Tag Archives: Tyler Zeller

My ballot for All ACC, and individual awards

The All ACC teams are set to be announced at 2:30 today and the individual awards tomorrow and here is my ballot and my reasoning for voting as I did.

ALL-ACC TEAMS

1st Team Tyler Zeller UNC
1st Team John Henson UNC
1st Team Kendall Marshall UNC
1st Team Mike Scott Virginia
1st Team Austin Rivers Duke

I couldn’t vote more than three players from any team on my 1st team and some say you only vote three if that team dominated the league.  Tyler Zeller, John Henson and Kendall  Marshall stood out for me, leaving Harrison Barnes as the odd man out despite being 2nd in the league in scoring.  Mike Scott tailed off a bit late in the season but take him away and Virginia would not make the NCAA Tournament and his last performance assured him of a spot on my team.  Austin Rivers came on strong midway through the season and earned his way on my ballot despite scoring just 25 points in his last two games.    He was the Blue Devils best player and that helped him edge out the leagues leading scorer in Terrell Stoglin. 

2nd Team Harrison Barnes UNC
2nd Team Terrell Stoglin Maryland
2nd Team Michael Snaer FSU
2nd Team Lorenzo Brown NCS
2nd Team Mason Plumlee Duke

The leagues top two scorers head up my 2nd team All ACC selections.  A testament to the Tar Heels talent is the fact that Harrison Barnes was pushed to my  2nd team.  Some will have him ahead of Kendall Marshall, but take away the captain of their ship and none of the big three stars would have the numbers they do.  Terrell Stoglin could have easily been a 1st team choice as well.  Michael Snaer was my first Florida State player selected and I am very comfortable with him on this team.  I am of the opinion that Lorenzo Brown of N.C. State was their most valuable player and his all around play made for a spot in my top ten.  As for Mason Plumlee, take him off the Duke front line and you would have seen many more losses.  He is one of the leagues top big men and the 2nd best player on the Blue Devils team from my vantage.

3rd Team Kenni Kadji Miami
3rd Team Travis McKie WF
3rd Team Erick Green VT
3rd Team CJ Leslie NCS
3rd Team Seth Curry Duke

Kenny Kadji had great stats in league play and he got better as the season progressed, so he represents Miami.  Many might go with Durand Scott on this team but he fell just short on my ballot and I felt Kadji earned this selection.  Wake Forest pushed C.J. Harris for 1st team or their lead player but to me, Travis McKie was more valuable with his all around stats.  Harris, like Scott was right there for me but Seth Curry gained the last spot in that he played for a team which won a lot more games in league play.  Erick Green could have easily made my 2nd team as well and he had a fine season for the Hokies.  I wrestled back and forth with the selection of C.J. Leslie, but he is 10th in scoring and rebounding or close to that going into the last game of the season, so that garnered him a spot. And Bernard James was the odd man out but he had a heck of a season and was quite valuabel to his team.

ALL-DEFENSIVE TEAM

Jontel Evans Virginia
John Henson UNC
Michael Snaer FSU
Bernard James FSU
Andrew Young, Clemson

The trio of John Henson, Michael Snaer and Bernard James were no brianers.  Jontel Evans gained a spot with his play and I felt good about his addition, while Andre Young of Clemson edged out the likes of Erick Green and Lorenzo Brown. 

ALL-FRESHMAN TEAM

Austin Rivers Duke
Ryan Anderson BC
Dorian Finey-Smith VT
Shane Larkin Miami
Nick Faust Maryland

In a very weak freshman class, Austin Rivers leads the way and a unanimous choice.  Ryan Anderson was an easy choice as well for me but I struggled with Nick Faust and some of his teammates and others for the last spot.  There are s a lot of freshman on the leagues better teams which have more talent and many of the players I voted for but their development was slowed by the talent ahead of them.

INDIVIDUAL AWARDS

Player of the Year – Tyler Zeller UNC – Tyler Zeller had a very nice senior season and he got my vote as the conferences top player. 

Defensive Player of Year – John Henson UNC – Henson altered a lot of shots and ripped plenty of defensive boards for the Tar Heels dominant front court.  Michael Snaer and Bernard Hopkins were right there as well and earned my consideration.

Rookie of the Year – Austin Rivers Duke – This was the easiest pick of the individual awards for me.  In a weak freshman class via production, Rivers stood out all season long, owning the weekly award as if it were velcroed to his chest.

