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Bob Holliday

Difficult choices for the 2014 All-ACC Team

Posted February 27, 2014

Duke's Jabari Parker and UNC's Marcus Paige.

In about ten days, members of ACSMA, the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association will submit ballots for the All-ACC Teams.

Picking the top players in the league, especially the top five players, is always a challenge. With expansion, identifying those top five will become exponentially more difficult.

Here are the candidates as I see them, broken down by school and listed in alphabetical order. Barring a dramatic change in the last ten days (i.e. if Maryland finishes 10-8 and Pitt falls to 9-9), I’m looking primarily at players from seven schools, for reasons that will become evident later in this column. Also, I would note, that the numbers I’m using here come from the ACC’s February 26 stats, involving CONFERENCE GAMES ONLY. These numbers will change slightly between now and “Election Day.”

Clemson 
K. J. McDaniels: 4th in scoring, 10th in rebounding, 6th in free throw percentage, 2nd in blocked shots.

Duke
Rodney Hood: T9th in scoring, 6th in field goal shooting percentage, and 4th in three point shots made.
Jabari Parker: 5th in scoring, 1st in rebounding, 7th in field goal percentage, 1st in offensive rebounds, 6th in blocked shots.

North Carolina
James Michael McAdoo: 13th in scoring, 4th in rebounding, 2nd in field goal percentage. 2nd in offensive rebounds.
Marcus Paige: T9th in scoring, 9th in field goal percentage, 9th in three point shots made, 3rd in free throw percentage, 2nd in assists, 7th in steals.

NC State
T.J. Warren: 1st in scoring, 1st in field goal percentage, 16th in rebounding, 4th in steals, 5th in offensive rebounds.

Pittsburgh
Lamar Patterson: 2nd in scoring, 9th in three point shots made, 7th in steals.
James Robinson: 1st in steals, 3rd in assist-turnover ratio.
Talib Zanna: 20th in scoring, 2nd in rebounding, 3rd in offensive rebounds.

Syracuse
Trevor Cooney: 3rd in steals, 6th in three point field goals made.
Tyler Ennis: 1st in assists, 4th in assist-turnover ratio, 6th in steals.
C.J.Fair: 6th in scoring, 12th in rebounding, 10th in field goal percentage.
Jerami Grant: 6th in rebounding, 8th in offensive rebounds.

Virginia
Malcolm Brogden: 11th in scoring, 4th in field goal percentage, 1st in free throw percentage, 19th in rebounding, 10th in steals.
Joe Harris: 3rd in three point percentage, 7th in three point shots made.
Akil Mitchell: 3rd in rebounding.

Analyze This

ESPN analyst and former Maryland star Len Elmore has come up with a power rating system for evaluating player of the year candidates that awards five points for scoring and lesser amounts for rebounding, assists, steals, and blocked shots. Elmore also awards five points for wins. I think he is on the right track, and you can apply his principles to All-ACC voting, although I suggest voters look at some other factors as well:

Conference Only Stats

Some of what must be considered goes beyond numbers, but I believe statistical evaluations should be made on conference only stats. Does it really matter what somebody did in December against Ball State or William & Mary? In most cases, the good players show well statistically in both full-season and ACC games only stats, but sometimes you see players who excel in the non-conference games, only to disappear in the conference rivalries that matter most.

Multiple Categories

To me, a top player influences the game in more than one area. Top scorers should also be high percentage shooters, or good passers, or rebounders. Players that impact the game on offense and defense deserve close consideration.

Low Possession Adjustments

If you look at pure numbers, the low possession teams are at a disadvantage. For example, to look at the impact of Malcolm Brogden, who is 11th in scoring, you should make allowances for the fact that he posted those numbers in games that typically have 10 to 15 fewer possessions than higher possession teams like UNC or Duke-that’s 10-15 fewer chances to score per game. You can make the same argument for Syracuse players, like C.J. Fair. For them scoring 15 points has the same impact on a game as someone scoring 20 in an up tempo style. This applies to other stats as well. We need to look beyond the raw numbers and measure how players influence games.

Eye Test

It’s critical that All-ACC voters watch the games. Just looking at the stats of Tyler Ennis probably wouldn’t earn him that many votes. But although he is not a top scorer, he is a top passer and defensive player; over the course of the season, he has made critical plays that are a major reason why Syracuse is 26-2.

Winning Matters

Last year I voted Virginia Tech’s Erick Green on the All-ACC first five, even though he played for a losing team. That’s the first time I can remember doing that since voting for Tom Gugliotta on a seventh place NC State team in 1992. There are occasions where a player on a losing team puts together such an extraordinary season, that you have to put his name on the ballot. But that’s rare. This is not fantasy football or baseball rotisserie league play. It’s not a selection of the five flashiest players or the five who would be most fun to watch in an all star game. The All-ACC vote is recognition of the highest level performances over the course of the conference season. To me, individual achievement correlates with team achievement to a large degree. 

