Here’s my breakdown of how the Hokies look heading into ACC play, along with predictions of how the teams will flush out in the ACC standings by season’s end.
Posted on 02 January 2012.
Here’s my breakdown of how the Hokies look heading into ACC play, along with predictions of how the teams will flush out in the ACC standings by season’s end.
Posted on 24 December 2010.
Days of Our Lives, starring the mississippi state bulldogs:
General Hospital, starring the ACC:
The ACC may need to go to the hospital to get repairs. I’ve noted some of the bad losses the ACC has had already this year, but this week takes the cake…
wildcats Gone Wild – Speaking of kansas state…
Final thought – can you believe I’m not ganging up on the wolfpack and Sidney Lowe? Well, after they lost to arizona by 10, they rebounded to beat delaware state… by 2. But hey, a win is a win. The pack freshmen just aren’t playing that great yet (freshmen rarely do in the ACC) and stud Tracy Smith out the last 9 games with a knee injury (he should be back soon), they are struggling. Getting him back in full though will have as big of an impact as the hoos getting Scott. Well, but uva doesn’t have Lowe as their coach.
But let’s not end with a note on nc state – Merry Christmas, Hokies! See you in South Beach in a week!
Posted on 20 December 2010.
Once again Malcolm Delaney has made the Bob Cousy Award nomination list. This award goes to the top point guard in the nation, according to the committee that decides it, at least.
Delaney is part of an “exclusive” list of 67 players nominated. That list will be trimmed to 20 on the day of the Orange Bowl. A month later, it will be paired down to 10 on February 3rd. A final five nominees will then be selected on March 3rd with the winner announced on April 4th.
There have been seven previous winners, three of which were from the ACC. This includes the last two winners – Ty Lawson of unc and “Greasy Face”-quez of maryland.
Interestingly, Delaney’s likeness is used in the link to the nominees on the homepage: Cousy Award Official Web Site
I am confident Delaney will make it to the next round of 20. It will be interesting to see if he makes the final 10 announced on 2/3.
Three other ACC players were on the list – Irving of duke (who likely won’t make the cut due only to his injury), Kitchen of fsu, who likely also won’t make the cut (he’s not that good), and Stitt of clemson (he has a shot at advancing). Hank Thorns, the former Hokie who is in his first year at tcu, is also on the list. He’s averaged 8.9 ppg and 6.1 assists through 11 games. Thorns still can’t shoot, hitting just 37% of his shots, but he has hit 15 of 41 three-pointers (37%) — he shot just 26% from deep as a Hokie and under 30% overall from the field as a sophomore. So that’s good for him, but I don’t miss him.
Posted on 14 December 2010.
The season is a month old now. Before it started, I knew the ACC was going to be down again this year. How down are they?
I knew that duke was the #1 team in the league by far. I though VT was a solid #2, and unc had a strong shot at #3 (or #2). I was wrong. Slots #2 through #10 are completely up for grabs. Here is what I’ve gathered.
Those are the only spots I feel comfortable predicting. But I have also noted a few things (in no particular order):
Tech Talk Notes:
Posted on 11 December 2010.
The page linked above will keep you up to date on all published stats related to Virginia Tech’s four signees for 2011 – C.J. Barksdale, Robert Brown, Marquis Rankin, and Dorian Finney-Smith. The first three all play for Hargrave’s undefeated post-grad team, so their games include stats for all three players. Finney-Smith plays for the defending VA AAA champion Norcom Greyhounds. They are off to a 2-0 start and play in the National HS Hoops Festival on Saturday night in Hyattsville, MD (Dematha HS).
The best game so far goes to Barksdale – he had 42 points and 13 rebounds against roanoke college on November 16th.
Posted on 07 December 2010.
People have been guessing that some of the bench players, who aren’t getting jack for playing time, might leave. Well, they were right. Sophomore guard Ben Boggs has decided to transfer after he finishes up finals next week. He cited playing time (or lack there of) as the reason.
Here was his quote on Hokiesports.com, “I have enjoyed my time at Virginia Tech and would like to thank Coach Greenberg and the coaching staff for all they have done for me,” Boggs said. “A desire for more playing time is the reason I’m leaving Virginia Tech. I will miss my teammates and wish them the best of luck in the future.”
Boggs had played in just half the games so far this season, collecting a grand total of 11 minutes. Last season he played in 25 games and averaged close to 9 minutes per game, so he’s seen a huge drop-off this year.
Ben is from Roanoke, but his next destination is not known at this time.
This now means that Seth has had at least one player leave VT before his eligibility was done in 6 of his 7 seasons at VT. This also frees up another scholarship for next year. Tech had counted on taking a full class for next year, but couldn’t after JT Thompson got hurt (and would be returning next year). Expect Seth to go after a big man to complete the class, though it hurts to lose out on 4-star stud Baru, who is going to college of charleston (?!)
Posted on 07 December 2010.
