ACC Rundown: Florida State

The 2009-2010 basketball season is slowly drawing closer. Every Tuesday and Thursday this fall, Crazie Talk will preview each of the twelve ACC teams in order of conference standings – from the bottom up.

Today, we’ll take a look at the Florida State Seminoles.


Everybody Hates Chris (Singleton). Photo courtesy of

2008-2009 Record: 25-10 (10-6 in ACC)

Postseason Record: 21 in ACC tournament, 0-1 in NCAA tournament (lost to Wisconsin in First Round)

Projected Starting Lineup: Derwin Kitchen (Jr.), Michael Snaer (Fr.),  Chris Singleton (So.), Ryan Reid (Sr.), Solomon Alabi (So.)







The Good: The size that made Florida State arguably the biggest team in all of the NCAA last season returns. Led by long-armed, athletic sophomores Solomon Alabi (7’1″) and Chris Singleton (6’9″), a former McDonalds All-American, the frontcourt remains a force to be reckoned with. Led by reigning ACC Coach of the Year Leonard Hamilton, the Seminoles’ big men will present plenty of matchup problems for opposing teams.

The Bad: Like Miami and Boston College, Florida State has lost a senior guard that accounted for a large majority of its offense. Reigning ACC Defensive Player of the Year Toney Douglas, who also averaged 21.5 points to lead the ACC, did everything for the Seminoles. Amazing that he didn’t win ACC player of the year. He provided steady leadership, clutch shooting and impeccable defense for a team that exceeded everyone’s expectations. Douglas will be extremely tough to replace, as no double-digit scorer returns for FSU.

The Crazie: The first opportunity to replace Douglas goes to freshman guard Michael Snaer, the No. 13 recruit on Scout and one of the most heralded recruits in Seminole history. How much he lives up to expectations will determine a lot about the team’s season. Similarly, for the first time in a long time, there are expectations for the basketball team at a football school. After finishing with their best ACC record (10-6) this decade, Seminole fans will be expecting a lot from Coach Hamilton and the team, even with the loss of Douglas.

We Love to Hate… Ryan Reid. Seriously, what has this guy done in his three years at FSU, besides this? And this? I’m sorry, Seminole fans, because I love what Leonard Hamilton does, but this guy has got to go. I don’t care what people think about Greg Paulus. The rest of the ACC should be happy there will only be one more year of Reid’s nonsense.

Bottom Line: The leadership and skills of Toney Douglas are losses I do not think the Seminoles can overcome, even with the arrival of Michael Snaer. There are plenty of teams in the ACC that can matchup with FSU’s size (Georgia Tech, UNC, Wake Forest, Clemson and Duke come to mind). Now that there are expectations in Tallahassee for basketball, it will be interesting to see how the team responds. I expect Singleton and Alabi to become legitimate All-ACC contenders, but Florida State will fall back to the middle of the ACC and perhaps even finish in the bottom half. But in the tough ACC, that will probably still be good enough for a return to the NCAA tournament.

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Crazie Talk’s ACC Rundowns:

Georgia Tech | Virginia | NC State | Virginia Tech | Miami (FL) | Maryland
Boston College | Clemson | Florida State | Wake Forest | North Carolina | Duke

The Kyrie Irving Effect

When Kyrie Irving committed to Duke this past week, the casual basketball fan may have asked, “What’s his game like? What can he do as a Blue Devil?”

In my opinion, the benefits that Kyrie brings to Durham are at least threefold: immediate talent, short-term and long-term recruiting.


Kyrie is a tremendous point guard. His high school coach, Kevin Boyle, said that Irving would be “as good as anybody who’s played in New Jersey.” That’s high praise in the context of Blue Devil history, considering the guards responsible for Duke’s three national titles, Bobby Hurley and Jason Williams, are both Jersey products.

Perhaps Boyle simply spoke too soon. Irving has gotten much, much better in the past year.

