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Monday, February 28, 2005

No Giant Eggs

Thad Williamson: "Make no mistake, this was the Duke-killing Maryland team that Carolina faced Sunday night, not the inscrutable outfit that laid giant turtle-sized eggs at home to Clemson and N.C. State. Yet at the end of the day, Carolina--minus Rashad McCants--went on the road, took a top 30-caliber team's absolute best shot, and still came out on top."

The winner is.......

...Taron Downey.

Wake Forest 90 Virginia 68

Did Skip Prosser know the Oscars were on later in the evening, or was his imagery just a coincidence?

"Ray Charles could see that Taron Downey is a heck of a basketball player. But I am surprised when people are surprised that Taron plays well. Maybe that's because I watch him every day in practice, and I've watched him play for four years at a very tough spot. He has acquitted himself. We don't win every game, but he has led us to a pretty good winning percentage of winning some basketball games in a very demanding conference."

The game was overly physical, coming to a head when Elton Brown drove a forearm into Chris Paul's back after Paul was fouled by Sean Singletary.

The expression on Prosser's face said it all as he drew his first technical of the season. For what it's worth, Dan Bonner was livid, and said in no uncertain terms that Brown should have been thrown out of the game.

Paul sums up Virginia's offensive strategy, which will cost Pete Gillen his job at the end of the season:

"They'd push the ball up the court, then they'd try to play '21', where they'd stand out there, dribbling the shot clock down and pretty much shot a 3."

The beast

Maryland plays Carolina tough. Good enough?

Gary Williams doesn't think so. He

"doesn't want to rely on a narrow loss to North Carolina to impress the NCAA selection comittee."

The most encouraging sign for Carolina: Sean May continues to step up inside, producing his sixth consecutive double-double, not to mention the game saving block on Mike Jones.

Maryland's Chris McCray sums it up:

"Sean May was a beast inside."

The Herald-Sun's Neil Amato:

Jones "was met in the lane by May, who went up and made the sort of athletic play his heavier, less-rested self wouldn't have done in the past."

Roy Williams joked around before praising May's work ethic:

"He's about as athletic as a small elephant. Nah, he worked hard. He does have better bounce, he does have quicker reactions, he does have a lower percentage of body fat. You get those things done because you work at it. He really did. We'd have weight sessions at 4 (p.m.) and he'd come in at 8 in the morning and get another one."

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Names...

Woody Durham interviews Michael Wilbon at halftime. Wilbon floats Tubby Smith as a replacement for Pete Gillen........

Daylight?

Meanwhile, State looks engergized against Virginia Tech.

The N&O's Chip Alexander:

"After a solid 74-54 victory over Virginia Tech on Saturday, the Pack believes it's still there, still visible, still obtainable with two games left in the regular season. The NCAA Tournament, that is."

Two things......

"State's Julius Hodge was limited to eight points and had an ice pack on his right hand after the game. But the senior had eight rebounds and five assists and didn't let a poor offensive game affect his defense."

.....Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg sums up the Pack:

"We played a great team that is finally healthy. They are playing at a great level and they run their defense so well.....They had a sense of urgency......

As for Tech, Aaron McFarling writes the Hokies picked a bad time for a bad day:

"Since entering ACC play, the Hokies have surprised us, impressed us, wowed us, thrilled us. Rarely have they bored us. But there's no other way to describe Tech's 74-54 loss at N.C. State. The game was a big, fat, gnat-sucking yawn. and that's surprising considering how much was at stake."

Du-du

Duke beats St. John's but looks like you-know-what in the process. Not a good time for the Devils to look sluggish?

It's also been a long, tough week for Duke, as the Herald-Sun's Bryan Strickland notes:

"Following two draining practices late last week on the heels of back-to-back losses, the Blue Devils willed their way past Wake Forest last Sunday. Wednesday brought a physical test against Georgia Tech, and Thursday brought the news that (Sean) Dockery could be lost for the season with a torn medial collateral ligament in his knee."

The N&O's Luciana Chavez writes:

"Twelve days from the start of the ACC Tournament, Duke shot 31.4 percent and played more like it was drained from a long week rather than energized with March just around the corner."

K credits the defense:

"One thing that has been good about our teams, and this one in particular: If the offense isn't going, they've still played well defensively."

No matter how far they travel, the Blue Devils can't escape the Tar Heels:

"(Daniel) Ewing struggled with his new role — or least struggled with his shooting, missing his first nine shots to the delight of a courtside heckler dressed in North Carolina gear from head to toe."

Friday, February 25, 2005

OK?

The N&O's Robbi Pickeral reports on the re-release of the ACC hoops schedule, and "this time it works."

It does? Again Wake and Carolina don't play home and home until 06-07, while State and Duke don't play home-and-home until '07-'08.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Bubble talk....

...from SI's Luke Winn.

State makes the "major conference bubble teams beyond the Top 10," but Maryland is nowhere to be found. That must mean the Terps are in, right?

Feeling better.....

...but does Rashad McCants really need to play against Maryland?

Devils leave Tech feeling blue

Duke 60 Georgia Tech 56

Duke's hustle overcomes poor shooting and foul trouble.

