Saturday, February 7, 2009

TERPS HAVE HEAD-COACH-IN-WAITING

From Heather Dinich’s ESPN ACC Blog
Joining the likes of Texas and Florida State, Maryland now has a head-coach-in-waiting as well.

The Terps’ offensive coordinator James Franklin was named Thursday as the eventual successor to Ralph Friedgen, putting him in line to become the Terrapins' first black head football coach.

Friedgen, who turns 62 in April, still has three years remaining in his contract -- it expires Jan. 2, 2012 -- and he isn't expected to retire before then. But Franklin was hired with the understanding that he would have a chance to be head coach.

There is no specific timeline for how long the 37-year-old Franklin would be the coach-in-waiting; Friedgen has three years remaining on his contract and has not indicated that he is ready to step aside.

Even though he has to wait Franklin said he has "always dreamed" of getting this type of opportunity.

Franklin is entering his seventh season with the Terps. He worked at Maryland from 2000 to 2004, then was hired last season as assistant head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Franklin, who has earned a reputation as a top recruiter, has had several other coaching opportunities in recent years, and Maryland wanted to make sure he stuck around. They have been negotiating for the past two weeks.

(Baltimore Sun photo by Karl Merton Ferron / February 6, 2009)

WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THE HOOS?

We frequently send T.A.H. posts over to Bleacher Report. One of the features of the bleacherreport.com site is that they have profiles of all the contributors, and they have rankings based on various criteria. We were cruising through the College Basketball top ranked writers the other day (and wondering why T.A.H. wasn't ranked higher – we’re undervalued at 14th in the national rankings. Can you believe that?), when we came across Ben Gibson.

Gibson recently graduated from the University of Virginia and has been writing sports articles for the past three years. He has been published in such Wahooian staples as the Cavalier Daily, TheSabre.com, The Fanatic Magazine and laxnews.com, so he knows of what he speaks.

Obviously, he bleeds orange and blue, but he can't be all bad as he confesses a love of golf which absolves almost everybody of almost everything.

So we asked Ben to tee it up about what the heck is going on the capsized world of Wahoo hoop. Based on his headline, Ben probably would have enjoyed that first season in JPJA when every UVA reference included a U.S. Navy or Led Zepplin shout out.

Those were the days…

Here's what Ben submitted when we asked WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THE HOOS?

WILL CAPTAIN LEITAO'S ROSTER SHAKE-UP RIGHT THE LISTING SHIP

By Ben Gibson - T.A.H. Guest Columnist

The waters of ACC basketball can be rather choppy.

Just ask Duke and Wake Forest, two teams that met a thunderstorm this week, when they were expecting sunny skies. Their ships took a hit, but it's nothing like the young S.S. Virginia.

The Cavalier ship hit an iceberg long ago - somewhere between Xavier's offensive fireworks and Virginia's offensive ineptitude (3-22) at home against Florida State.

Coach, Dave Leitao, has not stormed the sidelines as we have become accustomed to.
His fierce anger has been replaced by a listless stare as he staggers around the bench wondering what has happened to his team.

Much like a captain who must go down with the ship, he can't help, but feel frustrated at the lack of passion and energy that used to fill John Paul Jones Arena when names like Reynolds, Singletary and even Cain were around.

As inconsistent as many of the players on the team have been, Virginia has consistently brought us some of the following facts game in and out:

A. Virginia will not be able to score points in the half court.

The Cavaliers motionless motion offense cannot seem to break down a high school defense let alone an ACC team. Most players stand while Virginia chucks up long threes, most in an impatient display where ball movement is something that never escapes the three-point arc.

B. Virginia will turn the ball over and give opponents easy points.

What good is a home court advantage if you give team's fast break points to build confidence?

It is hard enough to beat UNC, as it is, why spot them 13-points from the start.

C. Virginia will do all right defensively one-on-one but cannot rotate over.

Want to score against Virginia?

Pass the ball.

Virginia will take too many risks, leading them out of position and leading to fouls.
Worse yet for the Cavaliers, they cannot seem to communicate and missed assignments lead to dunks and wide enough lanes for the Titanic to come through.

Last night, Virginia followed a similar fate by trailing well over 20-points in the first half and shooting 5-25 at one point!

Then, Captain, Leitao decided to write a new script.

In the second half, Leitao used the following starting line-up:

1. Calvin Baker (The most experienced point guard option)

2. Jeff Jones (A highly-rated recruit who had disappeared on the bench)

3. Sylven Landesberg (Virginia's best player by far)

4. Solomon Tat (Completely forgotten)

5. Assane Sene (Virginia's only shot blocker)

That had to be quite the surprise for the three starters who did not get the nod in the second half.

Even more surprising, Leitao did not make a substitution until the final two minutes of the game - and even then it was because Tat fouled out.

So, what exactly is Leitao doing putting a 6'5" swing man who has 10 DNP's at the power forward slot?

