Northwestern Wins: A College Hoops Blog

An ode to Verne Lundquist’s calls and everything college basketball

Posts Tagged ‘Miami Hurricanes’

ACC/Big Ten Challenge Recap

Posted by Zach on December 4, 2008

Duke Purdue Basketball

The ACC/Big Ten Challenge has always been dominated by the ACC, winning all nine of the hyped events heading into this year’s clash. I went through the games with popular commenter Brian Sunday night and we determined the Big Ten had a chance to finally come out on top if they held at home and sprung a mildly surprising upset on the road. At the very least, the Big Ten could keep us entertained until the final night.

Turns out they received the stunning upset when Miami was unable to exact revenge from the 2003 Fiesta Bowl on Tuesday night, but were ultimately hurt by Purdue not showing up against Duke and Illinois failing to take care of business on their own floor against Clemson. In the end, the ACC once again touted their superiority over the Big Ten. But hey, don’t get too down, you midwestern diehards. Next year should be your best chance ever with Purdue returning all five starters, Illinois, Minnesota and Ohio State drastically improving, and the Spartans full of talent as always.

Here’s a recap of each game in the event and some extra thoughts, as well:

#22 Wisconsin 74, Virginia Tech 72: The Badgers have two chances to pick up quality road wins this week, the first being in Blacksburg on Monday night and then on Saturday against in-state rival Marquette in Milwaukee. They nearly blew a comfortable lead with under five minutes to play in this game, mostly due to the coming out party of Tech’s A.D. Vassallo, whose 30 points and 6 threes made up for the non-existent Jeff Allen, banished by foul trouble. Vassallo’s triple with 8 seconds to play tied the game at 72 before Hughes calmly dribbled slowly up the floor and threw up a leaner in the face of about three Hokies to give Wisconsin the advantage with 0.8 seconds remaining. Jason Bohannon hit a few huge treys in the second half and sophomore Jon Leuer helped out with 17/6 off the pine. Virginia Tech is hurting their bubble chances with losses to Xavier, Seton Hall and Wisconsin, but I still feel like they’ll be involved in March, meaning it’s a nice road victory for Bo Ryan. They’ll try to reel in an even bigger fish on Saturday.

Boston College 57, Iowa 55: Poor Andrew Brommer. With a chance to send the Hawkeyes into overtime on the road against Boston College following a bonehead Corey Raji foul, Brommer barely scrapped the front rim on the first of a 1-and-1, sending Iowa home in defeat. BC is now 3-0 all-time in the Challenge, the only undefeated team other than 10-0 Duke. They nearly blew an 11-point lead (56-45) in the contest with Tyrese Rice making just three field goals amidst another game mired in foul trouble. The Eagles weren’t supposed to be an outstanding outside shooting team anyway, but only two in this contest has to be troublesome for Al Skinner. BC looks like they’re headed to the NIT while Iowa and coach Todd Lickliter continue their massive rebuilding project, likely not resulting in a postseason spot this season.

Iowa Boston College Basketball

#4 Duke 76, #10 Purdue 60: The biggest game in Mackey Arena history. Purdue diehards sleeping outside in tents on Monday night in anticipation of the hugest Purdue home basketball game since the 90’s. Then Duke showed up, the students shut up, and the Blue Devils marched out of West Lafayette with a convincing and super-impressive 16 point victory in their first true road contest of the season against a top-15 team. Kyle Singler was once again phenomenal, leading the way with 20/12 while Jon Scheyer chipped in with his usually smooth stroke from outside and the charity stripe, totaling 20 points, as well. From the tip, Duke charged out to a 7-0 lead and quieted the packed crowd, pretty much controlling the game the entire way. Purdue missed numerous easy layups and the Blue Devils looked like the stronger defensive team Tuesday night. Matt Painter needed big performances from E’Twaun Moore and Robbie Hummel and he got neither. Duke looks like they could be on their way to a #1 seed and a Final Four, but we’ve said this before recently.