In August, Kyrie won MVP honors of the Nike Global Challenge by leading USA’s East squad to a comeback victory over a talented Canada squad. The event is arguably the most challenging prep showcase of the summer; not only are players representing themselves, but their country as well. Kyrie not only outplayed the competition, but he stood out on a team that also featured fellow 2010 top-10 recruits Josh Selby, Tobias Harris and Will Barton, cementing his status as an elite prospect.

Just days after his Duke announcement, Irving dominated the Eddie Griffin Challenge, an event that pits New Jersey and Pennsylvania high schoolers against each other. Again, Kyrie stole the show by taking over down the stretch and carried the New Jersey seniors over the Pennsylvania seniors. Kyrie dropped 12 assists to go along with 19 points, showing the Duke faithful what they have been missing since Chris Duhon – a true point guard.

Of course, Irving must improve some aspects of his game. To excel at Duke, he will have to improve defensively. Coach K demands a lot of his lead guards on defense (remember the way Ewing hounded Felton in the final seconds at Cameron in ’05?). In that same vein, Irving must hit the weight room if he wants to match up with bigger guards. If he can put on some weight and round out his game on the defensive side, he can become an All-ACC player.

On his Twitter, Kyrie loves to use the phrase “Hungry and Humble,” or H&H for short. This is the best attitude a Duke point guard can have. With the target on your back at all times, you must have the fire to win and the courage to keep getting better. With Kyrie’s natural talent and competitive drive, there is no limit for him at Duke and beyond.

Short-Term Recruiting

Kyrie’s commitment makes Duke’s 2010 class a solid three-man group thus far, as he joins Josh Hairston and Tyler Thornton in an already talented class.

But even the mild ACC fan has heard the name Harrison Barnes. After committing on Thursday, Kyrie told Highschoolhoop: “Harrison, he’s like a big brother to me and we talk all the time. He’s his own man and he’s gonna make his own decision. Whatever decision he makes, I’m gonna be happy for him.”

Despite Irving’s guarded attitude on Harrison’s recruitment, the possibility of having his “big brother” (and top high school player in the U.S.) at Duke with him must be exciting.

Barnes has been our number one target all along; Andre Dawkins pledged to get Barnes to Duke months before enrolling early. So could Kyrie’s commitment push Harrison over the edge? On paper, adding Barnes would make next year’s Blue Devils among the most talented teams in Duke history. The guard core is already staggering: Irving and Thornton will join Nolan, Andre, Seth and a potential national player of the year in Kyle Singler (we can dream).

Irving will be the primary ball handler as soon as he is ready. Harrison’s versatility would permit him to play anywhere from the 2-4 spots, the ideal “combo guard/forward” with which Duke teams have thrived in the past (read: Grant Hill and Shane Battier). The two would make for scintillating Chronicle headlines for  years to come.

During Kyrie’s visit to Duke, a sign hung over the archway on Towerview Drive that read, “NJ Guards Win Championships.” While Barnes watched Duke beat Pfeiffer on Saturday, students raised a banner reading, “The Tradition Continues,” with Harrison flanked by photos of national champions Hill and Battier. Could the potential point guard-wing forward duo of Irving and Barnes lead Duke to similar success?

Long-Term Recruiting

Duke’s recruiting misses of the past 5 years have been well-documented. As such, Kyrie’s commitment represented a overpowering sense of satisfaction for hardcore Blue Devils, myself included. I had to watch “Duke locks” like Kenny Boynton and Greg Monroe go elsewhere. That’s all water under the bridge now! Kyrie is a top-5 player in the class of 2010, and may end up as the nation’s best high school point guard by the time the all-star games roll around next spring.

