Thursday, November 15, 2007

Around the ACC

A brief look at a few wins by ACC squads, and the signs of trouble in each of them. First, Carolina played an extremely tight game with Davidson that the Wildcats very easily could have won. Hansbrough made his bi-weekly 10 trips to the free throw line and was, as is also typical, a beast on the defensive glass. But (with the danger attendant in drawing conclusions from one game) the Heels are really, really going to miss Wright and Terry. Carolina did not have an offensive efficiency performance this poor all of last season. More noticeably, they were uncharacteristically terrible on the offensive glass. And the replacements for Wright - Thompson and Stepheson - were not so hot: 28 minutes, 4 points on 2 of 6 shooting (plus 2 missed free throws), just 4 boards and 6 turnovers. And that was against a frontcourt with no one taller than 6'9" and no one heavier than 220. This team may end up resembling the 2005-06 Heels more than last year's squad, minus the freshman growing pains. If you're a UNC fan, there's really nothing wrong with that - after all, that team had the best emargin in conference and ended up with a 3-seed, which could easily have been a 2-seed if the whole growing pains didn't happen. But they sure didn't look like a consensus #1. Then again, it was just one game . . .

We have a whole two games to look at the team from what used to be the hinterland of the ACC's north. Maryland opened up with a couple of lighter opponents in North Florida and Hampton. And while they won both games, there was one stat that could be very problematic: turnovers. Maryland gave the ball away a lot - 42 turnovers in barely over 140 possessions, or just about 30%. Greivis Vazquez was particularly generous with the ball - he's given it away 13 times already this year - but it's been a total team effort. Now, I didn't watch the games and I have no idea what kind of style North Florida or Hampton play. But my hunch is that if they couldn't hold onto the ball against squads from the MEAC and Atlantic Sun, the Terps will have some serious trouble handling pressure from teams like Illinois and VCU, and of course Clemson and Duke once ACC play rolls around.

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