Lee Melchionni:

"When everything is going wrong, you still fight through and get a win."

In spite of the physical play, Daniel Ewing gets the "T" for grabbing his jersey and puffing it out after dunking.

Paul Hewitt, on Duke:

"If they're not a No. 1 seed, I'll have to find out who is."

"And now, Tech is hoping, as the season winds down, that the NCAA will bail the Jackets out and put them in the tournament."

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

What does a coach have to do?

Leornard Hamilton has problems of his own down in Tallahassee:

"I've been coachng since 1971, and this team has been more puzzling to me than any other team I've been associated with....It's never really anything bad- just enough issues to keep you from growing. We started the season off without the full compliment of players due to discipline issues, and it looks as though we will finish the season the same way."

McCantsless

UNC 81 N.C. State 71

The Pack gives it the old college try, but just isn't good enough.

The N&R's Ed Hardin questions Herb Sendek's decision to bench Andrew Brackman after he sparked a rally with ten minutes left:

"State's only surge of the second half was provided by freshman Andrew Brackman, who came into the game and scored eight straight points for the Wolfpack. Sendek then took him out.....Sendek's substitution pattern has been questioned at times this season, in part because he's had to make so many injury decisions and because so many of his players have disappeared this year. A few more went missing Tuesday night."

Engin Astur on the Tar Heels:

"They're not the No. 2-ranked team in the country by chance. They're a balanced team. Everybody can step every night. They kept their composure and and made plays."

Not so fast

Clemson 97 Maryland 93

This is the ACC.

The Terps effectively cancel out their sweep of Duke, while the Tigers rack up the most points in team history on the road.

Washington Times's Rick Snider:

"..The Terps are clearly concerned that they have streteched their credibility before the tournament selection committee to the limit."

Nik Caner-Medley:

"It's coming to the point in the season where we'll lose and go home."

Gary Williams, on pulling his starters two minutes into the game:

"I was disgusted. We weren't moving, we weren't doing anythng."

John Gilchrist can't explain his team's up-and-down season:

"I have no idea. That's just the story of our team. We're up and down...This whole year has been so long...We're still trying to put the pieces together. Teams are building chemistry as the year goes along and we're still trying to find our chemistry."

Has Williams given up on his team?

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

For some reason......

.....I lingered over Frank Dascenzo's imagery when describing Wake Forest's defense::

"Wake gives up more driving lanes and passing lanes than that BMW 735i that roared by me Monday morning on I-85."

I'm still thinking...........A Beamer giving up the passing lane........

The other side of the road....

Maryland get what every ACC team needs after a tough win on the road: Clemson at home.

With a win, Maryland clinches a .500 conference record and an NCAA Tournament bid.

Herb on the couch, again

Has there ever been a coach in the history of the ACC that has been psychoanalyzed like Herb Sendek? In two lengthy articles, the N&O's Chip Alexander and the Charlotte Observer's Ken Tysiac take their turns as the Pack heads into yet another crucial game against Carolina.

Perhaps Sendek opens himself to such analysis with lengthy monologues on subjects such as Buddhism:

"No matter what he did, Buddha remained peaceful and nonviolent. Finally, the guy couldn't take it anymore. He said to Buddha, 'I've done everything I possibly could to hurt you, yet you've remained peaceful to me. How do you do it?'"

Alexander:

"Such talk would cause Wolfpack fans to roll their eyes. Why doesn't (Sendek) talk like other coaches? Why can't he be as entertaining as Jim Valvano or as blunt as Norm Sloan or even as folksy as les Robinson — the three NCSU coaches who preceded him?"

Sendek defends the Princeton-style offense, in spite of the fact that many believe Carolina and Wake play more "fan-friendly, up-tempo styles, pushing the ball upcourt and running."

I'll break in here and say that I believe state's offense is very fan-friendly because it's the way the game is meant to be played, with sharp back-door cuts and crisp passing. The problem has been that State hasn't been able to establish their offense all season before the Maryland game.

Finally, Sendek comments on State's weak non-conference schedule. Why not play a Louisville, a Kentucky, a Connecticut, Alexander asks.

"We very well could, I'm not dismissing that in the future. We've talked with people like Kentucky (but) it's not as easy as 'do you want to play?' We've been very aggressive in our calling."

As did Alexander, Tysiac notes that Sendek's personality compares unfavorably to the "magnetic" personalities of the late Jim Valvano and football coach Chuck Amato:

"When N.C. State is winning, his his 3.9 grade-point average from Carnegie Mellon is cited as an example of his genius. When the Wolfpack is losing, detractors question whether somebody that smart can connect with players, fans, recruits."

OK State fans: Give the guy credit for being a deep thinker or to hell with it all?

Monday, February 21, 2005

No home cooking.....

......for Leonard Hamilton and Florida State as B.J. Elder gets the call with 0.4 seconds left.

Jack Corcoran:

"...Georgia Tech, which reached the title game in the NCAA tournament last season but finds itself on the bubble this season, got the call on the road in the last second."