At some point last night as I was heading up I-66 around midnight on my way home from the VT/uva game, doped up on enough 5 Hour Energies and Coke Zeros to kill a spastic child, I kind of hoped a deer would dart out in front of my pimp rental Cadillac DTS ($30/day – thank you Linda!!!). Why did I hope to see a deer? I was going to picture it wearing a #23 jersey (i.e. Mike Scott who now has 3 straight 20+ point and 10+ rebound games against VT) and finally put a stop to him since Jeff Allen clearly couldn’t. But then I realized uva needed something to be happy about. They’ve had it pretty rough. I’m glad their fan finally had something to take pride in. (Seriously, Mike Scott must salivate waiting to play VT)
Then I wished a deer with the ACC preseason predictions painted on it would dart out, and I could blow it up like things have seemingly blown up for VT. Or maybe the deer would have a basketball dry erase board around it’s neck… blank like VT’s playbook seems to be.
Alas, as you can probably guess, no deer dared across the highway. Probably for the best, VT doesn’t need any additional bad PR with the hippies from PETA.
I decided to take a deep breath and not write anything today. Well, I made it 21 hours, but here are my ramblings…
The Offense… What can I say that hasn’t been said? Emilio Estevez’s Mighty Duck team looked more organized at the beginning of that movie than our offense does. All you had to do was watch last night’s game and you got a clinic in what we are doing wrong. What did uva do all first half? Either dribble inside the three point line, draw the defense, and kick it to an open wing. Or feed the post, and if VT doubled, the perimeter guys would slide to an open area and the post player would kick it out for a wide open look. And you know what? They made their wide open jumpers. No double? Mike Scott would back his man down, drop step, and score.
The point is, uva got a LOT of wide open looks, and shot 56% for the first half. That’s easy to do when you have no one in your face. And Mike Scott abused Jeff Allen like a rented mule. Jeff was trying to overplay him to one side, or front him, and it didn’t work. A good feed to the opposite side and Mike was drop-stepping and laying it in. I actually thought Davila did a nice job on Scott (playing behind him) – when Scott got the ball, faced up, and went up to shoot, Davila would step into him and put two hands straight up right in his face and that’s when Scott went cold.
Now, there was the Tech offense. When VT fed the ball inside, the perimeter players wouldn’t move. As a result, if the defense keeps their eye on the ball while they look to double, they are also able to keep a hand in the passing lane because our guy was in the same exact spot! If you move, the defender either has to double down, and you are open, or he stays with you and the post player has a one-on-one, and I like Allen or Davila in that situation.
On VT’s first possession Jeff got doubled and Delaney got a wide open look. Second possession, Allen had a one-on-one inside. Third possession, Davila thought he was going to get doubled and went to kick it out, but since Hudson hadn’t moved, the pass got intercepted. After that, Tech seemed to go away from this. But the point is, you have to have movement on offense or it is very easy for the opponent to guard you. I remember one play in the oklahoma state game where one of our post players had it down low. osu doubled him. But the two players on the left wing were standing in a straight line (one behind the other). So one guy was able to guard both and stay in the passing lane. The right wing? Same exact thing. So a third player was able to come down and take the ball away from the post player while two other guys were able to guard four Hokies. Terrible spacing, no movement.
Because of the lack of spacing and movement, guards are forced to try and fit the ball into tight spots. I mean, if no one is moving, then no one is open, so if you get stuck, you have to throw it somewhere. And our bigs aren’t great passers, but more on turnovers in a bit…
Turnovers… VT is averaging 3 more turnovers per game this year than last. Tech has had a negative turnover margin in 5 of their 8 games so far (including all 4 losses). The guards are either forcing passes in the half court or on the break, and our post players aren’t great at kicking the ball out (they really aren’t used to doing it).
Fast Break Points… The other thing greatly missing from VT’s arsenal this year is easy buckets. Tech just is not getting many fast break opportunities. The catalyst of this is the Hokies not creating, or converting, live ball turnovers. Check out this crazy stat: in the unc-g game, the Hokies pilfered 20 steals. 20! In the other 7 games, they have just 24 steals. Tech averaged 7 steals per game last year but average just 5.5 this year (and that’s including the unc-g game). Throw out the game in Greensboro and the Hokies are averaging just 3.4 steals.
During their current three game losing streak, the Hokies have forced just 29 total turnovers combined, for just 30 total points (exactly 10 in each game). Last year Tech was regularly getting 20 or more points off turnovers per game.
Live ball turnovers lead to odd man rushes (to steal a hockey term), which lead to easy bucket opportunities. The fewer turnovers you get, the fewer the fast break points you’re going to get. But even when Tech gets a chance, VT is horrible on the break anyway. Players are too selfish and go right at a defender or settle for a pull up jumper. What they should be doing is drawing the defender and then kicking it to the other man (far enough from the hoop) for an easy bucket. Instead, when VT does pass, it is either too tough to catch, too late and the guys are too close together (and therefore easier to defend), or the Hokie jumps drops it. Either way, it ain’t working.
Also, uva was clearly prepared for our 1-3-1 half court trap and neutralized it for the most part. ACC teams are going to have practiced against it, and it isn’t going to work as well as when it was a novelty earlier in the season. Tech needs to find different ways to be aggressive and create turnovers.
