2008-09 record: 24-7 overall, 11-5 ACC (second)
Postseason: 0-1, lost to Cleveland State in first round
Projected starting lineup: G Ish Smith (right), G L.D. Williams, F Al-Farouq Aminu, F Tony Woods, F Chas McFarland
• Opportunity. With Jeff Teague and James Johnson gone, forward Al-Farouq Aminu becomes Wake's go-to guy, and that's a good thing. Although he needs to improve his perimeter shot, he's athletic and particularly aggressive around the glass — two key attributes this year in a league stocked with bigs.
• Point guard. Wake already boasts what half the teams in the league don't: a veteran point guard. After starting his first two seasons, senior Ish Smith came off the bench in 2008-09 after he was limited early-on by a foot injury. He has been working on his perimeter shot, and his experience should make a difference, especially in what will probably be another down-to-the-wire ACC season.
• Outside shooting. Wake made only 32 percent of its 3-pointers last season, second-to-last in the league – and Teague, Johnson and Harvey Hale were its top three scorers from behind the arc.
• Coaching. After watching Wake crumble during the second half of last season (and the season before), it's still up in the air as to whether Dino Gaudio has the coaching chops to lead this team to the next level.
Wake's collapse from a 16-0 start and No. 1 ranking in January to an embarrassing 84-69 loss to No. 14 seed Cleveland State in the NCAA tournament is inexplicable. Now consider the top two scorers from that team, Teague and Johnson, are in the NBA.
Gaudio still has parts to work with in Aminu, Smith and sophomore forwards Tony Woods and Ty Walker, who were previously part of a top-5 recruiting class.
But if you can't shoot, and your coach isn't that good, where does that leave you?
Teague and Johnson were generational talents. It was the first time Wake had two players taken in the first round in the same draft.
Just like when Tim Duncan left and when Chris Paul left, there will be an adjustment period. There are more parts than Smith's freshman season — when Wake went 5-11 — but a year after making the NCAA Tournament, the Deacs will take a large step back.
|F Al-Farouq Aminu||So.||12.9||8.2||1.5|
|F Chas McFarland||Sr.||8.7||5.8||0.5|
|G L.D. Williams||Sr.||8.0||2.7||1.1|
|G Ish Smith||Sr.||6.2||2.7||3.4|
|F Tony Woods||So.||3.2||2.6||0.1|
|G Gary Clark||Jr.||2.7||0.5||0.3|
|F David Weaver||So.||2.1||1.9||0.3|
|F Ty Walker||So.||0.9||1.1||0.1|
|G Jeff Teague||18.8||3.3||3.5|
|F James Johnson||15.0||8.5||2.0|
|G Harvey Hale||4.1||1.4||0.5|
|F Ari Stewart||Fr.||6-7||190||43|
|G C.J. Harris||Fr.||6-2||175||—|
|G Konner Tucker||So.||6-4||175||—|
Recruiting analysis by Dave Telep, scout.com:
Stewart: "I like this kid and who he can be. At times struggled with his confidence but when he had it rocking he was an athletic small forward with touch and size. He's important to the Deacs' long-term success."
Harris: "A local player who embodies the Deacs work ethic and determination. He played on a state championship team as a senior will defend, drive and knock down free throws. There's something to be said for his style and he’ll be hard to keep off the court in time."
2008-09 record: 21-14 overall, 7-9 ACC (seventh)
Postseason: 1-1, lost to Memphis in the second round of the NCAA Tournament
Projected starting lineup: G Greivis Vasquez (right), G Sean Mosley, G Eric Hayes, F Landon Milbourne, F Dino Gregory
• Guard play. Between Greivis Vasquez, Eric Hayes, Adrian Bowie, Sean Mosley and Cliff Tucker, Maryland has five viable options at guard (maybe Duke can get a loaner).
In Vasquez, who led the Terps in scoring, rebounding and assists, Gary Williams has the most versatile player in the league. "Good" Greivis can cut your heart out in Williams' flex offense. "Bad" Greivis settles for too many outside shots.
With the old options behind the 3-point line and new help inside, "Good" Greivis should lead the ACC in assists.
• Help inside. Undersized forwards Landon Milbourne and Dave Neal did their best last season to hold down the fort for the Terps. Their overall team quickness, and aggressive play, mostly made up for their lack of size but it was a essentially a four-guard lineup with Neal, a burly forward who played like a guard.
Milbourne will benefit the most from the addition of freshmen forwards James Padgett and Jordan Williams.
With more big bodies, Milbourne won't have to defend the 4, which should boost his offensive numbers and keep him fresher at the end of the season.
• Inconsistency. When the outside shots were falling, Maryland could beat anybody — and did, knocking off national champion UNC in College Park and national runner-up Michigan State in Orlando.
When the shots weren't falling, Maryland could lose to anybody, and often in an ugly fashion, losing to Clemson by 29, Georgetown by 27, Gonzaga by 22 and were run out of the NCAA Tournament by Memphis by 19.
Williams did more with less last season than any coach in the country. His motivation of that limited team should be put in a textbook.
But somehow, Williams needs to get his players to make a more consistent effort, especially in ACC games that don't include the names "Duke" or "UNC."
The Terps went 7-9 last season with an unconventional lineup and inconsistent results. Like Boston College, their an NCAA Tournament team that returns four starters and they have an edge in experience, and coaching, over the ACC teams chasing UNC and Duke.
With two new big bodies — who unless they pull a Braxton Dupree, will play right away — Williams addressed the biggest concern from last season.
