Saturday, June 5, 2010

Would you forego your senior year in high school? UNC recruit McAdoo just might

James McAdoo Facebook Photo. UNC basketball recruit James McAdoo, 17, could finish high school a year early with summer classes and thus join the Tar Heels a year early. Would you forego your senior year in high school?

I guess everyone might have a different answer to that question. For me, my senior year in high school and my senior year in college were probably my favorite years from my youth. I'm not sure there could be a money value worth taking those away from me.

Plus, I come from a traditionalist and philosophical viewpoint. From a philosophical stance, I figure that you stay in school for your natural senior seasons and whatever happens as a result was supposed to happen. From a traditionalist stance, I would prefer that freshman play on a jayvee team before joining the varsity as sophomores. That extra year matures a player as a player, as a student and as a person, and would put an end to non-student athletes coming for one rent-a-player season.

Frankly, I was never a big fan of Bob McAdoo, James' uncle, because he came in as a Tar Heel for one junior college transfer season. I thought the Tar Heels would win the NCAA the next year with McAdoo having a second season under Dean Smith so that ticked me off. And for some reason, and I still don't remember why, I blamed McAdoo for the loss to Florida State in the NCAA semi-finals in '72 despite his scoring 24 points.

That all being said, Brad Daugherty skipped a grade and entered Carolina early and he became one of my favorite Tar Heels. Mike Gminski breezed through high school early and he became one of my favorite Dukies.

Who knows if McAdoo has the maturity that Daugherty and Gminski had, but if he does, and he wants to give up high school to start his basketball dreams early, it sure could help the Heels after the transfer of the Wear twins.

McAdoo is physically mature at 6-foot-8 and 215 or so pounds. Plus, because of his birth date, he wouldn't be eligible to go to the NBA any earlier so he would be at Carolina at least two years.

In short, I probably wouldn't do it but I watch Carolina basketball a little more than I watch Norfolk Christian High School basketball so if he wants to go to Chapel Hill early and he can handle it, it wouldn't hurt my feelings if he did so.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Lessons from John Wooden

John Wooden’s phone number is still listed, and you can easily find it on whitepages.com. In an age where sports figures are increasingly remote, the fact that anyone, at any time, can call the legendary UCLA coach is amazing.

The news that Wooden, 99, is gravely ill reminds us an era is closing.

Longtime ACC basketball fans loathed and respected Wooden, who dominated college basketball through 1975. If you followed the sport then, you feared the man with the rolled-up program and old-school discipline.

N.C. State’s monumental victory over UCLA in the 1974 national semifinals – the Pack won the championship two nights later, against Marquette - remains one of the epic games in collegiate history. Wooden retired after winning the 1975 title.

I had a chance to speak with him once. I was stunned when I called and he answered the phone, taking time to talk to a young News & Observer reporter. He patiently answered my questions on college basketball, and we veered off into talk about that 1974 season.

Wooden, in a soft deep voice grown richer with age, spoke of how much he admired that N.C. State team. In basketball, he said, you need quickness and balance. And N.C. State had both.

But what I remembered from that conversation was not what he said about N.C. State, but how he related basketball to life.

In life, he said, you need love and balance. Those words came through the phone with grace and clarity and I knew that even though I was a random reporter who happened to call when he was home, he was still coaching, still teaching, still doing what he loved.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Penny-pinching time for Canes

That horrible sound heard around the Triangle Wednesday was the sound of Carolina Hurricanes fans groaning at the thought what lies ahead next season.

Canes owner Peter Karmanos, Jr., and team general manager Jim Rutherford conducted separate interviews with local media. But both focused on the same thing -- the bottom line.

Karmanos, who is attempting to sell a minority share of the team, sat down with the News and Observer. Rutherford, currently out of the state, had a phone interview with 99.9FM The Fan.

They both said the Canes payroll for next season will be in the bottom 20 percent of the NHL. That, most likely, means good-bye to fan favorites Ray Whitney and Rod Brind'Amour.

The Canes will attempt to sign Whitney before their exclusive negotiating period with him ends on July 1. But what kind of serious effort can they make while, at the same time, attempting to trim $15 million from last season's $56 million payroll?

