A couple years ago, the headband was everywhere in college basketball. Along with high socks and sleeveless t-shirts, in it’s time, the headband was a pretty big deal.
Carmelo Anthony and Hakeem Warrick lead the headband-ed Oragemen to the national championship in 2003 over Kansas. The Florida Gators won back-to-back titles in 2006 and 2007 with a headband-ed Corey Brewer winning the 2007 Final Four MOP.
Sadly, the headband is not as popular with the kids these days and we are seeing fewer and fewer. There is, however, a few dedicated top-tier players who sweat enough on the face and head-area to warrant a headband. So I decided that the few that still rock the headband, need a little love.
I know the anticipation is almost to much to handle and you might be sweating just a little bit. Grab yourself a headband, wipe off the forehead and meet the team of players just like you, expect they are much better at basketball.
On any list describing almost everything connected to this season of mens college basketball, you are sure to find Stephen Curry’s name. This 6’2″ junior who that led Davidson within a basket of reaching the 2008 Final Four, is a son of one of the best shooters in NBA history, Dell Curry. And his son is widely recognized as the best shooter in the nation. There is no question he deserves that label, but Curry is mostly known as “only” a pure shooter. But Curry is much more talented than that label indicants.
Many sports types have used the label as ” pure shooter” as an extremely broad description for skinny players who or don’t – or can’t – dunk on a regular basis. Yet, their influence on the game is undeniable.
In recent years, those with the skills to be classified as “pure shooters” have been in high demand. As teams looking for every advantage, the three point line has become more and more important, and teams are designing offenses around those skill players.
Duke alumni, and current Orlando Magic bench warmer, J.J. Redick wore the badge proudly like few others in recent history. He wore it straight to the top of the All-Time ACC Scoring List and multiple Player of the Year Awards his senior season. Yet, he did have an ability – be it a rather limited ability – to put the ball on the floor and then pull up from mid-range. But his best weapon was the “catch and shoot” off of screens and drawing fouls and getting to the foul line.
Their ability to shoot the ball from nearly anywhere on the court is where the comparisons end for Redick and Curry.
After losing senior point guard Jason Richards, Curry was asked to handle the ball and initiate the offense. In his first five games running the offense Curry is averaging 7.8 assists and 35 points per game.
Granted, this is only the beginning of the season, but it shows he is capable. Remember, we have seen it before in very important games played in March against the best teams in the country.
Since Bobby Knight has joined ESPN and does commentary on a regular basis, he has made a couple statements that I actually agree with – really. In Mondays game with Syracuse and Florida, Knight made a comment about how the “pump-fake is the greatest offense weapon”. Why would he say that and why does it matter in this article?
If you are a defender and your assignment is Curry, your suicide mission is to limit his looks from deep. So every time Curry even looks in the general vicinity of the basket, you are off your feet and swatting like you are engulfed by killer bees.
Now Curry can do two things: If he hasn’t used his dribble, he can dribble to an open shot or if he has picked-up his dribble he can: try to get the shot off or stay on the floor a split second, rise-up into the your flailing body and then go the foul line where he is shooting 91 percent. Easy points.
Of Curry’s 175 points he has scored this season, 40 of them are free-throws. His scoring average drops to a mortal-like 27 ppg if you take those 40 points away. In Redick’s career at Duke he made a total of 652 free throws, only missing 64 combined. If you take away those free throw, Redick’s career scoring averages goes from 19.9 to 15.1 per game.
Ultimately, each player is unique and both Redick and Curry are deadly from distance. But they did find other ways to score and Curry is even more lethal because he has the ball in his hands and defenders become his personal puppet.
Other “Pure shooters”
Tyrese Rice, senior point guard from Boston College, is not afraid to pull the trigger from deep. Yet last season, of the 462 shots he took only 32 percent were threes and he averaged 21 ppg , 5 apg and shot 85 percent from the foul line. Even more impressive than his shot is Rice’s ability to get past defenders, get into the lane and make tough shots in traffic.
