Player of the Week
Maryland is one of several ACC teams on the bubble this season. Center Jordan Williams has been an unbelievable presence in the post, averaging a team-high 17.2 points a game, with an ACC leading 11.5 rebounds. However, all his improvement isn't enough to solidify Maryland with a tournament invite. The team's RPI and strength of schedule are nothing to brag about, and their conference record of 7-6 is modest at best. If the team wants to play in the NCAA tournament, somebody has to help Williams with the scoring load. That someone looks to be freshman point guard Terrell Stoglin. Stoglin has been a prolific scorer all season in limited minutes off the bench for coach Gary Williams. After a 25 point game performance in a tough loss against Virginia Tech, Stoglin was inserted into the starting lineup where he has not disappointed. In his last three games (two of them starts), Stoglin has averaged 22.3 points a game on 57% shooting. He's also shooting 96% from the free-throw line (23/24) and 67% from behind the arc (4/6). He's also been a solid playmaker, averaging 6.3 assists during the same time-frame and keeping his mistakes to a minimum (2.3 turnovers per). Stoglin's scoring ability is surely a relief for Jordan Williams, who's had to shoulder most of Maryland's offensive load this season. Both players will need to be on top of their respective games in order for Maryland to win out the regular season and polish their resume. Their first test will be their toughest, playing in Chapel Hill against North Carolina this Sunday. They'll then play in Miami, and finally come home to play Virginia.
His scoring ability is still inconsistent and his free throw shooting is nothing short of horrendous, but John Henson's defense and rebounding is a major reason why North Carolina is winning games. In North Carolina's last 10 games (9-1 record), John Henson has been averaging 12.3 points (56% shooting), 11.2 rebounds and 3.8 blocks. Henson's best defensive asset is his freakish length. His wingspan is listed at 7'4", but I'd venture to say that it's more in the 7'6"-7'7" range. His Mr. Fantastic arms, cat-like quickness and pogo-stick bounce make him a terrifying presence for any opponents trying to score on the Tar Heels. Just ask CJ Leslie (quite long and athletic in his own right) who was the subject of several John Henson blocks last Wednesday in North Carolina's 75-63 win over North Carolina State. Offensively, he shows promise, but scores most of his points on dunks and shots around the rim. John Henson obviously has NBA potential, but how he fits onto an NBA roster is controversial. Can his slender frame add any weight? Will he ever become a mediocre free-throw shooter? Only time will tell, but for what it's worth, Super Noodle Boy didn't miss a free throw last week (2/2).
It seems as though I'm writing about Boston College every week. Not too long ago I considered the Eagles the third best team in the ACC. Reggie Jackson was the leader of the squad. He used his impressive athletic ability, long wingspan and body strength to get to the rim at will. His efficiency (49% from the field, 41% from the three) stemmed from his finishing ability and good shot selection. The team revolves around Jackson who is the primary ball handler at the shooting guard position. They are successful when Jackson is successful. That dependence has become a big problem as of late. As Jackson struggled last week shooting only 30% from the field, his team lost both games they played, including one at home against Miami. Losers of six of their last eight, Boston College does not look like a favorable bid to make the postseason. Fortunately, their next three games are all winnable. Two of them against teams whose only hope of an NCAA tournament bid is to win the ACC tournament (at Virginia and Wake Forest), and the other is against fellow bubble team Virginia Tech. That game will be extremely important for both of these teams. Check it out this Tuesday. Should be intense.
Top Five Defensive Teams in the ACC
1. Florida State - With a strong mixture of size, athleticism and tenacity; Florida State is the best defensive team in the ACC. Forward Chris Singleton, considered one of the best defenders in the nation, is a big part of that. His recent injury could be devastating for the Seminoles.
2. North Carolina - The long, athletic frontcourt of Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Tyler Zeller gives opponents fits on both ends of the floor. The trio also rebounds the ball extraordinarily well, limiting extra opportunities for whoever has the misfortune of matching up with them.
3. Duke - Despite being recognized as more of an offensive team, Duke is one of the more experienced, tough and scrappy defensive teams you'll find in the ACC. It's a defense you can expect to see a lot more of in the coming months.
4. Clemson - Clemson's defense is built around team effort, forcing turnovers and a slow pace. They only allow their opponents to score 60.4 points a game, good for first in the ACC.
5. Virginia Tech - They don't have any real shot blockers on the team, but as a whole they play solid team defense. Jeff Allen is one of the better rebounding/defending big men in the ACC.
No word on whether Florida State's Chris Singleton will return before the end of the season or not... On to happier news, Duke's studdish point guard (and possible first overall pick in this year's draft) Kyrie Irving tweeted that he's "op(toe)mistic" about his rehab sessions. No, I didn't make that up... Kendall Marshall is closing in on Nolan Smith for leading the ACC in assists per game, which would prevent Smith from becoming the first player in ACC history to lead the conference in both points and assists per game... Don't miss Duke play Virginia Tech this Saturday evening...