The Week To Be – 11/16 – 11/22/2006

01/17/06 Holy Cross @ Boston College Worcester, Mass.
Bill Simmons’ alma mater is going to face an angry BC squad.
01/18/06 NC State @ Duke Durham, N.C. ESPN 7:00 PM
Duke’s first loss? Could be. State didn’t play at Duke last year, so for a lot of their players, it’s their first visit to Cameron. Should be a good game between what are currently the two best ACC teams.
01/18/06 Clemson @ Miami Miami, FL 7:30 PM
Set your TiVo!!!! Oh, whoops. Somehow they forgot to put this one on TV.
01/18/06 Georgia Tech @ Wake Forest Winston-Salem, N.C. RJ 9:00 PM
If Wake doesn’t win this one, their season will officially be in the toilet. I’d bet the mortgage that the Deacons pull this one out.
01/19/06 North Carolina @ Virginia Charlottesville, Va. ESPN 7:00 PM
Another upset possibility? I would have said no chance a couple of weeks ago, but UVA has two conference wins already and Carolina struggled to stop Miami’s guards. All Virginia has is guards. Well, guards and Jason Cain’s mustache. Don’t sleep on that mustache.
01/21/06 Clemson @ Georgia Tech Atlanta, GA RSN 12:00 PM
I’m not sure who will win this game, but you better believe it’ll have some athletic plays and a lot of turnovers.
01/21/06 Duke @ Georgetown Washington, D.C. CBS 1:30 PM
The Hoyas appear to be tough this year. It’s been a while. Not tough enough though. They’re gonna get waxed, especially if Duke gets upset by State.
01/21/06 Wake Forest @ NC State Raleigh, N.C. RJ 4:00 PM
Can Wake get revenge for State knocking them out of the ACC tourney last year? Not unless they figure out who their point guard is and start playing better defense.
01/21/06 Virginia Tech @ Maryland College Park, Md. RJ 8:00 PM
Could the Hokies fall to 0-5 in the ACC? Yes. Yes, they can. 0-6 actually, because their next game is home against Duke who won’t take them lightly this time.
Actually, I wouldn’t be shocked if Virginia Tech beats Maryland in this game. The Terps are turnover prone and the Hokies put a lot of pressure on the ball.
01/21/06 Boston College @ Miami Coral Gables, Fla. RJ 8:00 PM
Now THIS is a classic ACC matchup!
01/22/06 North Carolina @ Florida State Tallahassee, Fla. FSN 6:30 PM
Florida State is quietly having a good year. A win against the Tar Heels would get them some attention.

Doherty Gets It (Sort Of)

The N&O has a nice little catch-up piece on the job Matt Doherty is doing this year at Florida Atlantic. It sounds like he’s doing a nice job of rehabbing his career and image. The Owls (shouldn’t he be coaching at a school named the Eagles?) are 6-1 in league play after going 10-17 overall last year.
There are some interesting quotes from his players as well – “I wish I had been around him for four years. He’s [also] funny, has personality, charisma. He’s the first coach I’ve been able to laugh and joke with. He’s pretty cool.”
And another – “But he does joke, and there’s open communication. You can tell him what’s on your mind. I like it a lot.”
Wow, sounds a lot different from his Carolina days, huh? I guess he’s learned a lot from his experiences and become a better coach and person, right?
Well, yeah. Sorta. While clearly recognizing that he needed to change, and therefore tacitly admitting that he was flawed, he still continues to blame everyone else for what went down in Chapel Hill.
Here are some of Doh’s quotes about his UNC debacle – “I walked away with $300,000; that’s a small amount with three years left. That’s a lesson I learned.”
He also added that he isn’t much different from Roy Williams in conducting practice. Hmm. Let’s see, you alienated nearly the entire team leading many to say they were going to transfer, you coached the Heels to their worst record ever and you were fired after only three seasons. Roy Williams took your same players (granted, it was an extremely talented group) and won the national championship after already establishing himself as a tier-one coach at Kansas. Yeah, sounds about the same. I’m not sure Doherty still gets that coaching isn’t just running drills and teaching defense. Psychology is just as important and to properly teach, you need to understand and communicate with your players.
It sounds to me like Matt Doherty still has some learning to do.

The Dean Dome Turns 20

I guess I’m old. I can clearly remember when the Dean E Smith Student Activity Center, aka The Dean Dome, opened. I wasn’t even that young – I was in high school.
And now that building is turning 20 and is considered “middle-aged.”
As far as basketball arenas go, the Dean Dome is a pretty good one. It doesn’t have nearly the charm or energy of Cameron or Allen Fieldhouse at Kansas, but it is still a great place to watch the game. With all of the cushy seats and staid old fans, it can feel a little stuffy, but all those banners (they are everywhere – for league championships, national championships, honored jerseys, retired numbers, etc.) and all of that baby blue reminds you that you are somewhere special. I like to hear that there are no plans on replacing the building and that they think it can last for decades to come. There’s nothing like history to make a building feel really special.

