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ACC Roundup!

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There are too many twists and turns left to seriously debate who should be Coach Of The Year, but there are several interesting candidates: Leonard Hamilton, who has led a striking turnaround at FSU and Tony Bennett, who has pulled the 'Hoos off the slagheap it was left on by the combined efforts of Pete Gillen and Dave Leitao.

Sunday's ACC Action!
Teams Times TV
Miami @ Boston College 1:00 PM ACC Network
Georgia Tech @ UNC 6:00 PM ESPNU
Saturday's Results
  • Clemson 71, Wake Forest 60
  • Maryland 73, Virginia Tech 69
  • Virginia 61, NC State 60
School Conf. Pct. Overall Pct.
Duke 5-1 .833 18-3 .857
Florida State 5-1 .833 14-6 .700
North Carolina 4-1 .800 17-3 .850
Virginia 4-2 .667 17-3 .850
NC State 4-3 .571 15-7 .682
Maryland 3-3 .500 13-7 .650
Clemson 3-3 .500 11-9 .550
Miami 2-3 .400 11-7 .611
Boston College 2-4 .333 7-13 .350
Wake Forest 2-5 .286 11-10 .524
Virginia Tech 1-5 .167 12-9 .571
Georgia Tech 1-5 .167 8-12 .400

Yet strong arguments can be made for two first-year coaches: Mark Gottfried and Mark Turgeon.

Turgeon's season to date, really, is pretty remarkable. Look back to the beginning of the season and Maryland was expected to just collapse.

Coaching a team with seven walk-ons at the time, Maryland did lose badly to Alabama and then Iona.

The loss to Illinois wasn't awful and the upset of Notre Dame was nice.

At 13-7 it doesn't seem obvious, but Maryland is improving, and not just a little bit.

Consider: Alex Len has struggled since ACC play started, yet the Terps have continued to advance.

That's a sign of good coaching.

So was a terrific first half of defense against Virginia Tech.  A real problem for Maryland this season, they seemed to have caught on, though they let up in the second half: the Terps gave up 50 after halftime and had to hold on. But they did, and they'll be doing that a lot more.  Turgeon is doing a superb job, particularly considering all the problems he walked into at the beginning of the season.

He realizes it too, saying after the game that "We’re heading in the right direction. We’re really coming together."

Great news for Maryland and the ACC at large.

The Hokies, on the other hand, are 1-6 over their last seven games, and it's getting old: Seth Greenberg took Dorian Finney-Smith out of the starting lineup, inserting Cadarian Raines in his place.

Obviously it didn't help in the first half, but Virginia Tech roared back, only not enough.

Afterwards, PG Erick Green, who has played well and should be exempt from most criticism his team is getting, said this: "It starts with leadership and the main thing is getting these guys amped up. At the same time, when you step on the court you should already be fired up. Someone shouldn’t have to tell you: 'Get up. This is a big game.' . . . It should just come natural. We’re young; I’m not gonna use that as an excuse. But these young guys don’t really know what it’s like right now. So we got to get them ready."

If Turgeon is a candidate, so is Mark Gottfried: not only is State in the discussion for an NCAA bid, but more importantly, he has greatly changed the culture around State basketball.

For the first time in forever, State is playing well and hard on both ends of the court.

Take the Virginia game: it's hard to imagine that last year's State team would have held up at the end. They didn't win, to be sure, but they did mount a stirring comeback and missed winning when Lorenzo Brown got forced into an ugly three point shot.

Then again, stiff defense is Tony Bennett's calling card.

No one is going to vote for Jeff Bzdelik.  To be fair, his job is a big rebuild (after a tear down), but still: they did beat Virginia Tech, not as impressive now as it was at the time, and BC.

They've lost five times in conference, though, including Clemson on Saturday (71-60), and they're losing by an average of 18 ppg.

Now they'll get UNC, State, Virginia and Clemson again before a possible break against Tech. Five ACC wins would be a good year, but don't count on it just yet.

We've talked before about how the ACC is becoming a league of rugged defenses.  Case in point: Clemson put the wood to Wake, ripping off a 23-10 run.

Andre Young remained hot, scoring 19 for the Tigers.

Back to College Park for a minute: John Feinstein, arguing that Maryland is a highly dysfunctional campus, says they blew it by not also honoring Lefty Driesell in some way when they named the court for Gary Williams.

Well, maybe. We like Lefty, everyone likes Lefty, but there are three strikes against him at Maryland: 1) the Herman Veil incident. After Veal was accused of sexual assault, Driesell called the alleged victim and supposedly tried to get her to forget the whole business.

2) the State maintained that Driesell told players to clean the drugs out of Len Bias's room after he overdosed. His behavior after the death of Bias was not good.

3) academics. Driesell did not exactly insist that his players get to class. On the other hand, neither did Williams, so call that one a draw.

The first two points are enough to reduce Maryland's enthusiasm, in our opinion. He may have been scapegoated to some extent, but at times, he was quite a jackass.

By the way, weird Lefty factoid: his father was a German immigrant.  It only took a single generation to get that amazing accent.

On Sunday, Georgia Tech travels to UNC where they'll need a miracle to win. We just can't see it.

And in a more competitive game, Miami hits Beantown. Really the 'Canes should be favored, but they're still playing erratically.  If they can't win against a very young BC, they might as well start pointing towards next year.

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