ACC…Not Ready For Primetime


What a brutal start for the Atlantic Coast Conference. Two weeks in and as it stands now, only two teams remain unbeaten. Both Duke and Florida State have tasted only victory, but neither has been challenge, instead starting the season with some cupcakes.

Four teams in the conference have not only dropped one game, but a second game as well. At this pace, I’m not sure the ACC could win a ACC/Mountain West tournament, let along a ACC/Big-10 tournament.


No. 1 DUKE
Not only do the Blue Devils have the best guard combo in the nation (my personal opinion), their two backup guards, Andre Dawkins and Seth Curry, would be better than most back courts.

Coming off the bench, the duo is averaging 26 a game. Dawkins is hitting 50% from the floor, both are hitting 50% from three and Curry actually leads the team in free throw attempts with 18. Good thing too, since he’s hit 17 of those 18 free throws.

The Seminoles are the only other team besides Duke to survive the season’s first pair of weeks. Of course like Duke, they only munched on cupcakes so far. Unlike the Blue Devils though, two of their four wins came on the road.

Prior to the season, there was a ton of talk about Chris Singleton taking the step up from defensive stud to all-everything star. Personally I was unsure he could elevate his offensive game to be stud-like. Four games in, I’m wrong. In fact, Singleton looks like an All-American.

He produced a tripe double on the road against UNC-Greensboro (22 points, 10 rebounds and a stunning 10 steals). Against Gardner Webb, he hit 10 of 11 shots. He’s produced three double-doubles.

Of course we’ll learn what we need to know about Florida State and Chris Singleton when they’ll face back-to-back top-10 teams (#10 Florida, #5 Ohio State) starting next Sunday.

The Hokies really have only lost a half of a basketball and Malcolm Delaney is already in 2009 form, scoring lots of points, living at the free throw line. He’s averaging 21 ppg and he’s second in the ACC in free throw attempts (20).

However, as a team the Hokies have only shot 38%, they are last in assists and are averaging 16 turnovers a game. Worse yet, there isn’t much diversity in their offense. Delaney and Dorenzo Hudson have taken 47 of Tech’s 109 shots. That’s fine against UNC Greensboro, but that will cause problems down the road.

The loss of Tracy Smith is a huge blow and it shouldn’t be underestimated. Still, the Wolfpack managed to pull off two wins without their inside leader, before falling in the second half to an experienced Georgetown team.

So far, senior Javier Gonzalez has been starting at the point for Coach Lowe, but the speedy freshman, Ryan Harrow, actually gets more minutes. The reality is, it is only a matter of time before he officially becomes the starter. He’s State’s top scorer (13.7 ppg) and he has 17 assists to 6 turnovers.

So much for this being a new season for the Tar Heels, as North Carolina dropped their last two in Puerto Rico. Freshman Harrison Barnes, who began the season 13-23 from the floor, is just 4-24 in Carolina’s two defeats. Yet, he’s not the real problem.

The guard play continues to be an issue. Larry Drew II just doesn’t have the ability to make this team run. He’s delivered only 12 assists so far (six of which came in one game) to eight turnovers. Since he’s not a scoring threat (3.3 ppg), then why is Coach Williams wasting his time with him?

Freshman Kendall Marshall has more assists (18 to 12), less turnovers (7 to 8), scoring nearly twice as much (6-7 to 3,3) than Drew.

At the two-guard spot, Dexter Strickland has more turnovers (7) than three-point attempts (3). What kind of shooting guard is that? He also has struggled to get to the charity stripe. He hasn’t shot a free throw in his last two games. Meanwhile, freshman Reggie Bullock averages nearly 10 per game, shooting 46-percent from three. He’s turned it over only twice all season.

You have to believe after this trip to Puerto Rico, Coach Roy Williams has to shake up this lineup, right?

While losing two in New York wasn’t what the Terrapin faithful had wanted, there have been some good signs. Jordan Williams looks like ACC Player of the year (averaging 18/12). Forward Cliff Tucker has also stepped out of the shadows and is taking on a bigger role. He’s already taken 61 shots this year. Prior to his senior year, the most he’s taken is 146 for the entire season.

The problem for Maryland has been on the defensive end. There have been way too many defensive breakdowns and too many open shots allowed. Both Pittsburgh and Illinois managed to hit 46-percent of their shots. Your first instinct is to blame it on a lot of freshman, but the reality is, only Pe’Shon Howard and Terrell Stoglin are logging heavy minutes.

The Eagles have only played two games, so the sample size is small, but Reggie Jackson doesn’t appear to be gun shy. He actually leads the ACC in scoring (23 per game) and is a perfect 11-11 from the free-throw line.

However, the Eagles are dead last in three-point shooting. Take away Jackson’s 4-12, the rest of the team is just 3-38 from long-distance. I’m no math wizard, but that’s eight-percent and that’s ugly.

You see, life is a lot tougher in non-conference when you’re not just playing USC-State. It’s one thing to lose to Memphis. They’re a good team. They’re a ranked team. Rutgers isn’t. The Hurricanes were crushed by the Scarlett Knights. For the game, the Canes made only 14 baskets. Stud guards, Durand Scott and Malcolm Grant scored only eight points. They averaged 30 per game prior to this loss.

Of course the silver lining in all this has to be Reggie Johnson. The 300-pound center has been one of the conferences best big men, when he’s on the court. In only 21 minutes per game, he’s averaging 12 points and 10 rebounds per. He’s produced three double-doubles in four games. He’s also swatted away eight balls on the defensive end.

Through six games, the Tigers have actually found some nice balance. Six players have played at least 20 minutes and all six average between nine and 12 points per game.

The good news is the shots have been falling (at least they were before losing to Old Dominion in the Virgin Islands). The bad news is, rebounding has been an issue. The Tigers have pulled down 30+ rebounds only once all season. In comparison, the Blue Devils have pulled in 43 rebounds twice this season.

For a team that prides itself on defense, the Cavaliers are currently dead last in defensive shooting percentage (giving up nearly 46 percent to their opponents). In their 21-point loss to Johnny Dawkins’ Stanford Cardinals, Virginia let them hit 54-percent of their shots and nearly 57-percent of their threes.

On the offensive end, its clear the Cavaliers are a better team when they work the ball inside to Mike Scott. In their two wins, he hit 13 of 22, averaging 18.5 points per game. In their one defeat, he took only five shots.

The Yellow Jackets actually do have three wins, but they clearly have the ACC’s most embarrassing defeat. They not only lost to Kennesaw State, they got their asses handed to them by Kennesaw State.

Georgia Tech is second in the conference in scoring defense. The problem is, they’re next-to-last in scoring offense. As a team, they are hitting only 38-percent from the floor. Three-point shooting has been a major problem. As a team, they are only hitting 23-percent.

Glen Rice Jr., who hit 46-percent of his threes as a freshman, is struggling in year two. He’s hit just one three in eight attempts on the season. On the flip side though, Iman Shumpert is 8th in scoring in the ACC. While he too his struggling from deep (just 28.6-percent), he’s gotten to the line 29 times.

Well, we all knew there were going to be some growing pains. With three freshman starting for the Demon Deacons, the reality is, this team will lose a lot of games this year.

If you want something positive to think about, then let’s talk about those freshman. In Coach Jeff Bzdelik’s current-nine man rotation, five of them are freshman (plus two sophomores). So far, the freshman have accepted the extra weight on their shoulders and have responded well. Freshman Travis McKie is the highest scoring freshman. His 15.8 points per game is actually 7th best in the conference. His fellow freshman teammate, J.T. Terrell is pouring in just under 14 per game.