We’re just now coming out exam period for most schools, so it’s been a pretty thin week of games. Teams either barely played or played weak teams, worried that their players wouldn’t be at their best. Do you think Dave Leitao wishes he had followed this prescription and stayed home instead of taking his team to Puerto Rico? The Cavs couldn’t have had a worst tournament down there.
Wednesday, Dec. 13
Maryland 101, UMKC 50
A little scrimmage before exams. Hope the Kangaroos enjoyed their trip east.
DePaul 78, Wake 63
Who didn’t see this coming? Wake had already lost two straight, so it probably wasn’t a good time to take a road trip, even to play a mediocre DePaul team. Well, the Demon Deacons were just what the Blue Demons needed. They thumped Wake up and down the court.
Now is the point where Skip Prosser needs to be very careful with this team. They completely imploded last year and then their three best players graduated. This squad is inexperienced and the guys who DO have experience probably have shaky confidence. A losing streak at this point of the season could easily put this team into a tailspin. Maybe Skip needs to dig into his Shakespeare anthology and find just the right quote.
The Big East is now up 6-2 on the ACC.
Saturday, Dec. 16
UNC 93, UNCA 62
Did you see that 7’7″ dude on Asheville? Damn, he made Tyler Hansbrough look like a toy. Unfortunately for coach Eddie Biedenbach, which you can’t teach height, you also can’t teach coordination. When the giant came in, freshman Brandan Wright got fouled attacking the basket, had two dunks and then got fouled again. Maybe that’s why a guy that big is playing at UNC-A and not UNC. It was interesting to see the Bulldogs put two seven-footers on the floor though. When’s the last time you saw that in college?
UVa 91, Hampton 69
N.C. State 80, Mount St. Mary’s 65
Miami 89, Stetson 64
Ho, Hum and Hummer.
Sunday, Dec. 17
BC 101, Sacred Heart 68
Wouldn’t you hate to play sports for a school named “Sacred Heart.” How tough can you feel with that on your jersey? Are their games shown on Lifetime?
Va. Tech 63, Wake 60
This was one of those games that both teams could be either happy or disappointed with. For the Hokies, they probably would rather have not had such trouble with the league’s worst team at home. But then, a win’s a win and Tech has had a hard time getting wins the past year and a half.
For the Deacons, given that they had lost their previous three, coming close in an ACC road game was probably encouraging. Except for the fact that they lost. Four in a row now. Danger, Skip Prosser! Danger!
Monday, Dec. 18
FSU 81, High Point 64
Have I made fun of FSU’s schedule yet? It looks like they are following the Clemson blueprint. Check out this stretch of six games – Stetson, Georgia State, SE Louisiana, High Point (the best team in this group, mind you) and St. Peter’s. And earlier they already played McNeese State and New Orleans. I guess FSU has a new plan for getting off that bubble!
Ga. Tech 92, Centenary 52
Even Robert Parrish couldn’t have helped. The Yellow Jackets actually needed that one after losses in three of four games.
Tuesday, Dec. 19
Appalachian State 80, UVa 69
Wha? Oh uh. The sad thing is that UVA was never even in this game. The Mountaineers took it to them from the tip. A very bad sign for the Cavs (and of course it gets worse. Read on.).
Duke 79, Kent State 72
Kent State gave Duke quite a bit of trouble in this game. The Golden Flashes were well coached and their quickness on the perimeter seemed to give the Blue Devils fits. That’s been their Achilles Heel for few years now and it doesn’t look like they’ve solved the problem. What was particularly striking to me was how the aggressive on-the-ball pressure by Kent State pushed Duke’s offense so far out. They did to Duke what the Blue Devils used to do to other teams.
On the flip side, Duke finally got what they need from Josh McRoberts. The big man took over in the second half, demanding the ball and making all the plays that Duke needed. If McRoberts keeps playing that way, the Blue Devils might actually live up to expectations. I just don’t think he will.