Hamilton on the call:

"I've seen it quite a few times on us. But the one thing good about when you evaluate games, you have it all on tape.....Unfortunately, I just can't comment on them. But I know exactly because i watch them over and over. I have a whole library of situations that I'm keeping on file just for my owen personal use. Not that it would do me any good because I can't say anything about it and I can't show it to anybody."

Paul Hewitt said he thought he saw Elder's arm "get knocked off the ball right in the act of shooting," while Elder said he was thankful for the call.

Apropos?

Duke 102 Wake Forest 92

So was K really trying to shake up his team or was he instructing them on the finer points of thuggery, with a little home cooking thrown in?

Skip Prosser sure is curious:

"Would it have irritated you? I mean, you guys make that call. You saw what was going on out there. I'm not going to comment on that. It was curious."

Chris Paul:

"It's kinda funny when they're pushing and the referees come up and tell me they're watching me. That's just the way it goes sometimes......

"It's obvious what they were trying to do. They were trying to put somebody different on me, and one time I was trying to walk through the elbow (of the lane) and (Davidson) bascially just grabbed me. He wanted me to smack him back, so we'd both get a double foul for something like that, but been there, done that."

Funny, K thought his players were on the receiving end after J.J. Redick was fouled:

"The whistle prompted (K) to angrily tap his own jaw with a fist. Wake's coaching staff apparently took the gesture as an accusation of dirty play, and Demon Deacons associate head coach Jeff Battle jumped off the bench and strated shouting and Krzyzewski."

K and Prosser meet at midcourt to discuss the situation, but Prosser wouldn't reveal the details of the conversation:

"That's between myself and coach. But it was apropos."

OK. So is it apropos to start hating Duke all over again?

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Behind schedule

For all you fans who couldn't figure out how tradition and expansion coexist in a 12-team ACC, don't feel bad, the ACC hasn't figured it out yet, either.

D'oh! "An hour after releasing the next three years' worth of conference matchups in men's basketball Thursday, the ACC acknowledged the schedules were wrong and now must rethink its format for 12 members."

N&R editorialist Doug Clark has a plan: "Carolina, Duke, Wake and State would fast break out of the ACC ..."

Friday, February 18, 2005

He's alive

After a long post on the "State" of his Terps, Turtle Soup says

"I'm off to San Diego for an extended weekend. I need a break from this team. I'm not sure I will be able to get the Virginia game out there, and frankly I'm not sure if I want to."

V-Tech beats Duke

Virgina Tech 64 Duke 62

Herald Sun coverage

Roanoke Times coverage

N&O coverage

The Hokies continue to play aggressively inside and get to the ball quickly. I'm not saying they'll win the ACC Tournament, but they'll certainly mix things up a bit.

Cassell Coliseum public address announcer:

"Whoever has the jersey of Zabian McDowell, please return that immediately! It's the only one we have. Thank you."

Thursday, February 17, 2005

If not Herb....

Marc Amazon can't believe what he's hearing from State fans: If missing the NCAA Tournament means getting rid of Herb Sendek, then so be it.

But what bothers Amazon even more is he's not hearing a "Plan B." Pack fans are eager to get rid of Herb, but they're not floating any names. So Amazon floated a couple: Frank Haith and Nate McMillan. Then a Carolina fan called and threw out Rick Barnes' name.

Let's hear it, Pack fans: Who do you want to see roaming the sidelines at the RBC Center next season?

Shoush & Co.

State 82 Maryland 63

The Sewer Rat, inspired by a surpirse visit from his bro, leads State to a crucial victory over Maryland, just one day after a particular N&O pundit calls for Herb Sendek's resignation.

The Pack finally plays "NC State basketball," molving the ball well, hitting the back-door man, attacking the basket, "hitting on all cylinders," as Sendek said.

Meanwhile, Gary Williams points the finger at his players:

"This is on the players. I worked hard to get ready for this game. You ask the players why they weren't ready to play. It's very frustrating....Players have to do it. I've coached a long time. I know what it takes to do it. The people that play have to get it done. It's as simple as that."

Somebody please check on Turtle Soup. He didn't make a post last night. In light of the Terps' performance in a game on which the season depended, we fear he may have done harm to himself.

Beating the spread

Well, it wasn't quite the old Four Corners that Virginia played at the Dean Dome, but they did try to slow Carolina down a bit, and it worked for a while. The Heels responded with some sharp half-court play -- I'd say Gillen did them a favor by offering the chance to work on that part of their game.

McCants was superb in ways that went beyond numbers. He attacked the hoop instead of relying on his jumper, and the assist off the fake to Jawad Williams was SportsCenter-worthy. Lot of fine performances on a night when Marvin sat out with a bum toe. Sean May continues to impress.

UVA, well, when the announcers are bragging on the fact that you're not down 50 this time, I guess that shows both progress and problems. Forbes looked good, and they hung tough for a while and then hung around for a while longer, but this team was not there to win.

Retro Night. Eh. Mildly amusing for a few minutes, fun to see Len Elmore in his 'fro wig, but you know what? ACC basketball is compelling enough that it doesn't need gimmicks, especially ones that are game-length commercials for ESPN Classic.