Scoring… VT is 271st in the nation in scoring at 64.4 ppg… out of 345 teams. Tech has now failed to reach even 60 points in 4 straight games and were held in the 50s in all 4 losses.
Shooting… VT is in the 200s in 3-point percentage, FG%, and Effective FG%. Tech cannot hit their jumpers, largely because they have a man in their face (due to the reasons listed above), while opponents like uva get wide open looks.
The Cassell… Tech went 17-2 at home last season. They are 1-2 this season. Conjuring up the ghosts of ricky stokes! And I’m sorry, but the crowd sucked last night. No energy, no enthusiasm. It was maybe, and I mean maybe, 80% full. Yes, I know many of us were at the ACCCG Saturday night. I was there, I was up until 3 AM, and I still made it to the Cassell and was loud and proud, knowing I still had a 4 hour drive home to go afterwards. Do I want a cookie? No. I want fans that give a crap. This was uva. Yes, I know we stunk worse than a NYC cab driver in July in the first half. I’m talking about before the game, when it started. The place was dead. And when the football team came out? Suddenly all these people had life.
I watched the Sunday Night Hoops game last week… it was unc vs college of charleston. unc had a huge crowd and they were into the game, even though their team was stinking it up and trailed in the second half. I’m not saying we have to be unc (nobody wants that). But this was uva!!! I mean, come on, we won’t have another wahoo turd in Lane or Cassell for another 13 to 14 months. Have some enthusiasm, or give your tickets to someone that will. And show up or give your tickets to someone that will. Yeesh. I’m calling all of you out. It’s sad when you can’t get up for uva. Our fans need Viagra for cheering/rivalries.
I’m tired of us being a football school only, and if football is doing well, we don’t give a crap about basketball. I want us to be great at both. If we had made that place crazy last night, the guys would have raised their game early and had more energy… trust me. Instead, the fans and the players were flatter than my tire after I accidentally backed over the “Severe Tire Damage” spikes pulling into the rental return lot this morning (just kidding).
ACC Openers… The Hokies are now just 1-6 in ACC openers. So VT is certainly familiar with this hole. It just stings because this was at home against a team picked to finish at the bottom of the ACC. Only one other loss in an opener was at home (for some reason VT had opened on the road in 4 of their first 6 seasons in the ACC).
Loss #4… VT didn’t lose their 4th game until January 31st last season.
Davila… He actually looks good to me right now. I was stunned he only had 4 points last night on 2/8 shooting. Seemed better than that. And as I said above, his defense looked good, too. Feed him the ball. No, his hands aren’t great, and no, he isn’t a good passer, but we don’t have many other options.
Hudson… Some people keep wondering where his three point shot has been this year but that’s not the issue. He hit just 21% from deep as a freshman, 33% as a sophomore, and 29% last year (so not as high as many, including me, remember — he did go nuts from deep in the middle of the season but he also went 0/13 to close the regular season, so this wasn’t a huge part of his success last year). He’s back down to 21% this year (3/14), but it is his midrange jumper that we really miss. Last year he getting pull up jumpers on the baseline, or coming off a curl and getting a jumper at the elbow… and hitting them. He’s not getting those looks this way. I don’t know if those plays were scrapped (especially the curl to the elbow) or what, but let’s bring it back.
Conclusion: Are we not as good as we were last year?… I actually don’t know how to answer this question yet. Basically, we are the same team as last year, but without JT Thompson, our heart-and-soul guy who brings high energy. We miss him a lot. But before you say, “What about Cadarian Raines?” remember one thing – he missed 40% of the games last year, so Tech survived in large part without him. Though it would be great to have him. So essentially you’ve traded Jarell Eddie for JT Thompson… and that hasn’t been a good thing to date.
But let’s look back at VT’s ACC games last year. They remind me of the Atlanta Falcons games this year. Like Matty Ice and the Dirty Birds, Tech would hang in games, and find a way to win at the end. While “lucky” isn’t the right word, Tech also easily could have lost many of their 10 ACC wins last year. Tech trailed by 3 to bc at home with 29 seconds to go last year, but won thanks in large part to a questionable jump ball call when Jeff Allen was standing out of bounds.
Five days later VT won at uva despite being behind by 10 with under 3 minutes to go.
The unc at VT game was a 2 point game with a minute to go (though VT did lead the final 17 minutes of it).
Tech trailed by 3 in the uva at VT game with under 2 minutes to go.
The Hokies were down 61-50 to wake with 12:30 to go in the second half in the demon deacon game, but won.
Tech lost to the ACC’s last place team, miami, TWICE.
So were the Hokies as good as we made them out to be last year? Or were we somewhat lucky in that we won so many close games, while they haven’t been able to close the games this year? I just don’t know. And I don’t think we will know until our sample size is larger. I do know that yesterday was just one game. There’s 15 more to go (in the ACC). And we were 0-1 last year, opening up with a loss to one of the ACC bottom feeders. So all is not lost, but I’ll admit I have a lot more doubt. Luckily we have 5 weeks to figure things out before our next ACC game.
