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THE CHRONICLE’S month XX, 2007

ACC BASKETBALLSubhead here thechronicle PREVIEW

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Subhead here

NOVEMBER 9, 2007

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XX

Standing Head first

last

CLIMBING TO THE TOP

Chase olivieri/the chronicle

Blue Devils ready for return to NCAA summit, page 14

INSIDE: The Start of the McCallie Era, page 15

Chase olivieri/the chronicle


 | FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2007

ACC BASKETBALL PREVIEW

ACC TEAM PREVIEWS DUKE

DUKE LOOKS TO MAKE COMEBACK, PAGE 14

THE CHRONICLE’S

SEASON

PREVIEW

TA

S T B TABLE CONTENTS N L E OF E T O N F C9 OChante Black and Carrem Gay 3 Columnists Mike Moore and Galen Vaisman debate how far Duke can go without a proven big man

are finally healthy at the same time and hope to make a difference

4 DeMarcus Nelson is this year’s 10 Duke’s new workout regimen only senior—and captain

6 Gerald Henderson wants to be known for more than just that famous elbow

7 Duke’s

young frontcourt looks to establish itself without Josh McRoberts

8 The Blue Devils plan to employ a faster-paced offensive attack

has someone doing 71 pushups and other players benching 165

12-13

Both the men’s and women’s teams boast some of the top freshman classes in the country. Meet the newest Blue Devils.

15

The only thing that didn’t change during Duke’s seismic offseason was its expectation to win.

PAGE 25

WAKE FOREST

PAGE 26

MIAMI

PAGE 23

FLORIDA STATE

PAGE 24

VIRGINIA TECH

PAGE 21

GEORGIA TECH

PAGE 22

BOSTON COLLEGE

PAGE 19

VIRGINIA

PAGE 20

MARYLAND

PAGE 14

N.C. STATE

PAGE 18

CLEMSON

NORTH CAROLINA

PAGE 17

PAGE 27

THE SPORTStaff Editor: Meredith Shiner Managing Editor: Tim Britton Photo Editor: Laura Beth Douglas Associate Editors: Stephen Allan, Ben Cohen, Joe Drews, Will Flaherty, Matt Iles, Madeline Perez, Archith Ramkumar, Gabe Starosta, David Ungvary Senior Staff Writers: Greg Beaton, Patrick Byrnes, Andrew Davis, Adrienne Greenough, Lauren Kobylarz, Michael Moore, Diana Ni, John

Taddei, Galen Vaisman, Andrew Yaffe Writers: Charlie Ogburn, Laura Keeley, James McMahon, Sabreena Merchant, Steven Seidel Photographers: Stephanie Kozikowski, Lawson Kurtz, Chase Olivieri, Sylvia Qu, Maya Robinson, Alexis Steele, Zachary Tracer Special thanks to: Chronicle Editor David Graham, Managing Editor Sean Moroney and Photo Editor Sara Guerrero

ACC BASKETBALL PREVIEW

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2007 | 

Can the Blue Devils win it all without a big man? Duke might struggle against top-tier centers No big man? No problem for these Blue Devils It’s clear the Blue Devils will be a lot of fun to watch this year. But they will also be ulcer-inducing. Duke is going to give up loads of points in the paint. Those defensive purists who think every score should come on a contested jumper should probably have some Tums on hand for each game. michael The only true presence inside is Brian Zoubek, who showed little during the preseason to indicate that he could be any more of a factor than he was last year. His injury over the summer surely set him back along the developmental curve, so it’s possible he could show strides later this season, but he still seems to be shackled by the chains of timidity and poor footwork. In the Barton game, the Blue Devils looked most effective when Taylor King and Kyle Singler were playing the four and five spots. But freshmen have been known to wear down toward the end of the longer college season, and forcing undersized forwards to bang with some of the premier big men in the country will certainly expedite that process. That leaves Lance Thomas, lanky and undersized, to battle an extremely talented crop of ACC big men. And it’s not just the premier guys like Tyler Hansbrough and Brandon Costner. James Gist and James Mays are poised for breakout years at Maryland and Clemson, respectively. Rebounding machine Anthony King is back at Miami for a fifth-year after a medical redshirt last

moore

year. Georgia Tech’s Re’Sean Dickey, who torched the Blue Devils last year in Atlanta, will likely be back in January. Of course, this situation is not unprecedented for Mike Krzyzewski. In 1997, 6foot-6 freshman Chris Carrawell spent a good deal of time guarding the opposing center, including a guy at Wake Forest by the name of Tim Duncan. The defensive answer will almost certainly be pressuring the opposing guards in order to cut down on the number of quality post entries and then immediately doubling down. The Blue Devils will usually be at a disadvantage inside, and the X-factor will be if guards can handle Duke’s pressure, making this Blue Devil team the type that could pull off some big wins but could also lose to just about anybody.

Reading over the predictions made by various college basketball prognosticators, there is one adjective that keeps popping up to describe Duke: small. After listening to all this talk, you would think that the Blue Devils were putting a team of Lilliputians onto the court. A lot of this has to do with the fact that sophomore Brian Zoubek is both the only center and player taller than 6-foot-8 on the roster—although the jury seems to be out on Kyle Singler, who could be anywhere from 6-foot-8 to 6-foot-10. Zoubek’s lack of quickness has been a cause for concern, especially in situations where is matched up with more polished post players like UNC’s Tyler Hansbrough and N.C. State’s Brandon Costner. But let’s not forget that at 7-foot-1, Zoubek is taller than most big men in col-

ZAchary tracer/The Chronicle

Center Brian Zoubek (left) and forward Kyle Singler (right) are Duke’s two biggest threats on the court.

lege basketball and can pose problems for other players just by holding his arms up. Zoubek will also not be the only option at center, as he is expected to split time with fellow sophomore Lance Thomas. The Blue Devils have rarely run set plays centered around a post scorer, but Thomas galen should thrive in Duke’s new offensive approach, in which players are always looking for an outlet pass. The key is freshman Taylor King and Singler’s strength on the glass, and either of them can always put another body on an opponent if Zoubek or Thomas need help down low. Singler’s impact can also not be underestimated. The freshman may frequently find himself as the tallest Blue Devil on the court, but this is no cause for concern. He is more “ready” than any recent Duke freshman—including former standout Luol Deng. Even if the Blue Devils can’t stop a dominating big man, they have the offensive firepower necessary to overcome this disadvantage. Between Greg Paulus, Nolan Smith, DeMarcus Nelson, Jon Sheyer, Marty Pocius and Gerald Henderson, Duke can put out a seemingly endless combination of guards that can provide a steady stream of scoring and perimeter defense. And, don’t forget, the Blue Devils have won a title without a big man before—Carlos Boozer missed the ACC Tournament and the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament during Duke’s title run in 2001.

vaisman


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ACC BASKETBALL PREVIEW

Nelson steps up to fill lone captaincy for Duke

LAwson Kurtz/The Chronicle

DeMarcus Nelson is Duke’s only captain after sharing the honor last year with Greg Paulus and Josh McRoberts. by Stephen Allan The chronicle

DeMarcus Nelson could not help but sense the lack of pride last year. He noticed how the players were not taking the charges they normally did, were not diving at loose balls with reckless abandon like they once did and were not confronting each other when they most needed to. Perhaps most disappointing, however, is that the 2006-2007 squad did not resemble the great Duke teams of the past. The Blue Devils suffered two four-game losing streaks and lost numerous close games in the final moments, including their loss to VCU in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. “We just had a lack of collective toughness,” Nelson said. “In every game there’s a point that determines games. We didn’t make those plays, and we lost a lot of games.” One of the major problems, head coach Mike Krzyzewski said, was that the team did not have any strong leaders. Even though Krzyzewski named Nelson, Greg Paulus and Josh McRoberts captains last season, nobody in the locker room could teach the team’s culture of winning. Nelson was a junior who missed significant time as an underclassman due to injuries. Paulus and McRoberts were just sophomores, the youngest players to ascend to the captaincy in team history. Heading into this season, the coaching staff decided that they would allow just one player to be captain. They let the players vote for who would become their sole official leader. That player turned out to be Nelson. “You get accustomed to doing certain things and sometimes you forget why you’re doing it and the importance of what you’re doing,” Krzyzewski said of naming captains. “The captaincy of our team wasn’t elevated to the stature that it should be—to the level it should be. It was diluted a little bit.” Krzyzewski, however, does not expect it to remain watered down. He expects Nelson to flourish in his role, even though the senior himself felt he did not perform up to expectations last year. “I’m up for the job, and I’m going to do my best to make sure this team is ready to play every single day,” Nelson said. “We’re

not going to give in to adversity. It’s up to me, and I take responsibility.” He has certainly set the tone with his words—he does not shy away from taking ownership of the team. His willingness to lead vocally is a welcome change from years past for the coaching staff. But can he set the tone with his actions? Both Krzyzewski and Nelson believe the answer is a resounding “yes”. “If [the captain is] leading a team, he has to be at his best every day for everyone else to be able to follow him,” Nelson said. “If everyone’s doing that, then he’s better.” The odd man out in the situation for this season’s captain is Paulus. While McRoberts left for the NBA after the team’s first-round exit in the NCAA Tournament, Paulus worked his way through foot surgery in the offseason and intensive rehabilitation, only to find out he would not be re-elected captain. The coaches felt that at times, Paulus was not aggressive enough as a leader, and that he confused helping people with leading people. Krzyzewski noted that if Paulus could learn the differenc e between assisting and directing, the point guard would improve a great deal. Paulus, however, said not being elected captain does not affect his play on the court. “It doesn’t change what I’m going to do, how I’m going to perform or what I can do out there,” Paulus said. “It’s not weird, it’s just different.” Paulus does not have to stand back on the sidelines and let Nelson do all the leading either. Krzyzewski noted that his junior and sophomore years at West Point, he felt he helped lead the team even though he did not become a captain until his senior year. Nelson, however, has the most experience on the team, and Krzyzewski expects his lone senior to lead by example. With just a few months left in his college career, it would be easy for Nelson to get distracted by a possible future in the NBA. Instead, he remains focused in the moment, hoping to guide the Blue Devils to more success than last season. “I’m going to do the best job I can to make sure this team has a great year and this team is remembered in Duke’s legacy,” Nelson said. “It’s my team.”