Kyle McAlarney, senior shooting guard from Notre Dame, get’s his feet set and his shot off quicker than anyone else outside of Curry. Through the first five games of his senior season, McAlarney averages 17 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds per game and is shooting 50 percent from three point range and 100 percent from the foul line. He has handles the ball more than most off-guards and has a 2.33:1 assist to turnover ratio.
Wayne Ellington, a junior shooting guard from UNC, is smooth. Everything aspect of his game flows nicely to the next. Ellington is a good athlete who is able to stop on a dime, pull up and drain his shot. This season he is shooting 44 percent from distance and his scoring has dipped from 16.6 to 13.5. The scoring average will go back up when he plays more minutes in meaningful games.
Curtis Jerrells, senior point guard from Baylor, took 387 shots last season and only 43 percent were from three point distance. He is a solid ball handler, aggressive and with a quick first step. He is currently averaging 17 points, 7 assists, 3 rebound and shooting 44 percent from distance.
Jon Scheyer, junior shooting guard from Duke, came to Durham right after Redick and was quickly compared to him, even became known as the “poor mans JJ”. He averages 37 percent from distance and shoots 89 percent from the foul line. In Scheyer’s freshmen year, three pointers made-up 59 percent of his total shot attempt. This season they make up only 32 percent and his scoring average is up from 12.2 to 12.5.
Pure Shooters until Proven Otherwise
A.J. Abrams, senior guard from Texas, is a streaky shooter with a quick release. Every season, his scoring average has increased while maintaining career averages of 88 percent from the foul line and 41 percent from distance. Against Notre Dame Abrams shot 9 for 27 from the field and 5 for 17 from deep. But managed to hit clutch shots to make the game close.
Robert Vadan, senior guard/forward from UAB, is another volume scorer who shot 355 three-pointers out of a total of 539 shot attempts. He is stronger and bigger than most “pure shooters”, at 6’5″ and 205 pounds, and is not the most athletic player. Vadon still pulls down 7 rebounds per game along with 19 ppg.
Blake Hoffarber, sophomore guard from Minnesota, is best known for hitting heroic shots in big games. 75 percent of his shot attempts as a freshmen were from three point distance. He did manage to shot 44 percent from the field and 43 percent from the behind the arc. He is a consistent shooter and who is also averaging 5 rebounds per game.
Basketball on the Beach with An Umbrella in Your Drink
When it comes to deciding what preseason tournament to play in, I wonder how difficult that choice must be. You could play in locations you probably already know, scenery that is nothing too exciting, maybe even a little cold. Or you can go to Hawaii. Not much of a choice if you ask me.
Every year the Maui Invitational continues to gives us one really good match—if we are lucky, two. Last night’s marquee matchup featured two highly ranked teams in No. 7 Texas losing to No. 8 Notre Dame 80-81. Each team has its All-American players, but only one school played like a team.
Luke Harangody is a beast on the block who finished with 29 points and 13 rebounds. Texas did not have a player on their roster that could match him. The Longhorns started with 6’10”, 299-pound center Dexter Pittman on Harangody. Pittman’s sorry stat line for the game: five minutes, four points, three rebounds, and four fouls.
Now this is why Notre Dame is such a good team. After getting run over by Harangody, you now have Kyle McAlarney and the rest of the Fighting Irish shooting 46 percent from distance.
From the tip-off, Notre Dame looked more comfortable in their offense. When they needed a bucket, the team knew who needed the ball in what position on the court. Meanwhile, Texas looked sloppy and very unorganized in their efforts.
Their defense has been top-notch, but the major problem spot for the Longhorns is their offense, more specifically at point guard. A.J. Abrams is supposed to be the man for the job, but he finished with zero assists while Justin Mason led the team with seven. I think Mason is the single most important player in a Longhorn uniform.
Abrams shot 9-27 from the field. 27 shots, are you serious? But with all the struggles Abrams and the Longhorns are going through, they were only six inches from winning the game when Abrams’ last-second shot hit the front of the iron.
