Tuesday, November 17, 2009

ACC roundtable

This time around, Block-C is hosting; you may recognize them as this week's trading partner of questions related to Saturday's game (although such recognition may be difficult as that hasn't happened yet.)

Also, bulletized thoughts on last night's USF game. Which didn't really go as planned.

Anyway, here goes.

1) Let's just say, not trying to jinx anything here, but let's just say the Tigers make the ACC Championship game versus Georgia Tech. Who wins, and why?

Jinx away, fellas, jinx away, it's a good week to do that. But in any case, it doesn't matter who GT plays, GT wins. I said they were the best team before the season, I said they were the best team during the season (except for a short lapse when Miami had me duped into thinking they could be a national powerhouse) and they'll be the best team after the season. No way I'm going back on that prediction now.

2) Has the ACC taken the form that you thought it would at the beginning of the season? If not, what didn't you see coming? Disappointments? Pleasant surprises?

Pretty much about what I figured, except that Florida State isn't as good as I thought and we were supposed to be bowl eligible. And BC's better than everyone thought. The ACC as it is now almost always provides some week-to-week surprises but on the whole it looks about like I, and probably most folks, expected.

3) If your team is not in contention for the ACCCG, what are the necessary changes your program has to make to get your team into the game next year? If there's still a shot, what do you guys need to have happen in order to find yourself in Tampa? Non-team specific writers, pick your flavor of the week and go with it.

There is absolutely no way to fix this offense so it's good enough for a division championship in just one year.

4) If you could point to one player as the brightest spot on your team, who would that person be? Extrapolate a little for us please.

The whole defense has played pretty well all season, but Nate Collins is the guy who stands out the most. I said it in a previous roundtable and I'll say it again: there isn't a better complete defensive lineman in the league. Some are pass rushers and some are run stuffers but Collins is the only one who consistently does both.

5) Swap one player on your team for a player from your hated rival. Who you got and why?

It'd be oh-so-easy and obvious to snag running back extraordinaire Ryan Williams, but when you think about it, what would be the point? He'd still have to run behind our offensive line, and that would cut his yardage in half. I'll take one of their younger offensive linemen instead. We need to fix that unit. I'll take right tackle Blake DeChristopher, who's young enough to provide us with a couple years' worth of better pass blocking than we're getting right now. They can have our backup punter. This seems cruel to Nathan Rathjen, who occupies said position on the depth chart, but consider it like a Mormon mission, where the goal is to spread not a religion, but the gift of reading.


Hey, it's basketball season! As if I haven't reminded you enough. Fear not: if things go the way they went last night, I'll be looking forward to baseball/lax season soon enough.

No, actually, despite the ugly score, I wasn't discouraged. Much. But I do have opinions:

- The score was a function of two things: 1, obviously we need Assane Sene back pronto - and I'm not even sure that would have changed the outcome because he is one guy and USF has a bunch of big dudes. Any time we face someone who can throw two big dudes out there at the same time like that, we're in deep trouble. And 2, the jump shooting. Reverted right back to last year's atrociousness. That sounds like another problem that's going to stick with us all year. This whole paragraph is Why We Won't Be Good. Unless a steadier rotation puts our players in a better mindset than last year, neither of these are anything Tony Bennett can fix.

- With the bad out of the way early, let's focus on the good - or at least, the rationalizeable. Starting with the defense. Despite the over-.500 shooting percentage from USF, it was, on the whole, excellent. Especially to begin the game. The first, oh, about twelve minutes or so were impeccable, and frustrated Augustus Gilchrist to the point where he threw an elbow that very easily could have been called flagrant. Bennett called for a lot of double teams down low - it was the only way Mustapha Farrakhan was going to ever successfully guard anyone who's 6'11", 240 and yes that matchup happened a couple times. Eventually of course that's the sort of thing that's going to turn out pretty disastrous. And the kind of effort being given for the first quarter of the game is tough to keep going for 40 minutes - but that's what they'll have to learn to do, and Bennett will be hell-bent on making sure of it.

- We got our face caved in on the boards, but that was because we missed so many damn jump shots and we didn't crash the offensive glass. The players were clearly instructed to forget about offensive rebounding and hustle downcourt to set up on D; wise, because it would have been a futile effort anyway and resulted in a zillion fast break points. Given the challenges we faced on defense and the boards, this would have been a really good game to live up to the Tony Bennett stereotype and waste the first three-quarters of the shot clock in order to reduce possessions. It was not a good game for Sammy Zeglinski to jack up the first open jump shot he had, wherever he might have been on the court - unfortunately, he did just that a couple times.

- What a ridiculously chintzy foul call on Mike Scott.

- We forced a lot of turnovers. Very nice job in the turnover department.

- Going forward, the general rule of thumb this year will be: the more an opponent's offense goes through its big men, the less our likelihood of winning. Florida State, with Solomon Alabi and Xavier Gibson, is going to kill us. VT is a very guard-oriented team and therefore is eminently beatable.

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