Who’s The POY So Far?

In a tangent of my last post, here’s the Wilmington Star’s look at the likely candidates for the ACC Player of the Year this year.
They include five players, but to me, it’s really a three-man race at this point: Tyler Hansbrough, Jared Dudley and Sean Singletary.
A quick rundown:
Hansbrough

  • The best player (just barely) on the best team
  • #2 scorer in the ACC
  • #2 rebounder in the ACC

Dudley

  • The best all-around player in the league
  • Along with Singletary and Al Thornton, the most critical player to his team in the ACC
  • #3 scorer in the ACC
  • #1 rebounder in the ACC
  • Shooting 55.5% from the floor, a very impressive number for a small forward
  • Leads ACC in minutes played

Singletary

  • The best point guard – the hardest and most critical position – in the league
  • #1 scorer in the ACC
  • #4 in assists in the ACC and has only one player to pass to
  • #1 FT% (92.3%) in the ACC
  • Along with Dudley and Al Thornton, the most critical player to his team in the ACC

At this point, my vote would go to Dudley with Singletary next and Hansbrough third, largely because Hansbrough’s team is so deep that he’s just not asked to do quite as much as either Singletary or Dudley. Those two guys, Singletary in particular, carry their teams

Scouting The ACC

Sports Illustrated‘s Seth Davis has an interesting article up with quotes from various NBA scouts about college players they like or dislike.
A brief synopsis of the ACC players mentioned:
Tyler Hansbrough – not athletic enough
Jared Dudley – probably can’t play in the NBA
Sean Singletary – concerned about his halfcourt game
Josh McRoberts – at best, a Toni Kukoc
Brandan Wright – an obvious lottery pick
Wayne Ellington – hasn’t shown NBA ability
JR Reynolds – too small to play the NBA 2
Javaris Crittenton – intriguing, but a bit too selfish
Thaddeus Young – not as good as expected
All, in all, the ACC didn’t fare too well in the comments. But then, most of the comments were negative, so take that with a grain of salt.
In my admittedly worthless opinion, Wright is by far the best prospect in the ACC. The other guys I’d expect to make it:
Ty Lawson (but he’s nowhere near ready)
Singletary (although I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t make it)
Hansbrough (not a star, but if he can expand his shot, he could be a Matt Harpring)
McRoberts (maybe)
Sean Williams (the body alone will get him in. He should be a Trailblazer.)
Al Thornton (he has all the tools, but needs to be a bit better at everything)
Crittenton (too good not to)
Young (needs to learn to assert himself)
There are a ton of other guys who could make it, but have a lot of work to do to get there.
(hit tip to ACC Now for the find)

Falling Eagles

I’m sure you’ve heard by now about Boston College kicking Sean Williams and Akida McLain off the team. McLain hardly played this year, but Sean Williams was one of the top shot blockers in the country and had had several monster games recently. Clearly the loss will hurt BC, but as Ken Pomeroy points out in this great observation piece, the loss will very likely be overstated. BC is 5-0 in the ACC, but four of those games have been against the four worst teams in the league. Their two toughest ACC games, Virginia and Maryland, were both at home.
The Eagles are now entering a part of their season where their schedule gets noticeably tougher. According to Pomeroy’s stats, BC would be favored in only three of their eleven remaining ACC games and one of those (home against Clemson) is basically a push. And that’s using the Eagles’ rating with Williams.
It’s debatable how much losing Sean Williams will hurt BC, but it’s quite likely that their season would have appeared to be heading down whether he played or not.

Shall We Engage In Some Fisticuffs? Oh, Let’s!

Goons have always fought each other in hockey and quite often it has nothing to do with what has happened during the game. These guys just like to fight.

Well, this fight just takes the cake. Phoenix Coyote Georges Laraque and Raitis Ivanans of the LA Kings go at it here, and as luck would have it, Laraque was miked. A barrage of four-letter words that would make a sailor blush? Insults hurled at mothers and sisters? Nope. Just a gentle invitation and acceptance.

