ACC Men's Basketball 2008-09 Preview, Part Four: UNC, Duke, 'Canes and All-ACC

Daniel DamicoCorrespondent INovember 13, 2008

Here it is, the best of the best of the Atlantic Coast Conference: the conference that houses some of the best teams in the country, the one team many are picking to win it all, and some guy named Tyler Hansbrough.
No major surprises—maybe in the All-ACC teams, but not in the schools in the top three.

Player of the Year
Tyler Hansbrough, UNC

Freshman of the Year
Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest

All-ACC First Team
G Ty Lawson, UNC
G Jack McClinton, Miami
G James Johnson, Wake Forest
F Gerald Henderson, Duke
C Tyler Hansbrough, UNC

All-ACC Second Team
G Tyrese Rice, Boston College
G K.C. Rivers, Clemson
G Wayne Ellington, UNC
F Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest
F Kyle Singler, Duke

Honorable Mention

G Jon Scheyer, Duke; F Danny Green, UNC; G James Dews, Miami; G Greivis Vasquez, Maryland; F Rakim Sanders, BC; G Lewis Clinch, GT; F Trevor Booker and G Terrance Oglesby, Clemson; G A.D. Vassallo and F Jeff Allen, VT

1. UNC No. 1 on Bleacher Report top 25
2. Duke No. 8
3. Miami No. 17
4. Clemson
5. Wake Forest No. 22
6. Virginia Tech
7. Georgia Tech
8. Boston College
9. Maryland
10. North Carolina Sate
11. Florida State
12. Virginia

Conference Rank: 1
North Carolina Tar Heels

Head Coach: Roy Williams
2007-08 Recap: 36-3 (14-2 ACC)

2008-09 Roster
Key Losses: C 6’9” Alex Stepheson, G 6’3” Quentin Thomas
Key Additions: G 6’1” Larry Drew, F 6’10” Ed Davis, C 7’0” Tyler Zeller

Starting Lineup
G Ty Lawson 5’11” Jr. 12.7 ppg, 5.2 apg
G Wayne Ellington 6’4” Jr. 16.6 ppg, 4.5 apg
F Marcus Ginyard 6’4” Sr. 6.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg
F Deon Thompson 6’8” So. 8.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg
F Tyler Hansbrough 6’9” Sr. 22.6 ppg, 10.2 rpg

Tyler Hansbrough came back to complete the mission. After winning every award and being announced that his jersey will be retired at UNC, Hansbrough could cement himself as one of the greatest college players ever.

Even at only 5’11”, there is no more important player on this team then Ty Lawson. While Hansbrough gets the accolades, it is Lawson that drives this team. When he was out a handful of games last season, UNC looked slow and uncomfortable in their offense.

Smooth shooter Wayne Ellington is the Tar Heels' first option on the perimeter. While shooting over 40 percent from behind the arc, Ellington will have to focus on defense.

Marcus Ginyard is the defensive stopper and has guarded most players from point to power forward.

The Tar Heels are expecting improvement from Deon Thompson. After Alex Stepheson transferred, Thompson’s play must become more consistent.

Sixth man extraordinaire Danny Green, despite being the only player off the bench that provides double-digit scoring, is a Carolina favorite because of his hustle and defense.

In the backcourt the Tar Heels have experience at backup in Bobby Frasor, and we should see Larry Drew III as the “point guard in training” to replace Lawson when he leaves.

The freshman forwards each have their specialty: Ed Davis is the rebounder and Tyler Zeller is the shooter. They bring added height and depth to a rather short frontcourt.

Roy Williams has to be pacing in anticipation of the 2008-09 season. The Tar Heels roster is stuffed full of talent, and the expectations are higher than they have been since Williams has been on the UNC bench.

If there is a weakness on this team, it is that they are not a very tall team. Their two tallest players are incoming freshmen Davis and Zeller, and neither is going to be expected to add much more than five fouls and garbage time. Drew could see some time if Lawson gets hurt.

The only thing that could keep the Tar Heels from bringing the championship back to Chapel Hill would be injury—and a couple good teams!
Conference Rank: 2
Duke Blue Devils

Head Coach: Mike Krzyzewski
2007-08 Recap: 28-6 (13-3 ACC)

2008-09 Roster
Key Losses: G 6’4” DeMarcus Nelson, F 6’6” Taylor King
Key Additions: G 6’4” Elliot Williams, F 6’1” Miles Plumlee, F 6’8” Olek Czyz

Starting Lineup
G Nolan Smith 6’2” So. 5.9 ppg, 1.3 apg
G Jon Scheyer 6’5” Jr. 11.7 ppg, 2.4 apg
G Gerald Henderson 6’4” So. 12.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg
F Kyle Singler 6’8” So. 13.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg
F Lance Thomas 6’8” Jr. 4.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg

At 6’4”, he is the Duke player who takes the jump ball at tip-off. Gerald Henderson is a phenomenal athlete, and his basketball game is finally catching up. At times he has flashes of the best player in the ACC, and then at other moments he is completely invisible. Henderson must find a personal compromise and also find ways, in the offense, to get his shots.

