Friday, January 16, 2009

SATURDAY HOOP

GAME OF THE WEEK

No. 3 WAKE FOREST @ No. 9 CLEMSON,
3:30 PM, ABC

ALL THE OTHER GAMES
No. 12 Georgetown (Hoyas, 6,853 students, Washington, D.C.) @ No. 2 DUKE, 1:30 PM, CBS

MARYLAND @ FLORIDA STATE, 12:00 PM, Raycom

GEORGIA TECH @ NC STATE, 12:00 PM, Raycom

BOSTON COLLEGE @ VIRGINIA TECH, 4:00 PM, ESPNU

MIAMI @ No. 6 NORTH CAROLINA, 9:00 PM, ESPNU

BACK TO BASICS: WAHOOS ALL TYED UP

No. 6 NORTH CAROLINA 83, VIRGINIA 61 – UNC (15-2, 1-2) went back to the basics last night to stop a surprising two-game ACC losing streak by effectively utilizing the talents of Tyler Hansbrough and Ty Lawson. Both did what they do best as North Carolina was simply too much for Virginia. Hansbrough went to work inside drawing fouls, and Lawson forced the pace, freeing up himself and others for better offensive opportunities.

Hansbrough scored 28 points, Lawson had 19 with nine assists, and the Tar Heels forced the pace as they have in the past. Plain and simple, Lawson, Danny Green and Wayne Ellington are all more effective in a fast paced game.

Psycho T drew double coverage all game and made just six field goals, but he went to the line 17 times and made 15. He also had 12 rebounds, while Lawson was 3-for-3 on 3-pointers. The Wahoo faithful complained loud and long about the fouls on Hansbrough. Hansbrough’s 28 points moved him past Christian Laettner into sixth place on the ACC's all-time scoring list.

With Lawson running the show with precision, the Tar Heels had 21 assists on just 27 field goals, accomplishing another goal that emerged after the losses to BC and Wake Forest.

"We had a discussion," said Danny Green, who scored 13 points. "One of the main reasons we were turning the ball over was either carelessness or selfishness."

UNC continues to shoot poorly though making only 27 of 64 shots for 42.2%. The Heels only shot 14 3s (making 5 for 35.7 percent) which is their normal average back down from the 22 plus they fired up in back-to-back losses to Boston College and Wake Forest.

The Cavs, on the other hand, were much worse making only 25 of 82 shots (30.5 percent). They were down-right miserable from behind the arc, launching 27 three-pointers and making just four of them for 14.8 percent.

Virginia (7-7, 1-2) was led by Jamil Tucker with 12 points and Calvin Baker and Mike Scott with 11 each, but got a subpar effort from scoring leader Sylven Landesberg. He missed eight of his nine shots and had two points, 16.5 below his average.

The Heels had not started an ACC season 0-3 since the 1996-97 season.

(Photos by Steve Helber/Associated Press)

QUOTE OF THE WEEK/MONTH/YEAR-TO-DATE

Darren Beck, a 37-year-old marketing executive, had just settled into Seat 3A US Airways Flight 1459 to Charlotte when he heard a loud crash. The rest, as they say, is history. After recounting the calm and, ultimately completely, successful evacuation and subsequent rescue from the frigid Hudson River, Beck said:
"Not that I'm an expert in plane crashes, it being my first one, but it went fairly smoothly."



(Reuters Photos)

PICTURE OF THE DAY

TIPP OFF. Hats off and big thanks once again to Dr. Wahoo Griffin for hooking up T.A.H. for last night's UNC v. UVA game. And additional appreciation from all the gang for the parking pass for the lot right next to JPJA. That made ingress/egress through ridiculously frigid temperatures much better!

(Photo by T.A.H. Media Worldwide)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 2

DR. WAHOO GRIFFIN COURT AT JOHN PAUL JONES ARENA AT THE CORNER OF MASSIE DRIVE AND U.S. RT. 29. Take that Mr. Football Stadium!

Tyler Hansbrough pulls down a rebound in last night's game.

(Photo by T.A.H. Media Worldwide)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 3

JUST VISITING. Former Cavalier Sean Singletary now of the NBA's Pheonix Suns was in the house, as was former 10-year NBA vet Terry Davis, father of UNC's freshman Ed Davis.

Davis, who is from Richmond and was heavily recruited by UVA, was greeted with chants of "traitor" when he entred last night's game.


(Photos by Steve Helber/Associated Press)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 4

THE ICELAND MINI 500? Well…no.

Just more fun from another press junket T.A.H. wasn’t invited to…Ferrari's Brazilian driver Felipe Massa waves to fans during an ice kart race during the "Wrooom, F1 and MotoGP Press Ski Meeting" Ducati and Ferrari annual media gathering in Madonna di Campiglio on January 16, 2009.

