Friday, December 2, 2011

Former Maryland Candidate Lands At Washington State

Mike Leach, the former brilliant and controversial head coach at Texas Tech, who was a prime candidate for the Maryland job when Ralph Friedgen was (accidentally?) fired has been hired by Washington (Damn Near Idaho) State.  Leach was fired from his Red Raiders gig after a controversy which stemmed from his having a recalcitrant player (and son of a former star player at SMU and ESPN analyst whom we won't mention here [Craig James]) locked  in a storage shed adjacent to the Texas Tech practice field.

The crack T.A.H. Research Department with an assist from our off-site Intern With The Dragon Tattoo claims this is Leach's new home page on his lap top...

Non-Conference Rivalries Getting Squeezed Out By Expansion?

(Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
By Robbi Pickeral/ESPN

On his website,, Kentucky’s John Calipari last weekend posed an eye-opening question to the Big Blue Nation: If the Wildcats had no other choice and had to eliminate or postpone one series, which should it be: North Carolina, Indiana or Louisville?

Officials at both UK and UNC this week said they’re hoping to extend the annual series between two of the top three all-time winningest programs, which will face off for the 12th straight season Saturday at Rupp Arena. The contract -- usually re-upped for two-year, home-and-home intervals -- expires this season.

But with SEC and ACC expansion on the way -- meaning amplified league schedules for both teams -- there is a concern over how much longer this kind of nonconference rivalry can last. With conference expansion, nonconference rivalries like North Carolina and Kentucky may be sacrificed.

“These are learning opportunities,” Calipari said Wednesday of his current nonconference slate this week. “And you can’t learn against Popcorn State. … You need these kind of games. You just don’t need 12 of them.”

And therein lies the rub.

Top-ranked Kentucky and No. 5 UNC both currently play 16-game conference schedules. But that’s expected to expand to 18 for the Wildcats next season, when the SEC adds Texas A&M and Missouri; and then to at least 18 for the Tar Heels when Syracuse and Pittsburgh join the ACC, likely in 2013.

Under NCAA rules, teams can only play 27 games, plus a multi-team tournament (such as the Las Vegas Invitational or the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament) during the regular season.

(Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Do the math: Eighteen-game league schedules mean programs would have only nine games of wiggle-room to schedule nonconference foes.

Subtract another game for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge or the SEC/Big East Challenge. Then take away another slot or two, if you want to take players back near their hometowns to play.

All of a sudden, you’re left with a conundrum: How many difficult nonconference teams do you really want to play, when you know you’re already facing some hefty league foes?

(Editor’s note: Freshman P.J. Hairston, North Carolina's leading 3-point shooter, announced via his Twitter account that he will not play against No. 1 Kentucky on Saturday due to a wrist injury he suffered Wednesday night. UNC confirmed that Hairston suffered a sprained left wrist and bone contusion in the game and declared him questionable for Saturday's game.)

Things That Make You Go…

YATES (Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Raise your hand if you thought former North Carolina quarterback T.J. Yates would be starting for an NFL team in playoff contention in Week 13 of his rookie season?

That’s what we thought.  You can put your hand down, Mrs. Yates.

The Houston Texans, who currently have the best record in the AFC, lost starter Matt Schaub and back-up Matt Leinart to injuries and that forced Yates into the line-up during the Texans 20-13 over the Jaguars last weekend.  Yates passed for 70 yards.  The Jags were so put-off with the whole situation that they fired head coach Jack Del Rio the next day.

Barring some major malfunction, Yates will start in Sunday’s game against Atlanta making  him the first North Carolina quarterback to start a game in the NFL.  Ever.  Seriously, EVER.  Yates was chosen 21st in the 5th round of this year's draft. 

Yates set 37 records during his four seasons in Chapel Hill. Last season, when many of his teammates were suspended, he led the Tar Heels to a victory over Tennessee in the Music City Bowl. He's working with two proven quarterback coaches in Gary Kubiak and Greg Knapp and has two veterans, Jake Delhomme and Kellen Clemens, playing behind him and supporting him.

More Things That Make You Go...

WALLACE IN RED (Robert Willet/Raleigh News & Observer)

Was Rasheed Wallace messin' with Ol’ Roy?

When his North Carolina Tar Heels lost to UNLV there were some Runnin’ Rebel fans sitting directly behind the UNC bench meaning some Carolina fans had given or sold their tickets to the enemy in the eyes of head coach Roy Williams.

This didn’t sit well with Ol' Roy, who, as he has on previous occasions, complained bitterly about it earlier this week.  

"I don't like our fans to help the other team by either giving or selling their tickets," he elaborated during his news conference the next day. "That's disappointing. And to do it right beside our families, you know, that's the biggest thing. And then to have somebody that's just negative, negative, negative right in five feet of an assistant coach's wife for two nights."

"You know, you get tired of that. But it's something that's always bothered me. It will always bother me. A hundred years ago I'm watching in Lawrence, Kansas, and North Carolina's playing North Carolina State and there were five million red shirts in the crowd. And if I'd had a BB gun, five million red shirts would have had a burned rear end. Because I just don't like those kinds of things."

So it was curious, to say the least, when a bunch of current and former NBA Tar Heels showed up for the Wisconsin game and there directly behind the bench was Rasheed Wallace wearing a (Wisconsin?) red hoodie.

Wallace played for Dean Smith.

