Players Talk Parity

By Josh Herwitt - October 21, 2007

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Select players from each conference school are meeting with the media before we get a crack at the coaches in a few minutes, and while the North Carolina table featuring Tyler Hansbrough and Marcus Ginyard seemed to be the popular choice, there's been plenty of talk about parity throughout the ACC.

And after last season saw seven ACC teams earn bids to the NCAA Tournament, there's reason to believe it could happen again with the veterans returning and the young talent coming in across the league.

"You never know," concurred Virginia Tech forward Deron Washington, who saw the Hokies take out Duke twice and North Carolina once last season before earning a first-round win in the NCAA Tournament.

"It's so unpredictable. You just got to take every play one at a time."

Yes, the Hokies, along with Georgia Tech and Boston College, lost some critical pieces to their teams, but in talking with several different players over the last hour, there's that same cliche resurfacing that it's anyone's game in the ACC.

Take, for example, the Yellow Jackets' Anthony Morrow, who last season hit 41.8 percent from three-point land.

"That's what's so great about the ACC," the 6-foot-5 senior said. "Everybody is good. There's talent everywhere. Once you see that everyone around you is just as good or better, you really have to work on your game day in and day out."

Georgia Tech will have to replace the departures of freshmen phenoms Thaddeus Young and Jarvis Crittendon, the team's top two scorers who are now playing in the NBA, and Morrow will have to factor into the equation this season if head coach Paul Hewitt hopes to have his team competing in a conference that's been widely known for a long time as college basketball's best.

"We have a lot more experience than we had in the past," Morrow added. "Guys are stepping up. Even though we lost two great players, everyone is coming together. We know what to expect."

So do the Eagles of Boston College, who also lost two major keystone players in Jared Dudley and Sean Williams. Both are now in the NBA, leaving head coach Al Skinner with a frontcourt that will need to up its production if BC wants to stay within striking distance again of an NCAA Tournament berth.

But the Eagles do bring back Tyrese Rice, and after finishing sixth in the conference in scoring last year at 17.6 points to along with 3.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists, the junior point guard is expecting even bigger things from himself.

"I've never put pressure on myself," he said. "If I score more points, I score more points. I'm gonna do whatever I have to do so we can win games."

That doesn't mean Rice will be forced to take more shots, but he will have to be more efficient from the floor by being patient and waiting to take good shots out of BC's halfcourt sets.

And though Boston College might not be getting a lot of pub right now with North Carolina being the preseason favorite and Duke adding a talented freshmen trio to its roster, the Eagles have been there before and are fine sneaking up on people before getting the attention they deserve.

That's in large part due to the fact that freshmen are entering starting lineups at the start of the college basketball season even more often these days, leaving the veterans feeling a little outnumbered on the court.

"With all the freshmen coming in, I definitely feel old, and I'm only a junior," Rice remarked. "Freshmen are starting to take over the game, but the veterans gotta step it up."

Posted by Josh Herwitt at 01:43 PM on October 21, 2007

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