The Week That Was 1/9 – 1/15/2006

01/10/06 North Carolina 64, Virginia Tech 61 Blacksburg, Va.
Huge win for Carolina on the road, despite 25 turnovers. At this point, Roy Williams has to be on the short list for national coach of the year. That he can get a team with so many freshman to maintain their composure on the road against such an aggressive defense is really impressive.
I was very impressed with the Hokie defense, but their offense is poor. Basically, they pass around until one of their guards decides to dribble to the rim. It looks like they spend all of their practice time on defense.

Continue reading “The Week That Was 1/9 – 1/15/2006”

Bob Gibbons’ Top 250 Seniors

The News & Observer has a very handy list up – Bob Gibbons’ Top 250 Seniors. You don’t normally see a list quite so long, so this is a nice feature. Of course, you have to wonder just how accurate it is after the top 50 or so.
The ACC players:

Rk Name Pos Ht Wt City St High School
4 Brandan Wright PF 6-9+ 205 Brentwood TN Brentwood Academy (UNC)
6 Wayne Ellington 2G 6-4 188 Merion Station PA Episcopal Academy (UNC)
8 Tywon Lawson PG 6-0 165 Mouth Of Wilson VA Oak Hill Academy (UNC)
14 Gerald Henderson WF 6-5 210 Merion Station PA Episcopal Academy (Duke)
21 Bpjan Zoubek C 7-1+ 265 Haddonfield NJ Memorial (Duke)
23 Jon Scheyer 2G 6-5 170 Northbrook ILL Hlenbrook North (Duke)
24 Thaddeus Young WF 6-8 205 MNemphis TN Mitchell (Georgia Tech)
25 Alex Stepheson PF 6-9 220 North Hollywood CA Harvard-Westlake (UNC)
36 Javaris Crittenton 1/2G 6-5 195 Atlanta GA SW Atlanta Christian (Georgia Tech)
38 Deon Thompson C/F 6-9 258 Torrance CA Torrance (UNC)
41 Dwayne Collins PF 6-8 225 Miami FL Miami Senior (Miami)
42 Jamie Skeen P/WF 6-8 215 Huntersville NC North Mecklenburg (Wake Forest)
46 Jonathan Kpeft C 7-0 240 Parkland FL Majorie S. Douglas (Florida State)
57 Johnnie Lett C/F 6-9 216 Mobile AL B.C. Pafn (Virginia)
59 Jeff Allen P/WF 6-8 200 Mouth of Wilson VA Oak Hill Academy (Virginia Tech)
66 L. D. Williams 2G 6-5 290 Monteverde FL Monteverde Academy (Wake Forest)
68 Anthony Gurley 2G 6-3 205 Newtonville MA Newton North (Wake Forest)
74 Eric Hayes PG 6-3+ 175 Dumfries VA Woodbridge (Maryland)
77 Larry Davis 2G 6-3 175 Middle Village NY Christ The King (N.C. State)
80 Solomon Tat WF 6-5 218 Stockbridge GA Community Christian (Virginia)
81 Dennis Horner P/WF 6-9 200 Absecon NJ Holy Spirit (N.C. State)
84 Lewis Witcher PF 6-8 215 Rocky Mount VA Franklin County (Virginia Tech)
85 Dan Werner P/WF 6-8 220 Lincroft NJ Christian Brothers (N.C. State)
87 Jamil Tucker PF 6-8- 225 Gary IN Gary West Side (Virginia)
88 Landon Milbourne G/F 6-6 195 Mouth of Wilson VA Oak Hill Academy (Maryland)
89 James Dews 2G 6-4 195 Liberty Township OH Lakota East (Miami, Fl)
90 Trevor Booker WF 6-6 215 Union SC Union (Clemson)
91 William Graves W 6-6 250 Greensboro NC Dudley (UNC)
98 Aaron Holmes G/F 6-5 190 St. Petersburg FL Catholic (Florida State)
100 Zach Peacock PF 6-7 225 Miami, FL Miami Norland (Georgia Tech)
107 Jerome Burney C/F 6-9 218 Atlanta GA Westlake (Maryland)
112 Josue Soto 1/2G 6-0 170 Jacksonville FL Arlington Ctry. Day (Florida S
121 Greivis Vasquez PG 6-5 187 Rockville MD Montrose Christian (Maryland)
137 Shamari Spears PF 6-6 235 Blairstown NJ Blair Academy (Boston College)
145 Ishmael Smith PG 6-1 150 Concord NC Central Cabarrus (Wake Forest)
150 Tyler Roche WF 6-6 195 Manchester NH Central (Boston College)
160 Karolis Petrukonis C 6-11 270 Norfolk VA Norfolk Collegiate (Clemson)
165 Brad Sheehan C 6-11 215 Latham NY Shaker (Georgia Tech)
166 Nigel Munson PF 5-11 170 Hyattsville MD Dematha (Virginia Tech)
171 A. J. Tyler PF 6-9 217 Palm Harbour FL University (Clemson)
205 Daya Kaba 1/2G 6-4 190 Centereach NY Our Savior (Boston College)

A couple of quick thoughts:
– Gee, from looking at the top of that list, which teams do you think are going to dominate the ACC in coming years?
– Where’s Georgia Tech going to fit all of those guys on an already-young team?
– Boston College better realize that you need to recruit to hang in the ACC.
– Solomon Tat is a really cool name.

