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Caulton Tudor

ACC can ill afford a guard drain

Posted March 31

Syracuse's Tyler Ennis prior to the Duke Blue Devils' game versus Syracuse on Saturday, February 22, 2014 in Durham, NC.  Duke defeated the Orange 66-60.  (Photo by Jack Morton)

The last thing ACC basketball needs right now is a drain on guards and, of course, that’s exactly what has started.

The Final Four hasn’t been played yet but already point guards Tyler Ennis of Syracuse and Tyler Lewis of N.C. State are heading for the exits.

Ennis is leaving the Orange after one season to enter the NBA draft. Lewis, a sophomore, announced over the weekend that he plans to transfer.
Ouch.

The primary thing that separates the 15 ACC teams from the Final Four qualifiers - Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky and Wisconsin - is backcourt production.

There’s some room for debate on this but essentially, the ACC had three standout guards in ’13-’14, and one of those was Ennis.

The other two were UNC sophomore Marcus Paige, who hasn’t officially said yet whether he will return for ’14-’15 or enter the draft, and Boston College soph Olivier Hanlan, whose status also is uncertain as the school looks for a new coach.

In the next group are Clemson’s Rod Hall (junior), Duke’s Rasheed Sulaimon (sophomore), Florida State’s Aaron Thomas (junior), Pitt’s James Robinson (sophomore), Syracuse’s Trevor Conney (sophomore), Virginia’s London Perrantes (freshman) and Codi Miller-McIntyre (Wake Forest).

Then there’s something of an X-factor group that includes Cat Barber (State freshman), Nate Britt (UNC freshman), Quinn Cook (Duke junior) and Josh Newkirk (Pitt freshman) among others. Louisville’s Terry Rozier (freshman) and Chris Jones (junior) will expand this group going forward.

And finally, there’s a group of swing wings who split time between being technically in the backcourt and forward - Malcolm Brogdon (Virginia sophomore), Pat Connaughton (Notre Dame junior) and Desmond Lee (State junior) to cite three examples.

Much pressure will fall on newcomers

But by almost any measure, overall guard play in the league is well below the ACC norm.

Much of that is due to early pro entries during the past two or three seasons - Shane Larkin (Miami), Austin Rivers (Duke), Kendall Marshall (UNC) and Lorenzo Brown (State).

The conference hasn’t produced a Final Four team since UNC and Duke won back to back in ’09 and ’10 and to be completely fair, Carolina may well have returned in ’12 had it not been for Marshall’s injury in a second-round win over Creighton.

But until the guard lot improves and gains some depth, there’s not a team in the league that actually has the traditional personnel foundation for a Final Four run.

In that regard, the incoming freshmen will have an instant impact - one way or the other - on the league’s hopes to recover some of its lost national status.

Duke’s Tyus Jones, UNC’s Joel Berry, Louisville’s Quentin Snider and Ja’Quan Newton (Miami) are rated among the best pure guards in the country and State should get help from transfer Trevor Lacey, who averaged almost 10 points per game during two seasons at Alabama.

But there’s no doubt that the Wolfpack would have been in a lot of trouble without Lewis. By the same token, Ennis would have been a solid player of the year candidate next season for Syracuse.

Attrition is a part of the game, of course. But we’re still more than a month away from the usual onset of what the coaches have come to refer to as “transfer season” and the traffic pattern isn’t promising.

14 Comments

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  • vt94hokies Apr 2, 9:56 p.m.

    I'm looking forward to seeing Mandy write on here vs a few of these. Gosh. What gives?

  • vt94hokies Apr 2, 9:53 p.m.

    "The last thing ACC basketball needs right now is a drain on guards and, of course, that's... View More

    — Posted by Objective Scientist

    Nice.

  • vt94hokies Apr 2, 9:46 p.m.

    And. The title of this article doesn't make any sense at all. None.

  • vt94hokies Apr 2, 9:45 p.m.

    UVA was the only ACC that did a solid job. He coached this team without not one Micky D. He totally outcoached all coaches in the ACC.

  • vt94hokies Apr 2, 9:34 p.m.

    Lewis was a much hyped McD AA. He can't shoot. If he's 5'11, then someone is lying. He's probably about 5'8"best. He can dribble and pass a little. Wasted scholarship. He will not be picked up by any top schools. Let him ease on down the road. His daddy is his biggest fan. Funny.

  • GunnyGoesArrrgh Apr 1, 6:36 a.m.

    I agree Tombland! Our local teams aren't even in the same league as what we saw in the Elite 8.... View More

    — Posted by mxteam44

    I was thinking the same thing! I am so impressed with the sense of urgency I saw from the players in the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight - rebounding, diving for loose balls, never giving up on a play, etc. Free throws! Other than MSU in Sunday's game, most teams were solid at the line. Virginia was the one bright spot; they showed a lot of heart, but for the most part, the ACC didn't stack up to the teams I saw play this past week.

  • Objective Scientist Mar 31, 6:16 p.m.

    "The last thing ACC basketball needs right now is a drain on guards and, of course, that's exactly what has started." This is another of those "competition between conference" issues. If Carolina beats Duke and NC State every year... and does well overall... I truly lose NO SLEEP over how the ACC does! And even if I cared deeply about how the ACC compares to the SEC and others... what can I do about it. Same for John Swofford... what can the ACC do about a guard "exodus"? NOTHING!!! Do we expect each coach of each ACC team to make decisions based on what is good for the conference as opposed to his team? Do we expect players to make "stay or go" decisions based on what is good for the team or conference as opposed to what is best for them and their families? OF COURSE NOT!!! This article is about something that is under the control of NO ONE!!! ...especially with the increased number of teams in the ACC! Why bother talking about something NO ONE can control???

  • lec02572 Mar 31, 4:59 p.m.

    Is the expanded ACC really better? Guess we will have to wait and see. Teams like Dayton will continue to have success in the NCAA because the players they recruit usually stay 4 years and develope. These one and done's are great players, but good ("not great") players develop into players who make good decisions.

  • jensuebrett Mar 31, 4:46 p.m.

    Paige confirmed he was coming back the day after UNC lost, keep up.

  • kbkline Mar 31, 4:45 p.m.

    Lewis? Really? I'm not even a State fan but I blame him (and the coach for waiting to long to sit him) for them losing in the NCAA. He was bad to say the least

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