你好! Around the World in 13 Days and other Shenanigans

Before you ask, yes, we know we’ve been on hiatus for an eternity. Internships, all of us being away from Duke for so long, and life in general does that to you sometimes. Forgive us…pleeeeeeaaase? We’ll do our best to keep you updated with happenings once the school year starts up again! Remember when we brought you this? And this?

Duke hopes to build team chemistry while taking an incredible excursion to China and Dubai. (Photo DukeBluePlanet.com)

In the meantime, as you all know, Duke is currently in the midst of a worldwide tour, stopping in China and Dubai. I can’t say that I’ve been to Kunshan, Shanghai, or anywhere else in China for that matter. But, I did stop in Dubai’s airport once for an 8 hour layover, which pretty much makes me a citizen, right? It sure seemed like forever…that place is straight BALLIN though, and Duke’s gonna have a great time checking out the sights there. Duke as a university is really committed to internationalizing their brand, and what better way to do it than through our most prominent product: Duke Basketball. This is a venture years in the making, starting with Coach K’s own trip to China with the 2008 US Olympic Team. We’ve also done our best to promote Duke basketball to Chinese audiences by broadcasting games in Mandarin (CT’s own John Sheng was the Mandarin play-by-play announcer for Duke’s home game against UVA last year). And of course, we’re building a beautiful new campus in Kunshan.

Anyways, we’re all anxious as ever to see how the Duke basketball team is going to turn out during the 2011-2012 season. While we could simply mope about what could have been in 2011 IF IT WEREN’T FOR A #&!@$&@ TOE, I’d prefer to take the high road and look to the future with hope. In my opinion, this year’s Duke team is among the most unproven in recent memory. That’s sure to generate a lot of anxiety but a lot of eager anticipation and excitement as well. What’s more fun than watching yesterday’s role players grow into tomorrow’s superstars?

Don’t answer that question.

Hard to believe that these guys are all gone. (DukeBluePlanet.com photo)

I’d be lying to you if I didn’t admit that Duke has lost a ton of legendary scoring, leadership, and talent over the last few years. Losing the entire lawfirm of Singler, Smith, and Scheyer not only set us back legally, but we’ve also lost somewhere around eleventy bajillion points of career scoring. And then, this guy left. And then “that dude” stayed. Seth Curry Saved Duke against UNC but couldn’t save us against Arizona (for the love of God, please don’t click on that Arizona link. It just hurts too much).

Alas, that’s how the college basketball gods are sometimes. One day, they put you on the pinnacle of the mountain, and the next, they Sparta Kick you off the edge. Additionally, it’s incredible how quickly momentum can shift in this one-of-a-kind rivalry of ours. Just at the beginning of last season, Duke fans (myself included) felt practically invincible. We had just won a national title in a whirlwind, near-perfect season, while UNC was licking the bottom of rock bottom.

…But then, these guys went back to sweet home California, started rapping, surfing, and whatever else you do in that damned beautiful state. Kendall Marshall quickly rose to prevalence following Larry Drew’s exodus, and the UNC juggernaut was quickly revitalized. To be completely honest, this seems like deja vu all over again. It really does almost seem like our freshman year (2009), when Duke was unproven and UNC returned all of their star power. I just hope it doesn’t turn out like freshman year did. Don’t click that link either.

Somewhere in China, Duke’s returning players probably feel like slapping me. I wouldn’t blame them, because certainly I haven’t yet given them their due. But again, who on our current team has proven himself? Don’t get me wrong, the potential and talent is certainly there, and we’ve seen flashes of it at times. Like I said, ultimately that’s what this worldwide tour and new season is all about: watching 2010-11’s role players ascend into 2011-12’s stars. Off to China we go!

Subzero finishes him. (DukeBluePlanet.com photo)

As a warning, we as fans must learn not to take TOO much out of exhibition games abroad in August. To start with, Duke’s first game against the Chinese Junior National Team took place after a delayed flight, surely leading to lingering jetlag taking its toll. As someone who has made cross-continent trips to nearby India many, many times as a kid, I want you to trust me on this one: Jetlag. Sucks. Nonetheless, the guys played pretty well against a team with some serious size and aggressiveness, winning the first game in Kunshan 77-64. Festivities shifted to Shanghai the following day with similar results, Duke winning 78-66. In the next few paragraphs, I’ll focus my analysis on the individual performances themselves. Keep in mind, however, that there was some seriously delicious Chinese home-cooking going on, complete with rice, dumplings, and extremely questionable calls.

