Friday, November 30, 2007


I'm pretty good about not going off topic too much, but this is a bummer.

Daredevil Evel Knievel dead at 69

CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) -- Evel Knievel, the hard-living motorcycle daredevil whose exploits made him an international icon in the 1970s, died Friday. He was 69.

Knievel's death was confirmed by his granddaughter, Krysten Knievel. He had been in failing health for years, suffering from diabetes and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, an incurable condition that scarred his lungs.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

ACC 8, Big Ten 3

No surprise after the first 6 games, but the ACC won the ACC/Big Ten Challenge for the 9th straight time. Carolina, Maryland, and BC all took care of business. Virgina Tech lost a close one at Penn State.

As bad as Duke made Wisconsin look on Tueday, Michigan State did worse to NC State. MSU is a very good team, it is a bad matchup for the Wolfpack, and nobody should be surprised that Lowe's team would lose this one. But NC State was a complete flop. The offense was absolutely terrible, but the worse thing is after a few minutes of every shot rolling in for MSU and nothing going in for NC State, the players just gave up. They were beat down the floor repeatedly, and for the most part they didn't give anything close to the effort required to play at that level.

I'm a bit of a New Orleans Saints fan. The Saints have tons of talent, but have under-achieved big-time this year, including a 0-4 start. My theory has been that last year, a team that wasn't expected to do much, suddenly had big success, then had a long off-season of everyone telling them they were great, and how great they were going to be next season. The net result was they all expected success rather than working hard to be ready to earn it. They came in with the mindset "We Are Good", rather than "If we work we can be good". Then, when pushed, they hadn't put in enough work to be mentally tough and ready to respond to adversity.

I'm wondering if the same thing applies to NC State. Despite a mediocre season, the post season success of NC State left an after-glow in the team and the fan base. That success, the hot young coach, the top 10 recruit, all led the fans and media to tell these kids how good they were going to be. And I suspect some players began to expect that success, rather that work to get it.

The challenge now for Sidney Lowe is to get back to the drawing board. It is time to build some mental toughness in this team. It is time to teach these kids how to play some decent man-to-man defense. It is time to either teach them how to execute the offense, or possibly rework the offensive scheme a bit so they aren't having to look back to the bench each time down the court for a play call.

Enough of that rant. Congratulations to the ACC once a gain.

Some random blog posts:
We Own the Big 10... how about a new challenge?
ACC-Big Ten Enough of this ACC-Big Ten Challenge. The ACC needs to move up a notch. I think maybe a ACC-Ohio Valley Conference Challenge next year would be more exciting?
ACC Beats Big Ten Again In Challenge
Challenge this
Mich. State wins Big Ten/ACC Challenge (AP) t’s like being the best player on a bad team. Game after game, you do your job but the rest of the team just doesn’t contribute enough to get a win.
Around ACC Nation
NC State Falls Hard To Michigan State, 81-58

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

ACC 5, Big Ten 1

Too soon to call it another dominant year for the ACC in the Challenge, but Tuesday night couldn't have gone much better. I didn't get to see any of Virginia stomping of a BAD Northwestern team, but watched much of the other 4 games.

Georgia Tech had a chance and did a great job of staying in an obviously tough game, but there just is no way to overcome Eric Gordon's 29 points. Based on the performance though, I'd say Tech has some ACC wins coming their way this year.

FSU was too much for Minnesota. Tubby Smith is going to have a couple of lean years as he installs his system and waits to bring in the kinds of players that can run it.

Probably the most exciting game was Clemson hosting Purdue. No doubt Clemson is a different team without James Mays playing. There is talk about him being out 6 weeks. Let me be the first to vote for Red Shirting him. But Clemson is FUN. They pressed 90% of the game, have some fun guards to watch, and KC River's is a man. Oh yeah, they still can't shoot free throws, which is what kept this one close.

No big surprise, but the Duke/Wisconsin game never was close. I've had problems liking Duke of late. I think first I hated them, mostly because of repeated slaughters of NC State, then as those faded, they just weren't a fun team to watch. This year, they are fun. At positions 1 thru 4, Duke is the best team in the country. That 5 slot is where their problems will come, and we'll see what teams come along that can take advantage of that. I know we can almost certainly look forward to two matchups between Duke and Carolina with both of them in the top 5.

Tonights slate:

7:00 p.m. ESPN N.C. State at Michigan State
7:30 p.m. ESPN2 Illinois at Maryland
7:00 p.m. ESPNU Boston College at Michigan
9:00 p.m. ESPN North Carolina at Ohio State
9:30 p.m. ESPN2 Virginia Tech at Penn State

Some random blog postings on the challenge:
The ACC Smashes The Big Ten. Again.
ACC Continues Dominance Over Big Ten
Big 10 stereotypes proving true
MSU fans realize the Pack is a legit threat. ACC is KING.
Lawson may be out but Buckeyes still worried about stopping Hansbrough
Big Ten-ACC Challenge Notebook #1
Thoughts from Clemson
The ACC, the Big 10, and their so-called "challenge."
My thoughts on tonights slaughter
Big Ten/ACC Running Diary - Rambling thoughts

