Saturday, February 26, 2011

What they're saying about former N.C. State football captain Ricky Bell

Ricky Bell, the former N.C. State defensive back and team captain, has died at the age of 36. The cause of death has not been released. He played professionally in the NFL and the CFL, where he won a Grey Cup. Here's what they are saying about Bell:

"He was a competitor. He was a good guy. He was a good football player and helped us win a Grey Cup." - Wally Buono, who coached Bell in Calgary of the CFL.

"Rick loved the game. He loved to compete. He was a good team player.” - Harold Nash Jr., who played with Bell in the Winnipeg secondary.

"He loved to talk to young men and tell them: 'Go to school and study because football isn't going to last all the time so you can have something to go back on."'
- Florence Bell, his mother.

"Ricky was and will always be a special person to all of us who played football with him at NC State. A part of our Wolfpack family has gone on to a better place." - Dewayne Washington, former Wolfpack teammate.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It feels like a rivalry again despite Carolina's 10th straight win vs. NC State

Despite the fact that North Carolina has now beaten N.C. State 10 straight times, it feels more like a rivalry after UNC's 75-63 victory in Raleigh.

Wolfpack coach Sidney Lowe got a technical foul. Wake County deputies were stationed behind the Carolina bench. Players woofed at each other a little and players screamed after dunks. The intensity was there.

N.C. State players certainly played with more intensity than they did at Chapel Hill. The State fans were into it and stayed in it even when Carolina got up by nine points twice in the second half. The fans didn't throw in the towel until Zeller's dunk follow with a minute left gave Carolina an 11-point lead.

The Lowe technical really was a silly technical that hurt his team. With the Tar Heels up 67-59 and a minute and a half to go, Lowe complained that one of his players was fouled. Not only did replays show a clean blocked shot but Carolina got free throws AND the ball.

The game had gone back and forth with State leading by 10 points in the first half only to lose the lead by halftime. Plus, the Pack was within four points with five minutes to go.

The Tar Heels have won 16 of the last 17 games but this was a hard-fought game that was not determined until the last few minutes. With young key players on both squads, this could continue to feel like a rivalry again for some time to come.

For more on the UNC-NCSU game, please click here.

Carolina's Spring football game set for April 9

NEWS RELEASE - The University of North Carolina will hold its annual Blue-White Spring Football Game on Saturday, April 9 at 3 p.m. Admission to the Blue-White Game is free.

Head coach Butch Davis will divide the teams into two squads and the Tar Heels will play four quarters. Final game-day details including parking and activities will be released on TarHeelBlue.com as they become available.

"The Blue-White Game is an excellent opportunity to give our fans a glimpse of the future,” said Davis, who welcomes back 12 starters from last year's eight-win team. "We will have several newcomers that will play an integral part in our team’s success this year and the Spring Game is a chance for many of them to perform for the first time in front of our fans.”

The Spring Game is the 15th and final spring practice date for the Tar Heels, who begin spring workouts on March 16. Carolina has won eight games three consecutive seasons, and last year knocked off Tennessee in the Music City Bowl to earn the program’s first bowl win under Davis.

Last year, Carolina played its Spring Game in front of 29,500 fans and an ESPN nationally televised audience.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Zeller named first team Academic All-America

CHAPEL HILL - Tar Heel men's basketball forward Tyler Zeller, UNC's leading scorer and the top field goal percentage shooter in the ACC in league games, has earned first-team Academic All-America honors, the College Sports Information Directors of America announced Tuesday.

Zeller is one of five first-team Capitol One All-Americas, joining Butler's Matt Howard, Notre Dame's Tim Abromaitis, Northern Colorado's Devon Beitzel and Kansas's Tyrell Reed.

Zeller is the eighth Tar Heel to earn first-team Academic All-America honors and the first since Eric Montross in 1994.

Other Tar Heels to win first-team Academic All-America honors include Hall of Famer Billy Cunningham in 1965, Charles Scott in 1970, Steve Previs and Dennis Wuycik in 1972, Tommy LaGarde in 1976, Steve Hale in 1986 and Montross in 1994.

Carolina is second in ACC history with eight first-team Academic All-Americas.

Zeller hails from Washington, Ind., and majors in business administration. He has started every game this year, leading the 20-6 Tar Heels in scoring (14.5 points per game), field goal percentage (.534) and free throw pertcentage (.764). He is also second in rebounding at 7.3 per game and blocked shots with 30.

Zeller scored a career-high 27 points in Carolina's win over Kentucky in December. Over the last seven games he is averaging 16.6 points. He has won Carolina's defensive player of the game in each of the last four games and a team-best eight times this season.

