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ACC Notebook

December 20, 2002 Conference Notes No Comments



Atlantic Coast Conference Notebook

by Michael Protos


Handing Out End of Semester Grades

Although this season is only a few weeks old, the kids have some results to critique. In the spirit of last week’s break for final exams, the players’ on-court performance has enough content for grading. Duke is at the top off the ACC’s class for now. Clemson and Wake Forest have submitted surprisingly solid results, while Maryland finds itself at the bottom of the ACC’s standings. From top to bottom, the ACC can be proud of its nine teams, all earning solid marks after several tough tests.

Clemson Tigers (5-0): A
Average scoring margin: +12.8
FG percentage: 48.1%
Opp. FG percentage: 39.1%
Average rebounding margin: +9.4

Clemson’s first tests have been relatively simple. But it’s how the team performed that matters and Clemson has done exactly what it should – win by grinding opponents into the dirt. Senior guard Ed Scott paced the team to a 5-0 start with 18 points per game matched with six assists per game in a lineup that essentially depends on six players. Ten of Clemson’s first eleven games are home games, including a Dec. 22 date with perennial powerhouse Cincinnati. This Tiger team would frighten more ACC opponents with an upset in that game.

No. 4 Duke Blue Devils (5-0): A
Average scoring margin: +22.2
FG percentage: 47.4%
Opp. FG percentage: 42.0%
Average rebounding margin: +5.6

Duke may have had easier assignments than its peers, but the Blue Devils demonstrated consistent effort worthy of an A. Five different players average double figures in points. Senior guard and All-American candidate Chris Duhon has an outstanding assist average of nearly nine per game. And all those freshmen add depth to this team – nine players average thirteen minutes or better per game.

Florida State Seminoles (5-1): A –
Average scoring margin: +19.6
FG percentage: 45.5%
Opp. FG percentage: 33.0%
Average rebounding margin: +0.4

Coach Leonard Hamilton wasted no time teaching his players how to produce better results. Through hard studying of Hamilton’s system, the Seminoles are a single point loss to No. 12 Florida away from being undefeated and receiving more national media attention. Rather than depend on a single star, the Seminoles have eight players playing an average of 18 minutes or more. Only two players average points in double figures, but six players average seven points or more. The team is well-rounded in scoring, but needs to work harder to improve on a low rebounding margin.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (4-2): A –
Average scoring margin: +15.8
FG percentage: 44.4%
Opp. FG percentage: 39.0%
Average rebounding margin: +14.0

Georgia Tech must have offended the basketball gods. First, No. 23 Minnesota defeated the Yellow Jackets with a turn-around three pointer at the buzzer that seemingly hovered on the rim for a couple days before falling backward into the cup. Then, unranked Tennessee came to Atlanta and fell behind by two with half of a second remaining. That is just enough time to legally catch the ball and shoot it. A 50-foot prayer shot was answered. Tech could easily be 6-0. And probably ranked, too. Instead, they must settle for the ACC’s second best rebounding margin and a contender for ACC rookie of the year in forward Chris Bosh, who is averaging 17 points and 12 rebounds per game. The team has excellent depth and solid contributors at every position. Coach Paul Hewitt need only improve pre-game rituals to win the favor of the basketball gods and this team will be on the victorious side of close games.

No. 24 Maryland Terrapins (4-3): B
Average scoring margin: +14.4
FG percentage: 45.1%
Opp. FG percentage: 35.4%
Average rebounding margin: +1.7

The reigning national champions find themselves at the bottom of the ACC based on non-conference records alone. In the champion’s defense, though, the three losses are to No. 6 Indiana, No. 11 Notre Dame and No. 12 Florida. Not bad losses, but difficult to swallow for fans hoping for a repeat of last year’s fairy tale season. Alas, the Terrapins are still searching to replace four of the starters from last year. Only three players average more than seven points per game and coach Gary Williams shifts his lineup based on his players’ productivity on any given night. Maryland has a solid defense to build upon, holding teams to an abysmal shooting percentage. A Final Four run to New Orleans this season would be an even grander fairy tale story for the kids.

