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Hyped on College Hoops

The Big Dance…ACC

ACC Edition—Are they IN….or OUT?

Put it in Stone…

· UNC – The depth is showing by their two easy wins since losing defensive stopper Dexter Strickland. As Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston provide a more potent outside touch from the shooting guard spot and James Michael McAdoo continues to improve, this is a scary team to match up with in March and April.
· Duke – This Blue Devil team does what Coach K teams always do. They win the games they should and they shoot the 3-pointer as good as anyone. They have quality wins and barring a late season slide should be a 1 or 2 seed come the NCAA tournament. If the brackets fall their way and Mason Plumlee gives them the production he did against Maryland, Coach K could be heading back to the Final Four.
· Florida State – This might be controversial but I am basing this on a projection for this Seminole team through the rest of the year. They endured 6 early season losses but they are now playing as good as any team in America. They are the only team that can boast beating UNC (by 33) and Duke (in Cameron) within 8 days of each other. They are contenders for the ACC Championship and with the physical defense they play will be a nightmare matchup in the Big Dance which could propel them one step farther than the Elite Eight appearance from a year ago.

Unless they fall apart, they should be in…


· Virginia – The style is boring for the enthusiasts that love the breakneck pace of the UNC’s of the world, but for Tony Bennett, it’s like listening to the smooth jazz sounds of his namesake (the other Tony Bennett). UVA is a tough minded bunch let by Mike Scott, who in my opinion is overlooked in the discussion of top players in the ACC, which will not back down from anyone. They are like playing an Ivy League team with Division I talent. They proved in Cameron Indoor Stadium that they are a team to be reckoned with and as long as they win 10 games in the conference they should be in.

Could play their way in…

· NC State – I loved the hire of Mark Gottfried for the Wolfpack. He brought instant credibility to the program. The biggest hurdle for the Wolfpack is their best win to date is over a Texas team that in essence isn’t that good. They need to win the games over the weaker part of the conference and spring at least 1 upset of Duke, UNC, or FSU. 11 conference wins is a must to feel comfortable on Selection Sunday.

Outside looking in…


· Maryland – Talented but very young. The future is bright but just not enough experience to make their way into the NCAA tournament this year. NIT will be great experience for the Terps.
· Clemson – Only win that really matters is the win over FSU, so the goal for the Tigers needs to be keeping their record above .500 so they can qualify for the NIT.

Sleeper Team…


Miami – The Hurricanes have played half the year without their best low-post player, Reggie Johnson. This is a team that is filled with guys that can put the ball in the basket. Coach Larranaga has been improving this team as the year has gone along and now that they are healthy they could be pretty dangerous. Durand Scott is very athletic and along with the shooting of Dequan Jones, Malcolm Grant, and Shane Larkin, they could make a run through the rest of the regular season and into the ACC tournament. If the selection committee takes into account the games missed by Johnson and Jones, then the Canes will be right in the mix.

Follow me on twitter @Coach_JC9

Joshua Caudill
jkcaudill@gmail.com

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Who’s the best guard in the ACC?

Earlier this week, I saw a blog post asserting that Maryland’s Terrell Stoglin is the best guard in the ACC this season.

Figuring out who’s the ‘best’ at his position in a team sport is a tough job. Players depend on one another to achieve team goals, like wins and championships. We’ve seen mediocre, ball-control QBs win Super Bowls often enough to know that even the guy who makes the offense go doesn’t have to be a superstar or a great player.

In basketball, a guard must play offense and defense, so it’s a little easier to get at his true value to the team. In terms of assessing his individual worth, I tend to think that scoring is overvalued for a backcourt player. To the point, someone like Kendall Marshall is an absolutely crucial part of North Carolina’s success, without putting up very many points. Stoglin scores like crazy – he’s currently averaging 22.5 points and is 8th in the nation by that measure – but is that all we ask of a guard?

So how do we answer this question of who is the best guard in the ACC? Not to worry. I am going to attempt to crack the code here.

For me, the number one job of a guard is to handle the ball; to get it to his own teammates in position to score and refrain from handing it over to his opponent whenever possible. The first stat we need to look at is assist-to-turnover ratio. I’ve ranked the ACC’s top ten below, counting only players who average at least 20 minutes of game time:

1. Andre Young (Clemson): 4.2/1

2. Kendall Marshall (UNC): 3.4/1

3. Durand Scott (Miami): 2.7/1

4. Tanner Smith (Clemson): 2.1/1

5. Lorenzo Brown (NC State): 2.0/1

6. Chase Fischer (Wake Forest): 2.0/1

7. Sammy Zeglinski (Virginia): 1.9/1

8. C.J. Williams (NC State): 1.8/1

9. Rod Hall (Clemson): 1.8/1

10. Seth Curry (Duke): 1.6/1

Now, I’m going to be honest here, anything below 2/1 is not really very impressive. Stoglin’s 14 assists vs. 20 turnovers is going in the wrong direction entirely. The purpose of this post is not to pick on Stoglin, however. But Stoglin is a good scorer, and we don’t want to dismiss scoring as a metric, so let’s look at one of those fancy-schmancy advanced metrics we’ve been hearing so much about.

