ACC Hoops – Early Lessons

The first week or so of the college hoops season has come and gone. As always, there were a few surprises. Instead of addressing each separately, I’ll just mush ’em all together in here.
NC State is better than expected
Of the six ranked ACC teams, NC State is the lowest. They were picked by the writers to come in fifth in the conference, although basically they and Maryland were tied. The reasoning behind putting them behind those other teams, several of whom they finished above last year, is that State lost Marcus Melvin and Scooter Sherrill, two critical seniors from last year’s team.
Well, after what I’ve seen in the first three games, State is better than last year. Melvin was an underrated player last year, contributing in many ways, including scoring, rebounding, interior defense and three-point shooting. Sherrill too was a guy who’s contributions in defense and ball-handling were under-appreciated.

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Cars For Coaches

Yoni found a story about something I’d never really heard of. It’s pretty surprising that this is such a secret, because evidently every D1 school has a similar program. Apparently, athletic departments have deals set up with car dealerships to provide coaches and their wives with new, free cars. In return, the dealers get season tickets, ads and other perks. I guess I knew that coaches often drove loaners from local dealers, but I had no idea it was so organized.
What’s a little shady about this is that we all know that many star players mysteriously drive very nice cars. It seems a fairly small step to go from providing for coaches to providing for players. I wonder if a dealer wouldn’t rather set up Mr. All-American QB than the golf coach?

Clemson Bags Bowl

In a stunning act of accountability and good sportsmanship, Clemson and South Carolina have each agreed not to accept any bowl bids this year after their brawl on Saturday. What a great step by the Presidents and ADs of each school. The fight, particularly coming less than 24 hours after the big NBA donnybrook, was ugly and needed to be dealt with quickly.
Big props to the those involved with making this choice.
ps. I guess this means Clemson won’t steal UVA’s bowl this year!

Shooting Over Making

Ken Pomeroy says that the numbers show him that it’s more important to get to the line to line to shoot free throws than to make free throws. In other words, the percentage a team makes, while important, is less critical than just creating the opportunities.
Makes some sense, actually.
He also points out that that popular notion that free throw shooting is a lost art is a myth. Teams shot the third highest percentage ever last year.

Detroit Riots

riotI often avoid writing about the “big” topics of the day, because you’re gonna read all about it, facts and opinions, everywhere else. I can’t compete with, so I don’t try. In this case, I’m going to make an exception. I saw the Friday Night Fight not too long after it happened, and have had it bouncing around my head all weekend. May as well dump my thoughts here.
BTW, you can catch the video and some pics here.

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A Monument To Cheating

This is great. You may recall the hubub in the Show Me State when huge donors Bill and Nancy Laurie pitched in $25 million for the Mizzou basketball arena. The controversy wasn’t over the donation so much, but because the Lauries, Wal-Mart billionaires, decided to name the arena after their daughter! Yes, the new arena will be the Paige Sports Arena, named for Paige Laurie.
If that weren’t great enough on it’s own, there’s the little fact that Paige didn’t even go to Missouri. No, she recently attended and graduated from UCLA.
But wait, it gets better! It seems that Paige earned her degree in college largely by paying her former roommate over $20,000 to write all of her papers for her.
So, what you have now is a huge, new arena named after a young heiress who didn’t attend that school and who blatently cheated her way through the school she did choose to attend. Beautiful. Truth really is stranger than fiction.
A big thanks to Yoni for digging up this story and a bunch of relevent links.

Chris Chase’s College Hoops Preview

Like the Sports Guy and the NBA, Chris Chase writes his best stuff on college basketball. Both guys write about baseball and the NFL and do so pretty well, but hoops brings out their best. Or maybe I’m just biased.
Either way, Chris has a very nice little preview of both the national rankings and the ACC. He has some good anti-Swofford rants as well, which is always nice.

ACC BCS Scenarios

Mike Boone at wrote up a nice synopsis of the various possibilities for who will get the BCS bid out of the ACC.
In my opinion, and you know I’m never wrong, Florida State and Miami are locks for tying for the lead. The winner of the Virginia – Virginia Tech will share the conference championship, but will have no shot at the BCS bid. I’ll have a pick for that game as it gets closer, although I’m leaning towards the Cavaliers right now.

Avalanche Breakdown

There’s a phenomenon in semiconductors known as avalanche breakdown. Normally, a p-n junction (also known as a diode) allows current to flow in only one direction. If you apply a negative voltage to the junction, it doesn’t allow any current to flow backwards. To a point. Eventually, if you keep increasing the voltage, the junction begins to fail and quickly breaks down, becoming basically a closed circuit, offering no resistance to the marauding electrons.
That’s what happened to Maryland’s defense last night against Virginia Tech. Normally a stout defense, the Terps finally broke. All season, they’ve played hard, gone to the bench and then trotted back out a couple of minutes later after their offense failed to do anything. Last night, they couldn’t even get those few moments. Maryland’s leading tackler was probably an offensive lineman. It seemed that every other play in the first half was a turnover. The Hokies kept getting the ball deep in Terp territory, keeping the Maryland defense up against their own end zone. They couldn’t stop the onslaught and eventually collapsed altogether. I felt sorry for them.
A good team shouldn’t lose 55-6 in a conference game. At one point this year, I thought that Maryland was a good team. Even when they turned in stinkers against Georgia Tech and NC State, I thought that they just had to get a bit more consistency out of their young quarterbacks. Well, I guess they did finally get consistency, but it wasn’t good consistency. They’re consistently awful. If Joel Statham stared at his receivers any longer before throwing them a pass, he’d need to buy them flowers.
Luckily for Statham (and Jordan Steffy wasn’t much better), the rules say that after you turn ball over in football, you get to go to the bench. His defense wasn’t so lucky. They had to get crushed under the avalanche.