Ohio State 73, #23 Miami (FL) 68– Probably the most surprising result of the entire Challenge. The Buckeyes can thank Jack McClinton for losing his cool in picking up a very important road win for a young Ohio State team. McClinton became frustrated with Ohio State point guard Anthony Crater’s close-knit defense, resulting in a face brushing from the All-ACC guard that prompted an immediate ejection. McClinton was 4-4 from three and Miami was cruising to an easy home victory when this occured, and the Canes still led by 14 early in the second half. Miami guards Lance Hurdle, James Dews and Brian Asbury (they were also without guard Eddie Rios, who was suspended indefinitely pregame) went 2-17 from deep and turned the ball over 10 times against a suffocating pressure defense from the Buckeyes, ultimately losing their comfortable led when Jon Diebler put up a career high 20 points on six triples and Evan Turner chipped in with 19 of his own. Credit Thad Matta for keeping his team motivated. They put up a remarkable 51 second half points and could be flying under the radar here in early December.

Clemson 76, Illinois 74: Champaign, Illinois is not an easy place to win, especially facing an unblemished Illini team brimming with confidence. Coach Oliver Purnell and the Tigers won with a balanced scoring attack: Rivers (14), Sykes (14), Stitt (18), Booker (16) and forced 17 turnovers with a full-court press that baffled the Illinois guards. They shot an impresive 58% on the road and quietly improve to 8-0 on the season. Illinois played extremely well in the first half, but cooled down in the second shooting-wise. Bruce Weber received solid games from forward Mike Davis (28/8) and sweet shooter Demetri McCamey (20 on 4 triples). Outstanding road win for Clemson, especially if Illinois can sneak into the NCAA Tournament.

Minnesota 66, Virginia 56: Tubby Smith and the Gophers stayed undefeated, lucking out and drawing the weakest ACC team in the conference in Virginia. The Cavaliers turned the ball over 19 times resulting in 20 Minnesota points and their top scorer at 20.8 PPG, freshman Sylven Landesberg, shot just 1/11 from the field for 10 points. Another freshman starred for Minnesota- 6’10 center Colton Iverson’s 14 points and 7 rebounds coupled with 12 from Blake Hoffarber and Al Nolen’s five steals were enough to pace an expected victory. Minnesota is now 7-0 and looks like a potential bubble team.

#1 North Carolina 98, Michigan State 63: Okay, the question is no longer: Is North Carolina the clear cut #1 team in the nation? It’s no longer: Can North Carolina stay at #1 the entire season? It’s no longer: Can North Carolina go undefeated? The question is: Is this North Carolina team one of the greatest college basketball teams of all-time? I know, I know…it’s totally premature to be throwing out questions like that in early December after only eight games. But how can you not be impressed completely blown away, jaw-on-the-floor, utterly amazed? This team is so loaded that the word loaded fails to do any justice. The Tar Heels have now dismantled two top-15 opponents in Notre Dame and Michigan State, their average margin of victory this year is somewhere around 35 PPG, they put up nearly 100 points or more in every contest…thus far for Roy Williams, it’s been a cakewalk. This was the game everyone pointed to before the season and said the Heels could slip up. They won by 35. Tyler Hansbrough looks healthy (25/11, 13/13 FT), Ty Lawson had another incredibly efficient game (17 points, 6/11 FG, 2/3 3pt, 8 asst, 7 stl, 0 TO) and the Tar Heels ran away with the game near the midway point of the first half, never looking back and establishing themselves as, potentially, historically dominant.

Michigan Maryland Basketball

Maryland 75, Michigan 70: Solid win for the Terps on their home floor against an upstart Michigan team that only received 15 points from their sophomore star Manny Harris. These are two teams who will likely have their fair share of great wins and stunning losses (Michigan has another chance with Duke at home Saturday), and this type of victory could be the difference for a Maryland team likely sitting on the bubble come March. Greivis Vasquez was sensational- 23 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists- while Maryland somehow out-rebounded Michigan 43-26 in the contest. Anthony Wright, DeShawn Sims and Zack Gibson only contributed 10 total rebounds. They’ll need to hit the glass more to win these types of road games. Eric Hayes, Landon Milbourne and Dave Neal also reached double digits in scoring for the Terrapins.

Penn State 85, Georgia Tech 83: Could be a rough season for both of these teams, although Penn State has the potential to turn some heads in the Big Ten. Scoring tandem Stanley Pringle and Talor Battle combined for 40 points and the Nittany Lions simply outplayed Georgia Tech in Atlanta for a notch on the Big Ten belt, surviving despicable free throw shooting in the final minute. It’s official: Paul Hewitt is on the hot seat. Luckily for him, he has two outstanding playmakers in Iman Shumpert (14/12 asst) and lottery pick Gani Lawal, who exploded for 34 points on 15/20 FG and 10 rebounds, likely receiving the Horse Trailer if Tyler Smith didn’t notch the first triple-double in Tennessee history.

#17 Wake Forest 83, Indiana 58: This one actually could have been a lot uglier than the final result. The talent disparity on the floor in this game was simply unfair, clearly noticeable every instance James Johnson or L.D. Williams decided to jump over a Hoosier player for an easy dunk. Wake didn’t totally demolish Indiana due to a lack of three-point shooting (5/11) and sloppy play (22 TO), two negatives in the Deacons game that may ultimately lead to their demise. The athleticism and inside play is absurdly good, though. They shot 62% overall with James Johnson totalling 21, Al-Farouq Aminu 13 and L.D. Williams 16 in the contest. Tom Crean had his team playing very hard, only losing 33-30 in terms of rebounds. Wake Forest improves to 7-0 on the campaign while Indiana falls to 4-3.

Northwestern 73, Florida State 59: Just when you think Leonard Hamilton and the Seminoles are finally hitting their stride and setting up for a tremendous season, they play a stinker like this one Wednesday night in Evanston. Florida State had 22 turnovers and went scoreless for nearly four minutes during a 20-2 Northwestern run that paced the victory. The Wildcats 1-3-1 zone baffled the Florida State offense in the second half of this one, namely freshman Chris Singleton (5 points). Toney Douglas was great once again (7/16 FG, 3/8 3pt, 21 pts) as Florida State drops to 7-1 on the season and look like an NIT team at best despite the impressive record.

Great doubleheader on ESPN tonight with USC-Oklahoma and UCLA-Texas. Enjoy everyone.

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Posted in Non-Conference Tournaments | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Who’s Hot & Who’s Not

Posted by Tommy on December 3, 2008

The early stages of college basketball have been a blast. Some teams/players have impressed early on, and some have been disappointing so far. Here’s my rundown of “Who’s Hot and Who’s Not” so far this season.

Who’s Hot:

Gonzaga Bulldogs: Mark Few and the Bulldogs have shown that they deserve to be at the top along with the BCS conference powerhouses. The Zags have all the pieces to make a run to the Final Four- a great senior point guard in Jeremy Pargo, strong big men in Josh Heyvelt, Ira Brown and Robert Sacre, and a couple great scorers in Micah Downs and Austin Daye. Stephen Gray is a solid role player and is lights out from beyond the arc when locked in. Heytvelt has looked like the projected lottery pick of old and Daye is emerging as one of the most versatile players in the country. The Zags took down Oklahoma State, blew out Maryland and beat a great Tennessee team to win the Old Spice Classic.

Blake Griffin: Griffin is rapidly becoming the poster child of college basketball and deservedly so. His numbers are off the charts. 25.7 PPG is impressive, but what really jumps out is the fact that he’s shooting 69.2% from the field. His rebounding skills are already well-documented with three 21-rebound performances. His combination of size, athleticism and basketball skills are unlike any I have witnessed in my short time as a college basketball fan.

Tobacco Road Rivals: The best rivalry in all of sports is carrying heavy national implications once again this year. UNC is the favorite to win the title and Duke has shown they are among the best in the land. Even though Duke was in the Top 10 in the preseason polls, there were some questions about their front court going into the season. After the first few weeks, the Dukies have changed any doubters minds with four wins by over twenty points, a 2K Sports Classic crown and a win over #10 Purdue in the ACC/Big 10 Challenge. Singler, Smith, Thomas and Zoubek all look much improved from last season.  Scheyer is also playing a huge role in Duke’s early success and Henderson, although he can do better, has been good thus far. On the other side, UNC has been running like a well-oiled machine. Lawson has proven that he is one of the best point guards in the land and Hansbrough looks like he’s in midseason form despite the injury that held him out of the Heels’ first couple of games. February 11th and March 8. Mark your calendars, folks, because these two games between storied rivals are going to be incredible.

Stephen & Seth Curry: Stephen Curry has proven that he is the best scorer in college basketball. He’s still leading the country in scoring after being held scoreless against a constant double-team from Loyola (MD). Going into the season, a lot of people, myself included, were questioning whether or not the transition to the point and the burden of running the offense would hinder his ability to score, but Curry has shown he can score as well as involve his other teammates. He’s averaging 7 APG and has a assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.8. Curry is also contributing on the defensive end with 3 steals per game. Curry has evolved from a pure shooter into a college basketball star and perhaps the best player in the land. His younger brother Seth has shown that he’s learned a thing or two from his father and older brother. He’s averaging 22 PPG as a freshman at Liberty and had a 26 point performance against Virginia and 22 points against George Mason.

Kyle McAlarney: We all knew this guy could shoot. But the way he’s shooting right now is nothing short of insane. He’s shooting 51.3% from beyond the arc and in his last three performances went 10-18, 9-17 and 7-13 from deep. He isn’t only doing this against weak opponents. He went 5-9 against Texas and his 10-18 performance came against UNC, a game in which he had 39 of the Irish’s 87 points. If he keeps on shooting like this, it’ll be tough for even the best of teams to guard the inside-outside combination of McAlarney and Harangody.

Honorable Mention: James Harden, Middle of the Big East, 76 Classic’s Final Four (Wake, Baylor, UTEP, AZ State)

Who’s Not:

Mullens & DeRozan: This years class of diaper dandies pales in comparison to the classes of the two previous seasons. The big names like Mullens and DeRozan have vastly underperformed their expectations coming out of high school. DeRozan is averaging less than 10 PPG and under 5 RPG against weak competition. Against USC toughest opponents so far, Seton Hall and Missouri, he averaged 5.5 points and 4.5 rebounds. BJ Mullens was supposed to be one of the best big men in the country but has been nothing short of disappointing early. He’s averaging 5.5 PPG annd 4 RPG and has two blocks in his first four games. He’s seen no more than 20 minutes in a game so perhaps Thad is working his freshman in little by little, but a supposed stud like Mullens should see all the playing time he can get, so there must be something wrong.

Siena: For a team that returns all five starters that made it to the second round of the last year’s NCAA tournament, Siena has not looked very impressive in the early going. Granted they did play in the toughest non-conference tournament, but they played two teams they should have beat and lost both games. Siena blew a 12 point lead midway through the second half against Wichita State and never led in the Oklahoma State game. Siena has a good starting five, but their lack of depth has been a thorn in Fran McCaffrey’s backside.

Hurricanes discipline: Miami’s sophomore point guard Eddie Rios was suspended indefinitely on Tuesday for a violation of team rules. This suspension was handed down shortly before the tip of their ACC/Big 10 Challenge matchup against #21 Ohio State. Rios had been filling in at the point for Lance Hurdle, who has been recovering from injury. As if Rios’ suspension wasn’t bad enough, star guard Jack McClinton was ejected with 10 minutes left in the first half after he slapped Ohio State’s Anthony Crater in the face right after McClinton passed the ball. McClinton got the ball back after he slapped Crater and sunk his fourth 3-pointer in the first ten minutes of the game. McClinton hadn’t missed from beyond the arc that game and the Canes were rolling against Ohio State. Ohio State chipped away at Miami’s 14-point halftime lead to secure a 73-68 win. Although the slap didn’t appear to be too violent, McClinton has to keep his cool as the leader of the Hurricanes.

Patrick: C’mon Pat, you jumped out to a pretty nice lead in our daily selections, and now you’re under .500…

Honorable Mention: USC, Charlotte, A.J. Price

Anything else you can think of? Just leave a comment.

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Top Ten Games Of The Week (November 17-23)

Posted by Zach on November 17, 2008

The first week of the college hoops season was filled mostly with low-majors attempting to pull off miraculous upsets or two of the top mid-majors in the country doing battle. I’m not saying it was a snoozer seven days; there were certainly a fair share of thrilling games and nail biting finishes for the debut week of the season. But this week we start getting into the meat of November and the preseason tournaments. It’s not quite Old Spice/Maui time yet, but these matchups should keep your plate filled until Thanksgiving break.

1. Coaches vs. Cancer Semis/Finals (November 20, 21, ESPN2)
– I made the dire mistake last week of assuming Houston would beat Georgia Southern and advance to play Duke, so rather than place Duke vs. UCLA as my #1 game, I’ll lump the entire tournament together as my number one game. The semis are both very intriguing with Southern Illinois playing the mid-major that everyone will be rooting for to topple big bad Duke. In the second game, Michigan will need another virtuoso performance from Manny Harris to take down UCLA and their deep, talented squad. Seeing as Rhode Island nearly won at Cameron Sunday, it’d be foolish to write Duke-UCLA in pen. But I’d be shocked if you didn’t see that beautiful matchup Friday night at the Garden. Prediction: Duke 70, UCLA 66 in final

2. Puerto Rico Tip-Off (November 20-23, ESPNU/ESPN2)
– Plenty of quality contests in Puerto Rico beginning on Thursday with Missouri taking on Xavier in the afternoon in what should be a very close game. The winner of that gets to take on Virginia Tech Friday afternoon. On the other side of the bracket, Memphis should defeat Chattanooga while USC will likely handle Seton Hall, setting up an Evans vs. DeRozan battle on Friday night between two very athletic teams. The final could feature any of these teams on Sunday on ESPN. You know the tournament is strong when I’m looking forward to the consolation game, as well. Prediction: USC 75, Virginia Tech 69 in final

3. Paradise Jam Semifinals (November 23, FCS Pacific)
– Assuming we avoid some stunning upset like Southern Miss over Miami, the semis at the Paradise Jam on Sunday night should be Miami vs. Connecticut and San Diego vs. Wisconsin. You’re wondering the same thing I am: why are the two best teams in the tournament on the same side of the bracket? Maybe a nod of respect to Bo Ryan and his recent success in Madison. Regardless, Miami-Connecticut is a battle of top-15 caliber teams featuring Jack McClinton trying to score over Hasheem Thabeet, while San Diego nearly beat UNLV on the road with four key players suspended, so don’t count them out against the Badgers. Prediction: Connecticut vs. Wisconsin final

4. #21 Davidson at #12 Oklahoma (November 18, ESPN2)
– The premiere matchup of the College Hoops Tip-Off 24-hour marathon on the ESPN family is not Kentucky vs. North Carolina. The best game is Davidson vs. Oklahoma for a trip to New York. You all know what to expect from the Wildcats- plenty of Stephen Curry shooting threes. And we can all agree that’s not such a bad thing, right? Also not a bad thing: Watching Blake Griffin score and rebound in the post. Because I don’t see anyone containing my National Player of the Year pick, the Sooners advance. Also keep an eye on Tony Crocker and Austin Johnson trying to contain Curry for forty minutes. Prediction: Oklahoma 80, Davidson 72

5. Kentucky at #1 North Carolina (November 18, ESPN)
– Sure, this game has lost some of its luster. Kentucky is no longer a national powerhouse and lost Friday to VMI. North Carolina declared Tyler Hansbrough out for Tuesday’s contest. Still, College Gameday will be there, it’s a historic and entertaining rivalry, and we get to see great players like Pat Patterson and Wayne Ellington. So stop complaining. Why will North Carolina prevail? I expect Ty Lawson to exploit the Kentucky point guards and have a huge game. Prediction: North Carolina 83, Kentucky 70

6. UAB at Arizona (November 18, ESPN2)- The UAB Blazers are a dangerous team this year in Conference USA, folks. They feature an ultra-talented two headed monster in Paul Delaney and Robert Vaden and Mike Davis, for all of his past transgressions, is a fine basketball coach. They’ll travel to Tuscon fearless and primed for an upset over Chase Budinger, Nic Wise, Jordan Hill and the Wildcats. Unless Budinger asserts himself from the tip, I think an upset is very possible here, with Vaden showcasing his talents on national television much like he did last year in Freedom Hall. Prediction: UAB 69, Arizona 68

7. Nevada at San Diego (November 18, ESPN FC)
– This game isn’t part of the ESPN Tip-Off Marathon, but it very well should be. I’ll certainly be flipping over to ESPN Full Court to watch freshman phenom Luke Babbitt lead the charge for Nevada into San Diego to take on Brandon Johnson, Gyno Pomare and the Torreros. Credit San Diego coach Bill Grier for scheduling so many top mid-majors early in the season; a victory over Nevada, a tournament team, could prove vital on Selection Sunday.  Prediction: San Diego 70, Nevada 67

8. #15 Arizona State at San Diego State (November 18, CBS College Sports)
– Yet another tremendous basketball game on Tuesday, this one possibly resulting in Upset City. The Aztecs return 96% of their scoring and 84% of their rebounding from last season under head coach Steve Fisher, led by stars Lorrenzo Wade and Marquette transfer Ryan Amoroso. Kyle Spain and Tim Shelton also boost an outstanding frontcourt, meaning Jeff Pendergraph is going to have his hands full. I’m calling this one, folks. Prediction: San Diego State 70, Arizona State 68

9. Massachusetts at #13 Memphis (November 17, ESPN)
– I’ll be staying up late to watch this one on ESPNHD, with John Calipari coaching against his former assistant (Derek Kellogg) and school (Massachusetts, whom he coached to prominence in the 90’s). This will be my first look at Tyreke Evans and his ability to run the point for the Tigers. Chris Lowe, Anthony Gurley and Ricky Harris may be able to hang around with Memphis for a while, but the muscle of Taggart and Dozier down low will be too much to handle. Prediction: Memphis 84, Massachusetts 74

10. Illinois at Vanderbilt (November 20, ESPN FC)
– Both of these teams will likely end up in the NIT, but it’s still Big Ten vs. SEC in November, which means I’ll be tuning in. A.J. Ogilvy is one of the top players in the SEC while Chester Frazier and Robert Meachem lead the way for Bruce Weber’s Illini in a difficult road environment. If Demetri McCamey is shooting well from deep, Illinois has a chance.  Prediction: Vanderbilt 69, Illinois 64

Honorable Mention

  • Georgia at #11 Purdue (November 18)
  • Miami (OH) at #6 Pittsburgh (November 17)
  • Tennessee-Martin at #13 Tennessee (November 18)
  • Cleveland State at Washington (November 18)
  • Tulsa at Oklahoma State (November 20)
  • Vermont at Maryland (November 21)
  • UAB at Old Dominion (November 22)
  • VCU at Rhode Island (November 22)
  • Clemson at Charlotte (November 22)

Posted in Top Ten Games of the Week | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

ACC Preview Roundup

Posted by Tommy on November 10, 2008

Here are my preseason rankings and the links to the preview articles for each team. 1. North Carolina 2. Duke 3. Wake Forest 4. Miami 5. Virginia Tech 6. Clemson 7. Maryland 8. Boston College 9. Georgia Tech 10. North Carolina State 11. Florida State 12. Virginia

First Team
G- Tyrese Rice, Boston College
G- Jack McClinton, Miami
G/F- K.C Rivers, Clemson
F- Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina
F- Kyle Singler, Duke

Second Team
G- Ty Lawson, North Carolina
G- Greivis Vasquez, Maryland
G- Wayne Ellington, North Carolina
F- James Johnson, Wake Forest
F- Jeff Allen, Virginia Tech

Third Team
G- Toney Douglas, Florida State
G- Jeff Teague, Wake Forest
G/F- A.D Vassallo, Virginia Tech
F- Gani Lawal, Georgia Tech
F- Brandon Costner, North Caolina State

Honorable Mention
G- Nolan Smith, Duke
G/F- Jon Scheyer, Duke
F- Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest
F- Trevor Booker, Clemson

All-Freshman Team
G- Iman Shumpert, Georgia Tech
G- DeQuan Jones, Miami
F- Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest
F- Miles Plumlee, Duke
C- Ty Walker, Wake Forest

Player of the Year: 1) Tyler Hansbrough 2) Tyrese Rice 3) Jack McClinton
Defensive Player of the Year: Toney Douglas
Breakthrough Player: Gani Lawal
Freshman of the Year: Al-Farouq Aminu
Coach of the Year: Dino Gaudio, Wake Forest
NCAA Teams: 6
NIT Teams: 4
CBI Teams: 1

Top Five Games:
1) North Carolina @ Duke: 2/11
2) North Carolina @ Wake: 1/11
3) Duke @ North Carolina: 3/8
4) Miami @ Duke: 2/7
5) Duke @ Wake: 1/28

That’s all folks. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Should be a exciting year in the ACC! Stay tuned for up-to-date ACC Reports all season long.

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ACC Preview #4 Miami

Posted by Tommy on November 4, 2008

Coach- Frank Haith (5th season)

PG- Lance Hurdle (SR): The lack of a quality point guard was the bugaboo of last year’s Hurricanes. Haith gave Hurdle and freshman Eddie Rios an opportunity, but the job ended up going to Jack McClinton because neither provided enough offense. I suspect Haith will give Hurdle the nod to start the season at the point so McClinton can go back to his natural two spot. Hurdle won’t provide as much scoring as McClinton or James Dews in the backcourt, but he turns the ball over much less than McClinton and averaged a solid 8 PPG last year. If the ‘Canes need some extra scoring, look for McClinton to run the point and be coupled with Dews in the backcourt, but because Hurdle handles the ball better he’ll probably start. Good play from the point would be a huge bonus for the Hurricanes who have all the other pieces in place to make a run in the dance.

SG- Jack McClinton (SR): The Baltimore native became nationally recognized after his 38-point game against Saint Mary’s in the first round of the NCAA tournament. McClinton is undoubtedly the go-to guy for the ‘Canes and would really benefit from good play at the point from Hurdle and/or Rios because the responsibility would be taken off of his shoulders, allowing him to focus on scoring. He shot a deadly 42.7% from beyond the arc last season and has a lightning-quick release, but does much more than shoot 3-balls. He’s got a quality mid-range game, drives to the rim with success and if defenders over-commit, he’s pretty good at finding the open man. McClinton’s percentage from beyond the arc may take a hit due to the arc being moved back, but the talented guard has enough talent around him where he won’t draw too much attention. McClinton’s name will be on the First Team All-ACC roster and he could even climb into All-America conversation.

SF- Brian Asbury (SR): Asbury is the most versatile player on the Hurricanes’ roster. At 6-7 he has more size than his defenders, but his outside shot must be respected. While he may not have the most explosive offensive game, his combination of size and athleticism makes him a great defender. His offense came along near the end of last season after scoring double digits in seven of the last 12 contests. If he polishes his offensive game and keeps up his rebounding and defending from last season it’ll be hard to keep Asbury off of the floor for too long.

PF- Dwayne Collins (JR): Collins was a pleasant surprise for Frank Haith last season. Collins is a strong, broad-shouldered post player with plenty of toughness and raw athleticism. He loves to bang bodies down low and excels in rebounding. Although he only averaged 8.6 PPG as a sophomore, he shot .550 from the field and had glimpses of greatness such as his 26 point performance against Duke in which he was 12-14 from the field. Now that Collins is an upperclassman, he needs to not only beat up on weaker frontcourts but needs to perform well versus the tougher frontcourts of the ACC like that of North Carolina. Opponents may implement a hack-a-Shaq policy on Dwayne if he does start to become dominant in the paint because he only shoots 50% from the stripe – an area he must improve on.

PF- Jimmy Graham (SR): Graham has been a good bench player for Frank Haith, but the departure of Anthony King leaves a hole in the frontcourt. He has a very similar game to that of Collins. He shoots just about as well from the field as he does from the stripe, is a strong rebounder and a good defender. Both players are listed at 6-8 but Graham has a more lengthy frame than Collins which means he’ll be guarding the opponent’s tallest player. If Graham improves his confidence with the ball he can become a reliable scorer down low for the ‘Canes.

Bench: Dews, who will probably see as much, if not more, playing time than the starters in the backcourt, was last year’s second leading scorer behind McClinton and gives Haith another deep threat if he needs it. Arkansas transfer Cyrus McGowan is yet another strong physical presence in the paint for the ‘Canes. 6-9 redshirt freshman Julian Gamble will be the other key reserve for the frontline. Gamble, McGowan and incoming freshman Reggie Johnson are the three tallest players on the team and will play significant roles especially with Graham’s tendency to get into foul trouble. Eddie Rios got some time at the point last year but his inexperience made it tough to be a quality ACC point guard. This season he’ll get more chances to prove himself, especially during Miami’s weak non-conference schedule. Overall, Haith has a very nice set of reserves this season and can consistently go ten men deep into his roster with little drop-off.

Backcourt: A-
Frontcourt: B+
Bench: A-
Coach: B

Bottom Line: The ‘Canes have a very strong frontcourt and plenty of scoring ability in their backcourt as well as a deep bench to go to in case of injury or foul trouble. Also, having four seniors and a junior in their lineup is a luxury not many teams have. This experience will certainly give Miami an edge over their more inexperienced opponents in ACC and postseason play. If Asbury, Collins and Graham come along offensively, the ‘Canes are probably better than 4th in the ACC, but right now it looks like McClinton and Dews will be relied upon to provide much of the scoring. They lost very little from a team that made it to the round of 32 last season, so I expect them to make a run in the NCAA tournament.

Key Non-Conference Games: 11/21-11/24 Paradise Jam, 12/6 @ Kentucky
Key Conference Games: 12/21 vs. Clemson, 1/17 @ North Carolina, 2/4 vs. Wake Forest, 2/7 @ Duke
Most Valuable Player: Jack McClinton
Postseason Tournament: NCAA (Sweet 16)

Posted in Conference Previews | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Summer ACC Report: Part 1

Posted by Patrick on August 1, 2008

To build on what Zach did for the Big East, I decided that I would do a report on another major east coast conference. The ACC is always in the top 3 for Conference RPI, and this year shouldn’t be any different as they hoist top teams in Duke, Wake Forest, and North Carolina (ranked number one in almost every preseason poll).

NC State- Probably the biggest letdown team of the ACC last season was NC State, and the losses of J.J. Hickson and Gavin Grant will certainly hurt, but three of the top five scorers from last season are returning in: Courtney Fells (10.6 PPG), Brandon Costner (8.5 PPG), and Farnold Degand (6.9 PPG). Sydney Lowe got two good recruits, the best being Julius Mays who will probably see some major time at point guard this season. Although a lot of the pieces are returning, nothing can be expected yet from the Wolfpack at this point. As for non-conference games, NC State is the sole team left out of the B10/ACC Challenge, but could possibly have a game with Marquette at home.

Wake Forest- I still can’t give enough credit to Dino Gaudio for what he has done at Wake Forest after Skip Prosser’s tragic death. It looked like a terrible situation that may drive recruits away but Gaudio got one of the best classes in the nation for the Demon Deacons. Al-Farouq Aminu (small forward) is projected to be the best player in the class but fellow freshman Tony Woods (center) and Ty Walker (center) are not at all far behind. James Johnson and Jeff Teague will be one of the best forward-guard combos in the conference and will do a lot of the scoring, taking a lot of the weight off of the freshmen.

Maryland- Gary Williams job is certainly in jeopardy this upcoming season, and the losses of Bambale Osby and James Gist (Gist is now with the San Antonio Spurs) will hurt a team that has little size. They will have to use the quickness of Greivis Vasquez to score points. Eric Hayes will be an experienced outside threat, and they also got a great driving guard in recruit Sean Mosley. Maryland plays in the Old Spice Classic and drew Michigan State in the first round which probably means an early exit for the Terps, but there is some good news in the non-conference portion of Maryland’s schedule: they will take on Michigan at home for the B10/ACC challenge.


Georgia Tech- I really thought this team was back on the right track when they got big time recruits Thaddeus Young and Javarris Crittenton, but they both were “one-and-done’s” and for the first time in my memory Tech was the second best team in Georgia. Zack Peacock will be expected to lead this team along with freshman point guard Iman Shumpert. The Yellow Jackets lost their two leading scorers but just got a transfer from St. Francis University (PA) that was granted immediate eligibility; his name is Bassirou Dieng and he averaged 10.7 PPG and 6.6 RPG for the Red Flash last season. Don’t expect much from this year’s Georgia Tech squad, but it is the ACC and you could see them pull a couple of upsets at home.

Miami- When was the last time the Miami basketball team was picked to do better than their football team? After a great run last year and a win in the NCAA tournament over Saint Mary’s, Jack McClinton and the Miami hoops team have given basketball fans in southern Florida something to look forward to (they certainly can’t be looking forward to South Florida’s season). Other key players like James Dews, Brian Asbury and Dwayne Collins return and are expected to be a great supporting cast for McClinton who averaged 17.7 PPG last season while earning himself first team All-ACC honors. This season Miami should be in the top three in the ACC and somewhere around the top 15 in the national polls. If McClinton’s supporting cast can play better than expected you could see a 3/4 seed for Miami in next year’s NCAA tournament.

Florida State- Once again, Florida State got a great recruiting class but the problems lately haven’t been getting good freshmen, it’s been transferring over that talent to winning games on the court. Last year wasn’t terrible as they finished 7-9 in ACC play and had a good showing against Akron in the NIT. Toney Douglas will lead this team once again, along with Uche Echefu and the stellar recruits Chris Singleton and Xavier Gibson. The Seminoles are a dark horse to make the NCAA tournament, but they have to have consistent play in the ACC. For instance, they took UNC to overtime, but also lost to NC State on their home court. If FSU plays with more consistency you could see a top six finish in the ACC.

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