“You want to?”
“OK”
“Throw?  OK.  Good luck, man.”

And with that, they waited a few seconds for the faceoff and then dropped the gloves and fought.

Hockey – a gentleman’s game.

Tigers Turned To Butter

Last night’s UNC-Clemson game was an interesting one. Because of their success so far this year and Carolina’s lofty ranking, the crowd had a ton of energy and it seemed to feed into the players. Clemson pressed and ran all night and were quite successful in forcing turnovers. It seemed like the Heels coughed it up every third possession and the Tigers blocked a lot of the shots UNC managed to get off. Sounds like a perfect scenario for a big Tiger win, right? Nope. When Carolina didn’t turn it over and didn’t have their shot swatted, they scored, mostly on easy layups and dunks. If anyone kept such a stat, I think Brandan Wright might have challenged the ACC record for dunks in one game.
On the other end of the floor, if the Tigers didn’t turn a steal into a layup, they probably weren’t going to score. They played way too fast and seemed to be trying a bit too hard. They simply didn’t have the patience to beat an excellent Tar Heel defense.
The net result was a surprisingly easy win for Carolina. Even though their point guards played a fairly awful game, the Heels still beat the Clemson press time and again for easy shots. I couldn’t figure out why Oliver Purnell didn’t try to reel his guys in a bit. Clearly they brought the necessary energy, but you just can’t stick with a press once your opponent has shown that they can beat it. Just ask Pete Gillen.
I didn’t see the other game of the night, Virginia Tech’s loss at Florida State, but the write-ups I read this morning confused me. Both articles went on and on about what a wonderful second half Al Thornton had. There’s no question that 27 points in one half is extremely impressive, but how come neither writer noticed that in the first half, when Thornton was shutout and the Noles were getting offense from a number of guys, they built a big lead? When Thornton took over in the second half, the Hokies nearly came all the way back and won. That should tell you a little something about basketball. It’s almost always better to not have to rely on a single star to provide all of your offense, no matter how talented and effective he is. Good teams will overcome one great player.

ACC A Football League?

Caulton Tudor, JP Giglio and maybe some other writers for ACC Now (the News & Observer’s blog) put together a list of their All-NFL and All-NBA teams using only ACC players. Click on the links in that sentence to see their picks.
While that was an interesting and fun read, I was completely baffled by Tudor’s article talking about the lists. Tudor looked at those and somehow decided that the NFL team was better! He justified it by saying that they had to leave off Bears running back Thomas Jones (a former Virginia Cavalier).
I guess Tudor forgot that their NBA team featured not just the five starters, but seven bench players. The NFL team had only starters.
On top of that, the NBA team didn’t even include perennial all-star Rasheed Wallace. Off the top of my head, a few other guys not included:
Grant Hill (full-time starter, 15ppg)
Stephon Marbury (full-time starter, 15ppg)
Steve Francis (injured, but an all-star caliber player when happy)
Mike Dunleavy (11ppg)
Shane Battier (full-time starter, 10 ppg, US Olympic team member)
Chris Duhon (starting PG for Bulls)
Don’t get me wrong, those aren’t great players (although Hill, Francis and Marbury have been great), but the ACC just hasn’t put out that kind of depth in the NFL.

Texas Talent

In today’s world where the ACC has swollen to 12 teams and most of the games are televised, it’s quite easy to lose track of what’s going on in other parts of the country. It’s not that you don’t care, it’s that you just don’t have time. Well, let me offer you a tip. Texas freshman Kevin Durant is good. Really good. He’s not just the best freshman in the nation, he might just be the best player, period.
Check out this table (stolen from that Sports Frog link above) of Durant’s recent games:
28 points and 13 boards against Oklahoma
34 points and 13 boards against Missouri
37 points and 16 boards against Colorado
26 points and 8 boards against Tennessee
28 points and 13 boards against Arkansas
21 points and 9 boards against Michigan State
29 points and 10 boards against Gonzaga
10 points and 11 boards against LSU
And that doesn’t even count his 37 and 12 from last night’s classic against Oklahoma State. I mean, look at those numbers! The kid leads the Big-12 in both scoring and rebounding (by wide margins). He can shoot – he’s eighth in field goal percentage, third in free throw percentage and eighth in three point field goal percentage – and he can defend – fourth in blocked shots. It’s just staggering what he’s doing.
And how about this for a thought – Durant was thisclose to going to UNC! Can you imagine a frontcourt of Tyler Hansbrough, Brandan Wright and Kevin Durant? Scary.
OK, now you can go back to only paying attention to the ACC.

