Home » Conference Notes » Currently Reading:

ACC Notebook

January 12, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments

Atlantic Coast Conference Notebook

by Michael Protos

Reviewing the preview

Like other college basketball media outlets a couple of months ago, I did my best to predict the outcome of the upcoming season based on a haphazard formula including number of returning starters, last season’s final performances, coaching changes, recruiting success, a roulette wheel, tarot cards and that psychic named Cleo. Although Cleo proved entirely unhelpful, my research indicated that the strength of the ACC would lie in the state of North Carolina.

My early season prediction went something like this: Duke, North Carolina, NC State, Florida State, Wake Forest, Maryland, Georgia Tech, Clemson and Virginia.

The previous season, I predicted Wake Forest to finish seventh in the conference. And what did the Demon Deacons do? Finished first. So who holds the number seven spot in my season preview this year. Georgia Tech. And yet again, I appear to have missed the mark with the seven spot. Perhaps I should make my predictions then automatically vault the number seven team to number one in the conference.

Or perhaps not. Despite Georgia Tech’s meteoric rise in the rankings and a 12-1 start, the Yellow Jackets have some vulnerabilities that may be exposed in conference play. Of Georgia Tech’s 12 victories, only wins over Connecticut, Texas Tech and St. Louis are against the nation’s top teams – and few people would consider St. Louis an elite team. But the Billikins have routinely played every opponent tough, just ask No. 6 Arizona. Georgia Tech beat Connecticut when the Huskies were ranked No. 1, but junior superstar Emeka Okafor struggled with a back injury, and the Huskies were ice cold from the field. Georgia Tech’s first loss was at rival Georgia, which therefore is somewhat understandable because rivals are always pumped for such games, regardless of rankings. But this is the same Georgia team that Winthrop thrashed in Athens, Ga.

For Georgia Tech to continue to dominate this season, the Yellow Jackets must continue to suffocate opponents’ shooters, which the ACC is full of from top to bottom. Georgia Tech also lacks experienced big men and is vulnerable against teams with strong post players. For example, Wake Forest has several good forwards and centers, such as sophomore Eric Williams, junior Jamaal Levy, sophomore Chris Ellis and junior Vytas Danelius – when he’s healthy.

Meanwhile, Wake Forest continues to perform extraordinarily well behind the great play of three of the ACC’s most talented guards – freshman Chris Paul, sophomore Justin Gray and junior Taron Downey. Paul is quietly putting up rookie-of-the-year numbers with 13.2 points, 5.6 assists and more than four steals per game. Although I originally placed Wake Forest fifth in the conference, the Demon Deacons have a good chance of finishing in the top three.

Among my top three, Duke, North Carolina and NC State have all shown some weaknesses in the beginning of this season. Duke is probably the strongest and will remain the team to beat in the ACC. But North Carolina and NC State must find a way to dominate opponents. The Tar Heels lack depth and cannot afford an injury to a key contributor. This talk about having the best starting five in the country is getting old. For North Carolina to earn a spot in the ACC’s elite, the Tar Heels must utilize a dominant seven-man rotation featuring junior guard Jackie Manuel and sophomore forward David Noel off the bench. Noel and Manuel must emerge as scoring threats that can provide instant energy off the bench. If they can do that, North Carolina might finish in the top three, as I predicted.

NC State has all-conference, all-everything junior guard Julius Hodge. In Hodge, NC State has a potential conference most valuable player. In Hodge, NC State can win any game. In Hodge we trust. NC State needs to work around its superstar and find one or two players in the supporting cast to contribute each game. As long as Hodge continues to lead the league in scoring and continues to be one of the ACC’s best defenders, the Wolfpack have a shot to finish in the top three.

At the bottom, Clemson and Virginia seem to be a good bet. The Tigers have struggled to hold onto the ball and is the first ACC team in perilous danger of falling below .500. Virginia has played well in the early portions of the season but have also had one of the weakest non-conference schedules.

Maryland was the hardest team to predict in my preview because the Terrapins have a world of talent, albeit young talent. Coach Gary Williams is one of the geniuses in the ACC, and he of all people can inspire these young Terps to play beyond their years. So far, Maryland has been inconsistent, which I expected, beating Florida when the Gators were No. 1 and losing to the likes of West Virginia. In conference play, that inconsistency can be the difference between third and seventh. So I continue put them somewhere in between those positions.

Think He Could Make It With His Eyes Closed?