Washington Post
No. 15 Indiana 83, Georgia Tech 79 Hoosiers up to this ACC challenge
Indianapolis Star, United States - 9 hours ago
By Terry Hutchens BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Jamarcus Ellis came to Indiana with the reputation of a player who could pretty much produce whatever his team needed ...
College Basketball Roundup Indiana Rallies to Keep Home Win Streak ... New York Times
Gordon Leads Indiana Past Georgia Tech The Associated Press
Indiana beats Georgia Tech 83-79, extending home win streak to 21 ...Indianapolis Star
Minnesota vs. Florida State Recap, November 27, 2007
ESPN - 9 hours ago
Florida State won 75-61.(AP Photo/Phil Coale) Associated Press TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Isaiah Swann's 15 points led a balanced Florida State attack ...
Recap: Florida State vs. Minnesota Macon Telegraph
Florida State Hands Gophers First Loss of Tubby Smith
Florida State tops Minnesota 7561 in ACC/Big Ten challenge ... KXMC

Rivers helps No. 18 Clemson over Purdue
Sports Network - 11 hours ago
Clemson, SC (Sports Network) - KC Rivers recorded a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds, as 18th-ranked Clemson held on to nip the Purdue ...
Clemson Beats Purdue on Rivers' Shot The Associated Press
Glockner: Clemson off to yet another good start ESPN
Purdue vs. Clemson Preview, November 27, 2007 ESPN

The Associated Press
No. 7 Duke Dominates No. 20 Wisconsin
The Associated Press - 6 hours ago
Mike Krzyzewski and Duke sure know how to handle a Big Ten test. Making up for a glaring size disadvantage by turning up the tempo, the seventh-ranked Blue ...
Duke outruns taller Badgers in 82-58 romp Baltimore Sun
Duke finds shortcut to victory over Wisconsin San Jose Mercury News
Duke thumps Wisconsin Chicago Tribune

The Free Lance-Star
Cavaliers Down Northwestern in ACC/ Big Ten Challenge
WCAV, VA - 13 hours ago
The Cavalier Men's Basketball Team hit 16 three pointers, 12 in the first half, and stormed to a 94-52 win over Northwestern in the ACC/ Big Ten Challenge. ...
RATCLIFFE: You call this a Challenge? Charlottesville Daily Progress
Cavaliers let 'em fly deep MEN'S HOOPS 94, n'western 52 The Free Lance-Star
Northwestern vs. Virginia Recap, November 27, 2007 ESPN

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Funniest Football Penalty of the Year

Downplaying the Challenge

This article caught my eye. No big surprise that its writer is in the heart of Big Ten country. I was wondering this morning why on earth the Big Ten continues play the ACC. They never win it. NEVER. I guess there must be so much money on the line.

Challenge games aren't what counts

Games will be battles, but madness to think March bids on line

Don't be misled as you watch this week's Big Ten/ACC Challenge. That is just a grandiose title that barely brushes up against reality.

This is no challenge at all, no smackdown to determine a conference's superiority or settle where the best basketball is played. It is simply a bunch of early-season games. Full Story from Chicago Tribune...

ACC 1, Big Ten 0

Wake Forest remains unbeaten after knocking off Iowa

Video Highlights
Photo Wire

Wake Forest's Chas McFarland shoots over Iowa's Jarryd Cole during the second half of this college basketball game, Monday, Nov. 26, 2007, in Iowa City, Iowa. McFarland scored 15 points as Wake Forest won 56-47. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

· View photo | View gallery
Team Stat Comparison

Points 56 47
FG Made-Attempted 19-56 (.339) 19-50 (.380)
3P Made-Attempted 1-15 (.067) 2-15 (.133)
FT Made-Attempted 17-26 (.654) 7-18 (.389)
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 21 (0/0) 23 (0/0)
Largest Lead 17 2
Game Leaders
PointsC. McFarland 15J. Cole 14
ReboundsC. McFarland 8K. Looby 10
AssistsI. Smith 2J. Peterson 7
StealsI. Smith 4J. Peterson 1
BlocksC. McFarland 3K. Looby 3
· Team Stats: Wake Forest | Iowa
Game Flow
2007-08 Season
· Nov 26, 2007 WAKE 56, @IOWA 47Recap | Box Score
Next 5 Games
11/29 @CHAR 7:00pm
12/01 SEC 1:00pm
12/05 @VAN 8:00pm
12/08 @UGA 2:00pm
12/16 BUCK 2:00pm
11/30 ULM 9:05pm
12/05 @UNI 9:05pm
12/08 @ISU 2:00pm
12/14 DRKE 8:05pm
12/29 SELA 9:05pm
· Complete Schedule: Wake Forest | Iowa

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -- Chas McFarland scored a career-high 15 points and Wake Forest remained unbeaten under first-year coach Dino Gaudio with a 56-47 victory over Iowa on Monday night.

The matchup in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge was sloppy and a struggle offensively at both ends. But Wake Forest (4-0) made enough shots to build an early 11-point lead, increased its margin to 16 at the half and had no trouble holding off the Hawkeyes (4-3) in the second half.Jamie Skeen added 11 points for Wake Forest, which won on the road for the first time since beating Miami last Jan. 6. Full Story...

Monday, November 26, 2007

ACC/Big Ten Challenge Starts NOW!

