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College Basketball 2003 : Acc Men

Sunset Season

November 21, 2003|By Gary Lambrecht

Clemson

Coach: Oliver Purnell, first year at Clemson, 16th overall (256-191).

2002-03 record: 15-13, 5-11 (eighth in ACC)

Starters lost: 1

Outlook: The Tigers gained a measure of instant credibility by hiring Purnell, who paid his dues long enough at the mid-major level before getting his chance to leave Dayton. Purnell, who has Atlantic Coast Conference ties as a former assistant at Maryland, is the first African-American coach in any sport at Clemson. Count on Purnell to instill toughness, good defense and rebounding as fixtures in the Tigers' program, but don't expect him to win too quickly. The graduation of standout Ed Scott has left Clemson without a true PG. Junior Chey Christie, a natural off-guard, might have to assume Scott's job, at least while freshmen Vernon Hamilton or Jimmy Hudson are being groomed. The Tigers should have adequate size and toughness up front with forwards Olu Babalola (6-6), Chris Hobbs (6-7) and Sharrod Ford (6-9). Junior-college transfer 6-7 F Lamar Rice will add some spark, but Clemson will struggle to score and make its first postseason appearance since 1999.

Duke

Coach: Mike Krzyzewski, 24th year at Duke (591-174), 29th overall (664-233)

2002-03 record: 27-6, 11-5 (tied for second in ACC)

Starters lost: 1

Outlook: Surprise, surprise. Duke is the favorite to win the conference and go deep into the NCAA tournament. If freshman phenom F Luol Deng is nearly as good as advertised, the Blue Devils are really in business. Deng, 6-8, can play both forward positions and could give Duke the inside power it needs. Sophomore forwards Shelden Williams and Shavlik Randolph progressed nicely a season ago, but they probably can't carry Duke's interior through a tough schedule. Deng's versatility should cover the loss of Dahntay Jones. The backcourt looks strong again, especially if inconsistent senior PG Chris Duhon shoots better. Sophomore J.J. Redick shot 40 percent from three-point range, made 92 percent of his free throws and is the team's top returning scorer. Backup G Daniel Ewing is one of the underrated clutch shooters in the league. But if the Blue Devils don't improve notably in rebounding and assists, they will have been over-hyped.

Florida State

Coach: Leonard Hamilton, second year at Florida State (14-15), 16th overall (214-225)

2002-03 record: 14-15, 4-12 (ninth in ACC)

Starters lost: 1

Outlook: Two years of excellent recruiting by Hamilton could elevate the Seminoles into the middle of the league and back into the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1998. Florida State might have the best depth at the PG spot with senior Nate Johnson and sophomore Todd Galloway, one of the quicker players in the ACC. Senior SG Tim Pickett was one of the league's more potent scorers a season ago. Hamilton should be able to squeeze effective minutes out of veteran forwards Michael Joiner and Anthony Richardson, but it's the infusion of junior-college F Diego Romero, 6-10, and freshman G/F Von Wafer, a McDonald's All-American, that has people buzzing in Tallahassee. Hamilton, who took Miami to the NCAAs twice in the late 1990s, might be primed to put another Florida school on the map.

Georgia Tech

Coach: Paul Hewitt, fourth year at Georgia Tech (48-44), seventh overall (114-71)

2002-03 record: 16-15, 7-9 (fifth in ACC)

Starters lost: 1

Outlook: If Chris Bosh had not bolted for the NBA and become a lottery pick, and if F Ed Nelson had not transferred to Connecticut, the Yellow Jackets would be a fashionable pick to break into the league's upper echelon. Bosh and Nelson, however, are gone, and Tech is searching for go-to post players. Junior 7-1 C Luke Schenscher is a defensive presence, but little more. This is basically a perimeter-oriented team with great talent out there. Sophomore PG Jarrett Jack cut down on his high turnover rate as his freshman year went on, and he is a bruising player. Senior 6-4 G Marvin Lewis made 36.6 percent of his three-point attempts last season, and junior G/F B.J. Elder is a versatile scoring threat with NBA potential. Junior G Will Bynum, a transfer from Arizona who will be eligible in December, adds depth, but the Jackets are lacking enough bulk to win when their pressure defense gets negated.

North Carolina

Coach: Roy Williams, first year at North Carolina, 16th overall (418-101)

2002-03 record: 19-16, 6-10 (tied for sixth in ACC)

Starters lost: 0

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