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ACC 2002-03 Season Recap

April 25, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

ACC 2002-03 Season Recap

by Michael Protos

The 2002-03 season will go down in history as an off-season for the ACC. For the first time since 1979, no ACC team advanced to the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament. The ACC fielded four teams in the tournament, but NC State needed a pair of wins in the ACC tournament to seal its bid.

But the season was competitive despite the lack of post-season success. Wake Forest claimed the conference regular season title while Duke captured the ACC tournament championship. The two teams epitomized the ACC’s diverse competition.

Behind the senior leadership of Josh Howard, Wake Forest finished with its best season since Tim Duncan tore apart the entire nation in the mid-90s. Duke, on the other hand, relied on freshmen to carry the team to victory. The Blue Devils usually have talented freshmen, but do not depend on the youngsters until at least their sophomore years.

But Duke characterized the youth movement in the ACC this season. Except for Maryland, every team returns at least three starters next season. Since the kids grew up this season with lots of valuable playing time, the 2003-04 season should be even more competitive with more exciting, young players guiding their teams to greater post-season success.

ACC Tournament

Duke captured its fifth consecutive ACC tournament championship by defeating NC State for the second straight year. NC State entered the tournament needing a couple victories to ensure a trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Wolfpack defeated Georgia Tech in the first round and upset Wake Forest in the semifinals. Those victories gave NC State the credentials necessary to reach the NCAA Tournament.

North Carolina notched the other notable ACC tournament upset by defeating 2rd-seeded Maryland in the quarterfinals. The Tar Heels only managed to reach the NIT for their efforts, but offered loyal fans hope for next year.

NCAA Tournament

No. 2 (East) Wake Forest
First Round: Won over No. 15 East Tennessee State 76-73
Second Round: Lost to No. 10 Auburn 68-62

No. 3 (West) Duke
First Round: Won over No. 14Colorado State 67-57
Second Round: Won over No. 11 Central Michigan 86-60
Sweet 16: Lost to No. 2 Kansas 69-65

No. 6 (South) Maryland
First Round: Won over No. 11 UNC-Wilmington 75-73
Second Round: Won over No. 3 Xavier 77-64
Sweet 16: Lost to No. 7 Michigan State 60-58

No. 9 (East) NC State
First Round: Lost to No. 8 California 76-74


Georgia Tech
First Round: Won over Ohio State 72-58
Second Round: Won over Iowa 79-78
Quarterfinals: Lost to Texas Tech 80-72

North Carolina
First Round: Won over DePaul 83-72
Second Round: Won over Wyoming 90-74
Quarterfinals: Lost to Georgetown 79-74

First Round: Won over Brown 89-73
Second Round: Lost to St. John’s 73-63

ACC Season Awards


Josh Howard, Wake Forest

Senior forward Josh Howard led the Demon Deacons to the conference title. He was the lone senior to receive significant minutes and averaged nearly a double-double each game (19.5 ppg, 8.3 rpg). No other ACC player did as much for his team as Howard did for Wake Forest.

ACC Rookie of the Year:

Chris Bosh, Georgia Tech

Forward Chris Bosh (15.6 ppg, 9.0 rpg) could easily become a double-double guy by the end of next season. All he did this season was carry the Yellow Jackets on his back with gifted interior skills mixed with a developing exterior game. Bosh’s closest competition for this award was North Carolina’s Raymond Felton, who carried the Tar Heels for the last two-thirds of the season and was the most consistent Tar Heel game in and game out. But Bosh dominated competition for the entire season and therefore receives the award.

ACC Defensive Player of the Year:

Josh Howard, Wake Forest

Howard consistently faced the best offensive weapons on the court and consistently shut them down. Howard averaged 2.0 steals and 1.4 blocks per game, both of which place Howard near the top of the ACC in those statistical categories.

ACC Coach of the Year:

Skip Prosser, Wake Forest

Skip Prosser tied youth and senior stardom together in a neat package that produced an outright ACC championship and a No. 2-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Prosser successfully guided the Demon Deacons through all trials and tribulations, including a confidence-shaking loss at Durham and several games without freshman point guard Justin Gary, who injured his face against Duke.

