Monday, December 10, 2007

Final exams, midseason thoughts

As ACC basketball players take a break for final exams:

  • Boston College’s Al Skinner doesn’t get nearly the credit he deserves as one of the ACC’s best coaches. The Eagles returned brilliant point guard Tyrese Rice and not much else this season, but still are 7-1 with a win at Maryland in the opener in conference play. Skinner did a nice job identifying freshmen Rakim Sanders and Corey Raji, who weren’t top-50 recruits but are both averaging more than 10 points per game. If you were ranking the ACC’s top coaches now, only the three guys who have coached teams to NCAA titles (Mike Krzyzewski, Gary Williams and Roy Williams) would certainly be ahead of Skinner.
  • Duke looks more like the Phoenix Suns every time out, except for the fact that the Blue Devils don’t have anybody who compares to Suns point guard Steve Nash. Coaching with the Suns’ Mike D’Antoni on Team USA helped Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski figure out how to get the most out of a team without a true center. Problem is, D’Antoni’s system of running the fast break and spreading the floor has been fabulous in the regular season but hasn’t gotten the Suns to the NBA finals. And Duke fans judge a team by how it performs during the postseason. Stay tuned.
  • North Carolina sophomore forward Deon Thompson’s recent games against Pennsylvania (12 points, 10 rebounds) and Ohio State (14 points, seven rebounds) suggest he is gaining confidence after a tentative start. When Thompson scores from the high post, center Tyler Hansbrough operates far more effectively on the block.
  • If N.C. State (4-3) keeps losing at this rate, the fans who drove Herb Sendek out of Raleigh will be begging him to come back. The Wolfpack has an embarrassment of riches in terms of frontcourt talent, but is getting consistent top-notch effort only from freshman center J.J. Hickson and senior wing Gavin Grant. Losses to New Orleans and East Carolina and an embarrassing lack of effort at Michigan State demonstrate that Sidney Lowe isn’t getting the most out of his players.
– Ken Tysiac