Friday, June 27, 2008

TOLY HANSBROUGH: THREE SPORT STAR?

A new recruiting battle is heating up down on Tobacco Road, and this time it isn’t UNC vs. Duke.

No, this go ‘round it’s a family squabble as UNC basketball Coach Ol’ Roy and UNC baseball coach Mike Fox were seen in an Omaha steakhouse arguing over the services of local phenom Toly Hansbrough.

Fresh off a disappointing loss in the CWS to ultimate champ Fresno State, UNC skipper Mike Fox had gotten word that Toly recently went 2 for 2 with no fielding errors (he never touched the ball) in the Fauquier Babe Ruth T-Ball All Star Game on Tuesday night at Athey Field Annex.

Knowing, Toly’s affinity for the Tar Heels, Fox quickly placed a post-game congratulatory call reaching Toly on his agent’s (mom’s) cell phone at the Carousel ice cream stand, a popular post-game hang out for budding young stars.

“Roy saw him first, “ said Ol’ Roy, “He’s mine. If you don’t believe me, just ask his mother. Last time Roy looked she was driving the Toly bus straight to the Dean Dome.”

“There’s no reason he can’t be a two sport star,” said Fox.

Toly originally committed to Williams making him both the youngest and smallest basketball recruit at the famous Chapel Hill institution. Toly confirmed his intentions last summer with a visit to the Smith Center and Ol’ Roy’s office where he charmed the staff departing with photos of the ACC Tournament trophy and handfuls of candy. (Even the ladies in the basketball office are in on the whole recruiting thing…candy, nice touch.)

Fox, whose team has lost in the semi-final or finals of the last three College World Series, is desperate for that intangible that will take his team to the top of the stitched cowhide mountain.

The debate over recruiting a six-year-old rising first-grader brings additional focus to college basketball recruiting issues. Last week, the National Association of Basketball Coaches said it strongly opposes accepting commitments from students who have not yet completed their sophomore season in high school. The decision came a little more than a month after the 15-year-old Michael Avery said he would attend Kentucky.

The board of directors said the decision was made, in part, because younger athletes had not yet demonstrated “sufficient academic credentials” to be admitted to school. The board also acknowledged it was too difficult to project how refined their basketball skills would be by graduation.

“Roy's not asking for a commitment,” said Ol’ Roy, “and Roy's heard that Toly is a pretty gosh darn good student…tops of his kindergarten class…well, maybe, in the top 50%...well, actually, Roy's not really sure, but his attendance record is pretty darn good.”

In a prepared statement released to the media late Thursday, UNC head football coach Butch Davis said Toly had found his way on to the football program’s radar screen and that there was “mild interested.”

Toly, who was “shooting baskets” in the driveway of his family home, could not be reached for comment.

(Photos by Toly's Mom)

SUSPENDED WITHOUT CRIME

(Ticker)—Wake Forest announced Tuesday that forward Jamie Skeen has been suspended for the fall semester due to a violation of academic policy.

Skeen just completed his sophomore campaign, averaging 5.6 points and 4.1 rebounds in 29 games - six starts - for the Demon Deacons last season.

“Jamie is an outstanding young man with much to contribute to Wake Forest, both on the basketball court and to the University,” Demon Deacons coach Dino Gaudio.

“However, sometimes good people make poor decisions, and that is what happened here. Hopefully, this will be a learning experience for the young man that will help him grow as a person.”

FOUR ACC HOOPSTERS DRAFTED

Keeping the streak of NBA first round draft choices from ACC schools allowed, N.C. State’s J.J. Hickson was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the 19th pick of last night’s NBA draft. Hickson (6-9, 240), who brought major talent as a freshmen to Raleigh, seemed to be a chemistry problem for Coach Sidney Lowe’s Wolfpack.

Joining Hickson in the NBA draft pool were UVa’s Sean Singletary, Maryland’s James Gist and Virginia Tech’s Deron Washington. What do the three have in common? They all seniors, and all were drafted in the second round.

