"I guess we ran into a buzz saw..."
Yes you did Coach, now let's see if you can get your team to forget what was a horendous loss and focus on the challenge that lies ahead: Miami.
"One thing about the ACC is you can't allow yourself to get too excited when things are going well for you," Hamilton said. "And you can't down when things aren't going well for you because the next opponent will be just as good and competitive."Well put.
Take a look inside for the preview and game thread for our second match up with the Hurricanes.
Welcome to the ACC. Any team can show up on any given night and win. It doesn't matter if you're at the bottom or top of the ACC. UVA upset Clemson. BC upset Duke. And Miami...almost upset UNC. This has created an absolute log jam in the middle of the conference and making this a tigher race than ever imagined. Remember, the top 4 seeds in the conference get a first round bye in the ACC tournament. With the way the season has been going...an extra day off isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Here are the current standings:
W-L W-L Pomeroy/Rnk AdjO/Rnk AdjD/Rnk AdjT/Rnk SOS/Rnk NCSOS/Rnk
North Carolina 23-2 9-2 .9780/1 123.5/2 88.8/14 75.5/4 .7423/11 .5671/119
Duke 20-5 7-4 .9677/5 114.8/20 85.4/5 68.7/90 .7375/14 .6034/91
Wake Forest 19-4 6-4 .9397/18 110.2/51 86.8/8 74.1/8 .6582/58 .3918/273
Clemson 20-4 6-4 .9378/20 115.2/15 91.0/29 69.2/74 .6504/64 .4065/261
Florida St. 19-6 6-4 .8481/52 102.2/151 88.0/12 67.6/128 .7113/24 .5398/144
Virginia Tech 16-8 6-4 .8068/68 110.4/50 97.5/105 66.7/176 .6626/53 .4535/226
Boston College 19-8 7-5 .8282/58 114.7/22 100.0/149 67.4/135 .6605/55 .3870/278
Maryland 16-8 5-5 .8175/64 106.0/98 93.0/49 69.3/70 .6602/56 .4476/232
North Carolina St. 14-9 4-6 .7905/75 111.6/37 99.4/139 64.9/242 .5782/97 .2543/337
Miami FL 15-9 4-7 .9145/26 114.3/26 93.0/47 65.5/221 .7141/22 .4127/254
Virginia 8-13 2-8 .6896/96 103.6/126 96.7/88 68.7/92 .7465/9 .4768/200
Georgia Tech 10-14 1-10 .6637/101 96.7/240 91.2/33 71.9/21 .6237/75 .3620/292
Despite having the second worst offense in the conference, we are tied for third. Our defense is keeping us in the race and will likely help us get into the NCAA tournament. In our Blog Poll update, there was discussion on the effect of offense or defense on tournament success. I feel that a solid defense will get you farther than an solid offense. You have to score points, but shooters can be so streaky and unpredictable. Here is a great article from the Basketball Prospectus about this. I warn you, it is long and very heavy stats. So, if you're not into that kind of stuff, keep reading.
Tonight we take on a very good Miami team, whose record does not indicate their level of play. They recently beat Wake and then had two difficult games against Duke and UNC. They have a relatively "light" ACC schedule the rest of the way, already playing Duke, UNC (twice), Clemson and Wake. We are the best team they face the rest of the year. Despite sitting so low in the conference with a 4-7 record, they are the 26th ranked team in Pomeroy's rankings. They have the 26th best offense and 47th best defense. Five of their seven conference losses are by a combined score of 20 points, 3 games went to over time.
Here is how we did against them last time:
If the charts aren't working, go here. It was close, but we let it slip away after building a nice lead in the first half. Douglas put up 30 points, shooting 9-20 from the floor and 7-14 from the 3-point line, which is a ridiculous eFG% of 62%. Alabi also had a nice game going for 10 points and 9 rebounds. And that was really it for us in offensive production. Miami had McClinton go for 28, Hurdle (who typically does nothing) had 16 and Collins and Thomas each had 10. As Hamilton has said, we have TD, who will consistently put up 20+ and a bunch of guys who go for 8 points.
Since playing us, Miami has lost 5 of 6. However that schedule included VTech, NCSt, Maryland, Wake, Duke and UNC. The VTech, NCSt and Duke games went to over time: a classic example of record not matching skill. Despite this difficult run of games, Miami's production has not changed. The graph below looks at average points and offensive effeciency. We played Miami on January 21st. Not much change after their game with us despite 5 losses. Granted this is an average of the season, so 5 out 24 games won't make much difference, but I think it illustrates the point that Miami has continued to play excellent basketball.
But...take a look at Miami's scoring margin since starting the majority of their ACC play on January 10th:
There is a clear drop in the average scoring margin, obviously demonstrating the clear difference in the strength, or weakness, of the OOC schedule. Their OOC schedule ranked 254th in the Pomeroy ratings, and that included games against UConn, Ohio St and Kentucky.
So if their "production" is staying the same, what has happened to Miami and why the losing streaks, aside from the level of competition. Take a look at their "Four Factors:"
There is a distinct drop in the FT Rate Pct and O-Reb%. Compare that to our chart, which is pretty alarming initially. Look at the precipitous drop in the FT-Rate, espescially since starting ACC play. But, be encouraged that the eFG% and OReb% have ever so slightly increased and the TO% has ever so slightly decreased. It's a subtler chart than Miami's. Granted, our schedule hasn't been as stacked recently. Let's see how the chart changes the rest of the year after this game:
Are those statistically significant differences? Not really. Turning the ball over 23.5% of the time versus 25% is not a big deal, but it may lead to one or two possessions more per game. With the way we play, that could be the difference in a win or loss. I think the decrease in Miami's numbers are a little more dramatic and may explain why, despite continuing to have excellent offensive efficiency and scoring they are losing games. The ACC is that tight this year, that subtle increases or decreases in "the four factors" could result in a number of close losses.
