Saturday, January 26, 2008

SATURDAY HOOP

NC STATE at FLORIDA STATE (-8), 1:30 PM, Tallahassee, Fla., TV: RAYCOM (XM 191)

VIRGINIA TECH at BOSTON COLLEGE (-5), 4:00 PM, Chestnut Hill, Mass., TV: RAYCOM (XM 192)

NOTE TO SELF: CONTINUE DAUGHTER’S TENNIS LESSONS

Maria Sharapova cruised by Ana Ivanova 7-5, 6-3 Saturday morning to win the Australian Open -- her third Grand Slam title.

Sharapova, who didn't lose a set in seven matches, was clearly determined that nothing would stop her after winning only three games against Serena Williams in last year's final.

The match was important to tennis for other reasons. Popularity in sports like golf and tennis ebb and flow with their stars…see Tiger Woods for a good example. Tennis now has big stars on both sides of the net to match the likes of Nadal (nice Capri pants) and Federer.

THIS FROM ESPN: Australia—The two most marketable players in women’ tennis these days will meet in the Australian Open final on Saturday.

Both are telegenic 20-year-olds with big games and bright futures, but it’s the contrasts between them that capture attention.

Maria Sharapova is a two-time Grand Slam champion and former No. 1 who’s parlayed her success and tall blonde panache into big business, earning between $26-$28 million from endorsement deals with companies including Canon, Nike, PepsiCo, Land Rover, Tag Heuer, Prince and a just-signed agreement with Sony Ericsson, which also sponsors the WTA Tour.


Ana Ivanovic is a much more recent phenomenon, bursting into prominence last spring by reaching the French Open final and Wimbledon semifinals. She’ll rise to No. 2 in the world after her performances this week, and her cherub dark-haired charm has boosted her profile even faster.

Though she’s not yet in Sharapova’s league when it comes to off-court earnings – who is, apart from Roger Federer? – Ivanovic had made a good start, banking about $3-$5 million a year from endorsements with adidas, Yonex, Verano Motors in Serbia and Juice Plus (a company owned by her Swiss manager).

(Photos © Mark Dadswell/Getty Images, Greg Wood/AFP/Getty Images, Romeo Gacad/ Getty Images)

WHAT THE REAL MEDIA IS SAYING:

ATLANTA CONSTITUTION JOURNAL – Believe it or not, some D1 schools still don’t have their 2008 dance cards completely filled. The list includes Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, LSU and Kentucky.
http://www.ajc.com/gatech/content/sports/gatech/stories/2008/01/23/schedule_0124.html

ROANOKE TIMES – Quarterback Joseph "Ju-Ju" Clayton of Hermitage High School in Richmond commits to Tech.
http://www.roanoke.com/sports/breaking/wb/148139

MIAMI HERALD – Mission Impossible: New academic advisor at FSU.
http://www.miamiherald.com/breaking_sports/story/392267.html

WINSTON SALEM JOURNAL – Injuries hard on Demon Deacons
http://www.journalnow.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=WSJ%2FMGArticle%2FWSJ_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1173354337780&path=%21sports&s=1037645509200

WASHINGTON POST – New assistants for Maryland.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/24/AR2008012402885.html

WASHINGTON POST – Sally Jenkins criticizes Dan Snyder over his latest coaching search. And she is right on the money…
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/25/AR2008012503432.html

BAREFOOTIN'

IUPUI (Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis, Jaguars, 21,784 students, Indianapolis, IA) coach Ron Hunter coached himself right out of his socks…and his shoes.

Coaching barefoot -- it was the most visible facet of his campaign to collect athletic shoes for children in need in Africa, something he started a month ago after meeting Samaritan's Feet founder Emmanuel "Manny" Ohonme,

Hunter’s original goal was to get folks to donate 30,000 pairs of shoes to the cause. After news of his endeavor started getting out, and shoes started coming in, he mentioned he might increase the goal to 40,000, in honor of the 40th anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

By tipoff, he had 110,000 pairs.

