Friday, February 27, 2009

THURSDAY NIGHT HOOPS

No. 14 WAKE FOREST 85, N.C. STATE 78 – N.C. State upset Wake Forest in their first meeting, but the Demon Deacons’ James Johnson (#23) wasn’t going to let that happen again. Johnson had career highs with 28 points and 18 rebounds to help Wake dodge the Wolfpack 85-78.

Ishmael Smith added a season-high 18 points and Chas McFarland had 15 for Wake Forest (21-5, 8-5 ACC), who shot 52.5 percent, held a 42-27 rebounding advantage and led nearly all the way.
After beginning the season 16-0, the young Deacons are just 5-5 in their last 10 games.

Tracy Smith scored 18 points to lead five double-figure scorers for the Wolfpack (15-11, 5-8), who were denied their second sweep of Wake Forest in coach Sidney Lowe's three seasons.

Johnson had a double-double by halftime and was 12-of-16 from the field to surpass his previous top performance of 26 points -- which he matched in the up-and-down Demon Deacons' most recent outing, a 101-91 loss four nights earlier at No. 7 Duke.

Jeff Teague finished with 12 points - nine fewer than his average - on 3-of-12 shooting in his second tough game against N.C. State, which used a box-and-one defense to limit him to three shots and 11 points in the previous meeting.

MIAMI 62, VIRGINIA 55 – This one had most of the trappings of a bump and grind Big Ten snoozefest including a 29-29 halftime score…ZZZZZZ.

Miami scoring machine Jack McClinton scored just 11 points, well below his average, but hit a huge 3-pointer with 47 seconds to play to give the Canes a two-possession cushion as they held on to beat Virginia 62-55.

Miami (17-10, 6-8 ACC) had been in a freefall of late, losing six of their last seven, but got some clutch shooting from McClinton when it mattered most down the stretch. His third 3-pointer gave Miami a 60-55 lead and he added two free throws with 19 seconds left.

Virginia (9-15, 3-10) had won two straight at home, but failed to score after Jeff Jones' 3-pointer produced the eighth tie of the half at 55 with 3:51 remaining. The Cavaliers committed turnovers on three consecutive possessions after pulling even, causing them to fall behind.

Interestingly, yet again, a large number of students and fans came to the game disguised as empty seats.

(AP Photos/Chuck Burton and the Miami Herald)

DEAR MR. SNYDER

Your GENIUS is PURE – unbelievably PURE.

The Redskins DESPERATELY need offensive lineman and receivers. Remember the offense that scored fewer points last season than the HAPLESS 0-16 Detroit Lions? Remember that OFFENSE?

Well…no.

So, you, in your DEON SANDERS/ADAM ARCHULETA sort of way, with your de facto GM Vinnie Cerrato, spend $100 million on one high-dollar DEFENSIVE LINEMAN to dance next to the other HIGH DOLLAR defensive lineman you spent a ZILLION on last year.

WHO
thinks of THAT?

Maybe you are trying to emulate the SUCCESS of our good neighbor to the north, the Baltimore RAVENS, who have utilized a tenacious defense and a THREE YARDS AND A CLOUD OF DUST offense to win FOUR of the last eight SUPER BOWLS

Oops, that’s not the RAVENS, that’s the PATRIOTS, who have a quarterback named TOM (I JUST MARRIED A SUPER MODEL) BRADY and a wide receiver named RANDY MOSS and one of the BEST offensive lines in football…Any of this ringing any BELLS?

Mind you, the Redskins are BETTER today than they were yesterday, but you MUST address the offensive LINE.

Oh, wait, there’s more -- BONUS POINTS, the deal is one of the highest in the HISTORY of the NFL. Odder still considering that, other then his rookie season, Haynesworth has NEVER played a complete season.

One DUMB question, how much cap room is left for a BIG TIME wide receiver and a couple of OFFENSIVE lineman? Ahhh...you think the two receivers you drafted LAST year are going to produce THIS season, in spite, of results to the CONTRARY.

Second question: How MANY times as a child did you put your HAND on a HOT stove?

FYI, the over/under in VEGAS is 11.

We won’t fuss about resigning DeAngelo Hall ‘cause he’s a HOKIE. But $54 MILLION…really?