First Team All-ACC:
Josh Howard, forward, Wake Forest
Julius Hodge, guard, NC State
Travis Watson, forward, Virginia
Steve Blake, guard, Maryland
Ed Scott, guard, Clemson

Second Team All-ACC:
Dahntay Jones, guard, Duke
Drew Nicholas, guard, Maryland
Chris Bosh, forward, Georgia Tech
Raymond Felton, guard, North Carolina
Tim Pickett, forward, Florida State

Third Team All-ACC:
Vytas Danelius, forward, Wake Forest
Rashad McCants, guard, North Carolina
Clifford Crawford, guard, NC State
Ryan Randle, forward, Maryland
Todd Billett, guard, Virginia

Team Reviews

Wake Forest Demon Deacons 25-6 (13-3)

Key players leaving:
Graduating: Senior forward Josh Howard (19.5 ppg, 8.3 rpg)
Transferring: Sophomore center Dshamal Schoetz, who played a total of 20 minutes this past season, will transfer to a Division II or III school during the off-season.

Key players returning:
Sophomore forward Vytas Danelius, freshman guard Justin Gray, sophomore guard Taron Downey, freshman center Eric Williams, sophomore forward Jamaal Levy
Coach Skip Prosser – 46-19 in two seasons. Prosser signed a 10-year contract extension after speculation that he might move to Pittsburgh to fill its coaching vacancy.

Scoring leader: Josh Howard – 19.5 ppg
Rebound leader: Howard – 8.3 rpg
Assist leader: Taron Downey – 4.2 apg

Wake Forest claimed its first outright ACC title in 41 years. The Demon Deacons were led by Josh Howard, the senior superstar who excelled in every aspect of the game. He usually matched up against the opponents’ best player and usually won the individual battles. Next season, Wake Forest will look for one of its young, emerging stars to step into Howard’s leadership role.

Maryland Terrapins 21-10 (11-5)

Key players leaving:
Graduating: Senior guard Steve Blake (11.6 ppg, 7.1 apg), senior forward Ryan Randle (12.7 ppg, 7.2 rpg), senior guard Drew Nicholas (17.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg), senior forward Tahj Holden (8.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg), senior forward Calvin McCall (4.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg)

Key players returning:
Freshman forward Nik Caner-Medley, junior forward Jamar Smith, freshman guard John Gilchrist, freshman forward Travis Garrison

Coach: Gary Williams – 295-153 in 14 seasons

Scoring leader: Drew Nicholas – 17.8 ppg
Rebound leader: Ryan Randle – 7.2 rpg
Assist leader: Steve Blake – 7.1 apg

Maryland defended its ’02 championship admirably but could not fend off the voracious competition that sought to dethrone the Terps. Another senior-laden Maryland squad finished second in the ACC and advanced into the Sweet 16. Losing four regular starters and five key players will hurt Maryland, but under the guidance of Gary Williams, the next generation of Terrapins promises future success.

Duke Blue Devils 27-6 (11-5)

Key players leaving:
Graduating: Senior guard Dahntay Jones (17.7 ppg, 5.5 rpg), senior center Casey Sanders (4.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg)

Key players returning:
Junior guard Chris Duhon, freshman guard J.J. Redick, freshman forward Shelden Williams, sophomore guard Daniel Ewing, freshman forward Shavlik Randolph

Coach: Mike Krzyzewski – 591-174 in 23 seasons

Scoring leader: Dahntay Jones – 17.7 ppg
Rebound leader: Shelden Williams – 5.8 rpg
Assist leader: Chris Duhon – 6.5 apg

Duke had one of the deepest lineups in the entire ACC, but also one of the youngest. The baby Blue Devils started their collegiate careers strong with a top-three ACC finish and a run to the Sweet 16. Next year, the Blue Devils will build off the unusually experienced sophomore class to become the frontrunner to capture the ACC crown.