Posted on 03 December 2010.
It’s December 2nd. Virginia Tech has just lost a heartbreaker on their home floor. The team is disappointed. It hurts to lose a one possession game like that. All you can do is get up the next day, lace up the shoes, and get back at it.
By the way, I’m not talking about the loss to purdue on Wednesday. I’m talking about December 2nd, 2002. Virginia Tech has just lost to… are you ready for this? wofford. That’s right, wofford. Do you even know what state wofford is? Or their nickname? I’m pretty sure they are in South Carolina, but I couldn’t tell you their nickname if it got me a night with Jessica Biel. The game was played in front of 3,114 fans at the Cassell. Rather, that was the PAID attendance. How many people were actually there? I have no idea. I wasn’t there. I probably didn’t even see the score until the next day. I sure as heck wasn’t ‘all in’ before the loss, and sure as heck wasn’t after that point.
If we were on TV, I watched. Like our win over uva at home later that year. But after only missing one home game in my four years at VT in the mid-90s (and it was my first game – stupid frat commitments), I had completely lost interest in our program. It was too painful. Too rough. I used to sit near the VT bench and watch ricky stokes stand around the huddle, saying absolutely nothing. I actually wondered if he was in a coma at times and it just hadn’t been diagnosed yet. He looked as prepared as the “Boom goes the dynamite” guy for most games.
This season marks the 50th season VT has played in the Cassell. You know how many losing records the Hokies have had at home for a season? One. The 2000-01 season where Tech went 6-9 at home, including consecutive home losses to bill & mary, uva, and liberty. The Hokies lost their final 10 games that season and went 2-14 in the Big East. Thanks, ricky.
That 2002-03 season, stokes’s last (thank goodness), VT went 12-17 and 4-12 in the Big East, ricky’s best season in the Big East. If a tree had fallen in the Cassell during most games, only about a dozen people would have been hurt but they’d surely have heard it since it was so quiet.
Fast forward to December 2nd, 2010. Tech lost to #22 purdue the night before. The loss stings. In a year that we all expected great things from the Hokies, they now sit at 4-3 and have missed several chances at great wins that would look fantastic on their NCAA Tournament resume come March. It will be tough to make the Big Dance now, and VT has an uphill battle. Tech went 10-6 in the ACC last year and didn’t get in, largely because they didn’t beat anyone of any merit out of conference. And the ACC is even more down this year than last, so barring a win over duke at the Cassell in February, VT won’t have many chances at a big time win in conference. Their strength of schedule will be a lot better which will help, but you still need quality wins, there are no ‘quality losses’.
But you know what? Who cares? I still know this is a good Virginia Tech team. We aren’t as good as we thought because we lost our energizer, JT Thompson. And we don’t have Allan Chaney to help inside like we hoped, but we didn’t have him last year, either. And Dorenzo Hudson is really struggling battling chronic injuries. But this is still a solid, and veteran team with a couple of stars and boatloads of experience. As they do each year, they will ratchet things up in ACC play.
Yes, they have major issues on offense, and 3-on-1 or 2-on-1 fast breaks might as well be 1-on-1 because we don’t know how to pass in transition. But they had those issues last year, too. This team plays great defense and that will keep them in almost every game. They just have to re-discover that magic they had last year at closing games.
And I’m telling you right now the ACC is BAD this year. wake’s already lost to stetson, vcu, and winthrop. georgia tech lost to kennesaw state, the ‘cuse, and by 20 at northwestern (and they have the second worst coach in the ACC who will not be around next year). nc state is coached by Sidney Lowe… nuff said (he’s the worst). They lost by 39 to wisconsin last night (wisconsin usually doesn’t score much more than 39). unc was once again way overrated by the media, and while Harrison Barnes is good, he’s not a John Wall or Kyrie Irving type impact freshman (nor was John Henson last year). They just lost too much, and that was off a team that went 5-11 in conference last year. maryland lost three of their top players from their experience, VT-like team from last year. florida state still can’t score against good teams. clemson lost Booker and has no inside presence, just two midget guards that can score. boston college lost to yale earlier this season, and while they are improved, they still have too far to go. uva is awful. Yes, they just won at minnesota, which is better than any win VT has, but they also lost by 21 to stanford who just finished 7th (of eight) at the 76 Classic. Then uva lost by 43 to washington and later to wichita state. miami, who I thought would be greatly improved, lost by 16 at rutgers. I think I overhyped them… I mean, they did go 4-12 in the ACC last year. How good could they really be?
duke? Well, yeah, they are amazing. They are the clear-cut #1 team in the nation. Kyrie Irving is the real deal. Heck, they bring Curry off the bench. But if the Hokies can finish as the #2 or #3 seed in the ACC, and I’m telling you they can very easily, they wouldn’t face duke until the ACC Finals if VT could make it that far. And that’s if duke isn’t upset in the quarters or semis.