From ESPN: Albert Haynesworth hit the free agent jackpot Friday morning by reaching a seven-year, $100 million deal with the Washington Redskins that could end up maxing out at at $115 million based on his performance, according to sources.

The deal, which was reached early Friday morning, includes $41 million in guarantees. During the first 13 months of the contract, Haynesworth will earn approximately $32 million.

The Tennessee Titans, the team Haynesworth played for in his first seven NFL seasons, never came close to signing him. A franchise player whose trip to the Pro Bowl prohibited the Titans from renewing the franchise tag in 2009, Haynesworth had hoped the Titans would offer him a deal that would have kept him out of the free agent market. That offer never materialized, even though the team kept talking to him until the start of free agency.

Fittingly, Haynesworth ended up being the first player to leave a team in free agency in 2009. His deal is one of the tops in the history of the league.

Haynesworth, led the Titans in 2008 with a career-high 8½ sacks last season. He also had 75 tackles, 22 quarterback pressures, seven tackles for a loss and forced a team-high four fumbles.

YOU CAN’T FIX STUPID



YOU CAN’T FIX STUPID is a new T.A.H. feature which picks up stories that don’t qualify for THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO…HMMM. Usually, these stories qualify for the new feature because somebody did something really…well, stupid.

Which brings us to this little caper tale. Thankfully, T.A.H. Pop Culture Editor Young A.T. was on top of this story which involves what the folks at Smokinggun.com perfectly called “A trio of Louisiana nit wits,” two children, $175 and a cockatoo.

You have to read it to believe it.

If your wondering what this has to do with the ACC, we heard a nasty rumor that one of these “nitwits” used to be a cheerleader at FSU…or maybe it was LSU, can’t remember which. You decide.

(Editor’s note: That last comment will, no doubt, have “Anonymous” calling us an “idiot” like he/she did earlier this week when we said FSU was a football school because they kept losing after being nationally ranked. Silly, Anonymous. CC Nation rocks!)

QUOTE OF THE WEEK NOT INVOLVING DAVID LETTERMAN OR MICKEY ROURKE

During the Sports Reporters show on ESPN980 in Washington, D.C., Steve Czaban and Andy Pollin somehow got distracted from the wide world of sports and suddenly found themselves in a full-blown discussion of World Class Crazy OctuMom of “14 children and 15 minutes (too many) of fame” fame.

Imitating Dr. Phil, Mr. Czaban launched a classic zinger:

“A uterus is not a clown car.”

COMMERCIAL OF THE WEEK: SUNSHINE AND LOLLYPOPS

Kudos to Nike for this new ad celebrating(?) the return of Tiger Woods to the PGA Tour.

PICTURE(S) OF THE DAY

YES, THIS IS AMERICA. Seems as the folks down in Evangeline Parish have a certain Mardi Gras tradition – the Cajun Chicken Chase – that is beloved by the locals but not terribly popular with animal rights activists.

After consuming massive quantities of alcohol and pouring a fair amount of beer on the poultry, the locals throw the adult beverage-drenched fowl in the air and chase them.

Of course ii being Mardi Gras, this also involves costumes, mud, jello shooters and LSU.

Get all the scoop here.

(Photos by Carol Guzy/Washington Post)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 2

SPEAKING OF TIGER. Tiger's vaunted return from an eight-month layoff ended abruptly as South African Tim Clark downed the US superstar 4 and 2 in the second round of the Accenture Match Play Championship held at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club.

(Photo by Mark Ralston//AFP/Getty Images)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 3

HE’S NOT SCARED. Austria's Gregor Schlierenzauer soars above the crowd during the small hill event of the ski jumping competition.

(Photo by Joe Klamar-AFP/Getty Images)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

TERPS KNOCK OUT SMITH, BUT NOT DUKE

No. 7 DUKE 78, MARYLAND 67 – Beleaguered Maryland pulled out the retro Hamburgler-yellow uniforms last Saturday and upset then No. 3 North Carolina behind a triple double by Greivis Vasquez and a season high 22 points for Cliff Tucker. The throwback unis were back when Duke arrived last night at the Comcast Center, and the magic worked for the first 34:16 of the game.

While Vasquez wasn’t running around throwing up bombs like he did against the Heels, and Maryland only shot eight three pointers (only making three) as opposed to making 13 treys last Saturday, the Terps played solidly looking like a team worthy of an invitation to the NCAA tournament.