Catching Up With Barry Jacobs

Like I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I got way behind in my reading over the break. Since I don’t think anyone should miss Barry Jacob’s unique statistical articles on the DBR, I’m going to catch up with all of them right here.
Here is Barry on:
Offensive Improvements
Low Scoring
Good Defensive Field-Goal Percentages
Season-Opening Win Streaks
Declining Three-Point Accuracy

Tarnished Glory

I have to admit that I’ve been looking forward to the release of Glory Road, the movie about Texas Western’s 1966 national championship win over Kentucky. I’ve read a lot about the game over the years and it seems like a fascinating subject – a team with five black starters knocking off lily-white power Kentucky and their racist coach. Legend has it that that game led to a change in philosophy in Kentucky’s (and other southern schools’) recruiting.
Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that the movie was being produced Jerry Bruckheimer. Great. That’s like hiring Robin Williams to MC a Holocaust conference.
Well, from the sound of things Bruckheimer did as expected and screwed the whole thing up.
From what I’ve read, he got the following things wrong:

  • He ignored the fact that several other teams with black players had won college championships.
  • He ignored the fact that many of the top NBA players were black at that time.
  • The movie has Don Haskins coaching a high school girls team the year before he wins the title. Nice. Not only is that preposterous, but it completely removes all credit that Haskins deserves for actually recruiting those players and building that team.
  • The movie grossly overstates the attitudes about the game at the time. According to many involved (including John Thompson), it wasn’t really until years later that anyone made a big deal about the racial makeup of the teams.
  • The movie’s final graphic says that the win was the greatest upset in college basketball history, despite the fact that Texas Western had lost only one game all year and was ranked #3.

Sad, really. The story is a great one and could stand on its own, but Mr. Aliens And Explosions couldn’t stand for that. Why let the facts get in the way?
BTW, Caulton Tudor has an interesting article up today about how it was very nearly Lilly-white Duke and not Kentucky in that game. The Wildcats beat the Blue Devils by only four points in the semis despite Duke being largely without their best player, Bob Verga.
I wonder how history would look back on that game if it hadn’t involved Kentucky’s notoriously racist coach Adolph Rupp? Of course, Bruckheimer could have just changed that too.

Shelden Vs. J.J.

Ken Pomeroy has a thing for Shelden Williams. But that’s OK.
In a post from a couple of weeks ago (I’m still catching up from the holidays), Ken compares Shelden’s numbers to teammate J.J. Redick’s and wonders why J.J. is the one being hailed as the national player of the year. As always, Ken makes some excellent points. It’s not clear to me at all that Redick is more valuable to his team than Williams is. Like Ken points out, Shelden’s defense is light years ahead of J.J.’s.
My one beef with the article though is that he suggests that Shelden’s offensive production is pretty near to J.J.’s. Now, I agree that the statistics suggest that and I know that Mr. Pomeroy knows much more about stats than I do, but I think this is one case where the numbers lie, or at least deceive.
In classical basketball theory, a good big man makes it easier for perimeter players to score. When they catch the ball inside, the defense collapses, allowing open shots for the other players. In most cases, that’s how things work, but not for Duke. Not this year. There is no question that every defense Duke faces focuses the bulk of their attention on stopping, or at least slowing, J.J. Redick. As he runs around, everyone follows him – if not with their legs, then with their eyes. No one leaves Redick to help out.
That constant attention, and the fact that Redick is never content to just stand around and let his man rest, opens the floor for everyone else, including Shelden Williams. Williams gets easier shots because of J.J.
On top of that, because of their relative roles on the team, Shelden almost never has to produce offense for others. He gets himself in position and if he has an advantage, he gets the ball. You’ll almost never see Williams create his own shot. Redick, on the other hand, not only runs around off of screens, but he frequently has the ball in his hand. He probes at the defense, constantly using the threat of his own shot to make the defense respond to him, after which he often makes a pass to an open teammate.
Those efforts don’t show up in box score (other than assists, I suppose), so they won’t be reflected in Ken’s analysis.
In the end, he may well be right that the difference between Williams’ and Redick’s defense is greater than the gap between their offense, but stats won’t tell that whole story.