Coach of the Year -Mike Krzyzewski Duke – It came down to three coaches for me, those being Leonard Hamilton of Florida State, Tony Bennett of Virginia and Mike Krzyzewski of Duke.  Hamilton led his Florida State team to their pre season predicted finish of 3rd and they demolished North Carolina with some home cooking.  But those early losses to weak teams at home, lands him in 3rd place for me.  Tony Bennett led his team to a 4th place finish despite losing transfers and Asanne Sene, their main post presence.  That earned him 2nd place in my voting.  As many of you know, Coach Mike Krzyzewski hardly ever wins the award but this is the year he is deserving and he got my vote.  Krzyzewski led his team to 26 regular season wins which include Kansas, North Carolina, Michigan State, Michigan.  Add wins over NCAA tournament bound teams Belmont, Davidson, Washington and possibly Colorado State and Tennessee and it is clear that the Blue Devils came to pay despite losing Nolan Smith, Kyle Singler and Kyrie Irving in the off season.  He coached an unusual roster by past standards and squeezed the most out of them.   I am very comfortable with him obtaining my vote.

In the end, selections are all subjective, but I pride myself on remaining objective and voting my conscience.  There is no true tried and true criteria for voting, so you will see ballots vary greatly.  As for Duke, Seth Curry was on my 1st team ballot in the pre season and he made that team, but he fell to my 3rd team at seasons end.  Kendall Marshall and Harrison Barnes flip flopped teams and the rest remained the same with the exception of Rivers.  Zeller ended up my Player of the Year but his teammate Barnes got my vote in the pre season.  My pre season predicted standings were very close to the actual finish, the top five intact as was the bottom.  I had Virginia Tech a couple of spots too high in the pre season, but overall I was very close.  My optimistic pre season projected record for Duke was the 26-5 record they own, another reason Krzyzewski got my vote.

Gameday is upon us! Random chatter on Duke-Carolina

It’s gameday for Duke at North Carolina and if one lives in the Triangle area almost everywhere you go or look, somebody is wearing a shade of blue.  When the Blue Devils and Tar Heels come together, it’s as if time stops until games end and once that happens one fanbase is extremely elated while the other deals with a tough couple of days.

Whether one walks into a convenience store, sits down to eat in a restaurant, works out in a gym, takes the kids to kindergarten, somebody is likely to ask you with often times a southern drawl, “Who you got tonight?” followed by a little smack talk as they bait you into conversation.  Some fans even worry themselves into a frenzy making one wonder if their should be a new addition to the DSMV manual.  Work productivity goes way down and sports bars make a killing.

Fans gather in droves to watch the game in a mix of both dark and light blue.  Others couldn’t watch a game with the other side if they had to.  Many will put on their lucky charms and colors, some will go through rituals.  You can almost hear the pacing in households afar once the game starts and all hang on every single play, every call and ride a roller coaster of emotion that leaves them drenched in sweat from the stress by nights end. 

A bit later, I will meet with a co worker to eat and then head to Chapel Hill to the Dean Dome which is mere minutes from Duke University where car flags will be a flapping and the color goes to a lighter hue as you approach.  Once checked in, it’s off to the media area for me, setting up a good two hours in advance and then talking with the throng of reporters from both far and near as the teams begin to warm up in the background.  And while the media cannot cheer on press row and must remain professional and objectionable, you can read their faces and clearly see who they’re for and trust me, eveybody has a dog in this race if you are local media. 

Anyhow, here are a bunch of random thoughts going into tonight’s game -

UNC favored by 6 points

When the line came out it caused several folks to raise an eyebrow.  Every single media person I have spoken to this week thinks UNC will win this game easily and or that the line is too low.  Many feel they’ll go double digits on Duke and never look back and local bookies have added points to that total to try and keep money coming in on Duke.  I in no way advocate betting and only speak of this for entertainment purposes and trust me gambling has a dark side, so beware.  And while I am at it, if you are goaded into a sucker bet by the opposing fans and friends, it’s your own fault.  If you want to take the chance of wearing the other teams colors for a week at work, go right ahead;)

Numbers, stats and more numbers

Everywhere you look there are people throwing out numbers and they prove to be quite interesting.  Duke has won 20 of the last 30 against UNC, Duke is even at the Dean Dome … so on.  The truth of the matter though, is that when these two teams get together, you can throw conventional wisdom out the window.  But while I seem to be making fun of the numbers, I still read them and here is a must read article from my friend, Al Featherston at Duke Basketball Report that is well worth your time.

