Packing It On

Mr CashBilly Packer sure brings out a lot of hate in people. For years, ACC fans were torn about him. Some loved him as an icon of the conference while others hated him for his criticism and seeming anti-UNC partisanship.
It seems that the hatred has now gone national.
The guys at the ACC BasketBlog have compiled an impressive list of blog posts about Mr. Cash. Methinks the boys over there have found Technorati!

Rarer Than We Thought

I missed this post from a few days ago, but apparently a reader of Ken Pomeroy’s blog pointed out something that everyone else seemed to have missed – 1975 was not the most recent time a pre-tournament #1 played a #2.
Evidently, in 1975 the AP put out polls during the tournament, so when Indiana lost to Kentucky in the regional finals, they fell from the top spot. That Hoosier team was undefeated going into the tourney.
Great catch! All the “real” media folks got this one wrong and I was foolish enough to believe them. According to Ken’s subsequent research, it had been 40 years since a #1 played a #2 in the finals!

Tar Heel Title

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to do a writeup about the National Championship, but with that game late on Monday night followed by a lot of work (real work) and taxes … well here we are.
First off, congratulations to the University of North Carolina. It’s gotta feel great to be a Tar Heel right now.
Like any national championship, this game had a lot of meanings on several different levels. I’ll walk through a few of them in separate sections here, starting with a review of the game itself.

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Demon Popes?

You know that Nigerian Cardinal who is one of the front-runners to be the next pope?
(In fact, he’s the favorite according to Paddy Power, where you can bet on him at 11-4 odds.) Well, he’s the uncle of former Wake Forest guard Niki Arinze.
How cool would it be to have a pope who was familiar with ACC basketball? OK, maybe it wouldn’t mean too much, but I like the idea.
Hey, I wonder if Uncle Francis can play ball too? Maybe there is a court in the Vatican where the Cardinals play pickup. Vestments vs. skins.
Arinze for pope!

As The Cavalier Turns

Yoni has done a good job of summing up the latest rumors, news, truth and lies (you decide which is which) in the Virginia coaching search.
It certainly has been pretty interesting, in large part because this is by far the biggest job out there right now. In that regard, this has been pretty good timing for the Cavs. In most years, there would probably be a bigger job and the Cavs would have to wait until that one filled before making their target list. Not so this year. Any coach that wants to move this year has one best choice – Virginia.
We’ll see what happens…

Season Wrap-up – Featherston Style

I haven’t gotten around to writing up my thoughts on last night’s game and its implications, but fortunately there are those with more focus than I.
Al Featherston has a nice review as well as a great look at next year. He steals a bit of my thunder in his comparison between the ACC and Big Ten, but I’m still gonna write about it because it was in my head before I read his.
You can read my (clunkier) version later.

Odom To Virginia?

In a word, no.
The whole rumor that Dave Odom had been offered the Virginia job came from one careless article in the Washington Post. A few other papers mentioned that Odom was being targeted, but no others said that he’d gotten the offer. So, either the Post had scooped the hometown Charlottesville paper as well as all of those in Richmond, Roanoke, Lynchburg, Tidewater and South Carolina or they were wrong.
I was all prepared to write about that when Odom released his statement saying what I thought.
It ain’t true. It’s a good thing too, because it would have been a pretty poor hire. Believe me, the Virginia fans have been lighting up the message board at railing against the hire. Even the SC fans were perplexed about why UVA would hire him.
Update: Gregg Doyel says Odom is still in the running. (Thanks Yoni!)
Oh, and by the way, it appears that I was wrong about the Dean Smith hire. Sorry about that.
ps. What’s funny about the whole Dean Smith thing is that I wasn’t really trying to fool anyone. I just wanted to write something somewhat funny and make up some fake Dean Smith quotes, which is always fun. I never figured anyone would think it was real. Well, they did. Both on my message board and on SportsFilter. It also got linked up at the DBR and Inside Carolina, although those folks didn’t seem to fall for it. That article even got a mention on USA Today’s website!

High Heels

I was wrong. I admit it. I said last week that I thought Michigan State would beat UNC in the Final Four. I don’t mind eating crow on this one because A) I wanted UNC to win and B) I’ve watched sports for way too long to think I can accurately pick games.
To be fair to myself, if I had written another preview at the end of week, say on Friday or Saturday, I wouldn’t have been so sure that the Spartans would win. I don’t know why I softened on them, but I think that I just thought more about Carolina’s play the previous weekend. They played poorly – tight and without enough passion. Given a week to reflect on that, I figured they’d rebound (no pun intended) the next weekend.
And that’s what happened.

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Virginia Names New Coach: Dean Smith

Man, I never saw this coming. Virginia Athletic Director Craig Littlepage announced last night that UVA had hired former North Carolina coach Dean Smith as their new basketball coach.
Obviously, Coach Smith is too old to coach for long, but he says he plans to coach for at least five years and he’ll reevaluate after that.
Coach Smith had several interesting quotes about the situation.
On making the decision to get back into coaching:
“Ever since I retired, I’ve been doing nearly as much coaching as before. Bill, Matt and Roy all spent so much time in my office that I never could get anything else done. Well, not Matt so much. He helped matters by moving me down to this small office in the basement. I really appreciated his trying to help me out like that.”
On Virginia and his rivalry with Terry Holland:
“I always had the utmost respect for the Virginia program. Terry Holland and I used to have a nice rivalry in the early eighties. I never understood why he couldn’t keep it up while we just kept on winning. I see Terry’s down at East Carolina now. I’m glad he found something perfect for him.”
On Mike Krzyzewski:
“I’m really looking forward to competing against Mike again. He’s a good coach and I wonder if he still feels challenged. He has so much confidence now that he’s able to spend lots of time away from his job filming commercials. Have you seen his commercials yet? It’s great that he’s able to use his fame to such great ends.”
So, all-in-all, I’m still in shock about the whole situation. While it’s odd that Virginia would hire such an old coach, they really couldn’t found anyone better.
According to Littlepage, Smith actually approached him about the job. Littlepage had been having serious discussions with former Cavalier great Olden Polynice, who’s apparently working as a sheriff’s deputy in Boca Raton.