While Singletary seemed to be the forgotten man during ACC draft talk, he was the first ACC guy to go in round two – 12th or 42nd overall to the Sacramento Kings. The 6-0, 184 Singletary is undersized to say the least and is projected to be a back-up point guard. Nobody can doubt his toughness or his will to win and that is always welcome on NBA squads.

With the 57th pick overall, San Antonio picked up Terp James Gist. Gist (6-9, 220) gets picked based on his athleticism and his ability to run the floor. Most experts expect the Spurs to send him to the D-League for development.

With the next-to-last pick (59th overall), the Detroit Pistons grabbed Hokie Deron Washington. Washington is considered to be one of the most athletic (if not one of the most undisciplined) guards in the draft. He has the physical skills to make it, but he will have to improve many elements of his game (mainly his jump shot).

“WONDERDOGS” WIN CWS

The Fresno State Bulldogs became the lowest seeded team to win a major NCAA Championship when they knocked off Georgia Wednesday night 6-1 to win the CWS. The “Wonderdogs,” who were the equivalent of a 16-seed if this was hoop, knocked off overall tournament #2 UNC on their way to the unlikely win.

With Steve Detwiler providing all the offense Justin Wilson needed, the Bulldogs captured their first national championship in a men's sport with a 6-1 victory over Georgia in the decisive Game 3 of the College World Series finals.

Detwiler homered twice and drove in all six runs, and Wilson allowed five hits in eight innings to cap Fresno State's wild ride to a title.

Fresno State was forecast to be a Top 25 team coming into the season, but the Bulldogs lost 12 of their first 20 games. They needed to win the Western Athletic Conference tournament just to make the NCAA field of 64, fought off elimination in regionals and super regionals, and became the first No. 4 regional seed to reach the CWS since the tournament expanded in 1999.

The Bulldogs (47-31) from California not only showed they belonged, they showed they were the best, even though no previous national champion had more losses. The national title was the second in school history. Fresno State won the 1998 women's softball title.

(The Fresno State Bulldogs celebrate (above left) and Steve Susdorf #27 of the Fresno State Bulldogs slides safely into second base under Miles Starr #27 of the Georgia Bulldogs. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

PICTURE OF THE DAY

THROWBACKS...The NFL isn't the only league that goes retro now and then. Here are a few samples from this season in MLB.

The Baltimore Orioles -- 1970 to 1992. These unis were so good looking (?), they lasted 22 years.

(AP Photo)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 2

WASHINGTON SENATORS...1968 to 1971.

(Photo by Brad Mangin/SI)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 3

HOUSTON ASTROS...1975 to 1986.

Nice, Astros, NICE!


(AP Photo)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 4

IT'S THAT TIME OF YEAR...An aerial view of Wimbledon on day four of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 26, 2008 in London, England. There have already been some upsets and some near-upsets.

(Photo by Pool/Getty Images)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

FIRST RULE: KNOW WHAT YEAR IT IS…

It's not unusual to hear local UVA and Tech folks complain about the lack of coverage given their fine institutions of higher learning and their related sporting endeavors in the regions major newspaper - the Washington Post. Some of this cranking is well deserved, but at least when they do cover the Virginia ACC members, they typically get the story right. Well, at least in the right year.

Over the past 15 years, folks in the Thoroughbred racing and breeding industry from C’ville north have been complaining about dwindling coverage in the Post. While they still employ a competent racing writer in Jonn Scheinman, they don’t dedicate much ink to the Sport of Kings.
However, they did cover the big race at Colonial Downs on Saturday. Their headline read thusly

SUMMER DOLDRUMS SHAKES SPRING FUNK AND WINS COLONIAL TURF CUP

Hmmm…that sounds oddly familiar…

Oh yeah, Summer Doldrums won the Turf Cup LAST YEAR.

Oops.

So on Monday, they followed up with this:

SAILOR’S CAP NOTCHES RUNAWAY WIN AT RAIN-SOAKED, GRADE III COLONIAL TURF

The story by Scheinman, was prefaced with this: NEW KENT, Va., June 21 -- Editor's Note: Because of a computer error, the story about Saturday's race at Colonial Downs that appeared in the Sunday, June 22, Sports section referred to last year's race. The correct story appears below.

Damn computers.