Curiouser and curiouser

N&R's Jim Young: "That's what the ACC season has been like so far. Every time you think you have an answer, the questions keep changing."

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The man in the mirror

The N&O's Caulton Tudor strongly suggests that Herb Sendek resign if he can't salvage State's season:

"But if N.C. State can't finish strong enough to get back to the NCAA Tournament, the smart move by Sendek would be to resign. The alternative would be a year in a purgatory of fan resentment and constant speculation.....If he can't salvage this season, Sendek should look in the mirror and consider a new direction."

The irony, Tudor writes, is next season could actually provide a bit of hope for State and its fans:

"Even with a bad finish, the Pack could be looking forward to the 2005-06 season in a conference gutted by the loss of several of its stars, including non-seniors who jump to the NBA. At least a dozen players, such as maryland's John Gilchrist, Georgia Tech's Jarrett Jack, North Carolina's Rashad McCants and Wake Forest's Chris Paul, have to be thinking about early departures."

State fans are clamoring for Sendek's head, but that's not going to happen. Sendek's going to have to fall on the sword. true, the Pack has lost quite a bit of respect this season. But so have some other ACC teams. And nobody respects a quitter. Right?

Wake 'D's up'

Wake Forest 68 Miami 63

Skip Prosser:

"Much has been written about our deficiencies defensively. And much has been written, for that matter. Our guys are cognizant of the fact that if we want to have a special season -it's already been special- and continue to play, that the variable, if you will. Usually we can score. And tonight, when we didn't, I think our defense carried the day."

Meanwhile, Miami remains on the bubble.

The Sun-Sentinel's Omar Kelly:

"Would haves could haves and should haves were all Miami was left with, along with the distaste of letting a potential upset that could have sealed an NCAA Tournament berth slip away."

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The bigger picture, part II

Here's the question, ACC-wise: Who's a number one seed right now, and what can they do to mess it up?

The bigger picture.....

So just how many NCAA bids will the ACC get? The Roanoke Times' Mark Berman breaks it down.

Berman's list:

Safe bets (make that "sure" bets): Wake, Carolina, Duke;

Hopefuls: Maryland, Miami and Georgia Tech;

Long shots: Virginia, State, Virginia Tech

Clemson and Florida State will just have to win the tournament to get in.

Further south, AJC's Jack Wilkinson takes a look at the bigger NCAA picture, with a lot of ACC mixed in. (OK, it couldn't be any other way.)

Wikinson's "most likely" top four seeds? Illinois, Carolina, Kansas and Boston College.

ACC Bracketology

The N&R's Jeff Carlton analyzes the expanded ACC Tournament bracket. It appears as though more than one "contender" is going to have to win four games not just to win the tournament, but to move on to the NCAA.

Meanwhile, the Durham Herald-Sun's Frank Dascenzo focuses exclusively on the jockeying at the top of the pack.

Not so crazy about the Crazies

Cameron Indoor Stadium remains a fearsome place to visit, but these days much of the action in the stands seems to be about the action in the stands. Hey, Dookie V, look at us, we're Crazies!

Being a little too into the wacky rep has been a problem for a while. As this column from 2003 says, "The clever antics of the fans in the stands were cute when Duke was a plucky underdog, but they come off as obnoxious and self-referential when applied to a perennial top-5 team."

Now ESPN's Mike Ogle says Cameron fans have jumped the shark -- they're not just annoying, they're not that good anymore. "Maybe they're too busy with their future-CEO classes to actually care about basketball anymore -- or at least care as much about the hoops as they seem to care about amusing each other."

At the N&R's Sports Extra blog, Jim Young asks, "But what, exactly, does wearing a blazer and a fake afro have to do with Duke basketball?"

And Stuffwriter, an admitted Duke hater, is not impressed with the artistic skills of the body-painters.

Better get a T-O, baybee!

Monday, February 14, 2005

Not too soon.....

....to start thinking about the tournament.

Just in case you're not sure about the bracket...

Nothing to be happy about

N.C. State 53 Georgia Tech 51

State believes it can turn things around, but one look at the box score tells you this was a bad game between two bad teams.

Ilian Evtimov is optimistic:

"It's far from being over. We can turn things around. We've got to believe in ourselves like we did tonight and defend like we did tonight. If so, great things are going to happen for us."

Uh-huh.

The handwriting's on the wall for Tech.

AJC's Rana Cash,doing every thing she can to make this game sound exciting:

"Madness, as in the March variety, could go on this year without Tech, last year's runner-up. It's a stark reality now facing the Jackets, who lost an ACC game at home for the second time this season. More pressing is the ACC Tournament, with Tech vying for a first-round bye."

Paul Hewitt, with the understatement of the year:

"Fourteen wins is not going to be enough to get us into the tournament."

Sunday, February 13, 2005

UNC dogs Huskies

This is the way it's supposed to work: You go on the road to play a good team. You take their measure, play them close. And then in the second half you ratchet up the D, push to a nice lead, withstand a run, and coast to the finish line. Your point guard runs the break and hits a big three, your big man is a big man, you freshman star shines, your scorer in a slump scores on dunks and then hits a key three, and your senior leader leads. I've seen this movie before. And I like it.

