Friday, February 29, 2008

Crunch Time...

Coach K seeks 800th win...
Wake needs to win out...
Virginia not a must win for Miami...
Ty Lawson sighting?
Maryland fighting to avoid Thursday at the ACC Tournament and an NIT bid...
Nine Wins not enough for the Hokies...

click here to view schedule

With a win in the RBC Center Saturday, Coach K will reach the 800 mark. As a State fan, sometimes it seems like all 799 have come against the Pack. As dismal as the season has become for the Pack, a Duke win would be just more salt in an open wound. I'm sure Gavin Grant does not want the lasting memory from his senior day to be Coach K celebrating #800. All State has left to play for now is pride... or a shot at an NIT bid.

Wake must finish 9-7 in the conference or be playing on the Sunday of the ACC Tournament to make it to the NCAA Tournament. The Deac's RPI ranking of 76 is not going to get them to the Big Dance with an 8-8 record. All three of their remaining games are winnable if you overlook the fact that two of them are on the road. Even if the Deacs fall short, the future looks very promising in Winston-Salem.

Miami is not in dire straits just yet. Their 26th rated RPI gives them a litte wiggle-room, but a loss to Virginia would put them into full panic mode.

Ty Lawson may play against BC... Why? The Heels should be able to take care of BC without their star point guard. Why in the world would you want his first game back to be against Tyrece Rice. If Lawson doesn't re-injure his ankle trying to defend Rice, he's defiantly going to injure his pride trying to stop Rice's scoring.

Everyone has circled the Clemson-Maryland game as being a key match-up. A couple of weeks ago, we thought this game would decide 3rd place in the regular season. While it may still factor into who gets the 3rd seed in the tournament, Maryland finds itself in a fight with Va Tech for the fourth and final opening day bye. Since Va Tech holds the tie-breaker over Maryland, the Terps are going to have to win-out and hope the Hokies lose one down the stretch. Thursday's win at Wake Forest was huge. If I were Gary Willliams, I would still be very worried about the Terps 59th ranked RPI. It has improved in the last couple of weeks, but the 1-5 record against the top 50 is not doing the Terps any favors.

With eight conference wins it may appear that Va Tech is on the verge of another NCAA bid, however they are in danger of not getting into the dance if they make it to 9-7. Not all ACC won loss records are created equally. The Hokies .451 league strength of schedule is next to last in the conference. The only quality wins that the Hokies have in conference play are the wins against Maryland. Their other six wins are against Virginia (2), BC (2), Ga Tech and Florida State. Combine that with an 0-5 record against the top-50 and a 51st ranked RPI and your looking at hosting NIT games instead of making NCAA plans

On To Greenville!

Terry Sanford Defeats East Chapel to Advance to the NCHSAA East Regional.

The late Jim Valvano coined the phrase "Survive and Advance." Terry Sanford has done just that this week in winning three games in four days to win their sectional and advance the East Regional next week in Greenville.

The Bulldogs overcame a poor shooting night and East Chapel Hill's frustrating 1-3-1 zone to pull away in the fourth quarter and claim a 58-43 win. While clinging onto a 3 point lead early in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs went to the four corners and forced East Chapel Hill out to chase. Terry Sanford was able to take advantage of several mis-matches to score a few easy baskets and then hit their free-throws down the stretch.

The games this week were what High School sports is all about... Large vocal crowds and the sheer joy of winning. The end of the game was filled with emotion. First there was the standing ovation when senior center Dwayne Allen fouled out at the 2:30 mark with the game still in doubt. Next there was the embrace of Coach Bill Boyette and senior point guard Josh Hayes when the Bulldogs emptied the bench in the game's waning seconds. However, the most touching thing was senior forward Alex Murry in tears as he hugged his father in during the on-court celebration after the game.

