2009-10 Team Capsules
Last season's NCAA tournament team was led by a collection of younger players, with Tyrese Rice the lone senior. The Eagles have only one senior on this squad (Tyler Roche
). So there's a real sense at the Heights that the Eagles can be contenders for the ACC title in 2010 and 2011. A lot will depend on finding a difference-making 3-point threat. Rice was hard to guard because of his deep range, but Skinner says Biko Paris
can deliver a similar dagger.
The pickup of Noel Johnson was a must to provide perimeter pop. But the bigger question is: Who will be the lead guard? Demontez Stitt
has to assume the role with K.C. Rivers
gone. But he'll be pushed by sophomore Andre Young
and newcomer Donte Hill
, too. The competition in the pre-practice sessions in the early fall should determine the rotation.
has spent the summer assuming his role as the point guard. He excelled in the position toward the latter part of the season, and he'll get plenty of reps early on to settle into the position in the fall. Also, Kyle Singler
will be able to play his more natural face-the-basket forward position. He should be a tougher matchup coming from the elbow than he was in the post.
The question for the fall will be how quickly Derwin Kitchen
becomes a reliable scoring guard for the Seminoles. Toney Douglas
did a little bit of everything, with FSU relying on him for every big bucket. Kitchen has to assume that role, which won't be easy.
The Yellow Jackets finally have depth at every position, a big-time stud coming in with Derrick Favors
, a player who returned instead of spurning the team for the NBA draft in Gani Lawal
, a returning point guard in Iman Shumpert
and the confidence that they played their best basketball at the end of the season. The vibe in Atlanta is that Georgia Tech is ready for a surge.
Gary Williams loves this squad. He returns eight of his top nine players and can't wait for Maryland to be a contender next season. The return of Greivis Vasquez
gives him a star player, a potential league player of the year and a go-to guy who understands his every correction. Making the NCAAs last season helped Williams quiet most critics, but contending for the league title this season could seriously shut them up. No one is better suited to coach the Terps than Williams, and he's out to prove to everyone once again that questioning his coaching is just plain silly.
The easy thing to do is assume the Hurricanes will dip into disappointment territory with the departure of Jack McClinton. That would be falling into a trendy trap. Coach Frank Haith said his starting five should be better than a year ago. He's banking on Nova transfer Malcolm Grant at the point, highly touted wing Durand Scott on the perimeter and Dwayne Collins
up front after his flirtation with the NBA draft. If DeQuan Jones
can live up to his hype and Adrian Thomas
continues to develop, the new-look Canes could be the surprise team in the ACC.
The Tar Heels lost the guts of their team with the departure of Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson
, Wayne Ellington
and Danny Green
. But the return of Marcus Ginyard
, who is back after sitting out with an injured shin for most of last season, gives them a key bridge from a veteran lineup to a host of young and talented fresh faces. Ginyard's defense on the perimeter and leadership in the locker room will be key in developing roles and a rotation in the early preseason practices.
The Wolfpack is all about Sidney Lowe now. The players are his, so the rebuilding is now officially his project. But the team took a hit when high-profile newcomer Lorenzo Brown
was shipped off to Hargrave Military Academy instead of the NCSU campus. Brown was the No. 9 shooting guard in the 2009 ESPNU 100. Sophomore C.J. Williams
has been the summer stud. He averaged only 3.7 points a game last season, but he's expected to produce much more after his play this summer.
The early practices in the spring proved to the UVa players that Tony Bennett doesn't plan on walking up the court. He'll take quality shots whenever they can come in the offense, whether that be early or late in the shot clock. Bennett had a smooth transition to Virginia this spring. Let's see if it translates for him when the real practice begins later in the fall.
The Hokies have three of the top rising juniors in the ACC in guard Malcolm Delaney
and forwards Jeff Allen
and J.T. Thompson
. Losing A.D. Vassallo
is a blow because he made big shots, notably 3s. But coach Seth Greenberg is banking on the aforementioned trio to keep the Hokies relevant. Tech is relishing its under-the-radar role of being a team that isn't expected to contend. The Hokies fully expect to be in the mix.
The Demon Deacons lost two big-time scorers in Jeff Teague and James Johnson. But they still bring back not only Al-Farouq Aminu, but the two other pieces of that recruiting class that haven't reached their potential: Ty Walker
and Tony Woods
. Those two have the hype, but now need to put the production down in games. Walker was extremely confident over the summer that he and his classmate can deliver. If Walker and Woods can provide a scoring pop with Chas McFarland
and David Weaver
, the Demon Deacons will be tough to defend in the post.