"I wasn't really interested in playing anybody who wasn't going to play the game the right way," Leitao said.

Ouch.

If Leitao was sending a message, I think it was clear the players got it.

Whether it is the rapidly regressing Sammy Zeglinski, the defensively-challenged Jamil Tucker or the hot and cold Mike Scott, all three men have exemplified the frustration Virginia fans have over their team that seems "stuck in neutral".

Well, with plenty of games still to go, Leitao sternly has kicked the clutch into high gear.

When Leitao first got here, he had seven scholarship players. It was a difficult challenge, but one with a simple solution.

The solution is far more difficult when your team is loaded with potential but strongly lacking in production.

Leitao knows any given night he may have three or four players who could go off.

Then the challenge becomes finding them. This means giving everyone playing time because everyone needs it and no one has earned it.

The lack of consistency in minutes has led to inconsistency in play.

So Leitao has finally decided to stop following the same old script and handpick the players to build his team around.

I think I speak for everyone when I say ... it's about time!
Will Virginia struggle?

Of course, but we're used to that. We want to see five guys play with confidence and work through their mistakes.

Leitao's vote of confidence may actually rally the troops.

Guys like Jones and Tat are rhythm players that may actually get the time to get into a rhythm. While guys like Scott and Zeglinski will be hungry to earn back Leitao's trust.

However, that will only happen if the captain sticks to his guns.

The old game plan has failed sir; it's time for something new and no better time than now with a team that is going nowhere.
Virginia may have the answer to breaking the familiar frustrating script.

Still, the question remains, has this team seen the light or is it simply rearranging the deck chairs?

(Photos from AP Photo by Nick Wass, Sara D. Davis, Andrew Shurtleff and Erik Lesser, and Reuters.)

THREE MONTH SUSPENSION INSPIRES EVEN BIGGER PARTY?

USA Swimming said Thursday night that it has decided to suspend Michael Phelps from competition for the next three months as punishment for a photo that was published in a British tabloid over the weekend that appeared to show him smoking marijuana.

The organization's board of directors voted on the decision, saying the intent was to send Phelps a "strong message" that it did not approve of his behavior. USA Swimming also said it is withdrawing financial support from Phelps during the suspension, a mostly symbolic punishment. The sport provides stipends for Olympic-caliber athletes in case they cannot afford to train and work at the same time.

USA Swimming wasn't the only one expressing disappointment with Phelps yesterday. Although his corporate sponsors have mostly stood by him since the photograph was published, Kellogg Co. said it would not renew its partnership with Phelps after its deal with the swimmer expires at the end of this month.

Phelps' management company, Octagon, said he understood the two decisions:

"Michael is disappointed that he can no longer fuel his party machine with Kellogs' coin, but he's delighted about the 90 day vacation and he plans to celebrate by driving around doing tubes and beers."

*Items in italics may not be true.

PICTURE(S) OF THE DAY

THE DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES. The weather can be sporadic on the California coast…
Here, Ben Curtis tees off during the 2nd Round of the Buick Invitational at the Torrey Pines North Course on February 6, 2009 in La Jolla, California. The sky looks rather ominus.






The day before, it was clear skies and clear sailing for Luke Donald as he tees off on the third hole.



(Photos by Donald Miralle/Getty Images and Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 2

CHICK JUDO. Frenchwomen Frederique Jossinet (r) and Elena Bernard compete on February 7, 2009 in Paris, during the women - 48 kg preliminary round, at the Paris tournament, part of Grand Chelem. Some 500 judokas attend the event this week-end.

(Photo by Boris Horvat/AFP/Getty Images)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 3

HOT? A streaker runs on the race track during the men's downhill at the World Ski Championships on February 7, 2009 in Val d'Isere, French Alps.

(Photo by Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 4

MUST BE THE PRO BOWL. Indianapolis Colts' quarterback Peyton Manning, second left, and his brother New York Giants' quarterback Eli Manning pose with hula dancers before football practice at the Ko Olina Resort in Kapolei, Hawaii, Friday Feb. 6, 2009, in preparation for the Pro Bowl football game this Sunday.

(AP Photo/Ronen Zilberman)

Friday, February 6, 2009

THURSDAY NIGHT HOOPS

FLORIDA STATE 62, GEORGIA TECH 58 - The ACC's leading scorer in league games, Toney Douglas shook off a poor shooting night and scored 10 of his game-high 21 points in the final 5:09 as cold-shooting Florida State rallied for a 62-58 victory over Georgia Tech on Thursday night.

Florida State (17-5, 4-3) hit seven of eight free throws, four by Uche Echefu (gusuntite), in the final 41.5 seconds to stave off the Yellow Jackets.
Georgia Tech (10-11, 1-7) was led by Zachery Peacock's 16 points, while Gani Lawal came up with his 14th double-double of the season with 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Yellow Jackets.

