Fansided’s ACC Basketball Roundtable

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Welcome to the Fansided Network’s First edition of ACC Roundtable.  I recently sat down with all the head honchos from our ACC sites here on the Network to give you the inside scoop on the rest of the conference.  Enjoy! 

North Carolina: Matt Hamm

What’s the current state of your team’s Men’s basketball program?

The Carolina state of the union right now is in disarray.  A lot of overreaction and under appreciation is being slung the Tar Heels way.  The reality is UNC is fine, we have some adjustments to make but we’re one of the top 3 teams in college hoops when it comes to talent.  It’s championship or bust with this group of players who for the most part will grace the NBA Hardwood soon.

How do you feel about the ACC expanding to take in Pitt and Syracuse?

On the surface I love it.  Syracuse is another national power and bringing them into the ACC only strengthens the conference. On the flip side, I don’t like conference expansion in college sports in general.  It reminds me too much of the Miami Heat.  Let’s battle it out in the tournament and not worry about stacking the power conferences.  The ACC is fine without Syracuse and Pitt, let’s keep it that way.

What are some surprises for your team so far?  Some disappointments? 

The biggest surprise is our lack of mental toughness.  The blowout at FSU was unacceptable and it’s surprising this team allowed itself to get humiliated like that. The play of Harrison Barnes is also a concern.  While he has played well, he hasn’t played up to his preseason all American label.  The biggest surprise has to be Reggie Bullock.  A hyped freshman coming in last season before a knee injury cost him the year.  Bullock has come back this season improved in all facets of his game and has become the Heels top threat off the bench.

Next Up: The rest of my Tar Heel Review PLUS: Pete Volk of gives us the inside scoop on Maryland

Who have been some of the key players on your team so far this season? 

UNC has a ton of what I would call key players.  The team rotates eight players on its normal rotation and has another three or four that could step in if needed.  Kendall Marshall is the engine that runs North Carolina.  On pace to become the teams all time leader in assists, UNC relies on him to initiate the break, the lifeblood of our offense.  Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Marshall are all finalists for the Wooden Award.  The bigger issue for Carolina is who will lead out of this bunch.

What does your team have left to do in order to make the NCAA Tournament? 

Essentially nothing, ranked #8 in the nation UNC just needs to make sure they don’t blow every game the way they did at Florida State.  Right now it’s all about getting back into the top 4 where we belong and securing a #1 seed.  For the Heels to do that they not only need to get their heads in the game and play with more mental toughness.  They also need to knock down some free throws.  UNC is the worst FT shooting team in the ACC, so bad, I refuse to even publish their current shooting percentage at the stripe.

What’s your end-season prediction for your team? 

Carolina will turn it around and this early season turbulence will turn into a good thing for UNC.  The Heels have the best balance of overall talent, size, speed, coaching and experience to win it all.  And that’s exactly what I expect this team to do.  Expect UNC to go on a tear and enter the NCAA Tournament as a #1 seed and cut down the nets in March.

Next Up: Pete Volk of gives us the inside scoop on Maryland

Maryland: Pete Volk:

What’s the current state of your team’s men’s basketball program?

In limbo? After Gary Williams retired last year, Maryland hired Mark Turgeon, and he’s continued the tradition of doing a lot with not much. Coming into this season, Maryland fans were not expecting much. Jordan Williams was gone, as were Adrian Bowie, Dino Gregory and Cliff Tucker. There were limited pieces returning, especially inside, and most Terps fans were expecting a rough year.

Trying not to think too hard about Tuesday’s beatdown at the hands of Florida State, that hasn’t been the case. Maryland stands at 12-5 right now, 2-2 in the conference, and Turgeon has done wonders with Terrell Stoglin and James Padgett, among others. No one is expecting the Terps to make the tournament, but with the retention of Baltimore super-recruiter Bino Ranson and the addition of his D.C. counterpart Dalonte Hill, there is a whole ton of optimism surrounding the future of this program.

How do you feel about the ACC expanding to take in Pitt and Syracuse?

