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ACC Notebook

January 7, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Atlantic Coast Conference Notebook

by Michael Protos

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

Three ACC teams entered the new year undefeated: No. 1 Duke, Clemson and No. 23 Wake Forest. The first two met Sunday as Duke asserted its dominance in an 89-71 victory at Clemson. Freshman guard J.J. Redick posted his third straight game of 20 points or better in leading the Blue Devils in their ACC opener. Unlike previous years, this 9-0 Duke squad has flown under the media radar.

Perhaps sports writers are tired of lauding the Blue Devils. Perhaps it is because not a single Duke opponent currently is ranked. Duke will get an opportunity to earn props this coming week, however. Duke hosts Georgetown (8-1) Wednesday and Wake Forest (9-0) Sunday. Barring a disaster against Elon University Thursday night, Wake Forest will enter the game undefeated and Duke could knock off an undefeated ACC opponent for a second straight Sunday.

The secret to Duke’s success so far this season has been depth. All those great freshmen are not capturing as many headlines as their peers, but the squad keeps adding slashes in the W column. In the recent win at Clemson, Redick led the charge with 22 points. Freshman forward Shavlik Randolph averages ten and five a game. Five freshmen average more than ten minutes per game and each provides a significant contribution in either scoring or rebounding. These freshmen provide a ridiculous level of depth.

The educators of these future Grant Hills and Bobby Hurleys are coach Mike Krzyzewski and the veteran leaders like junior guard Chris Duhon and senior guard Dahntay Jones. Duhon continues to be the heart and soul of this team. He leads the ACC with 7.9 assists each game. But Duhon is the only Duke player receiving much national attention, which contrasts last season’s triumvirate – Jason Williams, Carlos Boozer and Mike Dunleavy.

This Duke team may not be as dominant as past Duke teams, but the Blue Devils are undefeated and ranked number one in all the land. Don’t expect this team to run the table in conference play. Don’t expect this team to win every game by 100 points. But don’t expect opponents to be happy to play this team come March. A team with this depth, seasoned leaders and talented freshmen has the potential to battle through the brackets to New Orleans. Consistent with what the ACC has offered thus far, expect the unexpected.

Life Without May Isn’t Fun For Heels

North Carolina became the first victim of the Miami Hurricanes in their new arena, the Convocation Center. The Tar Heels’ fourth loss of the season came in overtime 64-61. But it was an ugly loss. The Heels blew a large second-half lead then struggled to score. North Carolina managed merely one point in a five minute overtime. Freshman forward Sean May could only watch as the Heels were out-rebounded 39-33. More significantly, North Carolina barely broke 30 percent shooting from the field.

Without May, North Carolina has a serious lack of inside talent that must be overcome with exceptional play plus ingenious coaching from Doherty and his staff. A possible silver lining to this predicament is that freshmen David Noel and Byron Sanders receive significant minutes that may prove to be invaluable experience that will pay off later in the season once May returns.

Georgia Tech Slides to .500 and the Bottom of the ACC

After starting the season 3-0 and defeating then-ranked Georgia, the Yellow Jackets have fallen on hard times. They have lost five of seven games and only scored more than 80 points once. The most recent setback was an 80-66 defeat at the hands of the Tulane Green Wave. This week Georgia Tech can tune up against Cornell before hosting NC State Saturday. The Yellow Jackets’ current cellar spot at 5-5 (0-1 in conference play) speaks more to the quality of the conference more than the team’s recent struggles.

Travis Watson Nearly Out-Rebounds Entire Wofford Team

Virginia senior forward Travis Watson grabbed twenty rebounds in the team’s 87-65 win against Wofford. The entire Wofford team tallied 29 rebounds. Those 20 rebounds are a new career-high for Watson. Now for the trivia section: Watson did not come even close to the all-time single-game rebounding record. Back in the day there were beasts on the boards. Bill Chambers grabbed 51 rebounds for William & Mary against Virginia in 1953. It’d be a stretch for one man to get that many rebounds against a team of midgets these days.

ACC Player of the Week:

Florida State junior guard Tim Pickett tore apart Virginia Tech and Davidson on their own courts. Pickett averaged 27 points and 8.5 rebounds in the two Seminole victories. He added seven steals against Davidson to pad his stats.

ACC Rookie of the Week:

Duke guard J.J. Redick earned the honors this week by averaging 21 points in two victories, including the victory over formerly undefeated Clemson.

ACC Coach Watch:

How will Paul Hewitt get the Ramblin’ Wreck back on track? A game against Cornell should help before the big test against NC State.

Big Games This Week:

Wednesday: Duke vs. Georgetown
Saturday: Virginia vs. North Carolina
Saturday: Maryland vs. Florida State
Saturday: Georgia Tech vs. NC State
Sunday: Duke vs. Wake Forest


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