popped up around the Cameron Crazies when they allegedly chanted “How’s your grandma?” at NC State’s Tyler Lewis last week (whose grandmother died recently). If the chant happened, it was obviously boorish, unnecessary and cruel. I’m not going to pile on the Cameron Crazies, but I’m not going to defend them either. The Crazies get a lot of polarized publicity from the media, but like most stories the truth isn’t so black and white. The Crazies are passionate fans that make Cameron Indoor Stadium one of the best atmospheres in the country. They’re also college students. They make the same stupid mistakes other student sections around the country do. Theirs are often more visible, as they get more coverage than the average student section, and I’m not sure there’s any more story here.
  3. Hampton Roads Daily Press: A little less than two years ago, arguing the prognosis of Virginia and Virginia Tech hoops teams would’ve been an interesting discussion (and Virginia Commonwealth would be irrelevant). Now, the discussion is hugely one-sided (and the Rams are anything but irrelevant), but the difference is more subtle than it looks. The Hokies lost two major talents, Montrezl Harrell and Dorian Finney-Smith, each of whom would have added a lot of talent and depth to this year’s team. That still wouldn’t make up the difference between the two teams this season, but it’s amazing how much can change in a short period of time.
  4. Baltimore Sun: Alex Len is one of the country’s most improved players this year, but he still lacks the consistency required to be a top-flight performer. Last year, only his athleticism and upside impressed. This season his flashes of brilliance consist of longer stretches, but he won’t finish first team all-ACC nor will he live up to his All-American tools. The biggest issue for Len appears to be physicality. He’s much stronger than last season, but teams have found that they can pop him in the mouth and aggressively force him out of position. If he comes back next season, it’s possible that he’d become one of the top players in the country; it’s also likely that he’d expose his fatal flaw and cost himself a large sum of money come NBA Draft day.
  5. Tallahassee Democrat: It’s weird to read this article. Leonard Hamilton‘s team — the squad led by arguably the most competitive player I’ve ever seen live — lacks effort. Sure it would help if this team had more bangers in the paint and a little more experience running the show, but that’s not this year’s problem. This team, on paper, may be more talented than last year’s ACC championship squad. Those Seminoles were the best of the Hamilton era: effort, experience and toughness defined. This year’s squad doesn’t make you cringe quite as much as Hamilton’s teams of yore (other than their turnovers), but the intensity just isn’t there enough of the time.
Share this story

ACC M5: 02.07.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 7th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Raleigh News & Observer: Huge ACC media news out of Raleigh as Caulton Tudor announced his retirement after over four decades of work with the News & Observer. For those keeping score at home–as any good sports fan should–that’s over 6,000 columns, 40 conference tournaments and 24 Final Fours for good measure. I didn’t always agree with Tudor (notably after he put the entire North Carolina team on his first-team All-ACC last season), but you always knew what you were getting. Luke DeCock, the other primary sports columnist on staff, had many more anecdotes to share.
  2. CBSSports.com: So the NCAA may be caught in a lie. After Mark Emmert’s self-deprecating presser claiming the NCAA found out about the improper use of Nevin Shapiro’s lawyer when his bill showed up on their doorstep, Dennis Dodd caught onto something different. NCAA vice-president (of enforcement) Jule Lach approved at least $20,000 to pay Shapiro’s lawyer. This isn’t good for the NCAA and doesn’t bode well for Elena Perez, Shapiro’s lawyer, either. It is good for Miami, where Al Golden took to the signing day pulpit to proclaim his program has paid enough for its sins. Smart move, considering it looks like at best the NCAA will have to throw out much of its case against the Hurricanes.
  3. Run the Floor: This article points out several interesting facts about the ACC and college basketball as a whole. First, as I sort of suspected, the ACC is really young (significantly younger than any other major conferences). As an aside, the Mountain West is by far the most experienced league. Which helps explain why the league is outperforming its normal expectations and is competitive top to bottom. In the ACC, Miami and Duke lead both the conference standings and the percentage of minutes played by seniors. It’s no coincidence: barring unbelievable talent (see: Michigan this year or Kentucky last year), experience is extraordinarily valuable in college basketball. Between coming experience and the additions of Syracuse and Pittsburgh, the ACC should be back atop the conference power struggle next season.
  4. Charlotte Observer: Speaking of the Blue Devils, what is their plan for the game against NC State? Play better. Specifically, stop the Wolfpack in transition and defend Richard Howell and CJ Leslie. It’s funny, reading Duke talk about these goals reads more like a review of its game against Miami instead of NC State. It’s true the Wolfpack outscored Duke in transition and dominated the frontcourt battle. But that was also the team’s first game without Ryan Kelly–in an incredibly hostile environment. That’s not the game Duke wants revenge for. The Blue Devils want revenge for the game that made everyone question its place as a national title contender. That was the game at Coral Gables.
  5. CBS Atlanta: How about an ACC Player Power Rankings for dessert? Interestingly, no NC State players make the cut. Right now my power rankings would probably look similar (Michael Snaer, Shane Larkin, Erick Green, Kenny Kadji and Mason Plumlee). How can you go against buzzer beaters ad winning? But All-ACC will be a very interesting discussion should prove a very interesting discussion this season.
Share this story

Michael Snaer’s Late-Game Heroics Save Florida State Once Again

Posted by Jimmy Kelley on February 6th, 2013

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

Florida State has had a rough go of it this season. A shocking loss on opening night was followed by struggles during non-conference play with the ACC yet to show the Seminoles any mercy either. But if there is one shining light for FSU in the darkness that has enveloped it’s season, it has been the late-game heroics of Michael Snaer. The senior guard struck again on Tuesday night with a buzzer-beating layup that pushed FSU past Georgia Tech and gave Snaer his third game-winning shot in the last five games.