IUPUI announced that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had donated 10,000 pairs, with the possibility of more to come. Soles4Souls, a Nashville-based charity, donated 40,000 pairs. Wal-Mart gave 25,000; Nine West, a women's shoe company, offered another 5,200. Converse donated 15,000 during Hunter's appearance on ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike in the Morning" on Thursday. (For $29.99 at http://www.samaritansfeet.org/, you can donate two pairs of shoes to the effort, or buy one pair and donate a pair.)

"When we started this I thought 40,000 was going to be tough," Hunter told the Indianapolis Star. "When they told me before the game we already had 100,000, honestly, I almost broke down in tears."

Most of the shoes are being shipped directly to Samaritan's Feet, based in Charlotte, N.C. The non-profit group was started four years ago by Ohonme, a Nigerian whose own goal is to get shoes to 10 million people in 10 years.

Hunter, 43, has said he has been deeply affected by Samaritan's Feet and the mission he's joined, and his players have been touched as well. Some of them are intending to join Hunter this summer, when he flies to Africa to help distribute the shoes. Hunter has said he would like to go specifically to Cameroon, the homeland of Jaguars freshman guard Christian Siakam.

And, according to the Star, a man with no ties to IUPUI has offered to charter a jet to fly the team and the shoes to Africa -- pending approval from the suits in Kansas City, of course.

USA BASKETBALL CONTINUES TO HONOR SELF

Yesterday, USA BASKETBALL, also known as CKRAP (Coach K Retroactive Appreciation Partnership) BASKETBALL, once again named their beloved coach the co-recipient of the 2007 USA BASKETBALL (CKRAP) National Coach of the Year Award, USA BASKETBALL (CKRAP) announced yesterday.

In a move that boggled the mind of long-time CKRAP observers, USA Women's National Team head coach Anne Donovan was also named co-recipient.

“What the hell is up with that?,” asked Krzysjbfvn2ski. “It’s not CADRAP, it’s CKRAP,” said Krzykdslghss9ski. “Who doesn’t get it? It’s CKRAP, OK?”

The two coaches piloted their respective USA national teams to FIBA Americas Championship gold medals and qualified both the USA men and women for the 2008 Beijing Olympics thus making them the only two coaches qualified to win the awards (as far as TAH can tell).

"USA Basketball (CKRAP) is an outstanding leader in the international basketball community and I am honored to be recognized by the organization," Krzyzfjgnv7ski said. "Of course, it is on behalf of my assistant coaches, players and staff, whoever the hell they are, that I accept such an honor.”

Selected by the USA Basketball Executive Committee as the co-recipients of the National Coach of the Year award, Donovan and Krzgjnpq3ski are now eligible for the U.S. Olympic Committee's 2007 National Coach of the Year Award, which is expected to be announced in the spring of 2008.

TAH has no doubt that USA BASKETBALL (CKRAP) will name the USA BASKETBALL (CKRAP) coach the USA BASKETBALL (CKRAP) National Coach of the Year.

Any ckrappy questions?

PICTURE OF THE DAY

SPEAKING OF DOWN UNDER...Anybody remember Luke Schenscher. HINT: We made fun of him in TAH's debut season. After earning all-tournament honors in the Final Four with Georgia Tech, Schenscher turned pro, floating between the D League, Portland and Chicago.


(Photo: Bob Rosato/SI)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 2

NEWS FLASH...Tony Gwynn did not take performance enhancing drugs. He just liked to eat.

Gwynn spent his entire 20-year career with the Padres, winning eight batting titles and five Gold Gloves. But the perennial All-Star had the misfortune of drawing a pair of history's most accomplished teams as opponents in his two World Series appearances. San Diego won the franchise's first-ever pennant in Gwynn's third year with the club but fell to the Tigers in five games. Fourteen years later, Gwynn made it back to the Series -- but the Padres dropped four straight contests to a Yankees team widely considered the best squad ever assembled.

Gwynn consoled himself with pizza.

(Photo: Heinz Kluetmeier/SI, Walter Iooss Jr./SI)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 3

AS WESTERN CULTURE SPREADS...more folks walk around on ice with very little clothing. Another important contribution...

Chinese winter swimmers pose for photos with Olympic colored rings and the numbers 2008 to show their support for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games on a frozen river where other Chinese are fishing through holes drilled into the ice in Tianjin, China on Saturday Jan. 26, 2008.

(AP Photo)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 4

DON KING WANNA BE?...Get rid of the hat...Indonesia's World Boxing Association (WBA) featherweight champion Chris John, right, shakes hand with Panamanian challenger Roinet "Mus" Caballero, left, before the upcoming World Boxing bout in Jakarta, Friday, Jan 25, 2008.

Now, that's gonna be a good party.


(AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 5

BUSMAN'S HOLIDAY...Ferrari Formula One Brazilian driver Felipe Massa, foreground, and reigning F1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen of Finland, background, are seen during an exhibition car race, at the team's winter retreat in the Dolomites resort of Madonna Di Campiglio, northern Italy.

So when the race team goes on a retreat, they race? Hmmm.
(AP Photo/Wrooom2008 Photo Service, HO)

Friday, January 25, 2008

THURSDAY HOOP

#3 DUKE 81, VIRGINIA TECH 64

By now, one would think that all ACC teams would know that Duke engages you offensively and defensively some 25 feet from the basket. Evidently, knowing about it, and be able to cope with it are two different things. The Blue Devils are much improved from last year’s squad, and last night the Hokies could do little to slow them down.

To make matters worse, Virginia Tech is next-to-last in the league in scoring offense, a matter made worse by the fact that 13-points-a-game freshman, Jeff Allen, is serving a two game suspension for touching a ref.

Ruh, roh, Reorge.

Freshman Kyle Singler scored 10 of his 16 points during an 18-9 run that allowed the Blue Devils to build on a one-point lead early in the second half and they stayed comfortably ahead the rest of the way in an 81-64 victory Thursday night.

A.D. Vassallo's 3-pointer 20 seconds into the second half pulled the Hokies within 42-41, but VT simply couldn’t get enough good shots to stay close.

Deron Washington played like a man possessed. He has mad skills, but he might need to be possessed by some self-control in future games. The Dookies got under his skin, and it showed. Washington fouled out late after going just 2 for 9 in the game. The Hokies can’t have Allen sitting in the stands, and Washington running around like a crazy man if they are to have any chance of beating upper echelon ACC opponents.

The Blue Devils (16-1, 4-0 ACC) won their sixth straight game and for the third time in the past five drama-filled meetings with the Hokies.


Virginia Tech (11-8, 2-3), which has beaten No. 7 Duke in Blacksburg and No. 5 Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium since joining the ACC, also lost on the Blue Devils' famous court on a 40-foot heave/throw/stupid-lucky shot by Sean Dockery to beat the buzzer in 2005.

No drama this time.


Virginia Tech's Deron Washington (13) looks for help as Duke forward Lance Thomas (42) applies pressure during the first half. (AP Photo/Don Petersen)

LAWSUITS FOR DUMMIES

This was an easy call…former Duke lacrosse coach Mike Pressler, who lost his job after a stripper claimed three players raped her at a party in 2006, has sued the school and its top spokesman Wednesday, claiming slander and libel.

The case was later debunked, and the prosecutor who pursued the charges was disbarred last year.

Pressler's lawsuit said Duke's senior vice president of public affairs and government relations, John Burness, made slanderous and defamatory comments about him to the media.

Pamela Bernard, Duke vice president and general counsel, said Wednesday that the lawsuit has no merit and "is yet another attempt to reopen a sealed matter."

Last week, attorneys for Pressler withdrew their request for a judge to rescind a settlement agreement between Pressler and Duke so they could pursue this lawsuit. At that time, lawyers representing Duke said they would fight the allegations.

They also argued that any case by Pressler against his former employer should go through arbitration first.

Pressler now coaches the men's lacrosse team at Bryant University in Rhode Island. He also has written a book about the lacrosse case.

HOKIES: ADDITION BY SUBTRACTION

Jameel Sewell has “not studied” his way right out of UVa.

Sewell, Virginia's starting quarterback in its past 22 games, received final word this week that he would not be allowed to attend UVa during the spring semester due to his academic standing.

"Right now, I am still trying to work things out and make the best decision for me," said Sewell, who passed for 2,176 yards and rushed for 279 more as Virginia went 9-4 overall.

"Once I get everything worked out I will definitely let [the media] know what the deal is with me, if anybody still cares."

Sewell had four options, but eliminated one recently. "I am definitely not trying to go to the league," Sewell said, referring to the NFL's Supplemental Draft.

Sewell could appeal, take a year off and attend another school with his goal being readmission for his senior season in C’ville or he could transfer to a Division 1AA, II or III school.

TO GIGS, WITH LOVE

Hey, it’s no longer about hockey…which is good since we never figured out exactly what it was. We just know that Boston College is gonna win the ACC hockey title unless things around here really change.

Now, it’s all about the hottest sport on the planet – WRESTLING. No, not the WWF type with the newest version of Hulk Hogan or the Iron Sheik, but the college type that features nameless, faceless college kids toiling in obscurity. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Who’s with us?

That’s what we thought…Uncle Ribs, Gigs, read on.

Recently, the UVA wrestling team set a school record for dual wins (no idea) in a season after downing Davidson and UNC Greensboro (yeah, like they wrestled two schools at once…THREE guys rolling around on a mat grabbing each other in, on and around the privates? That’s gotta be illegal!).

The 13-3 Cavaliers opened the day with a 45-4 romp (Oh! We bet it was a romp…) over Davidson, then rallied from an early hole (unbelievable…) to down host UNC Greensboro, 24-18. The previous record for dual wins (huh?) in a season was 12, set in 1975, 2003 and 2006.Virginia had no problem matching the record, taking nine of 10 bouts in defeating Davidson (1-5). The Cavaliers got pins from a bunch a guys and a “technical fall” (whatever that is?) from another guy.

In other riveting wrestling news:

Maryland's Hudson Taylor, now a four-time league honoree in 2007-08, and North Carolina's Vincent Ramirez have been named the Atlantic Coast Conference Co-Wrestlers of the Week. In dual matches against ACC opponents last week, Taylor and Ramirez recorded impressive pin victories, each stopping their opponents in the contests' opening minutes to propel their respective teams to valuable league wins.

You see, that actually made sense.

PICTURE(S) OF THE DAY

NO NOLE, YOU WILD AND CRAZY NOLES...They're at it again. Those digruntled FSU fans down in Australia (and they appear to be multiplying) continue to support Serbian star Novak Djokovic.

It seems to be working.






Djokovic dfeated Roger Federer 7-5. 6-3. 7-6 in the semi-finals.





(Photos by Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images)
THE REAL ZOOM, ZOOM, ZOOM...Christian Niccum and his team mate Dan Joey of the U.S.A. in action during the men's training session of the 40th Luge World Championships at the Rodelbahn Oberhof on January 25, 2008 in Oberhof, Germany.

Crazy people. You know we love 'em.

More coming soon, now that Winter X is underway.

(Photo by Vladimir Rys/Bongarts/Getty Images)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 3

MAMA MIA(MI) -- FOOTBALL RECRUITING MADE EASY...There are people who follow this closely. We aren't some of them. But, recently, the gurus, Scout.com, said Miami had the best incoming recruiting class with Clemson in hot pursuit in the number three spot. Here's how.

Go ask your mother.

Having allowed his mother to decide which school he should attend, Arthur Brown says he is happy with the maternal choice. "I think Miami is about family. I want to be among the top linebackers they've produced," says Brown, a 6-1, 210-pound linebacker who tallied 151 tackles as a senior.

(Photo: WD/Icon SMI)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 4

EARLY ENROLLMENT...Daquan Bowers, a 6-foot-4, 265-pound defensive tackle, is already on Clemson's campus, having enrolled a semester early to start living up to expectations after collecting 14 sacks as a senior and finishing second for the state's "Mr. Football" honor.

(Photo: Chris Livingston/Icon SMI)

PICTURE(S) OF THE DAY 5

IT’S AN ALL CAROLINA GIRL FINAL DOWN UNDER…Converted Tar Heels Ana Ivanovic and Maria Sharapova will meet in the finals of the Australian Open. As you know, Sharapova beat Justine Henine, and Ivanovic defeated Daniela Hantuchova 0-6. 6-3. 6-4. (Nice comeback!)


(Photos by Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

FINAL WORD ON GHETTOGATE





College Park, MD: According to the U.S. Government, it's not a ghetto if it has a Starbucks or if it has a Starbucks and there are no bars on the windows!









Here are a few shots of the University of Maryland campus.

TIMING IS EVERYTHING

NORTH CAROLINA 98, MIAMI 82

It figured that UNC's next opponent was likely to get lawn-mowed by an angry bunch of Heels reeling from what must have been a tough few days of practice following the weekend loss to Maryland.

Guess what? Carolina ran, shot, rebounded and defended like…well…Carolina. Marcus Ginyard was particularly effective in slowing down the Canes' Jack McLinton.

Miami, who's on a bit of swoon of late, was clearly playing the wrong team at the wrong time.

Tyler Hansbrough scored 27 of his season-high 35 points after halftime, and Ty Lawson scored 15 of his 23 points in the opening 20 minutes, as the fifth-ranked Tar Heels got back to their winning ways by beating the Hurricanes.

Hansbrough made 10 of 15 shots from the floor and 15 of 16 from the line.

Wayne Ellington added 12 points for North Carolina (19-1, 4-1 ACC), which lost its No. 1 ranking after an 82-80 home loss to Maryland on Saturday. But losing rarely becomes a Tar Heel trend: Excluding season-ending defeats, North Carolina is now 24-4 after a loss in the Roy Williams era.


Lance Hurdle scored a season-high 20 points for Miami (14-4, 1-3), which has dropped three straight and four of its last six -- erasing whatever luster remained after a somewhat-surprising 12-0 start. By all accounts, the slump has not damaged the Canes’ football recruiting class which according to Scout.com is #1 in D1 football.

Miami guard Jack McClinton, left, shoots as North Carolina guard Marcus Ginyard, right, defends during the first half . (AP Photos/Lynne Sladky)

THE ROAD GOES ON FOREVER(?)

FLORIDA STATE 69, VIRGINIA 67

Virginia has a tough time winning on the road and last night was no different. They squandered a 10 point second half lead, and gave Florida State's Leonard Hamilton his 300th career coaching victory.

Toney Douglas scored 19 points and put the Noles (13-7, 2-3 ACC) ahead 63-62 on a free throw. He then slapped the ball away from Virginia's Sean Singletary to add two more free throws after being fouled on his way for an uncontested layup.

Douglas, who had six steals in the game, hit 7 of 11 shots from the floor and also had six rebounds.

Virginia (11-6, 1-3) led 56-46 with 8:58 left on a Singletary layup, but Florida State caught up at 60-all on Isaiah Swann's 3-point shot from deep in the corner with 2:27 left. Douglas' layup with 1:55 to go gave the winners a 62-60 lead.


Florida State's Toney Douglas, left, looks to drive to the basket as Virginia's Sean Singletary defends during the second half . (AP Photo/Phil Coale)

JACKETS ARE ROLLING, THANK YOU HEELS

GEORGIA TECH 77, NC STATE 74

Not so long ago, the Jackets were oh-fer in conference. After a near miss against UNC, Georgia Tech became believers and now they have a two game winning streak going.

Matt Causey had 18 points while Anthony Morrow went 4-for-4 at the line in the final 19 seconds to help Georgia Tech hold off North Carolina State 77-74 on Wednesday.

D'Andre Bell and Gani Lawal each added 13 points for the Yellow Jackets (9-9, 2-3 ACC), who won in Raleigh for the first time in a dozen years thanks to a steady performance in the final 3 minutes.

Courtney Fells finished with a career-high 23 points to lead the Wolfpack (12-6, 1-3), who led by five points midway through the second half before the Yellow Jackets ran off 10 straight points to retake momentum.


Georgia Tech also knocked down its last six free throws in the final 41 seconds, the last two coming from Morrow to make the score 77-74 with 8.8 seconds left. That gave the Wolfpack a final chance to tie, but Javi Gonzalez airballed a 3-pointer.

North Carolina State's J.J. Hickson, left, dives for the ball being held by Georgia Tech's Gani Lawal during the first half. (AP Photos/Karl DeBlaker)

COLIN COWHERD IS NOT SMART

But, we already knew that...

If you don't know, he’s on ESPN radio, and he replaced Tony Kornheiser (Tonee-Tonee), who is one of our all time favorites, so he was (and, still is) facing an uphill climb in our radio book.

Cowherd clearly enjoys being controversial – that’s part of his job. But, yesterday he said something that was just plain dumb.

Cowherd was talking to Kirk Herbstreet, an Ohio State guy, and Herbsteet was poking fun at his boys when he said, “If you think Big 10 football is bad, you should check out the roundball.”

Of course, Cowherd piled on, and then out of the blue he said the ACC was a “lousy conference” because after North Carolina “there aren’t any good teams.” We don’t want to put words in his mouth, but if the ACC is lousy, are all the conferences lousy?

Hmmm…last time we looked, Duke was ranked higher than UNC. Shouldn’t Cowherd know that his fellow sportswriters over at the AP and his co-workers at ESPN think the lousy ACC has two teams in the top five?

We would think that this shot across the bow would fire up the Duke crowd like Cowherd’s now famous Zima rant whipped up the Wahoos!

(Graphic by Joe Giannetto, graphicsig@aol.com/ESPNradio.com)

RPI: REALLY PERPLEXING INDEX

UNC fell to No. 4 in the latest official RPI released by the NCAA. The Heels have company in the top 10 from neighbor Duke at No. 6.

The SEC is only other conference with two in the top 10 (No. 1 Tennessee, No. 9 Vanderbilt). Notably absent are the Big 10 and the Big (L)East.

The bottom drops out after the Big Two for the ACC. Clemson (30), N.C. State (38) and Miami (43) check in next in solid "at-large" range.

Leading the "bubble" contingent is Florida State (58) followed by Boston College (62), Wake Forest (65), Virginia (77), Virginia Tech (78), Maryland (80) and Georgia Tech (83).
Maryland, it's worth noting, moved up 45 spots with its win over UNC. N.C. State's win over Miami was worth 21 spots.

If you are really a stats geek, here’s the full report.

http://web1.ncaa.org/app_data/weeklyrpi/2008MBBrpi1.html?

PICTURE OF THE DAY

THE FAVORITE FOR THE JOB? Washington Redskins’ owner Dan Snyder interviewed former Giants head coach Jim Fassel for the third time this week making him the favorite for the job according to ESPN and other NFL sources.

Why do you ask?

To torture Redskins’ fans, that’s why.

While Fassel’s Giants lost to the Baltimore Ravens (who had Hall of Fame SHOE-IN Trent Dilfer at QB) in Super Bowl XXXV, his overall record is 55-53-1. His overall record as a college coach was 25-33.

