Cancel The Riot

A brief summary of NC State’s ACC season so far – Oh my God! We suck and Herb sucks and we’re going to miss the tournam … oh wait, nevermind. Everything’s cool.
The Wolfpack’s win over an apparently disinterested Georgia Tech squad put them back on track for the most part. You wouldn’t really expect them to sweep Duke and Tech at home, so they are OK. On the other hand, now it’s the Yellow Jackets’ fans turn to ask what’s wrong. That’s the way it’s going to be all season. There are a lot of good teams in the ACC and almost all of them are going to have some stretches where they lose a tough game or two (or more) in a row.

Continue reading “Cancel The Riot”

Great Guard Years

This is hardly an original observation – that the ACC has a great collection of point guards this year – but the N&O still wrote a pretty decent article about it.
The most interesting part is the sidebar where Caulton Tudor ranks the best ACC point guard years. I think he is undervaluing this year’s crop. I also think he’s missing a year in the early 90s when Hurley was still around, but Travis Best and Cory Alexander were at Georgia Tech and Virginia.

Worlds Apart

Shadoe Adams of Bellows Free Academy-Fairfax, a high school in Vermont, hit a game-winning three in a big game against Milton the other night. Adams’ clutch three-pointer was a bit unusual in that it came in the second quarter of the game. That’s right, the second quarter of a 5-2 win. I didn’t mistype that. In what was likely the most boring high school basketball game since Dr. Naismith nailed up the peach baskets, the final score was 5-2. It seems that Vermont high school ball has no shot clock (bet that’ll change soon!) and both teams were content to just stall.
As Milton’s coach Jim Smith said, “We had a shot go off the rim that would have tied it. We were one possession away to tie the game. We have not been in that position for quite some time.” Atta boy, coach.
On the opposite coast, and in a whole other basketball universe, the University of Redlands, a Division III school, recently beat La Sierra University 172-107. One hundred and seventy-two points. It seems that Redlands plays a style of ball where they shoot as soon as they can, preferably a three-pointer, and then employ a full-court press. If they can’t get a steal by the time the opponent reaches their end of the court, they give them a layup and race back the other way. Their goal is to trade twos for threes and wear their opponents out. Redlands substitutes in entire five-man squads every few minutes to keep up their relentless pressure. Think Loyola-Marymount on speed.
Check out the box score from that game. It’s the most bizarre I’ve ever seen. A few things to point out:

  • Redlands took 89 three pointers and made 35.
  • Redlands played 21 different players.
  • 15 different Redlands players scored.
  • Amir Mazarei played just 11 minutes and scored 23 points.
  • Not to be outdone, Carson Sofro scored 34 points in just 13 minutes. That may be the craziest stat line ever – 34 points in only 13 minutes!

It’s one of the great things about basketball. There are many, many different ways to play the same game. I can’t think of any other sport where you could have such wildly different results using (nearly) the same rules.
One thing I do know, of those two style extremes, I’m positive which one I’d rather play in and/or watch!
Props to the posters at the Sports Frog for uncovering these.

