The Ball Is Tipped …

I’m a day late with this, but it’s never too late to announce the official start of the college basketball season. Maryland kicked off the ACC year with a nice win over Hampton Tuesday night and followed that with another solid win over Vermont last night. Now, I know neither Hampton nor Vermont is a Grade A competition, but neither are true cupcakes. Both have known recent NCAA success, something the Terps cannot claim. Considering Maryland’s shaky exhibition games, winning their first two real contests by 20+ points is a very pleasant surprise.
From what I saw of the game last night, the Terps look as athletic as ever, but maybe a bit more focused. They are breaking in two freshmen point guards, but the key to the season may be the play of senior enigma Mike Jones. Jones was a McDonald’s All-American – an athletic wing guard who won the Mickey-D’s three-point contest. How can a guy like that miss out on college stardom? I can’t explain why, but he did – or rather, he has. If he keeps up his play from the first two games, he might just become a star this season. Better late than never.
BTW, at one point during the game, the analyst (I didn’t catch who it was) was talking about the other ACC squads and actually said that he wouldn’t be surprised if Virginia – Virginia! – snuck into the Final Four this year. I hope he meant the ACC Tournament Final Four. I’m a fan, but even I’m not that delusional.

Davis Deal Denied

Since I posted on the Butch Davis rumors yesterday, it’s only fair that I give an update. The update is … well, nothing. Everyone who knows is doing a great job saying nothing. Take that for what it’s worth.
850 The Blog has a nice rundown of the latest stuff, including a great pic. I won’t ruin Joe Ovies’ joke. You’ll have to click the link yourself.
Also, keep in mind that that stuff is all from yesterday, but from what I heard from David Glenn on the radio today, nothing has changed. Those in the know in Chapel Hill ain’t talking.

Davis A Done Deal?

If the posters at Inside Carolina are to believed (and well, they aren’t), Butch Davis’ hiring is imminent.
It looks like AOL agrees.
As 850 The Blog reported yesterday, nothing is official yet, but there certainly seems to be a hell of a lot of Davis-colored smoke over Chapel Hill.
If the Heels do land him, it would be a great accomplishment. I’m not 100% convinced that he’d be great, but just that they landed their first choice and probably the biggest name out there says good things about the program’s direction. You can be sure that this will cause some headaches in Raleigh from all the tooth-grinding of frustrated Wolfpackers.

Duke 2006-07 Preview

Last Season: 32-4 overall, 14-2 in the ACC. ACC regular season and tournament champs. Lost to LSU in the Sweet Sixteen as a #1 seed.
Gone: All-Everything JJ Redick (you’ve heard of him?), All-American Shelden Williams, starter Lee Melchionni and seldom-used freshman Eric Boateng.
New: Gerald Henderson (6-5 SF), Jon Scheyer (6-5 SG), Lance Thomas (6-9 PF) and Brian Zoubek (7-1 C). Henderson, Scheyer and Thomas were all McDonald’s All-Americans and Zoubek was ranked #38 by Scout.com
Forecast: Obviously, Duke lost a lot with the graduation of Redick, the ACC’s all-time leading scorer and Williams. Redick provided a huge hunk of Duke’s points and Williams was possibly even more valuable, controlling the paint on both ends of the floor. Melchionni had a bit of a disappointing season, but he did give the Blue Devils some big threes and hustle. He also led the team in jumping, screaming hugs.
As always though, Duke has plenty of fresh talent to step in. This new team should be much more athletic than the past couple of Blue Devil squads and will probably play at a higher tempo. The key will be sophomore point guard Greg Paulus, who had a good, if uneven, freshman campaign. The thing is, Paulus has already injured his foot, a repeat of problems he suffered before, and the Blue Devils don’t really have a reasonable backup. Also, folks seem to be taking it for granted that Josh McRoberts will step up his game to an all-league and even All-American level. I’m not so sure. McRoberts is clearly talented and showed it at times last year, but he was far from assertive and didn’t seem to be a leader. Maybe he’ll improve – he certainly has the potential – but I think folks are looking more at the DUKE on his chest than his actual production so far.
All that said, I’d be shocked if this team finished lower than third in the ACC. OK, maybe not shocked, but very surprised. If there’s one thing Mike Krzyzewski knows how to do, it’s to work with talented basketball players. They may not be experienced, but he’ll coach them up and put them in positions where they can be very successful and will improve throughout the season.
Other Reviews:
Blue Ribbon (only half without paying)
Fox Sports
USA Today

Miami Lineman Shot, Killed

This is a terrible story. Miami defensive tackle Bryan Pata was shot and killed shortly after practice today.
That’s awful for Pata’s family, friends and teammates and the program in general. It’s been a tough, tough year in Coral Gables, but this is by the far the worst thing yet.
At some point, you have to wonder if all the shootings and violence that surround that team will affect their ability to recruit. Would you want your kid playing there?

