I can’t remember an ACC season quite like this one.
There are so many possibilities — the only thing guaranteed is Miami will finish first. The other four teams could finish anywhere from second to fifth. It’s amazing when you think about it.
It’s been this close in the past, but when I played there were seven teams in the ACC and someone got a first-round bye. And that meant all but one team had to win three games to win the ACC tournament. Now, if you don’t finish in the top four, you have to win four games, which would be hard for any team.
Who would have thought the State game against Carolina would have been that much of a turnaround. Carolina looked like a completely different team. We were so efficient offensively and so active on defense. We even did a good job on the offensive boards against a much bigger team.
Along with Carolina, most of the teams have improved so much. Joe Harris is one good player at Virginia. He reminds me of Mike O’Koren with all his savvy and the way he moves so effortlessly. He looks like he’d be a fun guy to play with, and he’s the key to Virginia staying at the top of the league all season.
And for the Tar Heels to go to Clemson and play with so much poise . . . that’s always been one of the toughest places to play, but it looked like we were in control the entire game. The early lead never let the crowd get into it. That’s a sign of maturity. You’ve got all the players and coaches credit for making that happen.
I’ve said all along that N.C. State has all the qualities to win a national championship, their depth and size and athleticism, which makes them so dangerous. And Duke, you know, always seems like the favorite going into the ACC tournament. How many have they won, like 9 in the last 13 years? Wow.
It’s going to be an exciting last week of basketball because so much has to be decided before the ACC tournament. The seeds, who finishes fifth and has to play on Thursday, the All-ACC team, Player of the Year
After Thursday night, you’d have to say that Joe Harris has thrown his name in there for Player of the Year. Right now, I like Shane Larkin, Harris, Erick Green, Richard Howell and either Curry or Plumlee from Duke for All-ACC. I think Reggie Bullock has played so well that he deserves some votes for the first team, but I’m not sure he’ll get enough. It’s one of the most difficult years to name those first five, for sure.
Coach of the Year, it’s got to be (Miami’s Jim) Larranaga because they came out of nowhere. But to me, Coach Williams has done one of the greatest jobs I’ve ever seen a coach do, the way Carolina has turned its season around. After losing at Texas and then starting 0-2 in the ACC, people have forgotten about that. If we win out we will have gone 13-3 in our last 16 games.
Player of the Year? I can’t even talk about that with only a week left, that one is definitely going down to the last day. I am a believer in a team’s success have to do with individual honors.
So it’s going to be some last week of basketball. Tighten your seatbelt.
Phil Ford was a three-time All-American at UNC, 1978 ACC Player of the Year and went on to be the NBA Rookie of the Year and an NBA all-star.