Really Unbalanced Schedules

EinsteinI almost forgot to link to this! When I read it this morning, it cracked me up.
It seems that the geniuses over at the ACC headquarters weren’t just satisfied with a regular old unbalanced schedule. No sir, it’s not bad enough that teams no longer play all the other teams twice. Nope. The ACC actually put out schedules where teams play each other different numbers of times. Sound confusing? Well consider this basic rule of scheduling. If Wake Forest’s schedule has home games against UNC and Clemson, UNC and Clemson damn well ought to have road games against Wake on their schedules.
Oops. Someone forgot to tell Fred Barakat that.
Great story.

The Throat Slash And Stereotypes

Ed of the ACC Basketblog has a great post up today talking about the media’s reaction to Rashad McCant’s throat slash and whether there were racial overtones there.
It is a well-written and well-reasoned piece.
To me, and I think I’ve made mention of this, the throat slash is an extremely silly thing to get all worked up about. It’s a gesture that has been used for decades (at least) to mean that something’s over or turn something off or end something, etc.
When a mechanic is working under the hood and wants the driver to kill the engine, he makes a throat slash. When your mom wants you to stop talking about Uncle Joe’s herpes sores at Thanksgiving dinner, she gives you googlie eyes and a throat slash. And often times when playing sports and someone makes a play that they think effectively ends the game, they make a throat slash.
That’s it. It’s not uncommon and it’s not offensive. No one really thinks that Taron Downey or Rashad McCants had plans to really slash anyone’s throat.
It’s just something for the guys in the media to generate false outrage about. It makes for easy stories.
False outrage in the media. Now THERE’S something to get upset about.

Defending The Cassell

Castle AaaaarghThere are those who would say that ACC expansion was a mistake, that expansion has diluted a once-great product by bringing in sub-par basketball programs merely because they would improve the league’s football.
The theory is that Virginia Tech and Miami (and to a lesser degree, Boston College) currently suck and have no history of basketball success to base any expectation of their not sucking one day.
Well, that theory doesn’t look so hot now, does it? It was bad enough when the Hokies and Canes started winning conference games at a surprising pace, but last night changed everything. Duke, royalty not just of the ACC but of the nation, went up to Blacksburg and lost. This wasn’t Virginia Tech knocking off Clemson or Miami beating Florida State, it was a football school beating Duke. Shocking.

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Live Outside ACC Country?

Do you live outside of ACC country? If so, maybe you can help this guy and many others out.
How do you find games on TV? Do you use ESPN Gameplan (or Full Court) or do you go to sports bars? If so, how does that work?
I know that another option is to use the Internet to listen to radio broadcasts, but that’s just not the same as television.
If you have some experience here, share in the comments.
Back when I lived outside the conference borders, I used a combo of sports bars and driving around in my car until I found a good radio signal. Yes, I was one of those losers who sat alone in a parked car at night listening to a staticky radio broadcast of a Virginia-Clemson basketball game. It’s a wonder I’ve procreated at all.

For The Love Of Defense

Last week (or so), I linked to an article that Al Featherston had written for the Duke Basketball Report. Featherston, you may recall, was let go from the Durham Herald-Sun after they brought in new owners.
Well, Featherston has written another article for the DBR, and it is a great, great piece. It’s on the impact of team defense and how it’s very difficult to measure in any qualitative fashion (other than wins and losses).
If you’re a Duke hater, you may not like that much of the article is about Shelden Williams and this Duke team, but it’s not all about Duke. As a basketball fan, ignore the specific names he uses and just read it as an essay on good basketball. It’s beautiful.
One thing this article really points out is the superiority of medium of web pages over print. Featherston could never have written this article for a newspaper. It’s way too long. If he had cut it down to fit a standard opinion piece, it wouldn’t have been nearly as good.
He’s now two-for-two with fabulous pieces for the DBR. Quite a coup for those guys.

