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December 3, 2002 Conference Notes No Comments

Atlantic Coast Conference Notebook

by Michael Protos

ACC lights the 2002-03 season on fire

The 2002-03 campaign is now a little over one week old. That’s equivalent to twenty games. And the ACC is 19-1 in those games. That’s a 95 percent winning rate. The entire conference deserves its props.

Perhaps the most exciting developments have been in the past few days. After dispatching with teams hailing from non-major conferences, North Carolina (4-0), Virginia (3-1) and Georgia Tech (2-0) ambushed teams ranked in the top 25. The baby Heels shocked the basketball nation with a 67-56 victory over 2nd-ranked Kansas Wednesday night. And the score does not tell the whole story of the Tar Heels’ 40-minute domination. This win is the type of credential that sends teams off the bubble and into the tournament come March.

Virginia played three games in the previous three days, needing to improve on a shaky four-point victory over Long Island – Brooklyn last Friday. The result: exorcising the demons from Chaminade, suffocating 17th-ranked Kentucky and finally losing in the Maui Invitational championship to 20th-ranked Indiana. That is the only loss by an ACC team to anyone so far this season. Not too shabby.

Georgia Tech continued the ACC’s battle for national respect by defeating 13th-ranked Georgia, one of the SEC’s elite. Sophomore guard B.J. Elder overcame cramps in both legs to lead the Yellow Jackets to an 83-77 win in Atlanta.

Although the season is young, other conferences like the Big XII and Pac-10 have received greater media attention by fielding a host of teams in the top 25 and nearly monopolizing the preseason top five in every poll. Now that the team have started to play, how much longer until the ACC returns four teams to the ranks of the top 25 and sends more than 7th-ranked Duke to the top of the collegiate class?

Wake joins the party

Wake Forest was the last ACC team to start its regular season Wednesday night against Yale. Behind a double-double by senior forward Josh Howard, the Demon Deacons rode a twelve-point halftime lead to a 73-61 victory. Howard’s stress fracture apparently couldn’t hold him down as he sat only seven minutes of the game.

NCAA and Clemson negotiate foreign policy

Forwards Tomas Nagys and Ori Ichaki represent Clemson’s attempt to tap the vast European basketball resources, hoping that one of these imports will develop into the next Dirk Nowitski. Their growth is on hold, however, as the NCAA suspended senior Nagys for rules violations and is investigating freshman Ichaki’s eligibility. Nagys racked up a $500 bill on a university calling card to phone home – in Lithuania. Nagys modestly accepted the punishment that will keep him out of eight gams through Dec. 31. Ichaki’s status depends on an NCAA ruling about his experiences in Israeli competition, which should come in a matter of days.

Meanwhile, Clemson is off to a 2-0 start led by senior guard Edward Scott and his 16.5 points and eight assists per game. After a 26-point shellacking at High Point Wednesday, Clemson won’t play another road game until 2003 when they travel to Chapel Hill on Jan. 14. Time to hold down the fort.

Life without IE

25th-ranked NC State played its first game without starting sophomore forward Ilian Evtimov last Friday against Mount Saint Mary’s. The season-ending knee injury, which just looked painful to watch happen, will delay his expected success. But the Pack hopes his absence will not slow their quest to return to the NCAA tournament after last season’s success. After one game, his teammates seem willing to step up to the challenge. Sophomore guard Julius Hodge led the team with nineteen points and four rebounds in the 84-60 victory.

Player of the week:

Once again, UNC freshman guard Rashad McCants carried the Tar Heels to two victories this week. In a week of great success across the ACC board, it’s hard to surpass McCants’ 25 point performance against 2nd-ranked Kansas.

Rookie of the week:

Georgia Tech forward Chris Bosh opened his Yellow Jacket career averaging a double-double with 20.5 points and twelve rebounds in two games, including one against 13th-ranked Georgia.


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