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Henderson looks to rise above criticism, defenses by Ben Cohen The chronicle

By now, you’ve watched the video on ESPN. You’ve seen the blood-soaked photos in the newspaper. You’ve heard too many people debate whether it was intentional. So has Gerald Henderson, who now owns the most famous elbow this side of The Rock, thanks to his lacing of North Carolina forward Tyler Hansbrough in the closing minutes of the second game between the Tobacco Road rivals. Yes, Henderson has watched it and seen it and heard it. And he’s ready to move on—ready to transition into the role he was quietly moving into before The Elbow Heard Round the Triangle. “You don’t want to hang on to the past,” Henderson said in October. “But you have to remember what’s happened to you.” He was talking about Duke’s 22-11 record last season, but in one epigrammatic sound byte he also managed to sum up his freshman campaign. In the last two games of the regular season, losses to Maryland and North Carolina, the 6-foot-4 forward logged a combined 51 minutes. He scored 15 and 16 points, respectively, in the contests, two out of the four times he posted a double-digit scoring total after Christmas. He started both games, two of seven post-New Year starts. Finally, he was starting to realize the potential that had generated preseason buzz that he could challenge North Carolina’s Brandan Wright for ACC Rookie of the Year. Finally, he had added a sweet jump shot to his impressive repertoire of dunks, which continue to rock Cameron Indoor Stadium. Finally, he had seemed to overcome a bout of exercise-induced asthma and a nagging ankle injury, both of which relegated him to the bench early in the season. “I felt comfortable at the end of last year, knowing what I was supposed to be doing,” Henderson said. And then Hansbrough grabbed an inconsequential offensive rebound with less than 20 seconds remaining in the Tar Heels’ March 4 win over Duke in Chapel Hill. The North Carolina center came down with the ball, pivoted to face the basket and hoisted a put-back. Henderson came flying from the other side of the lane and, in an effort

Laura Beth Douglas/The Chronicle

Wing Gerald Henderson figures to fit into Duke’s more up-tempo offense with his speed and athleticism. to block the ball, blocked Hansbrough’s nose with his elbow. It looked dirty, because of the scowl on Henderson’s face, because of the way Hansbrough hit the ground back-first, because of the blood dripping down Hansbrough’s face. But Henderson was immediately repentant and his apology was corroborated by North Carolina guard Wayne Ellington, a high school teammate of Henderson’s. Still, for a few days, Henderson was the story of college basketball. His elbow had reinvigorated the Tobacco Road rivalry, as if it needed any more revving up.

After sitting out Duke’s ACC Tournament loss to N.C. State for a one-game suspension, Henderson returned to start in the Blue Devils’ NCAA Tournament loss to VCU. He scored eight points on 4-of-7 shooting and grabbed six rebounds. He didn’t look to be the same player he was two weeks before, but he now insists he didn’t feel a difference. Until he does something to convince critics otherwise, Henderson will be known around the country as the Dukie that forced Tyler Hansbrough to look like Hannibal Lecter. But he is revered in Durham, not

for The People’s Elbow—although some may disagree—but for his nasty athleticism and freakish hops. When he steals a pass and throws the ball out to himself in the open court, the crowd in Cameron rises with a roar, anticipating something memorable, and Henderson rarely disappoints. But this year, he won’t just be a dunking extraordinaire. “G needs to be the athlete,” head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “He just needs to be there, and not be a 15, 16 minute-a-game player. He needs to be one of our key players. My feeling is that’s what he’ll do.” Henderson fits perfectly into Duke’s new run-and-gun system because of his transition prowess, but also might be the most effective Blue Devil in the halfcourt, due to his ability to hang while shooting and slash to the rim. Practicing daily against one of Duke’s best defenders, senior DeMarcus Nelson, will only help advance his offense—as did this past summer, when he played regular pickup games with college basketball players from his home city, Philadelphia, and attended the Kobe Bryant Skills Academy, where he talked shop with Kobe himself. More than anything, he developed his ball-handling skills, which is key to Duke’s preferred tempo. All of that—what the sophomore does on the court with his game, not his elbow—will help Henderson re-create his national image. And if he does become the player that Duke fans anticipate, he will still be vilified. Not because he socked Tyler Hansbrough, but because Duke’s best players always are.

Henderson ’06-’07 stats PTS.

REB.

FG%

NOV.

5.8

2.0

40.5

DEC.

5.0

3.7

33.3

JAN.

6.6

2.6

47.7

FEB.

7.8

2.6

46.9

MAR.

12.0

12.0

46.7

ACC BASKETBALL PREVIEW

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2007 | 

Blue Devils search for answers in frontcourt by Joe Drews The chronicle

Duke lost just one scholarship player from last season’s team, and that was seemingly offset by one of the best recruiting classes in the nation. With the defection of Josh McRoberts to the NBA, the 2007-08 Blue Devils are without their leading rebounder and shot-blocker, their second-best scorer and their most reliable inside presence from a season ago. Duke has only three true frontcourt players, and 7-foot-1 Brian Zoubek is the only one who projects to play exclusively in the post. Without a definitive low-post scorer, the Blue Devils plan to play a more up-tempo style, and they will rely on several players to rebound and fill the roles traditionally associated with inside players. “It’s a different team,” Greg Paulus said. “With [McRoberts] leaving, we’re a little bit smaller. We’ve had three freshmen come in, and they obviously bring something different to the table.” One of those rookies will play a key part in the Duke frontcourt. Kyle Singler, who has started and led Duke in scoring in both exhibition games, has the ability to play both inside and outside. The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 25 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in the preseason, indicating that he could fill McRoberts’ role in the paint. “[Singler and McRoberts] both understand how to play the game,” Paulus said. “They’re both really good passers and they’re unselfish. Kyle’s a little bit smaller, but he can do a little bit more on the perimeter.” Sophomore Lance Thomas, also 6-foot8, will have an increased role as well. Thomas averaged 4 points and 2.5 rebounds per game last year but was plagued by foul trouble. By being more confident and slowing down, he said he expects to be able to stay in the game longer and help the team. Although Singler and Thomas are among the Blue Devils’ tallest players, they will not play exclusively in the paint. Singler’s outside game and Thomas’ unique

ability to defend all five positions mean that they will both be moved to different situations around the court and will not be traditional post presences. “I don’t call them inside players, except for Zoubek,” Krzyzewski said. “What is your skill set?... That determines your role, not your height and weight and the way we’re doing things. And that determines what kind of player you’re going to be.” Duke will specifically rely on 6-foot-4 wings Gerald Henderson and DeMarcus Nelson to help shoulder the burden. Since Singler and Thomas will not always be in the post, Henderson and Nelson will be expected to chip in on the glass. Krzyzewski said their athleticism will make up for their lack of size and allow them to fill the hole left behind by McRoberts. With Zoubek still recovering from an injury, contributions from Duke’s smaller players will be even more important. Zoubek, who Krzyzewski said had been improving in the offseason, broke his foot July 9 and had surgery to insert a pin in his fifth metatarsal—an operation from which former Blue Devils Elton Brand and Carlos Boozer have successfully recovered. Although Zoubek’s foot has healed, he is still playing catch-up with conditioning and adapting to Duke’s faster-paced offense. “He was out for more than two months, which for a big guy, that’s not a good thing,” Krzyzewski said. “It’s not a good thing for anybody, but for a big guy I think you lose more than a perimeter guy.” Even if Zoubek is not back in shape yet, Krzyzewski is not concerned about his team’s frontcourt. Duke does not have two or three players who would fit the traditional mold of a post player, but it has several who can play there some of the time, which is fine with the Blue Devils. “This is my 28th year,” Krzyzewski said. “There have been a number of times we haven’t had a post presence, but we have a post presence on our team—on this team—so we’re not going into this season with that.”

Lawson Kurtz (top), Alexis Steele (left), Chase Olivieri (right)/The Chronicle

Brian Zoubek, Kyle Singler and Lance Thomas will try to replace Josh McRoberts in the Blue Devils’ frontcourt.


 | FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2007

ACC BASKETBALL PREVIEW

Duke plans on running its way to March sophomore Jon Scheyer said. “We all bring different things to the table. If we keep subbing in and keep Barton was hanging with Duke midway through everyone fresh, teams will wear down toward the end the first half Saturday when Kyle Singler grabbed of games.” a rebound and quickly dished it ahead to Nolan Duke fans can be forgiven if they think they have Smith for an easy layup. Marty Pocius stole the heard this before. At the start of last season, Krzyzeball on the next possession and threw a nifty be- wski also talked of utilizing a quicker style and a hind-the-back pass to Smith for another transition deeper bench than he had a year prior. A preseason bucket. injury to Paulus, however, prevented the Blue The lead was pushed from three to seven in a Devils from ever implementing that matter of seconds. More important, the Blue Devils style. As a result, Duke was the showed the ability to score quickly and easily, some- lowest scoring team in the ACC, thing that was severely lacking in last season’s 22-11 averaging just over 70 points per campaign. contest. Last year was one of Duke’s worst offensive sea“We’ve really stuck to [a faster sons under head coach Mike Krzyzewski. But in pace] this year,” Scheyer said. “We two exhibition games, the Blue Devils have chan- have the team that can do it better neled the Phoenix Suns by scoring 239 points and as well, with the new guys coming in. running their opposiAll of us being tion off the floor. a year older, it In those two “This is the style I anticipated really helps. We games, Duke has understand what playing when I came here. tallied 63 points in Coach wants a transition while al- Now we really have the group little more.” lowing just three. A transition style to do it.” That up-tempo style not only plays to Duke’s depth on has led to countless — Jon Scheyer the perimeter; it also masks the easy buckets and has the Blue Devils’ weaknesses in the Blue Devils looking frontcourt. Brian Zoubek is Duke’s more like the highonly true center, and the sophoscoring Final Four teams of the last decade than more is coming off a foot injury that has slowed him in the one that routinely struggled in the half- the preseason. Dave McClure saw his first action against court a year ago. Barton after undergoing knee surgery in August. “[Playing up-tempo] is really going to hapGetting out in transition would neutralize other pen,” senior DeMarcus Nelson said in the teams’ height advantage on the block, as the Blue Devteam’s preseason media conference. “That’s ils’ best lineup may be a combination of four guards with the way we’ve been training all preseason, just one post player. Villanova employed a similar style that’s the way the coaches have been coaching two seasons ago, when the Wildcats earned a No. 1 seed us in film sessions….Coach is giving us some in the NCAA Tournament before bowing out to eventual freedom to just be players, and it’s really going champion Florida. to suit this team.” Having a number of athletic wings on the floor at the Nelson is only one of several players who same time also intensifies Duke’s defensive pressure. should benefit from a faster pace. He and Ger- With the athleticism and depth to force turnovers and ald Henderson can both get out in the open convert them into points, Duke is looking to get out of court and finish athletically around the basket. the blocks fast and run its way deep into the postseason. Junior Greg Paulus has also shown quality deci- And at the very least, fans in Cameron should not be subsion-making on the fast break during his first jected to the scoring droughts that haunted last year’s two seasons, while freshman Nolan Smith team, and the Blue Devils themselves should have more has become a force in the open court fun on the floor. in the exhibition games. “This is the style I anticipated playing when I came “We feel like we should be the here,” Scheyer said. “Now we really have the group to do strongest guards in the country,” it, so it’s exciting to play with this group.” by Tim Britton

The chronicle

Photo Illustration by laura beth douglas/ the chronicle

ACC BASKETBALL PREVIEW

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2007 | 

Healthy ‘Twins’ anchor Blue Devils on the block by David Ungvary The chronicle

When center Chante Black finally gets the chance to pair up with forward Carrem Gay, it will mark the beginning of a new era for the Blue Devil frontcourt. When Gay arrived at Duke a year after Black, the two posts players were dubbed “the Twins.” At 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-2, respectively, Black and Gay share a physical likeness to merit the moniker, but their matching athleticism and power around the basket made the nickname even more appropriate. Unfortunately for Duke, the twins have been chronically separated, kept apart by alternating injuries and the presence of 6foot-7 Alison Bales, which prevented the duo from clocking significant time alongside one another. Now, with the star center in the WNBA and both players healthier than they have been in a long time, the duo hopes to utilize the chemistry it has developed over the last three years to fill the void left by Bales. “Ali was a great leader for [us in] the post, especially,” Gay said. “She was really talkative and encouraged us to play well.” The honor-laden and record-holding center graduated as the No. 1 career shotblocker in the history of the ACC with 434 swats over her four years. Bales’ presence near the basket will be sorely missed on both sides of the ball and, in the eyes of head coach Joanne P. McCallie, is completely irreplaceable. “I just think that Ali is a special player,” McCallie said. “We do not try to replace Ali. We simply do the best with what we have.”