Knockout

The NC State – Duke game last night was a slugfest. As I wrote yesterday, it was a very important game for State. They’d lost three in a row and the next game is against Georgia Tech. If they are going to compete in the upper tier of the ACC, they need to beat one of the elite teams at home. Duke is presumably the weakest of the four elite teams and right now, Duke is thin with Shavlik Randolph and Reggie Love out.
But State couldn’t do it. They played great early and built a little lead, but they couldn’t put the Blue Devils away. It was like trying to kill Mike Myers. Duke kept coming back and coming back and eventually they overwhelmed the Pack.
NC State had the best all-around player on the floor in Julius Hodge. They had the most athletic player on the floor in Cameron Bennerman (and man did he have a nice dunk!). They had the greater number of three-point shooters (although Duke has better ones in Redick and Ewing). State had the deeper bench (or so it seemed). But none of that mattered, because Duke was tougher. Much tougher.
I think that’s one aspect of Duke that people around the country just don’t get. ACC folks know it, but much of the country doesn’t. The stereotype of Duke is that it’s a snooty private school with pampered, talented players. They are pretty and skilled, but they are soft, like the bad guys in so many teen movies – Duke is Billy Zabka. But that’s wrong. One of the main reasons that Duke always wins is toughness – mental toughness. It’s something that Krzyzewski instills from the moment freshmen step on campus. They learn to expect to win and it shows in games like last night. State wanted desperately to win, but Duke couldn’t imagine losing. When things went poorly for Duke, they fought back harder. When things went poorly for State, they panicked and pressed.
Hodge hitting EwingBTW, I think State fans can stop talking about the refs protecting Duke. Julius Hodge was extremely lucky to not get a technical foul for hitting Daniel Ewing in the face with the ball. I can’t remember ever seeing a play like that, where the player with the ball used it as a weapon while the ball was still in play! It should have been at least a technical, and an ejection was not unwarranted. It really was no different than throwing a punch, and that would have been an ejection. If nothing else, it showed that Ewing had beaten Hodge. The game wasn’t over yet, far from it, but Hodge was already beaten.
All that said, I don’t think it’s the end of the world for State. It’s a long season and there are many games left. They may not be able to finish in the top four of the conference, but they can still make the NCAA tourney, and that’s really not a bad goal this year.
Funky Weather
I haven’t seen much mention of it on the news, but there is some really strange weather on the Eastern Seaboard these days. It seems that the sky is falling in locations as far apart as Tallahassee, Florida and College Park, Maryland. The phenomenon has been reported in Charlottesville, Virginia and Raleigh, North Carolina as well.

Fire Calipari

I have no connections to Memphis State University, or the University of Memphis, or whatever its name is now. I don’t root for them, I don’t follow them and I don’t even really follow their league. But I have a problem with their coach, the unctuous John Calipari. Always have.
Well, now ol’ Calamari has hit a new low. On a team absolutely riddled with scandal and underperformance, he has apparently decided to play a player who was just arrested for beating up his girlfriend. It sounds like there isn’t too much question of his guilt and it also sounds like he gave her a pretty good beating. It’s sick.
It’s possible that by gametime tonight (and it’s on ESPN, so you can check), Calipari will come to his senses. Or more likely, someone who has some authority over there will put the squeeze on him, and he’ll decide not to play a guy who just beat up his girlfriend, a former Memphis basketball player herself.
This article in the local paper does a good job of expressing the outrage everyone should have about this.
To me, this should be the last straw. If the Memphis AD had any guts, he’d indefinitely suspend both the player, Jeremy Hunt, and Calipari. Hunt could join the team only if evidence comes out that he was wrongly accused. I wouldn’t ever end Calipari’s suspension.
Update: It’s only fair to report that Calipari released a statement today that Hunt would not play or even suit up tonight. Thanks to Yoni for pointing this out. I stand by my views though, as Calipari shouldn’t have taken a day to come to this conclusion. Also, I admit a little bias here. 😉

