Player (Team) of the Week
Beat Duke & Florida State at home by an average of roughly 25 points per game and that is a statement week for Jim Larranaga's program. The 'Canes absolutely dominated Duke for 40 minutes and did much of the same to the Seminoles. The team got a huge boost when Reggie Johnson came back earlier than expected and played against the Blue Devils. This team sits all alone atop the ACC standings at 6-0 with a winnable game at Virginia Tech on Wednesday. Durand Scott, Kenny Kadji and Shane Larkin have formed a three headed monster for Miami. The three combined for 30 points, 11 assists and 14 rebounds against the Seminoles on Sunday after a stellar performance against Duke where the trio went off for 65 points, 9 assists and 22 rebounds. This is the best team in the ACC right now with a two game lead on the rest of the pack. They travel to Raleigh for a big showdown with the Wolfpack this Saturday where the Pack are undefeated this season.
Olivier Hanlan - Boston
While the team has struggled mightily this season, Boston College may have found their next star in Hanlan. One of the lesser known freshman in the ACC, Hanlan has been one of the most consistent diaper dandies in all of college basketball. He's second on the Eagles in scoring behind Ryan Anderson and has been the lone bright spot on a team that has struggled mightily in ACC play. He has scored in double figures in every ACC contests thus far and has eclipsed 17 points in 5 out of those 7 games. He rebounds extremely well for his position and along with the aforementioned Anderson, should give Head Coach Steve Donahue something to look forward to next season and beyond as the two form one of the better inside outside tandems in the league.
Marcus Paige - North Carolina
Paige is learning that it is a lot harder to replace a lottery pick than you think. To call his first month in ACC play a struggle would be putting it nicely. He's shooting an abysmal 24.5% from the field in ACC and was completely dominated by NC State's Lorenzo Brown on Saturday. Poor shot selection has been his problem of late as he just doesn't seem to be in the flow of the offense. Against NC State, the freshman point guard was so out of it that Roy Williams replaced him in the second half with seldom used Gardner-Webb transfer Luke Davis. It was a telling sign for how poorly Paige has played lately. Point guard is the most difficult position to play on the basketball court and most freshman take their lumps during that first year. Paige is doing exactly that lately but he's talented enough to overcome it and will by season's end.
Top 5 Coaching Performances
Jim Larranaga - Miami
With the circus surrounding Miami's athletics program and the injury to Reggie Johnson, the Job that Larranaga has done with this team has been spectacular. Picked to finish behind NC State, Duke and North Carolina by the coaches, Miami is undefeated in conference play with signature wins over Duke and Carolina. A big game on the road against preseason favorite NC State will show us just how good the 'Canes are.
Mark Gottfried - NC State
Gottfried created a buzz with the State program after reaching the Sweet 16 a season ago. Add in a stellar recruiting class and this team has the talent to win it all. But talent isn't all you need. Gott has had to massage egos on this team and try and mesh the elder statesman with the young gunners. Lack of depth due to a lost recruiting class after the coaching change is a big concern going forward. The jury is still out as this team has suffered bad losses at Maryland and at Wake but wins over Duke and UNC (first in 13 tries) has to count for something.
Mike Krzyzewski - Duke
Coach K could be on the top of this list year after year. He is the greatest coach of all time, that's a forgone conclusion but no one expected Duke to be this good. Without the injury to Ryan Kelly this team could easily be undefeated. The development and progression of Mason Plumlee and [Player Quinn Cook] along with the outstanding play of freshman Rasheed Suliamon has this team in position to be a Final Four favorite come March.
Mark Turgeon - Maryland
It's hard to replace a legend. Most coaches don't succeed when tasked with replacing a guy who won a National Championship and is the program's all-time leader in wins, which is why I feel for the guy who replaces Coach K. Turgeon has bucked that stereotype thus far and has this Maryland team playing well, especially on the defensive end. Now if he could just start running the offense through Alex Len instead of Dez Wells this team could get closer to being the team they should be.
Tony Bennett - Virginia
After losing Mike Scott from last year's squad, the Cavaliers were supposed to take a step back this season. They were picked to finish in the bottom half of the league but through 7 ACC games, they are all alone in second place. Joe Harris has stepped up in Scott's absence and this team play's a different brand of basketball than most are accustomed to. The slow paced Princeton style offense and tough, physical defense may be boring but it has been effective for Coach Bennett's squad.
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As a Duke fan, Miami played outstanding last week. That was not even a game. Their backcourt crushed Duke. Not to take anything away from Miami; but Cook, Curry, and Thornton combined for a 1-29 performance, that is unacceptable. Their guards had what 60+ points alone? They didn't even need Reggie Johnson back for that game, that is the sad part.
Miami is suprising me with how well they are playing. They continued to play well when Reggie went down, and now that he is back, I don't know what ACC team can knock them off.
I told you guys that this year's squad would be better than last year's.