Antawn Jamison, Ty Lawson and Tyler Hansbrough among others were also in Dean's house.

ACC Football Links

(Mitch Stringer-US Presswire)
By Heather Dinich/ESPN

Uncertainty is the only certainty right now for Clemson offensive lineman Brandon Thomas, who is preparing to fill in for injured starter Phillip Price, whose status is still in question.

If Georgia Tech offers a scholarship, this Atlanta-based running back will accept it.

A second player, running back D.J. Adams, has decided to leave Maryland's program

The awards are just beginning for BC linebacker Luke Kuechly.

Can Clemson get back to being a linebacker factory?

Former Miami receiver Aldarius Johnson has hired an agent and is working toward a second chance at playing again.

Florida State kick returner Karlos Williams will probably miss the bowl game with a broken wrist.

Logan Thomas is turning into a heckuva quarterback -- especially for a tight end.

FSU and Miami need to worry -- Urban Meyer is back on the recruiting trail.

Virginia Tech offensive lineman Blake DeChristopher has a lumberjack's beard and a prankster's personality.

Clemson is concerned about the regression of quarterback Tajh Boyd.

All ACC fans should hope that Virginia Tech RB David Wilson doesn't leave early. He's an amazing athlete and quite a character.

FOSTER (Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Hokies' defensive coordinator Bud Foster wasn't happy to learn that none of his players made first-team all-conference.

Despite Foster's impressive coaching job this season, he hasn't been contacted yet about any openings.

The entire team struggled to handle the success of its 8-0 start.

Virginia Tech wanted a rematch against Clemson, and the Hokies got it.

Much has changed since Clemson embarrassed Virginia Tech on its home field.

Miami recruiting is making headlines again.

Wake Forest will enter its bowl game on a sour note.

Virginia coach Mike London is working out a contract extension to keep him around, and it's where he wants to be.

You think the Hokies are a lock for their fifth ACC title? Think again.

Unbelievable, Shocking, Amazing PSU News Flash: Officials Not Forthcoming With Information Related To Sandusky Incident(s)

Penn State apparently has a history of guarding its secrets closely and now that a highly paid stable of attorneys is bracing for an onslaught of civil suits, security is probably even tighter than usual...

Perhaps, not for much longer though.

Pennsylvania lawmakers are now questioning the the school’s special legal status under the state’s “open records” law.

Those laws have so far hampered the Sandusky investigation and members of the Keystone state’s General Assembly may be about to make a change. 

Penn State has cited its exemption from the law in the past month in denying requests by The Associated Press for documents related to a 1998 investigation into Sandusky that began when a woman complained he had showered with her son; a copy of his severance agreement; and emails among top administrators about Sandusky.

Penn State and the other three "state-related universities" -- Pitt, Lincoln and Temple -- together are collecting $560 million in state government subsidies this year. Unlike similar institutions in most other states, they function independently and do not have to produce the records required of state government agencies.

"You would think at least now they should understand why they should be bending over backwards in being more forthcoming in releasing information," said state Rep. Eugene DePasquale. The York County Democrat has signed up 31 co-sponsors for a bill he will introduce Monday to put the four schools completely under the Right-to-Know Law.

Other lawmakers "think this is a no-brainer," DePasquale said. "It should have been done years ago."

Pictures Of The Day

Richard Johnson riding Duke Of Lucca clears the last to win The Weatherbys Talking Horse Beginners' Steeple Chase at Wincanton racecourse on December 01, 2011 in Wincanton, England. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)
Goran Ivanisevic of Crotia serves to Thomas Enqvist of Sweden during day one of teh AEGON Masters Tennis Tournament at Royal Albert Hall in London. (Photo by Scott Heavey, Getty Images)
Are those rocks?  Well...yes.  Freeride skiers carve their way down a slope of crushed rocks in the western Austrian village of Haiming west of Innsbruck.  (Photo by Donimic Ebenbichler/Reuters)
Elephant polo players from Tiger Tops Tigresses and EFG Switzerland have a go for the ball during the 30th International Elephant Polo Competition in Chitwan, Nepal.  (Photo by Prakash Mathema/AFP/Getty Images)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hokies’ Wilson ACC Player of the Year

WILSON (Geoff Burke/Getty Images)
Virginia Tech running back David  Wilson is the conference’s Offensive and Overall Player of the Year for 2011. Wilson, who is pursuing the ACC’s single-season rushing yardage record and is fifth nationally in yards per game, was named on 18 of 45 ballots cast by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association. Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly was second with nine votes.

Wilson immediately follows a former teammate, quarterback Tyrod Taylor, in winning the award. Virginia Tech is the first program to produce consecutive Players of the Year since Florida State quarterback Charlie Ward was honored in 1992 and 1993. It’s the fifth time that different players from the same school have won in consecutive years; that happened most recently with the selections of Virginia QBs Shawn Moore (1990) and Matt Blundin (1991).

Wilson, a junior from Danville, Va., ran for 100 or more yards in all but two of the Hokies’ 12 regular-season games. His total of 10 games at 100 or more ties an ACC record last established by Williams, then a freshman, in 2009. In one stretch of especially consistent play, he rushed for 132, 123, 128, 136 and 134 yards in consecutive starts.

With Wilson doing the bulk of the running, Virginia Tech stands fourth nationally in time of possession at more than 34 minutes a game.