(Photos by Rob Ostermaier, Daily Press and Jeff Coady/Coady Photography)

UNC KNOCKED OUT OF CWS

The College World Series disappointment for North Carolina now stands at three.

Instead of getting an opportunity to improve on runner-up finishes the past two seasons, the Tar Heels are out of the College World Series without making the finals.

“The end of the year is not ever fun,” coach Mike Fox said. “It’s actually the worst, no matter where you are, but especially out here. We’re going to tend to focus on the whole season. We kind of have to, to get over the hurt.”

Fresno State eliminated North Carolina with a 6-1 victory Sunday and faced Georgia in the best-of-three series starting Monday. Georgia won the opening game with a 7-6 comeback victory.
Sunday night, each team had 10 hits and North Carolina (54-14) likely would have had more — and more runs—if not for Fresno State’s defense, particularly shortstop Danny Muno and third baseman Tommy Mendonca. The Bulldogs have a .981 team fielding average after four CWS games.

The only run for North Carolina came on a bases-loaded walk.

“They made every play defensively against us in all three games,” Fox said. “Their shortstop and third baseman were sensational.”
Fresno State (45-30) had no errors in eliminating North Carolina on Sunday. The Bulldogs committed one error in three games against North Carolina.

North Carolina players Colin Bates, center, Brett Thomas, right, and Mark Fleury react after losing 6-1 to Fresno State in an NCAA College World Series baseball game. (AP Photo/Ted Kirk)
Rich Poythress #33 of the Georgia Bulldogs scores against catcher Ryan Overland #24 of the Fresno State Bulldogs during Game 1 of the 2008 Men's College World Series Championship. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

NO GOOD SPORTS AT MARYLAND, FSU, N.C. STATE or MIAMI

Shocked?

Not really.

The Atlantic Coast Conference announced June 19 the recipients of the 2008 Spring Sportsmanship Awards. Teams receiving the awards have conducted themselves with a high degree of character and good sportsmanship, as determined by a vote of the league’s players and coaches. Oddly, Wake Forest failed to muster a good sport…

Virginia Tech was named the recipient of the ACC Sportsmanship School of the Year Award for the 2007-08 academic year. A traveling trophy will be on display for one year at Virginia Tech, which was named the sportsmanship winner in five sports and leads all schools with 19 awards since joining the ACC in 2004.


Seven schools - Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Virginia and Virginia Tech - were recognized by their peers as the sportsmanship award winners for the league’s 11 sponsored spring sports. The award is the fourth straight for the Virginia Tech women’s lacrosse team (translation: they’re not very good). The Clemson rowing team is a repeat winner from 2007 (translation: boat sank).

The following is a complete list of the 2008 Spring Sportsmanship Award recipients:

Men’s Tennis -Duke
Women’s Tennis -Virginia
Men’s Golf - Boston College
Women’s Golf - Virginia
Men’s Lacrosse - Duke
Women’s Lacrosse - Virginia Tech
Men’s Outdoor Track & Field - Georgia Tech
Women’s Outdoor Track & Field - Boston College
Rowing - Clemson
Softball - Virginia Tech
Baseball - North Carolina

HEY LOOK…MORE CRIME!

Clemson safety DeAndre McDaniel (#2) has been arrested on charges he covered his girlfriend's head with a comforter and began choking her. (Is that a crime in South Carolina if you're a Clemson football player?)

A warrant from the Central Police Department says McDaniel was charged with aggravated assault and battery Saturday.

The incident report says a woman identified as McDaniel's girlfriend said the sophomore also punched her in the head, face and chest, and pushed her down a flight of stairs. (OK, the flight of stairs thing definitely makes it a crime in S.C.)

The report says the woman was treated at a hospital for a cervical sprain and contusions.

Clemson athletic spokesman Tim Bourret said in a statement that the athletic department was gathering information about the incident.

ADIOS RAY RAY

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Clemson's Ray Ray McElrathbey says he's transferring to Howard.

McElrathbey is the football player who earned accolades for taking custody of his younger brother while going to college. In an e-mail to The Associated Press on Monday, he said he's decided to head to the Washington, D.C., school.

