5 Things We’ve Learned About ACC So Far
5 Lessons We've Learned About the ACC So Far
There is no way to get around it, the ACC has, by and large, been a massive letdown as the 2013-14 college basketball season has gotten underway.
The conference that some were billing as arguably the best in college hoops history has struggled out of the gates, with North Carolina and Notre Dame getting knocked off early while Virginia and Syracuse have both struggled to put away inferior opponents, and Boston College, thought by many to be a team on the rise, has been flat out bad to open the year. That's not taking into account poor performances by the lower tier in the conference, with bad losses for schools like Miami and Virginia Tech.
It's a painful thing for ACC fans to hear, but the first week and a half of the season has been a gigantic disappointment for this supposed powerhouse conference. Yes, Syracuse is undefeated, and Virginia has only lost to a top-15 opponent, but neither school has looked particularly great in their wins. So far, whether Tar Heel and other ACC fans want to hear it or not, the only team even remotely doing its part in living up to preseason hype is Duke, and even they have a loss on their record.
The good news is that the season is still incredibly young. But there are still some lessons, mostly bad, to be taken away from the first 11 days of the college hoops season.
5. Tyler Ennis Isn't as Ready as We Thought
Everyone knew it would be tough for Tyler Ennis to step in and try to pick up the slack left by Michael Carter-Williams but, so far, he's been less ready to play than Jim Boeheim led us to believe.
Ennis has not been a disaster by any stretch, mind you, but he's simply failed to live up to the hype that not only the pundits, but even his own coach were placing on him. Still, he's a freshman playing the most important position in basketball, and it's extremely early in the season. He's shown enough flashes to make us believe he'll put it together and become the player he was expected to be, but as it turns out, it's going to be a much longer process than any of us ever anticipated.
4. Joe Harris Might be Feeling the Pressure
Before the season, we thought Joe Harris would make a case for ACC Player of the Year, seeing as how he was a first team All-Conference selection last season for a Virginia team on the rise.
However, he's gotten off to a pretty horrific start, averaging just eight points per game and shooting 40 percent from the field, including 20 percent from three. He scored 18 against an excellent Virginia Commonwealth team, but in his other two games he's combined for just six points. The pressure of carrying a trendy pick to challenge for the ACC title may just be getting to the guy who fans call Joey Hoops.
3. Boston College has been a Major Disappointment
There may not be a bigger disappointment in the ACC at this point in time than Boston College. With guys like Olivier Hanlan and Ryan Anderson returning from a squad that wound up halfway decent last season, there was a lot of hype surrounding the Eagles this year as a potential dark horse in the ACC.
Needless to say, they have completely failed to live up to that hype, starting the season 1-3 with some pretty atrocious losses along the way. Things won't be getting any easier for them, either, as they face a few solid non-conference opponents before diving into ACC play. Based on their play early on, this could wind up being a very long season for the Eagles.
2. North Carolina Needs PJ Hairston More than we Thought
The most frustrating thing for North Carolina fans right now, other than a stunning last-second loss to a better-than-you-think Belmont team, is the fact that they are beginning to realize just how crucial P.J. Hairston is to the team's success.
The 6-foot-5 scorer continues to sit on the bench in his street clothes thanks to a series of run-ins with the law in the offseason, and there's still no timetable to when, or even if, he will return. It's become pretty clear with the team's overall mediocre play to begin the season that either they aren't as good as we thought they were, or Hairston is just that much better than we gave him credit for and they desperately need him back if they want to hang with the big dogs in the conference, and in the nation.
1. Jabari Parker is the Real Deal
Of course, we can't say that every aspect of the early season has been a disappointment for the ACC, because Duke freshman Jabari Parker hasn't just surpassed expectations, he's sprinted right by them, leaving them in the dust on his way to becoming one of the most captivating players in America.
So far this season, he looks to be the runaway favorite for ACC Player of the Year, albeit based on a very limited sample size. He's big, he's athletic and he can hurt teams in a variety of ways. Last week when he matched up against phenom Andrew Wiggins, he left little doubt that, despite his team losing, he was at this stage the better all-around player. Quite frankly, Parker very rightfully brings about comparisons to Carmelo Anthony when he was a freshman at Syracuse, and based on what we've seen of him so far, he could wind up punctuating his one and only college season in the exact same manner as Melo.