Great. Now we’re gonna get censored over there.

Austin Rivers: Let’s start off with Duke’s newest superstar frosh. He’s the son of Doc Rivers, the high school player of the year, yada yada…you’ve already heard it all. In a nutshell, he’s about where we expect him to be right now. He’s a prolific scorer, and that crossover of his is straight up disgusting. As a slasher, the kid is nearly unstoppable, and he was our leading scorer during the first game with 18. Judging from his first couple of games, though, he’s also making some very freshman-esque mistakes, especially in terms of decision making and on the defensive end. We’ve seen him play before, and when he’s on from long range, he’s on. But, he’s got somewhat of a tendency of wanting to jack threes to shoot himself out of slumps, and in that regard, he needs to work on shot selection. Defensively, he’s also got to learn that if he’s going to shoot those ultra long-range threes, there’s going to be long rebounds that result. Long rebounds lead to opposing fast breaks, and he needs to be the first guy back if he’s the one chucking that long shot. Besides that, he’s certainly got big-time potential and will be one of our top scoring options this year. The force is strong in this one.

Seth Curry: We’ve constantly heard that @sdotcurry’s been the man to beat in Duke’s pre-China practices. His strengths are evident: he’s a Curry. That means you’re going to get an offensive weapon and a crisp jump shooter night in and night out. What we want to see more of is Seth working off the dribble, trying to create his own shot. He showed flashes of brilliance in this regard last year, especially against the Baby Blue, and it would be good to see him maintain it. In the first couple of games, we’ve seen some streaky shooting but also a few pretty teardrop floater moves off the dribble. It will be interesting to see how he adjusts to being Duke’s primary PG.

Will he become "that dude"? (DukeBluePlanet)

Ryan Nowitzki Kelly: It’s absolutely way, way, WAY too early to be making that comparison, but from what we’ve seen so far, this kid has straight up stepped up. Yeah, it’s only been two games, but just by looking at Ryan, you can tell that he is a different player. And it’s not just the Zoubeard. RKelly is stronger, faster…smarter? And he’s playing with a certain confidence and edge to his game. During the first couple of games in China, Ryan displayed a vast repertoire of turn around jump shots, fadeaways, post moves, and drives to the bucket. He finished with 21 points on 9-11 shooting against a big, aggressive Chinese front line. His rebounding has improved, too. I don’t think it’s unfair to use Dirk as the very distant, extreme upper limit for this guy. I mean, purely physically, how different are they really? I hope that he can maintain the momentum going into the rest of the exhibitions and into the season, but the potential is there for him to be one of our top offensive options this year. The obvious big question will be how he does against UNC’s imposing frontline of Zeller and Henson. Everything comes down to the rivalry, right?

Andre Dawkins: It seemed like an eternity ago that Dre came in to save the day his freshman year. I mean think about it, what would we have done without this kid in 2009-10? Apparently, Jon Scheyer had a bigger lung capacity and VO2 max than Lance Armstrong or some crap like that, but what would we have done with a two guard rotation that year? I’ll tell you one thing we wouldn’t have done: win the national championship. We’ve all been waiting for Dre to take the next step in his game. Twitteratti and forumites alike have put his ceiling somewhere near Gerald Henderson. The two are both freaky athletes, that’s for sure, with Dre being perhaps a better shooter at this stage and G a better slasher/creator. G made the leap to the league after his breakout junior year…could Dre do anything remotely close to that? I certainly hope so, and as is the case with a lot of the other players on this team, we’ve seen flashes of brilliance in the past. I remember when he nearly single-handedly brought us from the brink against Wisconsin in 2009, hitting 4 threes in the span of a minute or something. He’s also had some vicious dunks and OMFG moments, like when he scored 28 against Bradley last year. From what we’ve seen so far in the exhibition games, that potential is starting to seep through. Andre’s always been known as somewhat of a one-trick pony (three point shooting), so it was nice to see him make some drives to the bucket against China. Defensively, he’s been a liability in the past, but so far, he’s looking pretty good laterally and help-wise. And of course, the dude lost his braces. Trust me, it’s a good feeling to get rid of those damn things. Keep doing your thing, Dre.

