Saturday, November 6, 2010

Not a good day for Wolfpack as they lose and have to root for Heels to win... and they do

A couple of offensive errors wasted a good defensive effort by N.C. State and the Pack fell at Clemson and then had to cheer on the Tar Heels to a 37-35 victory at Florida State.

N.C. State's Mustafa Greene, who earlier had scored, fumbled on his own 22 and that led to the Tiger's first touchdown. Then, QB Russell Wilson threw an interception in the end zone on third down from the 6. Clemson scored in the fourth quarter to take a 14-13 win.

State needed the Heels, who survived mental errors themselves, to win so the Wolfpack could stay in the chase for the division title.

The Heels trailed at the half 28-21 despite QB T.J. Yates' 67-yard touchdown pass to Dwight Jones. But Carolina controlled the third quarter, outscoring the Seminoles 10-0 to take a 31-28 advantage.

UNC held the lead until a bad snap on a punt and a bad decision by the punter C.J. Feagles. With less than six minutes to go and the Heels up 34-28, senior snapper Mark House hiked it well over Feagles head and it rolled all the way to the three-yard-line where Feagles kicked it through the end zone, thinking it would be a safety. Instead, it was a penalty on him and half the distance to the goal.

FSU went in from the one and a half to take the 35-34 lead.

Carolina, without its top three tailbacks, drove all the way down the field to set up a 22-yard go-ahead kick by Casey Barth.

A short kickoff, combined with a long return by FSU put the Seminoles in position to kick a field goal for the win with seven seconds left. But the 40-yard attempt by Dustin Hopkins sailed right and the Heels won.

It was the first time the Heels have ever won at Florida State. Yates threw for 437 yards to set a single-game UNC record.

UNC and N.C. State have identical 6-3 overall and 3-2 conference records. The Heels are two games behind Virginia Tech in the Coastal Division with two to play while the Wolfpack is only a half game behind Florida State in the Atlantic Division.

ACC football recaps - Heels, Devils win but State loses

North Carolina 37, Florida State 35

Clemson 14, N.C. State 13

Duke 55, Virginia 48

Miami 26, Maryland 20

Boston College 23, Wake Forest 13

Friday, November 5, 2010

Rested Wake Forest dethrones UNC soccer in penalty kicks

Wake Forest did something only two teams have been able to do in more than 20 years - defeat the UNC women's soccer team in the ACC tournament.

The Deacons, who earned a right to play Carolina with a victory over an intentionally short-handed Florida State squad, scored five penalty kicks after two scoreless overtime periods compared to four by the Heels.

The victory puts Wake Forest in the finals against Maryland at Cary's WakeMed Soccer Park Sunday at 2 p.m.

Much of the talk in the last 24 hours has been about FSU coach Mark Krikorian leaving his top seven players back home to rest for the NCAA tournament rather than play them in the ACC tourney. As a result of that move, the ACC suspended the coach for one game and fined the school $25,000.

The shorthanded FSU lineup slowed the game's pace and allowed Wake Forest to rest its top players for the Carolina game.

To his credit, UNC coach Anson Dorrance didn't blame that for the Tar Heels defeat. In fact, he found a silver lining himself.

“There’s always a mixed blessing for not playing in the final game,” Dorrance said. “We get to rest some legs going into the NCAA tournament. Hopefully get some of our injured kids back.”

The Heels have five players, including four key players, out with injuries.

Technically the Tar Heels (17-2-2) did not lose as the game goes in the record book as a tie but Wake Forest (12-7-2) advances on penalty kicks.

Former State player, once almost deported, charged with burglary

Gavin Grant, who played basketball for N.C. State from 2004-2007, has been charged with first degree burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon, and conspiracy to commit armed robbery.

Unfortunately Grant, who came to the country illegally with his mother from Jamaica as a boy, has not been located. Anyone with information concerning his whereabouts or other information that may assist the investigation of the case is asked to call Raleigh CrimeStoppers at (919) 834-HELP.

Grant is an African-American man who stands approximately 6-feet-8 inches tall and weighs approximately 220 pounds.

Grant was also charged in 2009 with credit card fraud. He had been playing in the NBA's developmental league.

The attempted robbery and assault occurred Sept. 24 at Crossroads Arbor Way apartments in Raleigh.

Back in 2005 when Grant faced deportation, N.C. State's then basketball coach Herb Sendek came to his defense. "Those of us who know Gavin, recognize that he's a wonderful young man," Sendek said. "He's a true gentleman whose working hard to pursue his degree at N.C. State."

In 2007 Immigration Judge Judge Wayne K. Houser apparently made a mistake by closing immigration proceedings against Grant and allowing him to remain in the country. Presumably his mother also remains in the country.

Grant's lawyer at the time, Anna Baird Choi, said Grant could apply for permanent-resident status but it's not known if he ever did. It's unclear whether Grant would be deported after serving any time if found guilty.

