Posted: 2:46 a.m. Friday, Oct. 4, 2013
Mike DeCourcy looks at the recent ACC decline and asks what was behind it. His theory is, we think, well off the mark: “My theory: Although ACC states produce some terrific basketball talent, there just isn’t enough to feed so many teams.”
Well, no, that’s not it.
You’ll recall that in the not-too-distant past, Virginia, Wake Forest, State, Georgia Tech, BC and Virginia Tech chose to change coaches. At Maryland, Miami and Clemson, the coaches opted to remove themselves.
That’s where the problem was. Tony Bennett has clearly drawn better players at Virginia than Dave Leitao did. The jury is still out on Jeff Bzdelik, but part of the reason Dino Gaudio was let go was because of a perception that he didn’t have full control over his considerable talent. At State, Sidney Lowe, one of few guys who wanted the job, was clearly out of his element in college. After a couple of good years at the start, Georgia Tech’s Paul Hewitt put out almost a decade of solid mediocrity – despite excellent recruiting! Al Skinner was seen as tired and perhaps disinterested in recruiting at BC, while Seth Greenberg certainly wore out his welcome at Virginia Tech.
Meanwhile, Gary Williams frustrated Maryland fans with his recruiting practices, while Frank Haith and Oliver Purnell struggled to achieve in the post-season.
Now look at their replacements. There is considerable reason for optimism at BC, Georgia Tech, Miami, State and Virginia. Clemson has a highly respected coach while Wake Forest, in our opinion, is in the midst of a solid rebuild.
The brutal truth is that lousy coaching can’t be overcome with recruiting, but that modest talent can be seriously augmented with excellent coaching.
Consider what Williams accomplished at Maryland despite having limited access to the Maryland market and ignoring the AAU scene (we don’t recall anyone saying this, but it’s worth mentioning that recruiting the way Williams did took considerably more work than what, say, Mark Turgeon does currently at College Park). Consider what Tony Bennett has done at Maryland with limited talent and a bad history of injuries.
And consider what Jim Larranaga accomplished last year with players mostly recruited by his predecessor Haith.
Good coaching will draw good talent. Between Miami and Boston, there are a ton of talented players – and there’s no reason why ACC schools are limited geographically. Take a look at the home states of members of the ACC class of 2013:
As you can see, while Clemson and UNC stuck with regional recruits (not always the case for UNC of course), just about everyone else went well outside of traditional ACC territory.
Note: we didn’t deal with Maryland since their recruits will only be in the ACC for one more season.