Has anybody seen Norv Turner or Marty Schottenheimer?

Jeez.

(AP Photo/Steve Ruark,File)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 2


NOW, THIS GUY TAKES HIS SOCCER SERIOUSLY...but what's up with the pizza box on his head?

A Ghanean football supporter poses with his painted body in Kumasi, 23 January 2008 during the African Cup of Nations football championship.
(Photo by Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images)

PICTURE(S) OF THE DAY 3

ALL GOOD THINGS MUST COME TO AN END...But, it took a while for the Bears to send home the Aggies. #25 Baylor finally escaped with a 116-110 five-overtime win over #16 Texas A&M on Wednesday night.

It was the longest game in Big 12 conference history.

Baylor (16-2, 4-0 Big 12) won its fifth in a row and first since entering the rankings for the first time since 1969 on Monday. It broke a 15-game home winning streak for Texas A&M and it was the Aggies' third straight loss.






(AP Photo/Paul Zoeller)

PICTURE(S) OF THE DAY 4

WOW, I HAVE NO IDEA HOW I WON...It's probably not what French tennis player Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (r) was saying, but it sure looks that way. Tsonga, with former player Jim Courier during a television interview, upset Spanish opponent Rafael Nadal 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 in the semis at the Australian Open.

Nadal said, "The outcome of this match is not indicitive of my normal level of play. However, tonight this guy, whoever he is, was just a little bit better."




(Photos by Peter Parks and Torsten Blackwood/AFP/Getty Images)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 5

HEADLINE FROM DOWN UNDER: CYCLING HAS LOST CREDIBILITY WITH MARSUPIALS...The pack race past a Kangaroo road sign in stage three of the Tour Down/Drugs Under cycling race in Adelaide, 24 January 2008.


(Photo by Jamie McDonald/AFP/Getty Images)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

OPEN MOUTH, INSERT TAR HEEL

Wow, it’s awfully early to award the 2008 Michael Vick Stupidity Award so early in January, but we may have to roll out the hardware for this one…

To add to the crying criticism, close scrutiny of the video tape at the end of the UNC v. Maryland game reveals a female fan screaming, "Go back to the ghetto!" at the Terps.

Not kidding.

http://brahsome.com/2008/01/20/unc-are-whiny-and-racist/hiny-and-racist/

Of course, this has started the “racist” debate, and has led anti-Tar Heels to paint all fans of Carolina with the same broad stereotypical brush. We got wind of this over at AOL FanHouse from contributor and long-time Heel fan Sportz Assassin who was appalled, and rightfully so.

We read about this early this morning, and gave it a ponder later while at BLASER PHYSICAL THERAPY (shameless plug) working on the old bum shoulder. Here’s our take:

We concur -- appalling, unacceptable behavior, but not demonstrative of the entire nest of Heels. Now we are all quick to categorize based on minimal information, but taking one comment from one student(?) and labeling the entire fan base with it is…well…stupid, as stupid as the comment in question. However, that doesn’t excuse, or explain, this horrific scene following the Tar Heels loss to Maryland.

And before you say it -- yes, it’s no worse than what you hear at a Tech, UVA, State, or Duke game, we know that. That doesn’t make it any less stupid or damn ugly. Shame on somebody.

So how does this happen?

LONG ANSWER:
Unfortunately, it was aimed at the Maryland players who are predominantly black – thus fueling the racists take, and it comes on the heels (no pun intended) of a recent racially insensitive verbal blunder.

First off, note that UNC’s team, like most in college hoop, has a bunch of African American players. So whoever yelled this is OK with her black guys, but not your black guys…Go figure? Or is it possible that she actually believes that the African American Heels come from more affluent neighborhoods than the African American Terps? That would simply be narrow minded, naive and a little bit weird. In the grand scheme of things, who cares? They're kids playing a game.

While we don’t frame people as racists, based on one comment, we do think such statements are a clear sign of some prejudice. Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Clause, and there is still some racial prejudice in the world, just like there is religious prejudice, geographic prejudice, financial prejudice, etc. It is what it is.

As a culture, we are generally more tolerant of others than we were 20 years ago. Still kids are raised by their parents, so it take several generations to remove family instilled prejudices – even if it’s something as simple as vegetables. Mrs. TAH hates ‘em, our kids love ‘em…She hates Duke (in a sports kind of way), will they eventually hate Duke? It’s an environment thing.

We commented here on the Kelly Tilghman “lynching” controversy. Tilghman by all accounts is not a racist, and the account we rely on the most is from Michael Wilbon (an African American with a degree from Northwestern) who knows her and says she isn’t. There is still something a little off-kilter when the concept of “lynching” is still on your mind or in your vocabulary. Perhaps, it simply demonstrates that history is what it is, and human nature is what it is. Change moves slowly. None the less, Tilghman’s one terrific blunder doesn’t necessarily mean she’s a racist.

So why the seemingly racist outburst from somebody at a college basketball game?

Simple, this female fan (racist or not, and we can’t speculate because we don’t know her) was angry. She is passionate about the game, and she was very upset by the loss. Her reaction, as wrong as it was, was to say something mean and hurtful towards people she doesn’t know personally. Would she ever say any such thing, or anything similar, to her personal friends, or to her family? (You know the drill -- Do you put your feet up on your Mom’s furniture? The answer is always NO from the person with his/her feet on your furniture.)

People get incredibly wrapped up in sporting events. We play golf, go fishing, play video games, go to the movies and watch sports because they are so incredibly distracting. People say movies are an escape from reality. Some folks are big fans of dramas. Sporting events are simply dramas that are real and happening in real time. Fans get so involved they forget war, poverty, famine, taxes, crappy jobs, screaming kids – you name it.

And that’s the beauty of it. For two hours you can wrap your brain around a basketball game –every dribble, every shot, every rebound and every SINGLE BLOWN CALL (by fill-in-the-blank) BIASED REFS that keeps your worthy team from vanquishing an unworthy opponent. Winning can be blissful, while a sudden unexpected loss can be crushing. Hence, the outburst, right or wrong.

Also add to it the “crowd dynamic.” Various studies demonstrate that being in a crowd of like-minded folks can enhance the experience of a game, a concert, a church service, etc. Some say it’s liberating, and others claim it enables some folks to let loose in ways they would not if acting as an individual. There are also similar studies about the differences between crowds and mobs. Let’s assume there are a few with the “mob mentality” in every crowd. More than a few if it’s a soccer match in Europe or Latin America.

Win or lose, when it’s all over, some fans shrug and quickly re-enter the “real word” while others go so far as to cry. Others say really STUPID things like "go back to the ghetto." Shame on ‘em. There is no excuse even in the heat of the moment, but that one fan does not a typical crowd of 20,000 in the Dean Dome make so hold back the “all things suck with Tar Holes on Crap Hill” comments. Mr. Pot calling Ms. Kettle black doesn’t really reflect well on anybody.

Of course, all of this is particularly ironic when one considers Dean Smith’s track record on civil rights and common sense. (So what if he once flipped off the Maryland fans back in the 70's.)

So, that’s the long answer…

SHORT ANSWER:
You might be a redneck, if after your team loses, and you yell “Go back to the Ghetto,” at the winning team.

Hey, it’s the South, and there are 20,000 people in the “crowd.” There has to be a couple idiots mixed in who are burdened by a tendency to blurt out regrettable statements. We realize that’s intellectual/geographic prejudice, but we have always been taught that stupid is, as Mrs. Gump so aptly put it, as stupid does.

(Yes, we know there are idiotic redneck types in the North too…)

There you have it. Let’s move on.

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