Big Duke Balls, All-ACC EVERYTHING

With the season finishing up, I could go to the gym. I could get in shape. It would make my wife happy. Or I could just present my All-ACC Everything; First team, second team, third team, coach of the year, favorite moment, dumbest moment, you name it, we got it. This year, naming the first/second/third teams was difficult. The league is loaded with great talent, especially the guards, and it was hard to decide who went where. In the end, it’s just one man’s opinion.
With the season finishing up, I could go to the gym. I could get in shape. It would make my wife happy. Or I could just present my All-ACC Everything; First team, second team, third team, coach of the year, favorite moment, dumbest moment, you name it, we got it. This year, naming the first/second/third teams was difficult. The league is loaded with great talent, especially the guards, and it was hard to decide who went where. In the end, it’s just one man’s opinion. /

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Ty Lawson, Guard (North Carolina)
In the ACC, there are few moments that make me cringe as a Duke fan – Jack McClinton open at the top of the key, Hansbrough with the ball three-feet from the basket and Clemson’s full court press after a timeout. However, no moment makes me cringe more than seeing Ty Lawson grab a defensive rebound and run. He’s the Harry Houdini of point guards. One minute he’s dribbling just over the half court line, a second later, he’s giving Hansbrough a high-five after another easy lay up. He’s the most important player on the best team in the ACC. Take out any other guy in that lineup and Carolina would survive. Lose Ty Lawson and you can kiss your title hopes goodbye.

Guard – Ty Lawson (North Carolina): The stats are amazing; over six assists, but turning the ball over under two times a game. For fun, he gets about two steals per game, and for kicks, he’s second on the team in scoring at 16ppg.

Guard – Tyrese Rice (Boston College): He’s the only senior on a team filled with underclassmen. He’s the star and leading scorer of a BC squad that only has three players who average double figures. Every opponent has one thing in mind, stop Tyrese Rice, yet no team really can. He’s averaged a solid 17.4ppg, but more importantly, he’s got over five assists and four rebounds per game.

Forward – Gerald Henderson(Duke): This was the toughest call and the last of the first five to make the list. Of course I’m bias, but I’ve watched a lot of games this season in the ACC, and no player has consistently taken over more games in league play. He’s averaging 20+ the last two months and he’s had some of the best dunks this season. If I needed two points to win a game with seconds to go, the ball would be in Gerald’s hands.

Forward – Trevor Booker (Clemson): When watching Booker play Duke, it just looks so damn easy for him. You could probably say that about him against a lot of teams. He’s .03 rebounds short of averaging a double-double (15 points, shooting 57% with 9.7 rebounds). He also dishes out nearly two a game and averages two blocks, despite only being 6’7 (which means he’s probably only really 6’5).

Forward – Tyler Hansbrough (North Carolina): We don’t reward for career numbers, but it doesn’t matter here. He’s got 21ppg (best in the ACC) and eight boards per game. He shoots an amazing (for a big man) 85% from his second home, the foul stripe. He’s the Tim Tebow of college basketball (without the two titles of course).

Guard – Jack McClinton (Miami): Just my personal opinion, but McClinton will probably be the best pro of the bunch. He can drive, he can dish, but most importantly, he can launch from way downtown. He’s taken 188 threes this season and made an astonishing 46% of them. The best J.J. Redick ever shot was 42% his senior year (of course he took 330 three’s that year).

Guard – Jeff Teague (Wake Forest): If you want to call him a first-teamer, I don’t blame you one bit. He puts up nearly 20 a game, shooting almost 50% from the floor, which is pretty damn good for a guard. Like McClinton, he nails 46% of his three-point shots, but he’s only taken 91 this season. If you’re hitting close to half your three’s, you need to be throwing more up. I sound like a Duke fan, don’t I?

Guard – Greivis Vasquez (Maryland): He’s a ball of emotion for one thing. He’s also a scoring guard (17ppg) who also leads his team in rebounds and assists. Without him, the Terps would be sitting below .500. The only thing that keeps him off the first team? A less-than-impressive .400 shooting percentage; 96th best in the ACC.