Wilson has netted 1,595 yards and a per-game average of 132.9. That puts him well within reach of the ACC’s single-season record for total yards on the ground, which Virginia’s Thomas Jones set with 1,798 in 1999.

Former Clemson Star McGlockton Dies At 42

(NFL Photo)
(Edited from Clemson release) Former Clemson All-ACC defensive tackle and NFL Pro Bowl player Chester McGlockton died in California on Wednesday morning. He was 42 years old.

The announcement was made by Stanford University, where McGlockton was in his second season as a defensive assistant. The cause of death was not immediately announced. Funeral arrangements are pending.

McGlockton entered Clemson in 1988 and red-shirted that season. He then played with distinction from 1989-91. The Tigers posted a 29-6-1 for the three years he played, including a 9-2-1 record in 1991 when the Tigers won the ACC Championship.

McGlockton made first-team All-ACC in 1991 and was a freshman All-American in 1989. He tied for the regular season ACC lead in sacks as freshman in 1989 with six, then had a seventh in the bowl victory over West Virginia. He sacked West Virginia quarterback Major Harris, then recovered the ball in the end zone of a touchdown.

The native of Whiteville, NC finished his career with 20.5 sacks, still eighth in Clemson history even though he played just three years. Clemson led the nation in total defense in 1990 and led the nation in rushing defense in 1991 with McGlockton starting on the defensive line.  He turned professional after his junior season and was the 16th pick of the April 1992 draft by the Oakland Raiders.

McGlockton's final NFL season was 2003 with the New York Jets. He also played with the Denver Broncos and Kansas Chiefs, as well as the Raiders. He registered 555 tackles, 51 sacks, 14 forced fumbles and four interceptions in his career. He played 12 years and 179 games in his NFL career, the top 10 totals among former Clemson players in the NFL.

He made four straight Pro Bowl trips starting in 1994, when he had a career-high 9½ sacks with three forced fumbles and 48 tackles for the Raiders.

McGlockton had a legendary high school career and was a second-team USA Today All-American at Whiteville High. He still holds the North Carolina Prep record for interception returns for touchdowns in a career with nine.

After turning pro in 1992, he bought shoes and uniforms for the Whiteville basketball team for more than a decade. He also purchased cleats annually for the football team. In 2000, in the twilight of his NFL career, he purchased state championship rings for the entire basketball team and the cheerleaders.

Unbelievable, Shocking, Amazing News Flash: Sandusky’s Attorney Contemplating A Plea Bargain

According to ESPN:  The lawyer for former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky said Wednesday that he might have to talk to his client at some point about pleading guilty to charges of child sex abuse.

Sandusky's attorney, Joe Amendola, made the comment to The Patriot-News of Harrisburg (Pa.) on the same day a new accuser, a Philadelphia man who is now 29, became the first plaintiff to file a lawsuit in the scandal.

In new comments Thursday, Amendola said he would consider "possible alternatives" with Sandusky if new charges are filed that involve more victims than the eight covered by the 40 pending criminal counts.

Sandusky has never considered a plea in his case, Amendola said.

Coale Wins Tatum Award, First Hokie Ever

COALE (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Virginia Tech senior wide receiver Danny Coale has been named the recipient of the 2011 James Tatum Award, ACC Commissioner John Swofford announced Thursday.

The Tatum Award is given annually in memory of the late Jim Tatum to the top senior student-athlete (in athletic eligibility) among the league's football players. Tatum, a two-time ACC Coach of the Year, coached in the fifties at both Maryland and North Carolina and believed strongly in the concept of the student-athlete.

The Award will be presented at the ACC’s Night of Legends event which will be held Friday evening at the Charlotte Convention Center as part of the festivities held around the Dr Pepper Bowl.

Coale, a native of Lexington, Va., ranks second at Virginia Tech in career pass receptions (155) and pass receiving yardage (2,530). His receiving yards are the 19th-best career total in ACC history. He leads Tech and is 9th in the ACC in reception yardage this season with 776 yards and a 15.5 per-catch average.

He becomes the first Virginia Tech football player to be honored with the Tatum Award.

Coale graduated from Virginia Tech in the fall of 2010 with a degree in finance with a 3.3 grade point average and is now working on a second undergraduate degree in Marketing Management. He was an Academic All-America All-District selection this year.

BC Linebacker Kuechlyh ACC Defensive Player Of The Year

(Michael Tureski/Icon SMI)
Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly, whose continuous pursuit of ball-carriers has made him one of the most prolific tacklers in ACC and NCAA history, is the Defensive Player of the Year in the conference for 2011 in balloting by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association.

Kuechly, a junior from Cincinnati, was named on 30 of 45 ballots. NC State cornerback David Amerson, the nation's leader in interceptions with 11, placed second with 14 and Duke safety Matt Daniels had the other vote.

Kuechly averaged 15.92 tackles per game for Boston College, which won three of its final five games to finish at 4-8. The figure is almost certain to set an NCAA single-season record. In order to catch Kuechly, his nearest competitor, Utah State linebacker Bobby Wagner, will need to make 73 stops over his final two contests. Kuechly's total of 191 tackles fell two short of the NCAA mark, and his career achievements are equally compelling. In only three seasons, he has been credited with 532 stops; that's the second-highest total by an FBS player since the NCAA began compiling individual tackling statistics in 2000.