By way of numerical perspective, the Noles scored one more and the Jakcets one less basket in the entire game than the Tar Heels scored Tuesday night in the first half.

(AP Photo/Phil Coale)

BIG 10 UPDATE: LOUD AND LOUDER



Louder won.


Final score Wisconsin 63, No. 23 Illinois 57.


The Badgers (13-9, 4-6 Big 10) scored three more points and the Illini (18-5, 6-4) three less points in the entire game than North Carolina scored Tuesday night against the Terps in the first half.

No wonder these guys are yelling.

(Photos by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

ACC AND MARYLAND OFFICIALS OUT TO GET GARY?

Rumors are swirling around beleaguered Terps’ coach Gary Williams yet again. After Tuesday night’s racehorse loss to North Carolina, word on the street in College Park centered not around the locals 91 points in a losing effort, but of persistent rumors that ACC Commissioner John Swofford is having an affair with Maryland’s senior athletic director Kathy Worthington (pictured at left wearing sunglasses) who recently traded barbs with Williams in the Washington Post.

“The proof is in the schedule,” said an anonymous source close to Williams that T.A.H. won’t name here for journalistic and ethical reasons (The Blaze), “She has clearly used her relationship with the league’s big cheese to punish Gary. Look at the schedule, man, it’s obvious! It is, what it is.”

Gotta admit, he’s got a point.

The Terrapins are the only team to have a home-and-home series with both Duke and North Carolina. “Well, with the exception of each other,” said Terp rocket-scientist big unathletic white guy whom T.A.H. won't name (D. Neal), “You know, um, Carolina plays Duke home-and-home and Duke plays the Heels home-and-home, um, does that count?”

Well…nooo.

But that makes the Terps remaining schedule no less daunting. This weekend they go to Georgia Tech (no longer an easy out), then the Hokies come to Comcast (who knows?), followed by a trip down south to play No. 10 Clemson (loss). Back home four days later, the Tar Heels come to town (fewer points, but still a loss), followed four days later by Duke (loss). Trips to N.C. State (win?) and Virginia (win - lock) are sandwiched around a visit from Wake Forest (loss).

That leaves Gary’s boys outside the Big Dance looking in yet again with 7-9 ACC record and a18-12 record overall.


That’s N.I.T gold, Jerry!

However, there is nothing wrong with Maryland that a good point guard, a couple 6’10” guys and a half-court offense couldn’t cure.

Meanwhile, ACC Commish Swofford could not be reached for comment as he is busy helping work crews construct unsellable seats with bad views in the Georgia Dome for the upcoming ACC tournament March 12-15.

When T.A.H. caught up with Swofford at a downtown Atlanta watering hole after another tough day of bad seat construction, Swofford said, “Look I’ve got enough trouble trying to sell 36,000 tickets to the tournament in a bad economy while defending the current BCS system to the media and the damn President. Simply put, I don’t have time for this Worthington woman and her vendetta against coach what’s-his-name.”

*items in italics may not be true.

T.A.H. P.T.I. Q.T.W.

That would be Today’s ACC Headlines Pardon the Interruption quote of the week.

There is no better treadmill fodder than PTI. Tony Kornheiser landed this zinger at the beginning of the show yesterday.

Michael Wilbon: Tonight! Lakers versus Celtics – what’s bigger than that?!?

Kornheiser: Aretha Franklin.


Zing!

(Getty Images/Reuters Images)

PICTURE OF THE DAY

1,000. Tennessee coach Pat Summitt has confetti dumped on her by Alicia Manning (15) and Alex Fuller (2) after the Lady Vols game against Georgia on Thursday, Feb. 5, 2009 in Knoxville, Tenn.

Tennessee won 73-43, giving Summitt her 1,000th career victory.

Summitt is not only the first to 1,000 Division I victories, she might be the only one for a long time. The only coaches with at least 900 wins are Bobby Knight (902) and retired Texas women's coach Jody Conradt (900).

Mike Krzydhbn6ski has 822.


(AP Photo/Wade Payne)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 2

BAD WORLD ECONOMY? While the U.S. Senate debates a stimulus package/spending bill/bailout/whatever-you-want-to-call it, multi-millionaires worldwide continue to race their yachts.

Thank the good Lord for that small bit of stability.

Italia Challenge, left, competing against Alinghi on day 2 of round robin 2 of the Pacific Series sailing regatta off Auckland, New Zealand, Friday, February 6, 2009.

(AP Photo/NZPA, David Rowland)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

IN THE WORDS OF FAMOUS BRAIN GURU DR. WAYNE DYER: YOU ARE WHAT YOU THINK

No. 10 CLEMSON 74, No. 3 DUKE 47 - Duke had won 22 straight over Clemson before the Tigers turned the table in last March's ACC tournament semifinal. That win and some therapy set the stage for last night as the Tigers used a smothering pressing defense to end the regular season streak of losses against the Blue Devils.

