Friday, March 28, 2008

CAROLINA GREEN

They call him the best sixth-man in the ACC, but Danny Green has overcome some now well-publicized family adversity to be the best sixth-man in the country. Eighteen points against arch-rival Duke in a win at Cameron followed by 15 points in 23 minutes against Washington State last night sealed the deal for TAH.

It’s official. Let the Danny Green love rain.

Before he was wowing the home crowd and annoying opponents with his requisite pregame dance to "Jump Around," now a YouTube staple, Green’s mother walked away from him and his two younger brothers some nine years ago. Then two years ago, his father was arrested and accused of trafficking $40 million worth of cocaine.

Those charges were dropped, but Danny Green, Sr. was eventually jailed on a conspiracy charge. Out of the slammer now, Danny’s dad still can’t come to games as he can’t leave his home state of New York.

The whole situation perplexed the younger Green who knows his father as a loving dad who worked three jobs to keep his family together through hard times. His coach and teammates helped the younger Green through the rough patches.

You know what they say: If it doesn’t kill you, it just makes you stronger, and Danny Green, Jr. is looking plenty strong these days.

The first man off UNC’s bench, Green has been inconsistent at times. You could count on him for a spectacular play as soon as he entered the game. Could be a turnover. Could be a three or a spectacular block. Either way, something happens when Danny Green hits the hardwood.

Lately, most of that ‘something’ has been consistently good. Following a complete disappearing act along with teammate Wayne Ellington in the Heels home loss to Duke in February, Green led the Tar Heels to victory with 18 points in the rematch in Durham.

He cruised through the ACC tournament scoring 4 points against FSU, 8 points in 19 minutes in the Virginia Tech thriller, and 12 solid points against Clemson in the championship game. A familiar number, as Green averages 11.3 points per game for the season.

Green is the team’s fourth leading scorer which comes as no surprise. He is also their second leading rebounder behind Tyler Hansbrough, and second leading shot blocker behind Deon Thompson.

There wasn’t much need for Green’s scoring in the NCAA opening hoopfest last weekend. He had but two against Mount St. Mary’s, and a solid 8 points in 20 minutes against the Razorbacks in those two easy wins.

Then came last night where his Carolina teammates were off to a slow start. With 12:45 left in the first half, coming off his routine bench, Green missed his first shot with UNC trailing by an ugly 10 to 8 score. Then he made a layup, then he made a three pointer, and then he made a two point jumper. The Tar Heels never trailed again.

Game over. Wazou, you've been Greened.

It’s interesting to note the parallels between this North Carolina team and Roy William’s 2005 championship squad. Ty Lawson/Raymond Felton, Wayne Ellington/Rashad McCants and Tyler Hansbrough/Sean May all seem to play similar roles. The guys above took turns on the 2005 team leading the way to NCAA wins until the Final Four when May simply took over.

But this Carolina team has one extra weapon – Danny Green, Jr.

Call him a turbo-charged Reyshawn Terry. Terry was also a solid performer off the bench for the Heels last championship team.

Terry was good, but Green is better.

Considering all Green has been through, we wager he’s stronger too.

(Photos by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images )

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