He has done that in only three seasons and has another year of eligibility remaining.

Another pending record is career tackles per game, which the NCAA does not certify until a player's college career ends. Kuechly is averaging 14 stops a contest over his three seasons; that's 13 percent better than the NCAA record of 12.2, set by Maryland's E.J. Henderson from 2000-02. In order to eclipse Major League Baseball's career home run record by 13 percent, a batter would need 861 round-trippers -- nearly 100 more than the current mark. 

Pictures Of The Day

Tyler Zeller #44 of the North Carolina Tar Heels defends a shot by Jared Berggren #40 of the Wisconsin Badgers during play at the Dean Smith Center on November 30, 2011 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. North Carolina won 60-57. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
North Carolina Tar Heels cheerleaders perform during a game against the Wisconsin Badgers in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Big Ten/ACC Challenge Wednesday

(Grant Halverston/Getty Images)
Big Ten wins third straight challenge after losing the first 10…

#5 NORTH CAROLINA 60, #9 Wisconsin (Badgers, 28,960 students, Madison, WI) 57 -- Harrison Barnes scored 10 of his 20 points during the decisive second-half surge to help North Carolina rally past an extremely deliberate Wisconsin. 

Tyler Zeller added 12 points for the Tar Heels (6-1) whose half-court offense still leaves much to be desired.  That said, when they turned up the defensive pressure, the Heels gained control of the game. Only some dumb UNC plays late and a half-court Badger buzzer beater made it look closer than it should have been. 

North Carolina trailed by five points midway through the second half before going on an 18-5 run that finally put the Tar Heels ahead for good.

North Carolina out-rebounded the  Badgers 42-29 and made 19 of 24 free throws.

Penn State (Nittany Lions, 32,295 students, State College, PA) 62, BOSTON COLLEGE 54 -- Junior Matt Humphrey led Boston College with 15 points as the Eagles lost to Penn State in front of 4,326 fans at Conte Forum as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Humphrey was 5-for-6 from the foul line and had four rebounds. Sophomore Gabe Moton scored 10 points for the second-straight game. It was the first loss for BC in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge in six games.

HARRIS (Nati Harnik/AP Photos)
Indiana (Hoosiers, 42,464 students, Bloomington, IN) 86, N.C. STATE 75 -- Indiana scored the final 10 points in a fast-paced victory over NC State handing the Pack its second loss of the season. Sophomore Lorenzo Brown led the Pack with 19 points, followed by junior Scott Wood with 16. Both Painter and C.J. Leslie had 10 points.

WAKE FOREST 55, Nebraska (Cornhuskers, 19,345 students, Lincoln, NE) 53 -- C.J. Harris drove in for a layup with 3.4 seconds left to give Wake Forest a 55-53 victory over Nebraska. Wake Forest 7-footer Carson Desrosiers had career highs with 13 points and 12 rebounds, and he even made a couple 3-pointers. Chase Fischer added 13 points, Harris 12 and Travis McKie 11 for Wake Forest (5-2), which was 1-11 on the road last season.

Michigan State (Spartans, 36,058 students, East Lansing, MI) 65, FLORIDA STATE 49 -- Four days after falling to No. 4 UConn in overtime in the Bahamas, the Seminoles lost a hard-fought game to Michigan State, 65-49, Wednesday night in East Lansing.  The Noles (5-3) traded sand and held the Spartans (5-2) to their second-lowest points output this season.

GREEN (Jim Mone/AP Photo)
But FSU struggled on the offensive end of the basketball court.  Last night, the Seminoles turned the ball over 18 times and only had a season-low six opportunities from the free-throw line. Bernard James posted a double-double, scoring 13 points -- 11 of which came in the first half -- and grabbing 12 rebounds. He also blocked three shots.

Minnesota (Golden Gophers, 30,610 students, Minneapolis, MN) 58, VIRGINIA TECH 55 -- Tech fell behind early, but fought back and took a 28-25 lead into intermission. The Hokies and Golden Gophers battled back and forth throughout the second half, before Minnesota took a 56-55 lead with 18 seconds remaining on a pair of free throws by Julian Welch. Welch made two more free throws with 6.4 seconds remaining to give the Golden Gophers the lead, 58-56.

Erick Green, who had been knocked off the elevated court in William Arena in the final half minute of action, attempted to hit a game tying three-pointer at the buzzer, but the ball spun off the rim and Minnesota claimed the victory.

Green scored a career-high 25 points to lead all scorers. Robert Brown added 13 points and Victor Davila scored 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds. 

FSU Sod Cemetary Gets New Entry Thanks To Punter

The blog "Dr. Saturday" shares this gem:

Florida State punter Shawn Powell had nine punts for 400 yards against Florida at The Swamp last week in a game that set college football back to the leather helmet days, but that's not what the ACC Special Teams Player of the Week will be telling his children years from now.
No, Powell has a much better memory from that game, one that includes sod, scissors and security.

As the final seconds ticked down on Florida State's 21-7 win over Florida, Powell sprinted to the south end zone of Florida's field, took a knee in the F, whipped out a pair of scissors and began cutting a piece of turf from Florida's end zone.

Unfortunately for Powell, he picked the end zone closest to the Florida locker room and was quickly spotted by security who accosted him and foiled his plan.

Or did they?

