Player of the Week
The Boston College Eagles hit a rough patch last week, losing to Rhode Island and Harvard. However, they've won each of their last two games and the man responsible is Reggie Jackson. Jackson has lead the Eagles to wins over Georgia Tech and North Carolina State this week, averaging a red-hot 27 points per game on... wait for it... 77% shooting! That kind of efficiency is almost unheard of for a combo guard, even if it is only over a week-long period. To top it off he's also shooting 93% (14/15) from the stripe and 67% (6/9) from beyond the arc. It's nothing new for Reggie Jackson (who I've already featured as Player of the Week once before), as on the season he's averaging 19.5 points on 56% shooting (49% from three), 4.5 rebounds and 4.7 assists. Jackson combines a (newfound) great shooting stroke with his potent penetration ability. He's not a pure point guard, but he's a good passer (especially in drive and kick situations). He's a solid defensive player due to his quickness, athleticism, strength, and length. How Boston College fares during the rest of the conference play will largely rest on Jackson's shoulders. He won't shoot 77% the rest of the year, but he's got the scoring ability to put a lot of pressure on his opponents.
The ACC lost most of its big men to the draft last season, leaving most teams with a frontcourt that can be properly labeled as anything from non-existent to shaky at best. It's no surprise that the exclusive group of talented bigs is starting to heat up. These young post players project to give their teams a nice advantage throughout the remainder of conference play. John Henson and Tyler Zeller are putting in work. Their combination of length and mobility is unmatched in the rest of the conference. They are certain to cause problems for the opposition by crashing the glass and finishing around the rim. They combined for 33 points (68% shooting), 17 rebounds and 5 blocks in Thursday's impressive, gut-check win against Virginia Tech. Florida State has a trio of fantastically big defensive-minded people on the roster (Bernard James, Jon Kreft and Xavier Gibson) to compliment the ever-improving Chris Singleton (making clutch free throws these days, can you believe it?). North Carolina State has some size up front as well with Tracy Smith and CJ Leslie. Jerai Grant is also playing well for the (surprisingly good) Clemson Tigers, having scored in double figures in each of his last ten games. Mike Scott for Virginia was huge for his team and Jeff Allen will have to be very important if Virginia Tech is going to be successful this year. Yup, that's about it. Oh, wait... Yeah, there's that one guy from Maryland. Jordan Williams is always doing his thing, averaging 17.7 points and 12.1 rebounds per game on the season.
If I can get honest for a minute here, I've never been a huge college basketball watcher. The only reason I used to watch it at all is if nothing else was on, or I was scouting a particular prospect. However, this gig (if you will) is forcing me to sit down and really focus on some ACC basketball games. After a week's worth of Red Bull, ten Cheeto fingers and a broken eye vessel I have come to the conclusion that the ACC is one gritty conference. During the bloodbath of a game on Thursday evening, it seemed that on every single possession, somebody (or more accurately, some bodies) hit the deck. Most of the time a foul wasn't even called. I think at one point I even saw one of the refs hit Malcolm Delaney over the head with his whistle. Injuries, turnovers, air balls and a fiercely rowdy crowd... It was ugly to say the least. Florida State's recent win over the only top-25 ranked team in the ACC (Duke, if you weren't aware), followed a similar script. They played outstanding defense, holding Duke to 31.1% shooting from the floor and forcing them to shoot an obscene 35 (11 went in) three pointers. The game can best be described as one of those typically violent hockey games, except there is no puck, the rink is replaced with a tornado and all the players are rabid weasels fighting over a female mate. Yeah, these games have been horribly messy, but also a lot of fun. Aside from the freak teams (Duke, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest), the ACC is pretty evenly matched. That means you can expect a lot more of these ugly, fun games. I can't wait.
Top 5 Bigs in the ACC
1. Jordan Williams - Ten straight double-doubles and that streak doesn't appear to be in any kind of jeopardy.
2. Mike Scott - He's hurt, but Virginia is a much better team when he's on the court. He's a great scorer on the block and he's a monster of a rebounder.
3. Jerai Grant - I've overlooked this kid and his team. Clemson is winning games this year and Grant is their second leading scorer (shooting 64%) and their best rebounder and shot blocker.
4. Tyler Zeller - You could make a case for Henson being the better big man but Zeller has been the more consistent scorer this season, averaging 14.6 points per game on 50% shooting.
5. Jeff Allen - Allen makes up for his lack of size with his aggressive nature and good athleticism. He's averaging 12.7 points and 9.6 rebounds this season.
Some great games will be played this Saturday. Tune in to watch Maryland play Villanova, NC State play Florida State and Boston College take on Miami (FL)... Horrifying news for the Virginia Cavaliers, as senior Mike Scott's season is over. He will redshirt though, so we haven't seen the last of him. Still this devastates an already struggling Virginia team... NC State forward Tracy Smith continues to impress in his return, averaging 20.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in the past week... Wake Forest has now lost six of their last seven games... Harrison Barnes played well down the stretch in the Tar Heel's 64-61 win over Virginia Tech. He scored 8 of his 12 points in the final four minutes and played pretty good defense on Malcolm Delaney... Derwin Kitchen played great in Florida State's 66-61 upset over Duke. Kitchen scored 22 points on 69% shooting, to go along with 10 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals…