Northwestern Wins: A College Hoops Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘Wake Forest Demon Deacons’

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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Weekend Roundup (11/29-30)

Posted by Zach on December 1, 2008

Tennessee Gonzaga Basketball

Here’s a summary of how an entertaining weekend played out in college hoops…

Five Most Meaningful Outcomes

1. Gonzaga 83, Tennessee 74: Credible experts like Dick Vitale and myself (okay, Dickie V isn’t a credible expert) predicted Gonzaga would make the Final Four this season. Their performance Sunday night in a huge resume building win over Tennessee vaulted them firmly into contention to reach Detroit and established the Zags as a top-five team in the nation. The big differences from a year ago? Jeremy Pargo has listened to NBA scouts advice and molded into a coaches dream for a point guard- one who makes sure his talented teammates are involved before taking over scoring-wise when his team desperately needs a boost. Austin Daye has turned into one of the top shooters in college basketball at 6’10. Josh Heytvelt is clearly the team leader and has advanced post moves and scoring ability some in the NBA don’t even possess. Other players like Goodson, Brown, Bouldin, Downs and Gray (whom I love) all know their roles and stay grounded. Rather than the usual finesse Gonzaga teams of years past, this group is physical, tough and has all the ingredients. They certainly impressed Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl, and these two teams will meet up again next month in Knoxville for a tremendous rematch.

2. Wake Forest 87, Baylor 74: I was extremely impressed with Wake Forest’s performance in a dominating second half over a Baylor team that cleanly beat Arizona State on Friday night. Coach Dino Gaudio allows his athletic team to run the floor and play the fast-paced offense that suits point guard Jeff Teague. Wake grabbed 57 rebounds in the contest led by L.D. Williams, Al Farouq-Aminu, Chas McFarland and James Johnson. Whether Wake can contend with Duke or Carolina in the ACC is still a question mark, but they certainly showed they’re top-4 seed worthy in Anaheim. The question is whether Wake can develop more consistency shooting from the outside as the season wears on (fortunately Baylor shot only 26% from deep in the game).

3. Kentucky 54, West Virginia 43: This one was ugly, but Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie doesn’t care. The Wildcats rebounded from the VMI loss and the UNC thrashing to win the Las Vegas Invitational over the weekend, defeating both Kansas State and NCAA contender West Virginia. Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson are constituting pretty much the entire Wildcat offense, with Meeks once again putting the game away at the free throw line and Patterson chipping in with a double-double. These two will need to lead Kentucky if they hope to make the NCAA Tournament and save their coaches job. Kentucky overcame a 26-16 deficit at halftime in this game.

4. Pittsburgh 57, Washington State 43: Two defensive-minded teams met in the final of the Legends Classic in New Jersey as you can tell by the score. Sam Young (15) and Levance Fields (14) forced enough Washington State turnovers (15) and turned them into points for the victory. After a hotly contested first half, Pitt really stiffened their defense in the second stanza. With a weaker Pac-10, the Cougars could find themselves in the NCAA Tournament as a third place finisher, so it’s a nice resume win for Pittsburgh.

5. Georgetown 75, Maryland 48: These crosstown foes finally meet (why they don’t play is a mystery) in the third place game of the Old Spice Classic with Georgetown winning in an impressive rout. It’s fairly clear that John Thompson is simply recruiting on a higher level than Gary Williams in the talent-heavy DC area at this point, with the Hoyas reeling in talent like Austin Freeman, Chris Wright, DaJuan Summers and Jason Clark while the Terrapins settle for second-tier talent such as Eric Hayes, Adrian Bowie, Sean Mosley and Braxton Dupree. And it clearly showed on the basketball court with this game not even being competitive. Still, Maryland showed they’re capable in their shocking victory over Michigan State and Georgetown could be pointing to this convincing win in March.

Top Five Player Performances

1. James Harden– He doesn’t wow you with his leaping ability or blazing speed or strong frame. Heck, he even looks kind of dorky with the long tee-shirt he wears under his Arizona State uniform. But James Harden can definitely play basketball, and if Blake Griffin, Tyler Hansbrough and Stephen Curry didn’t exist, Harden would be Player of the Year. He dropped 32 points on Baylor in a loss and followed it up with 40 in a blowout win over NCAA caliber UTEP, hitting six threes.

