The Confidential

The ACC Sports Blog

Duke Injuries in the Early 2016-17 Season

Duke has had amazingly bad luck with injuries so far this season. Its star-studded, four player freshman class have all suffered injuries. Frank Jackson has played through a foot injury.  Marques Bolden and Jayson Tatum had foot issues as well. And the most promising freshman, Harry Giles, has yet to take the court at all.

In addition, star Grayson Allen is suffering from a turf toe injury. He has played but not practiced, and his performance has been notably affected.

Despite all of this, Duke has prospered and is one great clutch shot from being undefeated.

The Blue Devils have leaned on a core of seniors Matt Jones and Amile Jefferson, junior Allen, sophomores Luke Kennard and Chase Jeter and freshman Jackson.

With so many injuries, the Blue Devils only went 6-7 deep into December.

However, the core has proved remarkably tough-minded and united. Jefferson, heretofore a reliable rebounder and defender, has emerged as a consistent offensive force. He’s averaging 15.6 ppg and 10.3 rpg. Additionally, his coach, the legendary Mike Krzyzewski, says that Jefferson is the team’s best communicator. After Duke’s victory over Michigan State, Spartan coach Tom Izzo was suitably impressed: “There’s a lot of prep work to dealing with those guards at Duke and any time you deal with them. Then all of the sudden, I think you’ve got to give Jefferson. To me, he has been a key guy for them right now. I think he does a lot of quiet, good things, and I really like him.”

Jones came out of high school with a reputation as an elite scorer but that hasn’t been the path he’s taken at Duke. Instead he’s emerged as the ultimate glue guy, one who can still score but who also fills in at point guard when needed and who almost always takes the other team’s best offensive talent.

Recently he gave a serious lesson to Michigan State’s Miles Bridges. The Spartan’s star freshman is clearly a major talent but the smaller Jones helped limit him to 11 points and 4-13 from the floor in the Duke victory.

He’s also become one of Coach K’s favorite players: “Great example for people playing any game is that when you are all about winning, you are really important, and Matt Jones is only about winning. He is a beautiful, beautiful kid and a great leader for us.”

Those two have built their resume over several years. Kennard has emerged much more quickly.

Duke’s big guard has emerged as a legitimate Player Of The Year candidate.

Who’s playing better?

Not many people. As Duke has had injury after injury, Kennard has consistently stepped up his game. And it’s not like he’s leaping tall buildings in a single bound.

Kennard does two things better than just about anyone in the country: first, he operates in a confined space brilliantly. It’s very hard to box him in. And secondly, he always knows pretty much exactly how much room he has in that space. He doesn’t need to fly to get a shot off over a taller player; he just understands the angles brilliantly. If you give him any room at all, he can get a shot off and odds are 50-50 (literally .500 right now) that it’s going in.

The best compliment you can give someone who plays basketball is to say they’re a basketball player, that they truly understand the game.

Jackson has shown huge potential so far. The 6-3 native of Utah is highly athletic. He can drive or shoot threes. Krzyewski is confident enough in him to have called three straight plays for Jackson against the Spartans – and Jackson delivered on all three.

Jeter, who last year played a bit scared, isn’t that anymore.  He’s filled in at center and done just fine.

He’s not a scorer yet, but his defense has been perfectly adequate and he’s becoming a better rebounder.

Deeper down the bench, Duke has two developing talents in Antonio Vrankovic and Javin DeLaurier.

Vrankovic is a true big man with a great feel for the game. He has played in several games and has shown great hands and a nose for the ball.

DeLaurier is an immensely talented athlete who is learning to become a basketball player.

Those guys have been useful when called up on but they’re at the end of the bench and about to get pushed further back because the injured freshmen are returning.

Jayson Tatum was back for the Maine game in Durham but really debuted in Madison Square Garden vs. Florida in the Jimmy V Classic: he finished with 22 points and eight rebounds and showed a superbly well-rounded game. Unlike a lot of gifted offensive performers, he doesn’t mind playing defense at all.

He gives Duke another powerful offensive weapon.

And Bolden is back as well, though he’s not in game shape yet. However, the big Texan can rebound and defend and is an agile guy in the paint. He’s going to be a major factor.

Duke has now said that Giles is expected back “before Christmas” and what a present that will be for the Blue Devils.

Giles, who has had two serious knee injuries and a third procedure to clean up after the first one, has been compared to Chris Webber.

Webber was an incredible talent. If Giles is anywhere near that – and he may be a better defender – Duke is going to be incredibly potent.

In fact the real challenge may be in sorting out the rotation.