"I am thrilled for Tyler because he puts as much effort toward his academics as he does basketball, and he's typically one of the first players on the court and last ones to leave," says head coach Roy Williams. "It really is a big deal to be an Academic All-America - it's a credit to truly what every student-athlete's first priority should be. We had severalrecipients at Kansas, including our current assistant Jerod Haase, and `Z' is our first here at Carolina. I couldn't be prouder or happier than I am for him."

Williams says Heels need to be able to play lower-scoring games

UNC coach Roy Williams has always said his teams need to be able to play games scoring in the 50s and 60s. But against Boston College, the Tar Heels could only manage 48 points in their two-point victory.

"I never thought I'd say we need to be able to win in the 40s," Williams said adding that he'd rather win the 90s. "Offensively, we need to be able to play both ways."

Williams, speaking at his weekly media teleconference, said that defensively he likes his team to double team and gamble. "But at the same time, when you have the
big guys inside somebody would say you should even gamble more because you have shot
blockers. But it's hard in this league because there are so many teams that go small," he said.

"I think that's important because you can't just allow someone to say well we're going to play this style, and you can't play that. You have to be able to play in every style and have to be able to be successful in every style. That's what we aim for during our practice sessions."

It will be interesting to see how N.C. State plays the Tar Heels on Wednesday night in Raleigh. Certainly it appears that a zone defense and being deliberate gives opponents the best chance of beating Carolina but the Heels got plenty of practice against that technique against Boston College.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Duke perplexed by Singler's shooting woes, confident he will start hitting


Duke ascended to the No. 1 spot in the polls again Monday, a move that reflects the carnage of the top at last week and the fact that the Blue Devils have steadied themselves after the loss of Kyrie Irving.

The Devils are continuing to win despite an odd shooting slump by senior star Kyle Singler. Coach Mike Krzyzewski continues to praise Singler for his defense, which you can take as a way of boosting Singler’s confidence, but there’s no doubt Singler’s shooting woes are puzzling.

Singler scored 24 at Wake Forest on Jan. 22, 14 against Boston College Jan. 27, 20 vs. St. John’s Jan. 30 and then 22 at Maryland on Feb. 2. So he was pretty much rolling along to a year worthy of national honors.

Then suddenly, he skidded. Here are his last five games, with shooting from the field and three-point range:

Feb. 5, N.C. State 5-13 (1-2) 14 points
Feb. 9, Carolina 3-17 (1-6) 10 points
Feb. 13, at Miami 6-12 (2-6) 14 points
Feb. 16, at Virginia 1-5 (0-2) 2 points
Feb. 20, Georgia Tech 5-14 (0-1) 15 points.

“I don’t know if there’s any one thing,” Krzyzewski said Monday. “Sometimes you just don’t shoot as well. Sometimes when you don’t shoot as well you don’t play as well. To me what’s remarkable about that kid is every other part of his game is terrific.

“At Virginia, he let that, for one of the few times in his career, affect how he played. And he can’t do that. He’s so important for us, whether he goes 2 for 12 or 8 for 12.
We won’t win a really important game unless Kyle plays with that spirit. And when he hits that shot, he’s a lot better.”

Krzyzewski compared Singler to a .320 hitter who is suddenly hitting .250.

“We think that he will hit .320 and balance out for the season. But I’m proud of him. He’s handling all his other responsibilities well.”

Poor shooting percentage reflects how Harrow has to adjust


Ryan Harrow signed with N.C. State at a wild ceremony at a sports bar near campus that was attended by more than a hundred cheering Wolfpack fans. The kid with the squeaky voice and flashy moves was one of the most anticipated Pack recruits of Sidney Lowe’s tenure.

So far, the road from good to great has been a tough one for Harrow. He was brilliant at slashing to the basket in high school, but has found that more difficult at the collegiate level. Harrow is shooting just 39 percent from the field for the season, and a dismal 21.7 percent from three-point range.

Harrow is now the starting point guard for State after Lowe clung to Javier Gonzalez the first part of the season. He has improved, and rapidly, but there’s little question that the jump to ACC competition has been challenging.

“I see him growing,” Lowe said Monday. “He’s better at learning how to run the team, get guys shots. He’s been accustomed to coming down and taking shots any time when he was in high school. Now he realizes he’s got teammates who are capable of helping him.

“That’s an adjustment for him.”

Defense has been another adjustment, but that’s to be expected. Harrow has a slight build and many freshmen struggle with the physical nature of college basketball. If you’ve ever sat anywhere near the court at an ACC game, you quickly realize how rough and rugged play can be.

Harrow got many of his high school points thanks to his quickness and ability to get the basket faster than anyone. That’s harder now. Even if he can beat his man off the dribble, there’s always a 6-foot-10 shot-blocker waiting in the lane in the ACC.

“It’s a tough adjustment. Guys are bigger,” Lowe said. “He could get to the basket on anyone in high school. Now the guys here are just bigger.”