THE SOD CEMETERY (Click here for more)
"The guy started cussing at me, but he's a Gator fan so what do I care?" Powell told the St. Petersburg Times. "I was going to get the F, but he pushed me away so I went to the other side of the field and grabbed some."

So what did Powell, who was dubbed the "Sod Captain," need the grass for? Florida State's Sod Cemetery

The cemetery is made up of sod from some of Florida State's greatest victories and grass from victorious road games in which Florida State is an underdog, away games against Florida, ACC championship games and bowl games.

Big Ten/ACC Challenge

SCOTT (Andrew Shurtleff/AP Photo)
The Big Ten jumped out to a 4-2 lead as they seek to win their third straight challenge.

VIRGINIA 70,  #14 Michigan (Wolverines, 41,674 students, Ann Arbor, MI) 58 – Senior forward Mike Scott scored 18 points and had 11 rebounds, and sophomore guard Joe Harris had 18 points and seven rebounds to lead the Wahoos over No. 14 Michigan in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge Tuesday night at John Paul Jones Arena.

The victory was the fourth in a row for the Cavaliers and improved their record to 6-1 on the season. The loss drops Michigan's record to 5-2.

It's Virginia's highest ranked win since an 85-81 overtime victory over No. 12 Clemson at John Paul Jones Arena on Feb. 12, 2009. The Cavaliers have now held all seven of their opponents this season under 60 points.

Northwestern (Wildcats, 8,425 students, Evanston, IL) 76, GEORGIA TECH 60 – John Shurna, a 6-foot-9 senior forward, made three 3-pointers and had a team-high eight rebounds as Northwestern (6-0) remained unbeaten. Drew Crawford had 14 points and Luka Mirkovic had 13.

Jason Morris led Georgia Tech (4-3) with a career-high 21 points. Mfon Udofia had 12.

Illinois (Fighting Illini, 41,495 students, Champagne, IL)  71, MARYLAND 62 – Sam Sam Maniscalco scored 24 points, Brandon Paul had 17, and undefeated Illinois pulled away from the Terps.

The Fighting Illini (7-0) trailed at halftime and led by only one point with 8 minutes left before Maniscalco knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in a 10-2 run that proved too difficult for the feisty Terrapins to overcome.

ANDRE YOUNG (Charlie Neibergall/AP Photo)
Terrell Stoglin scored a game-high 25 for Maryland (3-3) and James Padgett had a career-high 16. The Terrapins had won six straight in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge and were riding a 13-game home winning streak against non-conference opponents.

Purdue (Boilermakers, 31,145 students, West Lafayette, IN) 76, MIAMI 65 – the Robbie Hummel had 17 points and five rebounds to help Purdue defeat the Canes.

Lewis Jackson scored 15 points and Terone Johnson added 13 for the Boilermakers (7-1), who won their Challenge matchup for the third straight year and claimed their 22nd straight home victory.

Malcolm Grant and Shane Larkin each scored 16 points for Miami (4-2). Larkin had averaged just 5.3 points this season before the outburst.

CLEMSON 71, Iowa (Hawkeyes, 30,238 students, Iowa City, IA) 55 – Clemson used a 21-6 first-half run en route to a convincing 71-55 victory on the road over Iowa on Tuesday in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

The Tigers moved to 4-2 with the win, while the Hawkeyes fell to 4-3. It was Clemson's fourth straight road win in Big Ten/ACC Challenge play and ninth overall in the event in 13 tries. Iowa fell to 2-9 overall in challenge games. 

JARED SULLINGER (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
#2 Ohio State (Buckeyes, 38,794 students, Columbus, OH) 85, #3 DUKE 63 – Jared Sullinger scored 21 points and three teammates were close behind as No. 2 Ohio State roared out to an 11-0 lead and never looked back in beating third-ranked Duke.

Austin Rivers had 22 points and Mason Plumlee 16 for the Blue Devils (7-1), coming off wins over ranked opponents Michigan and Kansas in their previous two games.

William Buford scored 20, Deshaun Thomas 18 and Aaron Craft 17 for the Buckeyes (7-2).

The two most telling Duke stats:  3-15 from behind the arc, and only 14 free throws attempted.

Quote Of The Day

(Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
"I wasn't focused on each of their guys. I was trying not to lose by 30."

-- Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski when asked about an Ohio State player following his Blue Devils big loss to the Buckeyes.

London Named ACC Coach Of The Year

(Geoff Burke/Getty Images)
Virginia's Mike London was named ACC Coach of the Year, finishing well ahead of Beamer, who was second place, and Clemson's Dabo Swinney, who was third.

London got 31 votes from members of the ACC Media Association, Beamer 12 and Swinney 2. 
The Cavaliers went from 4-8 in London's first year to 8-4 in his second and will be headed to a bowl game for the first time in four years.

“More than anything, I am extremely proud of the performance by our players and coaches,” London said. 

“This is really a reflection on their efforts this year. Quite honestly, I do not think there were very many people outside of our locker room who felt we could go into the final week of the season with a chance to advance to the ACC championship game. As a coach, you live for the kind of moments where your team buys in, puts in the work and the effort and sees the positive results that come from it.”

Luckily for London he's not coaching at Maryland where last year's ACC Coach of the Year was fired after a 9-2 season and a bowl victory.

Watkins Named ACC Rookie Of The Year

No surprise, here. 

Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins is the ACC’s Offensive and Overall Rookie of the Year as announced by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association today. He set league records for freshmen with 72 receptions, 1,073 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns, and provided the Tigers’ productive offense with its top big-play threat.

Watkins received 43 of a possible 45 votes for Offensive Rookie of the Year in balloting conducted by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association. North Carolina running back Giovani Bernard was named on two ballots. The total gave Watkins a clear majority of the electorate over the top defensive rookie, Wake Forest defensive back Merrill Noel, who was honored with a separate award.

The 6-foot-1 freshman from Fort Myers, Fla., established himself as one of the nation’s top young players almost from the outset of the Tigers’ 9-3 regular season. During the eighth game, he set three ACC rookie records on one play: those for receptions, yardage and touchdowns.

He also set the freshman standard for all-purpose yards, of which he has 1,920 with two games left. Only four ACC players have topped 2,000 for a season, and at 174.45 a game, Watkins stands fourth among all FCS competitors. Until a late-season injury, he had a viable chance to become the first freshman since 1943 to lead the NCAA’s highest division in all-purpose yardage.

(Photos by Scott Halleran and Rob Carr/Getty Images North America)

More ACC Football Awards

Wake Forest cornerback Merrill Noel is the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year and Virginia Tech’s Blake DeChristopher has earned  the 2011 Jacobs Blocking Trophy.

Noel led the nation in passes defended for the Demon Deacons, and received 31 votes for the defensive honor. Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan was second with seven, followed by Miami defensive end Anthony Chickillo with five.

The redshirt freshman from Pahokee, Fla., has one interception and 19 break-ups for the Demon Deacons. His total of 20 defended passes is the highest by an FBS freshman in the nine seasons in which the NCAA has kept the statistic on a weekly basis.

DeChristopher is the Hokie to win the Jacobs Trophy which has been awarded annually since 1953 to the player voted the most outstanding blocker in the ACC by a poll of the league’s head coaches and defensive coordinators. The trophy is given in memory of William P. Jacobs, who served as president of Presbyterian College from 1935 to 1945.  

DeChristopher, a 6-5, 312-pound fifth-year senior, was named on six of 12 ballots and totaled 10 points in one of the closest votes for the Jacobs Trophy. He outdistanced Florida State senior offensive tackle Zebrie Sanders (9 points) and North Carolina junior guard Jonathan Cooper (9).  In all, 18 different ACC offensive linemen received votes in the balloting.

A four-year starter for Virginia Tech at tackle, DeChristopher was a 2nd-team All-ACC honoree in 2010 and earned Honorable Mention All-ACC accolades as a sophomore in 2009.

The Midlothian, Va., native was named ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week twice during the 2011 season: first for his play on Oct. 8 against Miami, in the Hokies’ dramatic 38-35 win over the Hurricanes, and then for his play on Nov. 17 in Virginia Tech’s 24-21 win over North Carolina.

He has started 49 games in his career and Tech is 38-11 in those games.

Things That Make You Go...


(Photos by Photo: Jim Dedmon/Icon SMI and Rob Foldy/Icon SMI)

Bet The House

EDSALL (Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Here are two items that typically insure something (usually the opposite) is about to happen.

On Tuesday, Syracuse University Chancellor Nancy Cantor gave embattled coach Jim Boeheim a vote of confidence saying “Coach Boeheim is our coach.…We’re very pleased with what he said Sunday night, and we stand by it.”

If history repeats itself, which it has a nasty habit of doing, Boeheim will be gone in a week or two.

Meanwhile over in College Park, also somewhat embattled, coach Randy Edsall is the subject of coaching rumors in the NFL.  When asked about rumors that he may be headed to the Jacksonville Jaguars, Edsall said, “The only job that I am worried about, and the job that I have got all my heart and soul and attention on, is Maryland.”

When asked directly if he is committed to Maryland for the long haul, Edsall said, “Absolutely. There is no question about that.”

That said, expect a press conference within days announcing his sad (I love these kids) departure. 

Big Ten/ACC Challenge Wednesday Night

Penn State (Nittany Lions, 32,295 students, State College, PA) @ BOSTON COLLEGE, 7:15 PM, ESPNU

Indiana (Hoosiers, 42,464 students, Bloomington, IN) @ N.C. STATE, 7:15 PM, ESPN2

FLORIDA STATE @ Michigan State (Spartans, 36,058 students, East Lansing, MI), 7:30 PM, ESPN

VIRGINIA TECH @ Minnesota (Golden Gophers, 30,610 students, Minneapolis, MN), 9:15 PM, ESPN2

WAKE FOREST @Nebraska (Cornhuskers, 19,345 students, Lincoln, NE), 9:15 PM, ESPNU

#9 Wisconsin (Badgers, 28,960 students, Madison, WI) @  #5 NORTH CAROLINA, 9:30 PM, ESPN

Pictures Of The Day

You gotta admit, it’s a good look. (Photo by Greg Nelson/Sports Illustrated)
This guy keeps defying the experts and winning games...Quarterback Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Broncos warms-up against the San Diego Chargers during their NFL Game on November 27, 2011 at Qualcomm Stadium. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images North America)
 Nice try.  Ohio State Buckeyes fans attempt the Cameron heckle. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Jabar Gaffney #10 of the Washington Redskins attempts to pull in a pass against Richard Sherman #25of the Seattle Seahawks on November 27, 2011 at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images North America)
Vanderbilt Commodores fans cheer before the game against the Xavier Musketeers at Memorial Gymansium on November 28, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images North America)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Barnes’ Ankle, Offense, Defense, Rebounding All Issues For Tar Heels

BARNES (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
The North Carolina Tar Heels may be facing #9 Wisconsin Wednesday night without star forward Harrison Barnes who sprained his ankle in the loss to UNLV on Saturday night, and that’s just one of the problems facing them during a tough non-conference stretch.