Two Paths Diverged …

in a red arena. Will Herb Sendek’s NC State Wolfpack take the one that leads to less travel (no NCAA bid)?
Maryland’s game at the RBC center tonight is a big game for both teams. For Maryland, they see this game as a potential fulcrum on which the season hinges. A loss knocks them back onto the bubble for the season and worse, potentially invalidates the program’s claim to be among the elite. This article from Turtle Soup does a pretty good job of explaining just why that is.
Maryland’s 2002 championship, one year after making the Final Four, elevated the program from pretender to potential powerhouse. If they slip to a bubble team for the second straight year so soon after their time at the top, they really can’t be considered a national power. Instead of maintaining their perch among the UNC’s, Dukes and Kentuckies of the world, they would be more like a Michigan State or Arkansas.
As big as that makes this game for the Terps, it’s even bigger for the Wolfpack. They still have dreams, however crazy, of making the NCAA tournament. Any run to a bid, short of winning the ACC tournament, has to include a home win tonight. It has to.
At the same time, if NC State were to lose and ensure that they aren’t going to get an at-large bid, what does that do for Herb Sendek’s career as a head coach in Raleigh? You already know where State fans sit on this matter (check out fireherbsendek.com). Now, local columnist Caulton Tudor has weighed in, saying that Sendek should resign if he misses the tourney this year.
I can’t say I agree with him. Sendek does have some pride and I’m sure he feels like he can continue to build the program even if they suffer a setback this year. You don’t get to the level he’s reached without being ultra-competitive and having the highest faith in your own abilities.
While I don’t agree with Tudor’s suggestion that Sendek step down, I think it’s important to make note that the top columnist in the top local paper is in effect saying that if State should fail to make the NCAA tourney (and they won’t make it), Herb Sendek should no longer be the coach. Tudor believes like I do that the State administration will not let Sendek go, but it’s clear that things haven’t worked out well enough.
All in all, it makes for a pretty exciting game tonight, huh? On one side, you have the future of a program at stake and on the other you have, well, the future of a program at stake.
Which path will each team take?

Who’s The ACC’s Best Bigun?

Let’s try a little something different today. I want to get some chatter.
Topic of conversation – Who’s the best big man in the ACC this year? Is it Shelden Williams, Eric Williams or Sean May?
Shelden had all the early season love, but May and Big E have turned it on of late. Both of those guys badly outplayed Shelden in their head-to-head matchups.
I’ll throw in Sharrod Ford and Elton Brown if someone wants to make an argument for either. You’d have to be Atticus Finch to make that work though.
Key stats:
Shelden Williams – 16.3 ppg, 11.9 rpg, .606 fg%, 3.76 bpg
Eric Williams – 16.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg, .628 fg%, 1.08 bpg
Sean May – 15.7 ppg, 9.9 rpg, .542 fg%, 1.04 bpg
Sharrod Ford – 14.7 ppg, 8.1 rpg, .510 fg%, 2.00 bpg
Elton Brown – 14.3 ppg, 8.8 rpg, .476 fg%, fat
Make your arguments in the Comments section or go straight to the Sports Shack. To see the poll and vote, you’ll need to go to the Shack.
Update: Turns out the N&O has an article on Big E today.

Turtle Head

Like many other people, I have made some cracks about Maryland’s claim to be a rival of Duke’s despite Duke fans saying they aren’t. Well, if the Terps keep beating the Blue Devils, a true rivalry will grow. Nothing gets under the skin of a good team more than beating them consistently. It’s funny how sports works. Sometimes you just get situations where one team, a clearly inferior team, is able to frequently beat a better team. I think most Maryland fans would admit that Duke has a better team this year, but that hasn’t stopped the Terrapins from sweeping the season series. It’s pretty remarkable.
One incredible statistic that came out of that game is that Maryland’s 2-0 record against Duke is the first time that Duke has been swept in the regular season by an ACC foe since the ’96 season. That’s incredible.

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