2. Kyle McAlarney– Remember his shooting display in Maui against North Carolina? He decided to perform an encore in front of the home fans on Sunday, collecting 32 points on nine threes in the win over Furman. In his last two games, McAlarney has shot 35 threes and made over 50% of them. They’ll need McAlarney to keep shooting the lights out with Luke Harangody sidelined with pneumonia.

3. A.J. Slaughter– In the absolute #1 shocker of the month of November, Western Kentucky flat out dominated #3 Louisville on a neutral floor. This isn’t last years Sweet 16 Hilltopper team, either. Most of the top scorers from that team have departed. A.J. Slaughter played more of a secondary role last year, but certainly looked like a star in the victory, compiling 25 points and 9 rebounds on 8/15 shooting.

4. Sam Young– Mentioned him before in the Legends recap, but Young is the early frontrunner for Big East Player of the Year. He dropped 33 on Belmont, followed it up with 24 in a win over Texas Tech, and then led the way with 15 and 8 against tough Washington State. With Levance Fields also playing well and looking healthy, Pittsburgh is to be feared.

5. Jodie Meeks– Meeks has been flat out unstoppable early for Kentucky. He’s averaging 25.5 PPG, 4.8 RPG, shooting 38% from three and 88% from the line. And he’s been to the line often, hitting 23/25 from the charity stripe in Las Vegas over the weekend, most in high-leverage situations. Meeks turned the ball over nine times against Kansas State, but totaled 37 points, 6 rebounds and 4 steals for the Horse Trailer. Meeks personally told me he is honored.

Five Upset Specials

1. Western Kentucky 68, Louisville 54: If somebody told you he/she saw this coming, they are a liar. In just the third game of the season for the Cardinals and coach Rick Pitino, they were the victims of the most shocking upset of the year to date. Western Kentucky effectively double-teamed Samardo Samuels and caused all kinds of havoc for Louisville guards Edgar Sosa and Andre McGee, who combined to go 0/13 from the floor, 0/9 from three, score 2 points while dishing out 2 assists with 4 turnovers. Yikes. Louisville got three-happy like they often do, shooting 30 from deep and making 6. Earl Clark is showing no signs he wants to be one of the premiere players in college hoops. A reprehensible loss for Louisville.

2. Dayton 89, Marquette 75: Another Big East contender to fall on Saturday was Marquette, losing to upstart Dayton in Chicago in a game where they were thoroughly outplayed. The Flyers used their quickness and a career performance from reserve guard Rob Lowery (21 points) to stun the Golden Eagles and improve to 6-0. Once again, Marquette played no defense, an obvious concern for Buzz Williams. They allowed an Atlantic 10 team to shoot 53% and shoot 39 free throws, while Dominic James continues to regress jump shooting wise.

3. Drake 68, New Mexico 62: The Lobos were supposed to be taking over right about now under coach Steve Alford. Instead he fell in both games at Cancun over the weekend to VCU and Drake, the latter being the more shocking and disappointing. New Mexico even held Drake’s main scorer, Josh Young, to 10 points on 2/10 from the floor and still lost the game, falling behind by as much as 16 in the second half. They’ll need to win the Mountain West now for a tournament bid at 3-4.

4. Cal State Fullerton 92, Charlotte 84: This one isn’t a huge upset (CSF was only a 3-point dog), but Charlotte and coach Bobby Lutz are currently on a major down spiral, finishing last in the Anaheim Classic with this loss and dropping to 1-6 on the season. They looked like at least an NIT contender nearly downing Clemson earlier in the week before losing heartbreakers to Providence and Cal State Fullerton and receiveing a walloping from Arizona State. Can they possibly recover from this?

5. Green Bay 84, Massachusetts 67: Speaking of bad A-10 teams, how about Massachusetts? They have talented players like Chris Lowe, Anthony Gurley and Ricky Harris, but it clearly isn’t materializing at this point for new coach Derrek Kellogg. Most of all they can’t play defense, letting Green Bay have six players in double figures in a performance that dropped the Minutemen to 1-4 on the season.

Bubblicious Wins

  • Texas Tech over Mississippi State at the Legends Classic was a big win for coach Pat Knight and one to possibly place on the resume come March if the Red Raiders are sitting on the bubble
  • Texas A&M taking down MAC contender Kent State on a neutral floor was a nice win for Mark Turgeon and Co. after losing to Tulsa
  • Don’t look now, but Nebraska is still undefeated! They beat MVC favorite Creighton in a hotly contested game over the weekend.
  • Illinois is still undefeated, too. They topped Tulsa who beat A&M the day before.
  • Florida State with two very impressive wins over California and Cincinnati in Las Vegas. The opposite for UNLV, who lost to both of those teams and are now looking weak for an at-large, even with the win at UTEP earlier in the week. Wink Adams went 5/26 with three assists in the two losses.
  • Saint Mary’s looked overwhelmed in their loss to UTEP on Thursday but rebounded with a couple quality victories over Providence and Cal State Fullerton
  • Nevada lost to Portland and is off to a horrific start to the season. Brandon Fields is still trying to get himself into the flow of the offense.

Enjoy the ACC/Big Ten Challenge everyone!

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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: #3 Wake Forest

Posted by Tommy on November 5, 2008

Coach- Dino Gaudio (2nd season)

PG- Ishmael Smith (JR): This six foot guard is lightning in a bottle. Everybody raves about Ty Lawson being the fastest player up and down the court with the ball, but I’d pay a lot of money to see a race between Smith and Lawson. Being fast with the ball is nice and all, but I’m sure Dino Gaudio would like to see Ish slow the game down just a notch because he committed almost 3 turnovers per game as a sophomore. Turnovers are a minuscule problem compared to Ish’s woes at the free throw stripe. He shot 29% at the line last season. Yes 29%, it’s not a misprint. It’s mind-boggling because Smith does everything else so well but for whatever reason, it doesn’t seem to click at the line. Smith will provide around 10 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 5 APG, shoot 43% from the field and will probably get his assist-to-turnover ratio up around 2, all pretty good stats for a point guard. With all that upside, Gaudio is forced to take his starting point guard out of the lineup in end-game situations where Wake is getting fouled, which is extremely unfortunate because Smith knocked down two game-winning shots in ACC play last season.

SG- Jeff Teague (SO): Teague was Wake’s second leading scorer last year as a freshman. He and Smith combine to make one of the quickest backcourts in the country. Teague’s athleticism and quickness is similar to Smith’s but Teague has a more polished jumper and a little more size. He’s very good at getting his hands on the ball on defense and is always in the hip pocket of his counterpart. As a freshman, Teague seemed to step up in the big games and played like an experienced leader during ACC play. He scored 26 vs. BYU, 27 vs. Miami, 26 vs. Duke, 18 @ UNC and 25 @ Va. Tech. Now that he has a full year under his belt, Teague is going to have to be one of the leaders of this young Demon Deacon squad. In my opinion, he’s on the verge of a breakout season and will flourish with all of the athleticism round him.

SF- Al-Farouq Aminu (FR): Gaudio landed a Top-five incoming freshman class overall and the best small forward of the 2008 class. He made his high school opponents look like preteens with his size, jumping ability and skills. This kid has nice length for his 6-8 frame and can jump out of the gym. He has a rare ability to create offense on his own whether he pulls up from deep or takes it all the way to the rack, both of which he’s very capable of. He has good size for the three spot so I’d like to see him be post defenders up as well as beat them off the dribble from the perimeter. If Aminu does prove he can score on the block, he would feature a three-pronged offensive game similar to that of former freshman phenom Kevin Durant.

PF- James Johnson (SO): At 6-9, 245, Johnson is built like a power forward but has the skill set to play both the three and four. He was Wake’s leading scorer and rebounder last season with 14.6 PPG and 8.1 RPG and like the rest of this Demon Deacon team has great athletic ability. Johnson reeks havoc on defense with his combination of size, athleticism and length and averaged 1.4 STL per game and 1.3 BLK per game last season. Johnson has tremendous upside and deserves to be thrown into the conversation as one of the best up and coming players in the conference.