Duke sophomore guard J.J. Redick is automatic from the line – so automatic that he has claimed the ACC record for consecutive made free throws. He entered the game at Virginia with 48 consecutive free throws, including all 39 attempts this season. Redick fittingly broke Virginia’s Jeff Lamp record from 1979-80 season against the Cavaliers by draining two more free throws. Redick now holds the ACC record at 50 and counting.

In high school, Redick had streaks of 61 and 43 consecutive made free throws. But Redick said in an article in the News-Observer that his personal best is 107 consecutive made free throws – at his home in Roanoke, Va. The streak only ended when his mother called his game due to darkness. Where are the grandstand lights when you need them?

Clemson Lets Tiger Go

Clemson sophomore forward Julian Betko will leave the school by the end of this semester in search of more playing time at another school. Betko hails from Ruzomberok, Slovakia, and averaged about two points in 10 minutes per game last season under former coach Larry Shyatt. But Betko has not found a role in new coach Oliver Purnell’s rotation. Betko has played only two minutes this season in a game against South Carolina. He logged no statistics except for two fouls – not exactly a great resume to carry to another school.

Welcome Back Tarver

Georgia Tech sophomore forward Theodis Tarver returned to the Yellow Jackets’ lineup for the first time this season against North Carolina. Tarver dislocated his left kneecap in practice Oct. 30. He practiced with the team after Christmas but did not appear in a game until the Yellow Jackets’ loss at Chapel Hill.

E-mail Bag

With the advent of the conference season, the rivalries that permeate the ACC rise once again to a feverish pitch. Some of our readers have questioned my ability to cover the ACC fairly because I am a recent Tar Heel alumnus. Although my friends and family know that I love the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and its basketball program, I prefer that my readers be unable to determine if I attended North Carolina or Duke, Maryland or Georgia Tech. In journalism, objectivity is the goal, and I invite writers to e-mail me if they my articles contain bias toward North Carolina, or any other school for that matter. Hoopville readers should expect fair articles seasoned by a dash of commentary – a cross between a beat reporter and sports columnist.

Player of the Week:

Sean May, North Carolina

North Carolina’s sophomore forward Sean May could not be stopped by either Miami or Georgia Tech this week as May helped the Tar Heels win both games by averaging 25.5 points and 12 rebounds per game.

Rookie of the Week:

Luol Deng, Duke

Forward Luol Deng has become a key member of Duke’s rotation and helped the Blue Devils win games against Fairfield and Virginia this week with averages of 14.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and three blocks per game.

ACC Coach Watch:

Skip Prosser, Wake Forest

Prosser guides Wake Forest into rough waters this week. The ACC’s only remaining undefeated team takes perfection on the road against two ranked opponents – Texas and Duke. Two victories should put Wake Forest atop the polls.

Team Reports

Clemson Tigers (7-6, 0-2) Last week: 0-1

Clemson continues to struggle under new coach Oliver Purnell as the Tigers lost 78-63 to Wake Forest. Despite winning only a few games so far this season, Clemson has a strong foundation, especially in freshman guard Vernon Hamilton, who led the Tigers with 17 points, six rebounds and five assists. Hamilton, unfortunately, also had four turnovers, and the Tigers committed 23 turnovers as a team as they lack the steady play of a point guard. Nobody has been able to replace former point guard Ed Scott, who graduated last year. Junior guard Chey Christie is a reliable scorer – he scored 16 points against the Demon Deacons – but he has not emerged as a reliable ball handler.

This week, Clemson hosts Florida State Jan. 13 before returning to the state of North Carolina to play NC State Jan. 17.

No. 2 Duke Blue Devils (12-1, 2-0) Last week: 2-0

Duke senior guard Chris Duhon had his best game of the season as the Blue Devils thumped Fairfield 99-58. Duhon finished with 20 points, nine assists and seven steals. As a team, the Blue Devils forced 25 turnovers and held Fairfield to under 38 percent shooting. Freshman forward Luol Deng continues to play well for Duke, scoring 17 points, grabbing three rebounds and blocking three shots.

Sophomore guard J.J. Redick set the ACC record for consecutive made free throws with 50, and the Blue Devils overpowered Virginia 93-71. Sophomore forward Shelden Williams dominated the interior, scoring 21 points and grabbing three rebounds despite getting in foul trouble early in the first half. Six Blue Devils reached double-figures while only two Cavaliers scored more than 10 points. Duke destroyed Virginia on the glass, 40-26.

Duke plays rival NC State Jan. 15 before hosting another in-state rival, Wake Forest, Jan. 17. Of course, the rivalry with neither NC State nor Wake Forest compares to the rivalry between the Blue Devils and North Carolina Tar Heels, which promises to be more intense and meaningful in the conference standings than it has been in several years.

