Featherston On Being #1

He’s done it again. This time, Al Featherston writes about what it means to be not just the #1 team in the country, but the #1 program. He reviews how a team gets there and what it means when they play their schedule.
As always, Featherston uses Duke as his centerpiece, but he’s not really writing specifically about Duke. He’s writing about the game and using Duke as the example. This article also spends some time comparing Duke to Kentucky and does a great job of explaining why UK fans have such strong Duke-hatred. It’s not just for the reason you think.
Oh and bonus points to Al for mentioning the game in 1986 when UVA upset #1 UNC in Charlottesville in front of an incredibly electric crowd. I remember that game well and I was part of that crowd.

A Look At Tar Heel Frosh Past

Barry Jacobs has an interesting piece at the DBR on freshman who’ve started a bunch of games at UNC. He lists those who played the most and, as you might imagine, it’s an impressive list of ballers.
One interesting note:

Minutes played, and starts, were carefully guarded secrets at North Carolina during most of Dean Smith’s tenure. Not until the 1990 season did the ACC have this information. Even now, the UNC basketball media guide deletes minutes played from player profiles.

Dean Smith could be a weird guy.

A Pair Of Devlishly Good Careers

You’re going to hear this roughly a zillion times this year, so I’ll go ahead and edjumacate you on the facts – yes, J.J. Redick has a very good chance to become Duke’s all-time leading scorer and Shelden Williams has a shot at becoming Duke’s all-time leading rebounder. An article at the DBR breaks it down.
Shelden will also break the Duke block record and could finish as a top-fifteen scorer.
I think it’s pretty amazing any time any player makes a run a school’s career scoring record, particularly a program like Duke. But let’s not mistake this for what it is – a combination of near-greatness and longevity. While Redick is a great shooter and a very good scorer, he isn’t nearly the player that Johnny Dawkins was. And Duke has had several other much better players who just didn’t stay for four years.

Golden Streams

Oh happy day! For years, I’ve longed for those glorious days of college when my Spring Break always coincided with the first week of the NCAA Tournament. I’d park myself on a sofa somewhere (even when I was in Daytona) and just watch hoops all day. Great times.
These days I have a job and family and for some reason they don’t see the need for me to burn vacation days just to watch basketball. Weird, huh? So, I’m left with various forms of online score trackers and the occassional streaming radio broadcast. It’s not bad, but it’s just not the same as watching the games.
Well, this year things will be different (maybe). CBS Sports has announced that they will be streaming the games this year – for free! They won’t show the same games that are on the local television broadcast, but it should still cover a lot of games. I wonder if the streams will manage to miss all of the close endings, just like the television broadcast does?
I’m pretty pumped about this, but at the same time I have a hunch that they are going to grossly underestimate the interest in this and their servers will catch fire sometime in the early afternoon of the first Thursday.

Dark Days Ahead For Virginia?

One of the basic elements of any strong football program is quality assistants who stay a long time. Look at Virginia Tech where Frank Beamer has kept guys like Bud Foster and Bryan Stinespring forever. Florida State is another classic example. Mark Richt, Chuck Amato and Mickey Andrews were there forever and the Noles kept winning and winning. It was no coincidence that FSU’s reign on top became tenuous almost immediately after Amato and Richt left.
So what happens at a school that hasn’t had quite as much success but still loses its coordinators? Virginia’s about to find out.
Associate Head Coach Danny Rocco was just hired as Liberty University’s new head coach.
Offensive Coordinator Ron Prince was just hired as the new head coach at Kansas State.
And Defensive Coordinator Al Golden is said to be Temple’s new head coach.
Wow. Talk about your ouches. On the one hand, I guess it’s great for the Cavs that their coaches were so well regarded. On the other hand, Al Groh now has to replace all three of his most critical coaches. And it’s not like UVA has been tearing up the world the past two seasons.
Al Groh came in and didn’t exactly turn things around immediately at UVA, but he did bring hope and landed several excellent recruiting classes. His teams have reached the level of good and occasionally very good, but haven’t been able to hit excellent or even stay at very good.
Will he be able to take that next step up after losing so many coaches? I predict some dark times ahead in Charlottesville.

6-5 and 7-0

It’s been nearly a week – time for my belated ACC-Big Ten Challenge wrapup!
Before I get too much into this, let me be clear that I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. No titles are decided, no careers are validated and it doesn’t even end the discussion of who the better conference is. If the Big Ten had won the challenge, I wouldn’t have been crushed. What is great about it though is that it provides eleven compelling games early in the season, giving (nearly) every conference team a chance to compare themselves against a relatively equivalent major-conference opponent. There’s also the added bonus that the games all count to a final tally, so they are slightly larger than regular games – it’s like a mini-tournament preview.
The other thing that’s so nice about it is that it adds a lot of connections between the teams, making comparisons easier and more accurate as we move along. Computer ratings get more accurate as teams become connected; well, there’s no easier way for two conferences to connect to each other than for them to schedule a bunch of games against each other.

Continue reading “6-5 and 7-0”

Another Featherston Masterpiece

Al Featherston has an article up at the Duke Basketball Report today that just might be his best yet.
It’s a great look back at Duke’s football and basketball history and the paths they took to get where they are today – the two most disparately successful programs in Division 1 today. Featherston points out that in the early 80s, not only was Duke’s football team better than their basketball team, but you could argue that the program was better as well.
Featherston contrasts the change in fortunes with Virginia’s, which has largely mirrored Duke’s – football up and basketball down.
I don’t want to hog all of his glory, but he looks at changes at many other programs and discusses the relationships between winning and facilities (a recently popular topic) and winning and coaching hires.
Seriously, if you are a fan of the ACC, you don’t have to be a Duke fan, give his one a read.