We're Right Where We Should Want To Be
This article is being written intentionally before the Championship game on Sunday. Why, you ask. Well I have a confession to make. The ACC Tournament has lost a lot of the charm and excitement it used to hold for me. I have always felt the regular season champ is the real champ regardless of what other may say. I'm familiar with the argument that some teams peak near the end of the season and deserve the right to prove they are the best team in the league. Injuries also become involved. The ACC Tournament is a cash cow and the makeup of the crowd in attendance is not what I would like to see at such an event. The average fan has as much of a chance of attending the ACC Tournament as they do the Super Bowl and that is next to none. I might feel differently if they had a playoff between the Tournament Champion and the regular season champ if they turn out to be different, and it would produce more revenue, but it will never be done. There' s no desire on the part of the powers that be to schedule the game I have proposed. Too much time from the classroom. Ha.
Back to the title. Why do I say we are where we should want to be? It's obvious we are not playing with the fire we exhibited earlier in the season. I think the team is mentally and possibly physically tired, but there is plenty of time to rejuvenate themselves and begin a march to St. Louis. The team came out flat for both games in Washington when one would think there was every reason for them to be highly motivated to win the tournament. No one really knows why things like this happen. I have talked to coaches who tell me that it is impossible to tell before a team takes the floor or field whether the team is highly motivated for the game. Jumping around and hollering sometimes gives a false reading. The bottom line has to be either the team is incapable of being fired up or something specific prevents them from putting forth their best effort. I have seen this team highly motivated so I know it is not that. Raymond literally took the team on his back in the second half against Clemson and almost did it again against Tech. I have the world of sympathy for the seniors and all they have gone through, but there is not much leadership between the three of them.
The second reason our position is pretty good is that we are well on the way to integrating Rashad back into the starting rotation. He gives this team some things they must have in order to be successful in the NCAAs. He has a good outside shot, he can take most people off the dribble and he can post up when he has to. His stamina and the team's adjustment to his return should be complete after the first two rounds of the NCAAs. No guarantees but I think we will be able to make it that far at less than full strength.
Now some of you are not going to view things as I do, but that's all right. This team is not perfect but they are very good and they have given me much pleasure this year. I don't think they are ready to roll over and die, but time will tell. In the meantime, I choose not to wallow in misery, even though if I did, I would have a lot of company.
A couple of observations from the tournament and the season.
I think we have a new trend developing in the game that I hadn't noticed before this year. I think tripping is emerging as the next controversial call in the game. Numerous times this year I have noticed players falling to the floor while dribbling when it was not obvious that their fall was caused by contact with an opposing player. The reason this is so ready for introduction onto the scene is that frequently no one can tell what caused the player to go down and losing his footing is ready made for the official to call a foul when none has occurred. Furthermore, it's similar to the flopping we've seen so much of in recent years. The trip can be faked or caused by the tripee. Officials are going to be reluctant to ignore the fact that the player went down and probably lost possession of the ball. More and more it looks like the complaints about officiating are about what is not called than what is called. Historically, I believe the opposite has been the case.
The MCI Center came across good on the tube, but I couldn't help but think of the irony involved in holding the tournament in D.C., the nations' capital when North Carolina, a relatively poor state, has 4 arenas with seating capacities above the MCI Center. I don't know about a sky box comparison and maybe that's what makes the MCI Center look so mammoth when the seating capacity is not that large. The ultimate irony is that after belly aching for so long, Maryland finally got a tournament in their back yard and they promptly bowed out. We might as well get used to the fact that North Carolina will never again play host to the tournament to the extent that it has in the past. Non NO.C. teams will have 8 votes when B.C. enters next year and it's just a matter of time before there will be an ACC Tournament held in Florida. Greenville S.C. has a new arena and, in the spirit of fairness, they might be awarded the tournament some day. It's not on the Clemson campus but I'm sure there are those in nearby Greenville who would like to play host to the tournament. They have already hosted NCAA playoff games.
Enough for now. Good things await us in the NCAAs.