ACC Roundup: Disappointing losses, great individual performances and more
There was a lot of talk about the new-look ACC being the best conference ever, and that dominance starts right about … now. Or … maybe now.
Um … can we get a do-over?
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The ACC has had better weeks, even before its recent round of expansion. And better Sundays, for that matter. Two of the league’s ranked teams fell to mid-major conference foes, and both at home. No. 12 North Carolina lost to Belmont on a late 3-pointer, while No. 21 Notre Dame lost to Indiana State by 13. And Maryland lost at home to Oregon State, a team that lost its opening game of the season to Coppin State. Yikes.
While the non-conference results to date haven’t been horrible, they haven’t been great, either. Unless you’re counting the ACC versus the SEC, which got a huge boost this week thanks to Clemson’s win over South Carolina and Georgia Tech’s win at Georgia. Undefeated against the SEC, baby! Let’s start that A-C-C chant now!
If we’re counting the AAC is a major conference, the ACC is 4-5 against the major leagues, including 1-2 against the AAC. But the problem is the other losses — the two to the Atlantic-10 aren’t so bad and the losses to Indiana State (Missouri Valley) and Belmont (Ohio Valley) aren’t awful, either.
But the losses to USC Upstate (Atlantic Sun), St. Francis Brooklyn (Northeast Conference) and Toledo (MAC) aren’t very good. The St. Francis Brooklyn one is particularly egregious, since that was last year’s ACC Champion, Miami. The Hurricanes are rebuilding, but come on. Still, there has been some good to point out so far. Most notably, individual performances:
All-ACC Team (Nov. 10-17)
Jabari Parker, Duke: The terrific freshman is only off to the best start by a Duke freshman ever, if you need him. And on his biggest stage to date — the Champions Classic game against Kansas last week — he delivered, scoring 27 points and grabbing nine rebounds. He scored 48 points in 61 minutes of game-time last week in two games, adding 19 rebounds, four assists, four steals and two blocks. Oh, and he shot 8-of-13 from three. Parker is scary, scary good.
Rodney Hood, Duke: Adding the caveat that I’d like to see if Hood can have a great game outside Cameron Indoor Stadium, he’s been sensational inside its friendly confines, scoring 50 points in 59 minutes on 17-of-21 shooting at home. He struggled some against Kansas, though, with just 11 points (he did have five assists). But there are plenty of reasons to believe he’ll be just fine against elite-level competition and that the Kansas game was an aberration. My eyes, for one, would be reason enough.
C.J. Fair, Syracuse His competition wasn’t the best — Fordham and Colgate — but he averaged 23 points on 18-of-34 shooting in two games this week, adding 13 rebounds and four steals. Fair isn’t shooting all that well from three-point range so far (30.8 percent), but he’s shooting over 53 percent overall this year, and he’s a scoring machine. In spite of the impressive play of Duke’s stars early this year, Fair has made sure he stays right in the mix for postseason awards.
Olivier Hanlan, Boston College: BC is 1-3, yes, but not because of Hanlan. He’s averaging 24.5 points in 33 minutes a game and shooting 50 percent from the floor (41.7 percent from 3-point range), and he’s getting to the line an average of 11 times a game. In this week’s three games, he averaged 25 points, capping it off with a 38-point effort (in 37 minutes) against Florida Atlantic. He was limited by foul trouble in two of BC’s first three losses, and he didn’t get called for a foul at all in the Florida Atlantic game, which is a nice improvement. And he made a season-high four 3-pointers (on ten attempts, but who’s counting?).
Donnavan Kirk, Miami: Again, this is just an All-ACC team for this week only. And this week, Kirk — a transfer from DePaul — arguably has helped save Miami’s season in the early going, averaging 16.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.0 blocks and 1.5 steals in two games (both wins) for the Hurricanes. After losing Kenny Kadji, Reggie Johnson and Julian Gamble from last year’s ACC Championship team, the ‘Canes desperately needed someone to step up in the frontcourt. Kirk has done a great job, and he’s been consistent, shooting 7-of-13 against Georgia Southern and 7-of-12 against Texas Southern. (Miami should only play teams with “Southern” in their name.) And he’s played a lot — 66 minutes over those two games.
Honorable mentions: T.J. Warren (N.C. State) struggled at Cincinnati (and for him, “struggling” is 13 points), but he bounced back nicely with 23 against Campbell on Saturday. … Lamar Patterson (Pittsburgh) had a rough start to the year, including a 2-of-10 performance against Fresno State on Tuesday, but had a team-high 20 points in 27 minutes against Howard on Sunday (4-of-5 on 3-pointers after not making one in the first two games). … K.J. McDaniels (Clemson) had 21 points and ten rebounds in the Tigers’ 71-57 win over South Carolina. … Codi Miller-McIntyre (Wake Forest) averaged 21.5 points in two wins last week.
