ACC Operation Basketball Notebook

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Even though Clemson basketball team has all but one starter returning from last year's team that made a surge late in the season, the Tigers were once again predicted to finish near the bottom in the ACC this season by the media.

Getting the unanimous choice out of 87 voters as the best team was Duke (1,044 points), with Boston College (918) and Wake Forest (791) predicted to finish second and third respectively. N.C. State (744) edged out Maryland (707) for fourth spot, while North Carolina (573) was selected sixth and just barely ahead of Miami (540).

Virginia Tech (451) was predicted to finish eighth and Georgia Tech (380) ninth. Clemson (230) was picked just slightly ahead of Florida State (216) and Virginia (192) was selected to finish last.

This marks the eighth straight year the Tigers have been predicted to finish seventh or below.

The pre-season Player of the Year was Duke guard J.J. Redick (45 votes), with his teammate Shelden Williams (33) as the runner up. Boston College's Craig Smith received four votes.

Redick and Williams were unanimous selections for the fist team All-ACC, with Smith (73), Miami's Guillermo Diaz (59) and Wake Forest's Justin Gray (57) rounding out the team.

The pre-season Rookie of the Year went to Tyler Hansbrough of North Carolina with 50 votes, while Josh McRoberts of Duke got 29 and Miami's Denis Clemente garnered two.

What They're Saying
Here's a quick look at all 12 coaches and what they had to say about various topics:

Herb Sendek, N.C. State: "(Guard) Tony Bethel is going to be held approximately the first month of practice, but we do have every expectation that he is in the final stages of recovering (from a groin pull) and should return shortly." Bethel sustained the injury during the ACC Tournament last season.

Paul Hewitt, Georgia Tech: "If it's a 20-minute game, I feel great. I think we are talented enough to hang in a 20-minute game. But when you get to that last 20 minutes and those last four minutes, do you have the conditioning and stamina to continue to make plays?" The Yellow Jackets lost six key players from last year.

Al Skinner, Boston College: "We're not coming from a bad league. It's not like we're coming from the (Atlantic-10) or something like that. There's been national championships in both leagues and we've had success against the teams that have won those type of games and there's no reason not to think that we're going to have success here." This is Boston College's first year in the ACC after leaving the Big East.

Oliver Purnell, Clemson: "Sure, it's possible, but it'd be a major upset. It'd be like our hockey team or something. It would be a major upset. If you can get a combination of some of our best college players and some of our pros, that sounds like a good model as well." Purnell on whether it would be a good idea to have only college players in the Olympics. He was an Olympic basketball team assistant coach in 2004.

Frank Haith, Miami: "It's been really good, in terms of enthusiasm for basketball. You look at 15 years without basketball. You had no Hurricanes and no Miami Heat, so they're just learning the game. This is really an education for them. We're in the best basketball league in America, so that passion and that enthusiasm is what has to be learned." Miami had the fourth-largest jump in attendance percentage from two years ago to last year.

Roy Williams, North Carolina: "I don't know what to expect. I'm six days into practice and I still don't know. Maybe, I'm not as intelligent as some people, but I knew last year that we were going to be pretty doggone good. Right now, everything is so new that I don't know." The Tar Heels lost five of its top six players from last season's national championship team."

Dave Leitao, Virginia: "We're going to have to change our tempo on the fly and game-by-game depending on the situation. It's a little bit concerning because there isn't that level of consistency night in and night out that you need to play in this league." Leitao, who is in his first year at Virginia, is shorthanded with players and won't be able to run his up-tempo style until he gets a few more players in place.

Gary Williams, Maryland: "I think they've dedicated themselves to having a great year. It's very important for the seniors to understand that it's their team. They're going to be remembered for whatever we do this year." The Terrapins were a major disappointment last season.

Leonard Hamilton, Florida State: "I remember all the way back when I was coaching at Kentucky, we would graduate seniors and people would always say they were glad that those guys graduated. And most times our sophomores would end up playing as well as those that just graduated. I think it's the same with the ACC. The league continues to bring in quality players and by the end of the season, you forget about those statements made about how down the league was going to be because of who left." The ACC had seven players taken in the first round of the NBA Draft, and two more in the second round.

Mike Krzyzewski, Duke: "I really try not to have a rival with anybody, except with us on what we can do. I wouldn't say we get into a recruiting thing with any one school because we recruit nationally. … Just when we're playing (UNC), that's all that I think about them. I think about winning a championship." Duke and UNC have what is viewed by many as the best rivalry in all of sports.

Seth Greenberg, Virginia Tech: "We were number one in the country in attendance increase and the year before we were sixth in the country, so there's an excitement and energy and enthusiasm and people are talking about basketball." Virginia Tech is generally regarded as a football school. The Hokies are currently ranked third in the country.

Skip Prosser, Wake Forest: "He's doing well. He's a guy who walked away from the game, perhaps not at the exact time of his own choosing, but somebody who walked away with integrity intact, was successful in terms of wins and losses, and I think he's at piece with himself with what he did as a teacher and coach. I think he'll be extremely successful as a broadcaster. … He's the kind of guy that should be a college basketball coach. His priorities are extremely well placed." One of Prosser's best friends is Pete Gillen, who was fired from Virginia following last season. Top Stories