Atlantic Coast Conference Recap
by Michael Protos
When last we visited the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Maryland Terrapins had just cut down the nets in Atlanta, and “Fear the Turtle” had entered the national lexicon. The ever-invincible Duke had wounds to heal from its Sweet Sixteen loss to eventual finalist Indiana, and several teams that had started the season in rough shape had built on their experience and entered the tournament season with momentum. Exhibit A: North Carolina State.
North Carolina State became the surprise team of the ACC tournament, providing the only upset of the tournament when it defeated Maryland in the semifinals 86-82. Of course, that game would be the last one Maryland would lose en route to the national championship. Following a disappointing conclusion to the 2001-02 campaign, Virginia lost in the quarterfinals, which hurt its argument for an NCAA bid.
Maryland: National Champion as the 1-seed in the East. Along the way the Terps defeated play-in winner Siena, ended Wisconsin’s surprise season early in a second-round knockout. In the Sweet Sixteen, Maryland defeated Kentucky, followed by an enthusiastic UConn team. In what many should have been the Championship game, UMD knocked off fellow 1-seed Kansas in a high-scoring affair, and then the aforementioned win over Indiana in the finals, 64-52.
Duke: The Blue Devils, seeded No. 1 in the South, seemingly had it made, defeating Winthrop by 47 points in the first round, followed by a closer win against Notre Dame over the weekend. In the shock of the tournament (before everyone discovered that the Hoosiers had game), Duke lost by one to Indiana in the Sweet Sixteen.
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons, seeded seventh, handled at-large bid recipient Pepperdine in the first round, before going home after the first weekend by losing to Oregon 92-87.
N.C. State: Defeated an experienced Michigan State squad in the first round, and lost to Uconn by 3 in Round 2.
Virginia: Lost in first round to NIT finalist South Carolina, 74-67.
Jason Williams, Duke: Drafted second overall by Chicago
Juan Dixon, Maryland: Drafted 17th overall by Washington
Mike Dunleavy, Duke: Drafted third overall by Golden State
Anthony Grundy, N.C. State: Graduated, not drafted.
Carlos Boozer, Duke: Drafted 35th overall by Cleveland
Florida State fired Steve Robinson and hired Leonard Hamilton. Hamilton last coached the Washington Wizards in 2000-01, but his most notable coaching success was at the University of Miami from 1990-2000. He resurrected the basketball program, leading the team to six consecutive winning seasons, four consecutive postseason tournaments and a Sweet 16 appearance in 2000. In the previous four seasons at Florida State, Robinson led the Seminoles to a 46-72 overall record and 25-55 conference record.
The 2003 ACC Conference Tournament will return to Greensboro, N.C. in the Greensboro Coliseum.
Nigel “Big Jelly” Dixon transferred from Florida State to Western Kentucky. During his junior at Florida State, he averaged 6.7 points and five rebounds per game.
Clemson gains 6-7 small forward Lamar Rice from Mott Community College, where he averaged 16 points and seven rebounds per game. Clemson also signed Ori Ichaki from Hertzlia, Israel. Ichaki has played on several national teams and will enter Clemson as a freshman. Now Clemson must settle his eligibility issues. These players make up for the loss of shooting guard Tony Stockman to Ohio State and forward Dwon Clifton to NC-Greensboro.
Three Georgia Tech players have been suspended for playing in an unauthorized summer league and will miss the season opener Nov. 23 against Arkansas – Pine Bluff. Georgia Tech is appealing the ruling.
North Carolina guards Adam Boone and Brian Morrison left the team after their sophomore seasons. Boone transferred to the University of Minnesota while Morrison continues to search for a new school. He was last heard considering the University of Washington, but that school has not received a transfer application from Morrison.
Clemson bids adieu to its leading scorer, senior Jamar McKnight. Two more players from last year transferred, second leading scorer Tony Stockman and role player Dwon Clifton. Duke loses three starters to the draft: Jason Williams, Carlos Boozer and Mike Dunleavy.
Florida State loses its scoring leader, assist leader and rebounding leader in Monte Cummings, Delvon Arrington and Nigel Dixon, respectively. Dixon transferred to Western Kentucky while Cummings and Arrington graduated with starting forward Antwuan Dixon. Georgia Tech’s leading scorer, senior Tony Akins graduated with forward Clarence Moore.
Maryland will defend its title without floor general Juan Dixon or his dominant supporting cast of Lonny Baxter, Byron Mouton and Chris Wilcox. X is the magic letter here – Dixon, Baxter and Wilcox will be in NBA uniforms this coming season. North Carolina’s youth movement will replace leaders Jason Capel and Kris Lang. Center Brian Bersticker also graduated while rising junior guards Brian Morrison and Adam Boone left the school.
North Carolina State must replace its charismatic guards Anthony Grundy and Archie Miller this season. Virginia’s Roger Mason, Jr. moves on to the NBA after leading the team in points and assists last season. Virginia must also replace the contributions of Chris Williams, Adam Hall and J.C. Mathis.
Wake Forest will select fresh faces to start this season as seniors Darius Songaila, Craig Dawson, Antwan Scott and Broderick Hicks graduated. Songaila, who led the squad in points and rebounds, earned a spot on Boston’s draft card.