Turkey Bowling

TechSideLine.com has an interesting article up today reviewing ACC bowl performance over the past 13 years. Why 13 years? Because that’s exactly the length of the current Virginia Tech bowl streak. So, it’s a bit of a self-serving sample, but it’s still a good review of recent history.
The Hokies have been to a bowl in each of the past 13 seasons, but have gone only 6-7 in those games.
Florida State has also been to 13 consecutive (24 actually) bowl games, including an incredible 11 BCS games in that period. The Seminoles have 8 wins and 5 losses in those games.
Surprisingly, Virginia ties Miami for third place with 11 bowls. Miami’s number was hurt a bit by probation, but is boosted with 6 BCS appearances in their 11 games.
Boston College’s stats stick out for this reason – in their 9 bowl games, they have 8 wins! That’s an amazing percentage, and those 8 wins tie FSU for the most over this period.
Curiously, bitter rivals UNC and NC State have performed nearly identically, with 8 bowls and 5 wins.

Bias Video

I wrote an article the other day about the twenty-year anniversary of the death of Len Bias. In that piece, I tried – probably unsuccessfully – to describe just how good he was in college. Well, thanks to Bill Simmons’ latest piece, I now have a way to show you. YouTube (a fantastic website) has a great five-minute video of Len Bias highlights. A few in particular you should look for:

  • The infamous Carolina dunk. In the midst of single-handedly upsetting the Heels in Chapel Hill (in what would be their first-ever loss in the Dean Dome) Bias hits a long jumper and then promptly steals the inbounds pass and throws down a nasty reverse dunk. It was one of the greatest I’m-going-to-win-this-game-myself-and-there’s-not-a-damn-thing-you-can-do-about-it moments I’ve seen in college basketball.
  • The black and white picture of Bias going up for a rebound. Check out the muscles throughout the guy’s body! And remember, this was years before basketball players started bulking up. His build was extraordinary in those days.
  • The shot-block at about the 3:15 mark of the video – look where his hand is!

As an added bonus, check out this other Bias clip on YouTube. It’s another UNC-Maryland game, this time in College Park. Bias has his shot blocked by Sam Perkins and then Michael Jordan goes the other way. MJ punctuates the fast break with his infamous rock-the-cradle dunk that we all now recognize from his NBA days. At the time, that dunk was not only never seen before (although I think he might have done it first against Clemson), but never even contemplated. And folks will try to tell you that Jordan wasn’t awesome in college.
The ACC in the early 80’s was simply incredible.

Ice, Ice Baby

StateFans Nation found a nice article at rivals.com about former Wolfpack star Rodney Monroe. Monroe, of course with Chris Corchiani, made up Fire & Ice, the potent NC State backcourt of the late Valvano years.
It’s always fun to catch up with former ACC stars who didn’t quite make it in the NBA.
Oh, the SFN guys also linked to a post of theirs that I missed back in January putting together their top-five ACC shooters.
Since my ACC history goes back to the same time period as the author’s (’81 or so), I’d probably pick the same five. One difference is that I’d probably rank Dennis Scott a skosh higher. I’d put the five in order this way:
Dennis Scott
J.J. Redick
Rodney Monroe
Mark Price
Randolph Childress
Childress really wasn’t in the same class as the other four, but gets bumped up solely for that ACC Tournament run.

Thud

This is the way the World Cup ends
Not with a bang, but with a whistle
The United States wasn’t playing a great game, but they were playing well enough to give themselves a chance. Like they did in each of their first two games, they controlled possession for most of the first half, but produced only a few good scoring chances. Claudio Reyna made an awful mistake on the back line and it put the US in an early 1-0 hole. But the boys had recently struck back to make it 1-1 and were starting to show the life that would be necessary to beat the dynamic and dangerous Ghanaians. Meanwhile, Italy had taken a 1-0 lead over the Czech Republic. Amazingly and improbably, the pieces were falling into place.

Continue reading “Thud”

It Was 20 Years Ago Today

Hey, did you hear who won the award for the best basketball player under six feet?
Len Bias.
That’s the joke that the speaker at my high school overheard while she was in the bathroom before her speech. It was less than two years after the death of her son and now Lonise Bias was hearing some snooty white kids joke about it.
When she told us all that she just overhead some among us joking about her dead son, my classmates and I cringed. While she may have thought we were all just callous rich kids, it wasn’t true that we didn’t care. It didn’t matter who you were, if you were a fan of college basketball in the mid-80s, particulary of ACC basketball, you were a fan of Len Bias. He was a baaaad man. I hated Maryland, but I loved watching Bias play. He was big, strong, agile and competitive as hell. Think Michael Jordan with two more inches and 20 pounds more muscle. In ACC terms, Bias was sort of a cross between Jordan and James Worthy, too strong for small players and way too quick and athletic for power forwards.
There’s no guarantee of course that Bias would have been a star in the NBA, but I’ve never heard anyone say they thought he’d be anything but. He had All-Star written all over him. Or so we thought.
It turned out that Bias had another side that we didn’t see. A stupid, irresponsible side. That aspect of his life killed him at 22. When reports first came out, it was claimed that June 18 was the first time he’d ever used cocaine. Slowly, other stories leaked out that challenged that notion. Bias had been a user for some time. Those darker stories of his partying, along with the revelations that he hadn’t really been going to school, took down Lefty Dreisell and sent the Maryland basketball program into a nearly decade-long tailspin.
But there’s another side of the Len Bias story, one a bit more positive. Often times out of extreme bad news comes good. As Jay Bilas says in this Michael Wilbon article, everyone of my generation remembers where they were when they heard the news of Bias’ death. I was home for the summer after my sophomore year of high school. I worked as a bus boy, so went to bed late. When, I woke up on the morning of June 19 at the crack of noon, I flipped on SportsCenter and very quickly heard the news. It stunned me. How could Len Bias, the biggest, baddest mother around die just like that? At that point in my life I had never been around cocaine (and to my great fortune, never since either), but sitting there watching that story unfold, I quickly determined that I would never, ever touch that stuff. If it could kill Len Bias, it could kill me. I’d never take that chance.
Lonise Bias realized quickly that that would be her son’s legacy. He wouldn’t set NBA records or win titles, but he would, in death, save lives. She realized that and hit the road to tell her son’s story to everyone she could, even if it meant enduring the cruel jokes of adolescent punks.

Name That Site 6

I was checking out my site today, replacing a few images that went missing in the Great Crash of Aught Six and it got me thinking about my Name That Site series. I haven’t done one in a while and dammit, it’s time. The problem was what to pick? I needed a good one. A hard one.
I think I found it.
The pic below, as always, is a landmark with some critical ACC history. Some have been current football stadiums or basketball arenas. Others have been sites critical to an ACC national championship. Can you figure out what this is? (click the pic for a larger view)
Name That Site 6
If you think you know the answer, leave it in the Comments. Also, feel free to go back to one of the previous contests (one, two, three, four, five) and have a guess at those. Since I lost all of my comments, those contests were all wiped clean. You can look like a genius!