In spite of their reduction in offense firepower and a fourth foul on Vasquez with 17:42 left in the game, Gary Williams’ Terps played hard and played well. They kept the high scoring Blue Devils, who had clobbered them by 41 points in Durham last month, in check right up to the 5:44 mark. And then it happened.

With exception of games against UNC where the Terps seemingly score at will, Maryland is a team that struggles with its half-court offense. If you listen closely to their coach, he subtly points out that they frequently forget to run their half-court offense when the pressure is on or, if they do run it, they run it badly. To the untrained eye, it frequently appears that they don’t have one at all…

At the 5:44 mark in last night game, Duke had pulled even yet again to tie the game at 60-60. That’s when it happened. With Vasquez in foul trouble, the Maryland half-court malaise reappeared. Gerald Henderson hit a three and then Kyle Singler hit a three, giving Duke a sudden, and insurmountable, lead.

The Terps went back into their offense shell and managed to respond with just seven points in the final 4:16 while the Blue Devils put up 18. Game over.

Gerald Henderson scored 19 points for Duke who was ending a three-game ACC road losing streak. It was just the fifth win for Duke in the last twelve games at Maryland.

Elliot Williams had 15 points and Jon “Crazy Face” Scheyer added 12 for the Blue Devils (23-5, 9-4 ACC).

Landon Milbourne scored 19 points for Maryland (17-10, 6-7), which played much of the second half without leading scorer Greivis Vasquez, who was saddled with foul trouble.

Despite the loss, Williams lauded his team's performance.

"We didn't get the win, but you know what? I know what we did out there tonight and how hard we worked to get where we had a chance to win that game," he said. "We're going to be tough the rest of the way, I guarantee you."
(AP Photo/Rob Carr and Chuck Liddy/Raleigh News&Observer)



HOKIES GET BIG WIN AT CLEMSON

VIRGINIA TECH 80, No. 13 CLEMSON 77 – It’s gonna be close. That much you can count on these days when Clemson and Virginia Tech hook up. Their past seven games have been decided by five points or less – and last night’s game in Littlejohn Coliseum one was no different.

Malcolm Delaney (#23) scored 26 points, 17 in the second half, as the Hokies broke a three-game losing streak with another “hair, teeth and eyeballs” victory over the Tigers.

Clemson (22-5, 8-5 ACC) had a final shot to tie the game, but Demontez Stitt missed a desperation 3-point try after the Hokies’ defense had thwarted Terrance Ogleby’s attempt for an open threy.

Clearly Delaney saves some of his best stuff for Clemson. He had 37 points last month, the high for the league this season, in the Tigers’ 86-82 win in Blacksburg.

The victory was a key one for the Hokies (17-10, 7-6) who are still polishing their Big Dance resume. Virginia Tech had los their three previous games to Maryland, Virginia and Florida State.

Terrence Oglesby had 22 points, including six 3-pointers, for Clemson. However, he couldn't get free on the Tigers' final play and Stitt had to force up a wild shot.

Trevor Booker had 21 points and 13 rebounds, his 10th double-double of the season, and K.C. Rivers had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

A.D. Vassallo added 21 points for Virginia Tech.

(AP Photos/Mary Ann Chastain)

THE BATTLE FOR TOBACCO ROAD: “YOU HAVE TO RESPECT EXCELLENCE…

...You have to respect achievement.”

Frankly, Duke’s Mike Kryzdhvnbmc4ski could not have put it more succinctly when he described the core of the North Carolina v. Duke rivalry late in the HBO documentary The Battle For Tobacco Road: Duke and North Carolina.

“You have to respect excellence, and you have to respect achievement.”

In fact, while he was addressing the fundamental respect between the two incredibly accomplished programs, he may have unknowingly addressed the primary reason so many people care about the outcome of these games each year.

Because they're good – year-in and year-out for almost all of the past 25 years.

Fans of other ACC schools will roll their eyes and moan at that assessment, but everyone of them would trade their teams’ record for either Carolina or Duke’s. While they complain about the “over exposure” of the rivalry or the “conspiracy” among refs to give these two powers all the calls, they are secretly thinking “wouldn’t it be nice to have all those jerseys and banners hanging in the rafters at (fill in the blank).”