To make this point a little stronger, look at the changes in Duke's numbers:
Again, subtle changes in the FT Rate and OReb%. Duke has had a rough stretch of games. These are the differences that are going to make you a top team in the ACC or at the bottom staring at those who made the tournament. That is why this game is so important. Many of you have already stated that this is a must win game.
In Lunardi's bracket we're currently an 8 seed...which is probably about right. But our stock is droping. Win this game and we're good. He currently has Miami as an 11 seed. We cannot go 0-2 against Miami. With our schedule, we need to win this game.
Here are the current numbers for each team from Pomeroy:
Raw Efficiency : 109.6 ( 42) 96.9 ( 84)
Adj Efficiency : 114.3 ( 26) 93.1 ( 50)
Effective FG% : 50.1 (132) 45.0 ( 31)
Turnover Pct. : 19.3 ( 95) 17.7 (318)
Off. Rebound% : 39.4 ( 20) 31.4 (110)
Free Throw Rate: 39.8 ( 84) 26.9 ( 14)
3-Point FG% : 37.6 ( 49) 31.5 ( 42)
2-Point FG% : 46.6 (223) 43.6 ( 35)
Free Throw Pct.: 67.8 (202) 71.2 (285)
Block Pct. : 10.9 (299) 11.1 ( 68)
Steal Pct. : 9.5 (138) 8.3 (283)
3PA/FGA : 35.7 ( 94) 37.2 (291)
A/FGM : 50.2 (259) 56.0 (223)
Miami likes to play a slow tempo half court game and kills you with the three. They are happy to sit in a zone and wear you down. They are not the biggest team we have faced but they re eperienced, with two lonely freshman on the team, Juilan Gamble and DeQuan Jones. Niether plays a ton nof minutes.
Dwayne Collins, their 6-8 forward, sat out the UNC game with an ankle sprain and has been listed as day to day, but he is likely going to start against FSU. The key to this game, again, will be to stop McClinton. He is one of the most prolific offensive players in the NCAA, despite being listed at 6'1. Toney will have his hands full. He shoots a ridiculous 59.4 eFG% and his ORtg is 123.2 and his TO is a delightful 17% for a guard.
Here are our numbers for comparison:
Raw Efficiency : 98.7 (215) 92.2 ( 21)
Adj Efficiency : 102.2 (153) 88.0 ( 12)
Effective FG% : 48.1 (204) 43.8 ( 12)
Turnover Pct. : 23.3 (296) 23.5 ( 34)
Off. Rebound% : 36.0 ( 70) 35.6 (276)
Free Throw Rate: 41.7 ( 45) 35.9 (159)
3-Point FG% : 32.5 (236) 30.9 ( 26)
2-Point FG% : 47.8 (176) 42.4 ( 19)
Free Throw Pct.: 70.7 (108) 68.2 (142)
Block Pct. : 7.2 ( 62) 16.3 ( 8)
Steal Pct. : 10.4 (236) 13.2 ( 15)
3PA/FGA : 33.7 (149) 35.0 (247)
A/FGM : 53.0 (202) 45.9 ( 16)
We need to have our big men step up and control the game. Rebound. That's all I ask, get rebounds. Control the game, or Miami will do it for you. They play at a slower pace than we do.
Here are the likely starting line ups from Seminoles.com:
F #31 Chris Singleton (8.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg; 6 pts and 2 blks vs. Miami, Jan. 21, 2009)
F #41 Uche Echefu (8.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg; 13 pts and 3 rebs vs. Miami, Jan. 20, 2007)
C #32 Solomon Alabi (8.0 ppg, 2.1 bpg; 10 pts and 9 rebs vs. Miami, Jan. 21, 2009)
G #3 Luke Loucks (3.9 ppg, 2.5 apg; 3 pts and 4 asts vs. Miami, Jan. 21, 2009)
G #23 Toney Douglas (20.3 ppg, 2.0 spg; 30 pts and 2 stls vs. Miami, Jan. 21, 2009)
F #20 Cyrus McGowan (5.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg; 3 pts and 1 reb vs. Florida State, Jan. 21, 2009)
F #21 Dwayne Collins (11.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg; 10 pts and 11 rebs vs. Florida State, Jan. 21, 2009)
F #32 Brian Asbury (7.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg; 12 pts and 2 rebs vs. Florida State, March 8, 2008)
G #1 Lance Hurdle (7.1 ppg, 2.7 ppg; 16 pts and 3 asts vs. Florida State, Jan. 29, 2009)
G #33 Jack McClinton (19.7 ppg, 3.1 apg; 28 pts and 6 asts vs. Florida State, Jan. 29, 2009)
Stop Collins and McClinton and we're good. Much easier said than done. Combined, they account for 41% of Miami's points. Their next 5 scorers account for about as many points as they do. Hang on for a ride folks as Miami is going to come out and make a statement after barely losing to Duke and UNC. They need this game as much as we do if not more. They will likely make the tournament regardless.
I think we win this one in a close one. If Collins is limited by his ankle, we can focus more attention on McClinton. Plus, Coach Hamilton...please do not try to use a zone against these guys like you did against Wake...I know it was good in theory...but we don't play zone well. Stick to what we do well. Pressure man to man defense.
The game tracker should be found here.
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(I'm working tonight and won't be able to join...so have at it)