What effect will Irving have on future recruiting? Quickly, let me say that that depends entirely on how he plays in college. If by some diluvian catastrophe Kyrie doesn’t perform well at Duke, it would reflect poorly in future recruiting. But let’s be honest, is that even possible? Recruiting guru Dave Telep recently told us via Twitter that Kyrie would be a “9+” out of 10 in college. The best validation of Kyrie’s potential to lead this team is Coach K’s decision to let him wear #1 at Duke, something that apparently has never happened in Coach’s tenure. If we don’t trust K’s judgment in handing Irving the reins, what are we (and the Olympic team) doing?

So barring freak accident or hurricane, Kyrie will be a star and leader at Duke. The championships Duke has the potential to win in Kyrie’s tenure will continue to rejuvenate its image for recruits.

Perhaps equally important: Kyrie’s “hungry and humble” attitude will also motivate high school athletes to avoid the sketchy route of other star players and focus on improving their game and preparing for college. Irving is reportedly a great student at St. Patrick’s, and the quality Duke education he will receive will only further his success in the NBA and beyond. He is an innovator, too, using Twitter and live UStream broadcasts to connect with the fans. Kyrie has expressed his interest in studying journalism in college, and I could see him becoming a great basketball analyst following his NBA career. The possibilities for a young man like Kyrie are endless.

Duke fans have established a schema of the players who are “Duke kids.” Kyrie is certainly one of those—his work ethic, intelligence, and responsiveness to the big stages of basketball fit perfectly in the our tradition of talented guards.

Hopefully, Irving’s choice to attend Duke will represent a paradigm shift in our recruiting. Hopefully, everyone will want to be a Duke kid.

Video: Kyrie’s MVP highlights from the Nike Global Challenge.

Crazie-Talk is active in covering this exciting time in Duke Basketball: a new season, recruiting success, and more. Check back here and on our Twitter for frequent updates.

ACC Rundown: Clemson

The 2009-2010 basketball season is slowly drawing closer. Every Tuesday and Thursday this fall, Crazie Talk will preview each of the twelve ACC teams in order of conference standings – from the bottom up.

Today, we’ll take a look at the Clemson Tigers.

2008-2009 Record: 23-9 (9-7 in ACC)

Postseason Record: 0-1 in ACC tournament, 0-1 in NCAA tournament (lost to Michigan in First Round)

Projected Starting Lineup: Demontez Stitt (Jr.), David Potter (Sr.),  Milton Jennings (Fr.), Jerai Grant (Jr.), Trevor Booker (Sr.)







The Good: Trevor Booker is a beast in the paint.  Clemson’s only declared captain for the time being, Booker is the most dangerous threat on both ends of the floor.  As a junior last season, he led the ACC in both rebounding and field goal percentage–the first player to do so since Tim Duncan.  This year, Booker is a serious candidate for ACC POY honors, as Clemson’s success will ultimately depend on his performance.  The Tigers should pray his broad shoulders can handle the load.  Also, Oliver Purnell managed to land one of Clemson’s best recruiting classes of all time.  6’9” super-freshman Milton Jennings (#23 by is the highest-rated recruit to enter Clemson during Purnell’s tenure and the school’s first All-American to commit since Sharone Wright in 1991.  A long and versatile forward with the ability to step back and shoot, Jennings has the ability to produce right away.

The Bad: Clemson lacks experience.  After losing K.C. Rivers, Terrence Oglesby, and Raymond Sykes, the Tigers return only two of last year’s starters and 55% of their scoring.  There is simply no magic fix for suffering this type of blow.

The Crazie: Clemson has ranked in the top 25 teams of the final AP poll each of the last two years–a feat only Duke and North Carolina can also claim among ACC schools. However, the Tigers lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament both times.  Last season, the team was ranked as high as #9 in the USA today poll and spent fourteen consecutive weeks in the AP poll.  Despite becoming a program marked by impressive statistics and recent success, Clemson simply hasn’t been able to make their mark when it truly matters.  Purnell must find a way to break the trend of underachievement.

