ACC Hoops Honor Roll: N.C. State shines
There isn’t any rhyme or reason behind the wackiness of ACC basketball so far in the young season.
How does one explain Virginia losing at both Wake Forest and Clemson just days after beating North Carolina? How about Virginia Tech, which had lost its previous four games by an average of 26 points, going into Georgia Tech and getting a victory?
The biggest story of the week, however, was N.C. State’s victory over previous No. 1 Duke and the amazing individual performances being put forth by the Wolfpack, a team that has Final Four run written all over it.
So, with respect to Duke center Mason Plumlee and guards Seth Curry and Quinn Cook, N.C. State guard Scott Wood, Florida State forward Okaro White, Boston College forward Ryan Anderson and guard Olivier Hanlan, Clemson forward Devin Booker, Virginia wing Joe Harris, North Carolina forward James Michael McAdoo and wing P.J. Hairston, Virginia Tech forward Jarrell Eddie, Wake Forest forward Travis McKie, Miami center Julian Gamble, and guard Shane Larkin, Maryland center Alex Len and wing Dez Wells, here are this week’s Big Men on Campus:
C.J. Leslie, N.C. State: The long-armed, 6-foot-9 junior played with more poise than at any time in his career in scoring a combined 44 points, grabbing 13 rebounds and blocking five shots in two home wins over Georgia Tech and Duke. He put up 25 against fellow future first-round draft pick Mason Plumlee of the Blue Devils.
Erick Green. Virginia Tech: The nation’s leading scorer at 24.8 points per game totaled 52 points in helping the Hokies split a pair of games last week, losing at home to Boston College and winning at Georgia Tech. The senior guard also grabbed eight rebounds and handed out 10 assists.
Richard Howell, N.C. State: The bruising senior forward was a force in helping State beat top-ranked Duke on Saturday. He scored 16 points and grabbed 18 rebounds – 14 in the second half – against the Blue Devils. For the week, he totaled 22 points and 30 rebounds.
C.J. Harris, Wake Forest: The senior guard helped the Deacons win consecutive ACC games for the first time in three years by scoring 45 points, including converting six of 10 3-pointers, and by giving Wake Forest some needed gravitas. The Deacons won five ACC games the previous two seasons, so this was a huge week for the program.
Kenny Kadji, Miami: The long and wiry senior scored 32 points, grabbed 14 rebounds, and blocked five shots in helping the Hurricanes win at UNC and at home over Maryland. Kadji’s stats are nice, but his growing leadership, the maturity he plays with, and the manner he scores carries more value than just the points themselves.
Virginia: After beating North Carolina at home, the Cavaliers hit the road only to lose at struggling Wake Forest and Clemson, which was on less stable ground than the Demon Deacons heading into the contest. Virginia scored just 96 points in the defeats and converted only 37 of 103 field goal attempts, good for just 35.9 percent.
Lorenzo Brown, N.C. State: The junior point guard scored 33 points, handed out 23 assists, registered three blocked shots and two steals in home wins over Georgia Tech and top-ranked Duke. His maturity, game management and leadership don’t show up in box scores but can’t be overvalued.
Mark Gottfried, N.C. State: The word on Gottfried’s teams at Alabama were that while quite talented, they didn’t play much defense and sometimes lacked toughness. That isn’t the case with the Wolfpack, who were exceptionally mature in beating No. 1 Duke over the weekend after knocking off Georgia Tech. N.C. State shares the ball well, has terrific chemistry, and plays with a willingness to do whatever it takes to win. Gotta credit the coach for much of that.