OK... now to get a bit of ACC in this post so it's not totally off-topic. I spotted former Carolina Center Warren Martin at the game. Actually, he was hard to miss since he serves as an assistant on coach Ray Hartsfield's staff. Martin looked liked he was in pretty good shape... has it really been 20 years since he played for the Heels? Did you know that Martin scored the first basket in the Dean Dome? He scored off a Kenny Smith pass in the January 18, 1986 95-92 thriller against Duke.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Without a PG, nothing else matters

Everyone has asked me, what's wrong with State. I hear tons and tons of speculation:

  • Lowe just can't coach at this level
  • The kids have given up on their coach
  • The kids had such high hopes for the season that once it was clear they weren't going to compete at the highest level, they just lost interest
  • They were so cocky after the end of last year they didn't work in the off-season
  • Chemisty, Chemistry, Chemistry
  • They don't really like each other
  • Costner's sophomore slump
  • Playing time issues
  • They just don't have talent
I've spent a lot of time wondering about these issues and trying to figure it out. Last nights game against Florida State kind just made the problem so clear. Any and all of the things above could be going on. Or maybe none of them are. But the truth is, we'll never know what this club could have been or what issues would have held them back, because there is one problem that trumps all. State doesn't have a point guard. I don't want our two guards to take this 2 hard, because I think they can possibly become ACC level points. I can remember even Ray Felton had some struggles as a freshman. But NC State does not have a viable point guard at this point. And if the last two games have just made it very clear. In the ACC, if you don't have a Point Guard, nothing else matters.

Monday, February 25, 2008

ACC Hoops - Feb 26 - 28

Heels Back in First Place...
Miami Fights its way back onto the NCAA Bubble...
The Turtle - feared no more?

Open Schedule in a new window

Six games ago it looked like Duke would run away with the ACC regular season. The Heels had lost Ty Lawson and looked bad in a home-loss to the Blue Devils. Someone forgot to tell the Heels that the regular season was over. Tyler Hansbrough has put Carolina on his back and carried them to first place in the ACC. Quentin Thomas has been steady at the point while playing more meaningful minutes in the last six games than in his three previous seasons combined. Wayne Ellington has once again found his stroke and the Heels as a whole are playing much better defense. What started a disaster has allowed the Heels to develop some much needed depth at guard and put them back into contention for the National Championship.

On February 6 Miami lost to Florida State and fell to 2-6 in the regular season. Instead of becoming this years Clemson, the Hurricanes have won four straight, including wins over Duke and Maryland to get back to .500 in conference play. More importantly, Miami has climbed to 25th in the latest RPI. The Hurricanes need to win three of the next four to finish at 9-7 and pretty much guarantee themselves a spot in the NCAA tournament. Given their RPI, I think Miami can still get in with an 8-8 record.

There are two huge ACC games this week. Unfortunately, only one of them will be televised. It seems the TV gods over at ESPN think we would rather see Florida State - NC State instead of Miami-Clemson. I know that the Greenville-Spartenburg market is not a huge draw, but I suspect a lot of folks in Raleigh/Durham and Tallahassee would rather see Clemson and Miami fight for a first round bye in the ACC Tournament and a chance to solidify their NCAA resumes instead of watching Florida State and NC State jockey for a spot in the NIT.

The other big game this week is Maryland at Wake Forest. Two straight losses suddenly has the turtle in fear of not making it to the NCAA's. Forget the hype after the Carolina win. An RPI of 65 is not going to be enough to get Maryland into the NCAA Tournament with an 8-8 conference record. Wake's 62nd rated RPI is in need of a bit of help as well. Keep in mind the young Deac's have only lost one game at home this season.

Friday, February 22, 2008

ACC Hoops - Feb 23-24

Wake, Miami and Va. Tech look to make late-season runs...
Maryland and Clemson try to hold on...
Ga. Tech and everyone else need miracles...

click here to view schedule

If you want to make it to the NCAA's now is the time to make your move. The ACC is still in danger of only getting three teams into the Big Dance. Four or Five teams is a more likely, and there is even a shot at getting seven teams in. Here's the break-down.

Duke and Carolina are in. Given their records and RPI's, they can't lose enough of their remaining games to miss the tourney.

Clemson is in good shape. A 19-7 record and a respectable RPI should get them into the dance barring an absolute disaster down the stretch.

Maryland is not a lock. Even with the win at Carolina, their RPI is a bit shaky at 77. A 9-7 record should get them in, while 8-8 will put them on the bubble.

Miami was left for dead just two weeks ago, but three straight wins including the huge upset against Duke has bought renewed excitement to Coral Gables. With an 18-7 record, an RPI of 34, I think 8-8 will get them into the NCAA's. If they can split their next 2 with Maryland and Clemson they have a shot at 9-7.