Plumlee the Elder needs to have a Zoubekian year. (Photo DukeBluePlanet.com)

The Plumlees: I really shouldn’t lump Miles, Mason, and Marshall together like that, but now with three of them being on the team, it sorta is inevitable. For the past three years, we’ve had our share of #wow moments and #facepalm moments with these high-flying bros from Indiana. The worst thing that could have happened for them last year was Mr. Irving going down with his now-infamous injury, as they really thrived off his oops and trick dribbles. You know what you’re bound to get with these guys, with their rebounding, leaping, and shot blocking ability. We at CT have got some extra pride in Miles, being that he’s the only member of the class of 2012 at Duke these days. In terms of his potential for this year, I think it can be summarized in one word: Zoubekian. As long as he plays to his strengths and avoids fouls on the perimeter, Miles has the ability to become a rebounding and defensive force. Anything offensively is a plus, and from the first couple of exhibition games, we’ve started to see Miles resorting to a few go-to post moves. As for Mason, like almost everyone else on this roster, we’re just waiting for him to “break out” this year. I know I sound like a broken record, but the potential and athleticism are there. Mason just has to be a bit more aggressive and assertive offensively, and if he can work in a few hooks of his own, well, then that’s just peachy. And then there’s Marshall, who hasn’t seen much burn so far in China, but we’ve seen what he could do down the road. He’s probably the best pure post player of the Plumlees, but he seriously needs to be put on a Michael Phelps 8 million calorie diet (minus the illegal substances). Dude’s Henson-esque right now. So far in China, Miles has been the best of the three brothers and has been active on the offensive and defensive ends, getting into double figure scoring too. But guys, for the love of God, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE keep working on those free throws!

Josh Hairston and Tyler Thornton: Josh and Tyler are the remnants of the former Trio, now that Kyrie’s gone. It will be interesting to see how Josh’s role turns out this year, with Duke having a very deep post rotation, just like 2010. From the playing time he’s gotten during the China trip, we can see that he’s bulked up and has worked on his rebounding. I think that Lance Thomas would be a good potential comparison for Josh, since they’re both of similar build and could be labeled as “energy guys.” For Tyler, well, the one and only @ndotsmitty has said that the PG spot was his to lose this year. We’ll see how that goes, since the position is still very much up for grabs, in my opinion. Tyler was surprisingly steady defensively last year as a freshman, and I remember how his defense basically won the home game against Maryland a few months ago. Let’s see if he can keep improving offensively, too.

Mike Gbinije, Alex Murphy, Quinn Cook: The rest of Duke’s strong, five-man freshman class hasn’t seen very much burn during the China trip, especially during the second game. For Quinn Cook, the reason is obvious: he’s still nursing a knee injury suffered in high school. But, it’s cool to see him take over @ndotsmitty’s role as DukeBluePlanet’s lead reporter. All fun aside, Quinn’s a very talented point guard, and we’ve already seen him play in Cameron. He’s a very, very good passer and an excellent scorer too. We wish him the best in his recovery, which should be complete sometime before the beginning of the actual season. Silent G and Alex Murphy are our wings of the future. Gbinije is long, athletic, and has the gifts to be a talented defender someday, along with a solid offensive option. Murphy is our latest Dunleavy clone, following in the footsteps of Singler and wearing his number too. Can’t make too much judgement on these guys, since we’ve only seen Murphy play once a couple of years ago, but the future seems bright.

Todd Zafirovski: What a guy.

The torch has been passed on to these guys. What will their legacy be? (DukeBluePlanet.com photo)

Potential, potential, potential. That’s the theme for this year. So much that’s unproven, so much to look forward to. Unfortunately, we’ve also been dreading this year: it’s our last as undergraduate Crazie-Talkers. College is supposed to be the best four years of your life, and without a doubt, I can say that it definitely has been. I’ll take so many wonderful memories away from my time here at Duke, with basketball of course being near the very top. Who knows what will happen next year and where we will be…but one thing’s for sure:

We’ll stay Crazie forever.

More to come during our senior year! Stay tuned to Crazie-Talk for more Duke goodness from the student section


Operation Basketball: The Preseason Breakdown

All head coaches and select players from each ACC team gathered in Charlotte, N.C. this afternoon for ACC Operation Basketball, the conference’s annual media event. Among the topics discussed were the predicted order of finish, the All-Conference team, Player of the Year, and Rookie of the Year. Let’s take a look at some highlights from the afternoon’s action.