Jonny Flynn has arrived. Flynn endured a rough freshman year, when Syracuse asked a little too much of the 6’0″ point guard, but now he has led Syracuse to wins over two ranked teams in two days.
After beating No. 18 Florida on Monday, Syracuse needed overtime to drive the point home against the defending champion and 23rd-ranked Kansas Jayhawks 89-81 in the Championship game of the CBE Classic.
To further the theme of team, if you were to compare the Orange from last season to this season, you would see a bunch of individuals who turned into a team. Granted, injuries and inexperience were a big part of the chaos that was the 2007-08 season.
Even losing freshman Donte Greene was a blessing in disguise. Greene was never able to buy into the college game and was only looking to create a highlight reel for draft day.
Syracuse showed a handful of things in the CBE Classic. First, the Big East is by far the deepest conference in the country. Second, the Orange are a solid team with only a few weak spots that can be improved on. Third, they will be in the top 25 come Monday. Last, Flynn has taken over the leadership role for Jim Boeheim.
Flynn looked in control of the offense, and he affects every aspect of this team. He is scoring 21 points per game, dishing out five assists, two rebounds, two steals, and shooting 46 percent from three-point range. He has climbed my All-American list from not appearing on any team in the preseason to my second team.
And he still rocks the headband!
Texas Tech pulled back the offense and only scored 74 in beating Southeastern Louisiana after scoring 167 against East Central. Apparently they only play teams with two directions in the school name.
North Dakota State’s Ben Woodside scored 29 against Northern Arizona in a game where the Phoenix Suns had a scout drive two hours to look at Woodside.
Finally Sam Young decided to play and scored 33 points, shooting 12-17 and grabbing seven rebounds in No. 4 Pitt’s win over powerhouse Belmont.
Stephen Curry scored 0 points and Davidson beat Loyola (MD) 78-48! Yes, you are not going insane—it actually happened. Loyola ran the triangle and two, and Curry sat in the corner, letting the rest of his team play four against three.
There was enough college basketball played last night, and shown on television, to last a solid month. There were great matchups, and there were complete lopsided affairs. Here are my highlights of all things that matter from a night of true college basketball bliss.
Stephen Curry is sick. Blake Griffin is also sick. The flu, it’s going around. Curry went for 44 points and Griffin went for 25 points and 21 rebounds, and the game was exciting. In typical Davidson fashion, they pulled closer in the last couple of minutes.
But here is the truly sick part: Curry and Davidson could have played much better. Look out. And those of you who say Curry is only a shooter are dead wrong. He is primarily a shooter, but the guy can handle and get to the basket.
Two sets of brothers played yesterday. Three brothers all played in the game featuring No. 14 Oklahoma against No. 21 Davidson: Blake and Taylor Griffin for Oklahoma and Stephen Curry for Davidson—in case you forgot from three sentences ago.
Early in the day, Stephen’s younger brother Seth Curry started for Liberty and scored 18 points. Stephen had 17 points with six minutes left in the first half. Both of the Curry kids wear number 30.
Worst Jersey on Television?
Kentucky. Sorry, but it is one step away from going back to the mid-’90s—and just the thought of anything “mid-’90s” makes me throw up a little in my mouth.
Apparently Tyler Hansbrough should have gone to the NBA, or he should just sit out the whole year. Sorry, the Blue Devil on my shoulder told me to say that. Deon Thompson played 29 minutes, scored 20 points, and had nine rebounds—seven offensive. His matchup with Kentucky’s Patrick Patterson was a
wash—he scored 20 and grabbed 11 rebounds.
The interesting stat for me is that Danny Green started and played 28 minutes and only scored six points. Maybe he danced too much before the game and wore himself out, because it definitely could not have been Kentucky’s defense—they let VMI score 111 points.
After further review and a closer examination, the jerseys were not that bad. The defense, however, still made me throw up in my mouth.
Four Inches and 28 points
Four inches is the amount of Boston College’s Tyrese Rice’s leg you can see between the bottom of his shorts and his socks. I might be over estimating—it was probably less. Rice dropped 28 points on St. John’s, shooting 8 for 12 from the floor and 10 for 13 from the foul line. BC also had two others in double figures, Joe Trapani with 19 and Rakim Sanders with 12.
The hardest hitting play of the game came in the second half when St. John’s guard Malik Boothe dove into press row and gave a solid forearm to ESPN’s Sean McDonough’s forehead and then flew into Bill Raftery. The announcers milked it for the rest of the game.
No. 10 Purdue beat Loyola (IL) 78-46 with five different players scoring in double figures—three starters and two off the bench. E’Twaun Moore lead the team with 14 points and had seven rebounds. Robbie Hummel added 13, going 5 for 5 from the foul line and shooting 2 for 3 from distance.
This team Purdue team is more athletic and more complete then I remember—and their crowd looked tough in all black.
Even with guard Tweety Carter out for the game, Baylor still had three guards score at least 14 points. The team shot 64 percent from the floor and 47 percent from three. The team was led by Curtis Jerrells with 20 points and eight assists. He is my new favorite player named Curtis.
There is a strong feeling that many people are not buying into the Bears and their style of play. The supposed fault is that they do not commit to defense, but Baylor held the Gentlemen to only 20 points in the first half and then completely stopped playing defense and allowed 35 in the second.
Baylor also has the most talented, wealthiest, and best-known student manager in the country. Former NBA player David Wesley attended Baylor but came up short of his degree. He recently went back to fulfill his promise to his mother and is now getting towels and water for Baylor.
Tulane Wrangled by Longhorns
The Texas Longhorns beat the Tulane Green Wave 76-51. Texas had five players scoring in double figures while holding the Green Wave to 31 percent shooting. Here is a great stat about the team’s defense from www.texassports.com:
“Texas is 153-14 in the Coach Barnes era when holding its opponent under 40 percent FG shooting.”
Most Hyped Team
Connecticut Huskies—and they did not even play. I have them ranked in my top five, and I am starting to wonder why.
Wisconsin scored 88 points, so you know SIU Edwardsville must be horrible.
Best Basketball Name
Richmond Center Josh Duinker—pronounced Dunker.
Highest Scoring Team
North Dakota State Bison—scored 128 points against Mayville State. NDSU beat Wisconsin a couple seasons ago. Had to say it.
Most Improved Team After Last Night
Memphis Tigers. Overall No. 1 recruit Xavier Henry committed to Memphis. Upgrade!
Like every good College Basketball Fan, I am obligated to have an opinon on the ranking of the top 25 teams in the country. First, check out the Bleacher Report 25 Poll. A handful of us writers send our picks into Jameson Fleming and he compiled all the info. Second, here is my current rankings. I have made a few changes since then.
Freshmen of the Year: Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest
All-ACC First Team
G Ty Lawson, UNC
G Jack McClinton, Miami
G James Johnson, Wake Forest
F Gerald Hernderson, Duke
C Tyler Hansbrough, UNC
All-ACC Second Team G Tyrese Rice, Boston College
G K.C. Rivers, Clemson
G Wayne Ellingson, UNC
F Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest
F Kyle Singler, Duke
G Jon Scheyer, Duke, F Danny Green, UNC, G James Dews, Miami, G Greivis Vasquez, Maryland, F Rakim Sanders, BC, G Lewis Clinch, GT, F Trevor Booker and G Terrance Oglesby, Clemson, G A.D. Vassallo and F Jeff Allen, VT
1. UNC #1 on Bleacher Report top 25
2. Duke #8
3. Miami #17
5. Wake Forest #22
6. Virginia Tech
7. Georgia Tech
8. Boston College
10. North Carolina Sate
11. Florida State
Conference Rank: 1 North Carolina Tarheels
Head Coach: Roy Williams
2007-08 Recap: 36-3 (14-2 ACC)
Key Losses: C 6’9” Alex Stepheson, G 6’3” Quentin Thomas
Key Additions: G 6’1” Larry Drew, F 6’10” Ed Davis, C 7’0” Tyler Zeller
G Ty Lawson 5‘11” Jr. 12.7 ppg, 5.2 apg
G Wayne Wllingson 6’4” Jr. 16.6 ppg, 4.5 apg
F Marcus Ginyard 6‘4” Sr. 6.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg
F Deon Thompson 6’8” So. 8.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg
F Tyler Hansbourgh 6’9” Sr. 22.6 ppg, 10.2 rpg
Tyler Hansbourgh came back to complete the mission. After winning every award and it being announced that his jersey will be retired at UNC, Hansbourgh could cement himself as one of the greatest college players ever.