(Photo by Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

HELTER SKELTER: WEDNESDAY HOOPS

No.2 DUKE 70, GEORGIA TECH 56 – Note to North Carolina: “Defense will get you a long way.” Those sage words were spoken by Duke’s Gerald Henderson after the Blue Devils used their staunch defense to overcome a miserable night of shooting. Duke (15-1, 3-0 ACC) was 23 of 59 for 39 percent from the field, eight of 24 from behind the arc for 33.3% and an very uncharacteristic 16 for 27 from the free throw stripe for a season low 59.3 percent.

None of that mattered against a sloppy Georgia Tech squad.

Gerald Henderson and Kyle Singler scored 19 points each and the Blue Devils.

Georgia Tech (9-7, 0-3) turned it over 18 times, went only 7-of-19 from the free throw line and started with three straight ACC losses for the second straight season.

No. 3 WAKE FOREST 83, BOSTON COLLEGE 63 – Wake Forest had lost the next game after winning a big game on more than one occasion recently, but not last night. The Deacons, who had never defeated Boston College since they moved south to the ACC, utilized another big game from rising star Jeff Teague to secure the win over the Eagles.

Teague scored 29 points and Al-Farouq Aminu had 15 with eight rebounds. Wake (15-0, 2-0 ACC) tied the best start in school history, matching a record set 82 years ago by the 1926-27 team.

"I thought it was a quality win for us on the road, especially coming off an emotional win on Sunday against Carolina," said Gaudio, who earned his 100th career victory and avenged last year's 112-73 loss to BC.

Tyrese Rice scored 20 points as Boston College (13-5, 1-2) lost its third straight -- all at home and one to Harvard -- since its dragon-slaying defeat of then-No. 1 UNC.

MIAMI 62, MARYLAND 60 – Who’s Greivis Vasquez gonna yell at now? His Maryland Terrapins have not defeated the Miami Hurricanes since the U joined the ACC. Last night with a 17-point lead, it looked like the Terps were about to end that run. Then Miami’s Jack McClinton woke up from his nap.

The Canes comeback was fueled by seven 3-pointers, the last three by McClinton, who scored 18 points. McClinton’s final trey with 24 seconds left was the dagger. Maryland continues, as they have for several years, to have lengthy periods during the game when they appear unaware of the fact that they have a half-court offense.

Vasquez sank a pair of 3-pointers early in the second half to help the Terrapins take their largest lead at 52-35 with 12:30 to go.

The Hurricanes (13-3, 2-1 ACC) won their sixth game in a row. The Terrapins (12-4, 1-1) lost in their first road game since Dec. 7.

VIRGINIA TECH 62, RICHMOND 48 – Jeff Allen had a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds and Virginia Tech's defense held the Richmond Spiders to their lowest scoring output of the season. The Hokies also got a game-high 12 points from Malcolm Delaney. With the victory, Tech moved to 11-5 overall on the season, winning for the sixth time in their past seven games.

Richmond fell to 9-7 on the season, losing for just the second time in six games. Kevin Anderson led the Spiders with 11 points.

(AP Photo/John Bazemore, AP Photo/Winslow Townson and Justin Cook/The Roanoke Times)

PICTURE OF THE DAY

NICE ROCK. France's Jean-Baptiste Grange passes a curve as Eiger's noth face stands in the background during the second official practice run in the FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup Men's downhill on January 15, 2009 in Wengen.

(Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 3

WORLD CLASS CRAZY. Grand Prix motorcylces and snow, sweet! (L-R) Nicky Hayden of the U.S.A., Casey Stoner of Australia, team manager Livio Suppo and test rider Vittoriano Guareschi of Italy pose for a photo with the new Ducati Desmo Sedici GP9 during the WROOM F1 Press Meeting on January 15, 2009 in Madonna di Campiglio, Italy.

Gotta remember to get press credentials for that one next year.

(Photo by Vladimir Rys/Bongarts/Getty Images)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 2

NOT WIMBELDON. We’re pretty sure. Marat Safin of Russia eyes the ball during a practice session in the lead-up to the Australian Open in Melbourne on January 15, 2009.

Safin was "bundled" out of the 2008 Australian Open in the second round.

(Photo by Paul Crock/AFP/Getty Images)
(Bundled is Australian for "ushered out in a hurry unexpectedly.")

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

T.A.H. POISED TO WIN "MAJOR AWARD"


Sorry, we just can't stop with the inside jokes this week, but it did get your attention...

Here’s the latest from Ruby:

I feel better now. Thank you. No, I'm not a regular reader, and yes, a Google News Alert did alert me to your story (and this more recent post as well). The criticisms of this fantastic new destination being located in PG County are un-nerving to say the least, and I appreciate you taking the time to explain yourself. (And, yes, it was the photos that were the tipping point.) Thank you again for stating that it was not your intent to bash Prince George's County or the Gaylord National Resort. Wishing you much future success with your blog!