And what Duke has are players with the athleticism and speed necessary to make up for the loss of Bales’ size. Even though Black redshirted last season to recover from a serious knee injury, the center insists she is back to full strength. Teaming with Gay, who started all 34 games last season en route to tallying the secondhighest rebound total on the team, Black will be able to contribute to a faster-paced and mobile game near the basket. “On the court we do similar things,” Black said. “[Carrem is] a little bit smaller than me, so probably goes outside of the paint, but we’re both athletic and versatile.... We have the ability to be very mobile post players, and I think that will help with our transition.” Again, the Blue Devils do not deny that the loss of Bales was a big one, but rather, they believe they have a chance to be equally or even more effective. And McCallie’s touting of both the complementary skill sets and potential of Gay and Black does nothing but reassert those beliefs. “I just see them play so well together,” McCallie said. “They have so much respect for each other. [Chante’s] got so many blocking moves and ability block-to-block, and Carrem likes to put that ball on the floor from the high post. There’s so much she can do that way, [which makes for] a lot of interesting combinations for the post.” For the first time in a long time, the two will take the court together, and the combination could prove to be more than just interesting. It could be dominating.

Zachary Tracer/The Chronicle

Juniors Chante Black and Carrem Gay are both back healthy and ready to bolster the Blue Devils’ frontcourt.


10 | FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2007

ACC BASKETBALL PREVIEW

Blue Devils embrace new conditioning program mates, the focus on strength and conditioning is one that is relatively new. Former head coach Since arriving at Duke, head coach Gail Goestenkors was not as demanding of her Joanne P. McCallie has not just rearranged players when it came to lifting weights. the furniture in Schwartz-Butters. She has The Blue Devils have become so acceptchanged the culture of the whole program, ing of McCallie’s approach to the game, starting in the weight room. however, that the coach no longer needs to McCallie called on her players to become push them. They push themselves. stronger this offseason, emphasizing that in“We lifted last year, but I think now we’re mocreased physical toughness leads to mental tivating each other just a lot more in the weight toughness as well. And she was not afraid to room to get stronger,” Cheek said. “We see deliver a wake-up call to arguably her best someone, and we don’t think they have enough player, preseason All-ACC first team selec- weight, and we’re always trying to challenge them tion Abby Waner. like, ‘You need to put more weight on the rack.’” In a meeting with Waner, McCallie asked As for the most-improved, McCallie said the junior about her she was impressed by post-college intentions. senior Wanisha Smith “I was looking at The shooting guard reand sophomore Britplied that she wanted to tany Mitch, who both [Keturah Jackson’s] play in the WNBA, and worked up to bencharms yesterday and her coach’s response was pressing 165 pounds. not exactly what Waner Smith’s progress, in I was like, ‘God, expected. particular, stands out belook at those cuts!’” “She said, ‘Right now, cause the 5-foot-11 guard with your strength, you is the senior captain set— Joy Cheek will not be able to play, ting the bar for the team. you will not be able to “It was pretty tough,” compete,’” Waner said, Smith said of the new “That’s not something you just brush off, regimen. “But at the same time, [McCallie] especially coming from someone as experi- tested my mental toughness, which I think enced as she is.” will carry over to our team and to me perWaner responded by spending the end of sonally. She’s challenged us on many differher summer in the weight room. Recovering ent occasions, [and] it’s going to make us a from a lingering heel injury incurred from better team.” overexertion, the junior shifted her focus From bench presses to mile-and-a-half from running to lifting and is now able to runs, McCallie has established clear tests for do 71 pushups. The physical improvement her team and hopes its improved strength, has not gone unnoticed by McCallie, who endurance and speed will mean more said that this summer helped her star under- wins—especially at the end of a demandstand that “greatness lies in her health and ing conference schedule that would fatigue her ability to take care of herself and be that even the best of teams. diverse player that she can be.” With this shift in priorities, though, the Waner is not the only one who has taken coach said that her team will not only retain her coach’s philosophy to heart. All 12 play- but improve on what has come to define ers have embraced the importance of physi- Duke’s program. cal strength. “The reality is, as a whole, we’re a lot stronAnd it’s starting to show in obvious ways. ger,” McCallie said. “We’re still as fast and “I was looking at [Keturah Jackson’s] quick as this team has always been, but there’s arms yesterday and I was like, ‘God, look a strength element that is definitely there.” at those cuts!’” sophomore Joy Cheek said. Now, the Blue Devils hope that their “Physically, you could definitely tell people new-found strength can help turn their asare getting better.” pirations into realities, from WNBA careers For the 6-foot-1 forward and her team- to that elusive national title. by Diana Ni

The chronicle

Lawson Kurtz/The Chronicle

Abby Waner (above) and Wanisha Smith are just two of the Blue Devils who have benefitted from new workouts.

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King finds place on campus

Smith carries experience from Oak Hill to Duke by Lauren Kobylarz The chronicle

Zachary Tracer/The Chronicle

Jasmine Thomas, Krystal Thomas and Karima Christmas provide an infusion of new talent to the Blue Devils.

Freshman trio looks to contribute immediately by Archith Ramkumar The chronicle

Freshmen are supposed to be shy, unsure of themselves and daunted by the transition from high school to college. Apparently, Duke’s freshmen didn’t get the memo. When newcomers Karima Christmas, Jasmine Thomas and Krystal Thomas signed with Duke, the Blue Devils knew that their squad would be improved athletically. But more than that, this group of rookies seems to carry a sense of composure and confidence beyond their years. “It comes from always trying to learn,” Jasmine Thomas said of her poise. “I don’t put myself in a position to be a freshman.” The 5-foot-9 guard has already made a significant impression on the team and coaching staff. She led team USA to the U-19 world championship and a 9-0 record the summer before coming to Duke. During high school, she directed her squad to a 101-11 mark while receiving numerous All-American accolades. In high school, Thomas idolized former Duke point guard Lindsey Harding, who will have her number retired this season. With the kinds of praise the freshman is already receiving, she is well on her way to following in the footsteps of her predecessor in the backcourt. “Jasmine is really special,” head coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “She is a phenomenal student-athlete in every sense of the word. And she is fast. Can you imagine what

For the past four years, Nolan Smith may as well have been playing for a college program. Smith captained Oak Hill Academy— widely considered the top high school program in the country—to the nation’s No. 1 ranking last season and ended his prep career with an array of postseason awards, including a McDonald’s All-America selection. Smith was playing with the best of the best and succeeding while doing it. But as Smith soon learned, Mouth of Wilson, Va. is not Durham, and Oak Hill is not Duke. The combo guard’s pseudo-collegiate high school environment would be his only outlet for relieving typical freshmanyear jitters. As a Blue Devil, Smith will not be a freshman; he will be a Blue Devil. And that’s exactly what head coach Mike Krzyzewski expects from his recruits—especially those with backgrounds like Smith’s. “He has played at a high level of competition,” Krzyzewski said. “So he’s more ready to play and can really put the best pressure up on the ball of any of our players in preseason workouts, and [he’s] very athletic. So how does that fit in? That fits in well.” Smith’s work ethic is up to par, but he has still had to adjust to a more mature style of play, particularly on offense. “At Oak Hill we ran the ball and we just scored,” Smith said. “Now, we’re running the ball, we’re looking to make better scoring plays rather than just throwing the ball at the rim. We’re looking to penetrate and kick out to the closest teammate, just making the best play possible.” No matter what that play is, Smith has the ability to be an integral part of it. At Oak Hill, he averaged 22.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.2 steals as a senior to lead his team to a 40-1 record. As a junior, the two-year captain also guided Oak Hill to a 40-1 record

and the No. 2 ranking in the nation. The offensive schemes may be different, but Smith’s defensive prowess has translated well to Cameron Indoor Stadium. “I just go for explosiveness, explosiveness and just making plays,” the 6-foot2 freshman said. “All of that starts with defense. Duke basketball prides itself on defense, and I feel like my pressure on the ball [and forcing] turnovers make [opponents] play a game they might not want to play.” Already used to tough competition, Smith’s transition to the next level was only made easier by other past basketball ties. When he arrived on campus, Smith was greeted by a familiar face in sophomore Gerald Henderson, whom Smith has known since childhood. Henderson has helped Smith further shape his game on a daily basis, tweaking the freshman for ACC competition. “He knows I can just be aggressive,” Smith said. “He knows I can score and I can pass. That’s what he wants me to do, and he lets me know that. It can be something as little as showing me how to do a drill, do this, after practice getting shots up. Just being like a big brother.” The pair has never played on the same team before this year, but met when both their fathers—Gerald Henderson, Sr. and the late Derek Smith—were teammates on the Philadelphia 76ers. And while Henderson can help to guide Smith in the present, Smith’s father has helped the freshman understand what it takes to play at a high level. “Before he passed away, one thing he taught me was keeping a good attitude,” Smith said. “Attitude can take you a long, long way. Coach K always emphasizes the attitude, so I know if I keep my attitude right, just keep an open mind when the coaches are telling me something, when my teammate tells me something. Everybody’s telling me something just to make me better.”