Even at only 5’11”, there is no more important player on this team then Ty Lawson. While Hansbourgh gets the accolades, it is Lawson that drives this team. When he was out a handful of games last season, UNC looked slow and uncomfortable in their offense.
Smooth shooter Wayne Ellingson is the Tarheel’s first option on the perimeter. While shooting over 40 percent from behind the arc, Ellington will have to focus on defensive.
Marcus Ginyard is the defensive stopper and has guard most players from point to power forward.
The Tarheels are expecting improvement from Deon Thompson. After Alex Stepheson transferred, Thompson’s play must become more consistent.
Sixth man extraordinaire, Danny Green even though he is the only player off the bench that provides double digit scoring, it is his hustle and defense are what make him a Carolina favorite.
In the backcourt the Tarheels have experience at back-up in Bobby Frasier and we should see Larry Drew III as the “point guard in training” to replace Lawson when he leaves.
The freshmen forwards each have their specialty; Ed Davis is the rebounder and Tyler Zeller is the shooter. They bring in added height and depth to a rather short frontcourt.
Roy Williams has to be pacing in anticipation of the 2008-09 season. The Tarheels roster is stuffed full of talent and the expectations are higher that they have been since Williams has been on the UNC bench.
If there is a weakness one this team, it is that they are not a very tall team. There two tallest players are incoming freshmen Davis and Zeller, neither are going to be expected to add much more than five fouls and garbage time. Drew could see some time if Lawson gets hurt.
The only thing that could keep the Tarheels from bring the championship back to Raleigh would be injury – and a couple good teams!
Conference Rank: 2
Duke Blue Devils
Head Coach: Mike Krzyzewski
2007-08 Recap: 28-6 (13-3 ACC)
Key Losses: G 6’4” DeMarcus Nelson, F 6’6” Taylor King
Key Additions: G 6’4” Elliot Williams, F 6’1” Miles Plumlee, F 6’8” Olek Cryz
G Nolen Smith 6‘2” So. 5.9 ppg, 1.3 apg
G Jon Scheyer 6’5” Jr. 11.7 ppg, 2.4 apg
G Gerald Henderson 6‘4” So. 12.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg
F Kyle singler 6’8” So. 13.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg
F Lance Thomas 6’8” Jr. 4.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg
At 6’4” he is the Duke player the takes the jump ball at tip-off. Gerald Henderson is a phenomenal athlete, and his basketball game is finally catching-up. At times he is flash of the best player in the ACC and then other moments he is completely invisible. Henderson must find a personal comprise and also find ways, in the offense, to get his shots.
Sophomore guard Nolen Smith was declared the started my Coach K just a couple weeks ago. Smith is a budding offensive threat and a much better defender than people give him credit.
After living in the sixth man role for two years, Jon Scheyer gets the chance in the starting line-up. When he first came to Durham he was known as a distance shooter, but his game has evolved and is really a threat from anywhere on the floor.
Kyle Singler added twenty pounds of muscle to his wiry frame, which should help in the post. Teams must be track of him everywhere he goes on the court. He is a solid post scorer, good outside shooter, and is the main weapon in the screen and pop. His defense will be an issue as he will be match-up with bigger post players, depending on how is in the line-up for Duke.