"If we had a game today, he would not have played,"  head coach Roy Williams said on Monday.

But Barnes', who would be replaced by Reggie Bullock (7.8 points per game) and P.J. Hairston (9.7), injury isn’t necessarily the Tar Heels biggest problem as they prepare to play two highly ranked opponents in the span of five days traveling to Lexington to play the now top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday.

The film and stats from Saturday night’s loss to the Runnin’ Rebels confirmed what most expected.  The Tar Heels are in trouble when they find themselves in a jump shooting competition.

Luckily, for a team facing very high expectations, it’s only November, and nobody knows that better than their coach.  Surprisingly, even after two National Championships and seemingly annual appearances deep in the Big Dance, there are still critics howling that Ol’ Roy isn’t a good game coach.

HENSON (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
The chief complaint seems to be his (intentional) unwillingness to call time out when the opposing team is making a big run.  When no time out was called during UNLV’s 14 point run that turned the game, Williams was surely teaching this current bunch of Heels’ a lesson in coping with adversity.  Come March or April, he will most times utilize the same strategy, saving his timeouts for the end of the game and demonstrating his confidence in his charges to compose themselves and take corrective action.

As it is November and the UNLV game means little in the grand scheme of a long season, Williams was also likely compiling video for a lengthy review back Chapel Hill.  The session was most likely called "What Not To Do."

We surmise that he spent a great deal of time talking about what works best for the Tar Heel offense -- working from the inside out, rebounding to start their vaunted transition game, making free throws and playing tougher perimeter defense.  All of those, lead to good things on offense.

When North Carolina is at their best, they are working the ball into their big men and taking shots in the paint and drawing fouls and making those freebies.  Against UNLV, big men Tyler Zeller and John Henson got off to a rocky start, and, unlike, Tyler Hansbrough who consistently anchored the 2009 National Championship team, the UNC bigs simply didn’t recover.  Zeller was in foul trouble and only scored 5 points while  Henson was a bit better tallying 11 points.  Neither looked particularly comfortable.

The UNLV strategy was to be very physical under the basket and to try and steel the ball when the Carolina big men put the ball on the floor.  As Williams said after the game, they need to be “stronger” with the ball down at point blank range.  You can bet the Wisconsin Badgers will be putting big strong bodies on Zeller and Henson on Wednesday night and looking to steal the ball from the backside.

ZELLER (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
When things didn’t go well in the paint, the Heels became impatient, relying on one-on-one play and jump shooting.  Simply put, it didn’t work.  If one were to chart most of the Tar Heels losses during the Williams era, this lack of patience and determination to get the ball inside is a factor in most losses, and Saturday night was no different.

Finally, rebounding and defense was a problem in both games in the Las Vegas tournament.  While North Carolina and their very talented point guard Kendall Marshall can run a transition offense off of a made basket, it works better, and more frequently, when started by a defensive rebound.  The Heels have to get more rebounds or life against Wisconsin and #1 Kentucky is going to be difficult.

Annually, it appears that it takes some portion of the season for the UNC coaching staff to convince their players that good, tough defense leads to a more efficient offense.  The loss to UNLV again reinforces that point.  The Tar Heels couldn’t stop UNLV and, subsequently, they couldn’t get their own offense jump started with transition baskets that are the bread and butter of Williams maximum-possession, racehorse style of up-tempo basketball.

Simply put, if the Tar Heels don’t get better at what makes Roy William’s teams so good --  good defense, rebounding, transition offense and strong interior play from their big men -- they could wake up on Sunday morning staring at a three-game losing streak. 

ACC Football Players Of The Week

GLENNON (Ethan Hyman/Raleigh News & Observer)
OFFENSIVE BACK – Mike Glennon, NC State, Sr., QB, 6-6, 232, Centreville, Va. Glennon completed 26 of 55 passes for 306 yards, five touchdowns and just one interception in N.C. State’s historic come-from-behind victory over Maryland. Glennon tied the school record for touchdown responsibility by passing for five touchdowns and running for a sixth, tying the mark Philip Rivers set in 2002 vs. Navy. Also, Glennon’s five touchdown passes against the Terps made him the fifth NC State player to pass for five TDs in a game, the last being Russell Wilson against Florida State in 2009.

Glennon set personal career highs with his 55 pass attempts (sixth in NC State history) and 36 completions (fifth). Glennon now has 28 touchdown passes on the season, moving him into a tie for third place with Wilson (28 in 2008) on the N.C. State single-season list for TD passes. Only Philip Rivers (34 in 2003) and Wilson (31 in 2009) have thrown for more touchdowns in a single season than Glennon has so far in 2011. 

