Freshmen rate as phenoms in the ACC

On College Basketball

January 12, 1996|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

What began with the exodus of premier underclass players in the Atlantic Coast Conference has become the year of the freshman phenom.

Consider North Carolina's Antawn Jamison, a 6-foot-8 freshman who this week achieved the rare double of being named the ACC's Player of the Week and its top rookie.

"Jamison thought he'd be learning behind Rasheed [Wallace]," Carolina coach Dean Smith said. "[But] he had his chance and made the most of it."

When Wallace trundled off to the NBA with Tar Heels teammate Jerry Stackhouse and Maryland's Joe Smith, it opened a door of opportunity for the next wave of ACC stars. That many of them turned out to be freshmen is a sign of the times.

In the ACC, no less than nine freshmen have become fixtures in the starting lineup already. At least another half-dozen play significant roles for their teams.

"Part of it has to do with the number of freshmen who want to come in and play [right away]," said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. "I also think they're playing against a lot of other young players. It's not like they're coming in and playing against teams with three and four seniors. That's the changing face of college basketball right now."

Jamison, high school Player of the Year in North Carolina last season, earned his unique double with a 26-point ACC debut against North Carolina State, and a giant 31-point game against Maryland, including the game-winner in overtime.

He is third in rebounding in the conference with 9.1 a game, 10th in scoring at 16.1, and second in field-goal percentage with a 65.2.

Not to be outdone, Georgia Tech's precocious point guard Stephon Marbury is an equally strong candidate for the league's Rookie of the Year honor. Marbury is third in ACC scoring (18.9 ppg), second in steals, eighth in field-goal percentage and 10th in assists.

Marbury chose Georgia Tech for the chance to play right away, replacing departed Travis Best.

Other ACC freshmen making significant contributions include Ademola Okulaja and Vince Carter at Carolina, Randell Jackson at Florida State, Courtney Alexander at Virginia, Terrell Stokes at Maryland, Ivan Wagner at North Carolina State and Taymon Domzalski at Duke.

Then there is Clemson. The unbeaten and 16th-ranked Tigers start three freshmen -- 5-9 Terrell McIntyre, 6-9 Andrius Jurkunas (St. John's of Prospect Hall in Frederick) and 6-10 Tom Wideman. And they bring Tony Christie (another St. John's product) and Harold Jamison off the bench for critical minutes.

"It just depends on where the holes are," Smith said. "With every one of these freshmen, you watch: when they are juniors, they will be a lot better, whether it be here [in the ACC] or wherever."

Tour of duty

The Blizzard of '96 took its toll on a few teams this week. For a Tuesday night game at Boston College, Notre Dame flew from South Bend, Ind., to Cincinnati Monday and caught a connecting flight to Albany, N.Y. The next morning, it took a bus to Chestnut Hill, Mass., and arrived at noon.

That night, the Irish fell behind by 29, mounted a brief comeback and ultimately fell, 72-57.

Battle in the Dean Dome

Bench demeanor will be closely watched Sunday when Clemson visits North Carolina for a rematch of their ACC tournament battle last March. That was when Clemson coach Rick Barnes got in a heated argument with Dean Smith during the game.

Barnes tried to play down the incident this week on the ACC coaches' weekly conference call. "I think when my name is introduced, there will be boos," he said. "That will pretty much be the end of it. It's a situation that happened, is over and done with."

He can only hope.

Crunch time

Four days after the UConn women broke Tennessee's record 69-game home-court winning streak, Clemson beat Virginia to halt UVA's 61-game streak, the fourth longest in women's history. Clemson is the only school with unbeaten men's and women's teams. . . . SMU became the first team in 42 games to shoot 50 percent against Kansas in an 83-61 loss. . . . Duke has lost 15 of its past 17 ACC games. . . . When Pitt walloped No. 5 Georgetown, 75-56, it was the highest ranked team the Panthers had beaten since the 1989-90 season when they defeated No. 3 Oklahoma. . . . With its Rainbow Classic win over N.C. State, Massachusetts ran its record against the ACC this season to 4-0. . . . In UMass' 94-89 win over St. Joseph's in Philadelphia, guards Edgar Padilla and Carmelo Travieso played the full 45 minutes each and combined for 36 points, 11 assists and only three turnovers.

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