North Carolina State Wolfpack 18-13 (9-7)

Key players leaving:
Graduating: Senior guard Clifford Crawford (9.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 4.2 apg)

Key players returning:
Sophomore guard Julius Hodge, sophomore forward Josh Powell, junior forward Marcus Melvin, junior guard Scooter Sherrill, sophomore forward Levi Watkins, sophomore forward Ilian Evtimov

Coach: Herb Sendek – 127-98 in seven seasons; Sendek led the ‘Pack to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year, but the NC State administration may grow impatient if Sendek can’t coach the team past the first weekend of the tournament. Next season could either cast further doubts or eliminate them entirely.

Sophomore Ilian Evtimov injured his right knee in an exhibition game and missed the entire season. He will return to give the ‘Pack greater depth and he may earn a spot in the starting lineup.

Scoring leader: Julius Hodge – 17.7 ppg
Rebound leader: Hodge – 5.9 rpg
Assist leader: Clifford Crawford – 4.3 apg

Like many ACC teams, the Wolfpack depended on a young cast of stars to carry the team. And the players adapted well to Sendek’s position-less offense. The hallmark of NC State’s season was tenacious defense paired with deadly shooting from the free throw line and behind the arc. With four returning starters, NC State will look to build off this season’s second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 16-15 (7-9)

Key players leaving: None

Key players returning:
Freshman forward Chris Bosh, sophomore guard B.J. Elder, junior guard Marvin Lewis, freshman guard Jarrett Jack, sophomore forward Ed Nelson, sophomore center Luke Schenscher, sophomore guard Isma’il Muhammad

Coach: Paul Hewitt – 48-44 in three seasons

Scoring leader: Chris Bosh – 15.6 ppg
Rebound leader: Bosh – 9.0 rpg
Assist leader: Jarrett Jack – 5.9 apg

Chris Bosh is the crucial Yellow Jacket in the hive. There have been rumors that Bosh is considering entering the NBA Draft. Bosh had great statistics this season, but needs a couple more years at Georgia Tech to refine his skills in the post and to gain some weight. At only 210 lbs., Bosh would face much larger centers and power forwards in the NBA, including Shaq-zilla. Plus, if Bosh returns, Georgia Tech will almost certainly be an NCAA team for the next couple years. Bosh has the potential to be the Tim Duncan of this decade if he follows Duncan’s admirable path and stays in college for four years.

Virginia Cavaliers 16-16 (6-10)

Key players leaving:
Graduating: Senior forward Travis Watson (14.3 ppg, 10.4 rpg)
Left team: Sophomore guard Jermaine Harper (3.9 ppg) was granted a release to transfer to another school. Sophomore guard Keith Jenifer (5.6 ppg, 5.5 apg) received his release from the program after being suspended since Feb. 3 for conduct detrimental to the team.

Key players returning:
Junior guard Todd Billet, sophomore guard Devin Smith, sophomore forward Elton Brown, freshman forward Derrick Byars, junior guard Majestic Mapp

Coach: Pete Gillen – 86-65 in five seasons. Next season, Gillen probably needs to carry Virginia into the NCAA Tournament or else the administrators may start weighing how much it would cost to buy out Gillen’s long-term contract.

Junior guard Majestic Mapp finally returned to the team for the second half of the season after missing the previous two seasons with knee injuries. His comeback inspires the team and Cavalier faithful. His on-court leadership will be crucial next season for Virginia to succeed.

Scoring leader: Travis Watson – 14.3 ppg
Rebound leader: Watson 10.4 rpg
Assist leader: Keith Jenifer – 5.5 apg

The Cavaliers appeared to be a legitimate contender entering the season behind the leadership of senior forward Travis Watson. Virginia struggled in the second half of the season in what has become a recent trend. The team starts quickly and beats a few high-quality opponents before staggering through the conference season.