We Love to Hate… Terrence Oglesby. Despite an inexcusable 27-point loss at Littlejohn Coliseum last February, Blue Devil fans took solace in watching Oglesby botch this gem of a dunk, which single-handedly reaffirmed the stereotype that white men can’t jump.  On a more serious note, we won’t miss his deadly 3-point stroke.  Oglesby made ninety-two buckets from beyond the arc last season, which accounted for 62% of Clemson’s 3-point scoring. It’s a good thing he’ll be idling away in the Italian pro league, but Dukies will still remember him and his wannabe JJ Redick swagger.

The Bottom Line: Clemson is young and unproven.  If they’re going to win, Purnell’s freshmen (namely Jennings) will need to step up big time to support captain Trevor Booker.  The Tigers better hope the Division 1 learning curve isn’t too steep for these young kids.  With the departure of Oglesby, this season’s team also lacks a genuine outside threat to stretch opposing defenses.  Expect Clemson to slip into the bottom half of the ACC.   However, the combination of Purnell’s proven leadership and Booker’s remarkable talent could push the Tigers into the NCAA tournament come March.

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Crazie Talk’s ACC Rundowns:

Georgia Tech | Virginia | NC State | Virginia Tech | Miami (FL) | Maryland
Boston College | Clemson | Florida State | Wake Forest | North Carolina | Duke

Take the "H" Train: Barnes Attends Practice in Cameron

Coach K discusses a drill with Harrison Barnes on the sidelines of Friday's open practice. (Property of Crazie-Talk)

Coach K discusses a drill with Harrison Barnes on the sidelines of Friday's open practice. (Property of Crazie-Talk)

A Visitor From Ames

This morning, the “H” train arrived at Duke University.

Only a day after top guard prospect Kyrie Irving committed to Duke, Harrison Barnes, the number 1 high school player in the nation, is on campus for his official visit. Having taken trips to a trio of top schools (Oklahoma, UNC, Kansas), Barnes will be shown the inner workings of Cameron Indoor, the Krzyzewski Center, campus life, academics, and all the multifarious details that make Duke Basketball one of the top programs in the country.

As expected, the Cameron Crazies are well aware of Harrison’s presence on campus and the impact he would have as a member of the 2010 recruiting class. Students posted flyers with “That’s H” all over West Campus (mirroring the “That’s G” Gatorade ad campaign). Also, a group of students painted the Kilgo quad bench with a message to Harrison Barnes: “1 OF MANY BENCHES WE’LL BURN. H 40.”

Open Practice, 1:50 p.m.

On Friday afternoon, Cameron was opened up to Duke fans and students for a full practice. A similar event occurred the day after Countdown to Craziness, Duke’s inaugural “Midnight Madness” event on October 16th. Harrison looked on from the bench: first sitting with his mother and sister before moving to the bench to watch and discuss with Coach K.

Like Harrison, many students brought their folks along as this weekend is also Parent’s Weekend at Duke. The team ran through a variety of drills: full court press breaking, controlled scrimmages, and conditioning.

Barnes can multitask: watch a top team and dribble between his legs. Those 9 A.P. classes are paying off. (Propery of Crazie-Talk)

Barnes can multitask: watch a top team and dribble between his legs. Those 9 A.P. classes are paying off. (Property of Crazie-Talk)

Just like the last open practice, Jon, Nolan and Kyle looked the freshest and most confident on the court. Jon is the clear leader of this team—directing traffic on the court and guiding the younger players in difficult drills. Nolan’s shot is much more fluid than in his first two seasons; I expect him to become a 3-point threat on every possession, especially if he starts at shooting guard with Jon at the point. Kyle was silky smooth as always. On one broken play, he scrambled for a loose ball, filled the space between himself and the defending big man, avoided contact, and finished with a pretty one handed floater. You just can’t teach that.

The Plumlees are looking more capable of performing well among the trees of the ACC. Miles’ added strength will allow him to use his considerable ballhandling skills, while Mason’s athleticism and overall talent will terrorize opponent’s lumbering bigs.