By Jay Bilas
It's never too early for predictions. Jay Bilas offers up his thoughts on the upcoming season in the ACC:
1. North Carolina:
The Tar Heels will still be the most talented team in the ACC, just a younger version. UNC will continue to run and score, but the keys will be point guard play and how long it takes the younger kids to get veteran-tough. The big guys, led by Ed Davis and Deon Thompson, will be the best in the country. I would not be at all surprised to see Carolina win the league again.
This will be a different Duke team. It will be much bigger and more interior-oriented, and Mike Krzyzewski will be playing two low-post bigs together for the first time in a long while. Having hotshot frosh Andre Dawkins in the mix will be really important. He brings some explosive athleticism to a big team.
The Terps had a very good season, but will be better with some bulk and talent inside. Greivis Vasquez is one of the best guards in the country, but his emotional play seems to get more press than his skills. Vasquez is a complete player whom I believe is underrated. Add James Padgett
and Jordan Williams
to returnees Dino Gregory and Jerome Burney, and Maryland is not playing shorthanded in the paint this year. And no team will outwork this bunch. The Terps should be back to Garyland's expected standards this season.
4. Wake Forest:
The Demon Deacons have very good talent, led by Al-Farouq Aminu and Tony Woods. I think the keys are point-guard play and defense. Wake Forest will put Ishmael Smith at the point, and with his speed and quickness, he should be effective. He needs to be stable and make solid decisions, and he needs to key a better defensive effort. I think Wake can be really good, but only as good as it defends (and blocking a shot is not always a sign of great defense).
The pieces in Coral Gables are really talented and promising, but the question is how they will fit together and who will emerge as a leader. Dwayne Collins is one of my favorite players, and he works his tail off and should have a great year. DaQuan Jones has the explosiveness to be among the best players in the league, and he needs to make a significant leap this season. The Canes need to make up for Jack McClinton by committee. With James Dews, Malcolm Grant and frosh Durant Scott, they are in good hands.
6. Georgia Tech:
The Yellow Jackets have the chance to make the biggest jump of any team in the ACC. Iman Shumpert is ready to be a backcourt star, and with Gani Lawal and super frosh Derrick Favors, Paul Hewitt has the horses for the first time in a few years. Favors is the real deal. He is smooth, talented and really productive. I think he will be the ACC Rookie of the Year, and could be a first team All-American by season's end.
The Tigers have athletes and good size, but guard play will make the difference for Oliver Purnell. Trevor Booker is an All-ACC player, and newcomer Milton Jennings will be a difference-maker. Guard play and free-throw shooting will be the difference between Clemson having a great year or just a good one.
8. Florida State:
The FSU leadership was smart to give Leonard Hamilton some real time to get things going. Now instead of being in a continual mode of starting over, the Seminoles can really take a step forward. Solomon Alabi is getting all the press and it is well-deserved, but watch out for Chris Singleton. When he puts it together, he will be an All-ACC player. And freshman Michael Snaer is the real thing. When he figures it out, he will be a difference-maker in Tallahassee. This is a very young but really talented team, and they have had some success to build on.
9. Virginia Tech:
I think expectations should be pretty darn high in Blacksburg, because this team has a chance. Malcolm Delaney and Jeff Allen can both score, and there are good pieces to go around them. I really like the Hokies' potential. One thing they need to figure out is what they want their identity to be. Ask yourself: What is Virginia Tech's identity? Who are the Hokies? Before the first practice, the players had better have a good answer. Otherwise they'll just be pulling an upset here and there.
10. Boston College:
A transition year for Al Skinner; replacing scoring machine Tyrese Rice will not be easy. But it won't faze Skinner, and BC will not slip far. Remember, the Eagles have four starters coming back, and Rakim Sanders has a chance to be special. It always seems Skinner does more with less and exceeds expectations. Don't expect any less in 2010.
11. NC State:
The Wolfpack are close, but the only way they get over the hump is with better guard play. Sidney Lowe's teams have had solid big men, but always seem to fall short in backcourt battles. Being healthy will help, but now the Pack needs some players to step forward and take over the scoring load.
A new coach and a new system, but Virginia will get back to the future to recapture a traditional staple of half-court defense and conservative offense under Tony Bennett. Sylven Landesberg is a star, and Sammy Zeglinski and Mike Scott can play with anyone. Virginia will be in more games this year; they just have to learn how to win them.