UNC 105, Florida Atlantic 52
This score is actually not indicative of just how lopsided this game was. That’s tough to say in a 53-point win.
Clem. 72, Georgia Southern 60
Wake 92, Gardner-Webb 60
No team in the ACC was more in need of an easy win. Sure Gardner-Webb is bad, but you have to build a positive attitude somehow.
Wednesday, Dec. 20
Utah 94, UVa 70
Wow! This might be the worst ACC loss of the year (well, until you read about the Miami game below). While Utah is a good program, this is not a good team and they beat the hell out of Virginia. The Utes shot well over 60% for the game and outrebounded the Cavs 33-18. Eighteen rebounds for the whole game.
Given how grumpy Dave Leitao can be, I can’t imagine what the upcoming practices are going to be for this team. There’s just no reason why they can beat an Arizona squad that’s littered with NBA prospects and then get stomped in back-to-back games by App State and Utah. While the defense and rebounding were atrocious, the problem is not technical. They just aren’t playing hard enough. You can’t win at this level if you don’t bust your ass, and that’s regardless of who you’re playing. Virginia better figure that out and soon or they could be hitching a ride on the tail flaps of Wake Forest’s plummeting plane.
Alabama 82, N.C. State 75
State got thumped for most of the game by a better team, but put on a very nice rally in the last couple of minutes to scare the Crimson Tide. This Wolfpack team may not win a ton of games, but they are going to win a lot of hearts.
Binghamton 79, Miami 74
Good god. Binghamton? Binghamton? Binghamton couldn’t beat Long Island, Colgate or Rider, but they are better than an ACC team. That’s embarrassing. Humiliating, even. At what point will the rest of the world acknowledge what I’ve been saying, which is that Frank Haith is a bad coach? He’s still young and might yet learn to master this job, but right now he’s failing and the ACC is a brutal league to try to learn in.
Thursday, Dec. 21
UVa 59, Mayaguez 52
If the Utah loss wasn’t the ACC’s worst of the year, this was probably the worst win. 59 points and a seven-point win against a Division II team? What are the odds that there are some 5 AM practices in the Cavaliers’ future?
VT 80, Seton Hall 61
Hey, I can finally write something positive! This was a very good win for the Hokies, beating a Big East team on the road (sort of). While Seton Hall isn’t a top-tier team, they had only lost once before last night. It looks like Tech has figured out just why they lost those three earlier games. The ACC gets one back to make it 3-6 against the Big East.
(BTW, while looking back at Tech’s season at Ken Pomeroy’s site, I noticed that the Hokies beat App State a few weeks ago 69-37! Think some Hokie fans might want to bring that up when they run across their Cavalier friends over the holidays?)
FSU 78, Coastal Carolina 65
Maybe next year, FSU can try to play Southeast Coastal Carolina.
Duke 61, Gonzaga 54
Duke’s best game of the year. They had other good wins against Indiana and Air Force, but last night was the first time that the Blue Devils looked like a complete team. McRoberts did his typical a-little-of-everything thing, but the whole package worked because Greg Paulus finally played a great game. It’s amazing what a difference good point guard play makes.
As for Gonzaga, I was thinking again last night just how amazing that program is. They lost Adam Morrison from last year, the nation’s leading scorer and arguably the nation’s best player. He would have been an all-time great at any school in the country. At a mid-major, he’d be the stuff of legend. Losing him would hurt any team, but should cripple a team from a conference like the West Coast Conference. But not Gonzaga. They lose Morrison and keep right on rolling. And they lost Ronny Turiaf the year before that. And going back, Richie Frahm and Dan Dickau. Sometimes it’s hard to appreciate something while it’s actually happening, but Gonzaga’s building a first-tier program is really incredible.
Well, that’s probably it from me for a couple of weeks. I’ll be traveling for the holidays so my posting opportunities will be rare. I hope everyone has a safe and merry Christmas. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, enjoy the free vacation!