clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Clues to Success In the ACC, 2005-06

Jim Johnson, The CourtMaster

ye, hear ye! Court is back in session and it’s time for part
three of my exciting and enlightening ACC preview. In today’s
lesson, I present what I think will be the primary clues to how each
team will fare in the upcoming season. If you look at these areas,
you’ll have a good idea of a school’s likelihood for
success, or at least to meet expectations.

College-Perimeter game.
Last season, the Eagles attempted only
4.1 three-pointers per game, partially because they had such a strong
inside game, but they also weren’t very good beyond the arc.
Coming in to the ACC, BC will need to extend defenses, especially
since they don’t run very much and won’t get a lot of
easy hoops in transition. Their best three-point shooter is Sean
Marshall, who won’t play this season until February (if then)
because of legal problems. Point guard Louis Hinnant will need to
look for his shot more (and make some of them) and he will need some
help off the bench to keep defenses from collapsing on Craig Smith
and Jared Dudley.

Over the years, the Tigers have been known for producing
big men, starting with Tree Rollins in the 1970’s. They could
use Rollins this season, but since he’s pushing 50 years old
him minutes might be limited. Seriously, the departure of Sharrod
Ford has left Coach Oliver Purnell with inexperienced and unproven
players along with experienced and unproven players to fill the two
inside spots. The Tigers have enough quality on the wings to be
competitive in they can get any production from their big men.

It is not uncommon for a team anchored by seniors who are supported
by freshmen to have chemistry issues, and that is the situation Duke
faces this season. Of particular interest will be how the point
guard position is filled. Senior Sean Dockery will start, but if he
struggles how much of his time will be lost to highly-touted freshman
Greg Paulis (who had the good sense not to play football at Duke)?
If Paulis winds up taking minutes away from Dockery, how will that
affect the flow and attitude of the other seniors, particularly J. J.
Redick and Shelden Williams?

The Seminoles looked like a team trying to go
off in several different directions at once last season, a clear
recipe for winding up nowhere. It’s not that FSU had a bad
team. They were good enough to beat Wake Forest, NC State, and
Florida, but not good enough to win close games. They suffered nine
losses by a total of 19 points, showing they did not have a clear
direction of what to do during crunch time. With four starters
returning, injuries healed, and Von Wafer gone, Coach Leonard
Hamilton should be able to pull his squad together and find out just
how good they can be.

Tech-Point guard play.
Looking at the Yellow Jacket’s
roster, it quickly becomes obvious they don’t have a point
guard, but someone’s got to fill the slot. It appears that, at
least early, it will be in the reluctant hands of Zam Frederick. A
natural shooting guard, he tried to transfer to South Carolina over
the summer, so it will be interesting to see how he handles the
adversity that is sure to come with such a young team. Freshman
Louis Clinch (a headline writer’s dream), who is also a natural
wing, is the backup plan. Ironically, a school known for producing
outstanding point guards (Mark Price, Kenny Anderson, Stephon Marbury
to name a few) could be looking at a train wreck there this season.

Last season the Terps were the fifth highest scoring
team in the nation, but they gave up more points than any team in the
ACC. I bet just thinking of that still causes the hair on the back
of Coach Gary Williams’ neck to stand up. The return of D. J.
Strawberry will help, but the mindset of the team is really the thing
to watch here. Will they be hungry enough to consistently put forth
the effort needed to play strong defense? After last season, they
certainly should be.

The name of William Frisby didn’t exactly strike
fear into the hearts of opponents, but I assure you Hurricane Coach
Frank Heath would love to have his low-post scoring this season.
Without him, they risk becoming a “donut” team on
offense—nothing in the middle. Even with the three-point
bombing Duke has had over the years they needed players like Carlos
Boozer and Shelden Williams to establish something in the low-post to
be really good. The firepower of Guillermo Diaz and Robert Hite can
be somewhat negated if teams can pressure the perimeter and ignore
the big men inside. Anthony King is the player most likely to
provide that type of presence, so keep an eye on his offensive

Carolina-The play of the veterans.
Contrary to what you may have
heard, the Tar Heels do not have a roster totally stocked with
freshmen. There are some players from the national championship team
coming back, and Coach Roy Williams will need some production and
leadership from all of them. Senior David Noel will need to
stabilize the Carolina inside game, junior Reyshawn Terry will be
looked to for points, and sophomore Quentin Thomas needs to help out
running the offense. If these veterans falter, too much will be
expected from the incoming freshmen and the Heel’s chances of
returning to the NCAA tournament will be in jeopardy.

