Pitt was picked to finish sixth in the ACC this year. Seems about the right range. Upper-half, NCAA bid. Safely within two spots of where they might finish come the end of the season.
1. Duke (50) 805
2. Syracuse (3) 753
3. North Carolina (1) 668
4. Virginia 612
5. Notre Dame 608
6. Pitt 477
7. Maryland 473
8. Boston College 457
9. Florida State 334
10. NC State 332
11. Georgia Tech 311
12. Miami 224
13. Wake Forest 220
14. Clemson 141
15. Virginia Tech 65
Something that will take getting used to is that the ACC’s preseason All-ACC team is limited to just five players. No 6th man. No 2d and 3d and honorable mention. Just the projected best five players. No surprise that Pitt had no player on the list.
Now in case you think it will be an adjustment simply to the styles (and officiating) in the ACC, there is the added component of new rules changes/slash emphasis across the NCAA this year.
A video was sent out to all Division I coaches last week with all the rules changes. Art Hyland, the secretary rules editor of the NCAA men’s basketball rules committee, highlighted the proper enforcement of hand-checking rules, which has been moved from a guideline into the official rule book.
“It requires fouls to be called when such action occurs against the player with the ball,” Hyland said.
These rules include:
• Keeping hand or forearm on an opponent.
• Putting two hands on an opponent.
• Continually jabbing an opponent by extending an arm or placing a hand or forearm on the opponent.
• Using an arm bar to impede the progress of a dribbler.
NCAA director of officials John Adams told ESPN.com that it will take time for coaches, players and officials to adjust. The changes could well result in an increase of fouls early in the season and also could force star players to the bench with foul trouble.
Not to mention a lot of yelling and complaining by coaches — even the ones who are supporting this — about the calls when they go against their players. The hand-checking will be the biggest deal. A lot of teams, especially those that like to press have players constantly reaching out and extending hands to try and slow or direct the opposing player.
There’s also yet more tweaking to the block/charge rule. One that favors the block over the charge and hopefully addresses flopping more.
Another rule that should clearly benefit the offense and is likely to increase scoring is the block-charge call, which now states that a defensive player is not permitted to move into the path of an offensive player once he has begun his upward motion with the ball to attempt a field goal or a pass. Previously, the player had to be in legal guarding position when the offensive player lifted off the floor.
“There will be no more flopping,” [Kentucky Coach John] Calipari said.
Adams said that the referees get more than 90 percent of all calls correct, but that number was at about 65 percent last season with regard to block-charge calls.
“It’s a tough play and it happens incredibly quickly,” Adams said. “A big reason for the change was aimed to help the officials get the call right.”
Not only will it give the referees a little more time, but it should also favor the offensive player.
We will see how well they deal with flopping in the ACC when Duke is doing it and Mike Krzyzewski is screaming on from his bench at the refs. New Pitt basketball beat writer for the P-G, Paul Zeise talked to ACC coaches about the new rules. Jamie Dixon downplayed the changes and thinks scoring won’t be that much of a jump simply because defenses are so much better.
“Teams would have to adjust, no question, but it is not going to change things a lot,” Dixon said. “The defenses are better, the players are quicker and stronger. When you are quicker and stronger and more versed in scouting and more aware of what the other team does, it is going to help the defense.
“And more teams are zoning and, if you move back the 3-point line, more teams will zone and, if you zone, there will be less possessions not more — all those things factor in. The charge is a significant change, but the rule really hasn’t changed. It is matter of getting the call right.”
There’s some truth there. There aren’t many coaches left that strictly embrace only one style of defense. Gone are most of the Bobby Knights who felt that if you played anything but man-to-man defense you had already lost. Most coaches expect to use adjust their defense during games and are willing to do so.
Most of the mid-majors that surprise in March are built on the back of playing a better defense. Not offense. It’s part of what made Florida Gulf Coast so exciting and different last year. They were shocking teams with a relentless offense. Usually you don’t see that because the players aren’t skilled enough scorers.
And Coach Dixon not only has some doubts about how the rules will be enforced, he is trying to protect his team.
“I think people saying that [rules changes will hurt Pitt] are just putting that out there and working the officials already,” Dixon said Wednesday at ACC Media Day. “They say they are going to do this every year, they talk about cleaning up in the post, cleaning up the drives, getting better on block/charge calls. When have we not heard about this?
“We will see if they are going to call it. We’ll see. You can’t tell me they are all of the sudden going to start calling it differently. If they call fouls on defense, then, yeah, it will increase scoring, but they will need to stick with it.”
How wonderfully cynical.
In other ACC Media Day hype, there is the mantra of the “Best Conference — EVER!!!!!!!!”
I don’t say this often, but god bless Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim for being the one to pump the brakes on this
…Swofford said of the expanded conference that includes former Big East powers Pitt, Notre Dame and Syracuse. “The competition within the league will be brutal. And I mean that in a very positive sense.”
The 15 ACC coaches, including Hall of Famers Jim Boeheim of Syracuse, Mike Krzyzewski of Duke and Roy Williams of North Carolina, own a combined seven national titles, appearances in 23 Final Fours and 15 national championship games.
“I’m not sure anybody understands the gravity of what’s happening,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “This is special.”
Boeheim cautioned that conference greatness is judged not by coaching resumes but rather by star power on the court.
The Big East, Boeheim said, was built on the backs of Patrick Ewing, Pearl Washington and Chris Mullin and not John Thompson, Boeheim and Lou Carnesecca.
“We sometimes forget the key to any team and any league is players,” Boeheim said. “What are players interested in? Not what fans are interested in. That’s different. Not what coaches or commissioners are interested in. What are high school kids looking at? What do they want? That’s a recruiting tool. That’s something that does matter.”
Seriously, Boeheim won media day just with this comment.
Jim Boeheim on the ACC media day vs. the Big East media day. "Same shit. Further South.'' (He was joking) #ACCmediaday
— Mike Waters (@MikeWatersSYR) October 16, 2013
Don’t retire anytime soon, Boeheim. We need the cranky, old uncle.