McElrathbey's mother told The (Charleston) Post and Courier that McElrathbey chose Howard because of its academics. Her son was expected to take his 13-year-old brother along.

Clemson said in March that McElrathbey would not play for the football team. The athletic department had offered McElrathbey a graduate assistant position with the football team if he wanted to remain with the Tigers.
(Photo courtesy of Clemson World Online)

PICTURE OF THE DAY

TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME...Hey, it's Omaha, what else are you gonna do?

Stadium wide angle view of Game 1 of the 2008 Men's College World Series Championship at Rosenblatt Stadium June 23, 2008 in Omaha, Nebraska. Georgia defeated Fresno State 7-6.


(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 2

TWO POTS OF GOLD...? A double rainbow forms over Nationals Park during a rain delay before the Washington Nationals against the Los Angeles Angels baseball game, Monday, June 23, 2008, in Washington.

(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

TAR HEELS STAVE OFF ELIMINATION...

...again.

Chad Flack homered to get North Carolina to the College World Series in 2006 and 2007.

This year, he homered to keep the Tar Heels in Omaha at least for another day.

Flack's monster two-run shot in the bottom of the eighth inning Saturday night kept Carolina alive with a 4-3 victory over Fresno State.

"I don't really know what to say," North Carolina coach Mike Fox said. "I know Chad Flack is the clutchest player I'll ever be fortunate enough to coach. He's proven it time and time again."

The Tar Heels (54-13) forced another game Sunday against Fresno State (44-30), the first No. 4 regional seed to reach the CWS. It was the second straight elimination game Carolina won on a late home run. Tim Federowicz's grand slam in the ninth broke a tie in a 7-3 win over LSU on Friday.

Another win Sunday would wrap up Bracket 2 and send North Carolina to the best-of-three championship round for the third straight year, this time against Georgia. Meanwhile, Fresno State is trying to continue its surprising postseason run and make its first appearance in the finals in its third trip to Omaha.

(AP Photo/Dave Weaver)

IT'S OFFICIAL: DUKE FOOTBALL SUCKS


A Kentucky judge has confirmed what Duke fans have known for years: their football team is as bad as it gets.

Bad enough that Louisville should have to find another football team to replace the Blue Devils without penalty after Duke pulled out of the final three games of a four-game contract last season.

In a lawsuit filed late last year, Louisville asked for $450,000 in damages and any additional damages the court saw fit.

But Duke's lawyers argued that the Blue Devils' performance on the field was so poor that any Division I team would suffice as a replacement. Duke is 6-45 over the past five years, 13-90 since 1999.

Judge Phillip J. Shepherd of the Franklin County (Ky.) Circuit Court agreed, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

"At oral argument, Duke [with a candor perhaps more attributable to good legal strategy than to institutional modesty] persuasively asserted that this is a threshold that could not be any lower," Shepherd wrote in a summary judgment issued Thursday, according to the paper. "Duke's argument on this point cannot be reasonably disputed by Louisville."

Duke, according to the suit, asked the Cardinals to find a replacement opponent and promised to pay Louisville only if the school could not find one after a "good faith" effort. A $150,000 penalty for each game was included in the contract if a "team of similar stature" could not be found to fill the date.

The two schools were to meet four times between 2002 and 2009. Louisville beat the Blue Devils 40-3 in September 2002, but Duke opted out of the final three games, to be played last season and in 2008 and 2009.


Louisville claimed it struggled to find another team and received "little, if any, help from either Duke or the [Atlantic Coast Conference]" in finding a replacement.


"We're disappointed with the ruling," Louisville spokesman Kenny Klein said, according to the Courier-Journal.
"We will take our time to review the decision and explore our future options."

PICTURE OF THE DAY

SINGIN' IN THE RAIN...Sailor’s Cap unleashed a powerful outside move approaching the stretch and drove clear to a 6 3/4-length win in the $600,000 Colonial Turf Cup Stakes (G3) on Saturday at Colonial Downs in New Kent, VA. The victory was worth $360,000.

Suffice it to say it was raining. Hard. Very hard.

So hard, officials were forced to cancel the final race.


(Photo by Jeff Coady/Coady Photography)

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