The new HBO documentary eloquently sets the stage and captures the highlights of the 8 Mile War that’s been going on since basketball was first played at the two universities.

(In fact, the first game ever played between North Carolina and Duke, known then as Trinity College, took place January 24, 1920. North Carolina won 36-25. But, that’s not important…or is it?)

During the 1960s, the two schools emerged from Everett Case and N.C. State’s giant shadow to dominate the league. While other ACC members have had their moment in the sun, UNC and Duke have consistently clung to the tip-top of the iceberg.

Rivalries are made up of both tangibles and intangibles. The Duke/Carolina rivalry enjoys the tangible of geography which produces an intensity that is fueled by the proximity of just eight short miles. The primary intangible is perception. Perceptions about class, race, culture and attitude.

Neither really understands the other or their perceptions, and, frankly, neither really wants to.

But, when the blood dries (and there has been a fair amount of it for a basketball rivalry) and the smoke clears, what fuels the rivalry the most is excellence and achievement. Keeping up with the Joneses in Durham and Chapel Hill is no easy feat.

All the best rivalry's bonfires have excellence as their starter fuel. Their games are played out on a major stage for major championships. The high drama and massive exposure makes more than the locals passionate about the outcome.

When college football first rose to national prominence, the big rivalries were at the top of the heap. Army v. Navy and Army v. Notre Dame got national news coverage and ultimately created heroes worthy Hollywood tale telling.

Yes, Harvard and Yale (“The Game”) is the oldest football rivalry having commenced in 1875, but “The Rivalry” between Lehigh and Lafayette, which began in 1884, has generate the most games – 144.

The story may sound vaguely familiar. The two Pennsylvania schools are just 17 miles apart, and the games are always sold out. The one year they didn’t play was 1896 when Lehigh refused to play over a dispute about the eligibility of their best player, Charles "Babe" Rinehart. Down Carolina way, that would be referred to as a competition involving urine.

So why doesn’t everybody care about Lehigh and Lafayatte? Easy. They don’t have this intense dispute annually on a national stage. Although Lehigh enjoys one of the highest graduation rates in Division 1 at 97% of its student athletes, they aren’t likely to beat Florida, USC or Oklahoma anytime soon. While Lafayette has won three college national football championships (in 1896, 1921, and 1926), they pose no threat to even in-state football powerhouses Penn State or Pitt.

Bragging rights are great, but championships – both in a premier college basketball league like the ACC and on the NCAA’s grand national stage – ultimately power the biggest rivals.

The Virginia-North Carolina football rivalry is the oldest in the south (1892 – tied with Auburn-Georgia), but nobody much cares except fans and alums one Saturday each season because neither have played consistently on the national stage with a championship hanging in the balance. Oh, that’s right, they never have.

If you want old, we’ll get you Miami (OH) v. Cincinnati (1888), Army v. Navy (1890), Auburn v. Alabama (The Iron Bowl, 1893), Georgia v. Georgia Tech (The Clean, Old Fashioned Hate Game, 1893), Brigham Young v. Utah (The Holy War, 1893) and, of course, the other “The Rivalry” (sharing its name with Harvard v. Yale) Ohio State v. Michigan (1897).

But which two stick out? Army-Navy is a wonderful nostalgic classic, Georgia Tech finally got off the mat last year to beat the Bulldogs, but the two games that annually attract the most attention and the most hair pulling and teeth gnashing is obvious – The Iron Bowl and The Rivalry.

Auburn, Alabama, Michigan and Ohio State are among the top teams almost every year, and that means one thing – the college football equivalent of war.

All rivalries are fueled by what’s at stake whether it’s Pitt v. West Virginia (The Backyard Brawl), UCLA v. USC, Texas v. Oklahoma (The Red River Rivalry), Florida v. Georgia (The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party) or Amherst v. Williams (The Biggest Little Game In America). But the bigger the prize, the larger the audience will be.

The relative success of the competing teams makes other rivalries ebb and flow. How about Florida State/Miami/Florida at any give time? Remember Oklahoma-Nebraska and Texas-Arkansas to name just a few? Such rivalries have their day, but then they fade when coaches and fortunes turn the wrong way.