JONES (Robert Willet/Raleigh News & Observer)
RECEIVER – Dwight Jones, North Carolina, Sr., WR, 6-4, 225, Burlington, N.C. Jones had 10 catches for 101 yards in Carolina's 37-21 win over Duke. He eclipsed the previous UNC single-season record for receptions and finished the game with 79 catches on the year. The previous mark of 74 was set by Hakeem Nicks in 2007. It was his fifth 100-yard receiving game of the season, tying the school record set by Nicks in 2008. Jones had touchdown catches of 6, 18 and 8 yards and became the first Tar Heel to catch three scoring receptions in a game since Nicks vs. Boston College in 2008. Jones has 11 touchdown catches this season, the second-highest single-season total in school history, just one shy of Nicks’ record of 12 in 2008. 

OFFENSIVE LINEMAN – Blake DeChristopher, Virginia Tech, Sr., OT, 6-5, 311, Midlothian, Va. The Jacobs Blocking Trophy winner continued his strong season by grading out at 90 percent on 61 snaps with 15 knockdowns as the Hokies blanked Virginia 38-0 on the road to clinch the ACC's Coastal Division. 

DEFENSIVE LINEMAN – James Gayle, Virginia Tech, So., DE, 6-4, 257, Hampton, Va. Gayle had a big hand in Tech's 38-0 shutout of Virginia, posting five solo tackles, three of which were for loss and two of which were sacks. He also had three quarterback hurries. 

MANNING (Ethan Hyman/Raleigh News & Observer)
LINEBACKER – Terrell Manning, N.C. State, Jr., LB, 6-3, 233, Laurinburg, N.C. Manning helped to keep Maryland off the scoreboard the final 25-plus minutes of the game and give the offense a chance to pull off the comeback victory. He had seven total tackles, two of which were tackles for losses totalling 11 yards, and one of those was a quarterback sack for an eight-yard loss. He also caused a pair of Maryland fumbles, and recovered another. Manning recovered a blocked field-goal attempt early in the second quarter and returned it 21 yards. 

DEFENSIVE BACK – Terrance Parks, Florida State, Sr., S, 6-2, 215, Fairburn, Ga.Parks saved the finest performance of his career for his final regular season game – against arch-rival Florida. The second-year starter matched his career-high with 6 tackles – all solo stops – including the first two tackles for loss (-17 yards) of his career. Parks was an integral part in both the run support efforts that limited the host Gators to 54 rushing yards, and the coverage unit which yielded only 130 through the air and came away with four interceptions. Parks came away with the Seminoles’ fourth and final interception of the night – the first of his career – and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown and a 21-0 lead. 

QUIGLEY (Greg M. Cooper/US Presswire)
CO-SPECIALIST – Ryan Quigley, Boston College, Sr., P, 6-3, 188, Little River, S.C. Playing his final game in a Boston College uniform, Quigley affected Miami’s field position all day long, booming six punts for 240 yards (average of 40 yards per kick) and downing five of those kicks inside the 20-yard-line. Four of Quigley’s punts came in the fourth quarter. Boston College entered the quarter with a 24-14 lead and held the Hurricanes to three points to preserve the win. Quigley played a major role in that defensive effort, pinning the Canes on their 13, 15, 10 and 2-yard-lines on consecutive punts in the quarter. 

CO-SPECIALIST – Danny Coale, Virginia Tech, Sr., WR/P, 6-0, 200, Lexington, Va. Coale, punting for just the second time this season, had four punts for an average of 47.5 yards with two punts of 52 yards in Tech's win over Virginia. He found out he was punting in pregame warm-ups.

COALE (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
CO-SPECIALIST – Shawn Powell, Florida State, Sr., P, 6-4, 235, Rome, Ga. One week after taking over the FBS lead in overall and net punting, Powell solidified his standing. Cranking out a career-high 9 punts in a conservatively called, field position game, Powell averaged 44.0 yards. More importantly he kept Florida’s laboring offense backed up all day, pinning five of those nine punts inside the 20-yard line, pushing his season total to 21. Impressively enough, three of those were inside the Florida 10-yard line (he has 12 inside the 10 this season). Three of Powell’s punts covered 50 or more yards (he has 11 of those in his last 3 games), including a 62-yarder that marked the sixth over 60 yards this season. On the year Powell is averaging 47.0 yards a punt and boasts a net average of 42.0, both of which lead the nation. He’s nailed 43 percent of his punts inside the opponents’ 20-yard line this season, and 63 percent of his punts have gone unreturned. 

BERNARD (Robert Willet/Raleigh News & Observer)
ROOKIE – Giovani Bernard, North Carolina, Fr., RB, 5-10, 205, Davie, Fla. Bernard had his seventh 100-yard rushing game of the season with 165 yards on 30 carries, both career highs, in North Carolina's 37-21 win over Duke. His seven 100-yard rushing games are a UNC freshman single-season record, breaking the previous mark of six set in 1977 by Amos Lawrence. Bernard now has 1,222 rushing yards this season, the most ever by a UNC freshman. He now ranks sixth on the school’s single-season rushing chart. Bernard scored his 13th rushing touchdown of the season on a 48-yard run up the middle of the field in the second quarter. His 13 rushing scores equals the fifth-highest single-season total in school history, tied with Natrone Means in 1992. The last player to rush for more than 13 touchdowns in a season was Leon Johnson who had 14 in 1993. Bernard had 222 all-purpose yards against Duke, 165 rushing and 57 receiving. His previous high was 202 vs. Georgia Tech.

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