2007 Big Ten/ACC Challenge Schedule
(All Times ET -- updated July 25, 2007)

Monday, Nov. 26
7:00 p.m. ESPN2 Wake Forest at Iowa

Tuesday, Nov. 27
7:00 p.m. ESPN Georgia Tech at Indiana
7:30 p.m. ESPN2 Minnesota at Florida State
7:00 p.m. ESPNU Northwestern at Virginia
9:00 p.m. ESPN Wisconsin at Duke
9:30 p.m. ESPN2 Purdue at Clemson

Wednesday, Nov. 28
7:00 p.m. ESPN N.C. State at Michigan State
7:30 p.m. ESPN2 Illinois at Maryland
7:00 p.m. ESPNU Boston College at Michigan
9:00 p.m. ESPN North Carolina at Ohio State
9:30 p.m. ESPN2 Virginia Tech at Penn State

Roof to be fired today

Durham Herald is reporting that Ted Roof will be fired today at 2pm, ending his tenure as Duke Football coach.

Offensive Rebounding costs Pack game against Villanova

Offensive Rebounding costs Pack game against Villanova...

Or at least that is what the headline was about to read. The Wolfpack, offensive chemistry still not solved, but less obvious played a good game against #19 Villanova yesterday in the Old Spice Classic in Orlando. But, State's consistent lack of defensive rebounding continued as NC State gave up 18 offensive rebounds, including the apparent game winner with 2.4 seconds left, giving Nova a 1 pt lead.

Then, a strange thing happened on the way to that 1 pt. loss. A few references from the past come to mind as you watch those last 2.4 seconds. Costner makes a 3/4 court baseball pass almost as good as Grant Hill's against Kentucky. Gavin Grant jumps high to pull it down just outside the 3 point circle. Then, as Grant goes up to launch the 3, he's hit on the non-shooting arm. The shot misses badly, which may have helped contribute to the ref calling the foul. 0.4 seconds left and they call a foul. It almost never happens. In fact, I can only remember one other time that a foul on a 3 point shooter has been called at the end of the game like this. State fans will remember it well, because that time it was NC State's Julius Hodge fouling, and it knocked NC State out of the NCAA Tournament against UConn.

I guess what goes around, comes around. Grant hits 2 of 3 to give NC State a 1 point lead. Nova makes a final attempt with a length of the floor pass and an all too scary tip, but State wins the Old Spice Classic.

I'm not sure what these wins mean to NC State at this point in the season. Everyone is still talking about chemistry and seems to be focusing on playing time as possibly a concern for the players. The good news is McCaulley, who previously was singled out as being unhappy, played a great first half and really contributed to this win. Hickson, who has given up his starting spot, made some crucial mistakes early, but made some vital plays late. And Gavin Grant, who helped out as an assistant coach on the bench for crunch time in the South Carolina game, was on the floor for the end of this one, hitting a big 3, then the game winning play. Everyone is involved. While no player is showing consistently great numbers, someone steps up it seems. And, there's no quicker cure for unhappy players than winning. Just look at Randy Moss to prove that one.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

ACC Hoops so far

With so many of us still in football mode, let's do a quick recap of how ACC hoops have gone so far. This year has seen an explosion of pre-season tournaments with almost everyone involved in one. That has meant more early games, a few more upsets, more quality match-ups, and in general a lot of great ball games that not too many people are watching, and even fewer people are attending. ACC-Big Ten Challenge is just around the corner, but a lot has already happened.

Boston College
4-0 with a win over Rhode Island.


5-0 including big win at Mississippi State as well as taking care of business against Old Dominion and Gardner-Webb.

5-0 with impressive wins over Illinois and Marquette.

Florida State
5-2 with win over UAB and a 14 pt beat-down of #24 Florida, but losses to Cleveland State and South Florida.

Ga. Tech
3-2 with wins over Charlotte and Notre Dame, but losses to UNCG and Winthrop.

4-2 with wins over nobody and losses to #1 UCLA and Missouri.

5-0 with wins over Marist and Providence.

NC State
3-1 with bad home loss to New Orleans, but nice tournament win over South Carolina. They play #19 Villanova today.

North Carolina
5-0 with close win over Davidson, and 10 pt. win over a really tough but cold shooting BYU team. Lawson played rolled his ankle and missed all but 2 minutes of this game.

5-1 includes a giant win at Arizona and solid win over Drexel, but a 14 pt. loss to surprisingly good Seton Hall team.

Virgina Tech
2-2 with no good wins and losses to #14 Gonzaga and #23 Butler.

Wake Forest
3-0 but haven't played anyone.

Going into NC States Villanova matchup tonight and the Big Ten Challenge next week, the ACC is 49-10 against non-conference teams.

Making conference comparisons is almost meaningless at this point because schedules vary so much, but here is a snapshot

ACC____________49-10 _____.83
Pac 10__________39-9______.81
Big 12__________47-13______.78
Big East_________55-16_____.77
Big 10___________36-14_____.72
A 10____________46-25_____.65
Conf. USA________30-21_____.59

Saturday, November 24, 2007

State beats Odom

I've always liked Dave Odom, sort of... His teams typically aren't that fun to watch, but he's a solid coach. Would you believe he almost was the NC State coach? I typically don't believe everything I hear, but a former wake assistant swore to me that back after Herb's 5th year or so, when a job was open at Nebraska, there was almost a deal to let Sendek out of his contract at state to go to Nebraska, and Odom was coming from Wake to State, but that ACC Commish said no way, thinking that it was unseemly to have ACC schools raiding other schools for head coaches. I don't know if I believe it, but pretty sure state fans are glad Odom went elsewhere eventually.

