Louisville fired coach Rick Pitino in the aftermath of the ongoing federal investigation into college basketball corruption, and the man taking his place is former assistant David Padgett. Players at ACC Media Day said Wednesday that practice has been easier under Padgett than it was with Pitino, but Padgett said he’s just trying to deal with the situation still only a few weeks in. “The players need to be reassured,” he said, “that something good is going to happen that will help them have a good year.”
▪ Grayson Allen, now a senior captain at Duke, has played with a litany of one-and-done players in his three years in Durham, but he said he never considered making the early jump himself and always thought of himself as staying four years. “That’s exactly what I thought was going to happen,” Allen said. “Always dreamt of playing at Duke for four years.”
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▪ Rough luck for North Carolina point guard Joel Berry, whose broken shooting hand is expected to keep him out for four weeks. Wednesday we learned how he sustained the injury: he punched a door after losing a video game to teammate Theo Pinson. When asked which game it was, coach Roy Williams said he didn’t know, but also added that he, “doesn’t know any of the games.”
▪ Clemson had one of the more interesting – and scary –encounters of any team this offseason. They went on a basketball tour of Spain, but outside their hotel in Barcelona on Aug. 17, a van drove into a crowd of people and killed 13. Clemson forward Donte Grantham said he was outside the hotel minutes before the crash. “At the time I didn’t really understand what was going on,” Grantham said. “But after the fact, when you really think about it and you see how tragic it was ... Words can’t describe it.”
▪ If you’re looking for a dark horse pick to win the ACC this season, Miami is probably your best bet. The Hurricanes, led by a former five-star recruit in guard Bruce Brown Jr., should be picked to finish near the top of the conference. They also added another five-star recruit in Lonnie Walker, so their backcourt should be among the conference’s best.
▪ Notre Dame forward Bonzie Colson will earn votes as the ACC’s Preseason Player of the Year (for good reason – he led the conference in double-doubles last season and was named a third-team All-American), but somehow he’ll have to do even more for the Fighting Irish as a senior. The team lost two of its top four scorers, but Colson sounds up to the challenge. “That's just something my parents raised me,” Colson said. “Playing every game like it's your last, going out there, playing hard and just playing with that edge and that swagger.”
▪ Dwayne Bacon has been impressive so far as a rookie for the Charlotte Hornets, but based on his productivity at Florida State (he led the team in scoring last season with 17.2 points per game), it isn’t too shocking to see him getting buckets. How the Seminoles replace his points is one of the biggest questions facing coach Leonard Hamilton.
▪ It was a shocking offseason for Virginia, who saw three players (Darius Thompson, Marial Shayok, and Jarred Reuter) transfer out of the program and another (London Perrantes) graduate. The Cavaliers may not be among the ACC’s elite anymore, but it’ll be up to seniors Devon Hall and Isaiah Wilkins to corral a young team into playing shape. “We're going to try,” Hall said, “to do as best as possible.”