The Hottest ACC Preview You’ll Ever See
ESPN already has pretty comprehensive rankings and previews for the ACC so I’ll just give all of our readers the top 3 things I’m exciting for and a few things I’m dreading about the upcoming ACC season. Since we’re always trying to add some sex appeal to Agron Street, I’ve put the season in more relatable terms – in bold font you’ll find some helpful, albeit somewhat sexist, analogies. My associate Garret Mann will have his own list previewing the ACC shortly.
The 3 beauties of 2011-2012
Ashton Pankey and Mychal Parker
For the Terrapins, I’d argue that this season hinges on the performance and developmentof these two players. They won’t be the best players, Nick Faust, Terrell Stoglin, and Pe’Shon Howard (when healthy) will headline the squad. Yet for a team with few scholarship players, issues of depth remain supreme. Pankey has suffered from injuries while Parker, a highly touted freshman recruit last year, failed to iron out the fundamentals necessary to gain the approval of former coach Gary Williams. I’m talking with big “ifs” here, but these two players have enormous potential to surprise some people and if they do, the Terrapins could look respectable. Yes, Maryland basketball now clings to hopes of respectability, not tournaments or championships. I feel like a father when he’s trying to convince himself that his daughter is merely going through a rebellious stage, when everyone knows she’s totally a slut.
Parity in the ACC
Looks like Pitt and Syracuse will actually see some competition when they finally get here. After a several year stretch of deflated play, I think we’re finally going to see a more balanced ACC field. This phenomenon looks awfully similar to Clemson and Florida State both have a shot to finish in the top 3 in the conference while Virginia will do some damage in the tournament. If Duke and UNC were the only girls in middle school to go through puberty these past few years, the rest of the class is growing into their bodies. If a couple other teams rise up to the occasion (Don’t look for Maryland to help out any here) I think you could see 4-5 very good teams enter the tourney in March from the ACC with a couple more sneaking in as well.
The Big Ten-ACC Challenge
Amidst the boredom of early season play, this event always provides enormous excitement to the early winter games. Some of the games to look forward to include:
Clemson at Iowa
No. 5 Duke at No. 3 Ohio State
No. 21 Florida State at Michigan State
No. 11 Wisconsin at No. 1 North Carolina
In relating this to women, this tournament is like homecoming right after summer break. You’re not quite sure who’s hot and who’s not until you see them all dressed up and bringing their A-game for the first time. After the ACC won the first 10 challenges the Big Ten has stolen the last two. Not happening this year. There’s nothing I enjoy more than watching fundamentally sound and completely unexciting Big Ten teams get throttled by the exciting play of ACC basketball. If the ACC can’t pull off a win here, I might lose all faith in the Coastal Conference.
The 3 ugly-ass ladies of 2011-2012
I’ll be honest, I’m talking myself into all sorts of crazy what ifs on this one. If this season had a female equivalent, the Terps would look like the homeliest, saddest last girl at the bar at closing time (See below). If Berend Weijs picks up the slack for Jordan Williams, Terrell Stoglin develops into an all-ACC player, Nick Faust challenges Austin Rivers for ACC rookie of the year, and Alex Len turns out to be the second coming of Vlade Divac, we might just compete this year. To think that all of last year Maryland fans held out hope that at least NEXT year we would compete, at this point, every trip to Comcast Center might have to be followed by a trip to the liquor store.
The Plumlee Invasion
I cannot stress how excited I am to “welcome” the Winklevoss…er, I mean Plumlee brothers to College Park and verbally harass for 40 minutes on the basketball court. With a name like Plumlee, how can you not want to make fun of them? Alas, that’s where the fun ends for us Duke haters, because the Plumlee duo will take the form of a Three’s Company of sorts this season. Marshall Plumlee, the highly sought after final link in the Plumlee chain, will probably outshine his brothers during his Duke career. These three brothers are the unreasonably hot sisters, who tragically all go out with huge d-bags (Duke) and whose casual hotness (skills) makes you despise them. The thought of three mutant Plumlee’s running down the court at the same time against Berendd Weijs, Alex Len and random walk-ons sends shivers down my body.
North Carolina missing the tournament
How bad will North Carolina be this year? I think that’s the only question you’ll hear around Chapel Hill these days. Seriously, Roy Williams, you couldn’t do any better then Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller, Kendall Marshall, James McAdoo, Reggie Bullock, John Henson, Dexter Strickland? Oh wait…Excuse me while I go throw up to the thought of a former Schecter player trying to guard anyone of these players. This team looks like the Oceans 11 of college basketball, a team about to dupe the entire nation into thinking they have a chance. I know that did not have to do with women, but come on, Matt Damon, George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Co. are pretty attractive even without Julia Roberts. As painful as the truth sounds, North Carolina’s beautiful cast is about to run train on the ACC.