Now that’s downright nice, and maybe we will have the T.A.H. ACC Tournament L.BL. down at the Gaylord National after all! Maybe Ruby can get us an invite and some V.I.P. treatment?

Thanks for the success wish, and please share T.A.H. with all the good folks at Gaylord National and the rest of P.G. County that are loyal ACC fans.

We aren’t sure, but tomorrow we are probably gonna have to blog about something not nearly as entertaining as this – probably something like Maryland v. Miami, Richmond v, Virginia Tech, Duke v. Georgia Tech, and Wake Forest v. Boston College.

HOW EXACTLY DO THEY FIND US...HOW?

Today we received a comment from Ruby, and Ruby's not happy. We don't think Ruby is a regular visitor nor do we believe she appreciates our version of commentary/satire. She surely doesn't get all the inside ribbing between ACC schools, nor does she understand our love for the Blaze and his beloved P.G. County.

But then, how could she? She could hang around the T.A.H. World of Mighty Blogdome, that's how!

Anyway, we meant no harm to Prince George's County, and here is yet another link to the lovely Gaylord National...and, it does, in fact, look damn nice.

What Ruby missed, as do most folks like her who blow up at such poor attempts at humor, is that today’s issue was really poking fun at (in declining order of import): 1) the NCAA (a favorite target), 2) Duke (a second-favorite target), 3) ourselves (yep, another favorite whipping boy), 4) the knucklehead Terps students/fans nuts enough to boo Vasquez, 5) CC Nation, 6) Mrs. Kettle and 7) whatever random thoughts that happened to zip through our addled brains just prior to publication.

If she were a regular reader she would have recognized the absurdity of the headlines of the two prior stories, and that would have lent a little perspective to the one in question that offended her so. We are guessing she didn't read today’s issue (probably because it was too long, don't get mad Ruby, that's an inside joke from yesterday), and that she works somewhere that has a service that alerts her to anything on the web that mentions Prince George's County (recently voted "Garden Spot of the Universe," replacing South Orange, NJ -- oops, Ruby isn't gonna like that one either) or the Gaylord National Hotel and Conference Center.

Nor did Ruby notice that we included a hyperlink to the Gaylord hotel on the Potomac so folks could go and see how nice it is. OK, in retrospect, all the pictures of P.G. County might have been just a smidge unfair, but they came from the Washington Times (don't tell them, they'll send us more of those damn cease and desist letters) and a local P.G. real estate site.

Here's the scoop from Ruby: The NCAA's decision to hold their event at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, MD has NOTHING TO DO WITH THE ECONOMY! The decision to hold the event there was made more than 2 years ago, when the current economic woes weren't even a glimmer in our eyes.

The Gaylord National Resort is a WORLD-CLASS convention resort that competes right alongside some of the best convention hotels in Vegas, Orlando and Chicago. It is winning praise from top meeting and event planners around the country. Also, the NCAA has a long-standing relationship with the Gaylord Hotels brand, having held many past NCAA events at their other convention hotels in Dallas, Nashville and Orlando. That's why they chose to come to the Maryland location. Nothing more, nothing less.

You are trying to make something out of nothing. Get over it. Prince George's County, Maryland has a WORLD-CLASS convention hotel that is attracting major names and major conventions. As a matter of fact, Harley-Davidson is revealing their 2010 models (like the Detroit Auto Show) there the week after NCAA leaves.

Wow, talk about popping a nerve. We're sorry Ruby, really. We didn't mean to get you all worked up...

In March, T.A.H. will consider holding the Third Annual ACC Tournament Second Round Long Boozy Lunch at the sports bar (right) located in the Gaylord National. It looks quite nice.

LIKE HIS COACH, GREIVIS VASQUEZ YELLS AT T.A.H.

Remarkably, we somehow missed this earth shattering story to the consternation of Terps fans nationwide (and especially one in Nokesville, VA!). When queried by some of our most loyal readers about why T.A.H. failed to give our usual Pulitzer Prize-not-winning coverage to the game in question, we replied with this brief retort:

So on the night in question, three nationally ranked ACC teams had games while one wildly inconsistent team (that most recently lost to Morgan State) beat a 9-6 ACC also-ran in a game that featured nothing of interest other than the discourse between the point guard with the wacky first name and the infamously low-brow Terp crowd, we will admit we completely missed it because, like all media outlets, we’re lazy.

Not only did we not watch the game between these two mediocre squads bound for the NIT or other unknown points of the basketball netherworld, but we also failed to read the AP story filed by some poor dumb sap getting paid a few clicks over minimum wage to drag his/her rear end to College Park to watch this piker of a contest.

