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The Courtmaster Opens Up

Hear ye, hear ye! Court is back in session and it’s time to get serious! Conference play is in full swing and all the cupcakes have been disposed of. Here are some early thoughts as I take a quick swing around the wonderful, wacky world of ACC hoops.

I got a bit tired in the ramp up to this season hearing everyone at Boston College talk about how their move into the ACC wasn’t any big deal. They pointed out, that they played a lot of tough opponents in the Big East and didn’t see where the ACC would be any different.

I wonder how they are feeling up in Chestnut Hill after the Eagles have started out 0-2 with road losses to Maryland (not unexpected) and Georgia Tech (unexpected). The Yellow Jackets so far appear to be one of the worst teams in the conference, which doesn’t mean they’re bad. It just makes it important for those schools that have aspirations of competing for the top spot in the ACC to win down there if they expect to claim any road victories at all.

BC is a good team, one of the three I put in the mix, along with NC State and Maryland (and possibly North Carolina) to compete for second in the league behind Duke. They do need to get some production from players other than their two stars, Craig Smith and Jared Dudley. Those two combined for 40 points and 14 rebounds in their 60-58 loss at Georgia Tech, making 16-22 shots. Their teammates contributed only 20 points on 6-26 shooting (23%) and 9 rebounds. Folks, that is pitiful and bears watching as the season progresses.

I can’t say enough about the great job Paul Hewitt is doing with his Yellow Jackets. Sunday’s win over Boston College was their first one over a strong team this season and should do a lot for his team’s collective psyche. If Georgia Tech can stay competitive throughout the season, next year they could be a beast.

Maryland losing at Miami was something of a surprise, especially after watching the Hurricanes’ abysmal effort against Louisville last week. Miami ended the year with a clang, making only 25% of their shots against the Cardinals on New Year’s Eve. Imagine my surprise when I watched the ‘Canes make 12-19 three-pointers and light up the Terps.

Boy, Miami sure looks good when all three of their guards are shooting well. Anthony Harris, Guillermo Diaz, and Robert Hite combined to shoot 22-39 from the floor, 11-16 from beyond the arc, and score 65 points. That was a very important game for Diaz, who had astonishingly gone scoreless vs. Louisville.

Maryland’s “effort” reminded me a lot of last year’s efforts against teams without “Duke” on their jersey. I suspect it reminded Coach Gary Williams of that dark period too since he kept the locker room closed for nearly 30 minutes after the game. Can you imagine being locked in a small room with Gary Williams after a game like that? He might have run out of obscenities. Pat, may I buy an F-bomb please.

The NC State-North Carolina game was fascinating because each team had stretches where they dominated by forcing their will on the opponent and succeeding at what they do best. State had stretches where they patiently worked the ball around in the half court offense and knocked down three-pointers. Carolina, after trailing 11-0, began forcing the tempo and playing at the break-neck pace Coach Roy Williams wants.

Ultimately, it was the play of Tar Heel freshmen Bobby Frasor and Tyler Hansbrough that made the difference. While Wolfpack veterans Cameron Bennerman and Engin Atsur were struggling, Frasor scored 15 points in the second half and Hansbrough went 14-14 from the foul line. It was the Carolina squad that controlled the final minutes of a hotly contested game, scoring the final 13 points.

This was a disappointing loss for Coach Herb Sendek’s Wolfpack, but one they should be able to shake off. It was a very nice win for Roy Williams’ youngsters in their first ACC game of the season.

So far, it looks like it will be hard to sort out Clemson, Miami, Virginia Tech, and Florida State. They have all looked good at home (with the notable exception of Clemson’s loss to Elon) but road wins are going to be critical for these squads. They will likely need at least a couple of them to move up into the middle of the pack in the ACC, since sweeping their home schedule with teams like Duke, BC, Maryland, and NC State coming in would be far fetched.

Those four squads will be trying to climb onto the NCAA tournament bubble for selections Sunday, and I think it’s possible Wake Forest could be slipping onto it. I know I picked them to finish in the upper echelon of the ACC, but they still don’t play defense and have not settled their point guard situation. On nights when Justin Gray is not lighting up the scoreboard, the Demon Deacons are in trouble.

A lot of pundits were predicting a down year for the ACC this season, but every league should have such a down season. Last week, six conference teams were ranked in the Top 25. As a comparison, only four teams from the Big (Enormous) East were ranked. There is a lot of good basketball yet to be played in the ACC this season. Things are just getting warmed up.

The CourtMaster’s Briefs

Maybe I’m just being an old fart, but is it possible to get through a sporting event on television anymore without being subjected to a highlights/music video package? Do producers think the games they show are so boring that they need to entertain viewers with music to entice us to watch them?

I saw that again in the Fox Sports Net intro to the Duke-Wake Forest game Sunday night. If I want music videos I’ll watch MTV (at least on the rare occasions when they show music videos anymore). During my games, though, let’s keep it sports-related, okay?

Going into Sunday’s games, J. J. Redick was the fourth leading scorer in the nation. You may not have notice that sitting at #2, behind only Gonzaga’s Adam Morrison, was a player named Andre Collins. Die-hard fans might remember him as a reserve guard at Maryland. Collins transferred to Loyola-Maryland, following former Terps assistant coach Jimmy Patsos. From everything I ever heard Collins was a great kid and I’m happy that he has found success as a big fish in a small pond.

That’s what I think. Let me know what you think on the message board or by e-mail at Don’t forget to check out my takes on ACC football or the national college sports scene on my blog at

Until next week, court is adjourned!