Thursday, January 22, 2009

ACC Notes

The last unbeaten team in the ACC fell last night as Virginia Tech upset the top ranked Demon Deacons in Winston Salem. As with the upset of North Carolina by Boston College it probably speaks more to the flaws of Wake Forest than the strength of Virginia Tech which is little better than the 7th or 8th best team in the league at the moment. It is obvious that Wake Forest's weak non-conference slate didn't give this young group the kinds of tests they needed before conference play. In some ways the game was a fluke as Virginia Tech shot 37 free throws in a conference road game, without which they wouldn't have been able to pull off the upset. Wake Forest may be very talented but they are inexperienced and seem to lack a well formed identity. They have a collection of wing players who can play both inside and outside but often times try to do too much themselves and marginalize the good guard play from Jeff Teague. They were probably looking ahead to Duke and when presented with a chippy opponent who forced them to play in the half court they looked very ordinary. Wake is still the third best team in the ACC but they hardly deserved to be the top ranked team in the land.

Greivis Vasquez gets to travel to Duke for perhaps the last time in his career on Saturday. It remains to be seen if the junior will return to Maryland or opt for a professional career, either here or overseas, but the recent funk the junior has been in certainly isn't helping his NBA prospects. A guard like Vasquez could easily play in some of the better European leagues and make a hefty six figure salary so it isn't NBA or bust for him as it is for some American players. Cameron has been a fairly cozy place for Vasquez even though the overrate "Crazies" try to heckle him into playing poorly. To the contrary Vasquez usually has one of his best games of the season when he travels to Duke. In two games he has averaged 19 points, 8.5 rebounds and 9.5 assists (almost a triple double) and shot 53% from the floor. Don't be surprised if Vasquez has one of his best games of the season against Duke even if it may not be enough to pull out a win.

I think Duke is probably the best matchup out of the top four teams for Maryland. The Blue Devils are also undersized and guard oriented as are the Terps. Duke made good use of Maryland's sloppy ball handling last season and forced 41 turnovers in their two wins. The Terps are doing a much better job taking care of the ball this season and emergence of Adrian Bowie and Landon Milbourne could give Duke a look that they didn't see last year. Bowie will test the Blue Devil's on ball defense more than any guard they have faced to date this season. How and with whom the Terps defend Gerald Henderson and Kyle Singler will likely determine if Maryland has any shot at an upset. It is worth noting that N.C. State had a halftime lead at Cameron before succumbing due to their terrible guard play.


Anonymous said...

how do you think our starters match up against dook's, esp Singler?

itchy said...

Agree on the matchup with Duke.

Regarding Vasquez, why do you say it's "NBA or bust" for other players of equal talent but not for him? Just because he's foreign-born?

Are you thinking it's because he'd be more comfortable playing overseas or that the teams and their fans would be more comfortable with him -- or some other reason?

I don't know why it would be more or less of a bust for Greivis to end up overseas than it would for, say, DJ Strawberry or John Gilchrist, etc.

Esquire said...

According to the news reports Milbourne will cover Singler. I think that will be a real test for Milbourne's perimeter defense, an area he has struggled in before. Personally I'd like to guard Singler with Vasquez and put Milbourne on Henderson. I think that matchup might be better for Maryland. Either way the versatility of Henderson and Singler is going to give you matchup problems.

Eric Hayes should be able to cover Scheyer but Hayes does have a tendency to lose his man on the perimeter when he tries to double down on a post player. He would do better to just stick with Scheyer.

I think the Nolan Smith and Adrian Bowie matchup is clearly in Maryland's favor. Bowie should be able to neutralize Smith's ability to dribble penetrate. Without that Smith isn't able to do much. He has a negative assist to turnover ratio and is clearly a supporting player on offense, not a central cog. Bowie should be able to put some pressure on Smith with his own dribble penetrations.

Zoubek is awful and all Dave Neal really needs to do is keep him off the offensive glass. Neal may also be able to lure Zoubek out to the perimeter with his shooting but I think having Neal shoot 3-point shots just plays into Duke's defense. If Neal could dribble penetrate this matchup could be exploited better but he can't.

I think Sean Mosley may be a key factor in this game. He is big enough to spend some time guarding Singler or Henderson so he will be a valuable option off the bench. If he can use his physical game to score on the inside with drives and put backs against Duke all the better.

Duke probably has a slight advantage with their bench as Lance Thomas, Greg Paulus and Dave McClure are the most likely contributors. I think Dino Gregory, Jin Soo Kim, Sean Mosley match up well with that trio.

Esquire said...


Vasquez already has extensive experience playing internationally, unlike just about every American born college player, and is well suited for the international style of play, also unlike many American born players. You have to remember Vasquez is already playing "overseas" right now so playing in another country isn't gong to be the shock to him that it would be to many sheltered American players. While he certainly wants to play at the highest level (and where the money really is) in the NBA I don't think he views playing in Europe or elsewhere as a failure like many US players might. Many American players view playing overseas as a hardship and an isolating experience. That is why so many quit after a few years and return to the US to play for $25,000 in the crappy D-league for a 1:1000 shot at getting onto an NBA roster. Or they quit basketball all together. The basketball culture is also different overseas than it is in the US and I don't think Vasquez will have much trouble adjusting to that while former American college players often have problems accepting a different style of play than they have known their entire basketball lives.