Tuesday, December 11, 2001

Likes and Dislikes of the CourtMaster

Originally published on DukeBasketballReport.com

Hear ye, hear ye! Court is back in session. As usual, I have a few things to get off my chest and rule on, so let's get to it!

I like the fact that games are being carried on Sunday nights. They give the ACC the national state all to itself, and it fills in what is usually a quiet time of the week for sports (unless there is a good Sunday night football game on).

I dislike the guest announcer concept Fox Sports Net is using. I understand they want to do something different to stand out from the ESPN or Raycom coverage, but sometimes there is a reason something is not being done. If Fox wants to catch up with former ACC stars, let them do a halftime feature on them. Just keep them away from the play-by-play broadcast. So far, I have just found them to be a fifth wheel.

I like the way NC State came out and played against Syracuse Saturday night. The Wolfpack's aggressiveness knocked the Orangemen back on their heels, and Herb Sendek's team showed enough poise down the stretch that Syracuse never even made a serious run at them.

I dislike the fact that State's performance will probably just give Wolfpack fans false hope. State shot very well in that game (54%) and out-rebounded Syracuse, but it is doubtful they can accomplish that against ACC teams very often. Despite their inflated 7-2 record, I still see an uphill battle for Sendek's squad to gain even an NIT bid.

I like the way that Wake Forest is playing. They may be the most entertaining team in the ACC to watch so far. They play at a fast pace, and most of their games have gone down to the wire. Coach Skip Prosser has done an excellent job getting his players to buy into his system, and the potential is there for the Deacons to improve as the season goes on while Prosser's system becomes second nature.

I dislike the fact that so far, only four ACC teams (Duke, Maryland, Virginia, and Wake Forest) are clearly NCAA Tournament caliber. NC State and Clemson have good won-lost records (7-2 and 6-3 respectively), but only State's win over Syracuse could be considered a quality win. The struggles of North Carolina (1-4) and Georgia Tech (3-5) have the conference pointed toward somewhat of a down year. Both teams have plenty of young talent on hand, with more coming next year, but this season could be disappointing for both. For Carolina, the potential still exists for their worst record in a couple of generations.

I like the position Virginia finds itself in. Did you realize they are up to #6 in the coaches' poll this week? I'll bet you didn't, and I'll also bet Coach Gillen loves being the best kept secret in the ACC. With Duke and Maryland garnering all the attention nationwide, the Cavaliers continue to play well. They chalked up a road win at Auburn over the weekend, another good sign for Gillen's squad. Road wins have been hard to come by for the Cavs in recent season. If they can defeat good opponents away from home, Virginia should be in the top 10 for quite a while.

I dislike anyone talking about RPI rankings this early in the season. According to Jerry Palm, the unofficial RPI guru, North Carolina ranks #162 in the nation, Georgia Tech is #191, and NC State ranks #30. I doubt anyone honestly thinks Carolina or Tech is that bad, and State is certainly not near that good. I've seen plenty of fans throw around the low numbers for Carolina in both the RPI and Sagarin rankings, but it is way too early to mean anything. A much better gauge would be at the midway point of the conference season. Let's come back and look at these rankings after every team has gone once around the conference and see what they really mean.

I like the fact that, despite his team's bad start and all the negativity coming his way from the fans and media, Matt Doherty is not hiding from any of it. He is stepping out and taking his lumps in press conferences, interviews, his weekly radio show, and media teleconferences. The debate about good a coach he is would take up an entire column, but he has earned my respect by stepping up and taking his beating without excessive whining or turning on his players.

I dislike the fact that Coach K is so inaccessible. I don't write this because I have been denied an interview with him; I have not even tried. What I don't like is the fact that he often secludes himself behind closed doors at Cameron Indoor Stadium or in his tightly secured office unless HE has an agenda he wants to use the media for. For example, I participated in a teleconference for the launch of Fox Sports Net's ACC coverage, and he was the only one of the four head coaches who did not show. Only a few weeks earlier, I could hardly turn the dial on the television or radio without running across him promoting his new book. I don't have a major problem with him not being interviewed at halftime of games; I think that is intrusive. I just think that again Coach K conveys the image he is above it all. For a coach who does so many things right, I hate seeing his reputation tarnished with arrogance.

That's what I think. Let me know how you feel on the message board or by e-mail at thecourtmaster@aol.com.

Next week, I'll have a feature on a DBR favorite, Jay Bilas. Until then, court is adjourned.


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