Blue Heaven

This just in – Carolina is good. Very good. They took Georgia Tech apart and basically ended the game in the first half. They were flying all over the court, tipping passes, blocking shots (McCants alone had three gorgeous blocks), getting out on the break, making the extra pass, hitting the open shot – they did it all. The starters were good and the bench was nearly as good. There’s already a thread in the Sports Shack about this game.
The thing was, although the Heels won easily, Georgia Tech really didn’t play too poorly. Jarrett Jack and Will Bynum were aggressive and attacked the basket, but Carolina’s defense held solid. This is a game that the Heels might not have won the last couple of years. In fairness, Tech (and they still qualify as just “Tech” for a few years. The Hokies need to earn equal billing, at least during hoops season.) was missing BJ Elder and Ra’Sean (my spell-checker suggested “Roseann”) Dickey, but that’s not why they lost. Those guys would have helped, but they were gonna lose this one no matter what. The Heels were that good.
Game summaries here (News & Observer), here (Inside Carolina) and here (Georgia Tech Sports Blog).
On the other end of the happiness spectrum, you have what happened in Charlottesville last night. Cavalier fans were already in a tizzy after getting shellacked in their first two conference games. I paid a visit to TheSabre.com the other day and four out of five posts were about how bad Pete Gillen is or who the next coach should be. Those Chicken Littles clearly didn’t realize that getting whacked by Wake, UNC or GT is nothing to get too worked up about this year (ask Maryland). But getting served by Miami on your home court, even after Devin Smith returned from injury, well … maybe the sky really is falling. You can read a bit about the hand-wringing in Hooville here. (By the way, the Gillen-sucks-who-do-we-get-next thread percentage is like 90% now – thesabre.com)
On the flip side, everyone is learning what I’ve been hinting at for a while now – Miami is good. They have three guards who are quick and aggressive and are going to score on folks. The three Hurricane little guys (Anthony Harris, Guillermo Dias and Robert Hite) outscored UVA’s backcourt (TJ Bannister, JR Reynolds and Sean Singletary) 62-10. For the season, Hite is #2 in the league in scoring, and in three conference games, Diaz has scored 68 points. Them boys can play.
The Hurricanes may not do as well as the last Florida football school in their first ACC season (FSU won the regular season that year), but they are clearly better than their preseason billing when they were picked to come in last. Right now, I’d say they are in line for an NCAA bid – ahead of UVA, NC State and FSU. Actually, FSU isn’t even in line any more. Which brings me to the other game last night …
Clemson beat Florida State in Tallahassee last night. You may recall some time ago that the Seminoles were thought to be the sixth best conference team – a surefire NCAA tourney team. Well, not any more. The tournament committee looks at several factors when evaluating teams for at-large bids: strength of their non-conference schedule, how well they did against top-50 teams, how well they played in their last ten game, and did they lose any games at home to Clemson. Oops. Looks like any slim hopes the few Seminole faithful had are now gone. Hey, spring football is just around the corner!
There is one big ACC game tonight – NC State hosting Duke. Caulton Tudor wrote a piece in the N&O yesterday saying that the game is a must win for the Pack (and his article has gained some attention, from both Yoni at the College Basketball Blog and, oddly enough, the Modesto Bee (maybe I was wrong about folks out West not knowing who NC State is). I’m gonna have to agree with Tudor here, to a point. I think State can recover from a loss, but they really could use the win. It means a ton to them, but I have to think that Duke would just be happy to get the win. There’s a difference between need and want.
The Devils have built up a little cushion and they are really just waiting until they get Shavlik Randolph back. A loss on the road to State wouldn’t kill them. For the Pack, another tough loss might torpedo their confidence and get the wolves howling at Sendek. It’s a brutal conference this year and you can’t afford to get in too deep of a rut.
This has been a fun season, hasn’t it? And there’s a long way to go. The storylines of today won’t be the same ones a month from now.

Two-And-A-Half Beeeellion Dollars

KingThis just cracks me up. Don King is suing ESPN for defamation because of an unflattering “SportsCentury” piece on him. I’m not sure how to do a non-unflattering report on Don King, but I guess that’s beside the point.
The really funny part is that he is suing for $2.5 billion in damages! $2.5 billion!
I liked this part too – “King, wearing a garish American flag tie and two flag lapel pins, then quietly stepped back and let lawyer Willie Gary answer questions.”
BTW, his attorney, Willie Gary, is a piece of work himself. Check his humble website here, and be sure not to miss his understated video.
Only in America.

NCAA Encourages Cheating

This new NCAA idea of penalizing schools for not graduating players is a bad idea. Bad.
Let’s think it through, shall we? The NCAA inherently distrusts it’s participating schools, right? I think the one trillion page rulebook kinda makes that clear. OK, so we know that the schools aren’t to be trusted.
And now what we’re gonna do is severely penalize them if they report graduation numbers that aren’t sufficient. Losing scholarships naturally implies losing more games. Losing more games means losing out on bowl and NCAA tournament money. Losing games also means fewer tickets and merchandise sold. Ergo, losing scholarships means losing money – lots of money.
On top of that athletic directors and coaches who preside over programs that lose games, fans and money very swiftly lose their jobs and reputations.
All very bad penalties, right? There would be lots of pressure to avoid those penalties, I’m sure.
Now, what could schools do to avoid those sanctions? Graduate more players, right? And how hard is it for a school to keep players eligible, whether said players go to class or not? Very easy. It’s as simple as changing some letters in a computer.
So on one hand, you have severe penalties that cost games, fans, money, jobs and careers. And on the other hand, you have a very simple changing of grades by institutions that the NCAA already doesn’t trust.
What could go wrong?