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Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Heels take the title

How many different ways did Sean May beat Illinois last night? How about running the court on fast break dunks and dishing off to his teammates? How drawing a double team and kicking it back out to Rashad McCants for a three-pointer? How about his good hands under the board? And, oh yeah, he just powered his way to the basket, maybe once or twice. With another college season refining his skills, May will be the best big man entering the NBA since Tim Duncan. He simply did it all last night.

The N&O's Luciana Chavez:

"...May kept delivering; in one three 3 1/2 miunute stretch, it was all May all the time."

The Kansas City Star's Jason King, (via the Charlotte Observer):

"..May saved his best performance for the game's most crucial moments. Illinois..whittled North Carolina's 15-point lead to 52-50 after Roger Powell Jr.'s layup with 12 minutes, 43 seconds remaining. But May responded with a three-point play on North Carolina's next possession. Illinois failed to score on its next trip down the court, and May made them pay again, this time using a power dribble to break free under the basket. Just like that, the Tar Heels surged back ahead by seven, 57-50."

May's contribution wasn't just physical, as WSJ's Lenox Rawlings points out:

"Every time the Tar Heels started to demonstrate joy, May and Coach Williams ordered them into calm seriousness, even with 9.9 seconds left. That intangible effort supplemented May's compelling show..."

ESPN's Pat Forde:

The Heels "couldn't have gotten done without May. The powerhouse center had a Bill Walton Lite stat line, making 10-of-11 shots, scoring 26 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. But his stats actually bore an even stronger resemblance to his dad's performance in leading Indiana to the 1976 national title. Both scored 26 points, and both were named the tournament Most Outstanding Player."

I'll give Illinois credit for making the game as close as they did. I don't think I've ever seen a team play "three-ball" the way Illini do, with crisp passing and quick shooting.

But is there now any doubt that success on the basketball court "centers" around a quality big man?

Sunday, April 03, 2005

1-2 punch

Jawad steps up, Sean May hunkers down.

So Carolina knows what it has to do. The question is, will Illinois, which has lived by the three-point shot, be able to handle the Heels inside?

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Did you hear?

The hype builds......

ESPN's experts make their picks.

Charlotte Observer poll on which team will win the Final Four. Go ahead and click on the results.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Crash the glass

It's going to be rough for Sean May under the boards.

At least May knows it. He said this about Michigan State:

"These guys attack the glass better than anybody. Their guards attack the glass."

With this in mind, May will be Carolina's most important player on Saturday.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Bad barbeque

Duke fan David Jackson grudgingly gives Carolina its due for making it to the Final Four. That said, he'll be pulling for Michigan State on Saturday.

'Fess up, Carolina fans: How many of you were pulling for Connecticut in last year's semifinal?

Monday, March 28, 2005

Relax and worry

Two different columnists offer radically different analyses of Carolina's return to the Final Four.

As only he can, the N&R's Ed Hardin pooh-poohs the Tar Heels' party. Fair enough: In 13 trips to the Final Four, the Heels have one only three titles, and in all his trips to the Final Four, Roy Williams has zero titles.

Hardin:

"His players know that...and they'll add that baggage to their pile of pressure before the trip later this week."

On the other hand, the N&O's Caulton Tudor says that while the pressure to win titles at Carolina is in the coach's job description,

"Williams should be allowed to relax and enjoy the ride that he's earned. Getting (to the Final Four), in this case, was the ultimate journey for the Carolina program that Williams was handed."

I was also struck by the fact that Matt Doherty's name came up in both columns, although in very different contexts.

Hardin says the Doherty era is now officially forgotten:

"There was no mention of Matt Doherty in the postgame celebration."

Tudor, on the other hand, pays homage to Doherty:

"Doherty's last team, even without (Sean) May most of the season, began to show signs of recovery and finished a competitive 19-16.

"But equally true is the fact that under doherty, the devotion to detail had slipped. Much of it wasn't his fault as coach. He had what amounted to a freshman and sophomore team that was grasping for direction. Doherty just didn't have the experience and coaching background to set that direction properly."

So is the monkey off the Tar Heels' back, or will nothing short of a title restore the faith of the Carolina blue crowd?

Sunday, March 27, 2005

I know I'm slack, but a man has to visit his mother once in a while. All she has is dial up......