Atlantic Coast Conference

College Basketball Preview

November 07, 2001|By Gary Lambrecht

Duke

Coach: Mike Krzyzewski, 22nd season at Duke (533-164), 27th overall (606-223)

2000-01 record: 35-4 (13-3 ACC); beat Arizona to win its 3rd NCAA championship

Starters lost: 1

Outlook: Shane Battier, maybe the premier leader of the Krzyzewski era, is gone, but the defending champion Blue Devils aren't going away. Not with Player of the Year candidate Jason Williams orchestrating things in the backcourt with sophomore Chris Duhon. Forward Mike Dunleavy has added about 20 pounds of bulk and will play more down low with center Carlos Boozer, giving Duke a different look from last season's three-point-shooting team. Guard-forward Dahntay Jones, a transfer from Rutgers, will fuel the offense. And backup Casey Sanders was productive while filling in for the injured Boozer last year. Yes, the Blue Devils could win it all again.

North Carolina

Coach: Matt Doherty, 2nd season at Carolina (26-7), 3rd overall (48-23).

2000-01 record: 26-7 (13-3 ACC); lost to Penn State in NCAA South Regional 2nd round

Starters lost: 3

Outlook: The reports of Carolina's short-term demise are exaggerated, so say the Tar Heels. Shooting guard Joseph Forte and center Brendan Haywood are in the NBA now, and point guard Ronald Curry and backup forward Julius Peppers plan to concentrate solely on football this year. That leaves seniors Jason Capel and Kris Lang to anchor the team as a solid frontcourt. It also leaves a leadership void in the backcourt, where freshmen Melvin Scott (Southern-Baltimore) and Jawad Williams could get the most minutes, though returning players Adam Boone and Brian Morrison will have an impact. The Tar Heels are young but talented. Doherty will not lose control of this team.

Virginia

Coach: Pete Gillen, 4th season at Virginia (53-37), 17th overall (327-165)

2000-01 record: 20-9 (9-7 ACC); lost to Gonzaga in NCAA South Regional 1st round

Starters lost: 1

Outlook: The Cavaliers love Gillen's running, pressing style, and they could rank among the nation's top five teams in scoring once again, especially with playmakers such as forwards Adam Hall and Chris Williams and shooting guard Roger Mason Jr. returning. They also have maybe the conference's most underrated rebounder in center Travis Watson. But the loss of projected point guard Majestic Mapp to another knee injury could force Mason to change positions. Virginia also needs major improvements to its half-court and transition defense. The Cavaliers allowed opponents to shoot a whopping 46.5 percent last season, and they were especially poor defensively when they played on the road.

Wake Forest

Coach: Skip Prosser, 1st season at Wake Forest, 9th overall (165-78)

2000-01 record: 19-11 (8-8 ACC); lost to Butler in NCAA Midwest Regional 1st round

Starters lost: 2

Outlook: The Demon Deacons have capable returning players in point guard Broderick Hicks and forwards Darius Songaila and Josh Howard, who could be one of the breakout players in the conference. Senior guard Craig Dawson goes from sixth man to starting shooting guard. The style will change dramatically in Winston-Salem this year with the arrival of Prosser, the former Loyola College coach who left Xavier to join the ACC. Wake Forest will no longer be the deliberate team that milked the shot clock and rarely hit the 80-point mark under Dave Odom. Prosser loves to run and press, and if the Demon Deacons buy into his style effectively, they have the size and defensive mind-set to become a conference contender.

Georgia Tech

Coach: Paul Hewitt, 2nd season at Georgia Tech (17-13), 5th overall (83-40)

2000-01 record: 17-13 (8-8 ACC); lost to St. Joseph's in NCAA West Regional 1st round

Starters lost: 3

Outlook: Hewitt earned ACC Coach of the Year for taking a team picked to finish eighth in the conference to the NCAAs. Now, he has a tougher task: competing with a team of nearly all freshmen and sophomores. That puts pressure on senior point guard Tony Akins, who shot 41.9 percent on three-pointers and cut his turnovers. Sophomore shooting guard Marvin Lewis is stronger and should add to his 8.7-point scoring average. The real questions are up front, where sophomore Robert Brooks and freshman Ed Nelson have to replace Alvin Jones and Shaun Fein. The loss of senior backup center/forward Michael Isenhour, who is suffering from leukemia, will be difficult to overcome.

North Carolina State

Coach: Herb Sendek, 6th season at N.C. State (86-74), 9th overall (149-100)

2000-01 record: 13-16 (5-11 ACC)

Starters lost: 3

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