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Notes from the ACC Coaches Teleconference: 3/4/12. Coaches gets defensive.

Coaches from around the conference, including Miami Head Coach Jim Larranaga, spoke to the media about the state's of their respective teams, as well as looking ahead to this week's games. This week, defensive prowess was a theme of the call.


Coach L called Ryan Kelly's performance for Duke "remarkable", but said his team was excited to return home Wednesday night against Georgia Tech.

On his team's defensive prowess:

"First of all, Durand Scott is just a tremendous competitor, and he concentrates more on defense than almost any player that I've had, and he just works relentlessly. He wants to always guard the other team's best perimeter player, and he takes great pride in his defense.

I think Shane Larkin has done a terrific job of being our catalyst at the defensive end of the floor with the number of steals that he gets. I think he's either leading the league or very, very close to
it right now. Kenny Kadji has blocked a lot of shots this year and gotten a lot of defensive rebounds."

On Miami's Seniors:

"Being around these guys has been a joy for me. I think Durand Scott has just been a treasure here. He's such a unique individual. His toughness, he just radiates confidence in himself and brings out confidence in his teammates.

Trey McKinney Jones really gambled by leaving UMKC and coming to the ACC and playing
at the highest level of college basketball and yet has moved into our starting lineup and done a
fantastic job, can really shoot the ball, very, very high character. He's working on his Master's

Kenny Kadji is also a transfer student who I think has improved dramatically throughout the
course of his career and really has adjusted and made the transition to a new coaching staff very,
very well. Julian Gamble I think is the story of our team because of his torn ACL and not played and
being in his sixth year working on his Master's Degree, and his toughness in the post defensively,
rebounding wise running and scoring and around the basket has been one of the major reasons
we've enjoyed the success we have.

And then Reggie Johnson has overcome probably more adversity than probably any player
last year and then this year with injuries, suspensions and more injuries and now having to
come in off the bench for a major portion of his senior year.

It is a great group of guys I have been very lucky to have coached."

On the rest of the call, Defense continued to be stressed. And if the notes below are any indication, Durand Scott could be earmarked for Defensive Player of the Year.

Notes from the rest of the ACC:

  • Wake Forest Coach Jeff Bzdelik spoke up intensity and passion being the key to finishing strong, stressing, "The offense doesn't make the player, the player makes the offense." Bzdelik also praised the improvement of Devin Thomas and noted they would need a similar performance to the one Thomas gave on 1/22, to defeat NC State again this Wednesday.
  • James Johnson of Virginia Tech praised his team's win over Clemson on Senior night. Johnson was particularly concerned with defending Ryan Kelly in this week's match-up with Duke. He also noted that star guard Erick Green would probably spend less time guarding Seth Curry this time around in an effort to save Green's energy. Johnson mentioned Durand Scott of Miami, Tyler Thornton of Duke, Alex Len of Maryland, Joe Harris of UVA, and Dexter Strickland of UNC as the defenders in conference that have stood out.
  • Virginia's Tony Bennett talked about his team needing to be resilient after losing to BC. Bennett stressed not only needing wins to get a 1st round bye in the ACC Tournament, but also the need to play well during the critical stretch. He also mentioned Durand Scott of UM when asked the league's best defenders.
  • Mark Gottfried of NC State praised CJ Leslie's play and mentioned that he had talked to Leslie about consistency and the "responsibility to play well every night." Gottfried stressed that slowing down Thomas would be a key this time around against Wake, and said Thomas would be one of the best interior players in the conference in coming years.
  • Roy Williams of North Carolina was happy with his team's improvement but said they still have a way to go. Williams talked about better communication as the key to improving UNC's team defense. About PJ Hairston's improved shooting, better footwork was given as a key reason. On Michael Jordan, "His ability to control the ball in the air, and he could jump off both feet, there was no hole in his game in terms of his acrobatic play in the air." When sked about the best defenders in the conference Williams mentioned Kenny Kadji of Miami, Mason Plumlee of Duke, and Joe Harris of UVA. For his own team, he praised Reggie Bullock.
  • Maryland's Mark Turgeon praised his team's mental toughness, in their road win over Wake Forest. Turgeon said Alex Len was his team's best defender around the rim, but Pe'shon Howard was the most fundamentally sound on defense.
  • Brian Gregory of Georgia Tech gave credit to his seniors for helping move the program forward. Daniel Miller was praised as a defensive anchor. Gregory stressed that Miller needed more credit but that winning more games would help. He also mentioned Miami's Julian Gamble among the league's top defenders.
  • Leonard Hamilton of Florida State talked about his own team's defensive struggles and stressed that the youth of the team has been an issue. He stressed that Michael Snaer has not dropped off defensively but that team concepts have not been as good as last year. Hamilton also mentioned Durand Scott as a top individual in the conference defensively.
  • Mike Krzyzewski, Duke's legendary coach,was still in awe of Ryan Kelly's performance Saturday night. Kelly's defense was also praised, as Coach K noted he did a great job on Ohio State's Deshaun Thomas earlier in the year. He noted that Kelly was sore but ok following his first game back.
  • Brad Brownell, of Clemson looked forward to honoring his seniors Milton Jennings and Devin Booker. Brownell called Booker "blue collar" and said he was having an ALL ACC type year. Jennings consistency and improvement was also stressed as a key to the team. KJ McDaniels was mentioned as doubtful for this Tuesday's game with an ankle sprain. Rod Hall came to mind when asked the best defensive players on his own squad.
  • Steve Donahue, of Boston College mentioned Joe Rahon as a potential defensive anchor. Donahue said that Rahon played Virginia star Joe Harris "as good as any player in the league." Eddie Odio was also praised he his defensive prowess.