Julius Hodge, love him or hate him, was
clearly the “Leader of the Pack” last season. When asked
who will assume that mantel this season, Coach Herb Sendek says it
will be spread among several players. In my experience, a team with
several leaders essentially has NO leader. Veterans like Ilan
Evtimov and Tony Bethel (if he can stay healthy) will need to step up
big time to fill that void if NC State hopes to wind up in the upper
echelon of the ACC.

team’s buy-in to new coach Dave Leiato.
This trend needs
to be followed on the court, but even more so off of it. Let’s
face it, unless Leiato is a magician the Cavaliers are in for a long
season, so evaluating the coaching change this season needs to go
beyond wins and losses. Too many knuckleheads have drifted in and
out of the Virginia basketball program in recent years, and Leiato
needs to reverse that trend by running a tight ship. We’ll see
how many players on the current roster sign up for the trip or ship

Tech-The chip on their shoulders?
In looking back at why the
Hokies enjoyed surprising success in the ACC last season, one key
that stands out is attitude. Coach Seth Greenberg came into the
conference with a chip on his shoulder and got his players to put one
on theirs. As a result, Virginia Tech embraced their underdog status
and played hard and loose. When mighty Duke came to visit
Blacksburg, neither the Hokies or their fans backed down, and the
result was an upset win. Most of last season’s squad is back
this season, but will they have the same attitude?

Forest-Forcing missed shots and turnovers.
In his four years at
Wake Forest, Coach Skip Prosser has seen his team score a lot of
points but get outscored in critical postseason games (last year’s
NCAA loss to West Virginia the most painful example of that). It
looks like the Deacons need a defensive coordinator. They were 8th
in the ACC in field-goal percentage defense last season, 10th
in three-point defense, tenth in blocked shots, and tenth in turnover
margin. If Wake can’t stop anybody again this season, it won’t
matter how well Justin Gray has adjusted to the point, they’ll
be heading home early in March once again.


I was watching the FSN preview of Maryland last weekend, I felt
myself tensing up when Nik Caner Medley and Chris McCray were talking
about last season. As I thought about it from my perspective of
being a Maryland alum, I realized I was still angry at that team for
breaking the Terps’ 11-year streak of NCAA tournament
appearances. That was something that the program, alumni, and fans
took great pride in (it was the longest active streak in the ACC).

did not end because the team was not good enough. Two wins over Duke
proves that was not the case. It came down to the team not playing
hard enough often enough, and that STILL makes me angry. This year’s
team really needs to show me something before that anger subsides.

who has read about the background of Dave Leiato sees where he is
closely tied to Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun. In many ways that is
a positive association. After all, Calhoun, winner of two national
championships, was recently inducted into the basketball Hall of
Fame. I doubt Connecticut will be naming any ethics institutes after
him, though.

the last few years, Calhoun has not hesitated to get his hands dirty.
From bribing Rudy Gay’s AAU coach by scheduling an exhibition
game with that team (now against NCAA rules) to the intense lobbying
he has done to keep his star point guard, Marcus Williams, in school
after his involvement in a computer theft ring, to stealing recruits
verbally committed to other schools, Calhoun has done things in
running his program not befitting an elite coach.

have never seen anything like that said about Leiato. Let’s
hope he missed that part of the mentoring experience.

what I think. Let me know what you think on the message board or by
e-mail at
You can keep up with my commentary on ACC football on my blot at

week I’ll finish my preview series with
my rulings on the upcoming season. Until then, court is adjourned!