In front of a ravenous crowd in Littlejohn Coliseum and the Tiger's new shrink, sports psychologist Dr. Joel Fish, Clemson (19-2, 5-2 ACC), handed the Blue Devils (19-3, 6-2) their worst loss since the 1990 NCAA title game when UNLV throttled them 103-73.

Dr. Fish has been a sport psychology consultant for the Philadelphia Flyers, Philadelphia 76ers, the Philadelphia Phillies and the USA Women's National Soccer Team. Whatever Fish said, it worked.

How good is Fish? Not only did the Tigers crush their nemesis, they made 3 of 5 free throws in the first half and 8 of 11 in the second period for 68.8 percent. While that's not great, it shows dramatic improvement in an area that has long been Clemson's Achilles' heel in big game situations.

Fish gave the Clemson squad a pre-game speech about believing they were an elite team, and they promptly went out and played like one. Credit coach Oliver Purnell for being creative with a group that two-years ago won 17-straight and then collapsed.

Clemson utilized relentless full court pressure to force Duke into 30.8 percent shooting from the floor - a season-low for the Blue Devils. Duke was three of thirteen from behind the arc (23.1 percent) and further buggered things up committing 16 turnovers.

Trevor Booker scored 21 points and Terrence Oglesby had five 3-pointers for No. 10 Clemson while Gerald Henderson was the only one of Duke's four double-digit average scorers to hit that mark with 16. Kyle Singler, who came in averaging 16 points, had six on 2-of-8 shooting

"It was 40 minutes of them dominating," Duke coach Mike Krzyzdjk3ski said. "They just kicked our butts."

(Officiating note: Remarkably, in spite of the lopsided score and Clemson's domination, the Blue Devils still had three more free throw attempts (19) than the Tigers (16). That should give the “Duke Gets All The Calls Crowd” riled up yet again!)

(AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain)

WAKE FOREST SUFFERING MOTION SICKNESS ON ROAD

MIAMI 79, No. 6 WAKE FOREST 52 - Just a week ago, the young Demon Deacons played splendidly and then watched their faithful rush the court at Joel Coliseum following an impressive last second win over then No. 1 Duke. Last night, they were on the other end of the stick, having to witness the Canes' fans mid-court celebration following a blow-out loss to a solid, but unranked, Miami.


Jack McClinton is the type of player that can take over a game, and tht is exactly what he did scoreing a season-high 32 points. On defense, the Canes used a zone defense to stymie Wake Forest, which lost its second consecutive game. The young Demon Deacons are rapidly learning the perils of ACC road games.

The Hurricanes hardly looked like a team that had lost three straight games, while Wake looked little like the powerhouse that knocked off then No. Duke just a week prior. In the face of the Canes' zone, the Deacons shot 19 of 60 from the field for 31.7 percent while making a paltry 3 of 20 (15 percent) from behind the arc. Miami challenged Wake Forest to beat them with jump shots, and the Demon Deacons simply couldn't do it.

McClinton scored 14 consecutive points for the Hurricanes late in the game to help build their biggest margin of victory ever against a ranked team. He finished 11 of 19, including 6 of 10 from 3-point range, and added three steals and two assists.

The victory snapped a slump for the Hurricanes (15-7, 4-5 ACC) at the start of a three-game stretch against top 10 teams. They visit No. 3 Duke on Saturday and will be at home against No. 4 North Carolina on Feb. 15.

(AP Photos/Wilfredo Lee)

BAD FIRST HALF SINKS WAHOOS

BOSTON COLLEGE 80, VIRGINIA 70 - Tyrese Rice and Rakim Sanders scored 20 points each as Boston College beat Virginia 80-70 on Wednesday night.

The Eagles (18-6, 6-3 ACC) led 42-22 at halftime after limiting the Wahoos to six first-half field goals.

Virginia (7-11, 1-6) lost its sixth straight despite a career-high 32 points by freshman Sylven Landesberg. Jeff Jones added 10 points, but on 2-for-11 shooting as the Cavs guards, besides Landesberg, were a combined 6-for-34 from the field. Virginia shot just 33.3 percent overall (23-for-69).

Boston College shot 51.1 percent (24-for-47) and would have put the game away early if not for their 20 turnovers that led to 23 points for the Cavaliers.

(Photo by David Petkofsky/UVa Media Relations)

LIKE OBAMA, COACH K STILL USING HIS BLACKBERRY DURING GAME

During last night’s blow out loss to Clemson, Duke head coach Mike Krzyrghl9ski was rumored to be seen using his Blackberry with just a few minutes left in the contest.

Sources close to Coach K, who T.A.H. won’t name for moral, ethical and journalistic reasons (Chainsaw Bierman and Vino Grande Williams), claim the Lord of All Things Duke Blue was emailing Norm Oglvie, the Director of Men’s and Women’s Track and Field at the Durham school.

