What happens when you a cross a seven-game winning streak with a six-game losing streak? If you saw the Duke/Virginia game, you know the answer.
Duke rolled out early to a 20-4 lead and never looked back, crushing the struggling Cavaliers by 18. Fact is, it should/could/would have been much worse, but Coach K sat his starters with about five minutes left to play. Virginia was able to go on a 13-5 run against Duke’s bench, to make the score look a bit less lopsided.
In reality, Virginia had no shot with star guard, Sylven Landesberg, sitting on the bench with a deep-thigh bruise. The Cavs weren’t going to win with his 17.4ppg (5th in the ACC) stuck on the pine.
SO WHAT DID I SEE?
THREE MINUS ONE = VICTORY
Tonight the Big Three (Singler, Schyer and Smith) were reduced to the Big Two, as Nolan Smith had his worst game of the year (and course he did it three days after I wrote that he was the most consistent player on the team). Tonight he finished 1-8 from the floor, scoring a season low five points.
Of course it was bound to happen. Everyone has a off night, even Nolan Smith. At the very least, if you’re going to have a bad game, do it against a team riding a six-game slide.
The good news is, it didn’t matter at all. That’s the beauty of having a “Big Three.” One can have an off shooting night, but the others can pick up the slack. Singler and Scheyer both had solid nights. They combined to score 41 on only 24 shots (Vasquez scored 41 against Tech Saturday night, but he needed 33 shots to get it done).
SCHEYER PLAYS LIKE A SENIOR
Thursday night, I wrote about Jon Scheyer’s recent slump. While we expected most “experts” to declare it tired legs, I knew that wasn’t the case. The simple fact was, Scheyer was taking bad shots. The stats don’t lie, folks. If he had tired legs, he wouldn’t be shooting an impressive 44% from downtown (better knows as three-point land). The fact was, he was shooting an awful 19% from two-point range because he was taking a ton of bad shots like.
He needed to stop getting trapped among the trees and hit some open mid-range jumpers or a runner or two. Obviously he reads this blog (he doesn’t) because he listened. (more…)
Word on the street is, North Carolina point guard, Larry Drew II is unhappy with his life as a Tar Heel and is out of there when the season ends.
Now reliable sources close to the situation tell Buster that if TarHeel point guard Larry Drew II were to “make a decision today” he would transfer out of Chapel Hill and head back home to the West Coast, with either UCLA or USC being likely possible destinations.
Obviously this is still in the rumor stage, in fact, Larry Drew called this rumor “ridiculously false,” but I love rumors and so we’ll speculate anyway.
If this was true, we can’t blame him. He’s received a majority of the blame for Carolina’s failures this season. Our personal opinion is, he’s certainly part of the blame, but there are plenty of factors; too many freshman, bad guard play overall, injuries and our favorite, bad coaching (Old Roy hasn’t done a good job adjusting to the lineup he has, thus losing his team a long time ago).
The reality for Drew is this…he will probably still start next season, but the writing is on the wall, incoming freshman Kendall Marshall is the more talented PG and if Marshall didn’t squeeze into the starting lineup by the end of next season, he certainly would take over the spot the following year, which would turn Larry Drew II into a second Greg Paulus (a sitting senior)…without the football skills of course.
The good news for the ACC is, if Drew leaves, that means that Coach Williams will be forced to hand his offense over to a freshman, who like Drew this season, has no outside shot. Of course he could keep Strickland at the point, but we all already know, that’s not his natural position.
Early this week, Maryland basketball coach, Gary Williams, complained about the fact his Terps keep getting left out of the top-25. You know what, the all-mighty sweaty one has a good point.
If you’ve see this Maryland team play at all, you know they’re one of the top-25 teams right now. They’ve won 11 of 13 games, with both loses coming on the road, where all teams in the ACC are having trouble winning.
Yet, during their current five-game winning streak, they’ve won twice on the road, including Saturday nights thrilling 104-100 victory over Virginia Tech. Is it me or are they starting to look like a team of some type of destiny?
Yeah, I’m probably reaching a bit, but over the last week, they beat Georgia Tech with two game winning shots and then needed double-overtime to take down a good Hokies team that was undefeated at home this season.
Yet, they’re still unranked, while teams like Texas can just keep losing (5-7 in their last 12 games), but not fall out of the top-25.
The great irony is, assuming Duke beats Virginia Sunday night, the Terps will be taking on Duke Wednesday for at least a share of the ACC championship, but Duke is a top-five team, but Marylan isn’t. It just don’t make no sense.
Think about it…Maryland can share the ACC title, but not get anything above a No 5 or 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
In the end, they will be ranked starting this Monday, but it’s a bit sad they had to struggle so hard to get there.
