ACC Basketball Season Preview Part 1: Boston College, Clemson and Duke

Streeter Lecka

This is part one of a five part series which will preview the ACC basketball season three teams at a time. At the end of the previews I will release my initial ACC basketball power rankings since that appears to be my thing. Enjoy!

Football season is going strong and conference games have begun, but basketball season is right around the corner. It's time to start previewing the ACC's premier sport.

Boston College: 2012-2013  (16-17, 7-11 ACC)
Offensive Rating: 109.3
Defensive Rating: 101.8
Key Returning Players: Ryan Anderson and Olivier Hanlan
Key Additions: Darryl Hicks (3*) and Garland Owens (2.7*)
Key Losses: None
% Scoring Returned: 96%
% Minutes Returned: 96%
%Rebounds Returned: 87%

To say Boston College returns a decent amount of production from last year's team is like saying Kate Upton is OK looking. The Eagles return a whopping 96% of their scoring and minutes from last year, while returning nearly 90% of their rebounds. A player who is responsible for more than a fair share of those minutes and points is sophomore sensation Olivier Hanlan, who was last season's ACC Freshman of the Year. Hanlan was the only ACC freshman to finish in the top six in points, rebounds and assists. He led the Eagles in scoring at 15.4 points per game while shooting nearly 40% from beyond the arc and collecting more than 4 rebounds per game. Too long, didn't read version: Olivier Hanlan is very good at basketball.

Hanlan's partner in crime is forward Ryan Anderson, who was named to the All-ACC third team last season and averaged 14.9 points and 8 rebounds per game. Anderson is not an excellent shooter around the rim (49%), but he is very good at drawing fouls and grabbing offensive rebounds, which gives himself and his team additional scoring opportunities. He logged 30 minutes per game last season and will probably be called on even more as he is the second tallest player on the team, and one of the few big men that Boston College has.

This should be the first year of a very solid two year run for Boston College. Every returning player on their roster with the exception of Dennis Clifford and Danny Rubin had an offensive rating above 102.7 last season. Boston College was 180th last year in points per game last season, but that's a very misleading statistic because BC had one of the slowest tempos in college basketball. The Eagles were 45th nationally last season in offensive efficiency and I only expect that number to go up. Their defense was below average last season and still leaves a lot to be desired. If they could improve defensively by a few points per 100 possessions, they could make a very strong jump considering how good their offense is. I believe Steve Donahue can take this team back to the dance this season.

Clemson: 2012-2013  (13-18, 5-13 ACC)
Offensive Rating: 98.6
Defensive Rating: 94.1
Key Returning Players: KJ McDaniels and Rod Hall
Key Additions: Patrick Rooks (3*), Jaron Blossomgame (RS) (3.3*)
Key Losses: Devin Booker, Milton Jennings
% Scoring Returned: 63%
% Minutes Returned: 70%
%Rebounds Returned: 51%

Clemson is the Bizarro Boston College. Clemson is very good at defense, but quite bad on offense. The Tigers also lose Devin Booker and Milton Jennings who were their leading rebounders and two of their top three leading scorers along with KJ McDaniels. Clemson finished 13-18 last season and I would only expect them to do worse this year.

One bright spot for the Tigers, at least, is KJ McDaniels. McDaniels averaged a little over 10 points per game last season and also grabbed six and a half rebounds per contest, which is pretty good considering he is only 6-6. McDaniels is an explosive athlete and utilizes his athleticism extremely well on the defensive end. He averaged more than one steal and two blocks per game, which is exceptional for a player of his size. The problem with McDaniels' game is that he is not a very good shooter (33% from 3's last season) and he will be relied upon to shoot even more of them now that Milton Jennings has graduated.

Brad Brownell has historically had very good defensive teams. Every team he has coached since 2003 has been an above average defense and more than half of those have been among the top 50 defensive teams in the country. With the losses of Booker and Jennings, both excellent rebounders, it's tough to imagine that this team doesn't take a dip in defensive efficiency. This team really has only one shooter in Jordan Roper, but defenses will be able to focus in on him with no other offensive threats to worry about. Brad Brownell's first Clemson squad made the NCAA Tournament. This one could easily finish last in the ACC.

Duke: 2012-2013  (30-6, 14-4 ACC)
Offensive Rating: 118.9
Defensive Rating: 90.3
Key Returning Players: Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon
Key Additions: Jabari Parker (5*), Rodney Hood (Transfer Mississippi St.) and Andre Dawkins (sat out)
Key Losses: Mason Plumlee, Seth Curry and Ryan Kelly
% Scoring Returned: 45%
% Minutes Returned: 58%
%Rebounds Returned: 46%

No Seth Curry? No Mason Plumlee? No Ryan Kelly? No problem? While those three players accounted for 55% of Duke's scoring last year and 54% of their rebounding, Duke still returns an abundance of depth and will bring in Jabari Parker, who was a consensus top-3 recruit coming out of high school, and should be a top-5 pick in next year's loaded NBA Draft should he choose to enter. Transfer forward Rodney Hood from Mississippi St. will be allowed to play this season after sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules. Hood, at 6-8, was an extremely efficient player his freshman season at Mississippi St. where he posted an offensive rating of 113.1, had an effective field goal% of 52.4% and had a very low turnover rate.

Quinn Cook, who is one of the most underrated players in the country, will start at point guard and initiate the offense for the Blue Devils. Cook, an Oak Hill Academy product, is an efficient offensive player, who is capable of playing big minutes, and is a knock-down free throw shooter when the game is close at the end. Rasheed Sulaimon was the consensus #2 shooting guard coming out of high school and he did not disappoint last year as his 11.6 points per game earned him a spot on the All-ACC Freshman team.

This Duke team has national championship aspirations and based on their roster composition there is no reason they shouldn't aspire to those heights. Players I haven't even mentioned like Amile Jefferson, Tyler Thorton and Andre Dawkins will provide coach Mike Krzyzewski with excellent depth. Replacing the interior blocking ability of Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly will be a task, but I think Parker and Hood will provide added wingspan (drink up if you're playing the Jay Bilas drinking game) at the wing positions that will help alleviate this loss. Their offense was 4th nationally in offensive efficiency last season, so that could take a slight dip, but with Parker and Hood expect Duke to improve on their 27th ranked defensive efficiency. Duke takes on Kansas in their second game of the season. That one should be a dandy and will be a matchup of two potential Final Four teams. Oh and it appears that they have several players who can dunk.

(Via Ball Is Life/YouTube)

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