ATLANTA – The first day of the ACC Tournament is in the books. The seeds held to form in the afternoon with a pair of double-digit games, then we had the first upset right away in the evening as Virginia Tech held off Clemson after breaking a 52-52 tie with nine unanswered points. Miami finished the night by knocking off Georgia Tech.
We’ve got more coming on a few of the teams. For now, some quick hitters on the day.
- For the second year in a row, at least two first-year head coaches won on opening day. Last year, it was Steve Donahue (Boston College) and Brad Brownell (Clemson) who did it. This time around, that mark was matched in the afternoon by Mark Turgeon (Maryland) and Mark Gottfried (North Carolina State), and Jim Larranaga (Miami) won a matchup of first year coaches in the last game of the day (his opposite number was Brian Gregory of Georgia Tech) to surpass that make as the third first-year head coach to win on the day.
- Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon said that Thursday was “the best, most complete game we’ve played all year.” He especially noted how they played in the second half, when they broke the game open, and also felt the team really understood what Wake Forest was trying to do.
- Terrell Stoglin led the ACC in scoring, but he said Turgeon spent time on the trip to Atlanta talking to him about doing some of the non-scoring parts of the game better. He did that on Thursday, adding seven rebounds and four assists to his game-high 25 points.
- North Carolina State should be in the running for an NCAA Tournament bid and a win on Friday would surely help since Virginia is likely in. But Mark Gottfried will take nothing for granted.
“For us, the answer is to continue to win,” said Gottfried. “I don’t know if that’s one game, two games, three games… I know if we win this tournament, we get to go.”
- NC State is 12-2 all time against Virginia in the ACC Tournament. Mark Gottfried is undoubtedly not concerned about that mark going into Friday’s game, especially since Virginia beat the Wolfpack in Raleigh in the only meeting between the two teams this season.
- Virginia Tech has been in a lot of close games, and that seemed to pay off on Thursday night as they made enough plays and hit enough free throws to seal the game.
“Right now, we know everything will come down to one play,” said senior Dorenzo Hudson, who had 19 points on the evening. “And I felt we were ready to step up to the line and make free throws like we did tonight.”
- Seth Greenberg talked a lot about finishing after Thursday’s game. In particular, it wasn’t just about finishing games, although that has been a theme in recent years with the many close games the Hokies have been in. He also spoke of finishing plays.
“We talked to them all week about finishing and making one more play, one more stop, take a charge, make an extra pass,” said Greenberg. “Just make one more play.”
- When a reported spoke of the first half as being “ugly” in asking Jim Larranaga a question, the Miami mentor replied, with a smile, “You thought it was ugly?”
- At one point, Larranaga said that there were about 20 minutes left in the day. Sure enough, just as he finished the sentence, I looked at my cell phone clock and saw it turn to 11:40.