The Many Faces of Pickup Basketball
“Many athletes have tremendous God-given gifts, but they don’t focus on the development of those gifts. Who are these individuals? You’ve never heard of them– and you never will.”
…Unless you play pickup basketball.
I was originally going to start off by making a John Wooden joke, lamenting the death of basketball fundamentals, but a quick Wikipedia check reminded me that John Wooden actually died a year ago. Not to worry, we roll with the punches here on Agron Street so we’ll joke about the “Wizard of Westwood” anyways.
Before the greatest coach of all time bid his farewell, above any other advice or sage wisdom he could have offered the world with his last breaths, for some reason I can only imagine him whispering to his family and friends, “God as my witness, I despise pickup basketball.”
For students and serious practitioners of the game of basketball, there seems no worse fate than to endure watching a game of pickup at a local university or YMCA. “Pickup” at the JCC? By god, that might as well be a cleaver to Naismith’s peach basket. It is the bastardization of the beautiful game.
“Pickup” serves as the reality TV of basketball: a third of the people are out-of-shape with fading skills, a third are trying way too hard to impress, while a third are just out there to enjoy the ride and have a little fun.
Luckily, I am neither a serious basketball mind nor do I take myself too seriously. I love pickup basketball. Pickup games let you pretend you can actually play basketball. You can count it as exercise even if you never run. Best of all, they make it ok to wear old and tattered shirts that are not socially acceptable anywhere above the Mason-Dixon line.
More than anything else, I love the nuances and characters that show up during every game. It varies slightly from place to place, but really these characters continue to pop up wherever you’re playing, even overseas (What up, Gan Hapaamon!)
Let’s take a look at the lineup of the usual suspects:
The Bruiser in the Middle (AKA The Fat Guy)
Like most pickup players, this guy hates crossing half-court. Two types of the bruisers exist: the shitty kind and the apathetic kind. The shitty kind, yeah he’s just a fat guy who can’t play basketball. I care much more about the apathetic kind. The Eddy Curry, if you will. If he played in the NBA, he would be a “Jailblazer.” He’s got all of the skills – moves in the post, rebounds galore, shot-blocking machine – but man, does this guy not give a fuck. He probably got kicked off his high school team for always feuding with the coach, and now he’s packed on 30 pounds from all of the “protein” shakes.
The A-Hole who runs too much (AKA The 5 ft. 6 and under league)
You can only love or hate this player and obviously it entirely depends on whether or not he plays on your side. He’ll lurk in the backcourt and get at least 3 cheap steals when your point guard brings the ball up the court. He’ll harass on D constantly and push the tempo on offense. Basically, he plays fundamental and serious basketball when neither of those traits have a place anywhere near a pickup game. He’s a cross between Ty Lawson, David Eckstein and Bruce Bowen, or more commonly known as the most unlikeable player ever. If he played in the NBA, he’d rock the bench on the Pacers.
The Athlete (AKA The Foreigner)
This player has absolutely no idea what he’s doing on the hardwood. God blessed him with the physical skills that unfortunately he squandered by focusing on soccer, swimming, or something else way too European for my liking. Even if he sacrifices a few inches, you can always count on him to play strong in the post, rebound, and make at least a couple passes or shots that blow you away. Of course, he’ll probably follow that play up by punching someone on defense just because he’s not quite sure what the rules are. He’s the Serge Ibaka of pickup. If he played in the NBA, the Spurs would grab him in the second round of the draft.
The Douchebag (AKA The Ball-Hog)
You have an outside shot. We get it. Can you please pass everyone else the ball now? This guy definitely has had an earring at some point in his life and spends his weekends trying to “mack on some bitches.” He’ll probably get in a fight during the game and will yell at his teammates if they miss a shot the one time he passes it to them. NBA equivalent: J.R. Smith. NBA team: Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Baller (AKA The Guru of Pickup)
Unlike “The Douchebag,” you are never angry when this guy shoots. He turns pickup into an art form. Maybe his game does not translate successfully in traditional formats, but when the coaches and refs leave the building this guy goes to work. Two forms of this player exist: The facilitator and the dominator. Or the Jason Williams and the Michael Beasley. If they are on your team, you will not lose. But just like Jay-Wil and The Beas, don’t count on them succeeding in a real game. NBA team: Golden State.
- The Fred Hoiberg (AKA “The Mayor” AKA The Three Point Specialist)
- The Assist leader (AKA The Puritan Dish)
- The Midrange Assassin (AKA The Rip Hamilton)
- The Enforcer (AKA Dave Chappelle’s Block Party)
If you can think of any other “Pickup” characters, I’d love to hear more.