The email message read something like this: "Dear Coach Oglvie: Please cancel indoor track practice tomorrow at the Michael W. Krzyhnmb2wski Center so I, the facilities namesake, can utilize the space built in my glorious honor for basketball practice for the men’s varsity squad. Thank you. Coach K.


P.S. It’s my building, you have no options, so clear the hell out."

Another source (former Dukie Jay Bilas) tipped this story during the national television broadcast when he noted that the players “won’t need a basketball” when they show up for today’s practice following the embarrassing loss.

Track shoes are optional.

*items in italics may not be true.

FSU RECRUIT’S ARREST HIGHLIGHTS NATIONAL SIGNING DAY

It was national signing day for NCAA college football recruits, and, as usual, the Florida State Seminoles once again made big news.

Law enforcement officials in Tallahassee, FL arrested
Florida State’s top recruit – 6’0”, 267 lbs. defensive tackle Jacobbi McDaniel – on a variety of misdemeanor and felony charges ranging from suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuana to grand larceny and assault.

“We figured it was gonna get busy with all these new recruits rolling in here,” said Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell, “So we just figured we’d go on over and arrest Jacobi to beat the rush.”

The news reached FSU’s Bobby Bowden before the fax transmitting McDaniel’s commitment could be delivered to the head coach’s war room desk. “Who?” asked Bowden, who is famous for his ability to recall the names of past, present and future players.

McDaniel is the fifth-best player in the nation according to ESPN and the top defensive tackle. He was also listed as a top player by Rivals and Scout.com. He was a member of the SuperPrep All-American Top 100 Dream Team, but his subscription to High Times magazine may have been his undoing.

A USA Today first team All-American and an Under Armour All-American, McDaniel could not be reached for comment, but his spokesperson (his mom) said something about Michael Phelps.

“Just doin’ my job,” said Sheriff Campbell who attended the University of Florida for seven weeks and three days in 1993.

Top recruits were also arrested immediately after signing letters of intent with Miami, Virginia Tech, Clemson, N.C. State and Maryland.


*items in italics may not be true.

SUPER BOWL PORN FOLLOW-UP: BECAUSE WE CAN

It looks like our new post-Bush world of transparency and responsibility is starting to pay big dividends. Here’s a follow-up piece from Sports Illustrated regarding Super Porn Bowl.

Forget about the Lingerie Bowl, some Arizona residents were able to celebrate Larry Fitzgerald's big fourth quarter touchdown with a 30-second porn clip that accidentally aired during the broadcast. Those viewers inconvenienced by the porn clip will reportedly receive a $10 credit from Comcast.

The best Super Bowl ever, a free porn clip, plus $10.

Don't you love this country?

Wow, $10…nice, Comcast, NICE!

Great cover shot, by the way.
(Photo by Al Tielemans/SI)

PICTURE OF THE DAY

BONES McKINNEY. That would be Horace Albert “Bones” McKinney -- If you aren’t old enough to know who Bones is, get Googlin’!

Bones was a college and pro player, the coach at Wake, and he made regular "guest" appearances on ACC telecasts back in the days of Pilot Life and the ACC Game of the Week. He taught the ACC’s second-leading scorer and NCAA free throws made leader, Dickie Hemric, how to shot a hook shot with either hand.

Bones is also responsible for one of the great basketball quotes of all time:

“The trouble with officials is they don't care who wins.”

PICTURE(S) OF THE DAY 2

BAD UNIS. Whoa, it's only early February and the Bad Uni of the Year Award may already be locked up. Check out these horrible retro jobs worn recently by the Montreal Canadiens.

Oh, Canada!
The socks are particularly unattractive.

(AP Photos/The Canadian Press,Graham Hughes)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

SOMETIMES YOUR THE WINDSHIELD, SOMETIMES YOU'RE THE BUG

No. 4 NORTH CAROLINA 108, MARYLAND 91

If you told Gary Williams his Maryland Terrapins would make as many baskets, shoot 56 percent in the first half and 48 percent for the game, have just two fewer rebounds and four fewer made free throws than UNC while scoring 91 points only to get run out of the gym losing by 17, he simply would not have believed you. And, frankly, who could blame him?

But that’s exactly what happened when the topsy-turvy Terps ran head-on into a North Carolina team playing to its maximum potential that had pundits and prognosticators earlier in the year predicting a Tar Heel expressway to the National Championship.

Defense? Who needs defense? Shoot the rock.

Wayne Ellington scored a season-high 34 points and hit seven of his team's season-high 16 three-pointers in the Tar Heels' sixth straight victory. Tyler Hansbrough added 24 and Ty Lawson added 21 and four 3s for North Carolina (20-2, 6-2 ACC). The win marked UNC’s fifth straight 20-win season under Ol’ Roy.

