Saturday, July 17, 2010

Complete copy of letter from Dean Smith's family which was released today

From the Family of Dean E. Smith:

Our dad is almost eighty years old, so it’s expected that he might show signs of aging. After spending an entire lifetime without a visit to the hospital except to see players and friends, he had to undergo two procedures in the past three years: a knee replacement surgery and a repair of an abdominal aortic aneurysm. But what other people may have noticed - and what has been speculated about recently in the media - is that our dad may not remember quite like he used to. It’s a stark contrast, because he is widely known for remembering a name, a place, a game, a story – it’s what made other people feel like they were special, because our dad remembered everything.

Coach Smith wanted to keep his professional and personal life separate. But as we all know, the personal and professional life can sometimes overlap, and we understand that many fans, former players, and friends are concerned about his well-being. In trying to balance our dad’s wishes and the genuine concern so many people have for Coach Smith, we want to update you about his health, but ask that you respect his privacy. Our dad has a progressive neurocognitive disorder that affects his memory. So now, he may not immediately recall the name of every former player from his many years in coaching, but that does not diminish what those players meant to him or how much he cares about them. He still remembers the words of a hymn or a jazz standard, but may not feel up to going to a concert. He still plays golf, though usually only for nine holes instead of eighteen. He still attends some sporting events –you might see him in the stands at his grandson’s baseball game. He has difficulty traveling long distances to see the Heels on the road, but he insists on watching all Carolina basketball games on television and cheers as hard as he can for Coach Williams and the team.

Although some of the ways he experiences daily life have changed, he still cherishes his many relationships with Carolina basketball, his family and his friends.

Throughout his career, he has always preferred the spotlight be on the Carolina basketball program and the University, rather than himself. We hope that you will understand and respect his wishes. Thank you for your consideration and well wishes for our dad.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Young sportswriter denigrates UNC and the ACC in announcing NCAA investigation

North Carolina football finds itself under investigation by the NCAA for possible violations.

While the school acknowledges an investigation, no details have been provided. ESPN.com's Joe Schad reports that UNC football players, including defensive tackle Marvin Austin, were interviewed by the NCAA this week. They were asked questions about agents and whether anyone had received gifts or extra benefits, his source says.

In announcing the investigation, a youngish "sportswriter" for SBnation.com named Holly Anderson wrote, "UNC, hardly the highest-profile program even in the slow-zombie ACC, suddenly finds itself under some adorably nebulous investigation by the NCAA for possible violations within the football program."

The 28-year-old Anderson, an Aquarius by the way, describes herself as "Tennessee-born, Atlanta-based by way of Los Angeles." She also takes a dig at the highly respected and award-winning reporter Joe Schad, who broke the details of the story. She says Schad's "sources range from 'somebody's cousin' to 'the internet.'"

At least Anderson is a Red Sox fan ... and attractive.

To read the ESPN story, which is being updated regularly, please click here.

Feinstein book with Dean Smith canceled due to coach’s memory issues

Last week, Capital Sports’ Dane Huffman talked about former UNC coach Dean Smith’s fading memory and the poignant story about it that appeared in the Fayetteville Observer.

After the story broke, author John Feinstein wrote a column about how he didn’t want to break that story but now he gives his insight into Coach Smith’s health issues.

Feinstein was working on a book with and about Coach Smith. “The agreement Dean and I had was to work together on the book,” Feinstein wrote. “It was what I had always wanted to do. Going forward with him only being peripherally involved felt wrong. So, regretfully, I decided not to go forward.”

Because Coach Smith had not been very visible during the Centennial Celebration of UNC basketball, I suspected something was up. During last season, I heard the rumors. It wasn’t until an April conversation I had with Woody Durham, the voice of the Tar Heels, that the fears were confirmed and I found out about the extent of Coach Smith’s health problems.

Because I was interviewing Woody Durham about something else and I considered that part of the conversation personal, I didn’t really think about trying to “break” the story. Plus, while my nature was always to break stories, this is one story I hoped that Dean Smith’s family and the basketball family would break when they felt it was time.

To read more of my thoughts on the topic, please go to the comments section of this entry.

Bulls' Elliott Johnson singles to win all-star game; Durham starts long homestand

The International League Triple-A All-Stars defeated the Pacific Coast League 2-1 Wednesday night after the Durham Bull's Elliot Johnson singled in a run in the sixth to break a tie. A sell-out crowd of 10,000 watched the event at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, Penn.

The Bulls, who start a long homestand tonight (Thursday), lead the International League South Division standings by nine games over Charlotte with a 55-35 record.

The Charlotte Knights come to town for two games before USA Baseball takes over the DBAP over the weekend for a pair of games against Korea. Then the Bulls play eight nights in a row in Durham starting Monday with four against Columbus and four against Syracuse.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tar Heels, Wolfpack battle in summer league basketball

Colleague Steve Wiseman wrote a piece for today's Charlotte Observer and News & Observer in which he described incoming Tar Heels Harrison Barnes and Reggie Bullock combining for 55 points to defeat an Wolfpack-laden team 82-72 in summer league basketball play in Durham.

Wolfpack freshman C.J. Leslie tallied 21 points while Lorenzo Brown had 15 and Ryan Harrow added 12.

To read the full article, please click here.

UNC trainer says "most girls" would kill for John Henson's waist

An article in today's USA Today discusses how hard it's been for John Henson to bulk up. He'll need to put on some weight if he intends to bang inside in the ACC. The 6-foot-10 sophomore weighed in at only 180 pounds last year.

