ACC Roundup: Expanded league made proud by new members
The ACC went 23-8 this week and four teams wrapped up or won the Thanksgiving tournaments, including Syracuse winning the Maui Invitational. Even some of the teams that didn’t win, like Florida State falling by one at Florida or Wake Forest giving Kansas a game, had nice showings for the league.
And all that happened during a four-day span when Duke, North Carolina and Wake Forest combined to go 3-4. That’s not too shabby. The rest of the league is pulling its weight, aided most notably by the new members (Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Notre Dame went a combined 7-0).
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With the ACC-Big Ten Challenge looming this week, there’s no telling what kind of head-scratching moments lie ahead. But for now, the league can breathe a sigh of relief that no one noticed Georgia Tech’s consecutive losses to Ole Miss and St. John’s, since the latter happened during the Iron Bowl. And maybe fewer still noticed UNC’s loss at UAB, since it was on a Sunday night while the Broncos-Chiefs game was winding down.
If it’s still football season, does it really count? I say only when convenient for the ACC.
All-ACC Team (Nov. 25-Dec. 1)
Lamar Patterson, Pittsburgh: The redshirt senior has been a solid all-around player for Pitt throughout his career, but he’s really taking off this season. As Pitt won the Progressive Legends Classic and then beat Duquesne, Patterson averaged 21.7 points on 56.8 percent shooting (including making 8-of-17 3-pointers), adding 4.7 rebounds, 5.3 assists, four steals and nearly a block per game. And in his 91 minutes during that three-game span, he committed a total of five fouls and two turnovers. That’ll do quite nicely.
T.J. Warren, N.C. State: The sophomore forward is going to have to score for N.C. State to beat most teams. Fortunately for the Wolfpack, he’s pretty good at scoring. After a loss to NC Central last week, N.C. State bounced back with two double-digit wins this week and Warren had 30 points in each game (23-of-41 shooting). He also averaged 10 rebounds and played 65 minutes in the two games. If N.C. State needs him to carry them, he’ll be able to do it more often than not, particularly once he realizes how good he actually is. Seeing his proverbial light bulb click on in the middle of a game is still fun to watch, and he’s only going to get better.
Joe Harris, Virginia: Harris has gone through his shooting slumps throughout his career, and he’s been called out for it, sometimes unfairly. It’s what happens when you stick around for four years in college basketball, unfortunately. But the Cavaliers’ sharpshooter earned that tag for stretches like this: in three games last week, he made 16-of-19 shots and 11-of-12 3-pointers (!), scoring 50 points in just 77 combined minutes. He also addedseven rebounds, eight assists and three steals in those games.
The Grant Brothers, Jerian (Notre Dame) and Jerami (Syracuse): OK, so this is a bit of a cop-out. But the Grant family had a pretty good week of basketball. Jerami, a sophomore forward at Syracuse, averaged 16.7 points on nearly 58 percent shooting in three games of the Maui Invitational last week, adding 16 rebounds, five assists and just one turnover in 86 minutes. Jerian, a junior guard at Notre Dame, had 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting and added three rebounds and four assists in 29 minutes in a win over Cornell on Sunday.
Oh, and you might know their dad, Harvey Grant. Or their dad’s twin brother, Horace. Or their older brother Jerai, who played at Clemson until 2011. This is one blessed basketball family.
Jabari Parker, Duke: The sad thing is he almost didn’t make this list this week because he had the first “bad” game of his collegiate career to date. And that bad game ended with him scoring 19 points. So, perspective. It was the first time he failed to reach 20 all season. Not really fair to leave him off then, considering he averaged 23 points in two Preseason NIT games last week, shooting 16-of-33 from the floor. However, he was 0-of-5 from 3-point range in the two games and nearly had more turnovers (10) than rebounds (11). Still, he’s a freshman. He’s allowed. He’s still a spectacular player and his 27-point effort against Alabama proved that.