C- Ty Walker (FR): As a coach, if you have an incoming class of freshmen in which a player like Tony Woods isn’t the headline guy, you know you’ve got some young talent. One thing about Woods that turns me off is his string bean-like frame at 7′, 215. I’m sure he’ll put on some muscle mass under college strength coaches, but strong post players will be able to use their body on the block to negate Wood’s shot-blocking ability. He’ll provide the Deacs with a great shot blocking presence for when guards penetrate or when another player is being posted up, but adding weight would really help Woods. His size and ability to run the floor will prove a nice addition for Wake.

Bench: Wake is returning their top nine scorers from last season and brings in one of the best recruiting classes in the country which consists of three stud freshmen, two of whom are starting. The only player who averaged more than 30 minutes per game last year was Ish Smith and I expect much of the same liberal substituting this year from Gaudio. The frontcourt will be bolstered by junior Chas McFarland and freshman Tony Woods, two very capable post players. Junior L.D Williams gives Gaudio a guard that is solid at both ends of the floor and has a little more size than Teague and Smith. Senior Harvey Hale is a capable backup guard and will come in for Smith when Wake needs a good free throw shooting lineup. Junior Jamie Skeen will come off the bench and give the Demon Deacons a strong rebounder and defender.

Backcourt: A-
Frontcourt: A-
Bench: A-
Coaching: A-

Bottom Line: Words cannot even begin to describe how much upside Wake Forest has this season. Each starter is very talented and very athletic and for the most part, young. Smith, Teague and Johnson, three of their go-to guys, combined for 7.9 turnovers per game last season, far too many for two guards and a talented player like Johnson. If Wake cuts down on turnovers, their athleticism alone will keep them in games. Wake has the talent to surpass Duke at number two in the ACC, but if they continue to turn the ball over they could fall behind Miami and perhaps Virginia Tech. A pretty favorable ACC schedule in which they only have to play North Carolina and Miami once apiece certainly helps. With that said, all the pieces are in place for Wake to make a run at the ACC title in 2008-09.

Key Non-Conference Games: 11/27-30 2008 76 Classic, 1/03 @ BYU
Key Conference Games: 1/11 vs. North Carolina, 1/28 vs. Duke, 2/4 @ Miami, 2/22 @ Duke
Most Valuable Player: James Johnson
Projected Postseason: NCAA (Sweet 16)

Posted in ACC Report, Conference Previews | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Friday News And Notes

Posted by Zach on September 26, 2008

An edition of Friday’s News and Notes to catch up on this past weeks biggest college basketball headlines:

– Connecticut freshman Nate Miles is supposed to be a key cog for the Huskies ascent to the top of the college hoops rankings this season. The talented wing will be a sparkplug off the bench for Jim Calhoun…if he can stay out of trouble. Miles violated his restraining order 16 minutes after receiving it in Hartford yesterday, posting a $2,500 bond and is scheduled to go to court later this month. Miles came with a reputation out of the many high schools he attended for being a nuisance without much supervision. Calhoun hopes this is just a minor transgression for the budding freshman.

– One of the top coaches in the nation, Pittsburgh’s Jamie Dixon, received a three-year extension on his already lengthy contract on Wednesday. The deal extends through the 2015-16 season and he will receive a raise from the $1.3 million he made last season. The Panthers have averaged nearly 27 wins per season under Dixon’s watch even if they’re not exactly a recruiting powerhouse. Dixon should be rewarded. Not many coaches could have rallied his team without stars like Levance Fields and Mike Cook to win the Big East tournament and receive a 4-seed in the NCAA Tournament.

– Sticking with the Big East theme, good news for Syracuse fans came out early this week. Talented guard Eric Devendorf has received another year of athletic eligibility after being granted a hardship waiver due to last season’s devastating knee injury. For this upcoming season, Devendorf will be a junior athletic-wise. He forms a great backcourt with Johnny Flynn and returnee Andy Rautins for the Orange, who are looking to contend in the loaded conference.

– Kyle Whelliston chimes in with another gem. This time the topic is the newly-formed Great West conference that will form before the 2009-10 season. The name doesn’t tell the entire story- NJIT will be a member and New Jersey isn’t exactly considered a Western state. Whelliston points out the hardships these teams often have to go through scheduling games and flying coast-to-coast to get walloped by top-ranked teams looking for cupcakes. He also brings up the question of whether this conference will be rewarded with an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, something the committee probably wants to avoid.  Texas Pan-American, NJIT, South Dakota, North Dakota, Houston Baptist and Utah Valley make up the current conference slate.