Before the season started Snaer was a favorite by many to win the ACC’s Player of the Year award but his inconsistent play hurt his resume early on and no-shows against Miami and Duke in the last few games haven’t helped it recover. But if there is one piece of his game that can be argued for it is his flair for the dramatic. Dating back to his game-winning three in Cameron last year, Snaer has been one of the most clutch players in college basketball and his three deciding hoops this season make him responsible for more wins than five Division I teams. Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ACC M5: 01.31.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 31st, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Yahoo! Sports: Here are some fun facts about Shane Larkin. He stopped playing baseball after his little league manager told him, “Whoever taught you to hit didn’t know what he was talking about” (his dad, Barry Larkin, is a Hall of Fame baseball player). Also, at one point in his high school career Jeff Bzdelik was pursuing Larkin pretty hard and Larkin seemed pretty interested. Bzdelik never offered. Now Larkin is a top-three point guard in the ACC (Erick Green, then he and Quinn Cook seem pretty comparable). But Larkin’s development is one of the better stories in the ACC this season. He was an exciting player last year, but made as many stupid plays as jaw-dropping ones. This year, he’s much more in control and Miami’s a better team for it.
  2. Washington PostBefore Michael Snaer’s game-winning dagger last night (see #5, below), Mark Turgeon said Maryland‘s loss to Florida State earlier in the season “probably was the toughest.” My guess is that buzzer-beater didn’t help. The Florida State loss was when Maryland started to slip (or the competition exposed the Terrapins). Maryland was in control most of that game, leading by eight points twice (the second time coming with less than seven minutes to play in the game). But both times it looked like Maryland might stretch things out before the Seminoles came clawing back.
  3. Charleston Post and Courier: Like most of his career, Milton Jennings has been very inconsistent this season. Some days he’s the star of the show. Others he might as well not exist. Travis Sawchik noticed that one determining factor in Jennings’ performance is whether he’s playing at home or on the road. At Littlejohn Coliseum Jennings is shooting nearly 60% from the floor and is good for over 13 points a game. On the road? He’s shooting an abysmal 23% from the floor and is averaging six points a game. Jennings feeds off positive energy, and the crowd at Clemson gives him energy. The crowds on the road makes him tentative. Brad Brownell’s team would benefit a lot if Jennings could become more consistent. He’s the team’s second best player, and it desperately needs him on the road.
  4. Duke Chronicle: This is the best article I’ve seen on Seth Curry‘s injury this year. It’s old news that Curry misses a significant number of Duke’s practices, but I hadn’t read that he “can’t really jump off [his] right leg” or that Tyler Thornton’s job in practice is to emulate Curry (which might explain some of Thornton’s threes). It’s got to be tough for Duke — not to mention Curry — as the team has changed it’s offense pretty significantly since Ryan Kelly went down with his injury.
  5. Tomahawk Nation (video via NBC Sports): So Michael Snaer hit another buzzer-beater — his second this week, fourth in ACC play. This time Snaer stole a win from Maryland. However the biggest news for Florida State fans is the matter of turnovers. Miscues have killed the Seminoles the past few years, but they only gave the ball up six times (less than 10% of possessions) against Maryland. That’s what kept them close enough so that Snaer’s late-game heroics could do the rest. An injured Ian Miller (who, similar to Seth Curry, isn’t practicing) was very productive, even engineering the final play with his drive and kick to Snaer. The moral of this story: Florida State isn’t dead yet. The Seminoles still need to steal a win or two against Duke, NC State or Miami and have a strong showing in the conference tourney, but there’s hope.

Share this story

Florida State Lacks Same Toughness That Won the Seminoles an ACC Title

Posted by Jimmy Kelley on January 28th, 2013

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

Pat Riley once spoke about the “disease of more.” When a team wins a championship, everyone wants something more. More attention, more minutes, more responsibility. When Florida State won the ACC Tournament last season, they did so with a hungry core of experienced players who were committed to playing defense and being tougher that anyone else in the league. With Michael Snaer back to lead a group of 10 returning players, the Seminoles were expected to contend for another ACC crown this season. But without the same unselfish hunger that was personified by their battle-tested center, Bernard James, the Seminoles have been a team instead represented by the effort that saw them run out of the gym in Miami on Sunday night.

Devidas Dulkys, Florida State

Devidas Dulkys (4) and Bernard James (on ground) were major parts of last year’s ACC championship team. (Photo via Orlando Sentinal)

Sunday was just the latest letdown in a season that has had far more valleys than peaks. An opening night loss to South Alabama at home should have been a red flag, but was written off as an aberration. Then three straight losses to Minnesota, Mercer and Florida revealed that this team was headed for a much different fate than its predecessor. Without James, the ‘Noles lack the same defensive prowess that helped them overachieve last season. Led by their senior big man, Florida State had the #5 field goal defense (38.1 percent) in the nation, were #7 in blocks (213), #41 in total rebounds (1,273), #44 in defensive rebounds (869), and #66 in scoring defense (62.9 PPG) last season. Without James anchoring them on the defensive end this year, those rankings have risen to #121 in field goal defense (41.2 percent), #36 in blocks, #283 in total rebounds, #271 in defensive rebounds, and #93 in scoring defense (66.8 PPG).

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story