Each head coach spoke to the media about their team’s prospects in the coming year. Check out Coach K’s season preview with Sage Steele on SportsCenter, which aired earlier today.

Next up: the ACC Preseason Poll. While meaningless, they are undoubtedly enjoyable to look through and analyze. While there is a clear cut favorite this year, the rest of the ACC seems to be a jumbled mess.

1. Duke (61)
2. Virginia Tech
3. North Carolina (1)
4. North Carolina State
5. Florida State
6. Maryland
7. Clemson
8. Miami
9. Georgia Tech
10. Boston College
11. Virginia
12. Wake Forest

As you can see, some idiot gave North Carolina a first-place vote. [Update: apparently, the vote for UNC was an honest mistake. But that doesn’t make that guy any less of an idiot.] At least sixty-one other people acknowledged Duke’s superiority. Last season, as disparate as Duke and UNC were (see: 82-50), both teams were voted at this very event to finish tied for first place. While Duke is far and away the best team in the conference, the teams finishing second through fifth could easily change. N.C. State will definitely surprise people this year, while Virginia Tech may be (for once) a tad bit overrated. Ryan Harrow will give the Wolfpack something to get excited about, while Virginia Tech may not be as good as the media makes them out to be, especially with heralded transfer Allan Chaney unable to play this year due to a heart infection. Our pals over at North Carolina will ride Prince Harry all season. However, the loss of Will Graves, is huge…in more ways than one. (See what I did there?) UNC will face depth issues in the frontcourt for the duration of the year.

Singler was voted to the Preseason All-Conference. He was also voted Preseason ACC Player of the Year. Photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet.com.

The coaches and media also voted for the preseason All-Conference team, which was once again dominated by Blue Devils. Headlined by preseason All-America favorites, Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler, the rest of the squad was filled out by a trio of upperclassmen – Virginia Tech senior Malcolm Delaney, N.C. State senior Tracy Smith, and Florida State junior Chris Singleton. The only real surprise here was to see no love for Prince Harry here. But we’ll talk about him in a little bit.

In other news, the Kingler was also chosen as the ACC Preseason Player of the Year, leading the way with 38 votes. No real surprises there. Kyle is the most accomplished returning player in college basketball, and is the senior leader of the most talented team in college basketball. However, guys like Malcolm Delaney or Prince Harry could give Kyle a run for his money here, especially since they look to be the focal points of their team’s offensive sets. Regardless, it would be nice to see Kyle get his due as one of the most complete players Duke has had in recent memory. He should lead the candidates in this category as well as voting for National Player of the Year.

K1 should be a contender for ACC Rookie of the Year. Photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet.com.

The final award that was voted upon was for ACC Rookie of the Year. Obviously, Prince Harry Barnes ran away with this one, garnering 46 media votes.  Barnes, who revealed that his nickname is the ‘Black Falcon’ (I’ll let you all take that for what you will), will enter this season with an unbelievable amount of hype. Guys like Gary Parrish have already crowned him as the leading candidate for National Player of the Year, comparing him to the likes of Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, and John Wall in terms of impact. But after seeing Kyrie on court with the team last Friday, I can’t help but think that K1 will be making a serious play for this award. While Barnes will be doing his best to impersonate MJ himself, Kyrie will have the reins to the most explosive thoroughbred in the NCAA this year. I won’t be surprised in the slightest if Irving takes home Rookie of the Year honors.

Countdown to Craziness 2010 Recap

#4 (Photo By Duke Blue Planet)

…Wow.

What an unbelievable event CTC 2010 was. ESPN and the other news crews kept asking if getting in line at 7AM was worth it. Well…you be the judge. We’ll be updating this article for the next few days with pictures and video from our spot front and center in the student section. For now, here’s the highlight reel from an unforgettable Countdown to Craziness. Enjoy:

…and here’s footage from the CTC2010 dunk contest. Andre won it for the 2nd year in a row:

Crazie-Talk made a cameo on the local news, News14 Carolina:

ACC Rundown: Duke

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.

Finally, the one we’ve all been waiting for: our very own Duke Blue Devils.

nolan

Nolan Smith will be an integral part of the success of this year's team. Photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet.com

2008-2009 Record: 30-7 (11-5 in ACC)

Postseason Record: 3-0 in ACC tournament (Defeated Florida State in ACC Tournament Finals), 2-1 in NCAA tournament (Lost to Villanova in Sweet Sixteen)

Projected Starting Lineup: Jon Scheyer (Sr.), Nolan Smith (Jr.), Kyle Singler (Jr.), Miles Plumlee (So.), Mason Plumlee (Fr.)