Wake and Va Tech are 65th and 66th in RPI. Wake's RPI should climb after the Carolina game. After that they face Maryland in Winston-Salem. The March 4 game between the Hokies and Deacs in Blacksburg will be huge. The Hokies will finish the regular season at Clemson. Realistically, the Deacs and Hokies will need to finish 9-7 in the conference to get bids.

Ga Tech needs a miracle bigger than a drought busting rain to make it to the Big Dance. That 10th ranked schedule is nice... a few more non-conference wins would be nicer. Without a big run down the stretch, the Yellow Jackets season will be over by mid-March.

Everyone else... Well there was the '76 Virginia team and the '87 NC State team that won the ACC tournament to get the League's automatic bid. That's about what it's going to take to get Virginia, Florida State, Boston College and NC State to the NCAA's. At 15-11, State has the best chance of this group, but even then, they will need to win out and win one in the ACC Tournament.

Congratulations to the Terry Sanford Bulldogs on winning the Two Rivers Athletic Conference Regular Season and Tournament Championships. Next week, I'll be following them though North Carolina's version of March Madness as they begin play in the NCHSAA 4A Tournament.

Zach Faircloth #32 (far left) was named Tournament MVP. Keep an eye on him... He's only a junior but he's definitely D1 talent. Unless he has an unreal summer, he's probably headed somewhere like Wilmington, but he has great range and has more "court smarts" than a lot of today's college players. He will be one of those guys that scares the crap out of a high seed in an NCAA Tournament.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Just a crazy year

I give up. Everytime I think I know something about this season, things just get weirder. Like many, I was convinced NC State would be good. They aren't! I actually thought UVA would be good too, who knew. I was certain that Wake would be a terrible team this year.

As soon as I saw how bad Carolina was without Lawson, I assumed they would start losing. They haven't. I saw Duke in person finally and actually thought they had a chance to win out. Ha! They dropped 2 in a row just to spite me. Just when you think this year can't get any stranger, we get a rain-out.

Georgia Tech basketball game rained out

Pretty crazy, although I guess not quite as weird as was

Slippery floor causes postponement of Virginia-Michigan State game

If the cavs think this is a weird one, that year was one of the worst collapses in history. UVA was actually ranked #1 at one point in the year, only to miss the NCAAs.

Monday, February 18, 2008

ACC Hoops - Feb 19-21

Florida State, NC State, Miami, and Va Tech face must-wins this week or they can start planning to host NIT games. Miami is going to have to make some noise to avoid being this year's Clemson.

UVa and Ga Tech face must wins as well, but instead of worrying about the NCAA bubble, they need to worry about the NIT bubble. Fan-bases barely forgive NIT appearances, but totally missing the post-season is a definite no-no if a coach wants to stick around for a while.

According to Carolina, they do not have a healthy point guard... Seems like I remember Kenny Smith being doubtful for the State-Carolina game one year due to knee surgery. He hobbled his way to 20+ points that night in Reynolds.

With Duke's loss at Wake, Carolina remains the only undefeated team on the road... Duke is the only team to remain undefeated at home in league play.

Carolina's 12.2 rebound margin is impressive. The Heel's are getting rebounds in 65.5% of their defensive rebounding opportunities and 39.9% of their Offensive rebounding opportunities.

Mike Kitts, Tim Nestor, Tony Greene Karl Hess remain the kiss of death for home teams with home teams only winning a combined 27.6% of the games these guys work. At 4-0, Mike Kitts remains the home-team's best friend, followed closely by Bernard Clinton and Brian Kersey who see the home team win almost 82% of the games they work. Overall, home teams are winning 58.5 % of games played.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Wake beat who?

I can't believe I missed it. Between Daytona 500 and Golf on the DVR, I forgot to tape the Duke/Wake game, and really completely forgot about the game, just an unusual time slot. At right about 10 I was putting my wife to bed and blew by the wake network on the radio. Didn't stay long enough to hear a score, but sure sounded like more excitement and noise than I would have expected. Ran back to the TV in time to see the last 30 seconds.

How in the Hell did that happen? And all 5 starters for Duke fouled out? I can only imagine the ref complaints to come on that one. Can't wait to hear the details.