The biggest advantage for UNC is …

It is not their front court of Barnes, Henson and Zeller.  It is not Kendall Marshall, the league leader in assists.  It is their experience.   The aforementioned front line all returned for UNC when all of them could have gone in the first round in the NBA draft.  These guys are battle tested now and for the most part the Tar Heels are an old team.   The Tar Heels fast break finishes a close second in my book and Duke must control the glass enough against the leagues best rebounding team to win.

Who is ready to step up for Duke?

Is there a Fred Lind or Reggie Love in the group?  Lind, then a bench warmer, went off against UNC in the sixties and has become a legend for his performance when Duke starting center Mike Lewis fouled out.  Love, a former Barrack Obama aide was a walk on from the football team that filled in when Duke had injuries to Carlos Boozer, outplaying his UNC opponent which helped Duke close out the Heels in their backyard.  For Duke to win tonight, it will likely take a player or players stepping up their game to a beyond normal level.

The last time out …

Duke rocked UNC at the ACC Tournament and proceeded to cut the nets.  But that team had Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith.  Nolan scored 20 plus points in that game and dished out 10 assists.  This years Duke team is averaging just under 13 assists per contest combined.  Again, I point to experience and you can bet they’ll miss those dimes and Smittys’ on ball defense.  Remembering that loss could serve a a plus side intangible for the Tar Heels, who will be hell bent on revenge.

Plumlees have had success

Duke will need to hit the boards as a team tonight but I feel many are underestimating the abilities of Team Plumlee.  Both Mason and Miles have had success against the UNC front court but that help side defense from Singler is missing and Kelly and others will have to fill that role.  The key for Duke will be to keep Mason out of early foul trouble and to adjust as a team to the way the game will be called.

Young Devils will need to step up

This will be Austin Rivers first trip to Chapel Hill and freshman past, not matter how good they are have taken a beating at times in this series.  Rivers will be a focal point for the Tar Heels defense and seeing if he can rise past that attention will be interesting.  Quinn Cook will also need to be calm cool and collected and that will not be easy in a hostile environment.  Here is ESPN on how freshman will play key roles in the game.

A Duke loss will add pressure to the team

If Duke loses to UNC this evening and Florida State and N.C. State win along with Miami and Virginia which is all likely to happen, the Blue Devils will find themselves in a three way tie for 4th place in the ACC.  That in turn will make my job hard as much of the fan base will freak out on the message boards and quite frankly I do not look forward to that happening.  So, be forewarned that this loss could be devastating but keep your composure please and be a good and supportive fan.  Also, Duke would then face an N.C State team in Cameron this weekend that is a half game ahead in the standings.  Funny how big that game has suddenly become and getting that 20th win can get harder and harder until a victory is achieved.

 

Nice shirt there, Harrison! BDN Photo

That darn Harry guy …

Harrison Barnes spurned Duke at the midnight hour and then chose UNC but he didn’t exactly do it in what many would consider proper decorum.  His clunky Skype lives as a reminder to other stars not to go that route and few have done so since that time.  Interestingly, Barnes immediately starting loathing Duke after his decision and he is perhaps one of the more detested Tar Heels for Blue Devil fans.  But Barnes leads his team in scoring and the talk in media rooms is if the Tar Heels will get four players on first team All ACC.  Barnes is a huge matchup problem for Duke and any other team and he took a mild shot over the bow as he mentioned that Kyle Singler was gone and that he’d gladly take shorter players to the rack.

On paper it looks like a UNC win

Everything points to a UNC victory in paper.  Duke has lost two of their last three conference games in Cameron and Krzyzewski has been looking for upper classmen to step up.  UNC has up to four 1st team All ACC players starting. That game is in Chapel Hill and the Blue Devils seem to still be coming together as a team.  But you know what?  Duke has a chance any time they step on the court.  Duke has been beat down of late but if the team plays together anything can happen and that’s why we watch the games.  My objectionable pick would be for the Tar Heels to win but my heart says Duke can pull off a shocker and make all the aforementioned worries go to the wayside.

Don’t hold me to all the numbers mentioned for everything here was off the top of my head and just random thoughts before tonight’s game.  BDN will be in the house to bring you live tweets and post game chats with the players, so stay tuned for our usual wall to wall coverage.  And yes, I am homer media, so I can get away with saying, “GTHC, GTH!”  It should be a lot of fun as the best rivalry in all sports is once again upon us.