Florida State Seminoles (12-3, 1-1) Last week: 0-1

The Seminoles had all week to prepare for the NC State Wolfpack. Florida State might need more time, though, to get their offense clicking again. NC State beat the Seminoles 58-53, and the Seminoles shot only 37 percent. Senior guard Tim Pickett scored 10 points, and junior forward Anthony Richardson led the team with 12 points. But NC State’s junior guard Julius Hodge played better than either Richardson or Pickett, leading all scores with 15. Florida State must continue to play solid defense, which should help the Seminoles win close games like this one if a couple more scorers step forward as reliable threats at clutch time. Senior guard Nick Johnson and freshman guard Von Wafer are good candidates for that job.

Florida State goes on the road in conference play this week, first to Clemson Jan. 13 and then to Virginia Jan. 18.

No. 9 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (12-2, 0-1) Last week: 0-1

The Yellow Jackets lost only their second game of the season when North Carolina beat Georgia Tech 103-88. Georgia Tech had one of the nation’s best defenses entering the game, allowing less than 60 points per game. But the Yellow Jackets could not slow down the Tar Heels, who shot 49 percent. Sophomore guard Jarrett Jack played well in the losing effort, running up and down the court and finishing with 22 points and seven assists. But in his efforts, Jack also committed seven turnovers, part of a season-high 24 turnovers for the entire team. The game was very physical as the two teams combined for 52 personal fouls and 78 free throw attempts.

This week, Georgia Tech returns home this week to host Virginia Jan. 15 and Maryland Jan. 17.

Maryland Terrapins (9-3, 0-1) Last week: 1-0

The Terrapins jumped all over their sibling school Maryland-Eastern Shore, winning 87-38. But Maryland led only 30-19 at halftime before coach Gary Williams inspired his troops to play with the passion they need to succeed in conference play. Once Maryland pulled away, Williams put in the baby Terps, who thrived against the weaker opponents. Freshman guard Mike Jones finished with 25 points and six rebounds in 23 minutes. Senior forward Jamar Smith would have had yet another double-double if Williams had let Smith play longer than 25 minutes. Smith finished with 13 points and nine rebounds. Smith has double-doubles in nine of Maryland’s 12 games.

Maryland will enter a tough period of its schedule this week, hosting North Carolina Jan. 14 and flying south to Atlanta to play Georgia Tech Jan. 17.

NC State Wolfpack (9-2, 2-0) Last week: 2-0

The Wolfpack picked up a quality win this week at home over BYU, one of the Mountain West’s perennial NCAA Tournament teams. And the Wolfpack annihilated BYU, 89-62. Junior guard Julius Hodge led the hot-shooting Wolfpack with 23 points, four rebounds and six assists. NC State committed only seven turnovers and found good shots, making a shade over 58 percent in the game. BYU shot 44 percent in the game but just 28 percent from three-point range, which impeded any comeback attempt once NC State built a sizable lead.

NC State flew south to Tallahassee, Fla., last weekend to play the Seminoles in an important early season battle. Both teams could easily be fringe NCAA Tournament games come March so these battles are crucial for positioning in the conference standings. The Wolfpack pulled away with a 58-53 win behind Hodge’s game-high 15 points. NC State prevented the Seminoles from finding the shooting touch as only two Florida State players scored in double-figures. Neither team shot above 40 percent, but the Wolfpack committed only seven turnovers while Florida State committed 13, which is usually a good number. Hodge won the battle with Florida State’s senior guard Tim Pickett, who may compete with Hodge for conference most valuable player.

The Wolfpack travel to Durham, N.C., to play Duke Jan. 15, then host Clemson Jan. 17.

No. 14 North Carolina Tar Heels (10-2, 1-1) Last week: 2-0

The Tar Heels bounced back from a rough loss at No. 7 Kentucky by winning 89-64 at home over Miami. Sophomore forward Sean May compiled a great game with 23 points and 16 rebounds. Sophomore guard Rashad McCants bounced back from a rough game against the Wildcats by scoring 15 points and adding four assists and rebounds. He also played strong defense. As a team, the Tar Heels stifled Miami’s leading scorer, senior forward Darius Rice, holding him to just seven points. Despite the victory, the Tar Heels need to work on handling the ball as they committed 22 turnovers.

Against Georgia Tech, North Carolina took care of the ball better, committing 14 turnovers. The Tar Heels torched the Yellow Jackets’ heralded defense for 103 points in a 103-88 victory for North Carolina’s first conference victory. Sophomore center Sean May had a career-high 28 points and added eight rebounds. Junior forward Jawad Williams left the game in the second half after laying near mid-court with blood spilling from his nose. Williams did not return and team trainers are checking for a concussion, which would be Williams’ second in less than two weeks; he had one against UNC-Wilmington. In Williams’ absence, sophomore guard Raymond Felton lifted his scoring attack with 25 points to add to his seven rebounds and nine assists.

North Carolina visits College Park, Md., to play Maryland Jan. 14 before returning home for a huge game against No.1 Connecticut.

Virginia Cavaliers (10-3, 0-2) Last week: 1-1

Virginia opened the week’s action against William and Mary with an 84-71 victory. It was the Cavaliers’ last non-conference game of the season. Junior forwards Elton Brown and Devin Smith each scored 22 points to lead Virginia to victory. The Cavaliers took care of the ball, committing only six turnovers while forcing 15 on the defensive end. But the Cavaliers lost the battle of the boards, 34-28. Virginia played with a more balanced lineup as the freshmen continue to earn more playing time for coach Pete Gillen.

Virginia continued to play with a more balanced lineup against Duke, but no one could find a way to slow down Duke’s dominant interior game. Smith was one of the few Cavaliers to have a good game, scoring 19 points and grabbing six rebounds. Freshman forward Donte Minter played well with 12 points and six rebounds. Minter is part of the bright future for the Cavaliers, along with guards Gary Forbes, J.R. Reynolds and T.J. Bannister.

This week the young Cavaliers travel to Georgia Tech Jan. 15 and play Florida State at home Jan. 18.

No. 3 Wake Forest Demon Deacons (11-0, 2-0) Last week: 2-0

Wake Forest wasted no time in putting Brown away, jumping out to a 46-18 halftime lead. No starter played more than 27 minutes and 15 players played at least two minutes in the game. The Demon Deacons held Brown to 32 percent shooting en route to an 86-47 victory. Wake Forest extended its home winning streak to 23 entering ACC conference play. Sophomore center Eric Williams led Wake Forest with 14 points and five rebounds in just 17 minutes.

In Wake Forest’s ACC opener, the Demon Deacons needed triple overtime to beat North Carolina 119-114. Wake Forest dispatched the Tigers in 40 minutes in the Demon Deacons’ second ACC match up. After cold shooting forced coach Skip Prosser to bail out on the three-guard lineup, the Demon Deacons outplayed Clemson and found a good attack led by freshman guard Chris Paul. Paul finished with 21 points and four steals. The Demon Deacons forced 23 turnovers from Clemson. Sophomore guard Trent Strickland contributed significant minutes off the bench, scoring 10 points and grabbing five rebounds.

A noteworthy player missing from the stat sheets is junior forward Vytas Danelius. Danelius has battled a high ankle sprain all season and missed several of the Demon Deacons’ last few games. Danelius needs to be healthy for Wake Forest to make a push for the conference title and a long NCAA Tournament run.

The Demon Deacons have a brutal road trip this week, traveling to Austin, Texas, to play the No. 19 Texas Longhorns Jan. 13. A few days later, Wake Forest visits No. 2 Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium Jan. 17. If Wake Forest wins both games, they have a nearly flawless case to be No. 1.


Comment on this Article:

Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Coaching Changes

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – February 22, 2018

February 22, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we start with floor issues in the Big East and an important NCAA ruling that was upheld. Then we go on to the Big 12, where Wednesday night had a new twist, as well as the ACC and how it shapes up along with no team going undefeated in conference play this year.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – February 7, 2018

February 7, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about a big sweep in the SEC, look back on the wild Saturday, then talk about a Big Ten showdown and some undefeated teams in conference play.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 31, 2018

January 31, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about a lot of what has happened in the ACC and SEC, including the Big 12/SEC Challenge, whether or not Kentucky is turning a corner, as well as the story at Michigan State.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 26, 2018

January 26, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about a wild night in the Big Ten, adversity and a quiet leader in the ACC, what to make of Kentucky and look ahead to the Big 12/SEC Challenge.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 18, 2018

January 18, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about big road wins for a few teams, including a couple of bluebloods that looked destined for losses, as well as an unsettled Big Ten beyond one team, an SEC where you shouldn’t pay attention to bracketologists, and the problems with a proposed earlier start to the college basketball season.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Lincoln captures Hamilton Park title

August 15, 2017 by

For the first time, a public school won the Hamilton Park Summer League, and they were led by a big effort from a junior point guard in the title game.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Boston Shootout

June 12, 2017 by

Some news and notes coming from the second and final day of action at the 2017 Boston Shootout, where the host program provided plenty of talent, but so did a program that produced a team that beat them.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.