That would be our bad. What were we thinking?

So, having said that, we are convinced we have shown more contrition for this oversight than Nixon did for Watergate. (See movie Frost/Nixon, or read a history book, for complete explanation).

Now, everybody knows we have some residual love for the Terps since that’s how we grew up – under the spell of the Lefthander. Yep, we were lucky enough to have a parental unit that would drag our butt to old Cole Field House to see Lefty’s boys – John Lucas, Len Elmore, Tom McMillan, Mo Howard, to name a few. The icing on this cake was when Mrs. T.A.H. (a devout Tar Heel) bought coach Gary Williams a drink in a Washington D.C. watering hole and was thanked with the parting shot “anybody who hates Duke is O.K. by me.”

Over the past few years, we have remained perplexed by Maryland’s inconsistency and inability to replicate the National Championship caliber-squad of Juan Dixon, Lenny Baxter, Chris Wilcox and Steve Blake. But, we still have a soft spot for the kids of College Park.

We air that as preface because what we are about to say won’t be popular in some circles. A bunch of Maryland fans (primarily students) are idiots. There we said it.

Yo Terpalicious dudes, you have one good player. Yes, he’s inconsistent. And yes sometimes he looks brilliant and sometimes he looks like he has basketball I.Q. to rival his jersey number, but just like you, he’s a kid…a college student. And, oddly enough, college kids sometimes do things that defy explanation.

But at the end of the day, he’s really all you’ve got. So show G.V. some love, and, to put it as succinctly as possible, SHUT UP.

Evidently, during the Terps earth shaking, all important, media blockbuster victory last weekend over the soon-to-be-nationally ranked world-beating Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (OK, that was a little sarcastic, but CC Nation knows what it’s about, sorry), some Maryland fans (again, mostly, if not all, students) were heckling Greivis Vasquez.

We know what you’re thinking: “You’re kiddin’ me, right?”

Well…no. According to the Washington Post (a legitimate media outlet), “When Vasquez missed a shot or made a mistake, a cluster of Maryland students either booed the guard or yelled for Vasquez to shape up. And Vasquez responded at least three times by turning toward his classmates (once while dribbling the ball), putting his index finger over his lips and telling them to ‘shut the [expletive] up!’”

After the game Vasquez was much calmer, saying, "If they don't believe in us, they can get the hell out. We don't need them anyway. We need the people who will support us, who are with us. I know they are all happy now, but they didn't believe in us when we were down."

Rumor has it that Greivis’ exchange with the cranky fans was the most compelling aspect of an ugly game and it added a new chapter to the love-hate relationship between the Terp’s best player and a fan base burdened by high (and perhaps now unrealistic) expectations.

While Coach Gary Williams has froused on occasion, he has not come right out and criticized the fan base. Vasquez, on the other hand, has mentioned in recent years how quickly the fans jump on and off the Terps' bandwagon.

Just to add a little icing to his shut-your-pile-hole cake, coming out of a timeout with nine seconds remaining with the game in hand, Vasquez walked over in front of the Maryland student section and had a few not-so-kind words with the troops. One student, bewildered, responded, "But we love you, Greivis."

"They don't believe in what we do," Vasquez said. "I didn't shoot well; no one else did. But they always get on me. They are always expecting something out of me. I'm not here for the fans. I'm here for myself, my family and Coach Williams."

Vasquez said Duke, North Carolina and Virginia Tech have student sections that support their teams regardless of performance. And he said to think this team resembles last season's team that struggled through non-conference play is wrong, adding: "We are a totally different team. What the hell are they thinking?"

Agree or disagree, give Greivis credit for speaking his mind.
And the sould patch was nice too. He should bring that back.

(Photos: AP Photo by Rob Carr, Getty Images, Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun and Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

WILLIAMS BARS VASQUEZ FROM SPEAKING TO FANS OR MEDIA

After an interesting, albeit poorly covered by certain media outlets we won’t mention here (T.A.H.), victory over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets that had Maryland star guard Greivis Vasquez verbally sparring with the fans and making critical post game remarks to the legitimate media, head coach Gary Williams has banned the hot-headed guard from speaking further to either group.

“That’s just the start of it,” said an exasperated Williams, “As far as I’m concerned, he isn’t to speak to anybody but his coaches, his teammates and his family. If Greivis wants cheeseburger, he better damn well hope one of us is around to order it for him or he’s gonna starve to death.”

When a reporter asked the sometimes volatile Williams what he said to the firecracker guard after Saturday’s game, Williams said, “We had an adult conversation about the whole situation. Specifically, I told him to ‘sit down, and shut up.’”


(Editor's note: Words in italics are not necessarily true.)