Despite my personal feelings for Maryland, I’ve been giving them props all season long, begging people not to overlook them. The fact is, Big Duke Balls loves experience and the Terps have it, including three senior starters. Of course the perro grande in College Park is Greivis Vasquez who dropped 41 against Virginia Tech.
Now we’re not going to overlook the simple fact Vasquez needed 33 shots (that’s many) to score those 41 points, so I’m not ready to hand him the ACC player of the year just yet. I am willing to say the race is down to two; Vasquez and Jon Scheyer. The award was Scheyer’s all season long, but his recent shooting slump has allowed the Maryland senior back into it.
In reality, Wednesday night’s game between Maryland has a legit chance to decide both the ACC regular season championship and the ACC player of the year award.
That…will be a hell of a game.
After another rough shooting night (5-16 from the floor) against Tulas, everyone is starting to ask…is Jon Scheyer, after playing nearly 37 minutes per game, starting to get tired?
It’s a fair question, especially when you look at his shooting percentage over his last five games.
Overall, he’s just 25-82 from the floor (that’s 30% for those of you without a calculator). That’s unacceptable and the fact is, an un-bias person (that’s not me) would probably have to move Maryland’s Javier Grievis ahead of Scheyer for ACC player of the year honors (although next week’s game between Maryland & Duke will probably decide that).
So is he tiring out? Are those legs starting to give out after 37+ minutes per game? I’m going to go out on a limb and say, NO. Don’t sweat me, I got the stats to prove it.
When the legs go, the jumper is the first to go with it. For Scheyer, jumper mean three’s. Yet, that hasn’t really been that much of a problem.
Over the last five games, he’s shooting 17-39 from three-point range. That’s a solid 44%. The problem Jon’s having is inside the arc…from two-point land, he’s only 8-43. That’s a horrid 19% and let’s just be honest, that sucks.
Scheyer’s problem hasn’t been tired legs, the issue is simple, he’s taking bad shots inside the paint. Too often Scheyer has drove the ball way too deep inside, got caught among the trees and thrown up a ton of bad shots/lay ups. That’s it. Instead of shooting smart like a senior, he’s shooting dump like a sophomore.
Now early in the season, Scheyer was able to get a lot of fouls called his way, but for whatever reason, those calls have dried up.
In fact, he has failed to take more than five free throws in seven of his last 13 games. In the ten games prior to that, he took 6+ free throw attempts in eight of ten games. Against Tulsa, he took only two free throws. For a guy who hits nearly 90% of his free throws, this is also unacceptable.
Now, depsite the shooting issues, Scheyer is still playing solid ball. He’s getting his teammates involved, he’s not turning the ball over much (he still leads the ACC in assist-to-turnover ratio) and his D is getting it done.
However, if Scheyer wants to break this mini-slump, he will need to start shooting smarter. Our suggestion, do what Nolan Smith does. Pull up. Scheyer is usually bigger than his defender, so pull up at the free throw line and drain a mid-range shot.
There’s no better way to cure a shooting slump.
Coach K wanted a “tournament” type game and he certainly got one from Tulsa Thursday night…at least for 31 minutes he did. The Duke Blue Devils put away the pesky Golden Hurricanes with a 18-3 run at the 19 minute mark in the second half.
The game felt like a second-round game, which is where a team like Tulsa would meet a team like Duke. A tight game, with the underdog riding the emotion, getting psyched by some shoots falling and loos balls going their way. But then in the second half, the better team takes over, gets all the breaks and wins the game easily.
SO WHAT DID I SEE?
THE DEVILS HAVE A CENTER
Who is this legitimate center that’s taken over the body of Brian Zoubek? Seriously, when was the last time you’ve seen someone just click this deep into the season? Zoubek continued his surprising play, with another-double (10 points, 11 boards).This one though, may have been his most impressive.
You see, this is the first time (since he’s been hot) that he’d be up against a better center. A faster, more athletic seven-footer, Jerome Jordan. Don’t get me wrong, Jordan’s no Greg Monroe, but he’s one of Tulsa’s “big three” and the all-time block leader in Conference USA.
To put it mildly, Zoubek owned him. Not only did he out rebound him (11-8, including 4-1 on the offensive glass), but Zoubek did something he’s never done…he created his own shot. The Duke faithful have been waiting five freaking years for this to happen.
Tulsa decided not to double down on Zoubek and he made him pay, four times (4-5 from the floor). He took passes down low with his back to the basket, made a move, pumped faked and drained his shots. Duke’s final four hopes get a big boost if this is the new norm from Brian Zoubek. (more…)
Filed under: ACC Basketball
For now, the ACC turns into a two-team race between Duke and Maryland. Wake stumbles, while Clemson munches on some home cooking. Carolina…they lost again.
