ACC Basketball 2012-13 Season Previews, Part 1

The ACC is as underrated as a conference as Arrested Development was a television show. Okay, maybe not. But since Arrested Development was brilliant in making fun of its characters, the most appropriate way to preview a league we all love is by making fun of it.

BOSTON COLLEGE

2011 record/results: 9-22 overall, 4-12 ACC. All four ACC wins came by a combined 12 points. But one of those wins was over Florida State. (Never forget.)

Lucille Austero: Today at lunch, you were ashamed to be with me.

Gob: No. I was ashamed to be seen with you. I like being with you.

_____

Lucille: Buster. Thank God you’re back. There’s no shame in being a coward.

Buster: A coward? I’m not a coward. Would a coward have THIS?

[holds out a stuffed seal]

Lucille: What the hell is that?

Buster: These are my awards, Mother. From Army. The seal is for marksmanship and the gorilla is for sand racing.

We all secretly love Boston College. A team that played almost all freshman last year managed to defy the odds and…okay, they didn’t defy the odds. Their non-conference losses last year were embarrassing, but they’re still the plucky underdogs.

Reason for optimism: It can’t get any worse, right? BC returns 75% of its scoring and 70% of its minutes played, even with the transfers of Matt Humphrey and Gabe Moton. The Eagles were really young last year, but all of their freshmen got experience. Big men Ryan Anderson and Dennis Clifford had some nice moments, particularly Anderson. As usual, BC will have a plethora of guards that will shoot plenty of 3’s. Maybe they will even make some!

Reason for pessimism: The Eagles are still young with just one junior (the rarely-used Danny Rubin), eight sophomores and four freshmen. And though those freshmen got a lot of playing time, they weren’t a super-talented group anyway. At times, they were physically overwhelmed by their ACC foes. And unless Boston College has a weight room filled with miracles, that’s not likely to change much.

CLEMSON

Gob: Is that George Michael’s girlfriend? What is she funny or something?

Michael: I’m sure Egg is a great person.

George Michael Bluth: It’s… it’s Ann.

_____

George Michael: Uh, Uncle GOB, the $20?

George Oscar ‘Gob’ Bluth: A magician never reveals his secrets.

George Michael: I don’t need the secret, I need…

[GOB is gone]

George Michael: Wow, that’s so much like stealing.

Clemson can beat you and leave you scratching your head wondering how exactly that just happened, and where your $20 went. There’s nothing particularly attractive about Clemson’s style, but sometimes it simply works. Clemson is still the ACC’s equivalent of George Michael’s plain girlfriend, Ann.

2011 record/results: 16-15 overall, 8-8 ACC. The Tigers beat two of the ACC’s better teams (Florida State and NC State) at home in spite of going 8-6 in the non-conference with losses at home to Charleston and Coastal Carolina. ACC! ACC!

Reason for optimism: Under head coach Brad Brownell, Clemson’s defense makes it hard on even some of their much more talented opponents to score. Seniors Devin Booker and Milton Jennings have all the physical skills to take that next step forward, and sophomores like K.J. McDaniels and T.J. Sapp showed flashes.

Reason for pessimism: Clemson lost two of its most important pieces from a year ago in Andre Young and Tanner Smith, and last year’s freshmen, in limited minutes, certainly didn’t prove they could fill that void. Clemson is relying on two mercurial big men in Jennings and Booker to carry the offensive load with an inexperienced point guard in sophomore Rod Hall trying to get them the ball.

DUKE

[Tobias has painted himself blue]

Tobias Funke: I blue myself.

Michael Bluth: There has got to be a better way to say that.

_____

[Tobias creating buzz around the water cooler]

Tobias Fünke: That Funke is some kind of something. Boy, this Funke is all anybody’s ever talking about. So sick and tired of hearing about how brilliant that Funke is. Overrated.

_____

Lucille: Oh, George, I should have never doubted you. Even when you slept with my sister it was for a good reason.

