Thursday, March 10, 2005


OK, here are a couple of quick things as I head out the door:

... Hey, it looks like Rashad "Robots" McCants has returned to practice but it's still not clear how much playing time he'll get in the ACC tournament.

... Speaking of UNC, Marvin Williams has been named Freshman of the Year in the ACC ... unanimously. This actually surprises me (although if I had a vote it would've gone to Williams) since Williams wasn't a starter, and Sean Singletary was the only player UVa had (the fact they had double-digit wins is actually pretty impressive when you consider that games were routinely 1 on 5).

... And the Player of the Year goes to ... Sean May?!? Well, kind of. The Raleigh News & Observer borrowed the NBA's efficiency ratings and applied them to the ACC. The results:

The 6-foot-9 junior was followed by three Williamses -- 6-9 Shelden, UNC's 6-9 Marvin and Wake Forest's 6-9 Eric. Rounding out the top five was Georgia Tech freshman Ra'Sean Dickey, who is, yep, 6-9 and averaged 10.4 minutes off the bench.

The only players under 6-9 in the top 10 were UNC guard Rashad McCants (6-4) and Wake point guard Chris Paul (6-0).

Looking for a reason the Tar Heels won the regular-season title? Check the list. UNC had five players in the top 15.

Speaking of UNC and winning, Ken Pomeroy uses some stats he created to explain why the Tarheels miss McCants (and it's not because of his offense):

UNC's Rashad McCants has missed the Tar Heels last four games due to a mysterious intestinal disorder. UNC has won all four games, but not surprisingly, they have not been as dominant without him. Most of the minutes vacated by McCants have been snapped up by the offensively-challenged and smaller Melvin Scott. How has McCants' absence affected his team?

From this simple analysis, UNC's change has taken place on the defensive end where they have been unable to keep any of their last four opponents under a point per possession.

...Carolina's defense has been more exceptional than their offense this season. It's a fact you're not likely to hear in any tournament previews, which will mainly gush about how many points the Heels score. But their adjusted defensive efficiency ranks first nationally, while in the same stat on the offensive side they rank fourth.

I don't think it takes much of a leap to say that it's because of that defensive prowess that UNC is able to score consistently and score quickly. UNC has enough scorers to fill the McCants void, but they aren't getting the fast break opportunities that they used to get, because they aren't forcing as many missed shots and turnovers as they used to.

The reduction in defense is one reason why UNC is less upset-proof without McCants, but the decrease in possessions is also important because it gives UNC fewer opportunities for their talent to demonstrate its superiority. So if UNC is going to make a run at a title, they need to get McCants back.

This is one of those things you'd never think of on your own, but makes perfect sense when you read it. Plus, it gives me another opportunity to plug my idea of letting Rashad play even if he's not 100% -- we can even throw him out there in his oversized Sunday suit (If you want to see the stats Ken used, go here).

... I got an email the other day asking about which UNC guys might leave early. I haven't given it a lot of thought (primarily because I don't want to think about a team led by Quentin Thomas), but it's something that I'll probably address in the next few days.

... And finally, some advice for teams playing Wake Forest. Wear protective cups. And maybe even helmets. You know, just in case.