This USC team doesn't look like a typical Odom team, with some really solid pressure, often full court. State won and I don't want to diminish how important that is, wins are wins. For about half the game state looked good. Thank god that Brandon got things rolling. But for much of the game, the Wolfpack still appears to be playing very restrained, like they are so focused on running a particular half court play that they do everything much slower than they should be. They seem very tight at times, and also for much of the game the offense doesn't seem to have the flow and amount of movement needed.

Part of it is still adjusting to having a pure post player. I remember back in 84, as State moved from a perimeter dominated team, to a post dominated offense built around Lorenzo Charles, it was a tough adjustment for the team to make, and some players found themselves without a role. For example, super-freshman (and one of my all-time favorite players) Ernie Myers, who was amazing during his freshman year while Whittenberg was out with injury, had a game built very much around the ability to penetrate and post smaller guards. As the team transitioned to having real post play, the lane was no longer open for those drives and guards posting, and Ernie Myers found his scoring opportunities and playing time fade.

You couldn't help but notice that Gavin Grant spent most of the last 10 minutes of the USC game on the bench. I was assuming at the time that he was maybe hurt, but haven't heard anything. He wasn't playing great, and maybe his effort and attitude weren't great, but as a Grant fan, you've got to hope what happened to Ernie isn't about to happen to Grant. Gavin's game certainly excels when the floor is spread. I truly believe that for State to have a very good season, Gavin Grant needs to be a real contributor and score his share of the points. The real challenge for Sidney Lowe it seems this year is to find a way to make adjustments for the improved talent, without having to completely abandon what allowed state to make a great run at the end of last year.

If Sidney Lowe wondered how his NC State basketball team would respond to adversity early in the season, he got a resounding answer on Friday. Trailing South Carolina 49-40 with 10:54 left, the Wolfpack stormed back to post a 63-61 victory over the Gamecocks.

ACC Semi Finals Round 2

12:00 PM

Virginia Tech @ Virginia
Charlottesville, Va.
TV: ESPN2 (XM 192)
This one will be for the Coastal Division Championship and a trip to Jacksonville to take on Atlantic Division Champion BC. I figured the Tech would be in a position to play for the division championship, but who in the world thought UVa would have a shop at the conference title after Wyoming destroyed them? Virginia has won with smoke, mirrors and a heck of a defensive end all season. This has probably be a banner year for heart specialists in the Charlottesville area because Virginia’s six conference wins have been by a total of 20 points, 11 of which come against Duke. The Hokies have done what they always do by play just enough offense to score a few points and then letting the defense and special teams take control of the game. Remember this team is a Matt Ryan miracle away from being undefeated in conference play… You know they want another shot at the Eagles. I don’t Al Groh and his staff have enough magic for the Hokies. VT 27-17

Maryland @ NC State
Raleigh, N.C.
TV: R/LF (XM 191)
Anyone up for a trip to Boise in December? The winner of this one is bowl eligible, and if Miami loses to BC as expected, the winner will fill the last of the ACC’s eight bowl spots and likely get to play on the blue carpet. This one will come down to which team shows up. The Terps have been decimated by injuries, but that didn’t stop them from upsetting BC the week after they lost to the Heels. State has had an impressive turn around in the second half of the season by posting four straight wins before getting blown out at Wake Forest last week. The Wolfpack has to avoid turn-overs in the red zone against a Maryland team that has forced six turnovers in the last three games. Wolfpack 28-14

Miami @ Boston College
Chestnut Hill, Mass.
TV: ESPN (XM 190)
BC has a nice scrimmage game to prepare for next week’s ACC title game… Miami is a mess… It looks to me like they quit playing sometime between the overtime loss against NC State and the drubbing that they took against UVa. Randy Shannon had better pray that his recruit’s are the real deal, or he’s going to be in the broadcast booth in the not too distant future. BC 35-10

2:00 PM

Wake Forest @ Vanderbilt
Nashville, Tenn.
TV: (XM 193)
Vandy will be fighting for bowl eligibility while the Deacs look to improve their bowl position. I think the Deacs have just too much of everything for Vandy to handle. Wake 31-17

3:30 PM

Duke @ North Carolina
Chapel Hill, N.C.
Why is this one on TV? Both teams are bad, although I’ll give the Heels credit, they’ve been exciting while being bad. A few weeks ago this one looked to be a shootout, but the Blue Devils have gotten progressively worse during the season. I think that’s the primary reason that Ted Roof will not be back next season. UNC 38-10

Georgia @ Georgia Tech
Atlanta, Ga.
TV: ABC (XM 190/232)
Chan Gailey has not beaten Tech’s top rival… That’s not a good sign, just ask Chuck Amato. To make matters worse, the AD that said seven or eight wins a season were all that Tech could expect is no longer around… Look for the dominoes to start falling. Georgia 28-20

5:00 PM

Florida State @ Florida
Gainesville, Fla.
TV: CBS (XM 192)
A win in Gainsville would salvage FSU’s season. A loss would continue a disturbing trend. The ‘Noles must play mistake free football to win. Florida 35-28

7:00 PM

Clemson @ South Carolina

Columbia, S.C.
TV: ESPN2 (XM 193)
Reality can be a disappointing thing. Despite all the expectations, the best Clemson can do is tie for the division title. South Carolina is just hoping for a decent bowl… I’ll bet the Ole football coach doesn’t try to win with defense again… USC fans need to remember, there will be plenty of interesting job openings after the season. Clemson 31-21

Thursday, November 22, 2007

State Survives Tough Ride

It wasn't pretty, and didn't do much to ease fears in State fans that there is something wrong with the Wolfpack, but survive and advance has always been their motto, so I guess State fans can't complain too much.