The US Tries Again

After five long days of agonizing, excuse-making and short-sighted exclamations that this is why soccer will never be popular in the United States, our boys kick it off again tomorrow against Italy. Sure, the Italians are a world power and we will be severe underdogs, but anything can happen in one game and I’m staying optimistic. The way the first round goes, you play each team in your four-team group once, earning three points for a win and one for a tie. The top two teams in each group advance to the 16-team playoff.
Normally, four points will get you about a 50% chance of going through. 5 points puts you in roughly 2/3 of the time and 6 points is a near lock. In our group, Group E, The Czech Republic and Italy both have 3 points and the US and Ghana have zip. Since head-to-head results and goal-differential are used as tie-breakers, the best thing for the US is for the Czechs to keep on beating everyone else. Let them get 9 points and we’ll fight the other two teams for the remaining points.
If we tie the Italians, they’d have 4 points and we’d need to beat Ghana and have Italy lose to the Czechs just to tie the Italians in the final standings. Then we’d be subject to goal differential and with our 3-0 loss to the Czechs and the Azzurri’s 2-0 win over Ghana, we’d still be in trouble. I’d say the odds would be very slim that we could overcome those 5 goals.
If we beat Italy, things would look much better. We’d both be tied with 3 points going into the final games, them against the Czechs and us against Ghana. That would make for a very exciting final day (next Thursday), particularly if the Czechs and Ghanaians tie tomorrow, meaning all four teams would still have a shot in the last game.
I’ll say it again – Go USA!
——————–
Since I tend to focus on ACC news here, and that’s what brings my most loyal readers, I’ll try to tie our lovely conference to the World Cup.
The US men’s roster contains 23 active players. Six of those players never played US college ball, instead going the more modern route of high school straight to the pros. Of the 17 who did play in college, 7 played in the ACC, making it by far the most represented conference.
The ACC veterans:
Chris Albright – UVA (left after sophomore, All-American season)
Gregg Berhalter – UNC (left after three years. Two-time All-American)
Pablo Mastroeni – NC State
Ben Olsen – UVA (left after three years. All-American and NPOY)
Oguchi Onyewu – Clemson (left after two years. All-American)
Eddie Pope – UNC (All-American)
Claudio Reyna – UVA (left after three stellar national-championship seasons. Three-time All-American. Two-time NPOY.)

J.J. In The Clink

I was debating whether or not to post about J.J. Redick’s arrest for DWI the other night. I mean, it’s a newsworthy story, but then it’s not really that big of a deal. Mostly, I considered posting it just for the opportunity to make some jokes.
But then I went and read Chris Chase’s take. I should have known better. Chris, as usual, already hit all of the good jokes. He even throws in another J.J. poem. I’m not even going to try to compete with that.

Yanks Down

Surely you know by now. Despite years of building and anticipation, the United States showed up on the pitch yesterday against the Czech Republic and promptly took a dump at midfield. It was ugly.
Actually, before I go into what went wrong, and there was plenty, I should point out the good stuff. The US did control possession for most of the game. They held the ball for nearly twice as long as the Czechs in the first half (and maybe for the game – I didn’t see a late update on that). They didn’t produce a ton of good scoring chances out of that possession, but Claudio Reyna sent a shot that was only a few inches away from tying the game at 1-1. Had that ball gone in, who knows how the rest of the game would have gone. Maybe that would have woken the Americans from their inexplicable torpor.
On the bad side, well, there was plenty. The US didn’t match the Czechs’ energy. The US forwards were largely invisible (did Brian McBride even touch the ball once?) as the US’ service all day was horrendous. The US wings, DaMarcus Beasley in particular, were tentative and completely ineffective. Beasley showed all the touch of a rec-league fullback. Kasey Keller, among the best keepers in the world, continously kicked the ball to where we weren’t; it was his ill-timed punt over the heads of his teammates that led to the first goal. Our defense was disorganized and seemed willing to let Pavel Nedved run all over the field, completely dominating play.
In a word, we sucked. We sucked outloud. We should be better than that. We are better than that. And now we get to – we have to – prove it. Italy beat Ghana 2-0 yesterday, giving the US no real choice but to beat the Italians on Saturday. Do that and there is still a very real chance of advancement. Tie and things look very dim. Lose and it’s over.
Given how we looked and how the Azzurri looked against Ghana, it’s pretty clear that we’ll be severe underdogs. There was no comparison between the levels of passion of our boys and theirs. But that change. You’d hope that confidence would lead to aggression, but in lieu of that, maybe anger and embarassment can do it.
Surely, The Bruce (who was NOT happy after the game) will change things up. Look for at least five different starters on Saturday. I’d guess that he’s going to go for a bit more youth and speed. It might be a risk from a technical perspective, but this team needs fire, athleticism and threats. Until Eddie Johnson stepped on the field, the team we fielded yesterday had very little of any of those.
Two games left. No room for error. I’m still hopeful.