Devils cry foul

Maryland 99 Duke 92

N&R's Rob Daniels:

"When Duke finishes a game with three non-scholarship guys on the court, the Blue Devils are generally up by 40, they're generally at home and the contest is generally inconsequential."

While there's no doubt the big play of the game was Ekene Ibekwe's three-point play that put Shelden Williams on the bench, more crucial was Daniel Ewing's technical foul, after he hits a shot, mind you. The tech set up an eight-point Maryland run that pulled the Terps within 73-72.

As impressive as Maryland's sweep of Duke is, they still need to close the deal.

The Washington Times Rick Snider:

"Maryland might need only one or two more wins to seal a postseason bid after knocking Duke off for the second time in 17 days to complete its first regular-season sweep of the Blue Devils in 10 years."

In spite of the emotional nature of the victory, Nik Caner-Medley knows there's still work to be done:

"This wasn't the national championship. If it was, we could celebrate and we could have a good time, but now is not the time to celebrate. You've got to build off this."

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Around the league....Gameday

Major N.C. newspapers take a pass on Hodgegate.....well, that's that.

The Winston-Salem Journal's John DeLong says criticism of Duke is off the mark.

Criticize Duke? Who?

If you didn't know already, J.J. Redick's going to hear it tonight at Comcast Center.

Sebastian Telfair says the $250,000 to attend Georgia Tech may have been a joke.

Skip Prosser has to ask for a better turnout for today's game vs. Florida State.

WSJ's Dan Collins:

"...Prosser asked for more home-crowd support than the Deacons got in Thursday's 86-75 victory over N.C. State. although attendance was announced at 14, 268, the actual crowd appeared to be at least a couple of thousand shy of the Joel Coliseum capacity of 14,665."

Prosser:

"But you would think because it was an in-state game against N.C. State, a team fighting for their NCAA life as well, that it would be better."

Is it me, or is it odd that The Tallahassee Democrat's Jack Corcoan doesn't even bother to assess the Florida State's chances of beating Wake today?

Friday, February 11, 2005

Hodgegate

Marc Amazon at 790 The Ball says something's gotta give between Herb Sendek and Julius Hodge.

In Amazon's view, Hodge, who says he was punished for missing a shootaround because he had an academic obligation, is basically accusing Sendek of placing basketball before academics. If Hodge's story isn't legit, then Sendek, who has a reputation for making his players hit the books, needs to call Hodge out.

Amazon's partner, Bill Kimm, came up with this scenario: Hodge missed the shootaround to fulfill an academic obligation he should have taken care of earlier, which would justify Hodge's bench time.

Tony Haynes was a guest on the show, and he said he knows nothing. It will be interesting to see if this blows up in the mainstream media tomorrow.

Carolina now

They're fine, people.

They lost by a point on the road to a Duke team that turns out to be pretty good. Meanwhile, May and Marvin are getting better each week. McCants will not stay in a shooting slump forever. The real pressure is on Felton. The open question is his ability to control an important game at crunch time. That said, his misplay of the last 18 seconds wouldn't have mattered if he hadn't kept the Tar Heels in the game by scoring quickly on layups down the stretch.

This team is so much better than last year's, and it has plenty of time to mature into something special.

Boo-hoo

So Duke's going to Maryland on Saturday, and vulgar fan behavior is a concern.

You''ll have to pardon us non-Dookies down here on Tobacco Road if we're not all broken up over the situation.

But here's the question: Do the Cameron Crazies get free pass from Dookie V and the rest of the media?

On the couch

Meanwhile, the N&R's Ed Hardin psychoanalyzes Herb Sendek, suggesting that Sendek's 3-7 team has something planned for the rest of the conference down the stretch:

"Once again, Sendek has his team poised for another charge into darkness, another blind run into March with all sorts of things swirling around."

Seeing is believing.

Can't win for losing

After last night's loss at Wake Forest, the N&O's Ned Barnett says

"State can recover. The Pack needs to win five of its next six to retain hopes of making the NCAA or to win the ACC Tournament for an automatic bid. The Pack, despite the loss, showed signs of life Thursday. As they sunk all the way to home loss to Virginia in their last outing,, the question for Pack players going into the Wake game was: Will they quit?"

Last night's loss was probably the ultimate symbol of State's season so far. Julius Hodge, much maligned in the ACC blogosphere this past week, shows his critics a thing or two by having an excellent game, hitting his first ten shots. After he finally entered the game, that is. Would the outcome have been different had Hodge started?

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Last night was last night.....

....and tonight's tonight. What's Wake going to do to State?

Skip Prosser isn't giving Herb Sendek any lip service, then says this:

"Most schools in the country would be thrilled to go to three straight national tournaments. He's done that."

Everybody out there just thrilled to death?

Meanwhile, Julius Hodge ruminates (the word of the week) on his role in the Pack's so-far miserable season.