"He's been the one guy I've probably sat up the most at night, pulling my hair out and probably giving me more gray hair, going, 'OK, What do I have to do with him?'" Tar Heels trainer Jonas Sahratian said. "Because, he is, he's kind of like a wet noodle. ... He's got the most minuscule joints you've ever seen. His waist is like a wasp's waist. Most girls would kill for it. It's getting better. It's been a rough road. He's been probably the most difficult guy I've ever had to train."

To read the article, click here.

Bulls' Dan Johnson wins Triple-A Home Run Derby

Durham Bulls' Dan Johnson hit 25 home runs to edge Lehigh Valley's Andy Tracy in the Triple-A Home Run Derby competition Monday night at Lehigh Valley.

Johnson, who leads the International League with 24 home runs and 80 RBIs, beat Tracy in a tiebreaker round after coming from behind with two homers to tie it in regulation. He had the highest combined homer total in the first two rounds with 13 but the numbers are wiped away for the finals.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Steinbrenner, UNC supporter, dead at age 80

The News & Observer today appropriately pointed out the connections that Yankees owner George Steinbrenner had with UNC-Chapel Hill. Steinbrenner died this morning of a heart attack in Tampa.

The Steinbrenner family donated a million bucks to the renovation of Boshamer Stadium on the Carolina campus. In fact, when you walk in you pass the Steinbrenner Family Courtyard. Jenny, his daughter, graduated from UNC in 1981. During her years there, Steinbrenner sent the Yankees to Chapel Hill three times for exhibition games.

I was at Carolina during the same era. In fact, noted sportswriter Dick Shaap, who passed away a few years ago himself, called the Daily Tar Heel offices and asked if I would get some information on Jenny for him to include in his then-upcoming book on George Steinbrenner.

I did. Without personal computers then, I forget how I got the info to him but I remember talking to a woman at his house that had a thick foreign accent and I couldn't figure out if it was a wife, a housekeeper or someone else. I feared that Shaap wouldn't get my message but he evidently did.

The material made the book, almost one whole page worth, but unfortunately I never even got a free copy of the book, much less any compensation. Oh well. During the team visits, I did get to meet such Yankee icons as Yogi Berra, who was a coach at the time, and Ron Guidry, one of the best Yankee pitchers of all time who the previous season was the best in the league with 25 wins.

While I'm a Red Sox fan and, like most everyone else, I tired of the storylines around Steinbrenner, including the love-hate relationship with Billy Martin, I'm appreciative of Steinbrenner's support for UNC baseball and the fact that he afforded me opportunities of a lifetime to chat with baseball legends.

Former Duke baseball coach D'Armi dies at age 75

DUKE ATHLETICS NEWS RELEASE - Tom D’Armi, a fixture around Duke University athletics for nearly three decades, died Saturday in Wilson, N.C., at the age of 75.

D’Armi coached the Blue Devils’ baseball program for seven seasons and also served as the director of athletic facilities and game management for all of the school’s sports — totaling 28 years of service to the university when he retired in 2004.

As a coach, D’Armi guided Duke baseball to 125 wins and five consecutive winning seasons during his seven-year tenure from 1978-84. He coached eight All-ACC selections and seven Major League Baseball draft picks during that time.

D’Armi’s family has asked that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to the Tom D’Armi Scholarship Fund, c/o Mary Dinkins, Duke Athletics, Box 90542, Durham, NC 27708.

D’Armi was predeceased by his wife Jane D’Armi and is survived by his son Mickey D’Armi. A celebration of his life is being planned for August.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Duke keeps adding Plumlees, needs them to produce

Duke is adding yet another Plumlee, according to the Asheville Citizen-Times, and no ACC team has ever had three brothers on the roster at the same time.

7-foot Marshall Plumlee is a senior at Asheville's Christ School, and would be joining Mason (a rising sophomore) and Miles (a rising junior) in 2011 at Duke.

Aside from the novelty of it, Duke will need real contributions from the Plumlees going forward.

Many people, including me, thought Mason was essential to Duke's hopes in 2010, but Brian Zoubek secured a post position and the contributions from the Plumlees dwindled as the season progressed. Mason played nine minutes and Miles three in the championship win over Butler, but neither scored.

Mason has the chance to be one of the ACC's better players. And Miles should be a decent banger/rebounder/defender. Their efforts this year are critical to Duke's chances.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Vick misses Raleigh camp as probation officials contain him

An Associated Press article in the News & Observer today told readers that Eagles QB Michael Vick was a no-show for a football camp in Raleigh this weekend but what it didn't make clear was that Vick has been barred from leaving Pennsylvania by probation officials.

Vick, who is on probation from a 2007 dogfighting conviction, recently held a birthday party and invited some of the bad element that got him in trouble to begin with. As a result, there was a shooting at the June 25 party in Virginia Beach. He was cleared of criminal wrongdoing but he may have violated his supervised release.

He also is in trouble with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell who reinstated Vick to the NFL in 2009 under conditions - conditions he may have violated. It certainly was a bad idea to have the party and it was a worse idea to invite his old friends.

Vick also missed his own celebrity golf tournament as a result of the order to remain in Pennsylvania. The AP reported that Vick was paid a $2,000 deposit of a $4,000 fee to appear at the Raleigh football camp, which was built around his appearance. Campers paid $175 each and were promised packages that included Vick photos and autographs.

Vick should never have been reinstated. We are a country of second chances, true. But it's disturbing that we crave celebrity from people who get in trouble more than we crave celebrity from people who do it right the first time. People who have lived their lives well from the get-go don't seem to be as honored or respected as those who do wrong and then "turn their life around."

Sometimes we should let a person turn his life around without it including stardom and millions of dollars.