– This is only Insider, but Andy Katz’s blog catches up with three possible tournament teams this fall: Ohio State, Wake Forest and Nevada. Some gems: Matta thinks B.J. Mullens is more of a Greg Oden than a Kosta Koufos, meaning he’ll be someone planted firmly in the paint this season; the team hasn’t cleared its point guard situation, a big reason why I think they’ll finish behind Wisconsin who boast Trevon Hughes; Wake Forest has installed a Dick Bennett-style defense and their freshmen look great in workouts; Ishmael Smith should be ready for the season for Wake; Nevada coach Mark Fox managed to get North Carolina to come to Reno this season in a 2-for-1 deal.

– Luke Winn has a worthwhile article attempting to predict the breakout players for this season using possessions used and efficiency ratings. The article circles Dar Tucker of DePaul, LaceDarius Dunn of Baylor and Austin Daye of Gonzaga as potential breakout candidates. Tucker is a definite possibility, but will anyone notice on DePaul?  We’ll have our own list of breakout candidates when the season draws nearer.

Hope everyone has a great weekend and thanks for reading. More and more articles will be on the way as we head towards November.

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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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Tuesday News and Notes

Posted by Zach on July 29, 2008

– Arizona is making news around the recruiting trail, both favorable to Lute Olson and potentially damaging. The good: Zona received a commitment from Solomon Hill, a 6’6, 195 pound California wing ranked in the top 100 by Scout.com. Hill is an excellent ball-handler with versatility and the ability to play multiple positions. For Hill to become a top-flight player for Arizona, though, his shooting needs to improve. The bad: the #33 player in the nation Greg Smith, a 6’8 power forward from Fresno, de-committed to the Wildcats and instead joined the Bulldogs. Nope, not Georgia or Gonzaga- his hometown Fresno State Bulldogs. Smith marks the best recruit Fresno State has ever reeled in. Smith told Fresno’s Scout.com page that “it was a soft verbal (to Arizona)” and his “heart was with Fresno State.” Arizona is in the running for the second ranked point guard in the nation, Abdul Gaddy, and could be leading, neck-and-neck with Memphis at this point at the top.

– The first round contests for the Old Spice Classic were announced this morning, and Maryland fans have to be feeling very slighted. The Terrapins will have to play Michigan State in the first round, the Spartans being a potential top-10 team and Big Ten title contender. On the same side of the bracket, Gonzaga takes on Oklahoma State, setting up a possible Michigan State-Gonzaga game in the semifinals. On the other side, Georgetown plays Wichita State and Tennessee gets dangerous Siena. The Spartans will most likely have to beat Maryland, Gonzaga and Tennessee to win the tournament title in what should prepare them sufficiently (and more) for the conference slate.

– Richmond lost its best player for the season on Monday. 6’8 forward Dan Geriot, who could have been one of the top players in the A-10 this campaign, tore his ACL in a summer league game in Philadelphia and will miss the entire season. Geriot averaged 14.3 PPG and 5.5 RPG for the low-scoring Spiders as a sophomore last season.

– Indiana extended Tom Crean two more seasons on top of his current deal. The program admires the fashion in which Crean took a devastating situation and is beginning to turn it around. At the recent NCAA committee hearing, Indiana was handed another violation that could result in penalties: a “failure to monitor” charge to the extensive Kelvin Sampson troubles list. The Hoosiers return just one player from last season’s disappointing campaign.

– West Virginia junior guard Joe Mazzulla, who experienced a breakout last few games for the Mountaineers in the NCAA Tournament, was arrested Monday night, along with teammate Cameron Throughman, with aggravated assault, underage drinking and hindering apprehension at a Pirates-Rockies game in Pittsburgh. The players argued with police when asked for an ID, and when resisting, Mazzulla accidentally punched a police officer. While they should face more disciplinary action from the team, if you know anything about Bob Huggins, I wouldn’t expect much.

– Finally, just wanted to point out this good article from Andy Katz regarding the Wake Forest situation. This team has a lot to look forward to. Jeff Teague and James Johnson are outstanding sophomores and the recruiting class new coach Dino Gaudio was able to reel in is phenomenal. Expect a great season in Winston-Salem in honor of fallen coach Skip Prosser.