Sidney moved JJ Hickson to the 6th man spot in search of some chemistry and early on, it didn't help, as Rider led from the 13 minute mark in the first half, until the 13 minute mark in the 2nd. State built as much as an 11 point lead in the 2nd half, but let it get scary until pulling away in the last couple of minutes.

Courtney Fells nailed some big shots to make up for Grant's off game. Hickson played well but defensively had trouble with Rider's All-American Candidate. The one thing from the Sendek era that I think we are going to miss is solid foul shooting. Sendek's last 5 teams were great from the line, and so far it seems like an adventure for the wolfpack when it matters. I'm still really hopeful that this team will find some flow and chemistry soon. They'll get their chance tomorrow at 12:30 against South Carolina in round 2 of the Old Spice Classic.
Fells scored 18 as NC State beats Rider, FL - 1 hour ago
AP Courtney Fells scored 18 points and JJ Hickson had 13 as North Carolina State came from behind to beat Rider 72-63 in the opening round of the Old Spice ...
Gameday: NC State vs. Rider Pack Pride
After surprising loss, Wolfpack trying to find an identity
Wolfpack tries for refocused effort Burlington Times News

Duke owns Maui

Seems that Duke just doesn't lose in this tournament. 12-0 in their history there.

For those of us who somewhat enjoyed Duke's low-scoring, often bad team of last year, the party is over. I'm not ready to say they are better than the Heels, but they are going to be damn good. After watching them on 3 straight nights, I've got a few observations:

  1. For those of us who wondered whether K's involvement in USA basketball was going to hurt the Duke program in some ways, forget about it. K seems energized and excited. He's brought several new things from his experience with the pro's, including more pro sets, the Phoenix Sun's offense, and even at least trying to play some Syracuse style zone courtesy of USA Basketball assistant Jim Boeheim. They don't play it as well as the 'Cuse yet, but then again, neither does Syracuse these days. Also, the Duke assistants got to help run drills for USA Basketball, so they have no doubt learned a lot that will help them get better jobs and help them in recruiting.
  2. Kyle Singler is everything we've heard and more...
  3. Demarcus Nelson looks great. I still think he's undersized for the game he wants to play, and won't be a great pro, but he's going to make a run at All-ACC and win Duke some games.
  4. Greg Paulus has been taking his Ritalin and looks to be in control most of the time, and can really shot the ball.
  5. Gerald Henderson is on the cusp of becoming a STAR.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Loss Numero UNO for the pack

So many things to talk about after the University of New Orleans upsets NC State.

The game was a little too reminiscent of State's collapse against Vanderbilt a few years back in the NCAA Tournament. With a little over a minute to go and a 5 point lead, Degand misses a free throw, UNO pushes the ball up, and Courtney Fells grabs to cut off the penetration. You could make an argument that Fells holds on to make sure the kid doesn't fall, but it really was an intentional foul. Moments later the lead is 1. 45 seconds later, State is down 1 with the ball and about 14 seconds. Gavin Grant does exactly what a senior should, he goes length of the floor to score. Then a bit of luck, magic, or destiny steps in as New Orleans banks in a 3 with 2 seconds to go to win the game.

Sometimes it just happens, sometimes you can make an argument that things like this should happen. When Sidney Lowe got the NC State job, University of New Orleans head coach Monte Towe left the UNO job to become Lowe's assistant. After Katrina the team had to leave New Orleans for Texas. That program and those kids have been through a much different few years than they ever expected. You've got to believe this will be the best memory of their college careers, and sometimes a story like that makes a loss like this a little easier to take.

About a month ago I talked about Pack Basketball and Expectations.
I talked mostly about the pressure to perform when you are expected too. The angle I missed, and shouldn't have is, what happens when players go into a game thinking they are so much better than the opponent that they aren't mentally ready for a battle. I don't think it is a case where you don't try as hard, where you don't give the required physical effort. I just think that mentally at times teams aren't really prepared for the possibility that they will be in a close game that they could lose. And if they face those thoughts with a minute to go in the game, rather than having that mindset from the start, it just isn't possible to get the best results you are capable of. I'm guessing among several other things, that is one thing that happened here.

Friends and I often speculate about whether a coach ever "lets" his team lose. There have been times in the past where I really thought Coach K didn't give a game his all, because he wanted to show the team what could happen when they try to do things there way instead of his. I have no way of knowing if it really ever happens, and I'm certain Lowe didn't let the Pack lose last night. BUT, having said that, I do think there can be such a thing as a good loss. State is very much a work in progress. As good as the talent and some performances have been, there is very little team chemistry yet. They have a lot of work to do to get better, for players and coaches to learn new roles with new personnel. And as much as we all have enjoyed being a ranked team, doing the hard work required might just be easier without rankings, unrealistic expectations, and quite so much JJ hype. We may never truly know if this turns out to be a "good loss", but you can bet Coach Lowe will remind players for the next few years of what happens when they think they are entitled to the win just because they are bigger, stronger, faster, and ranked in the top 25.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

ACC Semi Finals Round 1

The Conference could not have planned better with Divisional Championship Games on back to back weekends. The ACC looks to make a statement with another win against a BCS team (Notre Dame is still in the BCS aren't they?)