happens when she learns to change her speed? She’s at a really interesting place as a first-year because she doesn’t play like one.” Although the speedster has already impressed in the preseason, her peers are making equally large strides. Krystal Thomas has already proven to be a force in the post. In the inaugural BlueWhite game, she recorded seven rebounds and four blocks. Perhaps most telling, after the scrimmage, guard Abby Waner admitted that Thomas’s presence discouraged her from driving inside. With a frontcourt that already includes Chante Black and Carrem Gay, Duke appears to have plenty of depth in the paint. “Krystal is long, can move and can shoot,” sophomore Joy Cheek said. “She’s really going to add to the team.” Like Jasmine Thomas, Krystal Thomas spent the summer as a member of the U-19 team. The experience has the center believing she can contribute right away. “I’ve been able to adjust well,” Krystal Thomas said. “Playing USA Basketball overseas was a good taste of how the college game would be, and it definitely helped the transition.” Like her fellow rookies, Christmas, the final member of the freshman class, is ready to make an immediate impact. The 5-foot-11 guard/forward displayed her versatility in high school by excelling in multiple statistical categories and could become key for Duke, particularly on the

by Matthew Iles The chronicle

Chase Olivieri, Lawson Kurtz, laura beth douglas/The Chronicle

Blue Devil freshmen Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith and Taylor King showcase their ability and personality on their new home court in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Before he had ever taken high school geometry or attended a homecoming dance, Taylor King knew where he would be going to college. Or so he thought. As an eighth-grader blessed with the height, strength and talents of someone much older, King verbally accepted a scholarship offer to play at UCLA. Over the next four years, though, both King’s frame and game grew. Now, despite living more than 2,000 miles from his native California, he’s never been more at home. “I love it here,” King said. “It’s like I’ve got another family out here.... The team is like my brothers.” The 6-foot-6, 230-pound forward is not shy about his feelings for his new stomping ground. Head coach Mike Krzyzewski has been like a second father and everybody else on the team is his best friend, King said. But as the backwards-hat wearing, laid-back Golden State kid reminisces about his choice to go east, he points to one overriding factor in his decision. “Coach K,” he said without pause. “Obviously, he’s the best coach to ever coach the game, or at least one of the best.... He knew what type of player I was. He knew that I could succeed here. I trust him. He’s going to develop me into a man and into the player that I want to be.” A self-described “talker” on the team, King helps shut down the opposition by performing like “a quarterback on defense,” directing teammates on the floor. But the freshman is also effective on offense, which he showed in the two exhibition games this season, averaging 7.5 points and eight rebounds. “Taylor King is not a big guy or a little guy, but he can shoot the ball,” See KING on page 13

Singler heads talented freshman class by Will Flaherty The chronicle

Stephanie kozikowski/The Chronicle

See freshmen on page 12

California native enjoys life out East

Freshman guard Nolan Smith gained invaluable experience at one of the nation’s best basketball high schools.

With refined scoring talents that have elicited comparisons to Larry Bird and Dirk Nowitzki, Kyle Singler is certainly an expert at drawing the attention of opposing defenses. But as good as the uber-talented freshman may be in that capacity, he might enjoy drawing with a pen and pencil even more. “Through high school, I took drawing classes and art classes, so I just love to draw,” Singler said. “I just have a passion to express how I see things.” Duke fans are hoping to see Singler’s masterwork on the canvas of Cameron this season. If head coach Mike Krzyzewski has anything to say about it, his highly-touted freshman will be a big part of the Blue Devils’ picture from day one. “He’s the kid that if we started a game tonight, he would start for us, and everyone on the team would say, ‘That would be good,’” Krzyzewski said. “He’s going to be a

special player.” Krzyzewski isn’t the only person to have called the 6-foot-9, 220-pound Singler “special” over the past few years. Heralded by most recruiting services as Duke’s top signee in the Class of 2007 and ranked as the sixth-best player nationally by scout. com, the Medford, Ore. native averaged 29.3 points and 10.6 rebounds per game en route to a state title and McDonald’s AllAmerican honors. But despite the torrent of praise and accolades he’s received, Singler knows that the complimentary words from his Hall of Fame coach stand out a little more. “I know that Coach K has a lot of confidence in myself, and I have a lot of confidence in Coach K,” Singler said. “He’s not throwing out BS. He’s saying that as if I’m ready and I’ve prepared myself, and I take it as a compliment. But I don’t want to hold back—I still want to get better.” For Singler, the desire to improve himself and his game is nothing new. A natu-

rally gifted athlete, Singler played football, baseball and basketball in high school. For the South Medford Panthers, he showed his athletic versatility by winning all-state honors at quarterback in his junior campaign after being named first-team all-conference at tight end and defensive back as a sophomore. All those achievements, however, are just an added bonus to a prep career that includes two state basketball titles. But in today’s era of specialization and year-round competition, Singler made the tough decision before his senior year to drop football in order to dedicate himself full-time to basketball. “Whenever you give up a sport that you love, it kind of hurts,” Singler said. “But I wanted to focus on basketball. Nowadays, kids are focusing on one sport and getting better. I had to give up a thing I loved to get better in another, so I guess See Singler on page 13

Zachary Tracer/The Chronicle

Taylor King verbally committed to UCLA as an eighth-grader but changed his mind in high school.


14 | FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2007

ACC BASKETBALL PREVIEW

ACC BASKETBALL PREVIEW

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2007 | 15

Blue Devils eye own place in storied history by Tim Britton The chronicle

It’s the kind of story that starts a legend. One of the founding myths of Duke basketball. The day the Blue Devils began their rise to college basketball pre-eminence. It starts with an embarrassment—a 109-to66-sized embarrassment to Virginia in the first round of the 1983 ACC Tournament. At Denny’s early the next morning, someone raised a glass: “Here’s to forgetting about tonight.” Third-year head coach Mike Krzyzewski was quick with the reply: “Here’s to never forgetting about tonight.” As the next season started, Krzyzewski constantly reminded his team of its 43-point loss, plastering 109-66 on the Cameron scoreboard before the first practice. That 1983-84 team went 24-10 and landed Krzyzewski in the NCAA Tournament for the first time. Two years later, the Blue Devils made their Final Four debut under the onceembattled coach. Turn the clock ahead 24 years and three national championships. The story of this

year’s Duke team again starts with an embarrassment—a 22-11 season capped by an Eric Maynor 15-foot foul-line jump shot that lifted VCU past the Blue Devils 79-77 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. This Duke team does not need any stern reminders from its head coach about how last year ended; these Blue Devils have gotten plenty from the national media. “The old Duke is dead. The new Duke is just another team,” wrote Mike Freeman of CBS Sportsline following the Blue Devils’ earliest NCAA Tournament exit in 11 seasons. “That’s because Duke isn’t Duke anymore,” wrote alumnus John Feinstein of the Washington Post. “Playing Duke these days is like playing Notre Dame in a bowl game—it looks like a glamour game, but it’s really an easy W,” wrote Jim Donaldson of the Providence Journal during the Blue Devils’ first four-game losing streak of the year. Duke starts its rebuttal Friday night against North Carolina Central, prepared to provide some emphatic answers to unceasing ques-

tions about the team’s heart and the program’s seemingly evanescent mystique. “A lot of dirt was thrown on our face,” senior captain DeMarcus Nelson said. “The magnifying glass was on us, and they critiqued our team from top to bottom to figure out why our team wasn’t winning like the old Duke teams. Throughout the summer, walking around town, people saying different things to you, it really motivated me a lot.... I’ve got that competitiveness in myself to want to get back at all those people.” Nelson has taken full responsibility for the team he now captains by himself, a season after he shared the privilege with Greg Paulus and Josh McRoberts. At times last year, the Blue Devils suffered from a lack of leadership, a product of not having one man to turn to. In his final season at Duke, Nelson wants to make sure that does not happen. “From last year to this year, I’ve matured a lot,” Nelson said. “As the leader of the team, I have to set the tone everyday in practice.... We definitely are equipped with a lot of motivation, a lot of anger. We should have a re-

ally hungry basketball team this year.” Nelson is not the only Blue Devil with the stains of last season fresh on his mind. Sophomore guard Jon Scheyer has them etched on his face, in the form a scar under his left eye— the remnant of a Maynor elbow in the loss to VCU. The scar was fresh last March, glistening as tears trickled down from Scheyer’s eyes in the wake of what the then-freshman called the hardest loss he had ever experienced. “It’s something I’ll remember in the back of my head and use as motivation for this year and for the rest of my life,” Scheyer said of the loss. The scar, like the memory of that game, has faded slightly in the eight months since the Blue Devils last took to the floor in a game that counted. But scars never really disappear, and Scheyer and his teammates understand that the pain of last season cannot be forgotten, only overcome. And Duke knows that, beginning Friday night in Cameron, it has five months to write the ending to a story that began a season ago. Five months to silence the critics. Five months to create a legend of its own.

T

No. 3 Duke avenges a 2006 National Championship loss to No. 1 Maryland 81-62 in Cameron. Lindsey Harding explodes for 28 points to boost the Blue Devils to the top of the national polls for the first time all year.

E COU

Dave McClure hits a buzzerbeating finger roll to give No. 10 Duke a thrilling 68-66 victory over No. 19 Clemson. The win is controversial, as replays showed extra time on the clock before Duke’s final play.

The trio of Waner, Harding and Alison Bales combines for 43 points as the Blue Devils cap their undefeated regular season with a 67-62 home win over North Carolina. It is the first perfect season in ACC history.

3/24/07: SHOCK AND AWE

Top-seeded Duke loses for the second time all year to Rutgers in the Sweet 16, 53-52, when Harding misses two free throws with 0.1 seconds remaining. The Blue Devils had beaten the Scarlet Knights by 40 points earlier in the year.

4/20/07: McCALLIE ARRIVES

After 15-year head coach Gail Goestenkors bolts for Texas, Duke hires Michigan State head coach and 2005 AP Coach of the Year Joanne P. McCallie to become the program’s fourth head coach. A new era begins.

Chase Olivieri/The Chronicle

New era brings same expectations for Duke The chronicle

1/25/07: McCLUTCH MAKE

2/25/07: PICTURE PERFECT

T R

by Ben Cohen

No. 12 Duke opens the season with two sophomore captains in Josh McRoberts and Greg Paulus, a first in Duke history. With only one scholarship upperclassman, the team is Duke’s youngest since WWII.

Abby Waner sinks her first eight shots and finishes 6-for-9 from 3-point territory to lift the No. 1 Blue Devils over No. 4 Tennessee 74-70 in Knoxville. Duke scores the game’s first 19 points in its first test as the nation’s No. 1.

After seasons spent under the national microscope, both Blue Devil teams are out to prove they are as good as ever

A LOOK BACK At 2006-2007

9/20/06: YOUTH IS SERVED

1/22/07: ATOP THE SUMMIT

B G A N I C K

TH Chase Olivieri/The Chronicle

1/13/07: RISING ABOVE

K

A

A LOOK BACK AT 2006-2007

2/1/07: CAVALIER CRUSH

No. 8 Duke fails to hit a field goal in the final 3:52 of regulation and in all five minutes of overtime at UVa, allowing Sean Singletary to nail a fadeaway game-winning floater that sunk the Blue Devils 68-66.

3/24/07: ELBOWED OUT

Playing without a suspended Gerald Henderson, No. 21 Duke drops an 85-80 overtime loss to N.C. State in the first round of the ACC Tournament, failing to make the ACC Tournament final for the first time in nine years.

4/20/07: BATTERING RAM

Eric Maynor’s cold-blooded jumper with 1.8 seconds left gives Virginia Commonwealth a 79-77 NCAA Tournament firstround win and ends Duke’s nine-year streak of Sweet 16 appearances.