Krzyzewski traditionally prefers an eight-man rotation but with this much talent he may not be able to keep it that tight.

Duke still needs to get Allen healthy but the combination of experience and brilliant young talent means the sky is the limit for this team.

How Many ACC Players Will be on the Field for Wake Forest vs Middle Creek?

On Friday, we finally get the high school football showdown we have waited for in the Triangle. WRAL has had Middle Creek and Wake Forest #1 and #2 pretty much all year. This Friday night they will play for a chance to go to the 4AA state championship game next weekend. Both of these teams are 14-0 and have a number of athletes that could play in the ACC in the next few years. So, how many ACC players will be on the field on Friday night?

No, Dexter Lawrence is no longer at Wake Forest but there are still some D1 athletes on the Cougars roster. Xach Gill is the #9 player in the state and one of the top Defensive Tackles in the entire nation. Can you imagine him playing beside Dexter Lawrence? Well, it happened last year and it could happen again at Clemson.

Darius Hodge is a 3 star linebacker that has committed to NC State and will make a huge impact in this game.

Daniel Jackson is a 2 star safety for Middle Creek that has committed to Army. If he has a huge playoff run and is willing to open his option he could definitely end up at an ACC school.

When looking at current juniors or the 2018 class the best player on the field is going to be Wake Forest’s Devon Lawrence that will be playing running back. He is currently the #8 player in the state and a 4 star running. He too can increase his stock by having a strong showing in the last two games of the season; if the Cougars make the state championship game.

By simply looking at the ACC talent on the field it would seem Wake Forest will dominate Middle Creek. As we know, teams are comprised of many players, not just a handful. MaxPreps has Middle Creek as the #5 team in the state in 4AA football and Wake Forest as #11. Obviously these rankings mean absolutely nothing as we are down to the final four.

If you are in the Raleigh/Durham area this Friday night, you might want to make a trip down to Apex to check out the Wake Forest vs Middle Creek game. It is sure to be one of the best games of the year in 4AA football. Also, there isn’t much else going on in terms of football this time of the year.

Is the Heisman Trophy Going to an ACC Quarterback?

It was all but wrapped up for Lamar Jackson two weeks ago. It may still be, but the race has gotten closer with Louisville’s poor performances against Houston and Kentucky; both losses. With Deshaun Watson playing in his second straight college football playoff after winning the ACC Championship two years in a row he has pulled to a close second according to the Heisman “experts”.

In a year in which the Big 10 (B1G) is supposed to be head and shoulder above any other conference, they only have one Heisman finalists and he has almost a zero percent chance of winning it. In fact, the ESPN experts have him 10th yet he is still getting a trip to NYC. Go figure. If he is 10th on the list wouldn’t it make sense to take one of the guys from, I don’t know, 5th through 9th? I guess that bias against the Big 10 (B1G) isn’t so strong anymore.

So, it is between Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson. Two dual threat quarterbacks from the ACC that have thrown for a gazillion yards and dozens of touchdowns. They have also helped their teams with their legs with each quarterback rushing for well over 500.

When looking at the stats, Lamar Jackson should. He threw for 3390 yards and ran for 1538. Heck, his rushing stats along would make him one of the best running backs in the nation. With 21 rushing touchdowns and 30 passing touchdowns it is going to be hard to not hand him the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night.

Either way, the Heisman Trophy will be going to an ACC quarterback. That is really all that matters.

The Direction of The ACC Confidential

As many of you know, the previous owner of The ACC Confidential has stepped aside and has graciously allowed me to take over. I cannot thank him enough for allowing me to do this. It was an efficient and seamless transition and hopefully the direction will be the same.

Having grown up in North Carolina and attended an ACC university, that will go unnamed, I have a strong connection with the ACC. I can remember getting out of school at noon on Fridays to watch the first round of the ACC Basketball Tournament. The ACC Basketball Tournament will always be a Friday, Saturday and Sunday event for me; no matter how much they try to change it.

I can remember growing up watching Grant Hill, Hubert Davis, James Forrest and Tim Duncan. In football, I watched Florida State dominate the 1990s only to be dethroned by Maryland in the early 2000s. I can remember the day Virginia Tech and Miami were brought on board to make it a football conference. Well, we know how that went.

I lived through the scandals at UNC, Duke (lacrosse) and Louisville. I have been to three Final Fours of which UNC lost in two of them; they were not part of the third. I have watched numerous national championships won and lost by the ACC. In fact, I am a huge fan of non-revenue generating sports as well. Look for many women’s lacrosse and volleyball posts on The ACC Confidential moving forward.