Unlike BC, I was able to get back on track last week with a 5-1 record...

12:00 PM

Maryland @ Florida State
Tallahassee, Fla.
TV: R/LF (Split) (XM 190)
This one will be the tale of which team shows up… will we see the FSU team that beat ‘Bama and scare the life out of Va Tech before folding in the fourth quarter, or will we see the FSU team that played in the fourth quarter at Va Tech and Miami. Same for the Terps. Are we going to see the team that upset Rutgers and BC, or are we going to see the Terp squad that was bad enough to lose to the Heels? Tough call, be I give the edge to the Terps to make fewer mistakes than the ‘Noles… UMd 28-17

North Carolina @ Georgia Tech
Atlanta, Ga.
TV: R/LF (Split) (XM 191)
This will be a real heart check for the Heels. How will they do now that they know there will not be a bowl game this year? Tech’s defense is just too good for the Heels lack of a running game. Ga Tech 31-14

2:30 PM

Duke @ Notre Dame
Notre Dame, Ind.
TV: NBC (XM 192)
You know the execs at NBC really have to be thrilled with this one… This will be a true measure of how far the Irish have fallen. Duke 45-35

3:30 PM

Miami @ Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, Va.
TV: ABC (XM 190)
After last week’s Orange Bowl finale, I think the Miami season is over… Tech appears to be clicking as they prepare for next week’s Coastal Division Championship Game against UVa… VT 31-7

4:00 PM

NC State @ Wake Forest

Winston-Salem, N.C.
TV: ESPNU (XM 191)
Wow! Who would have thought that this would be an important game just one month ago? The Deac’s are bowl eligible, the Pack needs to win to become bowl eligible. Wake gave Chuck Amato’s undisciplined defenses at fit with all of their misdirection. This will be a test of how far the new Pack defense has come. Wake is a very solid team despite getting blown out at Clemson. Pack fans well remember how good Clemson is when they are clicking. Andre Brown has been cleared to play, but I think the Pack will stick with Eugene at tailback to keep the rhythm they have found in recent weeks. The Pack has to protect Daniel Evans to win… Just call it a hunch (or a bad dream I had the other night) WFU 20-17

7:45 PM

Boston College @ Clemson
Clemson, S.C.
TV: ESPN2 (XM 192/193)
ACC ISP Sports Radio Network
This one will be for the Atlantic Division championship… Who would have though that a few weeks ago. Thanks to VT, I think the ACC coaches have caught on to BC, while the Tigers seem to be peaking at just the right time. Look for Matt Ryan to be upstaged by Cullen Harper. Tigers head to Jacksonville 35-21

Friday, November 16, 2007

Clemson bubble watch

I thought I'd be the first out there this year to talk about the NCAA bubble. If history is any indication, Clemson will be on the bubble. I'm certainly hoping this year is different, and with an upgraded schedule, they've definitely got a chance to make their case better before the ACC schedule starts. They are off to a good start with a big win

Clemson vs. Mississippi State Recap, November 15, 2007
ESPN - 5 hours ago
(AP) -- Freshman Terrence Oglesby scored 17 points and hit two key free throws Thursday night as Clemson beat Mississippi State 84-82. Clemson (2-0) went to ...
Recap: Miss State vs. ClemsMacon Telegraph

Maryland sqeaked by

Baltimore Sun
Maryland survives close call
Baltimore Sun, United States - 56 minutes ago
Maryland coach Gary Williams yells at his players while they hustle to the sideline during a timeout in the first half. (Sun photo by Gene Sweeney Jr. ...
Northeastern vs. Maryland Recap, November 15, 2007 ESPN
Maryland slips past Northeastern in overtime win Carroll County Times (subscription)
Recap: Maryland vs. NortheasternSan Luis Obispo Tribune

JJ Hickson sure looks like the real deal

Pack Pride
Hickson Has Big Opener for NC State
The Associated Press - 11 hours ago
RALEIGH, NC (AP) — Freshman JJ Hickson scored 31 points on 12-for-12 shooting to lead No. 21 North Carolina State past William & Mary, 66-47 on Thursday ...
Dazzling debut for NC State’s Hickson Greensboro News Record
W&M Falls at No. 21 NC State Tribe Athletics
COL BKB: NC State 66, William & Mary 47United Press International

and Miami looking more and more like a basketball school

Marist men lose to Miami
Poughkeepsie Journal, NY - 18 hours ago
Marist's men's basketball team lost to Miami, 85-61, in their first game of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off in San Juan. Freshman guard Jay Gavin led the Red Foxes ...
Marist men trail at halftime Poughkeepsie Journal
Local sports roundup Times Herald-Record
mccroskey to make Marist debut Sunday Poughkeepsie Journa

Thursday, November 15, 2007

When March Went Mad

I have no idea how good or bad Tim Peeler's new book is, but this has to be one of the best book titles I've seen in a long time.