This is an example of basketball stars growing up feeling privileged (and not really making it big) and an example of people who come to the U.S. illegally not having regard for our rule of law. It took 13 years for the government to realize he was in the country illegally. He even lived with a friend of the family so he could play for St. Raymond's in the Bronx.

Grant was married while he was at N.C. State and had a young daughter. It's unclear at this point if they are still in his life.

Below is one of Grant's biggest moments as a member of the Wolfpack.

What they're saying about Quinn Cook signing with Duke

Quinn Cook on why he chose Duke:
"Just my relationship with Coach K. We definitely had the best relationship of all the coaches. When you think college basketball you think Duke."

Dave Telep, ESPN Recruiting
"By landing Quinn Cook, Duke got just what it needed -- a pass-first point guard who can make big shots."

Quinn Cook
"UCLA was a close second. They were definitely the toughest on me. They were up here every week and went to DeMatha and talked with Coach [Mike] Jones and were checking my background. It was definitely a tough choice."

Steve Smith, Oak Hill Coach
"Quinn is a pass first point guard. He can really shoot it and has very good three-point range. A lot of point guards who can shoot it, look for their shot all the time, but Quinn wants to get everyone involved in the offense."

Tim Stevens, News & Observer
"Cook gives the 2011 Duke recruiting class, which is currently ranked No. 2 in the country behind Kentucky, a point guard to go with 6-foot-4 shooting guard Austin Rivers of Winter Park, Fla., 7-foot center Marshall Plumlee of Arden (N.C.) Christ School and 6-6 forward Michael Gbinije of Richmond (Va.) Benedictine."

Final Friday Night Lights of the regular season; area games with predictions

The regular season for high school football ends tonight for most teams. Here are 10 football games that are within driving distance in the Triangle area. Friday night's weather is expected to be clear and chilly with temperatures in the upper 40s. Most games are at 7:30 p.m. You might want to check with local officials as some games start at 7. In bold below are the predicted winners. My record of predicting games was 9-1 last week, making the season total now 89-21, which is an 81 percent accuracy.

Apex at Middle Creek

East Wake at Knightdale

Harnett Central at Garner

Durham Hillside at Northern Durham

Holly Springs at Athens Drive

J.F. Webb at Cardinal Gibbons

Durham Jordan at Durham Riverside

Leesville Road at WF-Rolesville

Millbrook at Enloe

Panther Creek at Cary

Check the scores in our Sports Roundup on the left navigation bar.

Green Hope football coach resigns with 1-43 record in four years

Green Hope head football coach Steve Katz left Florida four years ago with plans to make a perennial winner out of a relatively new school. The Falcons ended the season with an 0-11 record and Katz resigned this week after going just 1-43 in four seasons.

Green Hope has lost 38 straight games, the longest current streak in North Carolina.

Green Hope, a member of the Tri-Nine 4-A Conference, won a pair of conference championships earlier in the decade but has only won one game under Katz and that came in 2007 over Panther Creek, which was in the midst of its first season.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Check out the highlights of the Canes topping the Islanders 7-2

The Carolina Hurricanes are posting some cool video of their games on their website. Take a look.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

FSU coach says Carolina's secondary looks good to him

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher doesn't seem to be buying that North Carolina is hurting in its secondary due to suspensions and injuries.

"Everybody says they're thin. They look pretty good on film to me back there," Fisher said today. "They're not doing a bad job at all." He added that getting senior starters Da'Norris Searcy, Deunta Williams and especially Kendric Burney back in the secondary has been a big boost.

"Getting Burney back and those guys, they're getting their guys back at that position which I think really helps them," Fisher said. "Getting Burney back there has really made a difference."

But cornerback Terry Shankle tore the ACL in his left knee and has been lost for the season, and that makes nickle and dime packages especially challenging. Even seldom-used backups Tre Boston and Mywan Jackson have been banged up and may or may not play.

"We're taking a look at some things and seeing if there's some guys that maybe need to play more," UNC coach Butch Davis said, "and seeing if we can move anybody around. But there's only so many moves that you can make within a season, and we're getting close to where there's not many moves left."

The scout team has even been affected, thus making it difficult to prepare for opponents. But Davis said Carolina's policy of recruiting athletes that can play multiple positions has paid off.

"If you recruit kids that are multi-athletes - they play basketball, they run track, they play football - it gives you a little bit of versatility within your roster that if injuries occur or something happens that you can flip a kid over," Davis said.

But it's a little late in the season to change someone to the secondary, especially if they haven't played there before. Therefore, someone like Matt Merletti, who started the season in the secondary due to all the suspensions, may have to play major minutes again. Merletti is known as one of the best special teams players on the squad and is normally used primarily in nickle or dime packages.

Wow - Canes move Skinner up to top line with Staal

The Carolina Hurricanes are moving Jeff Skinner up to Eric Staal's line, according to The News & Observer. The Canes play at home tonight against the New York Islanders and Skinner was in the top line at Wednesday morning's skate.