No. 23 North Carolina Tar Heels (5-2): B +
Average scoring margin: +3.8
FG percentage: 47.9%
Opp. FG percentage: 40.6%
Average rebounding margin: -1.5

The Tar Heels’ super freshmen trio know their game in and out. As a result, the Heels have upset No. 18 Kansas and No. 22 Stanford en route to a solid 5-2 start. But guards Raymond Felton and Rashad McCants and forward Sean May cannot play poorly or run into foul trouble. When that occurs, the Heels struggle defending anyone as No. 16 Kentucky and No. 17 Illinois pulverized the young Heels. Coach Matt Doherty must teach the other youngsters to deliver when it counts for the winning ways to continue throughout the season.

North Carolina State Wolfpack (5-0): A –
Average scoring margin: +24.0
FG percentage: 50.4%
Opp. FG percentage: 40.9%
Average rebounding margin: +6.4

Despite a setback to one of the team’s best players, guard Ilian Evtimov, NC State tossed aside its first five opponents with ease. Sophomore guard Julius Hodge leads the team with 18 points per game. The team’s weakest section is on the bench. Although three players contribute quality minutes, none manage more than five points per game.

Virginia Cavaliers (3-2): B
Average scoring margin: +3.6
FG percentage: 45.9 %
Opp. FG percentage: 42.3%
Average rebounding margin: -1.2

The Cavaliers jumped all over Kentucky during their pre-season vacation in Maui. The team’s good performance in that tournament yielded a temporary ranking. But the Big Ten appears to be Virginia’s kryptonite, as the Cavaliers lost to No. 6 Indiana and No. 21 Michigan State. Forward Travis Watson has been a beast inside this season, grabbing nearly 11 rebounds to match 15 points each game. Despite Watson’s stellar efforts, the rest of the team fails to rebound consistently. Another young team in the ACC, Virginia has work to do to become a contender at the top of the ACC, which is more balanced than it has been in years.

Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-0): A
Average scoring margin: +13.3
FG percentage: 46.3%
Opp. FG percentage: 41.3%
Average rebounding margin: +14.8

Senior forward Josh Howard put up the most dominant averages of any ACC player through three games – 18.3 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.3 steals, 1 block, 93.8% free throw shooting and 50.0% three point shooting. That’s first team ACC-caliber play. Joining Howard’s heroics are four other solid starters averaging double figures. Production drastically decreases off the bench, but the young role players should continue to develop. Wake Forest has the smallest portfolio to critique, but it is a solid accumulation of solid wins with dominant rebounding.

News and notes:

Take Me Back, Please!

Last season, forward Clarence Moore started 29 games for Georgia Tech, averaging nine points and five rebounds per game. Then he quit the team. Now he wants the Yellow Jackets to take him back. Coach Paul Hewitt said he is willing to allow Moore a second life with the up-and-coming Georgia Tech squad. Moore practiced with the team, but he will not be in a game until, at earliest, the end of the month.

Back to the Court

Virginia sophomore guard Jermaine Harper joined the team after the University reinstated him. Harper was suspended indefinitely last month after a run-in with the Albemarle County police on charges of driving under the influence. Harper practiced Thursday and is eligible to play in upcoming games. Last season, Harper averaged six points and two rebounds as one of coach Pete Gillen’s bench players.

Southern Discomfort

Florida State sophomore guard Andrew Wilson has no luck. After only seven minutes last season, he injured his knee, causing him to miss the entire campaign. This season, he averaged 8 points per game and started all five games, leading the team to a 4-1 record, including an impressive win over cross-state rival Miami. Wilson’s comeback attempt suffered a major setback, though. In the aforementioned win over Miami, Wilson tore a ligament in his right wrist and will miss at least six weeks.

ACC Player of the Week:

NC State sophomore guard Julius Hodge tallied a triple-double against North Carolina A&T with 11 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. He added two steals and blocks to the box score to pad the already-impressive statistics.

ACC Rookie of the Week:

Georgia Tech forward Chris Bosh wins the honor again in a week of few teams playing any games. Bosh’s twelve points and nine rebounds couldn’t prevent the Yellow Jackets from another heartbreaking buzzer-beater at the hands of Tennessee.

     

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