No 1 DUKE
Who has become the most important player in the ACC? How about 7’1 Brian Zoubek? Since being inserted into the starting lineup, Zoubek has averaged 27 minutes per game, scoring double digit points twice, grabbing 17 rebounds against Maryland and 16 against Virginia Tech. I’m still taking a wait and see attitude before we change the “Big Three” into the “Fantastic Four.” Let’s see what he does away from Cameron against a more elite front line.
No 2 MARYLAND
At the beginning of the season, most everyone circled the final weekend on their calendar. That’s when North Carolina took on Duke for what should have been the conference title. You can cross off that date. Now five days earlier Duke will be headed to Maryland for what could be the conference title. Of course the Terps have a tougher road to that game, still needing to beat Clemson at home and Virginia Tech on the road to stay within one of Duke.
No 3 VIRGINIA TECH
Ignoring the final 12-point margin, the Hokies actually gave Duke it’s toughest challenge in Durham. Malcolm Delaney actually struggled from the floor, hitting only 5-19, but was able to get to the line, hitting 7-8 from the charity stripe.
Obviously if you’ve been playing attention, this is no surprise. Delaney leads the conference in free throw attempts. He has taken 174 this season, 34 more than Jon Scheyer, who is second in the ACC. In fact, only five players have over 100 for the year.
No 4 CLEMSON
Nothing like a three-game home stand to clear out the cobwebs. Prior to this home stand, the Tigers had dropped four of five, but have now won three in a row. Of course, Clemson can’t seriously think about getting too far if they can’t get any point production at the point. Tanner Smith, who scored in double figures in 11 of Clemson’s first 19 games, has practically given up on scoring. He’s 1-9 from the field (1-7 from three) in his last three. Worse yet, he has dished out only eight assists, turning it over seven times. You can get away with those numbers at home, but will cost the Tigers on the road. (more…)
The wins keep getting uglier, but no matter ugly they may get, it’s a win.
In a game that often resembled a street brawl, the Blue Devils refused to be suckered punch (I’m looking at you Dorenzo Hudson) by the Hokies and rolled to their six-straight win. All thanks to 14-4 run to end the game.
If you’ve been paying attention, you knew this was going to be tough. Both teams love to play defense, both teams can turn cold at times, but both teams live at the free throw line. The two teams combined to shoot 31% from the floor, but combined to hit 36 of 42 for the night. The difference…three-point shooting.
Tech came into the game last in the ACC in three-point attempts, so it was no surprise they weren’t lighting it up, but Duke hit 10-30 to Tech’s 2-15. That, my son…was the difference.
SO WHAT DID I SEE?
BIGGER IS BETTER
Is Brian Zoubek the best center in the ACC? No, but he sure has looked like one in the past three games. He may not be the best player for Duke down the stretch, but he’s certainly becoming the most valuable. It just makes you ask, where has this been?
Tonight, Zoubek was the difference. I’ve written that sentence so much the past 10 days I should just start cutting and pasting it in. He owned the boards. Seriously, it looked like he was taking on a high school JV team. He finished with 16 boards, eight on the offensive end.
Because of foot problems in his career, he’s struggled keeping up with the more agile big men in this conference. This season though, he’s healthy and is having no problem going up top to defend or help with a screen and getting back under the boards for a rebound.
Of course for him, the big difference has been, he’s simply not fouling as much. That’s always been his problem. He’s played back-to-back 29 minute games. (more…)
We may hate them, but we need them…Carolina that is. The Yankees need the Red Sox. Connors wouldn’t be Connors without McEnroe. Hell, who’s Tom without Jerry. You may hate your rivals, but lord knows, its just not the same when they’re not up to par.
Sure it’s fun to see the Tar Heels stuck in last place, yes last place, but we’re going to face them again in two weeks and that game will be meaningless. Sure I like beating UNC, but it just feels better when it’s the two heavyweights fighting for the title.
Of course, we’ve been through this before recently. The decade began with Carolina struggling through the Matt Doherty era. Sure Maryland stepped up to the plate. We won a title, they won a title and the two teams played in some of the most memorable games ever.
But Maryland is not North Carolina, never will be, no matter how hard they want to be. So I can’t help but look ahead now, even before the season begins, to see if North Carolina will claw their way back at the top.
Before we look ahead though, we have to see what’s gone wrong now.
Despite losing four players to the NBA, North Carolina was ranked in the top five in almost all pre-season polls and was picked by most local writers to finish tied with Duke for first in the ACC. Of course after some early wins over Michigan State and Ohio State, the ranking looked about right.
