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Why The ACC Is Down, And Why It's Going To Change Soon

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There's no question that the ACC is down this year, likely historically down.  It's been building for a while too.  The biggest problem is that a number of schools made poor hires in recent years and rectified them all pretty much at the same time, and there's no way to escape the rebuilding.

School Old Coach New Coach
Boston College Al Skinner Steve Donahue
Maryland Gary Williams Mark Turgeon
Virginia Dave Leitao Tony Bennett
Wake Forest Dino Gaudio Jeff Bzdelik
N.C. State Sidney Lowe Mark Gottfried
Clemson Oliver Purnell Brad Brownell
Georgia Tech Paul Hewitt Brian Gregory
Miami Frank Haith Jim Larranaga

For some, like Virginia, they're moving along nicely.  Virginia Tech is not a powerhouse but they've been reasonably successful under Seth Greenberg.  State and Maryland have shown significant reasons for short and long term optimism, and Miami should be fine as the season goes along and they reincorporate Reggie Johnson and DeQuan Jones.

Clemson and Florida State are certainly well coached even if this year turns out to be a drag. Those programs will be back.

BC, Wake Forest and Georgia Tech may take longer to recover.

As far as BC goes, well, as we've said a number of times, there's not much you can do when you have nine freshmen. You just have to be patient.

Wake is still recovering but they have garnered commitments from Codi Miller-McIntyre, who has opened some eyes on the recruiting trail along with five others. Arnaud Motp and Aaron Roundtree are well regarded while Devin Thomas and Andre Washington may be longer in developing.

Still, not a bad class.

In Atlanta, Brian Gregory has recruited well also, with big man Robert Carter, wing Marcus Hunt and guard Chris Bolden committed.

In our opinion, which we've stated repeatedly, the problem the last several seasons has been mediocre coaching (we might not object to replacing Seth Greenberg with, say, Steve Prohm of Murray State PC's Ed Cooley or Wagner's Danny Hurley, not that he'd necessarily take a job that far from home).  Take a look at the table and ask yourself: did any school not improve itself with the new hire?

We suppose you could make an argument for Gary Williams, but there's no denying he trailed off after the national title and arguably burned out.  Mark Turgeon is going to make Maryland a monster, not least of all because he's a dogged recruiter and Gary didn't much care for that aspect of coaching.

We'll take Steve Donahue over Al Skinner, particularly after reading the columnists in Boston who really went after Skinner, calling him, essentially, disinterested and lazy.

Dino Gaudio was fired after essentially a three-year tryout when the wheels were about to fly off.  The jury's out on Bzdelik, but disaster was looming.  Last year is not entirely his fault.

Tony Bennett or Dave Leitao? Are you insane? Is there a choice here?

As much as everyone wanted Sidney Lowe to succeed, he obviously failed. And just as obviously State is much improved: they've played and beaten Princeton and Texas, and also given very credible efforts against Indiana, Stanford and Syracuse.  You know, that's pretty good, and Sidney couldn't have done it.

We liked what Oliver Purnell did at Clemson, but as solid as his teams were, they never managed to win an NCAA game.  Brad Brownell did that out of the gate and almost won two.

Paul Hewitt took a proud program and reduced it to mediocrity. It's not like Bobby Cremins left him a lot to work with, but he was there for a decade and what's there to show?

Brian Gregory has some issues: he had a breakdown with at least one of his players last year at Dayton.

Frank Haith's stunning year to date at Missouri has helped people forget that he didn't have much success at Miami. And it's not like he lacked in talent: he had some decent players during his time there.

Jim Larranaga had second-tier talent at George Mason.  He identified guys who could compete, who were maybe an inch short or lacking in some perceived quality and led them to some serious success.  He also knows the ACC well, having been an assistant at Virginia.

You have to remember, too, that Mason has absolutely no basketball tradition prior to Larranaga's arrival.  What he did was pretty amazing.

This year will be tough for a lot of schools in the ACC.  Give them credit though: they realized their mistakes and corrected them, and in most cases, made significant upgrades.  The future is bright.

And Syracuse and Pitt won't hurt either.

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