Overall, I cannot tell you an exact direction. I am going to publish what comes to my mind. If I have time, I will publish several posts a week. If I don’t have time, I might only publish one blog post every few weeks. It will all be by the seat of my pants. Hopefully you enjoy the ride and I look forward to discussing the ACC with many of the readers of The ACC Confidential.

Raleigh Orthodontist Jason Gladwell Joins as Premier Sponsor

We are pleased to announce that Raleigh Orthodontist Jason Gladwell has joined as a premier sponsor of ACC Confidential. Dr. Gladwell has ACC roots as he completed his undergraduate degree at NC State and went to dental school at the University of North Carolina (UNC). The Gladwell Orthodontics practice is located in Wake Forest but the majority of their clients are from the Triangle area and throughout much of North Carolina and Virginia.

You will notice the Gladwell Orthodontics logo on posts and articles sporadically.

raleigh-nc-orthodontist-jason-gladwell

If your son or daughter is in need of braces, Invisalign or any dental work we strong urge you to contact Gladwell Orthodontics today. The short trip up Capital Boulevard or US 1 will be well worth the trip.

Gladwell Orthodontics recently opened a Starbucks Charity Cafe in which patients can receive free Starbucks coffee. The office also has an arcade room and free wifi. You are never going to be left without something to do when you visit Gladwell Orthodontics.

 

My Final Post, New Era Begins

After 5 years and 1,000+ posts, and running this blog, it is time to move on to new and exciting ventures.  I am in the process of transferring the blog.  Thank you to everyone who contributed to the blog while I was owner/operator.  Thank you to all of our followers, especially those who followed us into the new format.

The new owner/operator will likely make a post of introduction and continue things from there.

Go ACC!

 

ACC Football Rankings: Week 13

Each week, the Confidential will rank the top 15 teams (includes Notre Dame) in the A.C.C. and provide a brief explanation for the decision.  Feel free to list your own below or otherwise comment.  Here it goes for week 13:

  1. Clemson 11-1.  Clemson destroyed rival South Carolina to end up 11-1 and just one game away from a playoffs appearance.  Virginia Tech is on a bit of a roll–should be quite a matchup. Next up: Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game.
  2. Louisville 9-3. The Cardinals have not had a second half with nearly as much impressiveness as the first half of the season.  The losses to Clemson and Houston can be excused, but the close games against Duke and Virginia (a combined 6-18) raised some questions.  The loss to rival Kentucky is inexcusable.  At the same time, it is hard to drop Louisville below a Florida State team it crushed and a Virginia Tech team that lost to 4-8 Syracuse.  In other words, #2 by default.  Next up: A nice bowl game.
  3. Florida State 9-3.  The Seminoles took care of Florida handily to claim state-wide domination for yet another season.  It would be interesting to see if Louisville could beat Florida State this Saturday, but, alas, they played at Louisville destroyed the Seminoles in a way that just cannot justify FSU leapfrogging a Louisville team with the same record.  Next up: a nice bowl game.
  4. Virginia Tech 9-3. The Hokies arguably deserve the #2 nod by beating Virginia to win the Coastal.  But Virginia Tech lost to Syracuse–easily the worst loss among the three 9-3 teams.  Also, Virginia Tech avoided the top 3 teams in these standings–something that the top 3 teams were unable to do (Clemson went 2-0, Louisville 1-1, FSU 0-2).   The Hokies get their chance to prove themselves with the Championship Game against Clemson.  Next up: Clemson in the ACC Championship Game.
  5. Pitt 8-4.  There are four Coastal teams at 8-4.  Of these, Pitt played the toughest OOC schedule, with 10-2 Penn State and 9-2 Oklahoma State.  They split those games.  They lost to UNC by 1, to Va Tech by 3, and the only real blowout loss was to Miami.  They also are the only team to beat Clemson.  There are many arguments to be made here, but we’ll go with Pitt at #5.  Next up: a decent bowl game.
  6. North Carolina 8-4. The Tar Heels beat Miami, Pitt, and Georgia Tech–which ordinarily should mean an easy slotting in at #5.  But it is hard to get by losses to Duke and NC State, a combined 10-14.  Again, a decent argument for #5.   Next up: a decent bowl game.
  7. Miami 8-4.  Miami beat Pitt badly.  Miami also beat Georgia Tech.  But the overall weak OOC schedule is likely what made Miami 8-4, and that includes a loss to one of the worst Notre Dame teams in recent history.  Still, a good year for the Hurricanes to build off of… with the other three losses coming to teams with a combined record of 26-10.  Next up: a decent bowl game.
  8. Georgia Tech 8-4.  Georgia Tech beat rival Georgia to get to 8-4, a very nice rebound year for the Yellow Jackets.  No dreadful losses.  A nice win over Virginia Tech.  Having lost to all three 8-4 teams, they get stuck with the #8 slot.  Next up: a decent bowl game.
  9. NC State 6-6.  NC State’s chances of a bowl game required a win at North Carolina.  And they got it.  Coupled with a win over Wake Forest, NC State easily gets the #9 slot.  Next up: a bowl game.
  10. Wake Forest 6-6.  Losses to Army and Boston College take some of the glee out of this otherwise good season for the Demon Deacons.  Next up: a bowl game.
  11. Boston College 6-6.  The Eagles won two conference road games…NC State and Wake Forest to get to 6 wins and bowl eligibility.  With a super soft OOC schedule, they did what they needed to do.  Despite losing to Syracuse, B.C. gets the extra practices and bowl swag.  It is what it is.  Next up: a bowl game.
  12. Duke 4-8.  Duke’s loss to Miami ended the season on a sour note at 4-8.  Duke did beat Notre Dame though.  Next up: 2017.
  13. Notre Dame 4-8.  Notre Dame’s loss to USC ended the season on a sour note at 4-8.  Notre Dame did beat Syracuse though.  Next up: 2017.
  14. Syracuse 4-8.  Syracuse’s loss to Pitt was exciting, but ended the season on a sour note at 4-8.  Syracuse did do amazing things on offense, even in the finale with its backup QB and an injured squad.  Next up: 2017.
  15. Virginia 2-10.  After beginning the season with a loss to in-state Richmond, the Wahoos finished the season with a loss to in-state rival Virginia Tech.  The latter was no surprise.  Next up: 2017.