A lot has changed since last March. The 6-foot-7 frontcourt force, Alison Bales, is gone. The National Player of the Year, Lindsey Harding, is gone. The Associated Press Coach of the Year, Gail Goestenkors, is gone. But for Duke, the national-championshipor-bust mindset remains the same. “Regardless of the situation here, we always have an expectation of making a championship-level season,” shooting guard Abby Waner said. “Those are just standards that we’ve always had here. And no matter what happens, we’re not going to lower those or make them higher. It’s the mentality that’s been here, and it’s going to stay.” Despite—or perhaps because of—those lofty goals, two consecutive seasons have ended in heartbreak for the Blue Devils. In 2006, they squandered a 13-point second-half lead in the National Championship against Maryland. And in 2007, they suffered another second-half collapse versus Rutgers in the Sweet 16, overshadowing the team’s undefeated regular season. Then the coaching frenzy began. Goeste-

nkors left for Texas, and California head coach Joanne Boyle spurned her alma mater. Enter Joanne P. McCallie, the 2005 Associated Press Coach of the Year at Michigan State. The first-year coach has already made her presence felt in Durham. She instituted the program’s first-ever Blue-White scrimmage. She has helped sell more than 1,100 new season tickets. And, perhaps most importantly, she has made subtle tweaks on the basketball court—changes that the players think could boost them to their first national title. Practices have been earlier, longer and tougher. McCallie makes the players pay more attention to tiny details, like making layups before jogging to the back of the line. The rookie head coach has emphasized strength more than endurance. Instead of running as punishment, the Blue Devils do pushups and situps. At this time last year, Waner could crank out about 25 consecutive pushups. Earlier this fall, that number was up to 71. But for all that is different, there is still plenty of the same. “By no means are we changing anything

fundamental about this team,” said Waner, who led Duke in scoring last year. “We run, we press, we play man-to-man, high-pressure defense. None of that is going to change, because that’s what makes us successful.... It has to be the details that separate teams. If you look at the top teams, every team is athletic, every team can defend, every team will have someone that can score. It’s going to come down to the little things.” Although attention to detail is important, what distinguishes Duke from the top-ranked opponents on its rigorous schedule has nothing to do with the its revamped practice regimen. In the midst of uncertainty last spring, the Blue Devils bonded in a way that no coach could have forced. They stuck together when Goestenkors left, and they called the three incoming freshmen and reassured them of the program’s future. The team’s postseason past, coupled with its triumph over adversity last spring, will define its 2007-2008 season. Maybe the Blue Devils are out to prove something. Maybe it’s a chip on their shoulder.

Whatever it is, though, McCallie likes. “You don’t go around saying you’ve been done wrong all the time and expect to do great things,” she said. “It doesn’t work that way. These kids have come together, stronger. People ask me if we’ve done team building. Have we done team building? That’s all they did for an entire spring.... What other team was trying to formulate its team then? This team was. Without any leadership, without any head coach. There’s power in that. That’s what’s going to be what drives this group.” The Blue Devils have faced an uncertain future before. After losing a 2006 core that included Mistie Williams and Monique Currie, Duke was picked third in the ACC preseason poll last year. That team defied those expectations en route to its undefeated regular season and sat atop the national rankings from the middle of January until March. McCallie’s squad faces the same situation this year, again picked third behind Maryland and North Carolina. This team, however, can at least do one thing better than last year’s. The Blue Devils know how to push themselves up.


16 | FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2007

Singler from page 13 that’s how it works.” Although his football days are behind him, Singler still embraces the physically intense mentality of his former sport when he hits the hardwood. With Duke’s lack of size in the frontcourt, possible lineup combinations could leave Singler as the tallest Blue Devil on the floor at times. And while he describes himself as “an inside and outside” player, Singler certainly isn’t afraid to spend a lot of time in the paint. “That’s kind of where my football instincts take place,” Singler said. “I love going in there and fighting for the boards­—whatever it takes to help the team win.” But as his performance in Duke’s two exhibition games has shown, Singler can do much more than just rebound. The freshman has led the team in scoring in both games, showing a propensity to nail both difficult jumpers and the easier putbacks on the block. “I’m not a flashy player, but I do get the work done,” Singler said. “Whether it’s scoring points, getting rebounds—

ACC BASKETBALL PREVIEW

ACC BASKETBALL PREVIEW

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2007 | 17

Heels hope to reach new heights

its just a matter of when you do it, not how you do it.” With his well-rounded physical skills on display, Singler does not seem to have many gaps in his game. But when prompted to point out an area where he could improve, the forward singled out his mental approach to the game­ as a critical element in his adjustment to the college level. “Coach K this season has stressed thinking while you’re out on the basketball court, and its totally different from high school,” Singler said. “You really have to use your head, whether it’s talking without the ball or setting up plays.” Singler knows that he will only make strides in this area once the season starts and he gains real-game experience. But that should not come as a surprise for an individual who has always sought out ways to improve his basketball game and his artwork. Singler’s favorite drawing is one of he and his brother celebrating a state basketball title. If the freshman has his way, however, he’ll be able to draw a new masterpiece in the spring—this time with a net around his neck and a much bigger trophy in his grasp.

The chronicle

Lawson Kurtz /The Chronicle

Guard Jasmine Thomas looks to lead a core of Blue Devil freshmen in conjunction with an already-established group of seasoned veterans.

FRESHMEN from page 12 defensive side of the ball. Although Christmas was not as nonchalant about the transition from high school to college as her classmates, she also believed that the gap was not as large as expected. “It’s not a huge difference, but it was a jump, especially with the longer practices,” Christmas said. “I’ve been focusing on my defense and rebounding.” The skill sets that these three players bring to the table for the Blue Devils are astounding. What is even more remarkable, however, is how close-knit they are with the rest of the team. More than anything, this can be attributed to how the players on last year’s Duke squad acted during the offseason. When head coach Gail Goestenkors announced she was leaving for Texas, the program was placed in a state of flux. In the midst of this turbulent time, the returning Blue Devils took it upon themselves to reassure the incoming freshmen. “We’re closer because going through the coaching change, they were constantly calling all the freshmen, making sure we were OK,” Jasmine Thomas said. And although they exude maturity on the court, these freshmen cannot hide their enthusiasm about suiting up for Duke. “I was so excited to finally be here and practice on this historical court,” Krystal Thomas said. “I’m excited for the challenge and to play for such a highly regarded program. It’s just been unreal.”

KING from page 13 Krzyzewski said. “Now, he’s not going to get as many shots, so does he take good shots? He has a weapon already, though.” The unique inside-outside talent, who can shoot the three-pointer as well as crash the boards, was courted by many top-notch colleges, including the one eight miles down Tobacco Road. But even preseason-No. 1 North Carolina could not compete with Duke in King’s mind. “I knew this was the place for me because they were really supportive of me when I first came,” he said. “I just couldn’t say no to the program, the history and the rich tradition. The school is great, and the academics are amazing. The basketball’s the best.” As a senior in high school, King was named the state’s Mr. Basketball, received his third all-state selection and led his Mater Dei team to the Division-II state title. He finished his career fourth on California’s all-time scoring list. Things will be different now, however, when he suits up for Duke as more of a role player off the bench. Even though he may take some time getting used to it, King is cognizant of his place on his new team and prepared to do anything it takes to help Duke win its fourth national championship. “We’re going to surprise a lot of people this year,” King said “We’re going to try to get back to the old Duke ways, and that’s winning. Winning and nothing else.”

NORTH CAROLINA

POWER RATINGS KEY STATS

by Sabreena Merchant North Carolina head coach Roy Williams said that this season would not be a waste if the Tar Heels failed to win the national championship. But it would not be unreasonable for the No. 1 team in the nation to have a title on its mind. The Tar Heels return all but two players from a team that compiled a 31-7 record last year and won both the ACC regular season and tournament before losing in the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight. With no true freshmen, North Carolina appears to feature the perfect combination of experience and talent to mount not only a run that extends past the ACC title. Even without any first-year players, the team has plenty of sources of motivation. After a disappointing overtime loss to Georgetown in the East Regional final—a game in which the Tar Heels squandered an 11-point second half lead and scored just three points in the extra period—the level of competition in practice is as high as ever. Preseason All-American Tyler Hansbrough, who returned to school after earning AllAmerica laurels his first two seasons, has exemplified this attitude. Williams praised his star junior for his determination to be the hardest worker on the team. Hansbrough, one of the frontrunners for National Player of the Year, headlines a deep North Carolina lineup. Sophomores Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington combined to score nearly 22 points per game last season, and their postseason experience makes them one of the best starting backcourts in the country. Sophomore forward Deon Thompson has become more agile after a summer playing for the U-19 national team, and fellow sophomore Alex Stepheson will also be a presence on the boards. The Tar Heels’ defense is Williams’ main concern this year. North Carolina’s talent should translate into a successful offense, but defense wins championships—so the team is working on shutting down its opponents. “We’ve got to do a better job defensively,” Williams

#1

OFFENSE

DEFENSE

COACHING OVERALL

2006-2007 RECORD OVERALL: 31-7 ACC: 11-5 PRESEASON RANKING AP: 1 USA TODAY: 1 RETURNING STARTERS: 3

THE PLAYERS

STARTERS PF TYLER HANSBROUGH Preseason All-America averaged 18.4 ppg PF DANNY GREEN 6-foot-5 forward led all bench scorers last year SF MARCUS GINYARD Third in steals and offensive rebounds SG WAYNE ELLINGTON Sophomore has one of ACC’s purest strokes PG TY LAWSON Fastest player in the conference keys fast-break attack BENCH Bobby Frasor and Alex Stepheson highlight strong bench corps

Chronicle FIle Photo

Sophomore point guard Ty Lawson motors the North Carolina offense, which led the conference in points per game last season. said. “We’ve got to cut down the other teams’ field goals and get to a point that we can’t allow the other teams to run what they practice every day. “If we do that, then we’ve got a good chance to be there on the last day.”

UNC OPP PTS/G 68.6 85.7 FG-FGA 1187-2379 962-2311 .499 .416 FG% 3FG-3FGA 215-600 254-751 .338 .358 3PT% FT-FTA 669-940 430-646 FT% .712 .666 REB/G 40.8 32.3 13.4 AST/G 18.3

HEAD COACH: ROY WILLIAMS 5th season at North Carolina • 524-131 overall • 106-30 at UNC HISTORY: NCAA appearances: 39 • Final Fours: 16 • NCAA titles: 4 THE ARENA: Dean E. Smith Center • Capacity: 21,572


18 | FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2007

#3

ACC BASKETBALL PREVIEW

N.C. STATE

by Stephen Allan

POWER RATINGS KEY STATS OFFENSE

DEFENSE

COACHING OVERALL

Lowe looks to lift Wolfpack

2006-2007 RECORD OVERALL: 20-16 ACC: 5-11 PRESEASON RANKING AP: 21 USA TODAY: 24 RETURNING STARTERS: 4

THE PLAYERS

STARTERS PF GAVIN GRANT Set school records for games and minutes for a junior PF BRANDON COSTNER Led all freshmen in scoring (16.8) in ACC C J.J. HICKSON No. 3-ranked center should make immediate impact SG COURTNEY FELLS Topped team in steals (40) and blocks (28) PG FARNOLD DEGAND Iowa State transfer has yet to play a game BENCH Ben McCauley and Tracy Smith provide depth in the frontcourt NCSU OPP PTS/G 71.5 71.7 FG-FGA 908-1849 959-2177 .491 .441 FG% 3FG-3FGA 214-599 259-707 3PT% .366 .357 FT-FTA 550-756 397-581 FT% .683 .728 33.6 REB/G 32.1 AST/G 14.5 13.5

HEAD COACH: SIDNEY LOWE 2nd season at N.C. State • 20-16 overall • 20-16 at N.C. State

HISTORY: NCAA appearances: 22 • Final Fours: 3 • NCAA titles: 2 THE ARENA: RBC Center • Capacity: 19,722

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2007 | 19

Tigers clawing for ACC title The chronicle

Chronicle File Photo

Senior Gavin Grant, who logged a school record in minutes for N.C. State last year, described his Wolfpack as a national title contender.