Vasquez, who'll be 23 by the ACC Tournament, could have opted to go pro (he was projected as a second-round pick) but his kinship with Williams brought him back to College Park. That kept Williams from having to perform a true coaching miracle.
The Terps should improve from last year's mark which brings them to the nine or 10-win range, and who knows, with another shocker over UNC (they only meet in College Park this year), maybe all the way to the top.
|G Greivis Vasquez||Sr.||17.5||5.4||5.0|
|F Landon Milbourne||Sr.||11.4||5.2||0.6|
|G Eric Hayes||Sr.||10.3||2.8||3.2|
|G Adrian Bowie||Jr.||9.0||3.0||2.5|
|G Sean Mosley||So.||5.3||3.7||1.3|
|G Cliff Tucker||Jr.||4.5||1.6||0.9|
|F Dino Gregory||Jr.||2.6||3.2||0.2|
|F Jin-Soo Kim||So.||1.6||1.1||0.0|
|F Dave Neal||8.5||4.3||0.7|
|F Braxton Dupree||2.1||2.4||0.0|
|F Jordan Williams||Fr.||6-8||245||95|
|F James Padgett||Fr.||6-8||217||—|
Recruiting analysis by Dave Telep, scout.com:
Williams: "The long-term stock of the two players that they signed and the one with the most offensive upside."
Padgett: "I like him for the finisher that he can be around the basket. He must learn to play with consistency but he's a tough guy who operates within a 6-foot radius of the hoop and can hammer it down."
2008-09 record: 10-18 overall, 4-12 ACC (11th)
Projected starting lineup: G Calvin Baker, G Sylven Landesberg, F Tristan Spurlock, F Mike Scott, F Assane Sene
• New coach. To be clear, Virginia could have hired a Linux software programmer to regulate the team's substitution pattern, and nothing else, and it would have been an upgrade from Dave Leitao.
Besides his personality flaws and the inability to treat his players with any respect, Leitao changed his starting lineup, seemingly by whim and by the day. Twelve different players started a game and no one started every game.
By any measure, Mike Scott is the best forward in the program, yet he spent the final nine games coming off the bench.
In four seasons, Leitao also failed to establish any identity for the once-proud program. Were they a zone team? Man? Fast break? Was there any discernible offensive style?
In Tony Bennett, UVa has a proven winner, from one of the toughest outposts in college basketball, and a coach with a clear-cut system for both offense and defense. Presumably, he didn't win 69 games in three seasons at Washington State by accident and he understands the virtue of putting your best players on the floor and establishing some semblance of a rotation.
• Schedule. Just like 2006-07, when UNC was kind enough to share the regular-season title with UVa, the Cavaliers have the easiest schedule in the ACC. They play UNC and Duke, once each, don't have to go to Duke, FSU or Georgia Tech, and get four games against N.C. State and Miami.
• Adjustment period. Playing for Leitao certainly wasn't a Club Med vacation, but there will be an adjustment to Bennett's specific, deliberate style on both offense and defense.
In Assane Sene, Scott and freshman guard Jontel Evans, Bennett has some parts to play the type of demanding defense that led the country in scoring at Washington State last season, allowing 55.4 points per game (about nine points fewer than any ACC team).
But the offense, his father's "blocker-mover" scheme will test the patience of the players not recruited to play in it. While Wazzu was leading the country in scoring defense, it ranked No. 314 in scoring offense (59.2 ppg).
Of the past 13 coaching changes in the ACC, going back to when Bill Guthridge took over for Dean Smith in 1997, nine times the new coach won more games than his predecessor (Roy Williams, Oliver Purnell, Steve Robinson and Sidney Lowe didn't).
The bar is set pretty low here for Bennett after a 10-win season but UVa will be better.
They will win ugly, in games that don't go north of 60 points, but they'll win their share of games just because of the upgrade at coaching.
The league schedule is the ACC's way of giving an old friend a shortcut back to prominence. Let's face it, the ACC needs Virginia to be better than it has been for the better part of the past 15 years.
If Landesberg takes to Bennett's deliberate style, the rest of the group should follow and the Cavaliers could win as many as eight ACC games, which means you're looking at the ACC Coach of the Year.
|G Sylven Landesberg||So.||16.6||6.0||2.8|
|F Mike Scott||Jr.||10.2||7.4||0.8|
|G Calvin Baker||Sr.||8.4||2.2||2.8|
|G Sammy Zeglinski||So.||7.8||2.4||3.0|
|F Jamil Tucker||Sr.||7.4||3.8||0.7|
|G Jeff Jones||Jr..||6.5||1.9||0.9|
|G Mustapha Farrakhan||Jr.||4.3||0.7||0.6|
|F Assane Sene||So.||2.5||4.6||0.3|
|F Jerome Meyinsse||Sr.||1.7||1.6||0.1|
|F John Brandenburg||So.||1.0||0.8||0.0|
|F Solomon Tat||Sr.||0.6||0.9||0.3|
|G/F Mamadi Diane||6.0||2.0||0.6|
|F Tristan Spurlock||Fr.||6-8||215||87|
|G Jontel Evans||Fr.||5-11||185||—|
Recruiting analysis by Dave Telep, scout.com:
Spurlock: "He will play a key role in UVa's frontcourt but we won't know how they'll use him until they roll it out. He's a strong kid and has shown a willingness to mix inside with some perimeter."
Evans: "To me, he’s one of the league’s under-the-radar recruits. Tony Bennett is going to love him because he 1) defends and 2) plays with a chip on his shoulder. He doesn’t have the fanfare but his gritty game will be valued."
— By J.P. Giglio and Robbi Pickeral