The second forward or center spot is a tossup right now. Lance Thomas started last season, but he very well could be plucked from the line-up for 6’10” Miles Plumlee or 7’1” Brian Zoubek. No matter the decision, the three of them will be need for added muscle along with David McClure. Olek Cryz can get off the floor and thinks every shot should be a dunk.
Greg Paulus is going to play his begin his senior off the bench after starting since his freshmen year. Don’t let this fool you, he will split minutes with Smith and whoever is having the better game, will be in at the end. He is deadly from distance and is the most experienced player on the roster.
McDonald’s All-American Elliot Williams is explosive. He has the handle off a point guard and is not afraid to get to the basket. Finding him minutes is a must, but where. This season he will back-up Scheyer and Henderson – and then next season start in place of Henderson.
Since Josh McRoberts left a few seasons ago, Duke has been thin on the front line. But this season, Coach K actually has options. While all the offense will flow through Singler, there are many bodies to help with defense and rebounding.
Even though Duke lives by the three, the new distance will not hurt them. Most of their guys stood five feet behind the old line.
Caoch K will have this team play is signature pressure defense and but will look to find different ways to get all the players to their full potential on offense.
Conference Rank: 3 Miami Hurricanes
Head Coach: Frank Haith
2007-08 Recap: 23-11 (13-3 ACC)
Key Losses: C 6’9” Anthony King, F 6’7” Raymond Hicks
Key Additions: F 6‘6” Fr. DeQuan Jones, F 6‘9” Fr. Cyrus McGowan
G Lance Hudle 6‘2” Sr. 8.0 ppg, 2.4 apg
G Jack McClinton 6’2” Sr. 17.7 ppg, 2.6 apg
G James Dews 6‘3” So. 10.3 ppg, 2.9 rpg
F Brian Asbury 6’7” Sr. 8.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg
F/C Dwayne Collins 6’9” Jr. 8.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg
Who was the biggest impact player in the ACC not playing for a team in the Carolinas? That would be Jack McClinton. 6’1” he is a major threat from deep, is very capable of getting to the foul line and then shooting over 91 percent when he gets there, and is confident in the clutch. After considering jumping the NBA, McClinton came back to Miami and his stock should rise, along with the amount of wins for this team.
Super quick point guard Lance Hurdle is one of four key seniors on this team. Along with McClinton the offense starts with Hurdle. Hurdle must improve on his ability to deliver passes to the open shooter. Averaging only 2.4 apg with scorers like McClinton and James Dews, is ridiculous. Hurdle needs to connect to the rest of the offense in the natural flow of the offense to get easy and open shots.
James Dews is the last guard in this three-headed monster. He also shots over 90 percent from the foul line and 40 percent from the field. While he might have the stats of McClinton, he must elevate his game if this team wants to succeed.
Brain Asbury, another experienced senior for the Canes, should start at the beginning of the season. But Asbury has sixth man written all over him for the long of the season.
At 6’9”, Dwayne Collins is one of three players at that height. The Canes are not tall, but they take up space. He is a tough defender, great leaper, solid rebounder – especially on the offensive end – and can score on the block.
Arkansas transfer Cyrus McGowan is the most likely new face to compete for a starting spot.
Sophomore guard Eddie Rios is a starter in training and is a stellar ball-handler to take over next season
McQuan Jones will see plenty of playing time at the 3 spot. He is a very talented recruit and is the cornerstone for the future.
When would you have thought that the University of Miami would have a basketball team that has higher expectations that is football team?
Coach Haith knows that he is about to turn Miami from a cellar dweller to a top five ACC program.
Miami has talented pieces on offense, but it was their defense that was second in the ACC. If they can keep that a focus while getting a lift from the newcomers to the roster, this team should be ranked all season and make some of those Carolina teams very upset.
