Posted: 3:15 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013
During Wednesday’s Operation Basketball in Greensboro, there were a few clear themes to emerge. First, the obvious ones about the New ACC, how the conference will adjust, how good it will be and so on. Obviously attention to who can hang, who might slip down. Maryland’s departure was a sub theme of course.
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Then the more traditional newcomer questions about freshmen and transfers. For Duke, that meant a lot on Rodney Hood and Jabari Parker, but also some surprising comments about Matt Jones.
We sort of assumed that being an offensive whiz, Jones would come in needing work on defense. Turns out that’s not the case. Far from it.
As it turns out, Jones is coming to Duke as an accomplished defender.Tyler Thornton said this: “Matt Jones, he’s going to surprise a lot of people because of how smart he is. He makes plays.”
Coach K said this:
“Matt comes from a great high school program. His coach is one of the best teachers of defense in the country, man-to-man defense. Matt came in way ahead of most freshmen. Way ahead. He’s been a real pleasant surprise. He can lock you down, on and off the ball.”
We would guess that this revelation might have something to do with Coach K earlier saying that while Parker, Hood and Amile Jefferson had locked down spots, and that Quinn Cook was close, the other backcourt spot was not automatically going to be Rasheed Sulaimon’s. There’s some real competition. Whoever gets the nod – and Sulaimon is still very likely to – will have to emerge from Sulaimon, Jones, Thornton and a rejuvenated Andre Dawkins.
What’s intriguing here is not just the depth – Duke won the title in 2010 with Kyle Singler providing depth in the backcourt and Nolan Smith and Jon Scheyer logging virtually all the minutes – and not just the upgrade likely in defense, but also some really keen three point shooting. It’s almost more a question of who can’t shoot it. We don’t expect to see Jefferson shoot many, but otherwise, Duke could come out with Parker, Hood, Sulaimon and Cook, and then bring in Dawkins, Jones and Thornton.
It’s almost impossible to defend all of them.
As for the rest of the conference, here’s some quick hits: Maryland is looking to use the last ACC season as motivation. Jim Boeheim made nice with Clemson by saying he’d had great food there and that his objections to Greensboro had nothing to do with the city and everything to do with getting his team in front of recruits in major markets.
State’s TJ Warren has lost a lot of weight – 25 pounds – and it’s not like he wasn’t good already. His endurance should be way, way up.
Also losing meaningful weight: BC transfer Alex Dragicevich, who took his body fat down from 16% to 10% in six weeks.
While Steve Donahue suggested that his new player will like BC’s up tempo system better, Notre Dame’s Zach Auguste says the Irish are going to be uptempo too.
As for UNC, Kennedy Meeks is coming on as a big man and pushing to start. Ol’ Roy Williams, still adjusting to the Internet at this late date, is very unhappy about the online reactions to PJ Hairston’s summer antics, saying it’s almost like hatred. Well, a lot of it is coming from State fans, so yeah, it’s close to that. His situation is still unclear but the NCAA will have a role in his suspension. He’s also in excellent shape, presumably from some of his punishment-related running.
First media day, and Mike Brey has already had one of the great lines in ACC history: “He’s been a great mentor. I also know he likes to eat his young.”
Obviously that’s a reference to Coach K and one of the funnier ones we’ve heard.
Virginia’s Akil Mitchell talked a bit about how George Washington jerked him around while recruiting him and how he’s grown at UVa.
Clemson’s Brad Brownell is one of the guys who may have a tough time adjusting to the new ACC (really we should say Clemson more than Brownell), but he thinks that improved depth will help (as will a more experienced team).
Same for Wake’s Jeff Bzdelik, who thinks he’s 11 deep once Greg McClinton gets back into the groove. Like Donahue and Brey, he hopes to run more.
No great surprise, but as far as we can tell, the Miami Herald didn’t bother to send anyone or even pick up an AP story. They do have the new Miami baseball schedule covered though, so that’s something.
Brian Gregory should be excited, as should Tech fans, but the team has a setback as Jason Morris has hurt his foot again and will be out 4-6 weeks. One side note: Tech’s A.D. has said he backs football coach Paul Johnson. That’s not a promising sign.