We taped - (okay, we don't tape anymore, we record) - the State-GW
game, and as impressive as it sounded, it was even more impressive to see.
We feel safe in saying that this is probably Herb Sendek's best team at State
and a legitimate national threat.
How good are they? Well, their best player may not be starting.
|ACC Games & Broadcast Info For 1/2/06!|
|Virginia Tech at James Madison||CSN/FS-FL||4:00|
|Bucknell at Duke||ESPN||4:30|
|Sacred Heart at Miami||7:30|
|Virginia at Western Kentucky||CSN||8:00|
Andrew Brackman did a pretty passable impression of Danny Ferry against GW,
scoring outside, driving, passing well - and he is the sixth man.
He was superb.
The problem for State is where to put him. Cameron Bennerman is a
tremendous athlete and serves as a stopper defensively. Cedric Simmons has
become a real force down low, and will give anyone in the ACC fits. He's
still a bit gawky offensively, but he's big, he's strong, and he can hit the
boards and block shots with anyone.
Projections By Jeff Sagarin
Brackman certainly won't take Illian Evtimov's spot, either. Evtimov is
too solid, too smart, and too valuable to State's offense not to be on the
floor. If he played at Princeton, he would be a legend. He's perfect
for the offense.
In the backcourt, Tony Bethel and Engin Atsur seem to have a solid
chemistry. Bethel could shoot better, but he got six boards and five
assists, including one where he batted the ball to a teammate while falling out
of bounds on a fast break. He just caught the ball and knocked it over his
shoulder. Not a smart move, but very effective.
Gavin Grant, at 6-7, provides a lot of versatility off the bench, as does
Brackman. Either guy could easily start but both seem to accept their roles
It's not like they are going to go undefeated in the conference. We
don't expect that to happen this year, and with no round robin, it wouldn't make
much difference anyway. But they were brilliant - electrifying at times -
against GW. If they continue to improve and get hot at the right time,
they can beat anyone in the country. State fans can get excited about the
spare parts bowl or whatever the football team played in against South Florida
(come on, Pack fans, no one really cares), but the real excitement for State
fans is with a round ball. And that's how it should be.
On the boards, Olympic Fan reminds us that the Sagarin ratings are not the
official RPI ratings. We sometimes assume a body of knowledge that not
everyone has, which is probably a bad tendency on our part. So in case
you're not clear: the RPI formula is not released by the NCAA. A lot
of people, including Sagarin, attempt to replicate it. But no one really
knows and the NCAA is not inclined to share. So for future reference, we'll
refer to it as RPI Projections by Jeff Sagarin, or anyone else we may link to.
Aside from Duke-Bucknell, there are three ACC games slated for Monday -
Virginia Tech at James Madison, Sacred Heart at Miami, and Virginia at Western
Kentucky. JMU is 3-6 and Tech just got upset by Old Dominion, so we
wouldn't expect them to give JMU much slack. There's no way Sacred Heart
should beat Miami. Then again, that's exactly what we said about Elon
beating Clemson, and look where that got us.
Western Kentucky gave Arizona a good game, which Virginia did for about 20
There are some intriguing games on Tuesday: Vandy is at Georgia Tech,
UMass is at B.C., and Davidson is at UNC.
Former State big man Charles Shackleford was arrested in Johnston County and
charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana and cocaine, and for carrying a
concealed weapon. That makes sense: the weapon was concealed, which
would leave both hands for him to hold his drugs, because, well, he is
amphibious (okay, kids, history lesson! During a meeting with the media,
Shackleford legendarily said, "Left hand, right hand, it doesn't matter.
I'm amphibious."). That just may be the greatest quote in the history
of the ACC.
You want to be nice to people, but sometimes they push your chauvinistic
buttons. Take this guy from the Republican-American, who confidently announces
"Nobody debates that the Big East has surpassed the ACC as the premier
basketball conference in the country. Nobody questions that it will be the most
competitive league the game has ever seen."
Uh...we'll take ACC for 500 Alex!
The Big East has some good teams. UConn, Syracuse, Louisville,
Cincinnati and a few others as well. But how do you know how good anyone
is? The ACC gave up the round robin; the Big East doesn't even have each team
play every team. So not only can they all fatten up on nothing teams -
only South Florida currently has a losing record, and even Seton Hall, which
Duke just destroyed, is 8-3 - conference play doesn't even necessarily even
things out. In a normal situation, of course, conference play would sift
the pretenders out. But the opportunity for padding is there: aside from the
Hawaii trip, UConn has played almost no one of consequence.
Undefeated Pitt has dared to take on South Carolina and did beat Wisconsin,
to their credit. But otherwise, nothing. Louisville? As we
discussed previously, no serious games.
Villanova has played Oklahoma (and won) and some Big Five games are on the
schedule. Otherwise, nothing.
Syracuse? Florida, Texas Tech, Bucknell, and Davidson.
Notre Dame has played State, Michigan, and Alabama.
You can go look at it all yourself, but the idea that this conference, now,
is some sort of unstoppable behemoth is just silly. Based on what?
And what's worse, the conference has the clear potential to muck around with
the schedule. The big games will be on TV, the long-term rivalries
will be preserved.
And then there's the football issue. The Big East is really two
conferences trying to masquerade as one, half with football programs, half with
none. That act will work for a bit, but eventually the two camps will go
their separate ways.