(AP Photo by Gail Burton)

HARSH ECONOMY DRIVES NCAA TO D.C. SUBURB OF P.G. COUNTY

Evidently the current recession is driving groups known for fun-lovin’, rollicking, good times – groups like the NCAA suits from Kansas – away from convention staples like New York, Las Vegas, New Orleans and Miami. So, where is the new sweet spot of out-of-town partying? Prince George’s County, Maryland, that's where.

That’s right the NCAA is conducting its annual convention at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center (not pictured right) located on the Maryland shore of the Potomac River in the shadow of the beloved Woodrow Wilson Bridge. You know, just a rock’s throw from Betty Blume Park. Hey, times are tough, and those NCAA rule enforcers can have fun just about anywhere.

When they aren’t whooping it up in the D.C. suburbs, the D1 Legislative Council is scheduled to vote this week on an ACC proposal to sharply reduce the time underclassmen have to decide whether to remain in the NBA draft. As it now stands, players have two months after the Final Four to assess their NBA status and some ACC coaches are saying that is too long.

You know the drill, after the Final Four, non-seniors declare for the draft and then spend two months deciding what to do. During this period, coaches are in limbo about whether or not to recruit replacements.

That familiar scenario could change as soon as 2010 if the Brothers Williams (Roy and Gary) and Mike Krzydrbnv8ski get their way.

"If you give somebody forever to make a decision, they are going to take forever," Williams (Roy) said. "It leaves your program in limbo. It leaves your current players in limbo."

"For a two-month period, guys who may not be in your program become your priority," Krzyhfbmqp3ski said. "And the guys who are still in the program don't get any attention."

Florida State Coach Leonard Hamilton recently said "too many kids are putting their names into the draft and taking their names out. Their names shouldn't be in there in the first place. You have so many kids making poor decisions, it is obvious some of these kids are getting poor advice."

Some players, including Maryland’s Greivis Vasquez, believe 10 days would be too short a time to make such a significant decision. They feel it would be more difficult to get good advice or base their decisions on feedback from critical May workouts with NBA teams. However his coach says that players who spend the spring working out for NBA teams are often “too far gone” academically to return.
(All photos are actual places in P.G. County, MD)

PICTURE OF THE DAY

YOU’D YELL TOO. Kentucky's Jodie Meeks reacts to a 90-72 victory over Tennessee Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2009 in Knoxville, Tenn. Meeks scored 54 points and broke Dan Issel’s 39-year-old record of 53 points set at Mississippi.

The Southeastern Conference’s leading scorer was only the second player this season to surpass the 50-point mark, according to STATS LLC. North Dakota State’s Ben Woodside had 60 against Stephen F. Austin in a triple overtime loss on Dec. 12.

Meeks surpassed his previous high of 46 points, set Dec. 20 against Appalachian State, with 4:50 left when he hit one of his 10 3-pointers. He set the record with two free throws with 1:31 left.
(AP Photo/Wade Payne)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 2

JUST A REMINDER, that anything is possible. Actor Mickey Rourke won a Golden Globe for his starring role in The Wrestler.

Get used to it, Rourke will likely be adding an Oscar to his collection as well. Rourke was a boxer when he got his acting break from a friend from the University of Miami. His movie roles include 1941, Body Heat, Diner, The Outsiders, Rumble Fish, Angel Heart, The Pope of Greenwich Village and, of course, 9 ½ Weeks. Rourke quit acting and returned to boxing in the 1990’s because he couldn’t “respect himself” as an actor.

In the new millennium, Rourke has gone back to acting with roles that seem perfect for him such as Marv in Frank Miller’s Sin City. The Wrestler is an award winning film about washed-up wrestler Randy “The Ram” Robinson.

(and, yes, that is 100% of our wrestling coverage for the first quarter of 2009!)

(AP Photo)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

WAKE AND BAKE

Fast on the heels (no pun intended) of the week’s burning question “what’s wrong with UNC?” is the next biggie: “How good is Wake Forest?”

Short answer: Damn good.

The long answer has to start with the late Skip Prosser. With all due props to Dino Gaudio who’s doing a great job according to everyone, Prosser was the architect of this squad, so let’s give him his due up front. He recruited these guys, and to their credit when the Wake coach died suddenly, all of them honored their commitment.

If Coach Prosser died with a smile on his face, we know why. These kids are good. He knew that then, and somewhere he knows that now. To make it all the better, his long-time and great friend Gaudio has them playing very good basketball for such a young team.

There is nothing in the UNC-Wake post mortem that is meant to detract from the Deacons effort. Had UNC survived Boston College and remained No. 1, it still would not have been a great shock had they subsequently lost to the No. 4 Wake on the Deacs home court. It’s the ACC remember, it’s tough to win on the road.