Forward – Kyle Singler (Duke): He spent most of the season leading the Blue Devils in points, assists and rebounds. More importantly, when the Devils need something; whether it’s a three, a rebound or a steal, he always seems to be the guy who comes through.

Forward – James Johnson (Wake Forest: A solid 14/8 big man, plus two assists and nearly two steals a game. Would love to see him be less selfish next season. He could easily be a 20-10 guy if he wanted to be. Scratch that, as a Duke man, I’d love to see Johnson go pro, right now.

Guard – Tony Douglas (Florida State): If anyone is being wronged on this list, you could argue it’s Douglas. In most any other conference, he’d be a first teamer; but in the ACC, there are just too many great guards. He’s one of only two players who averages more than 20ppg, leading a young Florida State team to 22 wins (so far).

Guard – Malcolm Delaney (Virginia Tech): His stats are good; 18/4/4, but more importantly, he’s the Hokies’ unquestionable floor general, who refuses to leave the battle. He leads the league in conference minutes, averaging a stunning 38 minutes per game.

Forward -A.D. Vassallo (Virginia Tech): I’d like to see his shooting percentage go up (46%, not bad, but not great for a big man), but 19 points, along with six boards ain’t bad. Like Delaney above, Seth Green relies heavily on Vasallo, who has averaged nearly 37 minutes per game for the season.

Forward – Al-Farouq Aminu (Wake Forest): The star freshman stepped right in and made a difference. He’s second among ACC rookies in points (12.7ppg) and first in rebounds (just over eight). Luckily for the rest of us in the league, he probably won’t be here long. If and when Teague and Johnson head to the pros, Aminu should follow.

Forward – Danny Green (North Carolina): He tends to get lost in the shuffle, but we can’t overlook the do-everything Tar Heels forward. He knocks in around 14 per game, grabbing nearly five boards and dishing out about three assists per game. He’s also the defensive-stopper for Carolina (if one really does exist on this team).

JUST MISSED THE CUT: Wayne Ellington-G (UNC), K.C. Rivers-F (Clemson), Sylven Landesberg-G (UVA), Gani Lawai-F (GT), Jeff Allen-F (VA Tech, Jon Scheyer-G (Duke)

FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Sylven Landesberg-F (Virginia): It was a tough call between Landesberg and Aminu, but I can’t punish Sylven just because he was stuck on the Cavaliers. The freshman guard led Virginia in minutes (34) and points (17), was second in rebounds (6) and second in assists (2.7). He probably should be an All-ACC something, but you tell me, what guard do I knock off the list?

Guard – Sylven Landesberg (Virginia): As a 6’6 guard, he gives opposing coaches match up nightmares. However, the Cavaliers better get some talent around him, or he won’t be there long.

Guard – Elliot Williams (Duke): Can one five-game stretch make you an All-ACC Freshman? Obviously it can. However, this probably says more about this season’s ACC rookie class, than it does about Elliot.

Guard – Iman Shumpert (Georgia Tech): Another tall guard, Iman was a triple threat (11 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists) for an awful Yellow Jackets team. If he can get his turnovers down (4 per game), he’ll make a solid inside-out combo with incoming freshman Derrick Favors.

Forward – All-Farouq Aminu (Wake Forest): He made my Third Team All-ACC, what more can I say about him?

Center – Solomon Alabi (Florida State): The kid from Nigeria had a productive first season (8 points, 6 rebounds, a bit over two blocks). Even more impressive, he only averaged about 1.7 fouls per game, which is pretty good for a shot blocking freshman. To continue to improve, he’ll need to work on the pass from the post (0.4 assists per game).

COACH OF THE YEAR: Al Skinner, Boston College.
Surprised, aren’t you? It was a pretty solid year in coaching in the ACC, Dino Gaudio is certainly deserving, as is Leonard Hamilton and Seth Greenberg. Hell, even old Coach K should get some props for not being stubborn and making necessary changes in his lineup.