After a 2006-2007 season in which Clemson had its best start in team history, the ACC cannot say it didn’t see the Tigers coming this year. Anchored by four returning starters from a team that went 25-11 and finished as the runner-up in the NIT, Clemson was picked fourth in the preseason ACC media poll. The Tigers hope to build on last year’s success and reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since Rick Barnes was the team’s head coach in the 1998. “We did a lot of good things last year, tying the record for wins, tying the record for the best start, but we have to do a little more to get into the NCAA Tournament,” head coach Oliver Purnell said. “Everyone involved in this program is responsible for doing a little bit more to make that happen.” Much of the burden for taking that next step will fall on the shoulders of 6foot-9 post sensation James Mays, who played a large role in Clemson’s fast start last year. The senior forward averaged 12.2 points per game a season ago and tied for the team lead in rebounds with 6.4 per contest. After considering a jump to the NBA and participating in the Pre-Draft camp in Orlando, Mays decided to return for his final season. “He has incredible quickness for his size and can do a variety of things on the court,” Purnell said. “He is a unique basketball talent in that he has quickness, length and can affect the outcome of the game in so many different areas.” In addition to Mays, forwards Trevor

#4

CLEMSON

POWER RATINGS KEY STATS

by Will Flaherty

The chronicle

At this time last year, N.C. State had just started practice with new head coach Sidney Lowe, had lost star center Cedric Simmons to the NBA and was projected to finish at the bottom of the ACC by more than half the voters in the conference’s preseason poll. “I didn’t like [being picked last] at all,” Lowe said. Last year’s squad surprised many, however, as it went on a tear in the postseason and upset Duke, Virginia and Virginia Tech in the ACC tournament before falling to UNC in the title game. The streak continued in the NIT, where the Wolfpack defeated Drexel and Marist before dropping their quarterfinal matchup by five to eventual champion West Virginia. With the addition of a stud freshman class to the 2006-2007 squad, Lowe has much more to like, and it’s not just in the rankings. Although N.C. State lost a major backcourt presence in Engin Atsur to graduation, it more than makes up for it in the post with its freshmen, center J.J. Hickman and power forward Tracy Smith, ranked third and 18th at their respective positions by scout.com. In addition to Hickman and Smith, the Wolfpack bring back Brandon Costner, Gavin Grant and Ben McCauley to form one of the most dynamic frontcourts in the ACC. Hickman is expected to occupy the block most often, as he plays with his back to the basket better than any of the other lowpost players. As a result, Lowe can finally look at the rankings with pride, as his squad was selected third in the preseason ACC poll behind UNC and Duke and ranked 21st in the AP poll. “I told our guys its great because it’s someone else saying that they think we’re a great team,” Lowe said. “I think we just have to make sure we do what we did last year.”

ACC BASKETBALL PREVIEW

OFFENSE

DEFENSE

COACHING OVERALL

2006-2007 RECORD OVERALL: 25-11 ACC: 7-9 PRESEASON RANKING AP: NR USA TODAY: NR RETURNING STARTERS: 4

THE PLAYERS PF PF C SG

Chronicle File Photo

K.C. Rivers led Clemson in scoring last season despite not starting most of the year. Booker and Raymond Sykes will also contribute to the Clemson frontcourt. Booker led the team in blocked shots last season as a freshman, while Sykes is an athletic junior with a propensity for acrobatic dunks. The Tigers will have to replace starting point guard Vernon Hamilton, who graduated in the spring, but the backcourt is in good hands with the duo of K.C. Rivers and Cliff Hammonds. Rivers led the team in scoring last season by pouring in 14 points per game despite only starting the season’s final 10 games. Hammonds is a versatile guard who is particularly tenacious on the

defensive end. The senior recorded more steals than turnovers last season and was second in the ACC in assist/turnover ratio. Senior Sam Perry and sophomore David Potter round out Clemson’s main group of contributors on the perimeter. With expectations high after last year’s surprise success, Purnell acknowledged that the returning nucleus from last season must have a big year to propel the Tigers to even greater heights this season. “We need the returning players to have career-best years,” Purnell said. “Chemistry needs to be a strength of this team.”

STARTERS TREVOR BOOKER Was leading shot blocker on team at 6-foot-7

JAMES MAYS Lanky post player a terror heading the Clemson press SAM PERRY Senior is team’s ace defender with size at 6-foot-5 K.C. RIVERS Team’s top scorer and 3-point marksman (.395%) PG CLIFF HAMMONDS One of the top ballhandlers in the ACC BENCH Forward Raymond Sykes is an athletic defender and shotblocker CLEM OPP PTS/G 73.2 65.7 FG-FGA 1017-2170 878-1954 FG% .469 .449 3FG-3FGA 248-725 195-565 3PT% .342 .345 FT-FTA FT% REB/G AST/G

354-612 414-584 .578 35.1 15.6

.709 33.2 12.6

HEAD COACH: OLIVER PURNELL 5th season at Clemson • 326-249 overall • 70-58 at Clemson

HISTORY: NCAA appearances: 7 • Final Fours: 0 • NCAA titles: 0 THE ARENA: Littlejohn Coliseum • Capacity: 11,020


20 | FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2007

#5

ACC BASKETBALL PREVIEW

VIRGINIA

Singletary shoulders burden

POWER RATINGS KEY STATS OFFENSE

DEFENSE

COACHING OVERALL

THE PLAYERS

STARTERS PF TUNJI SOROYE Strong defensive presence inside at 6-foot-11 PF MAMADI DIANE Started all 32 games and is second leading scorer SF ADRIAN JOSEPH Athletic senior is second in team for rebounding SG JEFF JONES Freshman will help run the backcourt PG SEAN SINGLETARY League’s leading returning scorer at 19.0 ppg BENCH A long bench led by power forward Ryan Pettinella VA OPP PTS/G 70.8 77.0 FG-FGA 812-1860 779-1911 .437 .408 FG% 3FG-3FGA 257-706 239-687 .348 .364 3PT% FT-FTA 582-784 470-670 .701 FT% .742 REB/G 35.0 34.5 12.9 14.0 AST/G

HEAD COACH: DAVE LEITAO 3rd season at Virginia • 116-95 overall • 36-26 at Virginia

HISTORY: NCAA appearances: 16 • Final Fours: 2 • NCAA titles: 0 THE ARENA: John Paul Jones Arena • Capacity: 15,219

Chronicle File Photo

Senior Sean Singletary led the ACC in scoring and guided the Cavaliers to a thrilling 68-66 overtime win over Duke last season.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2007 | 21

Freshmen will guide Terrapins

by James McMahon

by Gabe Starosta

Last year, with the help of Sean Singletary, the Cavaliers were able to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2001. This year, Singletary turned down the NBA in hopes of building on that success. The senior point guard was the catalyst for Virginia’s success last year, averaging 19.0 points per game with a 1.51 assist-to-turnover ratio. Third-year head coach Dave Leitao, however, has not come to rely solely on the prowess of his star senior, nabbing two top-20 positional recruits in the offseason. Point guard Mustapha Farrakhan averaged 20.3 points per game as a high school senior and was an all-state player in Illinois. Jeff Jones, another guard, averaged 22.7 points per game and was Gatorade Pennsylvania Player of the Year. The successful recruiting season is just more evidence of Leitao’s influence on the program through his first two seasons. “Last year brought us to a point where people understand better what we’re doing,” Leitao said. “Up until that point we were talking about how to build a program, and it was more of the intangibles. Now I think, when you can do what we were able to last season, it makes things more tangible.” Virginia, however, still faces challenges. The Cavaliers relied heavily on the backcourt tandem of Singletary and J.R. Reynolds to provide the bulk of the offense. With Reynolds graduating, the scoring role will be placed on Singletary’s shoulders. And one player won’t be able to carry the entire team in the rugged ACC. Last year’s returning role players Mamadi Diane and Adrian Joseph will have to step up and fill the gap that Reynolds left. Otherwise, a team that can keep the ball away from Singletary will be able to exploit the Cavalier’s narrow offensive attack. The lack of a reliable inside scorer will be a problem for the Virginia as well. But as long as Singletary is playing, the Cavaliers cannot be ignored.

Maryland opens this season having lost several established starters, and so the Terrapins have no choice but to rely on their freshman class to contribute right away if they hope to return to the NCAA Tournament. And while the team’s seven freshmen only met a few months ago, they have already proven to their older teammates that they belong at this level. “Earlier in the summer, before preseason workouts had started, we were playing pickup games and we played the old five versus the new guys,” senior James Gist said. “We played a few games and they came out there and beat us the first two times—beat us bad. It surprised me how well they played together and how much they knew about the game.” The Terrapins’ talented newcomers include low-post players Braxton Dupree and Dino Greggory, as well as wing Cliff Tucker. But their season will likely rest on the broad shoulders of the 6-foot-9 Gist and fellow forward Bambale Osby. The duo combined for 18.4 points and 11.1 rebounds per game last year, and those numbers will need to increase to make up for the departed Ekene Ibekwe, who averaged over 10 points and seven reboudns per game. In particular, Osby’s offensive game will need to develop in a hurry. The junior college transfer earned minutes in 2006-2007 because of his rebounding ability and energy, but his poor free-throw shooting and lack of touch around the basket made him a liability late in games last year.