More Duke-UNC

More analysis and comment from last night's game:

Rashad McCants:

"We played so bad. It's gotta be the worst game I've ever seen, and we almost won. We played even worse than Santa Clara."

Raymond Felton:

"I should have gone to the basket or taken a short pull-up. I didn't take it. Sean wasn't open. Rashad wasn't open. It wasn't a panic, but it was like 'What can I do?'"

Daniel Ewing:

"I don't know about you media guys; I don't if you expected us to lose this game but we came into this game expecting to win."

N.Y. Times' Pete Thamel:

"..Duke has forged an underdog's reputation this year this season thanks to its emphasis on defense an its use of the seven-man rotation."

Good game?

Duke 71 Carolina 70

Neither team looks impressive in the final seconds. J.J. Redick throws up an air ball(!!!), leaving Carolina plenty of time to set up a final shot, which the Tar Heels never get off. Why didn't Duke push it inside to get a better shot and perhaps a foul? Did Raymond Felton take too much time pushing the ball up the court, as Billy Packer suggested?

The N&O's Caulton Tudor sums it up:

"...The uneven performances by the two rivals proved that both still have a lot of improving to do in order to become legitimate national championship contenders."

But the Charlotte Observer's Scott Fowler has a different view:

"Either North Carolina or Duke has played in the final four in 18 of the past 24 season, and that statistic should probably go 19-of-25 in April. These teams are very good."

CHoops sees a silver lining:

"This is exactly how a championship caliber basketball team should lose if it must lose...."

The N&R has AP coverage posted, but inthe print edition, Jim Young quotes Roy Wiliams:

"I did not think their pressure would bother us. But we had five different turnoverss just throwing it from point A to point B, 10-12 feet away, because they were aggressive on the ball."

N&R's Ed Hardin on Rashad McCants' poor performance:

"This continues to be Williams' biggest fear and the potential seed of Carolina's destruction."

Gotta run, more analysis later.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Bright futures

ESPN rates the top 5 UNC-Duke NBA prospects.

Quoteth

Dookie V:

"This rivalry is so lame. I long for the day when ESPN will no longer send me to Cameron to sit in front of those nut cases who get themselves so worked up over a friggin' basketball game. Shouldn't they be in the library studying?"

OK, that's not what he really said. But does anybody wish he'd do something besides gush, gush, gush......

The N&O's Caulton Tudor:

"The loser tonight in Cameron will come out of the game with a world of motivation and an accurate reading on what it needs to improve in order to beat a top-five team in a pressure situation. By the same token, the winner might leave with a false sense of security."

Charlotte Observer's Tom Sorenson:

"If you assess the matchups the way I would, Shelden Williams is the only Duke starter to get an edge (provided none of the Tar Heels implode or take themselves out of the game)."

Sean May, on J.J. Redick:

"J.J. loves to talk trash, and he's just a competitor. You can't blame him for that, but it gives you a reason to hate people."

David Noel on Redick:

"He throws up some stuff that has no hope of going in and it does. He'll use 30 screens on one play. He'll run around like a mouse in a maze."

Roy Williams:

"Whoa, whoa, whoa. Nobody is a favorite going into Cameron Indoor Stadium. Give me a break. No one will ever be a favorite going to play Duke at Duke."

Coach K:

"I don't think anyone gets the ball up the floor as fast as North Carolina does. We can't practice that; otherwise we'd have (Raymond) Felton on our second team. Having Felton lead the break is big."

Turning the corner...and old white men

Georgia Tech 70 Clemson 62

After playing one of its "worst halves of the season," Tech rallies to beat the Tigers.

The game marked not only the return of B.J. Elder but freshman forward Jeremis Smith, "who brought the muscle in a surprising return."

AJC's Rana Cash continues:

"Tech is hoping that there will be a greater appreciation now for the team...The Jackets were 4-5 in Elder's absence, including a stretch where they lost three games in a row.....They may now have turned a corner."

In addition to answering questions about his team's play on the cout last night, Jackets coach Paul Hewitt had to address allegations in new book saying high school star Sebastian Telfair was offered $250,000 by an "old white guy" to attend Tech.

Hewitt says he knows nothing:

"If some mysterious man who fits no description, or the very generic old white guy description, walked up to (Telfair) and offered him $250,000, he didn't represent Georgia Tech or its athletic interests."

Hewitt told The Macon Telegraph he "stopped recruiting Telfair when the point guard was a junior because he thought Telfair would jump staright to the NBA. That opinion, Hewitt said, was confirmed by (Stephon) Marbury (Telfair's cousin) during a telephone conversation with Tech assistant Willie Reese."

Follow all that?

Terps turn it around

Maryland 86 Virginia Tech 71

John Gilchrist leads the way with 19 points and a career-high 10 assists

"Students chanted 'Bring on Duke' as the final seconds ticked away. when the Blue Devils come to Comcast, the Terps will be looking for an almost unthinkable regualar-season sweep of the Blue Devils.

"'The hype is great, (Nik) Caner-Medley said. 'You know, hype it up, bring Duke in here and let's have another great game.'"