Andre’s touch is absolutely fantastic for an 18 year old. Many times in the scrimmages he found himself in the 10-15 ft. range and could knock down off-balanced jumpers in traffic. If he can bring it like this in competition, well, maybe we can lament Elliot’s departure a little bit less (maybe). As for Curry: after a year of lifting weights and learning the offense, watch out.

Practice Highlights

Lance Thomas is not in attendance . . . Curry and Dre hit back to back threes in a full court press drill . . .Nolan hooks up with Mason for an alley-oop in the full-court drill, crowd goes wild . . . Olek needs to stop taking 3s . . . Nolan with a 3 in the halfcourt drill, Singler hits one from the corner next possession . . . Ryan misses a corner jumper, Miles tip dunks the miss with one hand . . . Zoubek fights for a board and puts it back in . . .Harrison has very long arms, extend several chairs across when he leans back . . . Assistant Coach Chris Spatola is sitting with Shirley Barnes and Harrison’s sister . . How about calling Zoubek “Treebeard”? He looks like a Tolkien character with that fuzz on his face and his 7’1” frame…Can you imagine a guard core of Kyrie, Seth, Andre, Harrison, Nolan, and Thornton? Think about it.

EDIT: Lance Thomas missed the practice and the Pfeiffer game due to illness. He should be back in practice this week.

The highlight of the night? Andre alleys, Miles oops.

Crazie-Talk will be covering the Harrison Barnes visit all weekend. We agree with the Duke nation: along with Irving, Hairston, and Thornton, Harrison would complete Duke’s best recruiting class in the past 10 years.

Everyone be sure to attend the Duke-Maryland football game in Wallace Wade at 1:30 tomorrow, with the Pfeiffer exhibition game to follow. Barnes will be at both games—if you see him, show him some Duke love!

Breaking News: Kyrie Irving To Duke!

Kyrie Irving of St. Patrick HS (Elizabeth, NJ) has announced that he intends to enroll at Duke in the fall of 2010. Kyrie made the call in a press conference on ESPNU this evening at 5:30, ending months of speculation as to where the elite point guard would eventually commit.

Earlier this week, SNY’s Adam Zagoria reported that Irving was a “done deal” for Duke, irresponsibly citing unnamed sources who had been “slighted” by Kyrie’s decision. Irving repeatedly refuted these claims (via Twitter), eventually revealing that he would be announcing his decision today—between Kentucky, Texas A&M, and the Blue Devils.

Irving is’s No. 2 ranked point guard and No. 5 overall prospect in the class of 2010, making him the most high profile recruit for Duke since the class of 2007, when Kyle Singler (No. 5 overall) arrived on campus. However, this class of 2010 has the potential to be even better, as the top-ranked prospect in the nation, Harrison Barnes, will arrive at Duke for his official visit tomorrow morning.

Kyrie reps Duke after making his decision.

Kyrie reps Duke after making his decision. (property of

Kyrie joins Tyler Thornton and Josh Hairston in Duke’s future Class of 2014. Irving’s announcement is the first commitment for Coach K and Co. since September of last year, when Thornton and Hairston both committed after visiting campus and attending the football victory over Navy.

Check out Crazie-Talk early and often during this important weekend for Duke athletics. Riding on the wave of Irving’s commitment, the one and only Harrison Barnes will be on campus this weekend for his official visit. Coach Cut and Duke football are favored against Maryland at Wallace Wade Saturday afternoon, and the Blue Devils play their first exhibition in Cameron against Pfeiffer on Saturday night.

Next week, we’ll recap the long, dramatic, and ultimately glorious affair that was Irving’s recruitment and take a closer look at what Kyrie can really bring to the table.

Brace yourself, Crazies. It’s only going to get better from here on out.

He'll be seeing lots of time on Coach K Court.

He'll be spending plenty of time on Coach K Court. (Photo courtesy of