Returning:

[TABLE=40]

Departing:

[TABLE=41]

Incoming:

[TABLE=42]

The Good: This is Duke’s biggest team of the decade. Boasting a starting lineup with an average height of 6’7″, Coach K finally has a legitimate froncourt. This will allow Preseason ACC Player of the Year and First Team All-American Kyle Singler to finally move to his natural position on the wing. Zoubek and the brothers Plumlee will rotate at the 5, with Thomas and Kelly filling in as combo forwards. Lance and Ryan are solid ballhandlers; LT showed the ability to drive baseline and finish in the Findlay game, a new skill in his arsenal. Scheyer is a sublime player, possibly one of the most trustworthy leaders Coach K has ever had.  He’s calming, even when flashing the Scheyerface. Nolan Smith’s improvement appears to be substantial, and he should step into his central role with confidence. He’s been in the lab, creating that monster.  His legendary Twitter says so.

The Bad: We’re not going to buy into the “lack of a true point guard” spiel – but we should talk about the relative dearth of ballhandlers. Scheyer has proven to be extremely efficient at the point, averaging nearly a two to one assist to turnover ratio last year. But depth in the backcourt may prove to be an issue.  The early departures of Henderson to the NBA and Williams to Memphis obviously hurt. While Singler can handle himself on the perimeter, only having three scholarship guards in Scheyer, Smith, and Dawkins on the roster may haunt Duke when it counts the most. Coach K noted in a talk with the Crazies that this team’s length is much more pronounced that its quickness, a complete reversal from the guard-heavy teams of the past few years. Can this bigger and longer squad adapt to zone play? Will they be able to contain quick guards for 40 minutes? We’ll have to wait and see.

The Crazie: Many fans have focused on “what could have been” this season. The departures of Gerald Henderson and Elliot Williams sting, and many YouTube aficionados lament the miss on John Wall. But look: we will finally see what Kyle Singler can do in the spotlight. He is the clear star on this team, and if the exhibition games are any indication of his play this year, Kyle will be a statistical monster—points, rebounds, and three point shooting in particular. Expect Singler to have a breakout year, and perhaps put himself in position for a high pick in next year’s (loaded) NBA Draft.

The Bottom Line: This is certainly a talented team. Coach K called it the best group of guys he’s had since the ’04 Final Four squad. (Ah, Daniel Ewing, come back!). But the lack of guards leaves us in a precarious position, and this squad can’t afford injuries or bad stretches of play from the “big three” of Scheyer, Smith, and Singler. The first two games without Nolan will test Andre Dawkins, but hopefully he’ll come into his own à la Elliot Williams as the year progresses.  Coach K will have legitimate scoring threats down low in the Plumlee brothers for the first time since Shelden Williams. If all parts work in concert, and we avoid the injury bug (knock on wood), look for Duke to get beyond the round of 16, and squash the rumors that our program is slipping.

Let’s Go Duke!

* * *

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

ACC Rundown: North Carolina

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 North Carolina Tar Heels.

kylehansbitch

We're glad one of these guys is still around. Photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet.com

2008-2009 Record: 34-4 (13-3 in ACC)

Postseason Record: 1-1 in ACC tournament, 6-0 in NCAA tournament (defeated Michigan St. for the National Championship)

Projected Starting Lineup: Larry Drew II (So.), Marcus Ginyard (RS Sr.), John Henson (Fr.), Deon Thompson (Sr.), Ed Davis (So.)

Returning:

[TABLE=35]

Departing:

[TABLE=36]

Incoming:

[TABLE=37]

The Good: Carolina will boast its deepest frontcourt in years. Leading the charge will be sophomore and ACC Player of the Year candidate Ed Davis and senior Deon Thompson, who seems like he’s been in college forever. Henson, the highly touted freshman, will play on the wing but will also see his fair share of time on the blocks. Seven-foot tree Tyler Zeller will look to rebound from last year, when he was forced to miss 23 games with an injured wrist.