The chronicle

2006-2007 RECORD OVERALL: 21-11 ACC: 11-5 PRESEASON RANKING AP: NR USA TODAY: NR RETURNING STARTERS: 3

ACC BASKETBALL PREVIEW

#6

MARYLAND

POWER RATINGS KEY STATS

The chronicle

OFFENSE

DEFENSE

COACHING OVERALL

2006-2007 RECORD OVERALL: 25-9 ACC: 10-6 PRESEASON RANKING AP: NR USA TODAY: NR RETURNING STARTERS: 2

THE PLAYERS PF PF SF SG

STARTERS BAMBALE OSBY Led the team in field goal percentage at .564

LANDON MILBOURNE Is a presence down low at 6-foot-7 JAMES GIST Senior now leads team in scoring and blocked shots ERIC HAYES Sophomore was second in assists for the team PG GREIVIS VASQUEZ Led the team in assists and steals BENCH Will be a relatively young bench with six freshmen

Chronicle file photo

Sophomore Greivis Vasquez led the Terrapins in assists and steals his freshman year. Despite the lack of established depth on Maryland’s roster, the team will continue to play the runand-gun style it has become known for. Experienced point guard Greivis Vasquez, a sophomore, will lead the break, but head coach Gary Williams identified 3-point shooting in transition as a weak point, especially given sharpshooter Mike Jones’ graduation. Williams also cited the NCAA’s

new bench decorum rules as problematic. Williams is known as one of the most animated coaches in the country, and hopes he and his colleagues can continue to show emotion on the court. “This isn’t church,” Williams said. “People go to the games to get excited, not to sit there. That’s tennis. This is basketball.” Hopefully for Williams, there will be something to get excited about.

MD OPP PTS/G 67.5 79.0 FG-FGA 971-2032 823-2117 .478 .389 FG% 3FG-3FGA 196-509 205-679 3PT% .302 .385 444-640 FT-FTA 547-787 .695 .694 FT% REB/G 39.0 36.9 11.6 AST/G 17.3

HEAD COACH: GARY WILLIAMS 19th season at Maryland • 585-328 overall • 378-200 at Maryland HISTORY: NCAA appearances: 22 • Final Fours: 2 • NCAA titles: 1 THE ARENA: Comcast Center • Capacity: 17,100


22 | FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2007

#7

ACC BASKETBALL PREVIEW

GEORGIA TECH

POWER RATINGS KEY STATS OFFENSE

DEFENSE

COACHING OVERALL

Ga. Tech seeks to replace duo by Charlie Ogburn

2006-2007 RECORD OVERALL: 20-12 ACC: 8-8 PRESEASON RANKING AP: NR USA TODAY: NR RETURNING STARTERS: 3

THE PLAYERS

STARTERS PF RA’SEAN DICKEY Experienced big man led team in blocks in ‘06 PF JEREMIS SMITH Team’s leading rebounder with 5.9 per game SF MOUHAMMAD FAYE Senegali started 8 games as a freshman SG ANTHONY MORROW Eighth on school’s all-time 3-point list PG LEWIS CLINCH Averaged 13.2 ppg before season-ending suspension BENCH F Zach Peacock brings experience while 4 freshmen provide youth GT OPP PTS/G 69.4 78.6 FG-FGA 935-1909 746-1702 FG% .490 .438 3FG-3FGA 201-540 200-605 3PT% .331 .372 FT-FTA 444-652 530-753 FT% .681 .704 30.7 REB/G 36.4 14.1 AST/G 15.3

HEAD COACH: PAUL HEWITT 8th season at Georgia Tech • 193-122 overall • 127-95 at GT

HISTORY: NCAA appearances: 15 • Final Fours: 2 • NCAA titles: 0 THE ARENA: Alexander Memorial Coliseum • Capacity: 9,191

Eagles face a rebuilding year by Laura Keeley

The chronicle

After inking McDonald’s All-Americans Javaris Crittenton and Thaddeus Young before the start of the 2006-2007 season, Georgia Tech head coach Paul Hewitt appeared to have secured the Yellow Jackets’ immediate future. Now, with both heralded recruits in the NBA after just one year in Atlanta, Hewitt’s program must rebuild. Again. Together, Crittenton and Young accounted for more than one-third of Georgia Tech’s scoring last season. Attempting to fill their shoes will be 6-foot-3 guard Lewis Clinch, who was the Yellow Jackets’ leading scorer until he was suspended for the season last January due to a violation of the school’s honor code. Senior Anthony Morrow, a talented but enigmatic jump shooter plagued by inconsistency during his junior campaign, must also establish himself as a reliable option for Georgia Tech to earn an NCAA Tournament bid. The Yellow Jackets’ academic woes have extended to their frontcourt this season, as Ra’Sean Dickey, the team’s primary post threat, has been declared ineligible for the fall semester. Versatile big men Alade Aminu, Zach Peacock and Brad Sheehan likely will see more minutes alongside bruising forward Jeremis Smith, one of the conference’s top rebounders. “This is the best core of big guys I think I’ve had in my eight years at Tech,” Hewitt said. “They are really athletic and can really get after it.” A trio of highly regarded freshmen, led by 6-8 wing Gani Lawal, gives the Yellow Jackets valuable depth. Ranked as high as the No. 27 player in the class of 2007 by rivals.com,

ACC BASKETBALL PREVIEW

The chronicle

Sara guerrero/Chronicle File Photo

Senior forward Jeremis Smith will try to fill the void left by the departures of last year’s star freshmen, Javaris Crittenton and Thaddeus Young, for the Yellow Jackets. Lawal is expected to contribute immediately on both ends of the floor. Maurice Miller will compete with junior-college transfer Matt Causey to assume Crittenton’s critical responsibilities at point guard, and Lance Storrs will provide more outside marksmanship and energy off the bench. “We have people at so many different positions that can score, that all we need is a point guard to be a floor leader out there,”

Smith said. “We don’t need a Stephon Marbury or a Javaris Crittenton on this team. We need a Jason Kidd. We need a Steve Nash.” Ability is not the issue for Georgia Tech—they have plenty of it. Whether or not they can survive Dickey’s absence and develop consistent scoring to supplement Clinch early in the season will determine if the Yellow Jackets can be a legitimate contender in the ACC.

It’s hard to know what to expect from Boston College when the Eagles don’t even know what to expect from themselves. “The dynamics have changed a lot,” head coach Al Skinner said. “This team has to come out and find its own identity.” Boston College must find a way to replace the leadership and production of last year’s conference player of the year, Jared Dudley. And Skinner already has a viable substitute: point guard Tyrese Rice, a preseason ACC first-team selection. Rice said he recognized the fact that he needs to step up and lead the squad. Skinner also said he feels that two of the team’s freshmen, forward Corey Raji and guard Rakim Sanders, will benefit from playing with Rice, because he will put them in positions where they will have chances to be successful. In addition to changing its leader, Boston College must also change its style of play. Both Skinner and Rice said the team will be more perimeter-oriented than in the past and will also get up and down the floor faster thanks to the increased athleticism of this year’s group. Returning players like sophomore forward Shamari Spears, who lost about 20 pounds this offseason, are becoming more adept to the quicker tempo—which will only help the Rice-led offense. Luckily for the Eagles, Rice is regarded as one of the fastest players in college basketball, something the team is looking to capitalize on. Another thing Skinner is looking for in his young team is more consistency. At this point, the players can look like different teams on different days, but he is not concerned. Once the team establishes its style of play, Skinner said, the consistency will materialize. “The pieces are there,” Skinner said. “The potential is there.” Chronicle File Photo And if the Eagles can combine those two elements, they may just finish higher than eighth in the ACC’s Boston College’s Tyrelle Blair blocks Duke forward Dave McClure final standings. in the Blue Devils’ win over the Eagles last January in Cameron.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2007 | 23

#8

BOSTON COLLEGE

POWER RATINGS KEY STATS OFFENSE

DEFENSE

COACHING OVERALL

2006-2007 RECORD OVERALL: 21-12 ACC: 10-6 PRESEASON RANKING AP: NR USA TODAY: NR RETURNING STARTERS: 3

THE PLAYERS PF C SF SG

STARTERS SHAMARI SPEARS Leading returning rebounder is primary post force

JOHN OATES 6-foot-10 inside-outside presence complements Spears TYLER ROCHE Sophomore started last six games last season RAKIM SANDERS True freshman will provide backcourt spark PG TYRESE RICE All-ACC pick (17.6 ppg) will key the offense BENCH Tyrelle Blair, Cole Hobin and Rob Saunders will see the floor most BC OPP PTS/G 69.8 74.3 FG-FGA 842-1763 887-1998 .478 .444 FG% 3FG-3FGA 196-562 188-571 3PT% .329 .349 341-489 FT-FTA 573-791 FT% .724 .697 REB/G 34.6 32.9 14.6 14.1 AST/G

HEAD COACH: AL SKINNER 11th season at Boston College • 334-245 overall • 196-119 at BC

HISTORY: NCAA appearances: 17 • Final Fours: 0 • NCAA titles: 0 THE ARENA: Silvio O. Conte Forum • Capacity: 8,606


24 | FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2007

#9

ACC BASKETBALL PREVIEW

FLORIDA STATE

‘Noles want chance to dance

POWER RATINGS KEY STATS OFFENSE

DEFENSE

COACHING OVERALL

THE PLAYERS

STARTERS C UCHE ECHEFU Improved stats in almost all major categories last year PF RYAN REID Hopes to fill Thornton’s huge shoes after NBA departure G TONEY DOUGLAS Will probably direct the offense at point guard G ISAIAH SWANN Returning senior led team in assists last season G JASON RICH Veteran of the backcourt has 94 steals in 95 games BENCH Senior guard Ralph Mims adds to experienced backcourt FSU OPP PTS/G 69.0 74.5 FG-FGA 936-1947 873-1934 .481 .451 FG% 3FG-3FGA 237-624 216-647 .334 .380 3PT% FT-FTA 498-657 452-643 FT% .758 .703 31.5 31.7 REB/G AST/G 12.4 12.9

HEAD COACH: LEONARD HAMILTON 6th year at Florida State • 287-281 overall • 87-71 at Florida State HISTORY: NCAA appearances: 10 • Final Fours: 1 • NCAA titles:0 THE ARENA: Donald L. Tucker Center • Capacity: 12,100

Chronicle file photo

Senior guard Isiah Swann, who led the Seminoles in assists a season ago, is one of four returning starters for Florida State.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2007 | 25

Va. Tech tries to build on ’06-’07

by David Ungvary

by Steven Seidel

Although the Seminoles unveiled a spiffy new uniform for the 2007-2008 season, the players who will take the court for Florida State this season should look very familiar. Returning four veteran starters to their lineup, including senior guards Jason Rich and Isaiah Swann, the Seminoles look to build off last year’s 22-13 record and a ninth-place conference finish by using their wealth of experience. There is bad news, however. The one starter who Florida State won’t return is its dominant big man from last season, Al Thornton. The 6-foot-9 forward— drafted 14th overall by the Clippers in June—was the Seminoles’ leading scorer with 19.7 points per game and an irrefutable game-breaker. Luckily for Florida State, head coach Leonard Hamilton brought in a solid recruiting class including 7-foot1 Solomon Alabi, an all-state high school prospect from Florida, and sensational Oak Hill forward Julian Vaughn. Both players should bolster a promising frontcourt. For the Seminoles to make a leap this year and finish in the top half of the ACC or break their nine-year NCAA Tournament drought, at least two things need to happen. First, someone needs to fill the huge void left by Thornton, who was physically and intangibly the Florida State leader. A solid core of senior players should help ease that loss. Second, the Seminoles need to lose less when they are away from Tallahassee after posting a sub-par 4-9 record on the road last season. Swann couldn’t be more confident or excited in his team’s ability to do that and take the program to the next level. “If you look at the schedule we’re playing, 22 out of the 31 in Florida, that’s got to be an advantage,” he said. “We have to go from right now, from this day forward and go on and go all out, and I think this year is that year that we’re going to get in [to the NCAA Tournament] with no question.”

