2004-05 ACC Hoops: Premature Prognostications

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No. 1? Probably the Demon Deacons, not the Cavaliers

Let’s start with the assumption that Duke will play the 2004-05 season without Luol Deng and Shaun Livingston, and J.R. Smith won’t show up in Chapel Hill. (The three have until June 17 to pull out of the NBA draft, but don’t hold your breath.) That means the ACC is Wake Forest’s for the taking. It won’t be easy, but with the season a mere six months away, the Demon Deacons are the clear favorite in the first year of this bloated, 11-team (soon to be 12-team) conference.

Where will Virginia fit in? Probably somewhere in the middle of the pack. (Right above the Wolfpack, it says here.)

1. Wake Forest Demon Deacons

2003-2004: 21-9, 9-7 ACC (tied for third); ACC tournament quarterfinals; NCAA Sweet 16

Who’s gone: No one of consequence

Who’s back: 5 starters and 98 percent of last year’s minutes, led by PG Chris Paul (14.9 ppg, 2.2 a/to ratio, 2.7 stl, 46.4 3-pt%), G Justin Gray (16.8 ppg), F Jamaal Levy (10.3 ppg, 8.4 rpg), C Eric Williams (12.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg), F Vytas Danelius (6.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg), G Taron Downey (10.3 ppg, 1.96 a/to ratio), G/F Trent Strickland (6.5 ppg), C Kyle Visser (4.7 ppg), PF Chris Ellis (1.4 rpg)

Who’s new: F Cameron Stanley (fr), F Jeremy Thompson (fr)

3 questions: 1) Anyone here feel like playing a little defense? 2) Can Levy and Williams play at an all-ACC level? 3) Is Danelius planning to contribute anything this season?

2. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

2003-2004: 28-10, 9-7 ACC (tied for third); ACC tournament semifinals; NCAA runner-up

Who’s gone: SG Marvin Lewis (11.0 ppg, 39.8 3-pt%), F Clarence Moore (5.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg), F Robert Brooks (1.4 ppg)

Who’s back: 4 starters and 73 percent of last year’s minutes, led by G/F B.J. Elder (14.9 ppg, 37.4 3-pt%), PG Jarrett Jack (12.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.8 a/to ratio, 1.95 stl), F Isma’il