The Bad: Losing Hansbrough, Green, and Ellington hurts, but Roy Williams’ biggest challenge lies in replacing Ty Lawson at the helm of the offense. Roy Williams’ primary option at the point is Larry Drew II, who was far from impressive in relief work last season(Quentin Thomas?). Williams could be forced to turn to Leslie McDonald or Dexter Strickland—both freshmen—if Drew II can’t fill in satisfactorily.

The Crazie: We all have heard of salary albatrosses, but is “scholarship albatross” an uncoined term? You heard it here first—Roy Williams will regret signing David and Travis Wear, two lumbering, unimpressive twin forwards from California. There were rumors that the UNC staff was encouraging them to de-commit, but the Wears didn’t bite. That’s two lost cause scholarships for four years. Cheers!

We Love To Hate…Marcus Ginyard, who apparently doesn’t like Duke’s style of play. What, does he expect an apology? Sad, Ginyard appeared to be respectable at some point.

The Bottom Line: We’d be foolish to say that UNC will fall from grace after their dominant run to the 2009 title—the 2006 team taught us that much. UNC will probably struggle early due to youthfulness, but Roy will find a way to pick up the pieces for a solid run in March. If the guard play is serviceable, Ed Davis and Co. will provide the firepower to win a lot of games. We expect another tussle at the top of the ACC between the Blue Devils and the Tar Heels.

* * *

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

ACC Rundown: Wake Forest

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 Wake Forest Demon Deacons.

The Blue Devils will not return to Winston Salem until 2011

The Blue Devils will not return to Winston Salem until 2011.

2008-2009 Record: 24-7 (11-5 in ACC)

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

Projected Starting Lineup: Ishmael Smith (Sr.), L.D. Williams (Sr.),  Al-Farouq Aminu (So.), Tony Woods (So.), Chas McFarland (Sr.)

Returning:

[TABLE=32]

Departing:

[TABLE=33]

Incoming:

[TABLE=34]

The Good: The Demon Deacons return preseason All-American and ACC player of the year candidate Al-Farouq Aminu, who, after averaging 12.9 points and 8.2 rebounds in a solid freshman campaign, will be the offense’s #1 option in his second year. Aminu will have a supporting cast comprised of a trio of serviceable seniors: point guard Ishmael Smith, shooting guard L.D. Williams and center Chas McFarland. These three will surely provide leadership on the court for coach Dino Gaudio. In addition, four-star recruit Ari Stewart will look to contribute right away with his athleticism on the wing. Wake Forest is a team that has a balance of youth and experience.

The Bad: The Demon Deacons’ two best players and two leading scorers from last season now reside in the NBA. First-round draft picks Jeff Teague and James Johnson, who combined for 33.8 points per game last season, would be juniors now if they had stayed at Wake Forest. Even though the team has solid seniors, the Demon Deacons will be hard-pressed to replace the talent they lost to the NBA.

The Crazie: Once the #1-ranked team last year after upsetting North Carolina, the Demon Deacons lost to unranked Virginia Tech at home, quickly losing place atop the NCAA. Then they were silenced by Maryland in the first round of the ACC tournament, where they were seeded #2. Finally, the Demon Deacons bowed out quietly to an upset-minded 13th seed in Cleveland State. Even with two NBA first-rounders on their team (and a third in Aminu), Wake Forest never played up to their talent level after defeating UNC, mercifully ending what had been a promising season.

We Love to Hate… Ishmael Smith, who averaged 6.0 assists per game but also 3.6 turnovers as a freshman playing for a horrendous team two seasons ago. Quick as a cat but sometimes out of control, Smith will be the full-time point for the Demon Deacons. Playing behind Teague the last two years allowed him to pick his spots. He might have been able to do this, but he still turned the ball over way too much for a point guard. Forget the play of the potential All-American in Aminu, because Wake Forest will need Smith to be much more efficient, especially with the loss of so much talent to the NBA.

Bottom Line: Even with the loss of Teague and Johnson, this team should remain in the top half of ACC. I guess that simply tells you how good the Demon Deacons could have been last season. The senior leadership is there along with the young, talented big men in Aminu and Tony Woods. No one on this team will remind anyone of the Chris Paul or Tim Duncan days, but Dino Gaudio should lead this team back to the NCAA tournament. And this time, they should get out of the first round.

* * *

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

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.

singleton

Everybody Hates Chris (Singleton). Photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet.com

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.)

Returning:

[TABLE=29]

Departing:

[TABLE=30]

Incoming:

[TABLE=31]

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.

* * *

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