Sophomore guard Nolan Smith was declared the starter by Coach K just a couple weeks ago. Smith is a budding offensive threat and a much better defender than people give him credit.

After living in the sixth man role for two years, Jon Scheyer gets the chance in the starting lineup. When he first came to Durham he was known as a distance shooter, but his game has evolved and he is really a threat from anywhere on the floor.

Kyle Singler added 20 pounds of muscle to his wiry frame, which should help in the post. Teams must keep track of him everywhere he goes on the court. He is a solid post scorer, good outside shooter, and is the main weapon in the screen and pop. His defense will be an issue as he will be matched up with bigger post players, depending on who is in the lineup for Duke.
The second forward or center spot is a toss-up right now. Lance Thomas started last season, but he very well could be plucked from the lineup for 6’10” Miles Plumlee or 7’1” Brian Zoubek. No matter the decision, the three of them will be need for added muscle along with David McClure. Olek Czyz can get off the floor and thinks every shot should be a dunk.

Greg Paulus is going to play his senior year off the bench after starting since his freshman year. Don’t let this fool you—he will split minutes with Smith, and whoever is having the better game will be in at the end. He is deadly from distance and is the most experienced player on the roster.

McDonald’s All-American Elliot Williams is explosive. He has the handle of a point guard and is not afraid to get to the basket. Finding him minutes is a must, but where? This season he will back up Scheyer and Henderson—and then next season start in place of Henderson.

Since Josh McRoberts left a few seasons ago, Duke has been thin on the front line. But this season, Coach K actually has options. While all the offense will flow through Singler, there are many bodies to help with defense and rebounding.

Even though Duke lives by the three, the new distance will not hurt them. Most of their guys stood five feet behind the old line.

Coach K will have this team play its signature pressure defense but will look to find different ways to get all the players to their full potential on offense.

Conference Rank: 3
Miami Hurricanes

Head Coach: Frank Haith
2007-08 Recap: 23-11 (13-3 ACC)

2008-09 Roster
Key Losses: C 6’9” Anthony King, F 6’7” Raymond Hicks
Key Additions: F 6’6” Fr. DeQuan Jones, F 6’9” Fr. Cyrus McGowan

Starting Lineup
G Lance Hurdle 6’2” Sr. 8.0 ppg, 2.4 apg
G Jack McClinton 6’2” Sr. 17.7 ppg, 2.6 apg
G James Dews 6’3” So. 10.3 ppg, 2.9 rpg
F Brian Asbury 6’7” Sr. 8.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg
F/C Dwayne Collins 6’9” Jr. 8.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg

Who was the biggest impact player in the ACC not playing for a team in the Carolinas? That would be Jack McClinton. At 6’1” he is a major threat from deep, is very capable of getting to the foul line and then shooting over 91 percent when he gets there, and is confident in the clutch.
After considering jumping to the NBA, McClinton came back to Miami, and his stock should rise, along with the number of wins for this team.

Super quick point guard Lance Hurdle is one of four key seniors on this team. Along with McClinton, the offense starts with Hurdle. Hurdle must improve on his ability to deliver passes to the open shooter. Averaging only 2.4 apg with scorers like McClinton and James Dews is ridiculous. Hurdle needs to connect to the rest of the offense in the natural flow of the offense to get easy and open shots.

James Dews is the last guard in this three-headed monster. He also shots over 90 percent from the foul line and 40 percent from the field. While he might have the stats of McClinton, he must elevate his game if this team wants to succeed.

Brian Asbury, another experienced senior for the Canes, should start at the beginning of the season. But Asbury has sixth man written all over him for the season.

At 6’9”, Dwayne Collins is one of three players at that height. The Canes are not tall, but they take up space. He is a tough defender, great leaper, and solid rebounder—especially on the offensive end—and can score on the block.

Arkansas transfer Cyrus McGowan is the most likely new face to compete for a starting spot.

Sophomore guard Eddie Rios is a starter in training and is a stellar ball-handler to take over next season.

McQuan Jones will see plenty of playing time at the three spot. He is a very talented recruit and is the cornerstone for the future.

When would you have thought that the University of Miami would have a basketball team that has higher expectations that is football team?

Coach Haith knows that he is about to turn Miami from a cellar dweller into a top five ACC program.

Miami has talented pieces on offense, but it was their defense that was second in the ACC. If they can keep that a focus while getting a lift from the newcomers to the roster, this team should be ranked all season and make some of those Carolina teams very upset.