Coming off a surprisingly successful ACC season, the Hokies need a talented group of freshmen to step up and mature quickly if they intend to repeat their 2007 performance. It will not be easy, though, as the departures of Zabian Dowdell and Jamon Gordon have left a gaping hole in the backcourt. Dowdell received All-America honors after averaging team-highs in points (17.4) and minutes (33.8). Gordon was also a consistent performer, posting over 11 points, four assists and two steals per contest. The duo also ranked first and second in steals last season in the ACC. Head coach Seth Greenberg knows that his team will have to adopt a new style of play this year to compensate for the losses of his two stars. “We’re not going to be as good a driving team as we were a year ago,” Greenberg said. “Those two guys were really, really good.... We’ve got to establish ourselves a little more effectively in the post. We don’t have the guards to rely on.” Greenberg hopes that his athletic 6-foot-7 senior Deron Washington grows into a leadership role. Washington led Viginia Tech in rebounding as part of an impressive 2006-2007 campaign, and is now the Hokies’ most proficient returning player. Although Washington provides strength in the swing game, a definite concern for the Hokies is lack of experience at point guard. Freshman Malcolm Delaney has been touted as a prolific scorer with range and is expected to be the point guard of the future, but he will likely have to battle fellow freshman Hank Thorns for minutes and the starting job. As a result, Greenberg said forwards Washington and A.D. Vassallo must establish themselves better in the post this year. Additionally, the coach is looking for freshman forward Jeff Allen to be a significant presence down low. Virginia Tech must also use its athleticism to push the ball. “We’ve been working on running the whole time, similar to how UNC played last season,” Washington

The chronicle

2006-2007 RECORD OVERALL: 22-13 ACC: 7-9 PRESEASON RANKING AP: NR USA TODAY: NR RETURNING STARTERS: 4

ACC BASKETBALL PREVIEW

#10 #10

VIRGINIA TECH

POWER RATINGS KEY STATS

The chronicle

OFFENSE

DEFENSE

COACHING OVERALL

2006-2007 RECORD OVERALL: 22-12 ACC: 10-6 PRESEASON RANKING AP: NR USA TODAY: NR RETURNING STARTERS: 2

THE PLAYERS

STARTERS PF CHEICK DIAKITE Forward is a blocking presence inside at 6-foot-9 PF JEFF ALLEN Strong forward will likely be main low-post player SF DERON WASHINGTON Versatile forward is leading rebounder PG HANK THORNS Quick playmaker will help lead the offense SG A.D. VASSALLO 3-point sharpshooter with .415 shooting percentage BENCH A young bench with five freshmen and forward Lewis Witcher

Chronicle File Photo

Senior forward Deron Washington is a defensive force for Viginia Tech. said of the Hokies’ preseason mindset. It was a difficult offseason for Greenberg and the Hokies, however, after the tragic April 16 campus shooting in Blacksburg. Multiple top recruits reneged on their original commitments to the program. Six-foot-10 Augustus Gilchrist decided against the Hokies after expressing reservations about safety and instead enrolled at Maryland. Nigel Munson, who was a likely and much-needed starter at point guard, was released from scholarship. With so many freshmen expected to clock significant minutes and questions still looming, Virginia Tech has a lot of room to grow if it wants to return to the top of the ACC standings.

VT OPP PTS/G 64.1 71.4 FG-FGA 886-1894 759-1818 .486 .417 FG% 3FG-3FGA 163-449 227-650 .363 3PT% .349 FT-FTA 493-747 436-664 FT% .657 .660 REB/G 33.3 33.9 11.0 AST/G 13.2

HEAD COACH: SETH GREENBERG 5th season at Virginia Tech • 280-226 overall • 67-56 at Virginia Tech HISTORY: NCAA appearances: 8 • Final Fours: 0 • NCAA titles: 0 THE ARENA: Cassell Coliseum • Capacity: 9,847


26 | FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2007

ACC BASKETBALL PREVIEW

#11

WAKE FOREST POWER RATINGS KEY STATS OFFENSE

DEFENSE

COACHING OVERALL

THE PLAYERS

STARTERS PF JAMES JOHNSON Versatile freshman averaged 28 ppg in high school PF JAMIE SKEEN 34 of his 71 field goals came from beyond the arc SG L.D. WILLIAMS Strong defender second on team with 34 steals SG HARVEY HALE Scored 70-percent of his points in second half or OT PG ISHMAEL SMITH Quick sophomore led ACC with 6.0 apg BENCH Freshmen Gary Clark and Jeff Teague give Smith strong backups WF OPP 73.8 PTS/G 76.4 FG-FGA 785-1726 846-1808 .455 .468 FG% 3FG-3FGA 205-556 212-606 3PT% .350 .369 513-810 465-683 .633 .681 35.3 35.1 13.4 14.7

HEAD COACH: DINO GAUDIO 1st season at Wake Forest • 68-124 overall • 0-0 at Wake Forest

HISTORY: NCAA appearances: 20 • Final Fours: 1 • NCAA titles: 0 THE ARENA: Lawrence Joel Coliseum • Capacity: 14,407

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2007 | 27

Hurricanes ‘gotta believe’

by Madeline Perez

by Gabe Starosta

In the Wake Forest locker room, late head coach Skip Prosser’s presence is everywhere. Prosser, who passed away in July, motivated his team in life. Now, his favorite sayings are pinned to the walls and lockers of the players he left behind so he can continue to support them. Although the tragic loss of their coach has weighed heavily on their hearts, the Demon Deacons are using his words and his memory to push forward—they know that’s what Prosser would have wanted. “We’re definitely focused on the season, but its hard to say we’re going to move past this,” junior Cameron Stanley said. “Coach impacted our lives so much. We’re trying to turn a negative into a positive the best way we can. Guys are still hurting, and it’s still on everybody’s mind. It’s tough to just move on, but we’re making progress.” New head coach Dino Gaudio, who served as an assistant coach for Wake Forest over the past five seasons, now looks to build on Prosser’s legacy in Winston-Salem. Gaudio, though, has not hesitated to make changes to improve upon last season’s 10th-place conference finish. He cut the Demon Deacons’ practices down from three hours to two, citing the importance of avoiding injuries as a result of overworking his team. “A big factor in our success is how healthy we are,” Gaudio said. “If we’re healthy, we’re going to surprise a lot of people.” After finishing last in the conference in field-goalpercentage defense and 10th in 3-point field-goalpercentage defense, Wake Forest spent the majority of its reduced offseason practice time on defense. With the increased focus and extra practice, the Demon Deacons look to eliminate the mistakes that plagued them last season,. On the offensive side, Wake Forest needs strong showings from post players David Weaver and Chas McFarland to make up for the loss of leading scorer and rebounder Kyle Visser. Point guard Ishmael

Last season, Miami was expected to struggle, and it did. Guard Guillermo Diaz and forward Robert Hite had left for the NBA the year before, leaving the team with a paper-thin roster, little explosiveness on the perimeter and no low-post presence. And it showed. The Hurricanes went 12-20, losing to the likes of Cleveland State, Buffalo and Binghamton, the last in Coral Gables. The team’s performance did nothing to convince fans, recruits and players that this was a team on the rise. And yet, while Miami will certainly not challenge for this season’s ACC title, the team has several pieces in place to improve upon last season’s 4-12 conference mark. First, and perhaps most importantly, senior big man Anthony King is healthy. King, a tenacious rebounder and decent inside scorer, will provide the Hurricanes with toughness and experience from battling some of the ACC’s best big men the last few seasons. King, however, missed last year’s final 24 games with a wrist injury. His presence should create more opportunities for fellow forward Jimmy Graham, and should also open up the court for Miami’s best player, guard Jack McClinton. McClinton enrolled at Miami a few weeks before last season started, but he made an immediate impact in averaging 15.6 points per game, 10th in the ACC. “Jack will benefit from having good post players, because if you have good

Chronicle file photo

Sophomore Ishmael Smith led the conference in assists as a freshman. Smith’s development is also key to the Demon Deacons’ success this year, as the sophomore led the conference in assists last season. Smith’s inexperience showed, though, as he also led the team in turnovers. Coming off a disappointing season and a heartbreaking loss, the Demon Deacons certainly have plenty of motivation. “We’ve got to try to make this the greatest success story in college basketball this year,” Gaudio said. “From this tragedy is going to be this great story.”

#12

MIAMI

POWER RATINGS KEY STATS

The chronicle

The chronicle

2006-2007 RECORD OVERALL: 15-16 ACC: 5-11 PRESEASON RANKING AP: NR USA TODAY: NR RETURNING STARTERS: 4

FT-FTA FT% REB/G AST/G

Wake playing for late Prosser

ACC BASKETBALL PREVIEW

OFFENSE

DEFENSE

COACHING OVERALL

2006-2007 RECORD OVERALL: 12-20 ACC: 4-12 PRESEASON RANKING AP: NR USA TODAY: NR RETURNING STARTERS: 4

THE PLAYERS PF PF SF SG

STARTERS ANTHONY KING Shot-blocking presence will solidify defense

JIMMY GRAHAM One of three players to play in every game BRIAN ASBURY Second on team in scoring and rebounding JACK McCLINTON Led team in scoring with 16.7 ppg PG LANCE HURDLE JC transfer will replace Denis Clemente at the point BENCH A thin bench is led by F Dwayne Collins and several freshmen

Chronicle file photo

Miami looks to tighten up on defense, aided by the return of senior Anthony King. post guys, there is only so much attention you can pay [to him],” head coach Frank Haith said. “When Jack had trouble last year was when we started losing our post players, and you could just gang up on him. But I’m hoping that our post players being better will take some pressure off him.” Now in his fourth season, Haith knows he has another tough year ahead of him. His young team once again lacks proven depth, and aside from McClinton, the

team has few offensive options. The top tier of the ACC is likely out of reach for the Hurricanes, but a soft non-conference schedule and a healthy roster could cause some surprises once league play rolls around in January. “We gotta believe,” McClinton said. “I personally believe we can make the NCAA Tournament. And that is why every night and every day we go to practice, weights, whatever it is—because we know what we’ve got in front of us.”

MIAMI OPP PTS/G 72.9 71.2 FG-FGA 833-1916 779-1681 FG% .435 .463 3FG-3FGA 208-588 259-677 3PT% .383 .354 FT-FTA 405-577 515-742 FT% .702 .694 REB/G 35.1 33.2 12.4 14.4 AST/G

HEAD COACH: FRANK HAITH 4th season at Miami • 46-49 overall • 46-49 at Miami

HISTORY: NCAA appearances: 5 • Final Fours: 0 • NCAA titles: 0 THE ARENA: BankUnited Center • Capacity: 7,000


ACC BASKETBALL PREVIEW 2007