The “I See You Working” Team of the Week
Pittsburgh. The Panthers didn’t exactly beat any juggernauts on its way to the Progressive Legends Classic title last week, but they did dominate two major-conference opponents in Texas Tech and Stanford. And they led those two games by a combined score of 84-46 at half. Those wins, in addition to a 17-point win over Duquesne, gave Pitt an average score last week of 82.7 points to 62.3 points allowed. and Pitt isn’t a team known for scoring a ton of points generally, but dishing out 53 assists to just 24 turnovers in three games didn’t hurt. It’s pretty impressive to watch a Panthers team that wasn’t projected to finish all that high in the ACC standings, get off to such a hot start.
Honorable mention goes to Syracuse, but with all due respect to the Orange, they were already a top-10 team and didn’t do anything all that surprising. Still, their run through the Maui Invitational was very impressive.
ACC Win of the Week
Miami, 60-57 over Arizona State. Sure, it was for fifth place in the Wooden Legacy tournament out in Anaheim. And no, Arizona State wasn’t ranked. But the Sun Devils were 7-1 and had just knocked off a top-25 Marquette team last week. Miami had to fight its way back from deficits repeatedly, but the Hurricanes have been fighting and clawing all season. Two of their three losses have come in overtime, including last week’s loss to George Washington, and their only other win a week ago was by two points against Cal State-Fullerton. It’s going to be like that for this team this year, but if they show the resolve and toughness that’s an extension of their head coach Jim Larranaga, they’ll be more competitive than anyone projected.
#goacc Team of the Week: North Carolina
What personifies the spirit of #goacc more than knocking off a top-five team one week and losing at UAB the next? Yes, playing at UAB is a tough game, the type that a lot of teams won’t schedule (and understandably so, by the way). But it’s not like the Blazers played above their heads and rained down 3-pointers to beat the Tar Heels. They gave UNC every chance to steal that game, and UNC just couldn’t get defensive rebounds and/or make shots when it needed to.
This is the type of season it’s likely going to be for UNC sans P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald — a roller-coaster of highs and lows.
Honorable mention: Georgia Tech, which continues to be one of the most disappointing teams in the league so far (sorry, Boston College) considering what they brought back. None of the Yellow Jackets’ losses are that bad — Dayton, as it turns out, is pretty good — but Georgia Tech went 1-2 last week with double-digit losses to Ole Miss and St. John’s. In totality, it leaves you scratching your head. As does the St. John’s box score: 10 Georgia Tech players saw at least five minutes of action (nine played at least seven minutes) and no player scored more than nine points.
Head coach Brian Gregory is obviously still trying to figure out who’s going to give him consistent minutes, and there doesn’t seem to be anything resembling a clear answer to that at this point.
#goacc Player of the Week: James Michael McAdoo
Not to pile on the Tar Heels here — or McAdoo, for that matter — but he struggled mightily against UAB’s athletic front line, shooting just 3-of-13 (and 0-of-3 from 3-point range) from the floor. And he was 0-of-3 from the foul line. The 3-pointers he took were woefully off the mark, and McAdoo probably would have been better off attacking the basket a lot more than he did, settling too often for off-balance jumpers.
It’s too bad that the personnel issues UNC has right now are forcing McAdoo to play out of position at times, but he’s not helping matters any with his shot selection.
But there were a lot of worthy candidates this week. Wake’s Arnaud William Adala-Moto, a sophomore forward, shot 3-of-14 in three games in the Battle 4 Atlantis, playing a total of 50 minutes and somehow committing 11 fouls. His stat line against Kansas was particularly eye-popping: 0-of-7 shooting, five fouls in three turnovers in just 16 minutes. That’s … almost impressive, to be honest. It’s a lot of work in just 16 minutes.
Duke’s Amile Jefferson had a good start to the season, but the lanky sophomore forward has been a virtual non-factor for the last few weeks. Duke has little to no inside presence, particularly defensively, and he hasn’t been good on either end. In two games last week, he saw just 29 minutes and was scoreless (0-of-3 from the floor, 0-of-3 from the foul line), adding eight rebounds, one assist, one steal, no blocks, five fouls and two turnovers. Duke needs more out of him, or it needs Marshall Plumlee to develop a bit quicker, to take itself from a really good team to a great team.