I’ll be bypassing FG% in favor of True Shooting Percentage, or TS%. Some guards are deep threats, some are slashers. It’s an elegant little stat that figures a player’s efficiency any time he’s shooting the ball. Three point shots get their statistical due, as do free throws. In general, it’s a sign of what you want to see from any player on the floor: when the ball leaves his hand, is it going in? Again, here are the ACC’s backcourt leaders in that category:

1. Chase Fischer (Wake Forest): 66.6%

2. Deividas Dulkys (Florida State): 66.6%

3. C.J. Harris (Wake Forest): 66.0%

4. Seth Curry (Duke): 65.3%

5. Andre Young (Clemson): 65.2%

6. Andre Dawkins (Duke): 64.9%

7. Erick Green (Virginia Tech): 62.8%

8. Jontel Evans (Virginia): 61.6%

9. Joe Harris (Virginia): 61.5%

10. C.J. Williams (N.C. State): 61.4%

Hmmm. Curiouser and curiouser. Clemson’s Andre Young and Wake Forest’s Chase Fischer are coming up smelling like roses here, despite the poor play of their teams overall. Maybe a look at a defensive stat will help? Here’s average steals per game:

1. Lorenzo Brown (N.C. State): 2.9

2. Deividas Dulkys (Florida State): 2.3

3. Sammy Zeglinski (Virginia): 2.1

4. Glen Rice, Jr. (Georgia Tech): 2.0

5. Andre Young (Clemson): 1.7

6. Shane Larkin (Miami): 1.6

7. Erick Green (Virginia Tech): 1.5

8. Seth Curry (Duke): 1.4

9: Luke Loucks (Florida State): 1.4

10. Jontel Evans (Virginia): 1.4

OK, dis ish cray. There’s Young again. A look at average efficiency, which attempts to synergize all of a players stats into an overall measure of his effectiveness on the court, turns his name up again:

1. C.J. Harris (Wake Forest)

2. Lorenzo Brown (N.C. State)

3. Glen Rice, Jr. (Georgia Tech)

4. Tanner Smith (Clemson)

5. Andre Young (Clemson)

6. Erick Green (Virginia Tech)

7. Terrell Stoglin (Maryland)

8. Seth Curry (Duke)

9. C.J. Williams (N.C. State)

10. Joe Harris (Virginia)

I did this for my own edification as well. Had you asked me the question “Who is the best guard in the ACC”, my knee-jerk reaction probably would have been to name Kendall Marshall. But Marshall even falls behind Young in ballhandling and passing thus far.

Now, the fly in the ointment: Clemson, as a team, stinks. They’ve lost to The Citadel, Charleston and South Carolina, which would seem to indicate that their home state is the worst possible place for the  Tigers to play. It’s obvious, however, that Young is playing his diminutive (5’9″, 170-lb.) ass off. He’s everything Brad Brownell could ask for in a senior leader. It will be worth watching to see if the rest of the team begins to make the most of the steady backcourt leadership Young and fellow senior Tanner Smith provide before this season goes irretreivably down the tubes.

Andre Young isn’t going to the NBA. He might not even play on national TV much this year. But the numbers say he’s the best all-around guard in the ACC this season.

 

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Who micturated in John Calipari’s breakfast cereal at Kentucky?

 John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats are undefeated and on a roll. They’ve taken down three teams that played in the NCAA tournament last March, including blue-blood rivals the Kansas Jayhawks. He should be thrilled, right?

Wrong. Here are a few arrows from the coach’s quiver of recent post-game quotes:

“We were inept offensively.”

“[Terrence Jones] is going to have to play better these next two games.”

“We’re playing like an AAU team.”

Why so sour, Coach Cal?

Calipari is right to bring his charges back to earth as often as possible, because he knows what’s at stake, and understands the brittle nature of the tools he’s using. While rabid fans of the Wildcats are busy posting and re-posting video of Darius Miller’s insane one-handed alley-oop dunk and calling out the Tar Heels, Calipari is looking at numbers that need fixing: 40.6% shooting from the field against the Johnnies; 5 points, 2 boards and 4 personal fouls from starting forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist; a point guard – freshman Marquis Teague - who’s sporting a less-than-stellar 1.3-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. In March, any of these things can be deadly. In December, they are still fixable.

As long as Calipari relies on uber-talented freshmen to power his Big Blue Machine, he’s going to have to be a hardass and a nattering nabob of negativism. It’s so easy to get caught up in a sense of invincibility when you’re young, and a seasoned coach has to know how to inject a little dose of reality into the early-season party. It’s OK to have fun in the now, but you don’t want to suffer a nasty hangover during the Big Dance.

Calipari isn’t a habitually glum presence like Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim. He wins recruits and press conferences with his smile more often than not. He just knows all too well that the cheers of the Big Blue faithful will turn to groans and poor-mouthing at the first sign of weakness from his team. This is a fan base that – for good or ill – expects perfection, or as near to it as college kids can get. Coach Cal gives them the bad news now, in hopes that his kids will not have to hear it on an even bigger stage later. He knows that his youthful charges – six freshmen and three sophomores on an 11-man roster – can go undefeated over the next three months and still be considered a rank disappointment if they flub up one game in the postseason.