Friday, February 15, 2008

ACC Hoops - Feb 16-17

First to Worst
Virginia is on track to become only the fourth team in ACC history to follow up a Regular Season Championship with a last place finish. The Cavilers would join the Clemson Tigers who went from a 10-4 record in 1990 to a 2-12 finish in 1991; the 1995 Duke Blue Devils we went 2-14 after finishing 12-4 in 1994; and the 1997 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets who finished 3-13 after going 13-3 in 1996.

Road Warriors
Both Duke and North Carolina remain the only ACC teams who are undefeated on the road in conference play. Surprisingly, the Heels are only 3-2 at home this season. Wake Forest's win at Florida State on Thursday left Miami as the only team yet to win away from home.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

My trip to Cameron last night

Photo wasn't from last night, I forgot the camera...

It has been a couple of years since I had been to Cameron Indoor for a Duke game. Was kind of counting on the rain, and possibility of snow to keep out the crush of people looking for tickets that I've seen the last few times I had been. I think that must have helped. We got to the building at about 6:45 and moved away to a high traffic spot where a lot of the Iron Dukes are walking in. We had several scalper approaches, including a few that were quite bizarre. This one college age kid says "I've got two, my mom is coming with them right now.". So we are thinking, wow, this is easy, we just got here and going to walk into some great cheap seats. Mom shows up and she looks a little rougher than your typical Duke mom, but not bad. I hear her say to him "I could only get 3". That was my first clue. Sure enough, he's looking to get $100 or more per seat. Not sure she was his mom, but for sure, they were scalpers.

Few minutes later, a really old guy with a limp walks by holding up 2. He looks like the type we've repeatedly found great face value seats, or even free seats. The old money type that would rather give them away than sell to a scalper. Only, again, I'm wrong. He wants $150 per seat. So I'm starting to think, wow, the economy must be really bad, turning out old men and mother/son pairs to scalp.

Our first real clue that this might actually be an easy ticket is one of the staples in the scalper scene, black dude around 45 who I've seen at almost every big Duke or Carolina game I've been to in the last 10 years come up holding up two tickets. I've never seen the guy giving deals or trying to be nice, he's just a businessman. He's got two endzone seats for face value ($35 for endzone, as much as $60 for midcourt). Too easy, so we pass counting on getting a better seat. Then we stand around for 10 minutes with nothing, and I'm second guessing that we didn't take those. Finally, a broker (not a typical looking scalper, but guy you can tell doesn't sell on the street a lot, but has clients who he buys for) comes by with two. He says client didn't show, and sells us sideline seats, Row A for face. Here is where I did something dumb. I was a bit cold, he was talking fast, there wasn't much light, and my eyes aren't what they used to be. I could swear that when I looked down at the ticket it said $60. So I gave him $120 for two and we head in. Only when we get inside in the light do we see it was a $50 ticket. So, overpaid a bit.

Anyway, seats were right on the rail, just above students, a little beyond the baseline. Great to be that close, but not have to be in the middle of students (which is a miserable experience).

You can find the normal game details other places, but some random observations:

  • Duke chants are always fun. Popular early was "Sweat Gary, Sweat". After one series where Gist tried twice to dunk and missed in a crowd, kept getting his own rebound and kept going back up, he got "You can't dunk" the rest of the night.
  • Duke is fast. Their perimeter defense may be their best ever. With many of the lineups they use, any defender can guard any offensive player, so they can switch every screen and not miss a beat.
  • Duke fans HATE Vasquez. I love the guy. He's got attitude but has fun with it. At one point coming out of a timeout, he start getting cocky with the crowd. Ref actually said something to him to calm it down, then walked over to explain the same to Gary.
  • Paulus has a really quick release and is shooting the ball so well right now.
  • Kyle Singler is bigger, stronger, faster that I could have imagined. I think he's bionic.
  • Coming out of maybe the under 4 timeout, the crowd was getting a little lazy. Coach K made some special efforts and gestures to get them cranked up, and it worked.
  • Once the game was out of reach at the end, the students start the "Not Our Rival" chant. I'm not so sure about that though. Of course it isn't a rivalry like UNC, but still, even with the loss last night, Maryland has won 2 of the last 4 in Cameron.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Pretty in Pink

photo courtesy

No, there wasn't a problem with the laundry prior to the Wolfpack's game against Boston College Sunday afternoon. The Wolfpack Women wore pink uniforms for the 3rd Annual Hoops for Hope game to bring attention to breast cancer...

