Esteemed colleague Mark Bradley ranked the nation’s top 10 basketball teams for 2009-10 last week here http://tinyurl.com/msqce
He also had an interesting column about Paul Hewitt and the expectations for next season here http://tinyurl.com/nutco4
So, that ground has been covered very well.
I thought I’d take a look at how Lawal’s decision, and those made by other players at other schools, will affect the ACC next season.
First, let’s focus on the Flats.
Lawal’s return gives coach Paul Hewitt many choices for lineups.
The only potential hole is at the 5 spot. There are two centers on the roster: RS Jr. Brad Sheehan and freshman Daniel Miller. Sheehan, a 7-footer, is a rebounder, but doesn’t score or block shots too frequently. Of course, he may only need to rebound with the scoring potential the rest of the roster has. Miller will be an incoming freshman, so the jury’s out on what kind of impact he’s going to have in the ACC.
Hewitt may opt to not play a true center, and go with a front line of forward Lawal, freshman forward Derrick Favors, and wing player D’Andre Bell (whose return may be just as important as Lawal’s). Kammeon Holsey and Zachery Peacock could come off the bench, same for freshman Brian Oliver (that name must seem weird to hear again, Tech fans).
The backcourt situation is just as intriguing. I would guess that Mo Miller and Iman Shumpert will start, with Peacock and Storrs (a good sixth man last year) coming off the bench. Not to forget about Rice Jr. and Udofia…. in short, Hewitt is going to have a lot of choices for next year, a nice problem to have for sure.
But what will this mean for Tech’s chances of competing and winning the ACC?
As Bradley wrote, UNC is loaded again, but very inexperienced. There are four upperclassmen on the roster, but only Marcus Ginyard and Danny Graves have established themselves in the conference. Of course, that doesn’t mean as much as it used to.
Duke won the ACC tourney, and returns Scheyer, Singler, Smith and Williams, all experienced players. Though Williams needs to prove he’s more than a defender.
Clemson, well what can be said about the Tigers? Tough team, but just can’t seem to reach the next level.
Wake Forest. A ton of talent, but needed more discipline and coaching than they received last year. A boom-or-bust game-by-game team. Either they will win by a lot, or lose by a lot.
So, why can’t Tech step up and win the ACC next season? They have the ingredients: a coach who has been there before, a deep, athletic team, a mix of experience and youth. A bonafide 3-pointer shooter is needed. But there are enough players who can hit the 3 to help solve that quasi-issue.