Also: Ra’Sean Dickey has left to play in Europe and Texas A&M-CC committed nine NCAA violations.

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The Top 10 Recruiting Classes For 2008

Posted by Patrick on June 30, 2008

“Rebuilding Year” is a phrase that Ben Howland never utters, and why would you need to when you coach the most storied program in college basketball? In this day and age, finding freshman to fill starting spots is a lot easier than it used to be. For 2008, UCLA got five tremendous recruits, which is why UCLA is number one on my list of the best recruiting classes for 2008.

Recruits:

(“Stars” are equal to Scout.com’s player rankings)

SG-Jrue Holiday (5 star recruit, No.1 SG)- This kid is a winner. He isn’t on the court to showboat his skills to eventually garner himself a higher pick in the draft. On top of that he can score at will, although he isn’t the greatest three point shooter. Holiday can get to the rim and post double digit points every night.

C-J’Mison Morgan (5 star recruit, No.3 C)-This guy kind of reminds me of Dan Gadzuric (another UCLA standout), neither were very athletic and can’t pass, but they can finish around the rim and they have great hands for catching the ball in the post. Morgan can be a top center in college basketball, but I don’t think he will be next season.

PF-Drew Gordon (4 star recruit, No.15 PF)- Gordon is at UCLA to rebound, and rebounding is what he will do.  This kid is all about the dirty work: blocking shots, getting offensive rebounds, and just all out hustling. If he can improve his scoring, he has the athleticism to be an All-Pac 10 selection.

SG-Malcolm Lee (4 star recruit, No.7 SG)- This guy reminds me of Austin Daye from Gonzaga, he has tremendous upside but he needs a little work on strength before he can take that next step to being a big time player. At 6’4” 165 pounds, it would be nice to see him gain some muscle. Other than that he has a pretty good stroke from behind the arc.

PG- Jerime Anderson (4 star recruit, No.3 PG)- Once again I am going to compare a UCLA recruit to a current Gonzaga player; Jeremy Pargo. Anderson has the natural ability to get to the bucket but his passing and perimeter shots aren’t great. I think a year to be the understudy behind Collison is what this kid needs and in the future he can be the guy you want with the ball late in the game.
Like UCLA, here is a team that lost a lot of players to the draft and graduation. Memphis had a lot of holes to fill and they did it nicely. John Calipari did his best job getting the late commitment from Tyreke Evans, who helped make this class number two on my list.

Recruits:

SG-Tyreke Evans (5 star recruit, No.2 SG)- Evans is all about using his athleticism to score, and when you watch him this year you may see comparisons to Kobe Bryant.  He can shoot it from three, and he can create for himself. There isn’t any reason Evans can’t be an All-American in his first NCAA season.

SF-Wesley Witherspoon (4 star recruit, No.13 SF)- Another late addition to the Memphis recruiting class, Witherspoon will probably be a bench guy his first season. He needs to bulk up before he can be a great forward but the basics are there. He has length and athleticism… its just about putting it all together.

PF-Matt Simpkins (4 star recruit, No.29 PF)- Simpkins is a great defender and has great athleticism, which is pretty much the bread and butter of Memphis basketball. He won’t score a ton, but he can still be an offensive presence if he is guarded by someone smaller than him.

PF- Angel Garcia (4 star recruit, No.19 PF)- In my opinion, Garcia is a very underrated recruit. He is a 6’10” guy that can shoot threes and he can spread the floor on you which will help this athletic Memphis roster. If he can consistently make three pointers he can win the Tigers some ballgames.

Dino Gaudio has done a great job getting this program back on track after the tragic death of then head coach Skip Prosser. The Demon Deacons should have a fun time with these outstanding freshman, and they might just lead this team to an NCAA tournament appearance.

Recruits:

SF-Al-Farouq Aminu (5 star recruit, No.4 SF)-This is another guy that has the ability to create shots for himself.  He will have no problem being the go-to-guy for Wake. We’ll also see how he does playing against his brother who plays for Georgia Tech.