There's plenty of hype, for sure, but it isn't around the Comcast Center. That will have to wait until at least Friday.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Bye -bye Tech

AP and Coaches Top 25

Just so you know, Maryland is nowhere to be found, either.

Play FreeBird!

The N&R's Rob Daniels ruminates on Duke-Carolina and takes a couple of shots at Lynyrd Skynard in the process.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Still MIA

CHoops points to another list Julius Hodge didn't make.

Think, don't sink

SI's Grant Wahl on Rashad McCants:

"Unlike some observers, I don't think McCants will ever implode emotionally this season and sink his team. That said, I do have concerns about occasional moments when he doesn't think as he should."

Around the league

Florida State makes a brief run, but Carolina pulls away, helped by a collective butt-kicking from Roy Williams.

Coach K's fainting spell still gets press.

This is what amazes me about college basketball in general, the ACC in particular: You have guys in their mid-40s and up, wearing expensive suits in hot, stuffy arenas, shouting, cursing, busting veins, kicking their teams' butts. Is it not a miracle one of them hasn't dropped dead on the sidelines in all these years?

Of course, Duke-Carolina dominates this week's schedule. But Georgia Tech has to get off the floor against Clemson in Littlejohn (easier said than done), Maryland hosts a tough Virginia Tech team and (egads) State travels to Wake Forest.

ACC Basketblog posts its midseason All-ACC team, with some key matchups yet to come. Could something happen this week to raise or lower a player's stock?

Totally MIA: Julius Hodge.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Bring on the Heels

"The Duke students are ready- they began chanting insults at the Tar Heels during the final minute Saturday. Their toughness re-established, Duke's players seem ready, too."

Caught in the storm

State fans shouldn't feel so bad, because Maryland can't seem to get it together, either. The only difference is the Terps lost to a good basketball team. In overtime. On the road.

With the win, the Hurricanes have their eye on the NCAA Tournament.

Frank Haith:

"I don't know that anybody's not gone (to the Big Dance) from the ACC that's 8-8. I would be shocked if we didn't. If you look at our resume, we've beaten three ranked teams...We just have to get a few more wins."

But the Sentinel's Omar Kelly points out:

"It is at this point during the previous two seasons Miami has taken a nose dive, losing 11 of 12 games at the end of the year, and 9 of 12 in 2002-03. But the one thing Haith's team as shown is its resilient."

ACC Hall of Fame

...and how to pay for it.

Enough said

"Many Pack fans stood silently, as if not believing what had transpired. Losing 95-71 to North Carolina on Thursday in Chapel Hill? The Tar Heels are ranked second in the country. But losing to Virginia at home?"

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Get it done early

Skip Prosser wants to shut down Virginia Tech early:

"I think it all starts at the defensive end, especially when you play these teams on the road. You have to somehow, some way, blunt that initial thrust by the opposing team. Against Georgia Tech and Florida State, you're talking about two teams that scored almost at will early."

Funny Prosser should mention Florida State, which came out with guns blazing against Wake, State and, earlier this week, Georgia Tech.

So here's the question for Carolina fans: How will the Heels react if the Seminoles shoot the lights out in the first half?

State faithful losing faith

From a Woofpack fan's blog: "State will have to win against three unranked opponents and pull off two major upsets to even gain consideration for the NCAA tournament.Unless that unlikely scenario unfolds, this will go down as the most disappointing season for the Wolfpack in decades."

Long gone

Glenn and I were talking just last about how many underestimate how much N.C. State misses Scooter Sherrill and Marcus Melvin, on many levels:

"The Pack no longer has Marcus melvin and Scooter Sherrill, who, as seniors last season, shot 81.3 percent and 85.0 percent from the foul line, respectively."

Looking back on it, was it really fair to have such high expectations for the Wolfpack with those guys gone?

Friday, February 04, 2005

Good column, terrible headline

Duke has a really rough schedule this month, and it started with a tough loss at Wake. The N&R's Ed Hardin wrote well about the situation, but the headline was totally unjustified: "Wheels coming off of Duke."

Um, no? Maybe the wheels will come off, maybe they won't. Certainly they haven't yet.

Flashes of Genius

Several plays stood out in Carolina's intense and disciplined game last night, not just for their athletic and aesthetic quality but for what they said about the players and the team.

Consider May's block of Hodge on the break, which showcased both May's improved conditioning and emerging fierceness of play. Or Noel's monster jams, the showboat move in open court and the late-game-through-the-crowded-lane crusher, an example of this team's deep-benched athleticism.

There were subtler moments, too: McCants, a maturing star, floating across the lane and hitting a soft jumper and making his free throws and dishing five assists and pumping up the crowd before the opening tip. Felten attacking the hoop and pulling the double-double. Quentin Thomas running the team for a nice small stretch of the second half.

And Marvin. Mercy.

The crowd was loud, for a while. Once State's mini-run was done fairly early in the second half, it was wine-and-cheese quiet, except for the occasional roar for an addition to the highlight reel. A couple of years ago, the Dean Dome saw a lot of red-clad fans for this game. Last night, it was Blue Heaven again.

