ACC notes: Irish, ‘Noles highlight hectic opening week
What would an opening weekend in ACC play be without some upsets and unexpected victories?
And we got plenty of those, with Duke losing at Notre Dame, North Carolina losing at Wake Forest, and Florida State losing at home to Virginia.
Also, all three new additions to the league — Syracuse, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh — won its openers, while all three Tobacco Road teams (UNC, Duke and N.C. State) lost their openers for the first time ever. It was just the second time in ACC history the Blue Devils and Tar Heels both started 0-1 in the conference (1994-95 season).
The moral of the story? Expect the unexpected this season.
Lamar Patterson, Pittsburgh: This stat-stuffing senior continued his fantastic season in two games, averaging 18.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 0.5 blocks in 36 minutes a game. He was spectacular in the win at N.C. State, with 22 points to go with eight rebounds, six assists and two steals. Pitt has some other nice pieces, but Patterson is the straw that stirs the Panthers’ drink.
T.J. Warren, N.C. State: Oh, just another week in the life of Warren, perhaps the conference’s best scorer averaged 23.5 points in 35.5 minutes per game (along with 8.5 rebounds). He didn’t shoot particularly well (45 percent), but considering the way opposing defenses have concentrated on him, it’s certainly excusable.
Rodney Hood, Duke: Prior to the season, Coach K said the Devils offense would run through star freshman Jabari Parker and Hood. But Hood hasn’t been as much of a factor after the first handful of games — until this week, when he averaged 20 points in two games, including 27 at Notre Dame on a night when Parker struggled.
Hood kept Duke in that game, and his offensive resurgence is certainly good news for the Blue Devils.
Eric Atkins, Notre Dame: Someone had to step up with the loss of Jerian Grant. Notre Dame’ssenior point guard has done that, averaging 24.5 points in the two games without him and scoring a team-high 19 in the home upset of Duke.
Atkins got to the basket at will, and when he wasn’t scoring, he was dishing out assists. He had 11 against the Blue Devils and averagred 9.0 in the two games without Grant. If he can continue to be this good, no reason the Irish can’t have a pretty good season in ACC play, all things considered.
Nick Faust, Maryland: Considering Maryland’s mercurial junior guard has been a #goacc Player of the Week contender more often than not, his turnaround in the last few games has been impressive.
In the two games for Maryland last week — both wins — he averaged 17.5 points in 25.5 minutes on 11 of 19 shooting, adding 6.0 rebounds and just 2.0 turnovers. When Faust plays like that, Maryland can hang with almost anyone. But when he’s not shooting well and turning it over, well, the Terps will struggle. But he can make them special.
Pat Connaughton (Notre Dame) had 16 points in the win over Duke, including a thunderous posterization of Duke star Jabari Parker. He also tallied eight rebounds and five assists in 37 minutes.
Jordan Roper (Clemson) averaged 17 points in two Clemson wins last week on 50 percent shooting to go with 4.5 rebounds in just 25.5 minutes.
C.J. Fair (Syracuse) is still struggling to find his shot but averaged 14 points and 7.0 rebounds in two Syracuse wins.
James Michael McAdoo (UNC) had a hard time at Wake Forest holding on to the ball but still averaged 18 points and 9.0 rebounds in two games and shot 66.7 percent from the field.
Travis McKie (Wake Forest) has not been his consistent self lately, but the senior got back on track against UNC with 16 points (his most since Dec. 17) on 7 of 11 shooting.
The ‘I See You Working’ Team of the Week
Pittsburgh: The Panthers aren’t ranked in spite of a 13-1 record, but if they keep playing this way, they’ll be soon. The highest-ranked team Pitt has beaten, according to Ken Pom, is No. 57 Stanford (Pom has Pitt No. 8, by the way), but they dominated the Cardinal.
And they’ve dominated almost everyone this year, the latest victim being a young and talented N.C. State squad. Pitt simply took the Wolfpack’s heart and soul away in a way that you don’t often see, and the Panthers lived up to their billing as a tough-minded, scrappy team.
(Honorable mention to a Miami team that lost basically all of its ACC Championship roster from a year ago, yet never gives up in a game and gave a top-10 Syracuse team all it could handle, even in a hostile road environment.)
ACC Win of the Week
Notre Dame over No. 7 Duke, 79-77. It was just Notre Dame’s second game without Jerian Grant, and in the first, the Irish needed overtime to put away Canisius. Even with Grant, they had been disappointing.
Somehow, head coach Mike Brey rallied his team and figured something out, shutting down Duke’s Parker in the process and becoming the first former Coach K assistant to knock off the mentor.
The league is not so stacked that the Irish couldn’t fight for a top 4-6 spot (in-conference) if they keep playing this way and still have plenty of experience on that roster, even if it isn’t very deep.
#goacc Team of the Week: Florida State
It pains me to pick the upstart Seminoles for this (dis)honor, but they had been playing so well in the non-conference that to come out against Virginia and essentially get dominated like they did was disappointing. They turned it over on nearly a quarter of their possessions and picked up 28 fouls in the process. And this was at home against a Virginia team that had just been beaten by about 30 points at Tennessee.
#goacc Player of the Week: Ian Miller, Florida State
It’s rare that a guy who has 21 points in two games would win this award, but he played 57 minutes and turned the ball over 12 times. He’s a senior and supposedly at full health now, and his stat line against Virginia especially — seven turnovers and five fouls in 28 minutes, with 2-of-8 shooting — was inexplicable.
In two games last week, he played five minutes in each and missed his only shot attempt, getting one rebound and committing two turnovers.
**Solomon Poole (Georgia Tech) really makes his minutes count. He saw just nine at Maryland, but took six shots (making two) and had a foul and two turnovers.
**Leslie McDonald (UNC) had nine points in the loss at Wake but shot just 3-of-13 and added three fouls and three turnovers.
**Ryan Anderson (Boston College) had been one of the more dependable options for the disappointing Eagles, but he had 13 points on 2 of 10 shooting at Clemson, along with one foul and six turnovers.