Brind'Amour, who'll turn 40 this summer, wants to play next season in the final year of the 5-year extension he signed after Carolina won the Stanley Cup in 2006. It would be a feel-good swansong for No. 17.

But, again, the Canes will have a hard time fitting his salary into their slimmed-down budget. Brind'Amour is due $3 million, but the team would owe him a $2 million buyout should it release him. Maybe the two sides can reach a compromise.

Either way, this will be tough to watch. It may get even tougher when the games on the ice begin this fall.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

NC State athlete poses for pics online; UNC's Williams doesn't like Tweets

I'm not sure if today's athletes are more wide open than athletes of yesterday but the Internet certainly exposes them more - so to speak.

NC State softballer Lauren Peters (pictured right) made frathousesports.com's All Hot Team and was featured in a seven-picture layout online where she shows a lot of skin. The reserve outfielder finished the season for the 28-27 Wolfpack batting only .154 but she did have 33 putouts.

Meanwhile, UNC coach Roy Williams told his players, particularly Dexter Strickland, John Henson and Larry Drew Two, to tone it down with the online Tweets. He met with the team earlier this week to give them guidelines on what not to write on Twitter. The players' Tweets certainly personalize the team but the Tweets can also be embarrassing, inappropriate and provide fodder for opponents and opponents' fans.

Apparently, the last straw for Williams came when several of the players took part in a jokefest about why the Wear twins left the Carolina program. Williams himself Tweets but very rarely. Since January, Williams has posted four Tweets totalling just more than 80 words.

After the meeting with Williams, Henson - whose dirty-dancing with bikini-wearing babes pictures made the rounds on the Internet recently - and Strickland released a Tweet which read, "Well, coached (sic) just talked to us about twitter and told us we offend some people n what not so this is a farewell to bein' myself." Then, they wrote, "Yeah these people be emailin coach n stuff smh....self expression is a birthright and something you did PRIOR to hoopin..." Sounds a little bitter and snarly, not to mention the spelling and grammar errors.

Maybe they should be schooled in how to communicate as much as what they communicate.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Classy Danowski deserves this title at Duke

Say what you want about the Duke lacrosse team in light of the 2006 allegations, but this much is true – current coach John Danowski exudes class, and you can’t help but admire what Danowski and his club accomplished with Monday’s national title.

In hindsight, it’s easy to see how former coach Mike Pressler was treated unfairly when Duke forced him out in that aborted season.

Duke responded with an amazing hire when it brought in Danowski from Hofstra. Danowski not only knows the game, he knows how to recruit and he knew how to handle a scandal of hard to fathom proportions. To keep the Duke program afloat is a remarkable achievement – to win a national title, and to do it after such wrenching Final Four losses, is amazing.

In light of the false allegations that surrounded the program in 2006, it’s amazingly just to see the Devils finally claim a national title in a sport dominated by a tight circle of programs.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Wolfpack, Heels both make it to NCAA baseball tourney

NC State manager Elliot Avent was a little concerned that, despite his club making it to the ACC tournament and playing well except for one game, his Wolfpack team might not make it to the NCAA baseball tournament but that UNC, despite not making it to the ACC tourney, would. As it turns out, both area teams made it.

And both teams deserved to make it. Carolina finished a game under .500 in the ACC but has an overall 36-20 record and played well down the stretch. NC State finished at .500 in the ACC and has an overall mark of 38-22. State, a third seed in the Myrtle Beach region, opens up against College of Charleston. Coastal Carolina, the top seed in the region and No. 4 overall, plays Stony Brook in the other regional game.

The Tar Heels sweated out the selection show as their game was announced as the final matchup in the 64-team field. Carolina travels to Norman, Okla. as the third seed in that region and will face No. 2 seed Cal (29-23) in its first game. No. 1 Oklahoma takes on Oral Roberts in the other regional game. Game dates and times have not been announced. The ACC got a total of eight teams in the NCAA tournament - Boston College was left out.

Georgia Tech is hosting a regional that includes Elon, the third North Carolina team in the tournament. While some may argue that Carolina shouldn't have made the NCAA tournament because the Heels didn't qualify for the ACC tournament, keep in mind that Arizona got into the tournament despite going 6-13 over the last 19 games.