The ACC has the Commonwealth Cup pitting Virginia against Virginia Tech, the Palmetto rivalry of Clemson and South Carolina, Georgia v. Georgia Tech and Florida v. Miami. There used to be a Maryland v. Penn State rivalry, but rivalry is a rather loose term as Penn State won the overwhelming majority of the time.

Basketball is a little different. There aren’t as many rivalries and the existing ones are played out in front of many fewer fans. Think about how many people have attended a Duke-North Carolina game over the years in quaint Cameron Indoor Stadium which seats 9,314 compared to the throngs that have witnessed Michigan-Ohio State in The Big House which seats a cozy 106,201 big blue fans.

The oldest basketball rivalry is said to be Wisconsin v. Minnesota. No offense, Tubby and Bo, but if you aren’t a Badger or a Gopher (think about that for a moment), who really cares?

It’s hard for younger fans to know the dominance that was John Wooden’s UCLA teams. They won ten NCAA titles between 1964 and 1975. Had ESPN, the Internet and the 24 hour news cycle been around at the time, their stranglehold on college basketball would be even more well known. If John Wooden had Big Monday or Rivals Week to recruit with, the Bruins might still be almost unbeatable. They didn’t have too many rivals because they kept beating everybody so consistently for over a decade.

Even without unlimited media coverage, the Bruins overshadowed almost all of the college basketball rivalries of the time, and it took one of the nations’ giants (Notre Dame) to stop their 88-game winning streak, and an ACC powerhouse (N.C. State) to halt the run of seven straight National Championships. But neither watershed game sparked a long running rivalry of note between the Bruins and either the Golden Domers or the Wolfpack.

During that period other basketball rivalries simply paled, and few have arisen since to occupy center stage. Lefty Driesell tried to make Maryland the “UCLA of the East” and for a period Maryland-N.C. State was big. In fact, that rivalry, when fueled by David Thompson, Monty Towe, Tommy Burleson, Len Elmore, John Lucas and Tom McMillen, generated what many (including T.A.H.) think was the greatest single hoops’ game of all time – the 1974 ACC Final won by N.C. State 103-100 in overtime.

(The game was held prior to dunks or a three point line, and when only the ACC tournament champion played in the NCAA tournament. That losing Maryland team, with six future NBA draft picks, is considered the greatest team to never participate in the Big Dance.)

Of course there were other rivalries that piqued interest due to the quality of the teams and the personalities of the participants. John Thompson’s Georgetown v. Jim Boeheim’s Syracuse and Ralph Sampson’s Virginia v. Dean Smith’s Tar Heels to name but two. Others generated interest because they weren’t played for the longest of times when they should have been – for example, Kentucky v. Louisville and Maryland v. Georgetown.

There are rivalries within each of the conferences – Indiana v. Purdue, USC v. UCLA, Kansas v. Missouri, UConn v. Everybody in the Big East, Every School in Philadelphia or New York City v. Every Other School in Philadelphia or New York City, but none match level of interests when the two different shades of blue hook up in North Carolina every February and March.

The Tar Heels and Blue Devils have combined to win 79% of the conference's regular season titles and 58% of the tournament titles since the ACC's founding in 1953. The final game of the regular season for both schools alternates between the campuses at Chapel Hill and Durham. They have played in Cameron Indoor Stadium since 1940 and the Dean Smith Center since 1986.

Duke has won three NCAA championships and has been in fourteen Final Fours, while North Carolina has won four NCAA championships (the team was also awarded a fifth national championship by the Helms Athletic Foundation in 1936 for their undefeated 1924 season) and has appeared in seventeen Final Fours.

Both schools are also two of the most victorious programs in NCAA men's basketball history. North Carolina is #2 all-time and Duke is #4. The Tar Heels lead the all-time series 129-97.

Excellence? How about this? For the last 124 meetings at least one school has been ranked in the AP Top 20 or AP Top 25.

And then there is “eight points in seventeen seconds,” and, of course, the Cameron Crazies take credit for inventing the term “air ball.”

Go ahead, roll your eyes…

Great players, playing in great games for the championship of and bragging rights in what is unarguably historically the best basketball conference in the nation is exactly what makes this the greatest rivalry in basketball. All those ACC championships lead to No. 1 seeds at the Big Dance where these two teams have consistently ended up playing in late March and early April when the most eye-balls are glued to the game.