C-Ty Walker (5 star recruit, No.4 C)- He is a tremendous defender and can block shots inside. If he improves on the offensive end, Wake will be a much scarier team next year. As for now, he should work on strength in order to have the ability to battle in the post with ACC big men.

C-Tony Woods (4 star recruit, No.10 C-This guy is an athletic rebounder. He is a great player to have in the game but, like Walker, he needs to improve his offense. If he does, these two guys could be a scary combo.

Kosta Koufos was a great center, but Ohio State more than replaced him with BJ Mullens. In my opinion Mullens is the best incoming freshman; he is an athletic, tall, and versatile player. Thad Matta did another great job preparing this team for an NCAA tournament run with this class. The word is Terrelle Pryor will not be playing basketball in college (source: http://www.terrellepryor.org)

Recruits:

C-BJ Mullens (5 star recruit, No.1 C)-I love this kid, and I believe that he can be the best player in college basketball next season. The key for him is rebounding on the offensive end. If he does that, you might be seeing games like this in the Big Ten.

SG-William Buford (5 star recruit, No.3 SG)-Buford provides a scoring guard that the Buckeyes lacked last season.  He can penetrate to the basket which will open up shots for Mullens. Buford may be the key to the Buckeyes success this season.

PG-Anthony Carter (3 star recruit, No.21 PG)-Plays a good point guard position but isn’t a huge factor on the offensive end. His job will be getting Mullens and Buford the ball when he gets off the bench.

SG-Walter Offutt (3 star recruit, No.29 SG)- Tore his ACL last season for the second time. He may be done with basketball, but that remains to be seen.

It must be fun having Roy Williams’ job: getting some of the best recruits while having the best team in the nation heading into next season. This group might not get the playing time that they would at other schools, but they could have a national championship at the end of the season. Nonetheless, they are outstanding players and that’s why UNC is number five on my list.

Recruits:

PF-Ed Davis (5 star recruit, No.3 PF)-Davis is lengthy and he can rebound. As for now, he isn’t a great scorer in the low block but he has time to develop. Playing for UNC, he won’t have to contribute as much right away.

PF-Tyler Zeller (5 star recruit, No.7 PF)- Zeller is a scorer (he averaged 32.1 PPG in high school) and if he can improve his strength, he can put up double digits consistently as early as his sophomore season. He is also a good guy to have running the floor; don’t think this guy will ever pass up the opportunity for a bucket.

PG- Larry Drew (4 star recruit, No.4 PG)- He doesn’t have a great perimeter shot, but like the other freshman he’ll have time to develop it. In the future he can be a good point guard for the Tar Heels.

SG- Justin Watts (3 star recruit)- He is an athletic combo guard, he’ll eat up minutes late in his career but don’t expect much next season.

Rick Pitino gets yet another stellar recruiting class for 2008. Samardo Samuels is an amazing player and should score with more ease than most freshmen in the Big East. With this class, Louisville should easily fill the hole left by two big men: Derrick Caracter and David Padgett.

Recruits:

PF-Samardo Samuels (5 star recruit, No.1 PF)- Samuels will dominate almost anybody inside. He is a big time scorer and will prove it next season for the Cardinals.

PF-Terrence Jenniings (4 star recruit)- He will be a defensive presence; the Cardinals will want him to block shots and not try to do too much offensively. He is a 20 year old playing as a freshman, was originally an ’06 recruit.

SF-Jared Swopshire (4 star recruit, No.18 SF)- Looks a lot like Ronald Ramon, and plays a lot like him too. He has a good three point shot, but he isn’t the most athletic guy on the floor. He can be a go-to-shooter in the future.

SG-Kyle Kuric (3 star recruit, No.28 SG)- Won’t see much time if any next season, and he may be one of those guys who transfers in the future. However, he can shoot the three so if he improves athleticism he may be a good player.

Georgetown will have a tough time replacing last year’s team even with a great recruiting class. In the event that these guys can stick around another season, the Hoyas should be back in contention for a national championship. John Thompson III did a great job recruiting these players.

Recruits:

PF-Greg Monroe (5 star recruit, No.2 PF)- Great athlete and a great scorer, he will have a huge offensive load to carry for Georgetown next year and it will be interesting to see how he handles the pressure.

