Acc Vs. The Nation

Acc Tournament

March 10, 2005|By PAUL McMULLEN | PAUL McMULLEN,SUN STAFF

POINT GUARD Illinois is headed toward an NCAA team record for assist-to- turnover ratio. That smart, unselfish play begins with junior Deron Williams, the stocky (6-3, 210) leader whose personal ratio is 2.38. It's not as good as the 2.41 that Chris Paul has running Wake Forest. The better shooter, Paul doesn't put it up as much as you think. Come June, they could be the first two guards taken in the NBA draft.

SMALL FORWARD In an effort to balance the floor and both sides' rotation, let's match two seniors: N.C. State's Julius Hodge and Syracuse's Hakim Warrick. Hodge, last year's ACC Player of the Year, has struggled with his outside shot much of the season, but still averages 17.1 points and 6.9 rebounds. Warrick gets 21.2 and 8.2 per game, is stronger inside and has few peers when it comes to elevating, but Hodge would make him work at both ends.

POWER FORWARD Duke junior Shelden Williams is the leading shot-blocker in the major conferences, and also ranks among the national leaders in field goal percentage (.596) and rebounds (11.1). Wayne Simien, the Big 12 Player of the Year, neutralizes Williams on the boards, and his 19.4 scoring average is three points higher. Both have expanded their shooting range, which will serve them well in the NBA.

CENTER Utah's Andrew Bogut, the likely No. 1 pick in the 2005 NBA draft, is third in the nation in field-goal percentage (.637) and rebounds. His statistics and 7 feet look down on North Carolina's Sean May, but look closer at the numbers. Bogut needs 34 minutes a game to post his 20.6 points and 12.0 rebounds. In less than 26 minutes per game, May is averaging 16.7 and 10.9. As the stakes increase, so will May's minutes and production. Ask Duke.

SIXTH MAN Elite teams deploy three-guard lineups, and Paul can move to a wing when Raymond Felton comes in to run the point. The North Carolina junior tops the ACC with 7.3 assists per game and makes 43.8 percent of his threes. The perfect counter is 6-foot Dee Brown of Illinois. He's as quick as Felton, a better three-point shooter (48.2) and has an assist-to-turnover ratio (2.67) better than teammate Williams and even Paul.

BIGS The third best big man in the ACC is Wake Forest junior Eric Williams, who has curbed his tendency to get in foul trouble and leads the conference in shooting (.621). The 6-9 junior would have his hands full with Ike Diogu, but since Arizona State isn't headed to the NCAAs, the rest of the nation calls on Gonzaga's Ronny Turiaf. The 6-10 Frenchman has the same scoring average (16.0) as Williams, and is a better rebounder.

SMALLS Guillermo Diaz was good enough to lead Miami from what was supposed to be a sorry ACC debut to a middle-of-the-road sixth seed. In the conference, only Redick topped the 6-2 sophomore's scoring average (18.2). Diaz played on Puerto Rico's junior national volleyball team, but is he as good an athlete as Nate Robinson? The 5-9 junior first played football for Washington, where Huskies basketball thrives on his scoring (16.3) and floor game (4.9 assists).

FRESHMAN Daniel Gibson has been one of the most influential rookies in the nation, but the Texas guard is only 6-2 and wouldn't stack up against the ACC Rookie of the Year. Marvin Williams of North Carolina is 6-9, 230, and averages 11.3 points and 6.5 rebounds. His counter comes from the Big East, where Connecticut's Rudy Gay is 6-9, 215, and averages 11.7 and 5.8. They could go 1-2 in the 2006 NBA draft.

COACH Duke's Mike Krzyzewski just needs to get to this year's Sweet 16 to pass Dean Smith for the NCAA tournament record in wins. Since the dawn of the 1990s, he's the only man to direct three NCAA champions. The only other coach with two titles in that time frame is Connecticut's Jim Calhoun, whose Huskies bested Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils in an epic 1999 final and again in last year's semifinals.

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