In all honesty, what would you rather have: a NCAA Tournament appearance where VT is a middle of the pack seed and might lose their first game, or an ACC title? I know what I’d pick. Even if you said the Hokies couldn’t play in the NCAA Tournament if they won the ACC (I know, just go with me here), I’d take that in a second. Winning the ACC is a big deal, even this year. 40 years from now when I’m getting my diaper changed and I’m telling the other old farts around me about our ACC title, no one is going to ask, “But wasn’t the ACC down that year?”
We can win the ACC. Say it with me. WE CAN WIN THE ACC! Believe it, I do. And that journey starts Sunday. Let’s be there and support the boys. Let’s remember the days of 3,114 fans and take pride in what our program has become. Virginia Tech basketball is meaningful now, it is relevant. That’s awesome. And as we all know, we do two things really well: chew bubble gum, and pound uva. And Sunday we are all out of bubble gum!
I’m all in, are you?
Posted on 29 November 2010.
With the upcoming ACC Football Championship Game this weekend, I thought I’d share this little interesting nugget: florida state is the only ACC team Virginia Tech has not beaten on the road in basketball or football since joining the league. And I’m talking in either sport. VT has beaten the other 10 schools on the road in both basketball and football, yet haven’t beaten the noles in either. Tech is 0-5 at florida state in hoops and 0-1 in football. That’s right, VT has won at the Dean Dome and Cameron, but not the Tallahassee Leon County Civic Center.
VT is just 2-6 overall in hoops against the noles and 1-2 with the pigskin. VT has beaten every ACC school at home in both sports. The Hokies are 23-5 in ACC road games since joining the league, easily the most impressive state of Tech’s domination of the league. Tech has actually won at least twice at every football road venue except fsu, bc (1-2), and clemson (1-0).
Luckily, the football game this weekend is in the state of North Carolina, which the Hokies own. VT is 11-0 in the state against ACC opponents since joining the league.
Tech will not get a chance to win in Tallahassee this season in hoops. The lone game is on Saturday, January 8th at the Cassell. VT won’t play at fsu in football until 2013.
Posted on 12 November 2010.
Basically, if you want to get into the men’s game tonight for $8 instead of $20, buy a ticket to the women’s game (tickets go on sale at 4 p.m.) for $8 and it’s good for the men’s game, too. The women play at 5:30 and the men’s game will begin about 20-30 minutes after the completion of the men’s game, probably around 8 p.m. The only catch is, after the first half of the women’s game, you won’t be able to buy a ticket for the women’s game any more and you’ll have to buy a men’s game ticket at regular price, $20. See you at the game!
Here’s the official mumbo-jumbo from HokieSports.com:
Fans wishing to purchase individual game tickets for the basketball doubleheader home opener this Friday can do so at the Cassell Coliseum Ticket Office prior to the game only. The women host Presbyterian at 5:30 p.m. followed by the men versus Campbell at 7:30 p.m.. Any fan with a ticket to either game will be admitted to both games to fill any unoccupied seat.
Tickets for the women’s game only will go on sale starting at 4:00 p.m. through halftime of the women’s game. Women’s tickets are $8 for adults and $3 for children under 18. Following halftime of the women’s game, tickets to the men’s game only will go on sale and are $20.
Posted on 06 November 2010.
“And David put his hand in the bag and took out a stone and slung it. And it struck the Philistine on the head and he fell to the ground.” -Preacher Purl in ‘Hoosiers‘
Hopefully that will be the quote that comes to mind on Sunday, March 13th as the ACC Tournament Championship Game concludes. Hopefully Virginia Tech will be cutting down the nets in the Greensboro Coliseum. Hopefully the Hokies will have risen to the top of the ACC and captured their first ACC title while the Philistines, unc and duke (with nine NCAA Tournament Championships and 35 ACC Tournament titles combined), lay on the ground in disbelief.
It won’t be easy, though. unc and duke have combined to win 13 of the last 14 ACC titles. Oh, and duke is the reigning national champs with two huge stars (Singler and Smith) back and a man named ‘Curry’. unc has the top freshman in the nation in Harrison Barnes, a guy you would think was already Kevin Durant by all the hype. There are also nine other pretty good programs to deal with that you cannot forget… actually, let’s forget about them. The ACC champion will be unc, duke, or Virginia Tech, I’ll say that right now with strong confidence. But seriously, the Hokies have a real shot at hoisting up the hardware on that fateful Sunday. Tech returns 10 of the 12 guys that scored a point last season (it was 11 of 12 before JT Thompson’s injury), have an All-American candidate in Malcolm Delaney, one of the top rated power forwards in the country in Jeff Allen (I’ve seen him ranked as high as #2 at PF), Zo Clutch who is money when the game is on the line, and all these guys have loads of experience and tons of hunger, having never played a NCAA Tournament game. Plus they add two 2,000 point scorers from their respective high schools in Jarell Eddie and Tyrone Garland. And the biggest sign of Hokie respect? The ACC media picked VT to finish second in the conference, ahead of the might tar heels. That’s one small blow to the Philistines.