Had To Have It

The ACC season is still young, but that doesn’t mean that last night’s Virginia-Maryland game wasn’t hugely important. It was the most significant contest of the season so far (just beating out Duke’s game against Miami that the Blue Devils had to win).
Virginia came into this season with reasonable expectations of making the NCAA Tournament. After they beat Arizona to start the year, some folks (OK, only the crazy Jimmy Dykes) were even calling the Cavaliers a darkhorse Final Four squad. Then came the Puerto Rico disaster and the recent three-game losing streak. Heading into their Terps tilt, the Hoos were just 9-6 overall and 1-2 in the ACC. Yesterday, I showed you that the Cavs are currently clearly on the outside looking in at the NCAA Tournament.
They had to beat Maryland.
To add to the drama of the game, Maryland really could have used the win as well. After a great early season, the Terps quickly fell to 0-2 in the ACC. Their shocking loss to Miami at home indicated that there are problems in Garyland. A loss to the Cavs would drop Maryland to 1-3, but on the flip side, a win would put them at .500 and give them a solid road win.
It was a big game.
And Virginia stepped up. From all accounts (my damn TV package didn’t include the game), it was a sloppy, but entertaining affair. As they do in all Cavalier wins, the guards were excellent and were the difference. Virginia built a 20-point first-half lead and then blew that. They built it back up, blew that and then built it back up a third time for the win. Whatever it takes. The Cavaliers haven’t climbed out of their hole yet, but at least they’ve stopped digging (the win helped them jump 7 spots in Ken Pomeroy’s ratings and 30(!) spots in the RPI).
The Richmond Times-Dispatch‘s Bob Lipper had a similar take on this games importance.

Number Crunching

I’ve been trying to wrap my head around the ACC so far this year and I just haven’t figured it out. Clearly the conference is better than last year – there’s been an amazing influx of talent – but I just can’t tell which teams are the legit contenders and which aren’t. Sure, a few teams are pretty obvious. Carolina is going to finish at the top and NC State, Wake and Miami are the three worst teams, but other than that, I just can’t tell. Duke was the clear #2 for a while, but stumbled and then fell. BC was supposed to be at the top, but they sputtered along before finally finding their legs. Clemson has come out of nowhere to be extremely solid. Virginia Tech was tentatively thought to be good, but struggled before their recent explosion of success. And then you have Maryland and Virginia – two teams who seem capable of beating or losing to anyone.
So to help me figure out how things are right now, I turned to the best sources I know – the computers. Computer ratings don’t care what color blue you wear, how many seniors you have or how you fared last year. They just look at results on the court and, if configured properly (which excludes the RPI), show a very nice, objective measure of a team’s worth.

Continue reading “Number Crunching”

Name That Site 7

It’s been a long time, so get ready for your favorite (I’m sure) recurring feature of Dave Sez – Name That Site! Below you’ll find a Google Earth pic of some famous ACC landmark. It might be a building on campus or simply a place where some significant ACC history has taken place.
So, what’s this (click for a larger view)?
Name That Site 7
If you think you know the answer (give me the place and its significance), leave it in the Comments.
If you liked that one (or thought it was too easy), go back to one of the previous contests (one, two, three, four, five, six) and have a guess at those. Since I lost all of my comments last spring, those contests were wiped clean. You can look like a genius!