So, what do you think?  How would you change these rankings?

Confidential Survivor Pool Update: FINAL

We have our winner!  MIKEMAB2000 finally lost a game, but the remaining four entrants all had one prior strike and lost again!  MIKEMAB2000 wins the $50.00 via PayPal!  Thanks to all entrants!

1 MIKEMAB2000 DUKE BC WF UNC MIA CLEM GT SYR LOU
VTC
FSU
ND
NCST
CLEM
UNC
WF
PITT
2 BCEAGLE74 WF GT NCST BC PITT CLEM LOU UNC ND
VTC
MIA
SYR
FSU
FSU
CLEM
PITT
UNC
3 DRANDYT WF DUKE NCST SYR BC PITT LOU UNC CLEM
FSU
VTC
ND
MIA
FSU
GT
CLEM
LOU
4 RIGHT PROFILE SYR GT WF BC PITT DUKE FSU UNC NCST
CLEM
LOU
MIA
ND
CLEM
GT
VTC
LOU
5 UOFL223 WF GT NCST BC ND CLEM LOU UNC VTC
FSU
MIA
SYR
DUKE
CLEM
FSU
LOU
MIA

The Confidential’s ACC Football Over-Unders: Recap.

Every year, the Confidential does over-unders for each ACC school, based solely on the regular season.  In 2014, we had 6 schools correctly pegged within 1/2 a win of their ultimate totals.  In 2015, we improved to 7 schools correctly pegged within a 1/2 a win of their ultimate total.  And now it is on to 2016.  Remember, these are regular season wins only.  No bowl games or playoffs.  Here is the final tally of the Confidential’s over-unders for 2016, as well as the final results/analysis:

Clemson: 11.5 wins.  CORRECT!  At 11-1, Clemson ended up within 1/2 a win of the Confidential’s projection.  And Clemson certainly could have beaten Pitt.  Of course, Clemson should have lost to NC State, Troy, or both.  It is what it is.

Notre Dame: 10.5 wins.  WOEFULLY INCORRECT.  At 4-8, Notre Dame blew a season with a weak schedule.  They lost to Texas (who fired its coach), Michigan State (down season), and Duke (down season), among others.  Just a horrible, terrible season.

Florida State: 9.5 wins.  CORRECT!  At 9-3, Florida State fell a bit short of the under, but this was always setting up to be a tough season for the Seminoles.  They did fine overall.

Miami: 8.5 wins.  CORRECT!  A streaky season for the Hurricanes, with blocks of 4 wins surrounding a block of four losses.

North Carolina: 8.5 wins.  CORRECT!  UNC fell one game short of its win total, like several of the above teams.  In fact, the ACC ended up fairly down by the end of the year.  However, it it was a decent OOC season and the ACC teams fared well in their SEC rivalry games (3-1) again.