The League: This will likely be another weak year for the league by ACC standards. Going into last season, 10 of the 15 All-ACC players from the year before were gone, leaving a lot of holes in terms of star power in the conference. This year is a little better – seven of the 15 All-ACC players from a year ago are back. But four of those seven that are returning are on either duke or Virginia Tech, hence why you see them at the top of the class.
Let me breakdown the league this year from worst to first.
The hoos have lost 34 ACC games in the last three seasons. They’re, uh, they’re not good. Adding to their misery is the fact leading scorer Sylven Landesberg is gone after just his sophomore year. He was their one big, consistent threat and gave them some star power and cannot be replaced. Their #4 and 5 leading scorers are also gone in Jones (who also bolted) and Meyinsse, and Tristan Spurlock (who had been a 4-star recruit) decided to leave. uva has to play duke and Virginia Tech four times, which won’t help.
Big man Mike Scott does return. He has a wealth of talent, but like Jeff Allen, is very inconsistent. He’s not the type of player you want as your leader. Outside of him they don’t have a real scoring threat returning.
The good news for the handful of hoo hoops fans is they did bring in a solid recruiting class. K.T. Harrell is their stud. Rivals.com had him as the #30 guy overall in this past class. He’s a shooting guard. K.T. will have to fill the void left by Landesberg’s departure. But even if he does, they’d only be back to where they were last year, and that was a team that went 5-11. So things are not looking bright for uva, at least not this year until these freshmen get some experience.
11. wake forest
Just two years ago wake forest claimed the #1 ranking in the country. Now, heading into the 2010-11 season, most predictions don’t have them in the top 10 in the ACC. The media had them dead last. Gone from last year’s squad are lightning bolt point guard Ishmael Smith and NBA first round pick Al-Farouq Aminu. Both were ACC Second Team last year. They also lost their best defender, L.D. Williams, and their top big man, Chas McFarland. wake has just five scholarship guys back who had a combined 30 starts last year (that’s less than the number of games they played). In contrast, VT has 166 returning starts from a year ago.
Like uva, the future is what the deacons are banking on. They bring in four 4-star recruits plus another 3-star guy, filling out an entire lineup. How they do this season depends on how those guys develop under new coach Jeff Bzdelik. But freshmen tend to struggle in the ACC, and it isn’t like they have kentucky’s class of last year, or even the star-studded class they had two years ago that was more hype than substance.
10. georgia tech
I’d probably have the yellow jackets down here at #10 even if they had Gani Lawal and Derrick Favors back. Why? Paul Hewitt is still their head coach. He’s the second worst coach in the league, posting a 67-93 record in ACC games in ten seasons at georgia tech. That’s at georgia tech, in the ATL. A great city that has to be easy to recruit to (and they do recruit very well). Yet he’s posted just one winning record in conference play in 10 years. How does he still have a job? Yes, he did make it to the 2004 NCAA title game, but that was six years ago… and they lost it. Hewitt’s ability to lose road games is legendary – they are 1-15 on the road in ACC games the last two seasons.
Gone now are Lawal and Favors to the NBA, and Zachery Peacock is also gone, leaving a gigantic hole in the low post for georgia tech. They only return one player over 6’6″, and he’s not very good. Two of their other bigs redshirted last year which tells you all you need to know about them.
The jackets are strong on the perimeter with Shumpert, Miller, Udofia, and Rice. Shumpert could become a star in the ACC this year. But those guys are turnover machines, probably thanks in large part to poor coaching. Plus, they don’t play smart defense, taking way too many chances and giving up easy hoops. Plus, now they have no low post presence. All this equals Paul Hewitt’s final season at georgia tech.
I see clemson and bc as very similar unknowns this year, but I like bc’s returning players more than clemson’s, hence they get the nod. clemson has a new coach in Brad Brownell. Gone is the strangling, up-tempo press style of Oliver Purnell. While that could be good for the tigers long term, it changes the type of players you need. For example, forward Jerai Grant is 6’8″ but just 220, not exactly a bruiser inside. Brownell’s system may not work with the athletic bodies Purnell coveted who couldn’t shoot to save their lives.
clemson must learn to live without their long time star, Trevor Booker who is with the Wizards. He averaged 15.2 ppg and 8 rpg and was just a beast of a presence inside. They have two quick, and good three-point shooting point guards in Stitt and Young. Good guard play can carry you. But who can they feed the ball to when they get cut off? That will be the big question they have to answer. Grant isn’t good at creating his own shots or scoring with his back to the basket, Tanner Smith is a very streaky shooter at guard (28% on 3′s), and Milton Jennings was a huge disappointment as a former 5-star recruit at forward. He averaged just 3.3 ppg and 2.7 rpg last year. If he can elevate his game under Brownell, they have a chance to vault up the standings to the #6 range.
FYI: They only brought in one recruit, a 3-star.