Danny Green finished with 16 points for North Carolina, which hit 11 of its first 14 attempts from behind the arc to match the school's record in a half, and finished one three-pointer shy of the record for a game set against Florida State back in 1995.

The Heels shot 51.4 percent, reached the 100-point mark for the sixth time and snapped a two-game losing streak in the series with their first win against Maryland since 2006.

Freshman Sean Mosley scored a season-high 19 points, Cliff Tucker added 18 and Greivis Vasquez scored 13 points for the Terps (14-8, 3-5).

"They made like four or five 3s in a row, and that was basically the game," Vasquez said. "We were so worried about Tyler Hansbrough that we gave shots away. We let them shoot the ball. ... It was just basically a no-defense game. They didn't play defense, and we didn't play defense."

Here at T.A.H., we don’t get all geeked over stats, but the box score of this game is worth seeing. The numbers are virtually identical in every statistical category except one – 3PM-A. The Terps made 3 of 10 three-pointers (30 percent) while the Heels canned 16 of 25 (64 percent) - that's 39 point swing.

Ellington’s 34 points came on just 15 shot attempts while he, Lawson, Green and Hansbrough were all in double figures by halftime.

(A note on officiating: We continue to be amazed at the inconsistency within each ACC game. Last night, in the first half players in the paint got pounded – no whistles until Dino Gregory tackled Tyler Hansbrough . In the second half, the reverse was true. What’s up with that?)
(Photos by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

UNC BY THE NUMBERS

North Carolina put up 60 first half points, outscoring the game totals for winners Georgetown and Buffalo and losers Rutgers, Kentucky, Iowa State, Hofstra, Towson, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Toledo, Maine, Air Force, Bradley and Wyoming.

The Georgetown-Rutgers game must have been particularly ugly -- a 57-47 final for a combined 104 points. Rutgers scored 18 points in the first half while the Heels scored 20 in the first six and one-half minutes.

Tyler Hansbrough moved into third place on the ACC all-time scoring list (2,572). He passed Duke's Johnny Dawkins with a jumper in the second half.

The 108 points scored by North Carolina are the fourth most by the Tar Heels in ACC play since the start of the 1996-97 season.

Wayne Ellington scored 34 points and became the 25th Tar Heel to score 30-plus on multiple occasions for his career.

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

HEELS’ BEST DEFENDER GINYARD OUT FOR SEASON

UNC swingman Marcus Ginyard will miss the rest of the season and seek a medical redshirt because of an injured left foot. The Tar Heels announced their decision on Ginyard during the final minutes of their 108-91 rout of Maryland on Tuesday night.

Ginyard, a senior, has played in only three games as he was slow to recover from preseason foot surgery.

We had also been wondering where Will Graves had been of late? Answer: Roy Williams said he suspended the sophomore forward for the rest of the season for failing to "maintain the standards we expect of a Carolina basketball player."

(Photo by Getty Images)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

GOOD RIVALRY GONE BAD: A LONG DARK TOBACCO ROAD

Never mind a couple college kids banging each other during a basketball game, the North Carolina – N.C. State rivalry took an exceptionally ugly turn after the game on Saturday night.

Unbelievably, a mural honoring Kay Yow, the Wolfpack basketball coach who lost a 20-year battle to breast cancer on Jan. 24, was defaced after last weekend's UNC v. N.C. State game. The mural is located in N.C. State’s “free expression tunnel” which is often the sight of various pranks by rival schools. Prior to this year’s N.C. State v. UNC football game, a group of Carolina students painted the entire tunnel sky blue with various harmless messages like “Go Heels!”

But, this was entirely different.

A blue mustache and the words "cancer rules" and an obscenity were painted on the art work that depicted a portrait of Yow against a pink background.

Needless to say, Wolfpack Nation is in an uproar right along with every decent, morally centered human being on planted Earth. What kind of moron does this? What kind of twisted mind thinks this is funny?

Obviously, folks in Raleigh are pointing at Chapel Hill, and the Carolina blue crowd is doing their best to apologize hoping it wasn’t a Carolina student or alum that is ultimately responsible.

Two issues come into play here: a) the future of the tunnel which has been the subject of previous controversy, and b) the vehement nature of fans – both directly and indirectly affiliated with a school.

After Saturday’s UNC basketball win, the mural was painted in the same place where racist graffiti was found written about Barack Obama during the presidential campaign.

The Obama incident prompted the University of North Carolina system to revisit student codes of conduct as related to hate crimes, and N.C. State Chancellor James Oblinger also formed a cultural task force to talk about the tunnel.

“We've looked at that question (and) we've looked at whether or not we should keep the tunnel in place,” said Tom Stafford, vice-chancellor at N.C. State.

The committee was inclined to say yes.

“If you shut the tunnel down, the people who feel this way will still have those feelings and thoughts inside," Stafford said.