The HBO documentary effectively steers you down the long and winding Tobacco Road, and only fails to mention UNC stalwart assistant Bill Gutheridge (who took the Heels to the Final Four after his mentor Dean Smith retired) and whatever happened to Pete Gaudet?

No road goes on forever, but the Duke-North Carolina rivalry shows no signs of staying anywhere but on the asphalt between the pine trees of the nation’s basketball consciousness.

The next bump in the road?

March 8th at the Dean Dome in Chapel Hill.

PICTURE(S) OF THE DAY

HAPPY ANNIVERASAY. Yesterday was the 45th anniversary of the world famous Cassius Clay v. Sonny Liston heavyweight fight. Liston came in as the champ with a 35-1 record, while the upstart Clay was 19-0. Clay won when Liston did not answer the bell for the seventh round.

The rematch produced one of boxing’s biggest controversies – and that ‘s saying something for a sport like boxing which thrives on dust ups. The fight was won again by Clay after what became known as “the phantom punch” dropped Liston in the first round. Eventually, slow motion replay would show Ali/Clay connecting with a short, quick punch.

Clay/Ali did not retreat to his corner – which led to more controversy about when and how the referee (fomer boxer Jersey Joe Walcott) counted Liston out. Instead, Clay/Ali stood over Liston, and famous photographer Neil Leifer captured one of the most famous iconic photos in sports.

(Photo by John Dominis/Life Magazine and Neil Leifer)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 2

TIGER’S BACK, PARTY'S OVER. Tiger Woods hits his tee shot on the fifth hole during the first round of the Accenture Match Play Championship at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club at Dove Mountain on February 25, 2009 in Marana, Arizona.

(Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 3

REMEMBER THIS GUY? Marvin Williams was a freshman when UNC won the National Championship in 2005. He’d be a senior now. Tuesday night he put up 31 points and seven rebounds against Denver.

(Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

IT’S STILL OSCAR WEEK, DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR MICKEY ROURKE IS?

Mickey Rourke’s reappearance in Hollywood’s spotlight for his Indy movie The Wrestler is remarkable in many ways, but when he thanked his dogs during his Golden Globe acceptance speech things started to get a little weird. You know, Mickey Rourke weird.

Ah, but then there was his acceptance speech for best actor at the recent Independent Spirit Awards which Dlisted.com was moved to title “Now This Is A F***ing Acceptance Speech.” Suffice to say, Mickey holds it together early on, but he slips up a few times to delight and chagrin of the audience.

Turn it down a bit, sit back, watch and laugh…

FLORIDA STATE CONFIRMS STATUS AS “FOOTBALL SCHOOL” WITH ANOTHER POST NATIONAL RANKING BASKETBALL LOSS

BOSTON COLLEGE 72, No. 25 FLORIDA STATE 67 – The Seminoles have found their way into the top 25 twice this basketball season and they subsequently found their newly found national prominence so disconcerting they promptly lost their next game – both times.

Last night, Tyrese Rice (head band at left) hit a key 3-pointer with 20.5 seconds to play and Joe Trapani (white guy with Tyrese) scored 19 points to lead Boston College to a 72-67 upset of the Seminoles.

It was the Eagles (20-9, 8-6 ACC) third win this season against one of the conference's top teams and should add their NCAA tournament resume. They handed then-No. 1 North Carolina its first loss on Jan. 4 in Chapel Hill and then beat No. 7 Duke at home last week.

"Knocking off three of the upper-tier teams definitely speaks for itself," Rice said. "We've got two games left and we've got it in our own hands."

Rice, who finished with just 11 points, was scoreless in the first half, but hit his 3 as the Eagles were clinging to a one-point lead.

Rakim Sanders added 16 points and nine rebounds for Boston College, which went 7-for-11 on 3-pointers in the second half.

Toney Douglas (#23) led the Seminoles (21-7, 8-5) with 19 points, but committed four of their 18 turnovers. Solomon Alabi had 16 points and seven rebounds.

Florida State, which entered the day in a three-way tie for second place behind North Carolina, lost for just second time in seven games.