North Carolina Tar Heels 19-16 (6-10)

Key players leaving: none

Key players returning:
Freshman guard Raymond Felton, freshman guard Rashad McCants, freshman forward Sean May, sophomore forward Jawad Williams, sophomore guard Jackie Manuel, sophomore guard Melvin Scott

Coach: North Carolina featured the most noteworthy coaching change this off-season because of the circumstances of the former coach’s removal and the new coach’s hiring. Former coach Matt Doherty, who exited with a 53-43 record at North Carolina, was forced to resign not for wins and losses but because the athletic department did not feel he embodied the amorphous Carolina spirit. Doherty’s resignation occurred days before the Final Four, which featured Kansas. Instantly, rumors circulated about Kansas’ Roy Williams, who accepted the job a week after his team lost in the National Championship game to Syracuse. Williams has a 418-101 lifetime record, but the Kansas faithful couldn’t have cared less as many felt betrayed. Others cried foul when Williams alluded that his Kansas recruits shouldn’t be obligated to fulfill their contract. But when Williams returned to Kansas for the team’s annual banquet, the fans and players bid Williams a fond farewell.

Freshman forward Sean May injured his right ankle against Iona in December and missed most of the remaining season. He made a cameo appearance against Duke in the ACC tournament. May will provide the interior presence that the Tar Heels lacked all season.

Scoring leader: Rashad McCants – 17.0 ppg
Rebound leader: Sean May – 8.1 rpg
Assist leader: Raymond Felton – 6.7 apg

North Carolina rebounded from an 8-20 season in ’01-’02 nicely and showed sparks of future success when the young Heels won the Preseason NIT. Next season, Roy Williams will attempt to lead North Carolina back to the top of the ACC and the top of the polls. With five returning starters, this job will be easier than most others in the country.

Clemson Tigers 15-13 (5-11)

Key players leaving:
Graduating: Senior guard Ed Scott (17.7 ppg, 5.8 apg), senior forward Ray Henderson (5.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg), senior forward Tomas Nagys (6.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg)

Key players returning:
Sophomore guard Chey Christie, sophomore forward Olu Babalola, sophomore forward Sharrod Ford, junior forward Chris Hobbs

Coach: Clemson will have a new coach next season in Oliver Purnell. Former coach Larry Shyatt resigned after five years at Clemson. Shyatt finished with a 70-83 record and no NCAA Tournament appearances. Purnell comes to Clemson from Dayton, where he led the flyers to a No. 4-seed in this year’s tournament with a 24-6 record. Purnell has a career record of 256-191.

Scoring leader: Ed Scott – 17.7 ppg
Rebound leader: Sharrod Ford – 6.8 rpg
Assist leader: Scott – 5.8 apg

Clemson bids farewell to Ed Scott, the heart and soul of the Tigers for the past four years. His departure coincides with the end of Larry Shyatt’s reign as coach. Oliver Purnell inherits four starters and strong interior players but must develop a team leader to replace Scott. Purnell will be busy this summer trying to instill in the Tigers his winning attitude that he established at Dayton.

Florida State Seminoles 14-15 (4-12)

Key players leaving:
Graduating: Senior center Trevor Harvery (8.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg)

Key players returning:
Junior guard Tim Pickett, sophomore forward Anthony Richardson, junior forward Michael Joiner, junior Nate Johnson freshman Todd Galloway

Coach: Leonard Hamilton – 14-15 in one season

Sophomore guard Andrew Wilson will return from a season-ending injury to his right wrist. After starting the first games of the season, Wilson tore a ligament in the wrist during Florida State’s fifth game against Miami. For the second straight year, Wilson missed most of the season because of injury. Wilson injured his right knee in the opening game of 2001 against Florida and missed the entire season. The third time, hopefully for Wilson, is the charm next season.

Scoring leader: Tim Pickett – 17.1 ppg
Rebound leader: Pickett – 5.7 rpg
Assist leader: Todd Galloway – 3.3 apg

Florida State finished the first year of the Leonard Hamilton-era with moderate success. Hamilton has a very solid nucleus returning next year, including the Seminoles’ reliable workhorse, Tim Pickett. Look for Florida State to only improve next season.


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