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July 14, 2010

The AC in our house went last night. It’s a balmy 84 in the house at the moment. I’d be doing this in just my boxers but the kids have been traumatized enough by my parenting to this point.

In case you have ever forgotten that as much as the Big East is a basketball conference, the ACC is still a basketball first conference. The ACC Sports Journal has been bothered by the overall mediocrity (or worse) of the ACC since they expanded. Yes, the conference can claim 3 national titles (2 for UNC, 1 for Duke) since expansion but the overall depth of the conference has been rather meh.

Even with back-to-back national champions, the ACC’s NCAA tournament winning percentage has fallen to 59.67 percent; the Big East is now essentially even with the ACC in that category, with a 59.34 winning percentage during that time span. The ACC’s average seed has dropped to 5.21, while the Big East’s has risen to 4.6. And the two leagues have gotten teams into the tournament at an identical 46-percent rate.

Furthermore, just three ACC teams have advanced to the Final Four over the last five years, while four Big East teams have turned the trick. True, the ACC holds a 2-0 edge in national championships. But consider this: Only seven ACC teams – and only one (2006 Boston College) not named North Carolina or Duke – have made it as far as the Sweet 16 over the last four seasons. A whopping 16 Big East teams have advanced that far.

In fact, if you take UNC and Duke out of the mix, the ACC’s post-expansion tournament record is an unsightly 12-18. That’s Atlantic 10 or Mountain West territory.

Interestingly, they do not put the blame on the newcomers.


Focus on McGhee

Filed under: Basketball,Players — Chas @ 10:41 am

As one of three seniors on the Pitt basketball team, but the only one who has gone camping this summer, it figures that Gary McGhee would be the subject of a few pieces on him. Naturally all the pieces came out within 24 hours of each other.

McGhee was a  last minute invite to the camp. Having to skip out on a trip home to spend time with family.

As most people do when they travel, McGhee reached for his phone the second the plane landed, to let his folks know he was on his way to meet them. He noticed a voice mail message from a number that he didn’t recognize. He listened to the message, and that’s when his weekend plans changed. McGhee found out he was one of 23 collegiate players invited to the Lebron James Skills Academy.

“My mom and dad picked me up at the airport, and they didn’t know I was talking to somebody (on the phone),” McGhee said. “As soon as I got out of the car, I told them I was going. They were excited for me. I spent two days with the family, hung out with them a little bit, then headed down to Akron.”

And don’t think he didn’t sacrifice to make it there.

After riding a Greyhound bus from his hometown of Anderson, Ind., to Akron, McGhee began working to improve his game amongst players such as Florida’s Vernon Macklin (whom McGhee said was his toughest competition), Duke’s Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith and Georgetown’s Chris Wright.

A 6-11 big man riding a Grayhound. Yow. That’s a 4-5 hour drive by car. He earned that trip.

But he learned more things at both camps.

He participated in a lot of four-on-four and transition drills and learned from people such as Jay Bilas and Fran Fraschilla, while also playing in a lot of scrimmages mixed in as well. But what he focused on the most was his footwork and offensive skills.

“I tried to work on a lot of footwork stuff, working on moves, a lot of hook shots,” McGhee said. “It was a good experience to learn some things.”

He’s now put himself in consideration for the NBA.

McGhee revealed some of his new moves when he scored 11 points on 5 of 9 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds Monday in the Pittsburgh Basketball Club summer league in his first game since returning from the James camp.

“He’s absolutely a pro prospect,” Bilas said. “He does a lot of valuable things very well. He has a big, strong body and he understands how to use it. He has soft hands and he catches the ball and he’s willing to throw his body around.”

Maybe in the draft. Maybe as a free agent but he is in a position no one saw coming a few years ago. Fran Fraschilla concurs (Insider subs).

Because McGhee plays within himself and has the size to defend NBA centers, he helped himself with NBA people last week. He is a poster child for Pittsburgh work ethic and toughness and could even give the Panthers some offense inside this year, as well.

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