(AP Photos/Mary Schwalm)

CRAZY BLIND ZEBRAS STUMBLE INTO DURHAM HUMMING LYNYRD SKYNYRD

Look, we like to complain about the officiating and we remain perplexed about how ACC games are called and why the officiating is so uneven and inconsistent.

The buzz around ACC Nation is that the refs have stopped calling fouls on Hansbrough in the paint. The evidence? He’s averaged over 13 trips to the line during his career and the last three games he’s been a grand total of 11 times while a total of 101 fouls were called.

Speaking of fouls, in the Maryland-UNC game, 43 personal fouls were called. In the Miami-UNC game 20 fouls were called. Makes perfect sense in that Joaquin Phoenix on David Letterman sort of way…

Sunday night in Durham during the Wake Forest-Duke game, Blue Devil freshman Elliot Williams takes a few extra steps and isn’t called for travelling…How many? Some folks have counted as many as twelve.

No, we aren’t kidding. Watch the video.

A radio station in Raleigh gave this story the best name “GIMME 12 STEPS.”

RIVALS UTILIZE RIVALS.COM TO HELP AUTISTIC BOY

By Olin Buchanan - Rivals.com College Football Senior Writer

A Florida State fan in Conway, Ark., who posts under the screen name "fsutis" and frequently has posted messages about his autistic son, last Saturday related a story about Jackson, a 6-year-old autistic boy in his son's class who was in need of a service dog.

The dog cost $13,500, but the family was about $10,000 short.

"Fsutis" donated $100 and asked other Rivals.com members to chip in at Jackson's personalized site at www.firstgiving.com. A goal was set to raise $2,000.

Jason Phillips, a 30-year-old finance director in Jacksonville, Fla., and an Alabama fan who posts under the name "dblplay1212," contributed $10 and suggested that if every member donated that amount, the $2,000 could be raised quickly.

Much more was raised.

In what developed into a friendly competition, fans from Alabama, LSU, Auburn, Georgia and Tennessee made contributions. Donations from Michigan and Ohio State followed. A USC fan known as "supercity" contributed $200, which inspired a wave of donations from Pac-10 fans. A Notre Dame fan called "bigrat69" pledged $500. A Florida State fan known as "RobFSU1" gave $750.

Within days, Rivals.com members had raised nearly $11,000.

"We were hoping to raise two grand, but it took on a life of its own," Phillips said. "Somebody said that we can all be useless degenerates and yell and scream at each other [online, of course], but … that kid is getting his dog. I guess the story tugged at everybody's heart strings a little bit."

But Phillips also said the goodwill only goes so far.

"Don't get confused," he said. "We were together saying, 'Let's do this for Jackson,' but we ain't getting along.

"If you think I'm going to get along with Auburn and Tennessee fans, you've lost your mind."

ACC PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Maryland’s Greivis Vasquez has been named ACC Player of the Week and Duke’s Elliott Williams is the ACC Rookie of the Week.

In earning Player of the Week honors for the second time this year and fourth time in his career, Vasquez posted the first triple-double at Maryland since 1987 with 35 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in the Terps’ 88-85 overtime victory against third-ranked North Carolina Saturday. The 35 points marked the highest point total ever by an ACC player recording a triple-double.

Vasquez scored Maryland’s first 16 points of the game and helped the Terps rally from a 16-point deficit in the second half and a nine-point deficit in the final two minutes. The Caracus, Venezuela, junior made 13-of-24 from the floor, including 5-of-10 from three-point range. Vasquez, who averaged 23.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists on the week, also tied for the team-high in blocks (3) and steals (2) against the Tar Heels.

Inserted into the starting lineup this week, Williams responded by averaging 11.0 points and 2.0 steals per game in wins over St. John’s and eighth-ranked Wake Forest. The Memphis, Tenn., native was 10-of-14 from the field (.714) for the week and recorded the first two double figure scoring games of his career. Williams was 5-of-6 from the field for 11 points against the Red Storm and 5-of-8 for 11 points in Sunday’s win over the Demon Deacons. Williams also had four steals against Wake Forest and was a major factor in a defense that forced 20 turnovers, including 16 in the opening 20 minutes of play.

BASKETBALL IN A DOME + BAD ECONOMY = AVAILABLE TICKETS TO ACC TOURNAMENT

The ACC announced yesterday that tickets for the 2009 ACC Men's Basketball Tournament will be available for sale on a tournament book basis starting Monday, March 2. The 56th annual ACC Tournament is scheduled for March 12-15 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Ga.