Scary trip to Charlotte for Heels

Like several ACC teams this year, Carolina got a little experience playing in Charlotte ahead of this years ACC Tournament. Davidson is no UNCG or Gardner-Webb, they are a legit team coming off an ACC tournament trip. So no surprise they gave the heels a game.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Big year for NC's little guys

If college teams were stocks, I think I'd have to buy all the little schools in NC. Following App St's history making upset of Michigan, and Gardner-Webb shocking Kentucky, everyone in this state things they can do it.

UNCG takes cue from Gardner-Webb in upset
Greensboro News Record, NC - Nov 10, 2007
By Rob Daniels ATLANTA -- When it came time to write an inspirational message on the dry-erase board Friday night, UNCG basketball coach Mike Dement stayed ...
UNCG stuns Georgia Tech Greensboro News Record
UNCG upsets Ga. Tech News & Observer
College Roundup: Hines lifts UNCG past Georgia Tech Winston-Salem Journal
Macon Telegraph - Atlanta Journal Constitution
all 63 news articles »

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Reality Check

1-4 last week, Like Wake and BC, it looks like I’ve been snapped back to reality. As we head down the stretch, Clemson, BC, Va. Tech and UVa control their own destinies for a trip to Jacksonville.

Saturday, Nov 10

12:00 PM

North Carolina @ NC State
Raleigh, N.C.
TV: R/LF (XM 190)
What a reversal of fortunes these teams have faced in recent weeks. Only three weeks ago everyone had given the Wolfpack up for dead and the Heels were everyone’s darlings after scoring 27 first half points against Miami. This will be another test to see how Tom O’Brien’s teams react to rivalry games… Last time the Pack passed with flying colors. UNC is young, fast and mistake prone. The Pack has eliminated most of the mistakes that plagued them early. This one will come down to a battle between the exceptionally good special teams units. NCSU 24-20

Wake Forest @ Clemson
Clemson, S.C.
TV: ESPN2 (XM 191)
Time for a reality check for the Deacs. For once, they are playing a team that is more talented and much deeper. Bowden has the Tigers peaking at just the right time. Look for Clemson to overpower Wake. CU 31-17

1:00 PM

Georgia Tech @ Duke
Durham, N.C.
TV: (XM 192)
Webcast on ACC Select
At least Duke made ACC Select this week… Tech is really banged up, but the Blue Devils have regressed in recent weeks. Tech’s defense is just too strong for Duke… If it’s not the Jackets have more serious problems than we thought. Ga Tech 31-14

3:30 PM

Florida State @ Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, Va.
TV: ABC (XM 190)
ACC ISP Sports Radio Network
FSU went up to Chestnut Hill and just flattened BC. Can they repeat that performance? Tech’s offense has been much improved in recent weeks, and with the exception of the last 6 minutes against BC their defense has been strong. This one will be an ugly defensive struggle. Look for Beamerball to find a way to win. Va Tech 16-10

7:15 PM

Virginia @ Miami
Miami, Fla.
TV: ESPN2 (XM 191)
The last game for the Orange Bowl… Would have been nice if they had been able to schedule BC, FSU or Florida for this one. Somehow UVa – Miami just isn’t a fitting closing for this historic site. UVa is in control of their own destiny for a return trip to Florida in early-December. They showed a lot of heart in the fourth quarter against Wake. Don’t know what it is, but these guys have a way to pull it out down the stretch… Let’s see if they finish the season the way they’ve finished their games. Last week Miami ran all over the Wolfpack… Just forgot to pass the ball and kick field goals… I’ve go the feeling things are going to get much worse at Miami before they get better. UVa finds a way again. UVa 21-17

8:00 PM
Boston College @ Maryland
College Park, Md.
TV: ABC (XM 192)
BC has not played well for weeks in a row. The Terps are banged up on offense. This will be a gut check for BC to see how they respond to getting knocked out of the BCS Championship race. It will also be a big test for Matt Ryan. He has got to have a huge game to get back into the Heisman Race. BC Gets back on track 34-21

Friday, November 9, 2007

Hamilton 2 more at FSU

Seminoles extend coach Hamilton's contract two years

Florida State gave basketball coach Leonard Hamilton a two-year contract extension Thursday through 2012.

Hamilton begins his sixth season with the Seminoles, who won more than 20 games in each of the past two seasons. He is 87-71 overall at Florida State.

University President T.K. Wetherell believes the program is headed in the right direction, despite not reaching the NCAA tournament since 1998.

"Coach Hamilton advocates winning not only on the basketball court but also in the classroom and in the game of life," Wetherell said. "He builds winning basketball teams and young men of character."

The 59-year-old Hamilton took over a program that fell into disarray during Steve Robinson's five seasons. More...

Whittenberg gets rewarded

Improving Fordham rewards Whittenberg with extension through 2013

Fordham coach Dereck Whittenburg agreed Thursday to a contract extension through the 2012-13 season.

The Rams improved their victory total in each of Whittenburg's four seasons. The 18 wins last season were the most by a Fordham team since 1991-92, and the 10-6 record in the Atlantic 10 was the Rams' best since joining the conference in 1995-96.

Fordham ranked first in the Atlantic 10 in scoring defense last season, allowing 64.2 points per game. More...