3. Miami 4. Clemson
5. Wake Forrest
6. Virginia Tech
7. Georgia Tech
8. Boston College
10. North Carolina Sate
11. Florida State
Conference Rank: 4 Clemson Tigers
Head Coach: Oliver Purnell
2007-08 Recap: 24-10 (4-12 ACC)
Key Losses: G 6‘3” Cliff Hammonds, F 6’8” James Mays, F 6’5” Sam Perry
Key Additions: G 5‘9” Fr. Andre Young, C 7‘1” Fr. CatalinBaciu, G/F 6’5” Fr. Tanner Smith, F 6’6” Bryan Narcisse
Starting Line-up G DemontezStitt 6‘2” So. 8.8ppg, 3.0 apg
G Terrance Oglesby 6’2” So. 10.5 ppg, 1.8 rpg
F K.C. Rivers 6‘5” Sr. 14.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg
F Trevor Booker 6’7” Jr. 11 ppg, 7.3 rpg
C Raymond Sykes 6’9” Sr. 4.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg
K.C. Rivers showed his capable of doing everything. While leading the team in scoring, he was second on the team in rebounding and assists per game. He will take over leadership for the Tigers and should compete for All-ACC accolades.
Super quick sophomore DemontezStitt, showed he can handle ACC competition in his freshmen year. Not only can he find open looks for others, he will get to the basket with ease when needed.
Long distance bomber Terrance Oglesby, showed he can make the big shots. After scoring 24.4 ppg with the Under 20 Norwegian National team this summer, he has dual citizenship, in his second year he will to bring that scoring average aboard and evolve his game to be dangerous from anywhere on the court, not just behind the three point line.
Trevor Booker will not have James Mays to keep teams from double teaming in the post, but Booker will still be the primary post presence. His scoring average should go up and Booker should up with quite a few double doubles.
Senior Raymond Sykes will not be a scoring threat like Booker. He will be needed to block shots, crash the boards and throw down the occasional lob pass. Sykes has exceptional jumping ability.
Incoming freshmen will be slotted into back-up roles. Andre Young is an outstanding shooter from distance and was a Top-100 recruit out of high school.
Offense can wait for CatalinBaciu, but his shot blocking will be felt immediately and Jerai Grant will continue to develop and see more minutes.
What a year for the Clemson Tigers. They finished the regular season in third place in the ACC, beat Duke in the ACC tournament and lost to UNC by only five points in the championship game.
So what does Clemson do to continue the success? Shoot better from the free throw line. As a team they shot only 62 percent from the charity stripe-only three players shot over 70 percent from the line-while shooting 37 percent from three. Improving in both would likely lock-up at least two more wins. This team has quality options on offense, they have good post play and great perimeter shooters.
The major question is on defense. Last season the Tigers outscored their opponents’ 79-69 and out rebounded them by only two rebounds per game. Look for Clemson to try to outscore they other team, not shut them down.
The Tigers will again compete to play in the ACC tournament championship game while making a push to the top on the regular season.
Conference Rank: 5
Wake Forrest Demon Deacons
Head Coach: Dino Gaudio
2007-08 Recap: 17-13 (7-9 ACC)
Key Losses: None
Key Additions: F 6‘8” Fr. Al-FarouqAminu, C 7‘0” Fr. Ty Walker, F 6’10” Fr. Tony Woods
Starting Line-up G Ishmael Smith 6‘0” Jr. 8.6 ppg, 4.7 apg
G Jeff Teague 6’2” So. 13.9 ppg, 2.5 rpg
F Al-FarouqAminu 6‘9” Fr. 23.1 ppg, 11.2 rpg*High School Stats F James Johnson 6’8” So. 14.6 ppg, 8.1 rpg
C Chas McFarland 7’0” Jr. 8.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg
While the Demon Deacons have a top five recruiting class, this team is still James Johnson’s. Johnson is an elite athlete who is extremely versatile, but this team extremely talented and his averages could dip as the shots will be more spread through out the team. But in the clutch, the ball will be in his hands.