Well, He Was A Good Motivator

This is nuts. Apparently, the soccer team at Forestview High in Gastonia, NC played a speech from Hitler over the loudspeakers while warming up for a playoff game against Charlotte Catholic.
Talk about your bad decisions. The head coach claims he didn’t know about it, which of course makes perfect sense, because head coaches always skip the pregame warmups of playoff games. Fortunately, the principal has some principles and issued an apology to Charlotte Catholic officials.
Tip o’ the cap to the ACC Basketblog for the find.

Clemson 2006-7 Preview

Last Season: 19-13 overall, 7-9 in the ACC (seventh place). The Tigers lost in the first round of the ACC Tournament (as is the Law) and the second round of the NIT.
Gone: Starters Akin Akingbala (#2 scorer and #1 rebounder) and Shawan Robinson (#1 scorer).
New: Four freshmen (David Potter, Trevor Booker, Karolis Petrukonis and AJ Tyler). None were ranked in Scout.com’s top 100 recruits.
Forecast: I believe that Oliver Purnell is one of the better coaches in the ACC, but it’s about time to prove it with better on-court results. The backcourt of Vernon Hamilton and Cliff Hammonds will give opponents fits as they are aggressive and quick defenders. The Tigers actually play good overall team defense, but as is Clemson tradition, they struggle at times to score points. It’s hard to say if that will be any better this year. Hamilton and Hammonds can both score, but neither are really great shooters. James Mays, who missed most of last year with academic problems, could help and they’ll also need Sam Perry and KC Rivers to step up.
My guess is that, as usual, Clemson will dominate their early, weak non-conference schedule and then go somewhere between 6-10 and 8-8 in the ACC while praying that they have done enough for an NCAA bid. It’s time for Purnell to get this program back into the Dance.
Other Reviews:
Duke Basketball Report
TigerNet.com

Boston College 2006-07 Preview

(Foreword: I’m going to try to do one of these for each team. I hope I can pull it off!)
Last Season: 28-8 overall, 11-5 (3rd place) in the ACC. BC lost to Duke in the ACC Tournament championship and was knocked off by Villanova in OT in the third round of the ACC Tournament after narrowly escaping Pacific in the first round.
Overall, the Eagles were a steady team led by forwards Craig Smith and Jared Dudley. They were not the most athletic team in the league, but with Sean Williams, Sean Marshall and Tyrese Rice, they could put a very athletic team on the floor when they needed to.
Gone: Craig Smith (1st team All-ACC) and Louis Hinnant, the starting point guard.
New: Three freshmen (Daye Kaba, Tyler Roche, Shamari Spears) and a transfer from Loyola-Chicago (Tyrell Blair). None of the freshmen were ranked in Scout.com’s top 100.
Forecast: While BC lost two experienced starters including Smith, one of the program’s greatest players, they should still have a good team. This year’s version will be much more athletic and emotional with Tyrese Rice taking over the starting point guard spot and (probably) Sean Williams taking Smith’s position. Rice was a better and more dynamic player than Hinnant last year, but the Eagles needed Hinnant’s stability and game management. How BC does this year will depend a lot on how well Rice can handle those duties. It’s a lot different being the starting PG than being the spark off the bench.
Fortunately for Rice and coach Al Skinner, Jared Dudley is one of the best and most versatile players in the ACC. Dudley isn’t terribly athletic, but he plays hard and can do a little of everything. His job will be to use his intensity in a positive way to keep his emotional teammates, especially the volcanic Sean Marshall, focused on the game. Coach Skinner should help here, as he maintains a very calm demeanor during games, but then he gives me the feeling that he’s bottling up a lot of fury in those clenched jaws. I wouldn’t be surprised if this team induces at least one in-game explosion from the head coach.
I’d expect the Eagles to do just about the same as last year. They won’t win the ACC, but they’ll be right near the top.
Other reviews:
Duke Basketball Report
Collegehoops.net

Basketball Nears

Do you hear the sneaker squeaks? The bouncing balls? Basketball is here!
The first ACC game is tomorrow night when Hampton visits Maryland. Most other teams get started this weekend. I can’t believe we’re here already! The Duke Basketball Report has a quick look at the early games along with a few good links.
I had planned on doing quick previews of each team. Hopefully I’ll still get a chance to do that, at least listing who’s gone and coming in for each squad along with links to various preview stories. Stay tuned …

Weekend Preview

With only four weeks to go and the division races still way up in the air, this is a pretty important weekend of ACC football. So I think it’s time for my (first of the year!) weekend preview.
First things first, let’s take a quick look at the standings:

ATLANTIC DIVISION
School Conference Pct. Overall Pct.
Boston College 3-1 .750 7-1 .875
Wake Forest 3-1 .750 7-1 .875
Maryland 3-1 .750 6-2 .750
Clemson 4-2 .667 7-2 .778
NC State 2-3 .400 3-5 .375
Florida State 2-4 .333 4-4 .500
COASTAL DIVISION
School Conference Pct. Overall Pct.
Georgia Tech 4-1 .800 6-2 .750
Virginia Tech 3-2 .600 6-2 .750
Virginia 3-2 .600 4-5 .444
Miami 2-2 .500 5-3 .625
North Carolina 0-5 .000 1-7 .125
Duke 0-5 .000 0-8 .000

Continue reading “Weekend Preview”