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(03/07/06 9:00am)

Three games into the ACC season, Boston College was wishing it was still in the Big East, having dropped three straight games to then-No. 21 Maryland, Georgia Tech and then-No. 18 N.C. State. Since losing at home to the Wolfpack Jan. 10, the No. 11 Eagles have gone 11-2 in the conference, including an 81-74 road win over North Carolina Jan. 25 and a 74-72 double-overtime victory at N.C. State Feb. 25. "I just think we have a better feel for the league and the league has a better feel for us," Eagle head coach Al Skinner said. "I think our guys have really settled in to what their roles are going to be." Despite the play of senior All-ACC first teamer, Craig Smith, and junior forward Jared Dudley, who earned All-ACC second team honors, Skinner said his team's success has been the result of strong play by his underclassmen. "Yes, we had a core of individuals who were returning that had a lot of playing experience, but we also had five so-called first-year players who were looking to get experience," Skinner said. "We were going to get better as they got better and they have as the season went along." Boston College's core has remained strong all season-it was the only ACC team to start the same lineup in every game. As for his players' first appearances in the ACC Tournament, Skinner said that coming from the Big East, they understand the level of intensity. "This class would like to initially try to have some impact on what our initial season [in the ACC] is," Skinner said, "as far as the record books are concerned." The Eagles have already left a mark in the ACC record books with their 11-5 conference record, tying the 1991-92 Florida State team for the best league record by a team in its first season entering the conference.


(02/07/06 9:00am)

This time two years ago, Georgia Tech was in the hunt for an ACC regular-season title. This year, the Yellow Jackets are still searching for their third win against a conference opponent and have lost seven straight games in the ACC. And with remaining contests against three of the league's top four teams, it is not going to get any easier for the struggling Yellow Jackets. "We're obviously trying to stay as upbeat as possible-that's the only choice we have," head coach Paul Hewitt said. "Are we disappointed? Absolutely we're disappointed. Should we be playing better? No question." If there is any consolation for Georgia Tech, it's that the team is very young. Twelve of the 14 players on the Yellow Jacket's roster are either freshmen or sophomores. And they seem to be maturing, as the team has started to play more competitively against its conference foes. Georgia Tech came up just short against Boston College Jan. 29 and Virginia Tech Jan. 31, falling to the Eagles by two points and to the Hokies by one. Of the Yellow Jacket's young players, sophomore forward Ra'Sean Dickey has recently emerged as the team's greatest offensive threat. Dickey is averaging 14.6 points and 7.8 rebounds in the last eight games while shooting 60-percent from the field over the course of the season. "He still does have some things to work on.... He'll be the first to tell you that," Hewitt said of Dickey. "But he's just more prepared for what each opponent's going to try to do, and I think that's why you've seen his stats improve in the last few games." One of the criticisms of Dickey's play since high school, however, is his tendency not to show up for every game. "I think Ra'Sean is a bright enough kid to see that he needs to become more consistent," Hewitt said. "At the same time, he's a young player with an awful lot of talent. Again you see improvement and you see him getting better. He's taking care of the ball better. Over the last eight to 10 ball games, I think he's done a nice job."