George Sr.: Got her to stop drinking, didn’t it?

Duke was picked to finish second in the league, but the Blue Devils are fine with lower expectations – in fact, they’ll gladly let NC State carry the load of preseason hype for once, rather than just them and North Carolina. But doubt Mike Krzyzewski at your own peril – he always seems to get it done. Even some of the worst Duke teams under Coach K (since the 80’s) have gone on to at least make the NCAA Tournament.

2011 record/results: 27-7 overall, 13-3 ACC, No. 2 seed in NCAA Tournament, First Round (L to 15-seed Lehigh). According to Ken Pomeroy’s final rankings, five of Duke’s seven losses were to teams outside the top 20 (three to teams ranked 46 or worse). It’s no coincidence that Duke finished 70th in defense per Pomeroy, its worst finish since 2009 (20th).

Reason for optimism: Coach K is a pretty good reason. But another? Senior big man Mason Plumlee is ready to take the next step and become a dominant player, versatile forward Ryan Kelly is healthy, and they have two freshmen – shooting guard Rasheed Sulaimon, and forward Amile Jefferson – ready to inject a shot of energy and talent into the program.

Reason for pessimism: Even if Duke’s defense is improved, they still have to score. There’s a lot of young talent on this team, but no one is as good a scorer as Austin Rivers was last year. Senior Seth Curry is dealing with a foot injury, and Krzyzewski said he likely won’t be fully healthy all year. Sophomore Quinn Cook will take over the point guard duties, and he’s talented but unproven.

FLORIDA STATE

Gob: Zero hour, Michael. It’s the end of the line. I’m the firstborn. I’m sick of playing second fiddle. I’m always third in line for everything. I’m tired of finishing fourth. Being the fifth wheel. There are six things I’m mad about, and I’m taking over.

_____

Lucille Austero: Do you like ham?

Carl Weathers: No.

[pause]

Carl Weathers: I love it.

_____

Narrator: Michael was having brunch with Sally Sitwell at a restaurant called Skip Church’s Bistro. In addition to brunch, the restaurant was known for an item on the menu called the “Skip’s Scramble”, an omelet that contained everything on the menu. Do not order the Skip’s Scramble.

Florida State won the ACC tournament last year for the first time in program history. It was just the second time in 19 years that a team from outside North Carolina won it. FSU has been picked in preseason polls below its actual finish for four straight years now, and the Seminoles are tired of it. At ACC Media Day, Michael Snaer said that if FSU were Duke or North Carolina, everyone would assume they would be good this year instead of picking them fourth. Head coach Leonard Hamilton brings in a plethora of long, athletic players that need some work offensively. But at times, FSU’s rotation has been more of a “Skip’s Scramble” – everyone plays at least ten minutes, only one player scores more than 10 points and everyone gets at least one turnover.

2012 record/results: 25-10 overall, 12-4 ACC, No. 3 seed in NCAA Tournament, Second Round (L to 6-seed Cincinnati). Seven of FSU’s losses were to Pomeroy top-50 teams. But three were to No. 93 Princeton, No. 76 Clemson and No. 259 Boston College.

Reason for optimism: Snaer is great, and point guard Ian Miller can be when he wants to be. It was only two exhibition games, but forward Okaro White appeared ready to be the complementary scorer to Snaer. Junior forward Terrance Shannon is finally healthy. There are some exciting young players. With all the scoring options (four of their top five scorers from a year ago return), the offense is much less likely to go into one of its patented droughts.

Reason for pessimism: As usual, FSU has a lot of big bodies (including three seven-footers), but they’re projects. The Seminoles have always struggled with turnovers and outside shooting, and they don’t have anyone on the roster that has proven they can do either one reliably. Miller doesn’t always defend as well as he needs to, and White has been unreliable at best. A hodgepodge of scoring options hasn’t mattered in past years when FSU’s offense has bogged down: why should this year be any different?

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