Louisville: 7.5 wins.  INCORRECT!  Many folks criticized this one and perhaps deservedly so.  But Louisville losing to Kentucky should silence Cards fans for a while.

Virginia Tech: 7.5 wins.  INCORRECT!  Like Louisville, the Hokies did much better than expected at 9-3.

Pitt: 7.5 wins.   CORRECT!  Despite the difficult schedule, Pitt fared well at 8-4, including the sole win over Clemson so far.

Duke: 6.5 wins.  INCORRECT!   Duke finished at 4-8, well short of the estimated over-under.

North Carolina State: 5.5 wins.   CORRECT!  This one was correct heading into the surprise  victory over UNC, which pushed NC State into the “over” category.

Georgia Tech: 5.5 wins.  INCORRECT.  The Yellow Jackets did much better than expected with an 8-4 regular season.

Virginia: 5.5 wins.  INCORRECT!  Virginia only managed 2 wins.  On to 2017.

Boston College: 5.5 wins.  CORRECT!  BC had an easy OOC schedule and fared well.  Wins over NC State and Wake Forest gave the Eagles the “over.”

Syracuse: 4.5 wins.  CORRECT!  Losing to USF, Wake Forest, and NC State meant that Syracuse could not get the over, despite the Virginia Tech upset.

Wake Forest: 3.5 wins.  INCORRECT!  At 6-wins, the Demon Deacons went way over and are going bowling!

PRESEASON ANALYSIS: By far, the most controversial selection was Louisville at only 7.5 wins.  However, with road trips to Syracuse, Marshall, Virginia, Boston College, and Houston–it is asking a lot of the Cardinals to avoid tripping up against three of its four easiest conference games and two challenging OOC games.  Meanwhile, Florida State and Clemson remain on the schedule.  Notre Dame at 10.5 wins surprised some folks too, but look at who the Fighting Irish play and where.  In any event, it is what it is.  The Coastal, of course, is a mess.  Would any team winning it be a true surprise?  Meanwhile, the Atlantic has NC State, Boston College, Syracuse, and Wake Forest in a perpetual battle to avoid the cellar, it seems.

POSTSEASON ANALYSIS: Well, the Confidential edged up to 8 teams picked correctly (within 1/2 game of their final win total).  ND and Duke were the biggest disappointments (along with Virginia), while Wake Forest, Va Tech, Louisville, and Georgia Tech all did better than expected.  Louisville ended up handling its difficult road games, except Houston.  And they almost nipped Clemson.  Anyway, it is an improvement for the Confidential!

 

 

ACC Thankfulness

No matter how high or low you are, you have much to be thankful for.  The life that God gave you (even if you are falling short in using it Him).  Liberty (to the extent that government still allows much of it).  Health.  Happiness.  The Lord’s forgiveness and plan of salvation.  But each ACC school also has much to be thankful for this year in football, such as:

  • Clemson–thankful that Dabo Swinney has restored success to Clemson and then some.  Even if Clemson loses before bowl season, Clemson was in the running all year long again.
  • Louisville–thankful that Lamar Jackson and Bobby Petrino have made Louisville as much as a football school as a basketball school lately.  What Charlie Strong started, Jackson and Petrino have taken even farther
  • Florida State–thankful that Jimbo Fisher has put FSU back in a position where 8-3 seasons are disappointing.  There were some mediocre years.
  • Virginia Tech–thankful that the transition from Frank Beamer has been so smooth.  The team has not only not lost a step, it is doing even better.
  • North Carolina–thankful to avoid sanctions and to have hoops/football teams that are at the top.
  • Miami–thankful that Mark Richt came home to restore some of the Hurricanes swagger, even if streaky and not quite all the way back.
  • Georgia Tech–thankful that last year’s dismal season remains the anomaly, as a nice rebound season continues.
  • Wake Forest–both football and hoops are trending up under Clawson and Manning.
  • NC State–thankful that the A.D. does not schedule tougher, so as to keep them within scratching distance of a bowl every year (unlike some schools that over-schedule)
  • Duke–thankful for Coach K, always, as well as Cutcliffe’s turnaround.
  • Notre Dame–thankful to be a partial member of the ACC, given the football team’s struggles this year.
  • Syracuse–thankful for Coach Boeheim, always, but also thankful for Dino Babers injecting life into the football program
  • Boston College–see NC State.
  • Virginia–thankful for Coach Bennett and hoops dominance of late, as well as a new era in football.
  • The ACC–thankful that ESPN has been able to keep the Big 10 and its cash at bay.

What do you think?  What else should each school be thankful for?

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