8. boston college
The eagles, like clemson, also have a new coach in Steve Donahue. I like them more than the tigers because they return Joe Trapani (14.1 ppg) as a perimeter-shooting forward, and electric guard Reggie Jackson (12.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 4.5 apg). They also have wing player Corey Raji (11.4 ppg). Not many ACC teams have three returning double-digit scorers. The eagles also have a quality shot-blocker in Josh Southern inside at 6’10″.
Had the eagles been able to keep Rakim Sanders, they really could have contended for a bye in the league. But he bolted for fairfield along with his 11.3 ppg. Seldom used Evan Ravenel also left. The eagles added no recruits of note.
The eagles are experienced and I like teams with experience. Just look at unc a few years ago, duke last year (and this year), maryland last year, and VT this year. While Jackson, Trapani, and Raji don’t have the talent those other teams had, they also are in the ACC in a down year. I wouldn’t be shocked to see them vault us as high as #5 in the league. And I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see them finish ahead of nc state…
7. nc state
The media picked the wolfpack to finish fourth in the ACC… hold on… give me a minute… I’m still laughing hysterically… OK, I think I’m better. Word to the media – SIDNEY LOWE IS STILL THEIR COACH!!! In his four years at the helm, state is 20-44 in ACC play. That’s an average of 5-11, which was their record last season. They’ve lost at least 10 games in conference every year, including the year they had J.J. Hickson who is tearing it up for the Cleveland Cavs. And you think now he’s going to start winning? Ha!
So why is the media high on the pack? They do return Tracy Smith, a preseason All ACC pick and a very good 6’8″ forward. I like him. And their three recruits coming in are absolute monsters. They bring in two 5-stars in PF C.J. Leslie and PG Ryan Harrow, and fellow PG Lorenzo Brown was #37 overall.
But Gonzalez their point guard shoots under 40% from the floor. In fact, five of their seven main returning players shoot under 40% and state is not known for their defense. Also, guards tend to struggle their freshman year in the ACC adjusting to the skill and speed of the game, as well as the intensity. So I’m not expecting much from Brown or Harrow. Leslie may do well, but they stunk when they had Hickson with Costner and McCauley. These guys are going to have to learn to all play together at the same positions, and based on Lowe’s track record, I’m not banking on it. In fact, I can’t believe I have them as high as I do at #7, but the rest of the ACC is just that bad. If I had been their AD, I would have waited until their stud recruits signed their LOI, immediately fired Lowe, hired a new guy, and tried to convince the recruits to stay. But that’s just me.
Other than wake forest, no one in the ACC was hit hard by lost players than maryland. Gone from the team that tied duke for the regular season title last year at 13-3 (yes, tied duke) are super punk (and arm-curl victim) Greasy Face-quez, forward Landon Milbourne, and guard Eric Hayes. That’s a loss of 44 ppg, 12 rpg, and 11 apg. That’s a lot to make up for. But Jordan Williams is set to be a Tracy Smith-like star and Sean Mosley started every game last year and averaged 10 ppg.
The terps have struggled to recruit in the last several years and that trend continued this past offseason. Despite the ability to sell early playing time at a basketball crazy school, they signed just one 4-star recruit of the five they inked (who would have thought VT’s recruiting would be surpassing maryland’s). Mychal Parker was #60 overall and gives them an athletic wing player at 6’6″ that can help fill Milbourne’s void.
The key for the terps is how their guys that used to be supporting cast like Bowie, Gregory, and Tucker can step up. I bet they will lose a couple of bad out of conference games, but Gary Williams is a good coach and knows how to beat the weaker ACC coaches in the league, as well as pull off the occasional upset. This pick is based solely on my familiarity with Williams. I don’t think maryland will finish any higher than this, and I think they could finish as low as 9th.
You have to have one crazy pick, right? There’s always one big mover each season. And I am NOT putting nc state in that role. So why not the c-a-n-e-s canes? Yes, they finished 4-12 in the ACC last year. But then they beat #5 seed wake and #4 seed VT before battling #1 duke in the semi-finals, all without Dwayne Collins who isn’t back this year anyway.
Sophomore guard Durand Scott became a money playmaker at the end of the year, beating VT almost on his own with his ability to drive. Malcolm Grant is a big time three-point shooter, giving them a deep threat. Inside, Reggie Johnson is really fat (295 lbs), but showed he can play in spurts and be productive. They have a decent cast of supporting characters, too. And they add 4-star SG Rion Brown to lessen James Dews’s loss, but you know how I feel about freshman guards in the ACC. That said, he doesn’t have to do much since they have two good guards already.
The key is can they play the rugged, street-mugging style defense Frank Haith had them playing a few years ago? If so, they are always a tough team to beat. And with the ACC down again this year, someone has to finish 5th. I could also see the canes fall as low as 9th, too.
4. florida state
It is scary to think Leonard Hamilton is now considered one of the better coaches in the ACC, but quietly he has turned the noles into one of the better programs in the ACC. They’ve had three winning seasons in the ACC in the last five years, including two straight 10-6 seasons and a first round bye in the ACC Tourney. They played in the ACC Tournament title game two years ago. Hamilton’s success has been built on defense. The noles don’t score a lot, but they also don’t let you. And in a conference that doesn’t play much defense, Hamilton has found that as their way to win.