Sick 95, Tired 71

Illness and injuries are the major themes running through the Tar Heels' victory over the Wolfpack

N&R coverage

The N&R's Ed Hardin:

"It was one of the worst basketball games in the recent history of this long-standing rivalry."

More Hardin:

"The spin control coming out of Raleigh needs to end. State looked terrible against Carolina, and it probably desreves its coach saying so."

The N&O focuses on Marvin Williams:

"The 6-foot-9 Williams' presence symbolized one of the reasons UNC is thriving while NCSU is barely surviving: The Tar Heels have a wealth of healthy, talented bodies. The Wolfpack does not."

The N&O's Caulton Tudor says UNC is looking good, then writes

"At this rate, the Heels should be able to start the NCAA Tournament in Charlotte, a pod site for first-and second-round games.....Logically, two ACC teams will begin the tournament there. The obvious contenders are Duke, Wake Forest and Carolina."

Interesting.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

State vs. Carolina

Analysis of tonight game:

The Durham Herald-Sun's Neil Amato:

"The Tar Heels want a track meet. The Wolfpack wants a marathon."

Same thing with WSJ's Bill Cole:

"The outcome could turn on which team controls the tempo-State prefers to stroll, North Carolina likes to sprint."

The N&O's A.J. Carr focuses on Carolina's trap defense, called The Scramble,

"an old defense that UNC coach Roy Williams has dusted off and used more frequently this season. Chances are N.C. State will see it tonight."

Especially Tony Bethel, who ain't seen nothing yet.

Meanwhile, Caulton Tudor ponders Herb Sendek's future:

"Whether anyone in the NCSU administration wants to admit it, Sendek is on the clock. He has to be. The alarm won't ring this season or perhaps even next. But at some point, a program with State's expectations and heritage can't gain ground on anyone by having to settle for third in the neighborhood and fourth or fifth in the conference every year."

As a Wolfpack fan, I'll come out and say it: I'm worried this could be another Virginia for Tar Heel fans. That said, worse State teams have played better Carolina teams tough, even in the Smith Center. Right?

Meanwhile, down in Coral Gables

Tech slides by

Georgia Tech 64 Florida St. 61

Will Bynum rescues Tech after the jackets blow a 12-point second-half lead

Macon Telegraph coverage

Paul Hewitt:

"Right now, we're not good offensively. We're just not. It's that simple.....I'm certainly grateful to get the win."

AJC coverage:

"But after the win, Bynum's basket was not the only thought dominating Hewitt's mind. It was the 12-point second-half lead that evaporated in a 10-minute stretch in which Tech could not score from the field."

More Hewitt:

"The argument can be made that we're getting to the tough part of our schedule. We can't sit around and think about what happened."

Ho hum, Wake beats Duke at home

Wake Forest 92 Duke 89

Chris Paul steps back up, Daniel Ewing gets into fould trouble, J.J. Redick almost brings Duke back single-handedly, Deacs fans don't rush the court......

WSJ coverage:

"Ultimately the Blue Devils never could overcome the foul trouble that saddled Daniel Ewing nor the control that point guard Chris Paul exerted over the game."

Lenox Rawlings:

"Wake had more elements and more avenues and, for certain stretches, a respectable defense. That's the volatile variable in the Deacons' NCAA title bid."

John Dell, writing about Ewing:

"It doesn't happen too often, but when an important spoke is broken, it makes things difficult."

Herald-Sun coverage

Ewing on the first-half scrum that resulted in technicals for him and Paul, with a third personal for Ewing:

"It was just two competitive players fighting over the ball. If anything, I don't think there should have been a technical foul called on anyone because you couldn't see anything on the bottom."

P.S.- K's not going to coach the Lakers.

Frank Dascenzo: The Devils and the Deacs do it all over again in a mere 18 days.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

This isn't the NBA....

They just don't fire coaches in the middle of the season in the ACC.

Do they?

Heads in the sand

Clemson 88 Maryland 73

Did We not know, in the backs of our minds, that this was a dangerous game for Maryland?

Washington Times coverage:

"A letdown turned into a meltdown last night for Maryland. The Terrapins lost to the ACC's worst team after beating two straight ranked opponents.

"Maryland, which had not lost to Clemson since 1997, travels to Miami on Saturday suddenly needing a victory to avoid falling back out of the polls and onto the NCAA bubble."

Turtle Soup was only slightly wary of Maryland's visit to Littlejohn. In the aftermath, however, he keeps a cool head and and takes a close look at the numbers.

That said, Oliver Purnell shuffles his lineup- and it works.


Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Clank?

Is free throw shooting a dying art? Barry Jacobs of Tar Heel Daily weighs in.

Crazy Cameron

The N&O explores security concerns at Cameron Indoor Stadium in the aftermath of Seth Greenberg's complaints.

The last coach to be ejected in Cameron before Greenberg: Gary Williams in 1998. Anybody surprised?

Meanwhile, Caulton Tudor writes that while it's still crazy in Cameron, behavior

"is much better than it was a few years ago. The Crazies were once notorious for throwing objects on the court and chanting profane and embarrassing cheers at opponents."

Know what comes to my mind? Jeering Mike O'Koren about his acne.