Having said that, there is no doubt that Wake Forest is a contender for an ACC Championship and a coveted No. 1 seed in the Big Dance. Point guard Jeff Teague, fresh off torching the Tar Heels, certainly looks like a legit candidate for post-season honors.

Wake Forest (14-0) remains one of three undefeated teams along with Pitt and fellow ACC rival Clemson. They started the season in the top twenty and have steadily worked their way up the poles with a series of impressive wins. They took down a good UTEP (11-5) team early on and followed that up by beating a Big 12 contender in Baylor (14-2). Their best win prior to Sunday night was when they went out to Utah and ended BYU’s 53-game home winning streak in front of a ravenous Cougar crowd.

They followed that up with their impressive win over North Carolina on Sunday night that featured Teague doing pretty much whatever he wanted. Even Ty Lawson conceded that Teague was tough to stop because he is so “crafty with the ball.” We’ll call that one an “understatement.”

North Carolina coach Roy Williams said he told Teague after the game, "'That was about as good a performance as I've seen in a long time against a team that I've coached.' I thought he was sensational."

Add to the mix of good wing players, solid big man Chas McFarland and highly touted freshmen Tony Woods and Al-Farouq Aminu (who may be one of the best young players in the country) and Wake looks ready to make a big run.

So with Carolina in their rear-view mirror, the Deacs are headed up to Chestnut Hill on Wednesday to face the Boston College squad that knocked off the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill and then promptly dropped their next two games. Easy win, right?

Not so fast. Last season, Wake beat Duke at home and then lost four in a row, five of six to end the season, and ultimately didn't play past the ACC tournament. Immediately following the big win over UNC, Gaudio reminded his team that the Deacons have never beaten the Eagles – not at home, not anywhere, posting a dismal 0-7 record.

After the Eagles, the Demon Deacons head down to Clemson for a Saturday match-up of potential unbeatens. If you were worried about the ACC being weak or the season not being interesting because Carolina and Duke were the only two good teams, you can stop worrying.

Let’s not rush off to March Madness, let’s enjoy the ride that’s just getting started.

(AP Photo by Chuck Burton and Getty Imnages)

POINT GUARD FROM EITHER UVA OR MIAMI DESTINED TO BE THE NEXT ACC PLAYER OF THE WEEK

It appears that if you play point guard and you beat North Carolina, you are named the ACC Player of the Week. That’s is exactly what happened with Boston College’s Tyrese Rice last week, and Wake Forest’s Jeff Teague this week.

Interestingly, the Heels face Virginia tomorrow night and the young Cavs feature guard Sylven Landesberg who seems to be the Rookie of the Week in every week that ends in Saturday. Can the still-wet-behind-the-ears Landesberg lead the Wahoos to another upset of UNC and grab the coveted Player/Rookie of the Week double/double?

Probably not. But, history does have a nasty habit of repeating itself…

In a related item, this from the league office: Wake Forest's Jeff Teague has been named ACC Player of the Week, while Virginia's Sylven Landesberg earned ACC Rookie of the Week honors.

Teague scored a career-high 34 points to key the fourth-ranked Demon Deacons to a 92-89 win over North Carolina on Sunday night. It marked the second straight game in which the sophomore guard had scored 30 points or more.

Teague, who played 39 minutes in the contest, went 9-for-17 from the floor, including a 3-for-4 mark from beyond the arc. He also went 13-for-15 at the free throw line and made 5-of-6 free throws in the final two minutes of the game. Teague dished out a team-high four assists and pulled down six rebounds. On the season, Teague is leading the ACC with 20.6 points per game.

Landesberg, a 6-foot-6, 205-pound freshman, scored 24 points and had 13 rebounds in Virginia's games against Brown and Virginia Tech. That included a 20-point effort in the Cavaliers' 78-75 loss at Virginia Tech. Landesberg was 7-for-11 (63.6 percent) from the field vs. the Hokies and made all six of his free throw attempts.

Landesberg also had five assists, one steal and six turnovers in 38 minutes of action. It was his eighth game this season of 20 or more points.

(Photos by Mat Riley/VirginiaSports.com and Reuters)

BOSTON COLLEGE HIRES NEW FOOTBALL COACH SANS THOSE DREADED “GET YOU FIRED” JOB INTERVIEWS

Frank Spaziani is the new football coach at Boston College, promoted after spending 12 seasons as an assistant with the Eagles.

Spaziani’s appointment will be announced at a 3 p.m. news conference Tuesday, according to a person with knowledge of the decision who requested anonymity because the school had not made an announcement.

Spaziani takes over for Jeff Jagodzinski, who was fired after he interviewed for the coaching job with the New York Jets. Jagodzinski, who had three years left on his five-year contract, had been told by athletic director Gene DeFilippo that he would be fired if he went through with the interview.

DeFilippo has said he wants a coach who will serve out the full length of his contract (unless, of course, he fires him before the end of said term).