The noles lost probably the best true big man in the ACC, Solomon Alabi, to the NBA. That will leave a void in the middle. But they have had the ACC’s defensive player of the year two years in a row, and last year’s winner is back – Chris Singleton. He is an extremely athletic 6’9″ post player who averages 10.2 ppg and 7 rpg. Michael Snaer came on at guard as the season went along and could explode this year. Xavier Gibson gives them a 6’11″ low post player to lessen the loss of Alabi. Kitchen is an average PG, but will be a three year starter this year. And Dulkys gives them an outside shooting threat.
The noles also add two 4-star recruits, a PG (Miller) and a PF (White). They don’t have to produce a lot, but can certainly add depth to an already solid club. I see a third straight first round bye in the ACC Tournament for fsu.
3. north carolina
Harrison Barnes. That’s what it all comes down to for the heels. Harrison Barnes. A guy that has never played a minute in college is the reason why the heels, who went 5-11 in the ACC last year, are picked third in the league and in the top ten in the nation. He’s the consensus #1 recruit in the nation. He just became the first freshman ever named a preseason All-American (yes, first team All-American… nationally). If he can have the type of impact a fresh like Kevin Durant had at texas, unc will live up their hype. But that’s a lot to live up to.
The heels do not return a lot of studs. Gone is Ed Davis, their best player and a very good big man, to the NBA. The Wear twins transferred. Will Graves was kicked off the team. Tyler Zeller struggles to stay healthy but should be a very good big man when he does play. Larry Drew gets a ton of assists (6 per game), but let’s face it – he’s not even half as good as Ty Lawson was. Drew is a distributor, but not a playmaker like Ty was. Drew’s maturation and development will be one of the big keys to the heels’ success. And can he hit open shots? Kendall Marshall (a freshman from my neck of the woods in Arlington) will push Drew for time at PG if Drew struggles again this year.
The other big key for the heels is John Henson. He was a very highly rated 5-star recruit a year ago. But beanpole Henson struggled to make the adjustment to ACC play, though he did get better as the year went on. If he isn’t much better than the 5.7 ppg and 4.4 rpg he had a year ago, or if Harrison Barnes is more Henson than Durant, this could be another rough year for the powder blue. Either way, it shows the Hokies have arrived when the unc hype machine still is behind the Hokies in the preseason predictions.
2. VIRGINIA TECH
The Hokies are the second best team on paper in the ACC, plain and simple. Thank goodness the media realized that. The loss of JT Thompson for the season and Chaney’s healthy issues hurt, but this team is still loaded and have over 300 career starts as a whole.
For more on the Hokies, see our SEASON PREVIEW.
duke won the ACC regular season title, tournament title, and NCAA title last year. They return two of their three best players (Singler and Smith, Scheyer is gone). Singler could battle for National Player of the Year, and Smith is a great playmaker (what unc is missing). They added a Seth – Seth Curry. They have the Plumlees and Dawkins, plus Kelly. They add a 5-star PG (Irving) and a 4-star PF (Hairston from VA). They don’t have many weaknesses. They are good.
If they do have a weakness, it would be in the low post. They lost starters Zoubek and Thomas. But neither of those guys were counted on to score. But they were great on the glass and Thomas was solid on defense. Kelly did not have much strength last year. How much he’s bulked up will decide how effective he is, and the Plumlee’s are athletic bigs. The problem for everyone else is they can’t exploit this – there aren’t many talented bigs in the ACC this year. And duke has the experience and talent to kill you in an up-tempo or half court game. They are good in either style.
It will be interesting to see how Seth Curry adjusts to being at duke. His dad was the man at VT. His bro was the man at davidson. He was the man at liberty. Now, he’s just the third man at best for the defending champs. Can he play close to the level Jon “Crazy Face” Scheyer played at? Either way, duke is still loaded. They are far and away the best team in the league on paper. But the Hokies can make it interesting and do get the blue devils at home in their only meeting, and the Hokies do have more experience.
01/07 vs. syracuse, 9 p.m., ACCN
01/11 vs. boston college, noon, RSN
01/15 vs. clemson, 7 p.m., RSN
01/19 @ notre dame, 6 p.m., ESPNU
01/22 vs. wake forest, 7 p.m., RSN
01/25 @ virginia, 3 p.m., ACCN
01/29 @ boston college, 7 p.m., RSN
02/01 vs. maryland, noon, ACCN
02/05 @ florida state, 9 p.m., RSN
02/08 @ pittsburgh, noon, RSN
02/15 vs. miami, 6 p.m., RSN
02/18 vs. virginia, 9 p.m., ACCN
02/22 vs. nc state, 2 p.m., RSN
02/25 @ duke, 7 p.m, ESPNU
03/01 vs. north carolina, 2:30 p.m, ACCN
03/04 @ maryland, 8 p.m., ACCN
03/08 @ georgia tech, 2 p.m, ESPN/ESPN2