NC State head coach Kay Yow and the Susan G. Komen Foundation teamed up again for the third edition of the “Hoops For Hope” game. The event is a breast cancer awareness event, in addition to a fund raising opportunity for the foundation. Hoops for Hope is a basketball game centered around hope – hope for early detection, hope for increased survival and hope for a cure.

NC State and Boston College were among over 900 schools that are participating in “Think Pink” week (Feb. 8-17). “Think Pink” is the WBCA’s global, unified effort to assist in raising breast cancer awareness on the court, across campuses, in communities and beyond. Of course each NC State game is played with special meaning as Coach Yow has battled the disease since 1987. full story

ACC Hoops Feb 12-14

Right-Click on links to open in another window

Maryland at Duke looks to be the game of the week. I'm sure Gary Williams has not let the Terps forget what happened when these teams met in College Park. Both teams have had trouble putting two halves together.

Check out the Heel's rebounding margin... 10.8 per game is unreal... of course the 80.0 points per game they are giving up in conference play is pretty hard to believe too.

So far NC State has played the toughest schedule, followed closely by BC. Wake has played the weakest conference schedule with their opponents only winning 42% of the time.

Repeating History

I've always heard that streaks are meant to be broken. But I've also heard something like, nothing new ever happens, history just repeats over and over.

With what may be the best Clemson team ever, against a somewhat depleted Carolina team, history repeated again, for the 52nd time.

Lompoc Record
UNC continues Clemson's woes in Chapel Hill
ESPN - 6 hours ago
Despite a double-digit deficit, UNC continued Clemson's woes -- this time in 2OTs -- in Chapel Hill. Never is a long time, but after the way Clemson lost at ...
UNC outlasts Clemson Baltimore Sun
North Carolina Tops Clemson in Double-OT The Associated Press
Clemson collapses, loses in double OT, rewrites history Charleston Post Courier

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Expanded Zebra Stats

Ever been convinced that the Zebra's have it out for your favorite team? Well here's the proof. We have compiled conference won-loss records and statistics sorted by referee for each team. The stats are posted at:

Just click on the tab for your favorite team and come up with your own verdict.

A couple of trends that stick out... Home teams are only winning 16.7% of the time when Brian Dorsey or Tony Greene show up. So far, the biggest homer is John Cahill with home teams winning 83.3% of the games he works. Ted Valentine is warming up just in case the General decides to resume his coaching career in the ACC. So far Ted has been involved in eight technical fouls, followed closely by Bernard Clinton who has been involved in 6... Interestingly, four of Clinton's technicals have been called against the Hokies who are 0-3 when he works.

Other than horrible shooting nights, anyone care to guess what Carolina's two home losses have in common? Jamie Luckie worked both games. Wolfpack fans are happy to see Gary Maxwell and Raymond Styons. The Pack has a 2-0 record when they work... Brian Kersey and Sean Hull, not so much, with the Pack is 0-2 when they work.

ACC Hoops Feb 9-10

Does Clemson have a shot at breaking their 0-for Chapel Hill streak? They were impressive at UVa, but I don't think the Heels will roll over and play dead for them. Things were interesting down in Death Valley with Ty Lawson in the lineup... without him, who knows. For the Heels to keep the streak going, someone other than number 50 will need to show up on offense. If Hansbrough can hit that mid-range jumper he's been workin on and then start passing to the post, look out.

Mid-Term Grades

Halfway through conference play... it's time to send out some progress reports.

Duke: A+
No post players? No Problem, just play better D and outscore everyone. The Blue Devils have the league’s best scoring defense at 71.6 points per game. All those folks who thought that Coach K was spreading himself too thin by coaching the national team forgot to factor in what he could learn from other coaches. Duke is now playing more of an international game with their reliance on the drive and pitch out for the three.

Carolina: B-
How can you be disappointed with a 6-2 record? Well let’s just say it’s a shaky 6-2 record. The Heels easily could have been 3-5 if they had not caught some breaks against Clemson, Ga Tech and FSU. This is not a great defensive team, as evidenced by their league high 78.4 points allowed per game. Their high-powered offense, outstanding rebound margin and some guy wearing # 50 have gotten them to second place. If forced into a half-court game, they are vulnerable, especially if Ty Lawson is not at full-strength.