As a result, the N.C. State University Student Senate passed the Free Expression Tunnel Response Act after the Obama incident. The act requires campus police to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators. It is not know yet if N.C. State or Raleigh police have any suspects in the Yow debacle, but the tunnel does have security cameras at both ends.

This, of course, has locals calling for the tunnel to be closed. One letter in the Raleigh News & Observer titled “Take out the Tunnel” concluded, “It's senseless that these vandals are given free rein to write hateful and destructive things and deface the sincere worthy feelings that are expressed there. It's a cowardly act and needs to be stopped, and I think the only way to do so is to encourage free expression and free speech in a fully visible forum, and not under the cover of darkness.”

The writer has a point, but then again how does one balance it with the right free expression and the first amendment among other things. Never mind that this senseless act is directly related to cancer in a “tobacco state” with a basketball tradition located in what is happily referred to as tobacco road. While Yow didn’t die of lung cancer, the relationship between the carcinogen and the disease is ironic at best.

Not long after the vandalism was discovered, the finger pointing started. The N.C. State folks put the cross hairs squarely on UNC – after all, the mustache painted on Yow was Carolina Blue. The UNC crowd pushed back best they could asking for proof. Nobody from the Tar Heel side of the aisle has publicly suggested this was done by a Wolfpack fan determined to make UNC look bad, but one has to figure that has crossed more than one mind used to the back-and-forth of bitter in-state rivalries.

Yes, the animosity runs that deep.

Which brings us to our final point? There are three logical hypothesis regarding the “who did this?” question: 1) some incredibly mean, crazy bastard unaffiliated with either school, 2) somebody affiliated with one of the schools, with UNC affiliates holding a clear and obvious lead and 3) somebody who fits the first profile and has “adopted” the University of North Carolina as their cause to fandom.

We know how loyal students, grads and parents of students can be. We’ve seen that loyalty move mountains. But we have also (recently) seen a number of cases where fans with no affiliation whatsoever become passionately involved with a school’s sports programs.

One quick example: We occasionally attend a Virginia game in Charlottesville. A few seats down from where we are fortunate to sit is a fan who stands the entire game and yells at the officials, the players, the coaches. Not a play unfolds that this zealous dude doesn’t comment upon or question what has taken place. Frankly, it's mildly annoying.

Interestingly, by all accounts from neighboring seat mates, this fellow is not, and has never been, a student at Virginia nor does he have children or relatives who attend or have attended. By those same accounts, this bundle of Wahoo energy is a graduate of East Carolina.

Now we aren’t bustin’ on the Pirates, just simply pointing out that the source of this incredible zeal and loyalty comes from somewhere other than the campus of the University of Virginia. This particular fellow reminds one more of a fan of an NFL team than an ACC school. There’s a difference, and if you’ve been to an NFL game recently, you know all about it.

So, were we asked to opine on who defiled the Yow mural, T.A.H. would weigh in thusly.

At first blush, we though it might be a prank committed by a couple of drunk/messed up UNC students. But even completely trashed, most normally emotionally-centered kids would have seen the inherent evil of the deed. Not that there is very much clear thinking going on at 3 a.m., but surely one of them would have pulled the plug somewhere between Chapel Hill and Raleigh – unless, of course, the graffiti was done by a lone offender.

But, we’re gonna stick with the “drunk/messed up” part, and guess this was done by a non-student/non-alum – one of those crazy, wild, over zealous fans who has adopted the school and now believes the rivalry supersedes common decency and fair play. Down in North Carolina, those types all over the place as the Duke/North Carolina/N.C. State loyalties run deep. These particular knuckleheads just had some gas in the car, an incredibly stupid idea and some paint.

We could be wrong, but that’s our story, and (for now) we’re sticking to it.

(State fans: AP Photo by Sara D. Davis, Carolina fans: Getty Images, Yow mural: WRAL)

TERPS FEELIN' THE LOVE AGAIN...

Debbie Yow, Maryland's athletic director, has had a pretty tough few weeks. First, her sister, Kay Yow, passed away. Meanwhile, the men's basketball program continues to underachieve while head coach Gary Williams and her assistant feud.

Nice mess, kids.

So Yow summoned the local wags (somehow T.A.H.'s invitation got lost) to a press conference yesterday and said:


"The other reason I'm here is I just really – I would have done this on Friday at media availability if I had not had to be in North Carolina, but I really want to lay to rest any of these crazy rumors that are floating around related to the job security of Coach Williams. He has my personal full support, as he does from the department and from the university."

"You know, he and I communicate regularly, and a couple of the things he's communicated to me are pretty important," said Yow, who alternated her glance from the cameras in front of her to Williams at her side. "One of those is he is very optimistic about the future, and he's very focused on recruiting. We all know that's important, and he's after it with as much enthusiasm and passion as I've seen in my 15 years."