PICTURE OF THE DAY

ONE OF THE GOOD GUYS. Tony Dungy is retiring. He became the first black coach to win a Super Bowl, the first to make 10 straight playoff appearances, the first to win 12 games in six straight seasons. His regular-season winning percentage of .668 is fifth all-time among coaches with at least 100 wins and his 10.7 regular-season wins per year is the best among that group, too.

Dungy is the franchise career wins leader at both Tampa Bay (54) and Indianapolis (85). In 13 seasons, Dungy went 148-79, won six division titles and appeared in three conference championship games—one in the NFC and two in the AFC.

Dungy entered the league as an assistant in 1981 and got his first head coaching job in 1996 for the Bucs. He used the opportunity to help open doors for young coaches and minority candidates. Graduates from his Buccaneers staff include Kansas City coach Herm Edwards, Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, Chicago’s Lovie Smith and former Detroit coach Rod Marinelli. And now Indy’s new head coach Jim Caldwell.
(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Monday, January 12, 2009

WAKE POWERS PAST FRUSTRATED HEELS

Early big games at home are fun. Especially fun when you play well and win.

Enter No. 4 Wake Forest, who in front of a record Joel Coliseum crowd of 14,714 that included one-time Wake Forest guard Muggsy Bogues, former coach Dave Odom – and a student dressed as Dino from "The Flintstones" in honor of coach Dino Gaudio, held on for a 92-89 triumph over No. 3 North Carolina.

Jeff Teague (#0) had a career-high 34 points and Chas McFarland (#13) matched a season high with 20 points for the Demon Deacons (14-0, 1-0 ACC). Wake remains one of three unbeaten teams in D1, and doing so matches the 1980-81 team that also won its first 14 games.

Danny Green scored 22 points, and Wayne Ellington and Tyler Hansbrough added 17 apiece. Hansbrough's came on 3-of-12 shooting, and he missed all five of his shots in the second half for the Tar Heels (14-2, 0-2) who generally threw rocks at the basket.

In a span of eight days, the once-unanimous No. 1 team in the nation has lost two of three and shares last place in the ACC with Georgia Tech. UNC its first two league games for the first time since 1996-97, when it started 0-3.

Teague clearly outplayed his counterpart - North Carolina's Ty Lawson, who finished 4-for-12 from the field, missed all four of his 3s and turned it over four times. Deon Thompson also had a long and miserable evening missing ten of thirteen shots.

Teague entered with an ACC-leading average of 19.6 points - Hansbrough's average of 22 points would have been tops in the league had he played in at least 75 percent of the Tar Heels’ games.

But, like Tyrese Rice last Sunday, the Deacs point guard put on a show that ultimately carried the day.

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

CLEAN UP ON AISLE TAR HEEL

If the water cooler talk in ACC country wasn’t about UNC’s loss to BC, surely the Heels second loss in eight days and a seemingly impossible 0-2 ACC start will be the talk of hoop fanatics everywhere from now until Thursday night when Ol’ Roy’s squad heads to Charlottesville for a date with the Wahoos.

There will be plenty of words dedicated to the topic “What’s wrong with UNC?” over the next few days, but in this case a few numbers may be as telling as the thousands of words attempting to describe what appears to be a tired, frustrated and impatient Tar Heel team.

First off, in two opening ACC losses, UNC has surrendered an average of 88 points per game. That's a lot of points. Simply put, that's too many. This is particularly troubling to a team that uses good defense to create turnovers and secure defensive rebounds which jump starts their transition offense.

Next number of concern is 59 – that’s how many points the winning team’s point guards have contributed to the final score the opening two losses. Tyrese Rice, who has a history of hanging a bunch on the Heels, scored 25 and last night Wake’s Jeff Teague scored a career high 34 points. Most disconcerting for Carolina fans was the simple fact that it appeared that Teague could score at will no matter who guarded him.

Consider the numbers 22 and 20. During these first two league losses, the Tar Heels have allowed an opponent’s role players to shine. Against B.C. it was Rakim Sanders, and against Wake it was Chas McFarland. Sanders was averaging 11.1 points before he dropped 22 on Carolina, and McFarland was averaging just 10 before scoring 20 points last night. Muddying the waters a bit more is that McFarland was only averaging 21 minutes per game (presumably due to foul trouble, etc.), but he managed 33 minutes last night.

Then there is Tyler Hansbrough's magic number of 20. Psycho T had scored twenty or more in every game this year since his return from injury against Michigan State. Last night, the Heels' half-court offense was disrupted by Wake’s strategy of pushing Hansbrough further from the basket.