Clemson: B+
Everyone thinks of Clemson as a run and gun team, but surprisingly they have the league’s second best scoring defense. The Tigers did a good job of getting to five wins despite the injures they’ve suffered. Clemson can punish you down low and kill you from three point land. Unless the wheels come off of the wagon, look for the Tigers to go dancing for the first time in a decade.

Maryland: B++
True road warriors posting a 3-1 road record during the first half of conference play. Especially impressive was the road win in Chapel Hill. The Terps boast the league’s best assist to turnover ratio, while holding their conference opponents to a league-best 41.3 % from the field.

Va Tech: C
Smoke, mirrors and wins against teams with a combined record of 13-28 in league play. The Hokies are young, and are averaging a league worst 1.018 points per possession. They also have the league’s lowest assist to turnover ratio and field goal percentage. On the bright side, they do have the league’s second highest rebound margin, but that is not going to be enough to keep them out of the Thursday session at the ACC Tournament.

Ga Tech: B
There’s no place like home… not. The Yellow Jackets are a disappointing 1-3 at the Thriller-Dome. Given 0-3 conference start and the early-season questions at point guard, The Jackets are probably releaved to be at .500. The Jackets boast the leagues best field goal percentage and 49.3% while holding their opponents to 29.3 % beyond the arc. The Bad news for the Jackets is the poor non-conference record that leaves them in a bind when it comes to tournament selections

NC State: B-
Talk about questions at point guard, for the second straight year injuries have made Pack vulnerable at Coach Lowe’s former position. It is starting to appear that the Pack is overcoming its chemistry problems, and JJ Hickson is just an absolute freak in the post. State is a league best 41.4% from beyond the arc, but they will need to improve on their defense, rebounding and turnovers to challenge for a first round bye at the ACC tournament and get off af the bubble.

Boston College: C-
Had it not been for the Wake Forest game, BC’s stats would be really ugly. The Eagles opponents are attempting twelve more field goals a game than the Eagles are. Adding to the Eagles’ woes are the league worst 15.9 offensive rebounds allowed per game.

Wake Forest: C-
There is still no D in W-A-K-E F-O-R-E-S-T. The scary thing is that they are improved defensively from last year. Wake has the worst field goal percent defense in the league at 48.2 %, but they have a ton of upside with a young and very talented line-up. Leave it to Wake Forest to find a star player from Wyoming of all places… Seems like that center they found down on the Islands a few years ago turned out to be pretty good. If the Deacs can figure out how to win on the road and rein Ish Smith in a bit, they could be one of those teams no one wants to see in March… question is will their post-season games be on CBS or ESPN?

Florida State: D
Is Leonard Hamilton writing a book on how to win lots of games and not make it to the NCAA’s? At least last year the ‘Noles were a bubble team. FSU needs to improve on their .66 assist to turnover ratio and league worst -5.1 rebound margin to have any shot at making it to the dance.

Miami: D-
As goes Jack McClinton, so go the ‘Canes. Miami is allowing their opponents to a league worst 40.7% from beyond the arc. Combine that with their opponents getting to the line 5 more times per game and you have a recipe for a long season… again.

Virginia: F
Wow, what can you say? I would give an incomplete, but that would be too king. I hate it for Sean Singletary. Players who stick around for their senior are supposed to be rewarded, not tortured. The Cavaliers are shooting a league worst 40.4% from the field. The poor shooting combined with lack of an inside presence, only 1.3 blocks per game?!, will combine to make Sean Singletary’s senior season one to forget.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Wow, what a tough business

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Multiple reports from Baton Rouge media say that LSU has fired Head Basketball Coach John Brady.

University officials have not confirmed Brady's been fired, but have called an afternoon news conference.

Brady took the Tigers to the Final 4 two years ago, but this season has compiled a record of just 8 wins and 13 losses amid a series of injuries. In the SEC Brady has only one win this season along with six losses.

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Monday, February 4, 2008

ACC Hoop Feb 5-7

Rumor has it there’s a big game on Wednesday night in Chapel Hill… anytime Bill Packer and Dick Vitale are working the same game, it’s got to be big. Carolina will give Duke big match up problems in the post, but if Ty Lawson is unable to go, Duke’s ball pressure is going to give the Heels all sorts of trouble. With Lawson in the lineup, the Heels have the league’s best assist-to-turnover ratio. Duke on the other hand is allowing the league’s lowest assist to turnover ratio.