Keep an eye out for Florida State’s guards Devon Bookert and Ian Miller, both of whom are finally healthy this year and are each averaging exactly 15.3 points through two games. … Georgia Tech guard Trae Golden (a transfer from Tennessee) had 18 points in the Yellow Jackets’ win over Georgia, and he leads Georgia Tech in scoring (15.3 points per game). … Virginia might be headlined by Joe Harris, but it was Malcolm Brogdon that was the only Cavalier to hit double figures both the VCU loss and Davidson win, averaging 13.5 points in that span. … Ben Emelogu (Virginia Tech), a freshman and team captain, had 22 in the Hokies’ win over West Virginia and 16 against Western Carolina.
The “I See You Working” Team of the Week
Florida State: The Seminoles are 3-0. It might not sound like much, but last year’s FSU team started out with losses to teams like South Alabama, Mercer and Auburn. This year’s bunch has now already beaten Central Florida on the road, and the Seminoles have won all three games by double digits. This isn’t a team that was supposed to do anything this year, but it has some talented pieces and they might just be able to put together a better run than many — including me, for the record – thought.
ACC Win of the Week
Virginia Tech, 87-82 over West Virginia: Not a heck of a lot to choose from here. It was either this, FSU’s win at UCF (and the Seminoles have already been recognized) or Clemson’s win over South Carolina. Still, the Hokies were picked to finish last in the league this year, and it wasn’t particularly close. Beating a bad West Virginia team doesn’t necessarily mean that Virginia Tech is going to finish any higher than that, but after starting the season with a loss to USC Upstate at home, it’s a sign the young Hokies could at least get better throughout this season. Even if that doesn’t add up to a very good win-loss record. (And it probably won’t.)
#goacc* Team of the Week: Maryland
Yes, I know, Notre Dame and North Carolina both lost at home to teams from non-BCS conferences. And yes, I know that both Notre Dame and North Carolina were ranked, while Maryland was not. And Maryland lost to a major-conference opponent, while the other two did not. But the Terps are a year older and have some young talent, and this seemed like the time for them to take the next step. It’s just not happening right now. (Though one mitigating factor is the absence of point guard Seth Allen, which has moved Dez Wells to point, and he’s struggling out of position.)
Boston College gets an honorable mention for going 1-2 this week and 1-3 overall, barely saving an 0-4 start last night by hanging on to beat Florida Atlantic. Both Maryland and BC were teams that many thought could make some noise in the ACC this year. And obviously, both still can. But both have been disappointing so far.
*Just as a primer, if you need to know what #goacc means, search the hashtag on Twitter. And finally…
#goacc Player of the Week: Shaquille Cleare
Maryland’s center is one of its many developing bigs, and by developing, um, yeah, he has a ways to go. At 6-foot-9, 265 pounds, he’s certainly a big body, and he had some nice games last year, particularly on the glass. About that. In two games last week, Cleare played 33 minutes, had three points (on 1-of-2 shooting), five rebounds, no assists, six turnovers and five fouls. He got the start on Sunday against Oregon State, and saw 20 minutes — his most since January of last year — and committed three turnovers, three fouls and scored just two points, all while not helping defend OSU’s Devon Collier, who had 29 and 11. Cleare is a sophomore now, and someone — either he or Charles Mitchell — needs to step up and give head coach Mark Turgeon something consistent down low.
Honorable mention to Cleare’s teammate Nick Faust, who’s had his moments throughout his Terp career. And by moments, I mean flashes of brilliance interspersed between the head-scratching plays. He’s taken a team-high 35 shots this year so far in spite of making making 11 of them, by far the lowest percentage on the team. But good look getting him to stop shooting.
One more honorable mention to UNC’s J.P. Tokoto, who does get kudos for speaking candidly with the media after the Tar Heels’ loss to Belmont on Sunday about his … um … free-throw troubles. And by free-throw troubles, I mean he was 2-of-12 from the line in the first half alone (4-of-16 for the game) and missed eight straight at one point. After scoring 13 in the first game on 5-of-11 shooting with a revamped shooting form, Tokoto was 4-of-15 in two games last week and seems to have reverted back to bad habits. And hey, 4-of-15 is better than his percentage at the foul line on Sunday! So there’s that.