Williams was low key, stressing what the program had accomplished in the past and spending 75 seconds reciting the Terps' many accomplishments.

"It's nice that she said those things. I've never felt threatened by anything. I know what I've done, just this decade. Very few programs have done what we've done this decade. I think there's probably three or four, maybe. You know, Florida, because they've won it twice. You could say UCLA, even though they haven't won a national championship this decade. (North) Carolina, Duke, you know, those two because they've won it this decade. But, you know, I'm secure in what I've done."
(AP Photo/Gail Burton and Michael Temchine For The Washington Post) )

RIVERS, LAWAL WIN WEEKLY HONORS

Clemson's K.C. Rivers and Georgia Tech's Gani Lawal have been named Co-ACC Players of the Week while Wake Forest's Al-Farouq Aminu has been selected ACC Rookie of the Week.

Rivers tallied a team-high 29 points in the Tigers' 86-82 win at Virginia Tech Thursday evening. The Charlotte, N.C. senior hit on 10-of-17 from the floor, including seven-of-10 from behind the arc, pulled down six rebounds and handed out four assists as the 11th-ranked Tigers won for the 18th time in 20 games.

Lawal scored a game-high 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in leading the Yellow Jackets to their first ACC win of the season Saturday, a 76-74 victory over No. 6 Wake Forest. The Norcross, Ga., sophomore was seven-of-10 from the floor and 11-of-14 from the free throw line. Lawal has 10 straight games with 10-or-more rebounds and leads the ACC with 13 double-doubles.

In earning ACC Rookie of the Week honors for the fourth-time this season, Aminu posted back-to-back double-doubles and averaged 16.0 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.0 steals as the Demon Deacons went 1-1, including a defeat of No. 1-ranked Duke on Wednesday.

In Wednesday's 70-68 win over the Blue Devils, Aminu had a team-high 15 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, two blocks and a steal. In Saturday's 76-74 loss at Georgia Tech, the Norcross, Ga., freshman turned his eighth double-double of the season with 17 points and 11 rebounds to go along with a season-best five steals.

(AP Photos by John Bazemore and Don Petersen)

UNC-N.C.STATE MOP UP: BOYS WILL BE BOYS

With 1.9 seconds remaining in Saturday’s UNC win over N.C. State, Carolina reserve forward Mike Copeland was driving for a layup/dunk after a long pass from Bobby Frasor when N.C. State center Ben McCauley knocked Copeland to the floor with an intentional foul.

Copeland got back up and shoved McCauley before referee Les Jones separated them.
The referees called double technical fouls on the play, and Heels’ coach Roy Williams sent Copeland to the locker room early.

There was no flagrant foul and no ejection, so neither player should face disciplinary action for the next game.

Here's what the players had to say about it:

MICHAEL COPELAND - "He hit me in my head. It was a hard foul, Bobby gave me a pass and I wanted to score - just like anybody, I hadn't played and I wanted to score… Definitely, I regret doing it. It was a bad mistake on my part, and I should have just let it go and shot my free throws… Bobby, he probably shouldn't have made the pass; he probably should have just taken the ball out and let time run out.

BEN MCCAULEY - “ I was a little disappointed that he was even going up for it. I thought that was a little disrespectful at that point. The game was over. I wish it didn't happen the way it did, but I didn't want him to get an easy dunk. To me, I thought it just was a little unnecessary…. I told Coach Williams afterward, I'm sorry. He said he was sorry, too, he didn't mean for that to happen. No one really wants stuff like that to happen. It's unfortunate, but it happened and we have to move on from there.

BOBBY FRASOR - “ I probably should have taken the high road and just dribbled the ball out, but I came in with him, I wanted him to score, I wanted him to get some memories. But if I had known that was going to happen, I probably would have thought twice about it…We don't really like State, and State doesn't really like us. It's known. Fans, they know it to. My guess is that if we had been playing some small school, he wouldn't have done that, but since it's State…

(Editor's note: We're gonna pin this one on Frasor for poor judgement. Yeah, everybody wants to score, and everybody is supposed to play hard to the buzzer, but this play got started with just over six seconds left in a blowout. We are paranoid about injuries to players in meaningless moments - see Tyler Zeller who was lost for the season late in a big win over Kentucky - so packing it in for the final ten seconds seems reasonable. So if we're gonna point fingers, point at Frasor. It's OK, he's a big boy, he can take it. We doubt he does it again.)

(Photos from AP Photo by Jim R. Bounds)

MID-TERM HOOP EXAM

Ken Tysiac of the Charlotte Observer has a good mid-season report card for the ACC. Up until last week, it appeared the league was deeper than last year when only four teams made the Big Dance.

However, here at the first of February, it looks again like it’s Duke, UNC, Wake, Clemson and everybody else after Virginia Tech and Florida State stumbled last week.

(Photo by Reuters Photos)

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