As much as we like to fuss about the officiating and the big home-court advantage in the ACC, the statistics may surprise you. Through 41 games, Home teams are only shooting 1.58 more free throws per game that the visitors. On average, home teams are scoring 5.28 more points than their opponents. So far, Brian Dorsey Tony Greene are bad news for home teams with the visitors winning 80% of the games worked by these officials. However, Mike Kitts is the kiss of death for home teams who are winless in the 3 games he has worked. On the other hand, be happy if Brian Kersey or Raymond Styons shows up to work one of you home games. Through seven conference games, the home teams are winning 83% of the time when Kersey works and through four conference games, the home team is undefeated when Styons works. The summary of officiating stats is available here.

(right-cick on links to open in another window)

The General Hangs it Up...

Bob Knight announces his immediate resignation as head coach at Texas Tech

From the Associated Press
Bob Knight resigned Monday as coach at Texas Tech and his son, Pat, will
take over the program.

Chris Cook, a spokesman for athletic director Gerald Myers, confirmed the resignation, which was first reported by the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

Bob Knight has 902 career wins, more than any coach in the history of Division I men's basketball. Win No. 900 came last month against Texas A&M. The Red Raiders are 12-8 this season… more

Love him or hate him, Bob Knight's total of 902 wins speaks for itself. Although he was often ripped for his behavior, treatment of players and of officials, I feel that the coaching profession needs more coaches like Knight than some of today's media darlings. During a time period when most coaches compromised their principles, Knight never wavered in his demand that his players perform in the classroom as well as on the basketball court.

I recall how upset he was with John Feinstein over his portrayal of Knight in “A Season on The Brink.” Ironically I thought the Knight was a maniac until I read the book. Feinstein’s insights into Knight’s unwavering principles gave me a respect for the coach that I never thought possible. Was he always right? Of course not. The harsh treatment of his players is legendary. However, I feel much of the harsh treatment was out of his great concern that his players always strive for excellence. To this day, the vast majority of his players revere the man. I wish Coach Knight well in his retirement.

By my count, Coach K is 108 victories behind Coach Knight. Assuming Duke’s continued excellence on the court, he should pass Knight in about four years.

Charmed in Raleigh, Lawson and Wednesday, Single(tary) win

It's hard to say a team with a losing league record is living a charmed life, but State fans have to admit, a lot of fortune has broken their way this year. It started with a very improbably win against Villanova and the last second foul call. Then there was Miami and Gavin Grants last second interception, and now a rebound slam at the buzzer by Big Ben. You'd like to say Sidney Lowe can really coach in the close ones, and maybe he can, but these kinds of things sometimes have a way of evening out. Let's hope this is just the breaks we were owed from years ago, and not fickle fortune that will bite us later in the year.

Ty Lawson went down with a high ankle sprain Sunday, putting his play for Wednesday's game hosting Duke in question. It looked bad and you have to think he won't be a factor. That is a real disappointment for most of us, hoping to see two powerhouses battle Wednesday. With Quentin Thomas running the point, Carolina had to go to OT to beat FSU yesterday. That isn't a knock against Q, but he's not Lawson. Of course, how many times have we seen a team down a key guy come out and blow away their rival, who maybe gets a little too relaxed because of a missing star.

The 2 biggest surprises of the year, maybe besides NC State going from top 20 pre-season pick to hoping to play themselves onto the bubble, has to be in the state of Virginia. Virginia Tech beat rival UVA in OT yesterday to stand alone in 3rd place. It is so easy to forget about Seth's team up there. They don't get enough TV yet, and they are frankly, stuck out in the middle of nowhere. And you've got to feel a little bad for Sean Singletary. He wasn't ready for the NBA, and needed to come back, but you sure thought they'd be better at this point in the year than 1-6 with sole possession of last place in the league.

Back to Wednesday. Duke visits Carolina at 9pm. For those who didn't know, Dick Vitale has missed most of this basketball season. I heard him early in the year and thought he just didn't sound quite right. Turns out he had lesions on his vocal cords. He's had surgery, and a long silent period, but is coming back for this game. We won't see him in this area, as we get Raycom, but welcome back Dick.