O'Brien says 'me first' attitude hurt State his first 3 years


N.C. State is 6-2 this season, and a critical reason for the Wolfpack’s success is a change in the mentality of the players, coach Tom O’Brien said Wednesday.

In his most in-depth comments on the issue yet, O’Brien said his first three teams lacked enough players with the leadership and team spirit needed to win. O’Brien said “there weren’t enough guys” who were putting the team’s success first.

“It was all about me. It wasn’t about team,” said O’Brien, now in his fourth season. “Nothing was going to change in their minds. That’s who they were. Thirty-one, 32 guys aren’t here because they didn’t want to conform to the team concept.

“We had great kids when we got here – the Evans twins, I can go go down the list. But there weren’t enough of them. They couldn’t overcome the ‘me’ and the ego problems we had when we got here. If you have an ego, you have no chance to be a teammate.”

In particular, O’Brien raved about the leadership qualities of junior quarterback Russell Wilson. “He has a tremendous amount of confidence in his own ability,” O’Brien said. “That’s where it starts. That confidence oozes to the football team. Not only his confidence, but his ability to make plays. He’s a leader by example and with his words.

“You have to have all the characteristics people want to follow as far as integrity, honesty, commitment to the goal. He has all those qualities."

But O’Brien went on at length to say one player, or even a handful of players, is not enough to set a tone for a team. He said assistant coach Dana Bible pointed that out when they were together on the staff at Boston College, that a winning team had to have enough players with what Bible called “the want-to factor.”

“They want to do the right things. They want to do what it takes to win within the rules and regulations of the game,” O’Brien said. “There has to be that want-to feeling from the majority of guys. It can’t be three or four or five guys.”

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Maybe making UNC's Barnes 1st-team All-America isn't nuts after all

How good is Harrison Barnes? North Carolina fans are about to find out. But is he really a first-team All-America?

We have to admit we were floored this week when the AP Preseason Team included Barnes, the first time the team has included a freshman since the team began in 1986. Of course, maybe it's not so crazy when you look back and see Kentucky's John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins both made the first-team All-America at the end of last season.

San Francisco pitchers tattoo Hamilton during World Series

Raleigh native Josh Hamilton may be the most valuable player of the American League this year but he was easily handled by San Francisco pitchers as the Giants beat the Texas Rangers four games to one in the World Series.

The Dallas News named Hamilton and teammate Vlad Guerrero as "goats of the game" for Game 5 and perhaps even the series.

Newspaper contributor Ryan Jones wrote, "As great as (Tim) Lincecum was, it's hard to ignore the gaping hole that was the heart of the Rangers' order this series. From the third and fourth spots in the lineup, Hamilton and Guerrero combined to go 0-8 with three strikeouts in Game 5. Their series slash lines were even uglier: .100/.143/.250 for Hamilton, and .071/.125/.071 for Guerrero."

Hamilton got only two hits in 20 attempts and he struck out in the final inning of the World Series. Hamilton also has the close-up memory now of the Giants' Edgar Renteria popping a three-run homer just over his head in the 3-1 series clincher.

During the regular season, Hamilton batted .359 while stroking 32 homers and 100 RBI.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tar Heels lose CB Shankle to torn ACL

It's not like North Carolina needs to lose another football player, but Monday came more bad news for the Tar Heels. Cornerback Terry Shankle tore the ACL in his left knee in the Tar Heels' 21-17 victory over William & Mary, the school announced.

Shankle, a redshirt freshman from Norwood, N.C., will have surgery to repair his ACL in the next few weeks.  He is out for the the rest of the season.  Shankle had eight tackles and one pass break up this year.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Wolfpack football makes it back into the Top 25 polls

N.C. State is ranked 23rd in the new Associated Press college football poll and 25th in the newest USA Today poll. The Wolfpack, now 6-2 after Thursday's comeback victory over Florida State, travels to Clemson, a 16-10 loser at Boston College, Saturday at noon.

Panthers, Redskins have something in common - no offense

The offensive woes continue for both the Carolina Panthers and the Washington Redskins.

The Panthers' Matt Moore threw three interceptions and the team ran for just 25 yards on the day as the Panthers were never really in it and fell 20-10 to the St. Louis Rams.

The Panthers, trailing just 10-3 in the second half, had the ball up to midfield when Steve Smith fumbled after making a catch. Five plays later, the Rams scored and the game was virtually out of reach at 17-3.

The Redskins' Donovan McNabb spent much of the afternoon on the ground as he was hurried, knocked down and also sacked six times as the Redskins fell 37-25 to the Detroit Lions.

The Redskins had only 80 yards rushing, 30 of which came on a scramble by McNabb, who was benched in the last two minutes of the game with Redskins down just seven.

"Offensively speaking, they've got nothing," Former Redskin John Riggins said of the Skins after the game. "The offensive line is a mess."

The Redskins actually had the lead in the fourth quarter after Garner's Brandon Banks ran a kickoff back 96 yards to give the Skins a 25-20 advantage.

The Redskins fall to 4-4 while the Panthers fall to 1-6.