Friday, March 21 2014 7:28 AM EDT2014-03-21 11:28:45 GMT
RALEIGH, NC (WMBF) - This week, Coastal Carolina joins Duke, Virginia, Tennessee and several other big name schools at PNC Arena for a weekend of games as the NCAA Tournament is off and running. TomorrowMore >>
Chants take the floor for a practice in Raleigh before taking on top-seeded Virginia Friday night.More >>
(RNN) – Ever been called Puddles? Stinky? Four-eyes? Chicken legs? Sometimes, a nickname won't go away.
No matter how much you ignore it, you can't get rid of it. You will be haunted by it again and again. In the end, there's usually nothing left to do but accept it and own it.
ACC PPP has been dealing with something similar lately: Miami. No, no one calls us "Hurricane" - that would be terrific.
But a great basketball team is kind of like a bad nickname. There's nothing that can be done to stop it. It is relentlessly unrelenting in its relentlessness.
The ‘Canes have been all of that to the teams they faced, and it's hard not to love how they do it. The guys on the team play hard on both ends of the court. They're unselfish and understand their roles in the scheme. They're versatile and complement each other.
There lies the problem; every week Poll does its best to spread the love to outstanding players on all the teams.
But every week the ‘Canes have continued to win and look so much more impressive than all the other contenders. It has become harder to deny them the spots they clearly deserved.
As we sat in the PPP Command Center and All-You-Can-Eat Buffet (chocolate fountain!) it became obvious: We were trying to make excuses not to include them in the interest of "fairness," and the rationalizations kept getting weaker.
So we submit to your greatness, Miami. Congratulations.
You have become the irresistible force and the immovable object. Odysseus and the Cyclops. Genghis Khan and the Great Wall. Hogan and Andre.
To the list … brother!
ACC PPP, Feb 6 to 14:
1. Shane Larkin, Miami Hurricanes
Last game: 22 points, four assists at Florida State (W 74-68).
It's no accident Larkin is PPP's first two-time winner. He has been the best and most consistent player on the Hurricanes team that will win the national title.
Did we mention that earlier? Yes, Miami will be the 2013 NCAA champions. There's no one better. It's not really that close.
It's surprising the lone non-senior in a starting lineup with four seniors would be the unquestioned leader of the team, right up until you watch them play. Larkin's leadership qualities were best on showcase Wednesday when he sat on the bench.
The ‘Canes opened the game sloppy at Florida State, turning the ball over multiple times and falling behind. Coach Jim Larranaga sat his point guard on the bench to get him back on course.
There he sat for about four minutes of gametime. No complaints, no hunched soldiers, he simply sat there and watched. When he came back in, he took control of the game and led his team back to a lead they wouldn't relinquish the remainder of the day.
2. Reggie Johnson, Miami Hurricanes
Last game: 14 points, eight rebounds, 5 for 5 shooting at Florida State (W 74-68).
Johnson is listed at 292 pounds; he may be bulking up before games. But don't mistake him as an out of shape player. On the contrary, he looks like he's getting back into form.
The 6'10" senior has great footwork and control in the painted area, and his ability to anticipate makes him a good passer on offense and shot-blocker on defense.
On Wednesday, the Seminoles had no answer for him. He used his big frame to move defenders wherever he wanted, leading to easy points.
2a. Trey McKinney-Jones, Miami Hurricanes
Last game: Six points, three rebounds, two steals at Florida State (W 74-68).
TMJ may be the guy who gets the least attention on the Hurricanes. He doesn't put up big numbers most nights, but there is a good reason Larranaga keeps him in the starting five.
The senior is an excellent defender who can cover any perimeter player, and he's rarely out of position. He also has the ability to knock down jump shots from outside, and just inside, the 3-point arc.
Anyone who is bringing back "the lost art of the midrange jumper" is OK in our book.
2b. Julian Gamble, Miami Hurricanes
Last game: 10 points, three rebounds, two blocks at Florida State (W 74-68).
Gamble is the other starter who won't fill up the stat sheet every night - yet when you watch the game, he is always involved.
There's a loose ball? There he is. A shot doesn't find its mark? He's blocking out for the rebound. Someone needs a screen, a teammate to pass to or some defensive help? Gamble is your guy.
He also dunks the ball like the rim owes him money, so nothing wrong with that either.
5. Joe Harris, Virginia Cavaliers
Last game: 26 points, four rebounds, five 3-pointers vs. Virginia Tech (W 73-55).
It's been a good eight days for Shooter Joe. He scored 21 or more points in each of his last three games, finishing with a career high Tuesday in the victory against Virginia Tech.
As he goes, so go the ‘Hoos – after scoring more than 70 points only once in their first eight conference games, they did so in each of their last three.
The team already had an elite defense (52.2 points per game allowed); they get the chance to show how good they are with UNC, Miami and Duke all upcoming this month.
6. Quinn Cook, Duke Blue Devils
Last game: 18 points, six rebounds, four steals vs. North Carolina (W 73-68).
Down 43-42 to UNC, Cook contributed on two breakaways in a row to give the Blue Devils command of the lead and the contest – beating everyone for a layup on the first, finding Rasheed Sulaimon for an open 3-ball on the next.
The sophomore point guard had a below average game at Boston College, but a blizzard-delayed flight there may have been the cause of some Duke troubles that night. He was in top form Feb. 7, when he scored 21 and led the 98-85 onslaught of NC State.
7. Ryan Anderson, Boston College Eagles
Last game: 12 points, five rebounds, three assists vs. Wake Forest (W 66-63).
Mr. Anderson makes his triumphant return to the list after an absence of more than a month. While he has played at a high level for the whole season, his teammate's contributions have been inconsistent.
He and the young Eagles had their best two-game stretch of the calendar year, knocking off Wake on Tuesday and nearly completing a big upset against Duke three days before. Despite facing off with the Blue Devils' Mason Plumlee on Sunday, Anderson managed 17 points on 8 of 14 shooting.
8. C.J. Harris, Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Last game: 23 points, four assists, three rebounds at Boston College (L 66-63).
Wake led by seven with less than two minutes to play at BC but did not score another point and allowed BC to get its third ACC win of the season. Harris finished as the game's top scorer after an 8 for 10 performance from the field.
At home Saturday against Florida State, the senior took part in the offensive flurry that gave them a big lead early. Wake had the game well in hand by the end of the first half and won 71-47.
9. K.J. McDaniel, Clemson Tigers
Last game: 14 points, three blocks at Georgia Tech (W 56-53).
The 6'6" sophomore is one of the more versatile defenders in the conference. This week, he basically held a one-man block party, with a total of eight swats in two games, including the win Thursday on the road against Georgia Tech.
McDaniels is the heart of a scrappy defense that has kept the Tigers competitive in several games against more talented teams. They out-hustled NC State in a close game Sunday, only losing by one on a last-second 3-pointer from the Wolfpack.
10. Marcus Georges-Hunt, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Last game: 11 points, five rebounds vs. Clemson (L 56-53)
The freshman carried the offense during a near-comeback Thursday against Clemson. Four of Georges-Hunt's five rebounds came off the offensive glass.
MGH and the Jackets got their first ACC road victory this week, beating Virginia Tech 64-54 Saturday. He finished with 13 points and nine boards, helping the squad out-rebound the Hokies by 14.
Rimmed out: Justin Anderson, Virginia; Alex Len, Maryland; Mason Plumlee, Duke; Durand Scott, Miami; Scott Wood, NC State.
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