However, Boston College finished 14-17 last year, dead last in the ACC at 4-12, but somehow managed to win 20 games this season, including a win over #1 ranked North Carolina. If that’s not impressive enough for you, he did it with a roster that consists of one Senior (Rice), one Junior, seven Sophomores and three Freshman. Not impressed yet? After getting embarrassed by Harvard, BC went on to lose three straight ACC games. The team was ready to fold like last year’s club. Instead they rallied to win seven of ten, including a come from behind thriller against Duke, putting BC back in the tournament.

GAME OF THE YEAR: (Feb 21st) Maryland over North Carolina, 88-85 (OT)
Only a few weeks removed from talk of their coach being fired, the Maryland Terps rallied from 16 down with 15 to play to upset #3 ranked North Carolina. The result was made even more remarkable by Vasquez’s triple double (35 points, 11 boards, 10 assists), outshining a Carolina squad with five future pros. The win (as it appears now) may not have saved the Terps from the NIT, but it probably help save coach Gary Williams’ job.

MOST PATHETIC GAME OF THE YEAR: Harvard over Boston College, 82-70
After heading into Chapel Hill and battering the #1 Tar Heels, BC was flying high on a 10-game winning streak, earning the 24th spot in the rankings. How did they respond? They get beat by Ivy League Harvard, a team that had never beaten a ranked team before….ever. In fact, they didn’t just get beat, the Crimson (yeah, I had to actually look it up) whipped the Eagles. It was never even a battle. They trailed by six at half time, fell behind by twelve about halfway through and never really challenged Harvard, falling 82-70.

PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR: Greivis Vasquez (Maryland)
Man, there’s a lot of Maryland on this list. Too much if you ask me. What can I do here though? Against North Carolina I already laid out Vasquez’s numbers above. It’s simple, a triple double against some worthless cupcake team is one thing, but to save your career performance for Carolina in front of all the hometown faithful, now that’s something.

BEST FAN PERFORMANCE: I hate to say it, but Maryland. I think I’m going to go cut myself just for writing that. Here’s why. Even I have to admit, pretty funny stuff.

WORST FAN PERFORMANCE: Florida State hosting Duke
This one was a close one. Maryland hosting Duke was a close second. What can you say about a student body, who’s best chants are; bullshit (at every foul called against its team), fuck Singler and tea bag Greg Paulus. However, the award goes to Florida State.

In the past, Duke has struggled in Tallahassee and a solid crowd has played its part. However, when Duke showed up on that particular Saturday afternoon, the fans must have been hungover, because on TV, all you could hear was one guy chanting, PAULUS, PAULUS, PAULUS…the entire game (except for a brief stretch when the Noles were down by over 20). It got so annoying, I had to actually watch the game in mute. It’s pretty sad when you have Duke at home and your crowd is so quiet, you can hear one, single guy in the stands.

DUMBEST MOMENT: Oh Maryland fans, you know, I don’t hate your team. Not as much as I hate Carolina. Growing up a Duke fan, I always saw UNC as that perfect older brother. He was good looking, athletic, he had more friends and Dad loved him a lot more. Maryland though, was like your little red-headed step brother. He was cute at times, but really he was just annoying, following you around, trying to be like you. So when you guys got good and even won a title in 2002, I at least respected you.

Recently though, you’re starting to disappoint me again. Let me explain why. You see, a few weeks ago, you beat North Carolina. It was a great game, a great win and yeah, I know they’re ranked and you’ll probably be back in the NIT, but the fans storming the court, really? If this was the only time, I’d be fine with it. Everyone gets emotional, but every time you guys beat Duke and/or North Carolina, you storm the freaking court!

Think about it for a second. If 2-13 (in the ACC) Georgia Tech beats North Carolina, THEY can storm the court. The Cavaliers..they can even storm the court. You guys though? Worse yet, Maryland has beaten Carolina seven out of the last twelve times they’ve played. If anything, the Tar Heels should be storming the court, but that won’t happen. No matter how bad Carolina could be and how good Maryland could be, you will never see a Carolina crowd storm the court if they upset the Terps. If you ever want to be treated like one of the big boys, you have to stop acting like a mid-major when you beat the big dogs.

FAVORITE MOMENT: Sorry, this one is personal. Sitting on the court during the Coaches vs. Cancer games at Madison Square Gardens, where I was able to enjoy Gerald Henderson up close and personal.