Point guard Ishmael Smith’s free throw shooting is a well documented liability. Shooting 29 percent from the charity stripe and 43 from the field is unbelievable as a back court player. He is a pass first point guard who has a ton of talent that needs their shots.
Jeff Teague is a scorer and got better in conference play. He was the only double figure scorer from last season and he Smith compliment each other very well.
Stud freshmen Al-FarouqAminu will have high expectations, but he will be giving sometime to grow. He is a skill player who is very quick off the floor.
There is not shortage of centers on this team. But Chas McFarland saw his numbers and minutes jump under Gaudio. But he will be challenged for the starting spot by freshmen Tony Woods and Ty Walker.
Both are top-notch defenders with shot blocking ability, but their offense games need improvement. But they will see plenty of time off the bench.
6’4” guard L.D. Williams is the best perimeter defender and will get many chances to shut down players.
Harvey Hale played 23 minutes a game last season. His minutes might depend on who steady Smith is able to play.
FORECAST This team is very tough to feel out. The Demon Deacons are obviously talented, but how are they as a team?
The team has depth and height in the frontcourt, but finding a rotation would a problem most coaches would like to have. Yet it is a problem. With three impact freshmen and a player in Johnson who will complete for Player of the Year honors, minutes could be hard to find.
The Demon Deacons are on their way to the top of the ACC and I really think they could end up any where from second to 7 in the conference. Ultimately, they are too talented to finish in the bottom half and will bring tough games to every team.
Conference Rank: 6
Virginia Tech Hokies
Head Coach: Seth Greenberg
2007-08 Recap: 21-14 (9-7 ACC)
Key Losses: F 6’7” Deron Washington
Key Additions: F 6‘9” Fr. Victor Davila, C 6‘11” Fr. Gene Swindle
Starting Line-up G Malcolm Delaney 6‘3” So. 9.6 ppg, 3.1 apg
G A.D. Vassallo 6’6” Sr. 16.9 ppg, 4.6 rpg
F J.T. Thompson 6‘6” So. 5.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg
F Jeff Allen 6’7” So. 11.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg
C CheickDiakite 6’9” Sr. 1.9 ppg, 2.7 rpg
It is now of never for A.D. Vassallo. This team will need him to take the leadership role and continue to expend his scoring role. At 6’6” Vassallo is a match-up problem for most guards in the ACC. He is a volume scorer and how is dangerous behind the arc.
Malcolm Delaney is the third option in this offense, but he might be the most important. He was the Hokies best shooter from distance shooting 40 percent last season.
The second wing spot could go to a number of players, but J.T. Thompson adds hustle and takes up space. He will never get shots in the offense, but should get some buckets cleaning-up.
Jeff Allen had a freshmen season filled up moments of good and bad. The good was his offensive production. The bad was his weight and a suspension after make contact with an official. Coach Greenberg has been hard on him regarding his conditioning but that should improve and so will Allen’s numbers.
Multiply players could step in at center, and while he lacks an offensive game, the defense of CheickDiakite is what is needed.
Freshmen Victor Davila figures to battle for the starting center spot. Having played for the PuertoRican national team, he game is more sophisticated than most incoming freshmen.
Hank Thorns and Derenzo Hudson will make-up the backcourt support for the Hokies.
Jeff Greenberg will not have the most athletic team in the ACC, but has some very good “basketball” pieces. He just has to complete the puzzle, by finding the right mix if players.
Where this team finishes in the ACC will depend heavily on how consistent Vassallo and Allen can play. There are not a lot of offense options on this team, but there are plenty of bodies to help out defensively.
Virginia Tech lost one of the best pure athletes in Deron Washington, but did not do much to replace him.
The concern will not only be finding another double figure scorer, but replacing all the other aspects of the game where Washington contributed, especially on defense.
Last season Virginia Tech had the best scoring defense in the ACC and if they want to win and play in March, they must repeat the feat.