“Swag” – that highly entertaining blend of style and confidence that makes basketball fun – is UK’s best friend and worst enemy right now. Calipari didn’t recruit these kids to be mousy plodders, the team’s flashy nature is a reflection of his personality without question. But swag is a pretty fragile thing. It flows like water when things are going well, and can shut off just as quickly when a little doubt enters the picture. With tough games against the likes of North Carolina, Louisville, Florida, Alabama and Vanderbilt on the UK schedule, there will doubtless be some dark moments where swag fails and real guts must come into play. Calipari is trying to find out who has the belly and smarts to grit out the type of wins that lead to a national title.

So, to answer the question posed in the title of this article, it was Calipari himself who micturated in his breakfast cereal. He’s doing the same to the young Wildcats so they’ll learn to hate the taste, and do anything they can to avoid it.

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Black Friday Deals for Sports Fans

Yankees Garden Gnome - Black Friday Deals for Sports Fans

Would you love, or hate a Yankees garden gnome?

So this is a sports blog and all, but I know the bloggers and sports fans who visit BallHyped.com also geek out on tech gadgets and Black Friday deals this time of year.

I know I’m already filling out my gift list of gadgets as we speak, preparing for the holiday season, so I thought I’d share with you my favorite Black Friday deals for sports fans:

Best Buy

Best Buy has a handful of great tablet deals for sports fans who want to stream live events, ESPN SportsCenter, etc., while on the go.

Some of the best all-around deals include a Best Buy exclusive on the Asus Transformer 10.1-inch tablet for $249.99 and the Dell Streak 7″ Tablet for just $149.99.

Best Buy also has blowout deals on movies, video games, digital cameras and camcorder and iPods and MP3 players, so you can watch, listen and record all of your favorite sports moments (and then Hype them up on your blog!)

NFL Shop

NFL fans can get 10% off plus free shipping at NFLShop.com through today. So hurry up and get that Tebow jersey today!

Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble has some great deals on sports books as you would expect. For Black Friday, they’re also offering 50% off their Top 50 bestselling books.

They’re also offering 50% off electronics and 50% off DVDs and CDs.

Amazon.com

Amazon has some of the most random gifts that I love, and will be getting for some of my sports buddies.

As for the more traditional items, such as books, check out the new book, 100 Yards of Glory: The Greatest Moments in NFL History. This great, beautifully illustrated look back at the greatest moments in professional football history was written by Joe Garner and Bob Costas with a forward by Joe Montana. We picked up a few copies of this book and will be giving them out to BallHyped members for contests and awards over the next couple months.

Amazon also has countless Black Friday dealsa s you would expect, including the Go Pong 8-Foot portable folding beer pong table and the new Kindle Fire ($199) — which shouldn’t be used in combination by the way.

If you did want a tech gadget to go with your Go Pong beer pong table, there’s always the Intova CP9 compact waterproof digital camera, which is a great gift for the beer pongers, boaters, fishermen and surfers in your crew.

As for those random gifts for the sports nuts on your holiday list, nothing says die-hard like an NFL-team specific Mr. Potato Head, NFL teamand NCAA team pillow pets, and, of course, NFL team
and MLB team garden gnomes.

What are the best Black Friday deals you’ve been eying this year? Share yours in the comments section below:

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Men’s Basketball: UCLA kind of stinks, loses to the Kansas Jayhawks in somewhat-embarrassing fashion

Carlos Sandoval is a first-year transfer at UCLA. He follows UCLA sports voraciously (which is new). Follow him on Twitter.

Now that the UCLA Bruins lost to the Kansas Jayhawks in the Maui Invitational, we can go back to griping about how awful UCLA athletics has become under Athletic Director Dan Guerrero.

Regardless, the Bruins’ basketball squad has been terrible; that’s a definitive statement considering the team has only played four games (and won just one).

Kansas reminded us all that this team needs some serious help. Despite UCLA pulling within five points after surmounting 48-29 lead with 16 minutes to go, Kansas managed to pull away pretty easily. The UCLA offense, down the stretch, was sloppy and selfish. The ball rarely moved and isolation sets doomed a tired Bruins unit late in the second half.

Credit to the Jayhawks, though, for making UCLA look like trash. Their offense was clearly more defined and organized, and the Bruins never had a chance of stopping the Jayhawks’ vaunted offense.

UCLA now plays Michigan (which lost to Duke, whom Kansas will play for the championship) for third place. Of course, the manner in which UCLA beat Chaminade (92-60!) doesn’t help us gauge what kind of team Ben Howland’s crew is, so the dance with Michigan will be a toss-up. (If Nelson Reeves, beleaguered forward for UCLA, isn’t suspended for being stupid like he has been, that is.)

And then we’ll get to see if UCLA turns its season around after that.

Dammit. Is it 2008 yet?

 

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