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Parity in College Basketball

We hear people talk about Parity and how on a given night anyone can beat anyone. George Mason seemed to officially announce the arrival of the mid-major as a player on the national scene. You hate to read too much into a game, and I know it is early, but this one is amazing:

Gardner-Webb Stuns Kentucky
Katz: Gardner-Webb coach on 'cloud nine
ESPN - 6 hours ago
By Andy Katz Gardner-Webb coach Rick Scruggs had no idea what to expect from his players as he walked into the Rupp Arena halftime locker room up 11 points ...
Gardner-Webb Stuns Kentucky Hartford Courant
Early shocker: Kentucky upset by Gardner-Webb Boston Globe
Gardner-Webb knocks off No. 20 Kentucky
Cincinnati Post - AM850
all 321 news articles »

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Duke/State Rivalry

Michael Moore at Duke's Chronicle Online has a great article on the death of the Duke - NC State rivalry:

Reviving the lost Tobacco Road rivalry

A funny thing happened over the last few years as the Blue Devils jetted to Beantown and South Beach in search of ACC victories in football and basketball.

The Duke-N.C. State rivalry died.

The Blue Devils haven't played the Wolfpack in football since the Red Sox were still cursed. And the last time the basketball teams met twice in the regular season, Luol Deng was a resident of Bassett and not Kobe Bryant's newest crush.

Expansion, and the kinks that came with teams entering the league at different times, has completely sapped the local rivalry of its luster.

Although there was certainly a lot of skepticism and outright criticism in the years just before conference expansion, everyone since has accepted it without much analysis of its effects.

The surprising success of Virginia Tech and Boston College in basketball has even appeased those who believed the title "Best Hoops Conference" was being gambled for the sake of football.

But the significant scheduling drawbacks everyone saw coming have played out, and the Duke-N.C. State rivalry has been perhaps the most notable victim.

The Blue Devils and Wolfpack never approached the level of Duke-Carolina or even UNC-State, but there is a lot of history between the two, compounded by some natural rival elements. The schools are 30 minutes apart, more people in North Carolina are State fans than are Duke fans, and State supporters on the whole even outpace the Tar Heel faithful in their view of Dukies as elitist outsiders. Full Story...
I do have to say I've missed the annual trip to Cameron. It would have especially been nice to play there more recently, when Duke was down a bit. Now both teams are up, although I suspect Duke is a little more up and will still be favored in coming games, but they should be fun, and history has shown that State gives them fits at times.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Anyone else getting Excited?

Friday, November 2, 2007

Idiots and Valvano

I hate to send traffic to this blog, but I just go angry enough that I need to vent. This is from a UVA fan/grad's blog:

My Take-Sports and School

I'm sure you've heard at least once that a college athlete has been declared "academically ineligible" because of his poor grades and whatnot. Well, that is a bunch of bull. Here's why.
When a school recruits a player, and offers him a scholarship, they are bringing him to the school to play the sport. They're asking him "Will you come here to play sports?", not "Will you come here to do your work, earn good grades, and help uphold the academic tradition of this school?". The player is at the school for no other reason than to play sports. They let the guy in already, and chances are he's helping the team win, so why are they ostracizing him now?
Schools need to protect their athletes. A school known for this is North Carolina State University particularly basketball, at least during Jim Valvano's era. James Thomas Anthony Valvano was (in)famous for his miniscule graduation rate. Only three (3) of his players graduated from NC State. That's 3 players in ten (10) years. Current Wolfpack head coach Sidney Lowe is a former player under Valvano, but did not graduate. Another one of Jimmy V's recruits, Chris Washburn, had a 470 on his SATs and Valvano found a way to get him to play for the Wolfpack. In 1983, this team won the NCAA Tournament, knocking off Pepperdine, UNLV (coached by fellow cheater Jerry "The Shark" Tarkanian), Utah, my Virginia Cavaliers (darn it) Georgia, and the dramatic championship win over Houston.
Sure, NCSU may have cheated like crazy, but because those players were brought to the university to play basketball, I feel Valvano had every right to protect his players. Other schools protect their players, too. I'll be darned if JJ Redick wasn't in academic trouble at least once while he was at Duke.
Also, the Ivy League needs to grow up and give athletic scholarships to their players. College sports are a way of life these days. These players are not the BS term that is "student-athletes". They are athletes. Treat them as such.

I read it and couldn't stay silent, so here is my response:

The one thing you miss in picking out a couple of cases like Valvano, is that things were very different most places throughout the NCAA. While there were of course some schools doing things the right way, academics weren't a priority for the majority of schools when it came to their athletes. As great a school as UVA is and was, their graduation rates weren't stellar during that period either.

The biggest mis-conception in the world and that ignorant people continue to say, is that Valvano cheated. It simply isn't so. He was investigated and investigated. The only violation ever found at State was a lack of institutional control, which allowed a couple of the players to sell their shoes.

Granted, Valvano didn't bring in capable students often (although some of them were good). But he did what he thought his job was, take a set of rules handed him, and build the best possible basketball team under those rules. It was a lack of foresight on his part, and a complete lack of control in university leadership that allowed things to go so bad, but it WASN'T CHEATING.

To just pick a little more at the poor facts behind some of your statements, the 1983 team that won the championship was built primarily of Norm Sloan recruits, not V recruits. While you are correct, some of them didn't graduate, they were a far cry from academic failures. Lowe lacked 3 classes, and would have stayed to graduate (Hell, I even took 5 years) if not for the fact that an NBA team was ready to pay him serious money. There are certainly teams under the V era where you can point to some miserable failures as far as students, but that 1983 team isn't one of them. Most of those kids did eventually get degrees and go on to very successful careers and lives.

Ken White