GREENSBORO, N.C. — GREENSBORO, N.C. -- When asked about the coming Atlantic Coast Conference basketball season, Clemson coach Oliver Purnell said exactly what this year's media poll predicted before it was released yesterday: "North Carolina and the rest of us."
The Tar Heels were unanimously picked to finish first in the league by the 64 media members who voted on media day, and the team's junior forward Tyler Hansbrough was chosen as the ACC Preseason Player of the Year.
North Carolina coach Roy Williams said he writes team goals on index cards and stashes them under the glass top on his desk. After last year's 31-7 season, the cards have multiplied, but Williams said he'll never write down a national championship.
" ... I hope we win a national championship, but to put that and say this is what we have to do or the season's a failure, I'm not going to do that."
UNC won the ACC regular-season title, the ACC tournament and came within an overtime loss of a berth in the Final Four last season. Despite all of the hype, other coaches in the ACC haven't conceded anything to North Carolina. Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg said the league is strong enough to earn seven bids to the NCAA tournament.
"The league is more than Tyler Hansborough and North Carolina," he said.
Delaney in spotlight
Virginia Tech's five scholarship freshmen will play significant roles this season, Greenberg said yesterday, including Baltimore native and Towson Catholic star guard Malcolm Delaney.
"He's really got a very high basketball IQ," Greenberg said. "He understands the game. He understands the hows and whys. He probably uses screens as well as any freshman that I've had. Obviously, he needs to continue to get stronger. I'm really pleased with him. I think he's going to be a terrific player."
Delaney, 6 feet 2 and 175 pounds, who can run the offense or play on the wing, was The Sun's All-Metro Player of the Year after he led Towson Catholic to the Baltimore Catholic League and MIAA titles as a senior.
Shooting for respect
He laughed when he said it, but Miami coach Frank Haith has no problem reminding Baltimore native Jack McClinton every day that "nobody wanted him" during the recruiting process.
"He's got that toughness about him," Haith said of the Hurricanes' leading scorer and the league's top three-point shooter last year. "I don't want Jack to ever lose that. That gives him his competitive edge."
Even after a successful season as a redshirt sophomore in which he started 22 games, averaged 16.7 points and made 44 percent of his three-pointers, McClinton said he still plays as if he has something to prove.
"My whole life, I never really got the respect I deserve," he said. "I came from high school not recruited. My high school coach told me I couldn't play D-I basketball. All that stuff was just fuel to my fire. I want to prove doubters wrong."
Elmore on grad rate
When former Terp Len Elmore first heard about the 0 percent graduation rate for the Maryland men's basketball team, he said his first thought was, "Uh oh, here we go again."
Elmore said yesterday, though, that there is more to it, and had he been measured by the NCAA's six-year window, he wouldn't have made it because he withdrew from school early to increase his draft prospects.
"I would rather see it where the graduation rate is 100 percent," said Elmore, who eventually graduated and earned a law degree from Harvard. "I would rather see the academic progress rate meeting standards, but in the end, you still have to judge how these people turn out in life."
Elmore also said it makes a difference whether the players who didn't graduate were on track to do so when they decided to leave and pursue professional careers.
"That would make this a different argument," he said. "I don't know the answer to that. If they were on pace to graduate and just didn't come back, the institution has done its job. ... If they weren't on pace to graduate, the argument is somewhat valid."