Saturday, February 19, 2011

Carolina hangs on in lowest scoring game ever at the Smith Center

I like low-scoring games, I promise. But I found myself surfing the Internet during the first half of North Carolina's 48-46 victory at home over Boston College. (It was just 21-20 at the half.) BC certainly controlled the tempo and made for a ho-hum game for much of the time.

"We could have played a nice offense like we usually do and we would have lost by a lot," said Boston College coach Steve Donahue.

Carolina looked really good offensively for five minutes in the second half but that was it. During that stretch, UNC outscored BC 15-3 and appeared to have the game in hand at 41-26. A long pass from Kendall Marshall to a streaking Tyler Zeller started the run which included a Harrison Barnes three and a pair of spinning, driving layups by Marshall and Barnes.

But then the Heels lost the ball on five straight possessions and BC, unlike the Heels, were able to hit some threes which got them back in it.

The Tar Heels did hold BC to just 27 percent shooting and outrebounded the Eagles 44-30.

Carolina's defense is carrying the Heels right now but it's just a matter of time before they lose one they oughta win unless they get their offensive woes figured out.

For more on the Boston College game, please click here.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Tempest over poem attributed to Leslie overshadows Wolfpack win

It has been that sort of season for N.C. State, hasn’t it? Thursday night was exactly what you wanted from the Wolfpack – an intense ACC win over a good Clemson team, solid defense and some real effort by the Wolfpack.

Not only that, but we saw something from C.J. Leslie we thought we’d never see – real hustle. Leslie actually dove for a loose ball, something that seemed abhorrent to him earlier in the season. One of the defining moments in State’s home loss to North Carolina was when Leslie barely reached for a loose ball while two Tar Heels dove for it.

But rather than relishing that 69-61 victory, the talk Friday morning is all about Leslie’s poem for an English class that made it to Deadspin. The poem essentially focuses on the poet’s efforts to hook up with a girl and his excitement when she sends a text saying, “sex.”

N.C. State hasn’t confirmed if that was really Leslie’s poem, and the fact is, no student should have his academic work splashed all over message boards. Would you want your freshman essays shared with the world? Uh, no.

Regardless of what you think of the poem, Leslie doesn’t deserve to have his private work shared with the world without his permission. The N.C. State Code of Student Conduct prohibits “willfully damaging the academic work or efforts of another student.”

Frankly, the school should find out who leaked the paper and punish them accordingly.

But all this doesn’t change the fact that State is being made fun of in the national and local press. This morning on 96 Rock radio, for example, the hosts made a big deal of making fun of Leslie’s poem.

Too bad, too. Leslie played great Thursday, with 18 points and 10 rebounds and a determined effort across the board. It’s what coach Sidney Lowe has been waiting for from his star freshman, and what this Wolfpack team needs. What should have been a big win wound up as fuel for talk show hosts, and that’s too bad.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

UNC fullback Ramsay now eligible, NCAA rules

Chapel Hill - Based on new information provided by the University of North Carolina, the NCAA has determined that no violation has occurred in the case of football player Devon Ramsay, according to a UNC release. As a result of this ruling, Ramsay is immediately eligible to return to competition.

“We are delighted for Devon," said Dick Baddour, University of North Carolina Director of Athletics. "He is an outstanding young man and this is the right decision. Devon and his family never wavered in their belief that he did not commit a violation as we worked through this process. We appreciate the time and attention given to this case by the NCAA staff.”

Ramsay is a rising senior from Red Bank, N.J. As a junior in 2010, he played in the first four games of the season before being withheld from the final nine contests. He has one season of eligibilty remaining.

Banks' injury more serious than originally revealed

The Washington Post is reporting that Washington Redskins' returner Brandon Banks of Garner was more seriously injured than the team and his agent revealed following a fight outside a DC nightclub.

Banks remains hospitalized with a knife wound. Doctors have inserted a tube into his chest.

For more information, please click here.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Swofford says ACC looking at ways to improve interest in ACC Tournament

Declining attendance at the ACC Tournament has league officials concerned, with some changes in store for this season's event in Greensboro and more possibly on the way.

The 2010 tournament in Greensboro drew 93,849 fans, according to a report in the Greensboro News & Record. The 2006 tournament in the same city drew 108,094.

The decline has perplexed and concerned the ACC, whose basketball tournament has always been its showcase event. It was once nearly impossible to get a ticket, but tickets are now plentiful outside the games.

ACC commissioner John Swofford said the league has decided to vary the number of tickets it gives each school, with the total ranging from about 1,000 to 1,900 depending on how close the school is to Greensboro. Swofford also said he believes the conference must look at pricing - right now, books of tickets for the event are the same price, regardless of seat location.

"We need to look at that," Swofford said.

Swofford said his colleagues at other conferences are also seeing attendance at their tournaments decline. The economy, of course, is one issue. The other, Swofford said, is the NCAA Tournament has become so enormous that it dominates interest in March.