Enter the number 3 - as in three point shot. Wake's strategy worked as the impatient Tar Heels tried 23 three pointers (they attempted 22 against Boston College the Sunday previous), but made only six of them for 26 percent. Last year, the Heels averaged 14.8 three point attempts per game. When UNC gets behind, they have a tendency to try to catch-up from the outside-in instead of remembering that their strength is from the inside-out.

The Heels generally thought to be a good three-point shooting team, but a three point shot in transition when moving forward is different (and easier to make) than a three point shot generated from lateral movements, picks or other components of a half-court offense. Ask anybody who plays.

Then there’s this number – 35 percent. Against the Eagles, UNC shot 38 percent overall. Last night against Wake they posted their lowest percentage of the season making just 26 of 74 shots for 35.1 per cent. For the game, Deon Thompson, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Tyler Hansbrough were a combined 28 per cent on 14 of 50 shooting.

Thompson and Lawson both had particularly bad nights. Lawson was off target and clearly frustrated at times while trying to force plays, while Thompson missed all five shots in first half and five more in the second including a point blank dunk. Were it not for a spectacular effort by Danny Green, Wake would have won by double figures.

And then there is the all-important No. 1 – Would that be the No. 1 preseason ranking and the presumption that the UNC, like Wake, with all it’s returning starters could simply waltz through the season and magically appear at the Final Four? No, not that No. 1. While pre-seasons hype and easy non-conference wins do not a champion make, Carolina’s No. 1 issue is the No. 1 on Marcus Ginyard’s jersey.

Ginyard was injured in October and last night, two games into the regular season ACC campaign, he was on the Tar Heel bench in street clothes. He had surgery in early October to repair a stress fracture in his left foot. But he is still only able to participate in about 50 percent of each practice. The senior played against Rutgers, Nevada and Boston College, but has sat out two games since.

Ginyard is the Heels’ best defender. He’s the guy you send in to stop the other team’s big scorer (even if it’s the point guard). More importantly, Ginyard is a cool customer.

In big games, at crunch time, every team needs that guy that settles everybody down and keeps everybody focused. Ginyard is that guy, and UNC needs him back out on the court.

Problem is nobody can figure out why Ginyard’s injury isn’t healing properly. In a press conference on Saturday, Ol’ Roy said “I don’t know” nine times in six minutes. Clearly, everybody is frustrated and no one as much as Ginyard himself.

So what’s the good news?

Well, for starters, the Tar Heels are emphatically insuring that they won’t fall prey to the “Duke Syndrome” – crushing everything in their path from November through February only to create high rankings and false expectation on the way to a late March or early April meltdown. If you are going to have issues, now is the time to have them while you have a lot of games to work out the solutions.

Secondly, the Heels have demonstrated in both games their ability to stay in the game even when things are going very badly. Last night, UNC looked tired and frustrated at times. They committed 18 turnovers. They committed 28 fouls, and they shot 28 per cent in the second half. Their star players struggled every step of the way and the game was still competitive to the end. Make no mistake, Wake was in control and the Heels were struggling to keep in close, but UNC could have simply wilted when down by nine in the second half.

While these losses are tough for the Heels and their faithful to swallow now, they will eventually be seen as the games that either exposed the Tar Heels weaknesses that ultimately led to disappointing season or they will be seen as the games that shaped their identity and led to improvement that will pay big dividends in the upcoming ACC and NCAA tournaments.

Only time will tell.

(Photos by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images and Getty Images)

DEAR MR. SNYDER

Dear Mr. Snyder:

I don’t want to be a pest, but did you notice that both teams playing in the NFC Championship game (The Bird Bowl) – the Philadelphia Eagles and the Phoenix Cardinals – were both DEFEATED by our beloved Redskins earlier this NFL season?

Oh, you noticed...We thought you might.

Kinda sucks, doesn’t it?

Oh well, don’t panic and go out and spend zillions on the Adam Archuleta’s of the world. Oops, forgot, we have a restraining order that prohibits us saying Adam Archuleta or Deon Sanders or Jeff George for that matter, but you get the point. ADAM ARCHULETA.

Here’s hoping the Skins can improve their pass rush and pass protection this off-season. Let’s give our guy Jason Campbell one more year before we start screaming “journeyman” every time he touches the ball, and let’s hope one of those two, big wide receivers you drafted last year that managed to barely play this year will be impact players next year.

Other than that, we’re good.

Your Loyal Fan

P.S. Oh...and please don’t draft another punter…or kicker. Make Vinny give you the remote control.

(Photos by Al Bello/Getty Images and AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

PICTURE(S) OF THE DAY

THE ECSTASY, THE AGONY. Fans of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrate against the New York Giants during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game on January 11, 2009 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

A fan of the New York Giants looks on as well, but doesn't seem to be enjoying the game quite as much.

The Eagles won by a score of 23-11.

(Photos by Michael Heiman/Getty Images and Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

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