As a basketball school, it’s great. The level of competition may rise, but so does the reputation. On a personal note, my brother goes to Pitt, so that’s good for me as well. But I think adding two of the better basketball programs in the nation to our conference can only be a good thing.

What are some surprises for your team so far?  Some disappointments? 

Some positive surprises have been the development of Stoglin and the play of Sean Mosley. Last year, Stoglin was a great scorer, but he often took stupid shots and wasted possessions. This year, it seems that Turgeon has been able to calm him down his shooting guard, and it’s made him one of the more effective players in the country. He’s still able to put the team on his back when he needs to (see: the first half of the game against Florida State as well as many, many other games this year), but is also able to help the offense run and take a backseat when he needs to. For Mosley, he is still inconsistent with his scoring, but he’s had more good games than bad ones this year. What he does, however, is absolutely everything else. He’s a top-notch defender, gets key rebounds, and makes big-time passes on a regular basis. He’s the senior leader this team needs, and will sorely miss next year.

Another surprise has been the play of Mychal Parker, who has mostly been used as the seventh or eighth man in the rotation. He’s showing the talent that made him a high-three/low-four star prospect out of high school, but still has hints of the rawness that kept him from climbing even higher. The rumor is his high school didn’t really run plays (I’m imagining a “Give the ball to Mike and get out of the way” scenario a-la the 90’s Bulls), and that’s essentially how he plays. He’s averaging 4.8 points and 3.6 rebounds per game, but he adds a lot of needed athleticism to the team.

In terms of disappointments, it’s hard because not much was expected of this team. If you have to pick some, though, it’s got to be the recent play of Pe’Shon Howard and Alex Len, as well as the early season play of Nick Faust. The former two are only disappointments due to their earlier season performances – Howard returning from a broken foot extremely early and Len coming into the fold after a ten-game NCAA suspension. Both got off to fast starts against non-conference opponents, and both have come to a grinding halt once ACC play came around. With Faust, he’s picked up his game in recent contests, and he’s a hell of an athlete. The only reason he can remotely be considered a disappointment is the high expectations he carried coming into this year. I think Maryland fans were expecting a high-volume scorer, maybe someone who could be the second option after Stoglin on the team, and Faust isn’t that – yet. What he is is an excellent defender with great athletic and basketball ability. Once he becomes more accustomed to ACC-level basketball, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with.

Who have been some of the key players on your team so far this season?

It really starts and ends with Terrell Stoglin. The sophomore southpaw is averaging 21.2 points per game and is shooting 41.3% from behind the line. He’s come up with big shot after big shot this year, and as Stoglin has went, Maryland has gone with him. It’s really impossible to imagine the Terps having any sort of success without him this year, and he’s got to be one of the frontrunners for conference player of the year.

Beyond him, there’s Mosley, who is averaging 10.6 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, along with excellent defense. Alex Len has had an awful last three games, but the 7’1″ Ukrainian still boasts averages of 8.9 point, 6.9 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game. And finally, there’s the mystery of James Padgett.

Padgett has solid numbers, at 9.3 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. He’s been an incredible offensive rebounder, at 4.2 per game, but much of that comes from his 48.6% rate at field goals, mostly from directly next to the basket. He’s missed a lot of easy shots, got them back, and sometimes even put them back in. He puts in tireless effort on both ends of the court, and it shows, but he’s got to get better at making those easy shots.

What does your team have left to do in order to make the NCAA Tournament?

Win two of the six games they have against Duke, UNC and Virginia, and then win five of their other seven games. It’s going to be an extremely tough task, and I just don’t see it happening. Terrell Stoglin will need to keep up his 20 ppg clip, Pe’Shon Howard and Alex Len will have to return to their earlier form, either Nick Faust or Sean Mosley will have to emerge as a consistent secondary scoring option, and James Padgett will need to stop missing ridiculously easy chances. It’s not impossible, but it’s close.

What’s your end-season prediction for your team?

18-12, with a possible NIT bid. Stoglin makes first team All-ACC, Len makes the All-Rookie team.

Next Up: Joe Micik  of with the inside scoop on Boston College