Yet, that was then and this is now. Now is a team barely above .500. They’ve not only lost 10 of 13 ACC games, they’ve barely been competitive in about half those games. So what’s been the problem?
The obvious answer is the guard play. Despite having a solid front court combo of Thompson & Davis, the guards have struggled. They’ve been inconsistent on offense, miserable at long-range shooting and at times their defense has been down-right embarrassing. Are they just that bad? No, not really (those are seven McDonald’s All-Americans we’re talking about). They’re just inexperienced.
It’s easy to just stare at the name on front of the jerseys and forget this is a team full of underclassmen. Their basic 11-man rotation consist of three sophomores and five freshman. (more…)
Filed under: ACC Basketball
With the regular season nearly done, I’ve done a lot of thinking and I figured, why not share those thoughts with you…the public. Let’s just be honest, everyone cares about what some random dude is thinking.
I’M RETHINKING MY ACC PLAYER OF THE YEAR
All season long, I’ve had Jon Scheyer penciled in, but when the season ends, I’m not guaranteeing he’ll still be at the top. Don’t get me wrong, he hasn’t really done anything to “lose” the award, it’s just I’ve been so impressed lately with both Grievis Vasquez and Malcolm Delaney.
Delaney is the league’s leading scorer and is a monster at getting to the line. Take him off Virginia Tech and the Hokies win 10 games total this year.
While most of you will point out that Scheyer just abused Vasquez in their head-to-head face off, I’ll hold off judgment for the re-match in Maryland.
If I had to pick a ACC player of the year now, it’d still give it to Jon Scheyer, but it would be a tough call.
IS ED DAVIS’ INJURY A GOOD THING FOR CARLINA?
Last year, many expected Davis to head to the NBA. He returned but I figured (along with most people) that he would stay for only one more season. Yet this season has actually exposed some of his flaws (limited offensive moves) and now that he’s out for the year. Does this mean he has one more year of growing in Chapel Hill in him or is he still bolting?
Obviously if he comes back, it’s a huge break for the Tar Heels. You see the Heels are going to be overloaded with guards and wing players next year. They’ll have (PG) Drew, (PG) Strickland, (SG) McDonald and (G/F) Graves, along with freshman (G/F) Barnes, (SG) Bullock and (PG) Marshall.
Now if Davis did turn pro (and with Thompson graduating), Carolina’s front line consist of Zeller (who has yet to play a full season) and Jon Henson, who at least is starting to show some promise. The only backups would be the Wear brothers. That’s a thin front line, because you’re asking those four to all make major improvements this off-season.
If Davis comes back and Coach Williams can figure out a rotation for his seven guards/wing players, then Carolina will be returning back to the top of the ACC next season. (more…)
Can I just say it…that easily was the laziest and lamest headline I’ve ever written. I won’t let it happen again. I just returned from vacation in Miami (sadly, I was not able to attend the game. I actually flew back to NYC in the morning for work). Damn you, job. I was really hoping to see the Canes’ digs. The last time I saw them play was in the Heat’s arena.
While it’s probably not worth bragging about, beating Miami in Miami is nothing to sneeze at. This is the same team that had won 12 of 13 at home and beat both Wake Forest and Georgia Tech in South Beach. Yet, I have to say, I was never really worried. Even when Duke fell down by 12 at halftime, I never thought they’d lose.
In fact, during halftime, I leaned over to a friend of mine (he’s a Maryland fan, Miami graduate) that Duke would rally in the first five minutes of the second half. Man it feels good to be right sometimes.
How right was I? With 4:46 gone in the second half, Duke led 42-41. Damn it feels good to be right.
SO WHAT DID I SEE?
Duke takes a half to warm up. At this point, are we ever shocked to see Duke shooting in the low 30′s? It’s happened enough times this season, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. The Big 3 (still no good nickname for them yet) were truly awful in the first half.
Jon Scheyer (who we learned has a sore back) missed his first nine shots, while Nolan (who’s back we assume is fine) missed his first six. Singler (also, no knowledge on his back) wasn’t too bad, he was 2-5 at halftime, although he was shooting just jumpers (more on that later). Still the trio only scored nine points in the first half.
In the second though, the threesome scored 49 of Duke’s 56 points. That’s a pretty stunning number. It’s like Miami knew was going to happen and still couldn’t stop it.
Luckily there was Brian Zoubek. Seriously, did you ever think you’d see that sentence before? After having a career game against Maryland over the weekend, Zoubek put together another solid outing, although the numbers won’t jump out at you. He scored 10, grabbing five boards. (more…)