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ACC Roundup - Back To Back In Blacksburg

As the Hokies and Panthers tangle again

Syndication: The Courier-Journal
 Pittsburgh coach Jeff Capel pleads with an official after John Hugley, in rear, received a technical foul at the beginning of the game against Louisville at the YUM Center. Jan 5, 2022.

Only one game on tap Monday as Pitt and Virginia have a very rare back-to-back rematch. They played Saturday with the Hokies winning easily.

It’s really kind of a fascinating situation. Can Pitt reverse things, and on the road? Will Virginia Tech just focus on things it can improve?

It’s a really interesting situation and the ACC should take note. It could be a fun way to spice things up.

The last time this happened, as far as we know, was when Duke and UCLA played two consecutive games in two consecutive years. Unfortunately for Duke, the second year was 1967 and the Bruins had Lew Alcindor, now known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and there was no chance to win those games.

In other news, Leaky Black expressed some doubt in his teammates after the Duke loss, saying this: “It’s not that we’re not prepared, because (Coach) Davis does a great job giving us the game plan and everything. I don’t know, every big game we feel like it’s going to be easy, just because we’ve got that ‘North Carolina’ on our chest, but it’s the complete opposite. We got that ‘North Carolina’ on our chest and it’s going to be difficult. We’re going to be everybody’s best game, especially Duke. They’re going to come out and compete. I don’t know why we didn’t come out and play harder.”

Not to challenge him, but that ‘North Carolina’ doesn’t mean what it used to. There’s still some pleasure in beating UNC but no one is scared. This happened to Duke in 1995 and, to a lesser extent, last season. It’s fun to beat UNC when your guys do it, but overall, it’s not a lot of fun to see a great program decline.

The other part of it is that it won't be that way forever. Either Hubert Davis improves the team or someone else will. There’s not a lot he can do this season but UNC is still an attractive school to many recruits and to transfers as well. If someone fails there someone else will eventually succeed. It’s much more like Alabama than it is DePaul.

But here’s a cold dose of reality: if he fails, who do they turn to next? Wes Miller is the logical guy but what if he says no? Who do they turn to? King Rice? Jerry Stackhouse? Jason Capel?

Keeping it in the family is obviously desirable, but UNC is a destination job. You probably won’t get these guys and might not want them, but you could realistically shoot for a Calipari or a Pitino. Chris Beard is at his alma mater, Texas, but would he listen? We think he would, at a minimum. Scott Drew? We’d certainly ask. Porter Moser? He prefers the Midwest, but it’s UNC. He might be gettable.

Not that anyone ever would ask us, but as always, we’d make a call to Northwest Missouri State and check on Ben McCollum. He’s just 40 and he’s putting up seasons that John Wooden would admire. But he’s D-II and we understand that’s a big jump to UNC and not without risk. And if Davis fails, you certainly want as close to a sure thing as possible.

And we don't wish ill on Hubert. He’s always been an immensely likable guy and he made it from a legacy recruit as a favor to Uncle Walter to the NBA and now he has risen to one of the best jobs in the country. He’s always struck us as a good and decent man.

He’s under a ridiculous amount of pressure though. He’s supposed to take a team that has struggled for the last couple of years and do miracles. Some of his fans, so-called, are already turning on him and let us just say this: running him off would be disastrous. A lot of coaches would see that and it would make them very reluctant to take a job where the fans are so unforgiving.

We hope people give him a fair chance and five months is not that. We’ve all heard Coach K talk about the “Concerned Iron Dukes” who wanted him fired before he got things turned around in his fourth season.

All we’re saying is that if he doesn’t work out, UNC cannot afford to simply stay within the family, because there just aren’t many decent candidates. But if you open it up nationally, you are going to end up with one hell of a coach.

And one final thought for Duke fans.

It’s easy to enjoy UNC’s struggles but we’re heading into uncharted territory soon ourselves. We think Jon Scheyer will be successful but there are no guarantees and he’s likely to have some rough patches. We need to learn from our friends in Chapel Hill and support our team even when things aren’t going well.

In fact, that's when we need to offer the most support.

Monday’s ACC Action

  • Duke @ Virginia || 7:00 || ESPN/ESPN3
  • Pitt @ Virginia Tech || 7:00 || ACCN

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