Final grades for Triangle basketball teams
Posted April 2, 2013
The Blue Devils began the year 15-0, climbing to the top of the AP basketball poll. They had early wins over Louisville and Ohio State that caught the attention of many across the country. Then came the fall of Ryan Kelly.
After the Blue Devils loss to Louisville in the Regional Final, I asked Kelly how injured his foot was when he initially hurt it against Clemson. He would not talk about it.
“Maybe one day I will tell you,” Kelly said, “but not now.”
They guy was laboring on a bad wheel even when he returned, which made that magical 36-point outing against Miami even more incredible.
The most puzzling game for the Blue Devils was a very, lackluster effort against Maryland in the opening round of the ACC tournament. That certainly didn’t look like Duke was in postseason form, but a run to the Elite Eight showed why Duke was one of the elite teams in the country. They just ran up against what Mike Krzyzewski called the best team playing their best.
Duke loses their top 3 scorers in Kelly, Seth Curry and Mason Plumlee, but those in the Duke basketball circle feel they will be an explosive and very athletic team next year -- one capable of having a chance to play for the ACC title and a berth in the Final Four.
NORTH CAROLINA: B
When the Tar Heels were picked 11th in the AP preseason poll, that was the program that earned that ranking, not the team. Carolina lost four players that went in the top 17 of the NBA draft, so a major transition was bound to happen.
Early in the season, Roy Williams had hoped to develop a post player capable of defending, rebounding and kicking out to their shooters. It didn’t happen and teams just collapsed on James Michael McAdoo, smothering the sophomore. Carolina’s 0-2 start had folks in Chapel Hill locking all bridges and overpasses.
Then came the moment of revelation. After getting their doors blown off at Miami by 26 points, Roy Williams met with his staff, searching for a solution to try and salvage the season. The result was a start by PJ Hairston at Duke and the experiment was underway.
Hairston delivered immediately and the Tar Heels began to play at a faster pace, which Williams prefers. Better spacing helped out McAdoo, who scored in double figures the last 11 games. But I think what Hairston brought, more than anything, was grit, toughness and leadership. He played his rear end off and his teammates tried to mimic it.
Will any of the Tar Heels exit early for the NBA? If not, or depending on which one or ones do, Carolina could make a deep run in the NCAA tournament next year.
NC STATE: D
Had they not performed well in mid-term wins at home over Duke and North Carolina, the Wolfpack would have finished with a failing grade.
I do recognize that State was 0-3 when Lorenzo Brown was out with an ankle injury. But even when Brown returned, the Wolfpack didn't beat a team that made the NCAA tournament and they laid an egg at Florida State when a top-four finish was on the line.
Stocked with Final Four talent, NC State couldn’t even win one game in the NCAA tournament. The AP preseason poll found the Wolfpack in the No. 6-slot, but the preseason pick to win the ACC finished 5th in the league, and was served with a tough No. 8 seed in the NCAA tournament. That’s a major digression.
After the season was over, Mark Gottfried said his team was immature at times and didn’t always buy in. That’s frustrating for coaches to deal with but also the job of a staff to get their team to pull in the same direction.
Five of their top six scorers are gone. Scott Wood and Richard Howell had their senior day, CJ Leslie and Lorenzo Brown made their expected early leap to the NBA. But the transfer of Rodney Purvis was a bit unexpected. The University did so much to help Purvis become academically cleared, then he bolts after one year.
Now that the mass exodus has taken place, NC State’s team will have an all new look next season. The Ralston Turner transfer is complete and the Wolfpack has a top-15 recruiting class, but with such an unproven product, it’s difficult to visualize where State will land. After this disappointing season, there will be some buyer’s remorse.