ACC football title game looks certain to remain in Charlotte


You can pretty much guarantee the ACC football championship game will be in Charlotte for a while after John Swofford's comments Wednesday to the Raleigh Sports Club.

The game drew marginal interest in Florida before a successful debut in Charlotte in 2010. The local organizers sold 30,000 tickets in advance and the proximity of the market to so many ACC schools is an advantage.

"I think we've probably found a home in Charlotte," Swofford said. The city has a two-year contract with the league, and Swofford said he expects the ACC to make a decision soon after this year's game. In other words, if all goes smoothly this year, the league will continue to return to Charlotte.

The feeling here is the game is Charlotte's to keep as long as it continues to support it.

Swofford 'insulted' by initial offer of $1 billion for TV rights

ACC commissioner John Swofford shared an amusing moment from the negotiations for the ACC's television deal in his speech to the Raleigh Sports Club on Wednesday. The league hired Barney Frank to help with the negotiations, and Swofford said he and Frank were at the first round of meetings with ESPN and Raycom in Charlotte.

"They went through this whole presentation ... and they finally got to the money part. They said, 'For all this, we're going to pay you $1 billion.'"

Swofford, as he had been coached, showed no emotion, and Frank asked him to step out of the room. What was your reaction? Frank asked him. "I said, 'I was insulted about it.' And I was. He said, 'That's what you need to say.'"

Swofford couldn't help but tell the crowd that, having grown up in North Wilkesboro, he felt a bit odd telling someone who offered him $1 billion he was insulted.

The final deal - a rich $2 billion over 12 years.

The deal has significant changes. For example, ACC football games will start at 12:30 p.m., and not at noon. "You'll probably have a few more students awake and out of bed," Swofford joked.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Carolina creates another win despite shooting woes

North Carolina continues to win despite shooting woes. (Carolina beat Wake 78-64 while shooting 37 percent.) The Tar Heels must be doing something right - but what is it?

Well, free throw shooting has improved of late. Against the Deacons, the Heels shot 21 of 28 for 75 percent.

Turnovers are down. The last two games, Carolina has just 17 turnovers combined. The eight against Wake was tied for the lowest number of the year. Kendall Marshall is solid at point guard, dishing out wizard-like assists and not throwing it away.

John Henson and Tyler Zeller are controlling the paint. Zeller has his baby hook going and Henson is blocking shots and intimidating oppponents. They combined for 32 points and 22 rebounds against Wake.

Finally, the Tar Heels created better shots against Wake Forest - they just didn't hit them. It should just be a matter of time before they start dropping. Until they do, there are other ways the Heels can create wins.

For more on the Wake Forest game, please click here.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Krzyzewski compares Singler to Battier on defense

Ever thought of Kyle Singler as similar to Shane Battier? Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has.

In fact, on Monday Krzyzewski said Singler is similar to Battier as a defender, which is high praise considering the fact that Battier is considered one of the best defenders Duke has ever had.

“He’s as good a defender as there is in the country,” Krzyzewski said. “Kyle really can defend 1 through 5. …

“He’ll fight everybody. He gets through screens. A beautiful part of his game is how when he is the ball, how he orchestrates our defense. He is like Battier in that regard.

“Defensively he is very similar to Shane. I think he can guard more perimeter positions than Shane. Shane was one of the best talkers we’ve had as far as on defense.”

In case you didn’t know, talking on defense is critical to how Duke plays. If you are close to the floor, you can hear the Devils talking to each other, which is a big point of emphasis for Krzyzewski. So praising Singler in that vein is significant for Krzyzewski.

“Kyle is one of the great defenders who has played here,” Krzyzewski said.

UNC coach attributes three-point shooting woes to shot selection

North Carolina has hit only four of its last 28 three-point shot opportunities. Meanwhile opponents in those last two games have scored on 17 three-point shots. That's 39 more points for opponents from outside in just two games.

The Tar Heels lost one of those games (to Duke) and then squeezed by in the other (against Clemson).

"Duke and Clemson did a nice job of challenging the three-point shot" UNC coach Roy Williams said during his weekly teleconference. "We needed to make some more shots but we need them to miss some too."

He said he thought Duke's Seth Curry and Nolan Smith hit some shots when they were closely guarded. Williams noted that not a lot of players are good at hitting guarded threes. He pointed to Wayne Ellington and Rashad McCants as two he's coached that could do that.

Williams said he's trying to get his team to understand the diffence between an average shot versus a real good shot. "If we take a real good shot, more of them will go in," he said.

He wants to see more movement of the ball and the players themselves to open up some threes. Still, he thought this team would be better at shooting the three.

"I'm surprised by the lack of consistency because we make a lot of shots in practice," Williams said.

"Of course, you don't want to make a living on shooting those shots to begin with."