“Due to the unique combination of playing this year's tournament in a dome during very trying economic times, our league has the opportunity to offer a public sale of ACC Tournament tickets." said ACC Commissioner John Swofford. "Playing in the Georgia Dome provides a great stage for our conference teams and Atlanta has been a terrific partner. Having already sold more tickets to this year's tournament than the capacity of any of our other venues, our schools felt it would be appropriate to offer the remaining tickets to college basketball fans in the Atlanta area."

Tickets can be purchased, starting Monday, via Ticketmaster. http://www.ticketmaster.com/section/sports.

This marks the first time since 1966 that there has been a public sale of ACC Tournament tickets.

PICTURE(S) OF THE DAY

WHO WANTS TO BE NO. 1? Evidently…not Pitt. After being ranked No. 1, the Big East stalwart promptly got roasted by the Providence Friars 81-73.

The Providence fans in the Dunkin’ Donuts Center (coats, no coats?) crowded around the courtside press tables for the final minutes. Twice, the public address announcer begged the fans to stay off the court following the game; twice the crowd responded by laughing.
Nice, Friars, NICE!

(AP Photos/Stew Milne)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 2

THE T.A.H. ANNUAL TRIBUTE TO THE GREAT SPORT OF WRESTLING. That would be the non-Mickey Rourke wrestling, of course.

Baldwin Wallace College wrestler Terence Haynes, bottom wrestles (you gotta better verb?) Heidelberg College heavyweight Tony Carothers in Berea, Ohio.

At 45, Terence Haynes kept alive a decades-old dream to compete in sports by shedding nearly 200 pounds and earning a spot to wrestle as a heavyweight against collegians half his age.

(AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Monday, February 23, 2009

TONIGHT, 9:00 PM, HBO: BATTLE FOR TOBACCO ROAD

Last year, HBO did an excellent documentary about the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry.

Let’s see how they fare down on Tobacco Road…

The trailer is below.

VIDEO OF THE YEAR: WHEN’S THE LAST TIME YOU HEARD A GOOD UNIBOMBER JOKE?

Oh, yeah, we know it’s still February, but you’re gonna have trouble beating this one.

Props to T.A.H. Pop Culture Editor Young A.T. for hipping us to this hysterical bit of television…

If you watched the Academy Awards last night, you may have been wondering what presenter Ben Stiller was up to with the wild hair and beard and crazy way of acting while Natalie Portman tried to give out an Oscar or two.

Stiller was spoofing Joaquin Phoenix who showed up on Letterman recently to “promote” his new movie with Gwyneth Paltrow…or, at least, we presume that is what Phoenix’s people told Letterman’s people.

What he actually did was show up and be part of the most awkward interview in the history of television. Anybody else other than David Letterman would have literally run off the stage.

The Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe winning star of Walk The Line, Gladiator and To Die For among others, announced he has retired from acting and is now pursuing a career in hip hop.

Not surprisingly, Letterman seemed to be annoyed and amused at the same time.

Take a few minutes out of your busy day and enjoy this! It’s a classic.

MORE SUNDAY HOOPS

No. 13 CLEMSON 81, GEORGIA TECH 73 – Trevor Booker had 21 points and 12 rebounds to lead Clemson over Georgia Tech on Sunday.

The Tigers (22-4, 8-4 ACC) have won six of eight and improved to 9-0 this season when Booker has a double-double.

Clemson started sluggishly before its full-court pressure eventually exhausted the Yellow Jackets, giving the Tigers easier looks at the basket.

Hitting nearly 60 percent of 27 field goal attempts in the second half, Clemson's biggest boost came from reserve freshman Andre Young, who hit all four of his 3-point attempts.

Georgia Tech (10-16, 1-12) has lost six straight and 11 of 12 to remain in the ACC cellar, three losses behind 11th-place Virginia.

The Tigers are 17-1 when outrebounding opponents this season and 32-4 over the last two. Clemson's four ACC road wins are its most since 1996-97.

Lewis Clinch had a career-high 27 points for the Yellow Jackets, who got within 46-45 on his 3 with 14:32 remaining.

(AP Photo/John Amis)

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