ACC analyst Mike Gminski said this week Virginia has had a great season although it probably doesn’t have many All-ACC candidates. He’s right - Virginia could win the ACC regular season title (the Syracuse game looms large) without placing a single player on the All-ACC first five, given the way most voters think. Call me an iconoclast, but if a team goes 17-1 or 16-2 it must have players worthy of strong consideration. No coach is good enough to roar through the ACC with 16 or 17 wins using average players. But all too often we in the media are swayed by scoring, athleticism, pro potential, and pre-season hype.

Who Gets Left Off?

No matter how you approach this, some deserving players will be left off the first team. Following Wednesday night’s UNC-NC State shootout, it would be very hard to leave either Marcus Paige or TJ Warren off the first team. Both are among the ACC’s statistical leaders, both play on winning teams, and I believe anyone who watched the game would say these two players pass the eye test. Many analysts have talked about Duke’s Jabari Parker being the ACC’s best player this year. I don’t know if that’s the case, but he’s right up there.

Who do you put on from Syracuse? C.J. Fair? Tyler Ennis? Both? What if Syracuse winds up tied with Duke for second place in the conference standings? Do you put two Syracuse players on the first team and only one player from Duke? Fair and Ennis instead of Rodney Hood? Really? And what about Virginia? It seems to me Malcolm Brogden has the numbers to make the first team (remember the low possession factor) especially if UVA wins the regular season.

If you scroll back up the page to see some of the others listed, you’ll see some really good players. And yes, there are some really good players not listed here (guys like London Perrantes of Virginia and J.P. Tokoto of UNC who have come on late in the season as well as players from teams in the bottom half of the standings). The competition is close enough that voting should not take place until all of the key games have been played. I’ve given some of my thinking today, but that could change next week.

Impact of the Voting

Back to Len Elmore - he understands as well as anyone the impact of the All-ACC voting. In 1974, NC State’s Tom Burleson was left off the All-ACC first team, announced as always, just a few days before the start of the ACC Tournament. Burleson played tournament games in Greensboro like a man possessed, pouring in 38 points against one of the greatest interior defenders in the history of the conference - Len Elmore.

To my fellow ACSMA voters, I would say this - there are nine or ten really good choices and only five spots on that first team. Who are we going to fire up this year?

18 Comments

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  • vt94hokies Mar 5, 2014

    I still like the format of selecting 5 on the 1st team, 2nd, and 3rd teams. Plus Honorable Mention.

  • JACKSON SAWYER REVENGE Mar 1, 2014

    View quoted thread

    fact #1 unc is a journalism school fact 2 a few years ago when Duke got beat in early ncaa match the media in Charlotte covering unc all cheered
    fact 3 the media in this area all disdain DUKE AND STATE.
    l would love the area to have a triangle of good football and basketball teams but some want state to be down in BB and Duke to be down in FB - seeing Duke FB starting to rise up and STATE make strides in BB has got you concerned- the more you try to tear the PACK & DUKE
    down THE sweeter it will be when they come back! these comments were brought to you by THE DEVIL WOLF

  • lisastolar Feb 28, 2014

    Ken D.; if you are happy good for you! Never said everyone out to get me; just answered the question the way I felt. Don't want to argue with you; more important things in the world...

  • Ken D. Feb 28, 2014

    I answered Warren because of history.

    It must be hard to live in a world where everybody is out to get you 24/7.

  • lisastolar Feb 28, 2014

    "RaleighNCGuy": I did not mean that media was unfair to only NC State. The question was asked who would get left out of the POY and all ACC team. I answered Warren because of history. Unfortunately, most other ACC teams are left out, unless they wear some shade of blue. And now you can add Syracuse to the list of "never" overlooked.........

  • jhilfiker2001 Feb 28, 2014

    Ennis, McDaneils, Parker, Warren, and whoever they put at C. I can't name one that is any good. They could go with Grant, as he actually played the position, or have another forward like Harris, after-all someone from Virginia deserves to be on this list. Looking at stats is a bad idea, because some teams play no D and some players (Jabari) play no defense, and they should not be looked at only on offensive numbers. Teams like Virginia, Syracuse, Pittsburg are Defensive teams, so of course the stats of those players will look weak.

    ROY- Ennis No player in college had a bigger impact on the teams success. He plays on both sides of the ball, and Jabari doesn't.

  • RaleighNCGuy Feb 28, 2014

    View quoted thread

    So are you saying that Va Tech basketball does get respect? Green won last year. There are many deserving players, including Warren. If he doesn't win, then it is because another deserving player won, not because of a media bias or conspiracy. So tired of hearing this.

  • Hammerhead Feb 28, 2014

    Just thought I'd mention that Roy is on the Dan Patrick show right now.

  • Ken D. Feb 28, 2014

    View quoted thread



    I would have said 10 players instead of 12, but I agree there should only be one team - no second or third.

    My ten (in alphabetical order) are:
    Ennis
    Fair
    Harris
    Hood
    McDaniels
    Paige Parker Patterson Warren Wells

    POY Warren ROY Parker COY Bennett

  • JACKSON SAWYER REVENGE Feb 28, 2014

    2nd team
    Ennis
    Patterson
    McDaniels
    Harris
    Cooney
    3rd team Robinson-Pitt Brogden- Vir. McAdoo- nc Sulaimon duke Mitchell va.

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