C-Henry Sims (4 star recruit, No.7 C)- Not a great scorer/rebounder, but he will be in there for defense. He can block almost anyone’s shot but won’t be a threat on the offensive end.

SG-Jason Clark (4 star recruit, No.12 SG)- He is a mid range shooter that plays good defense and isn’t too quick. He needs to develop his perimeter game if he wants to really help this Georgetown team because I don’t see a lot of players on that team that can make threes.

PF-Chris Braswell (4 star recruit, No.18 PF)- Quick guy that can score inside but doesn’t play too great defensively. He needs to be a little more consistent with his scoring but can be a great player in the future because he has good size.

UConn will have a great team next season regardless of recruits. However, getting top players never hurts. Jim Calhoun was smart to go out and get a point guard, especially one as good as Kemba Walker. The rest of the recruits may have to wait their turn to get into the limelight, but it will be worth the wait and all should be great players.

Recruits:

PG-Kemba Walker (5 star recruit, No.2 PG)-Not a good three point shooter but he is a tremendous athlete and plays a great point guard. He gives it his all on the court and plays great defense. He can really help this UConn team reach the Final Four.

PF-Ater Majok (4 star recruit, No.10 PF)- He is a quick forward but he isn’t a great scorer down low. He might see a lot of time next season but he won’t get too much of an offensive load to carry as his main objective will be playing good defense.

SG-Nate Miles (4 star recruit)- Needs to improve his strength but he can be a very good three point shooter for the Huskies in the future.

SG-Scottie Haralson (3 star recruit, No.38 SG)- Has good strength, but will probably be riding the bench next season. If he does see time, don’t expect a lot of scoring.

Bill Self set himself up for another possible national championship run in the future with this class. He got himself a set of twins (seemed to help Stanford) and three other great basketball players. In the future these guys could contend with past year’s teams for one of the best teams in Kansas history.

Recruits:

PF-Markieff Morris (4 star recruit)- Has great size and can score the basketball. He won’t be tremendous next season but he should be a great player in the future if he can continue to play good defense.

PF-Marcus Morris (4 star recruit)-Has grown a couple of inches and now has surpassed his brother in height. Like him, he can score the ball and will need to keep improving defense to be a great player.

SG-Tyshawn Taylor (4 star recruit, No.20 SG)- Originally committed to Marquette but backed out when Crean left for Indiana. He can push the tempo and score in transition and is a pretty good pickup for this Kansas team.

SG-Travis Releford (4 star recruit, No.10 SG)- This kid can be a big time scorer for the Jayhawks if he can improve his mid-range game. He can score a lot of points as early as next season.

PF-Quintrell Thomas (4 star recruit, No.32 PF)- Great rebounder and a tough guy, but he needs to work on his offensive game in order to be a great player for Kansas in the future.

SG-Tyrone Appleton (3 star recruit, JUCO)- Won’t see a lot of time, but will be used for defense.

SF-Mario Little (3 star recruit, JUCO)- Also won’t see a lot of time, can score sometimes but mainly used for defensive situations.

+ Not only is the Big East the best conference this year, but it looks like its setting itself up to be the best conference in years to come. Bob Huggins got a key late signing in Devin Ebanks, and if he can keep Ebanks around campus for a couple seasons then the Mountaineers could be contending for a final four in short time.

Recruits:

SF-Devin Ebanks (5 star recruit, No.3 SF)- Has a good shot, but not from three point range. He is an athletic combo forward that can score a ton of points for WVU. If he sticks around longer than his freshman year he will put up tremendous numbers.

PF-Kevin Jones (4 star recruit, No.11 PF)- Should improve his perimeter shot before he becomes a great player for Huggins, but as for now, he is a good athlete and a great passer. He is small so he’ll probably play more of a small forward in college.

PF-Roscoe Davis (4 star recruit, No.34 PF)- He is a big player that needs to work on scoring, but he plays pretty good defense and can be a good interior defender. If he improves his offense he can be a great weapon for the Mountaineers.

PG-Darryl Brant (3 star recruit, No.26 PG)- He won’t see a lot of time this year, but in the future could be a good player. He needs to work on his point guard skills before he sees a lot of the court, maybe a year to learn the position will help this kid.

Also Considered: USC, Duke, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan State, Minnesota, Alabama, Tennessee

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