The skinny Archive

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Duke, with more experience and offensive targets, expects to be much better than a year ago

Despite coming off a 4-8 season that produced just one ACC win, Duke feels like it can win the Coastal Division but before verbalizing that goal, Coach David Cutcliffe wants the team to tell him its purpose – and the players have until July 30 to come up with an answer. “I want to know what their purpose is and then we’ll get specific about the goal,” Coach Cutcliffe said at the ACC Football Kickoff event in Charlotte Friday. “If you don’t have a real purpose, you’re not going to reach goals.” He gave the example of being stranded in […]

Despite coming off a 4-8 season that produced just one ACC win, Duke feels like it can win the Coastal Division but before verbalizing that goal, Coach David Cutcliffe wants the team to tell him its purpose – and the players have until July 30 to come up with an answer.

“I want to know what their purpose is and then we’ll get specific about the goal,” Coach Cutcliffe said at the ACC Football Kickoff event in Charlotte Friday. “If you don’t have a real purpose, you’re not going to reach goals.”

He gave the example of being stranded in the middle of the ocean with a goal to get to dry land. “If your purpose isn’t first to live, you don’t get there,” he said. “Those are the people who die.”

The 2013 team that won the Coastal Division came to Cutcliffe and told him their purpose was to prove that you can win big at an institution that has high academic and behavior standards.

“They said, ‘we want to make believers out of people that you can do every little thing right and win big. How mature is that? That’s what you want to hear as a coach,” he said. “By how they worked on the field, you could tell they meant it. You knew we had a chance to be a championship football team.”

This year’s version of the Blue Devils better prepare an answer because he’s asking them the question when they get together next on July 30.

Duke QB Daniel Jones.

Duke QB Daniel Jones.

Quarterback Daniel Jones, who took over when starter Thomas Sirk went down with a season-ending injury prior to the first game, admitted that he doesn’t know if he can define the purpose right now. But he does know this team has been working hard in the offseason and is enjoying it.

“You see it in how people are working,” Jones said. “This team is unique in that they are enjoying the process of working toward the season. We’re not going out and working because we feel we have to do it. Everybody is enjoying doing it.”

Cutcliffe might not want to talk about goals yet but Jones, a sophomore who was considered a quiet leader last season, isn’t shy about it.

“We feel like we have an opportunity to play some good football and be at the top of the division,” he said. “It’s the goal of every team to win the division and be at the top of the ACC. That’s a big emphasis of ours. We certainly feel like we’re winning each game on our schedule.”

Duke is considered deeper and more talented at skill positions than it has been in a while, and the Coastal Division is expected to be more wide open this season, but expectations still aren’t high for the Blue Devils.

“We were hurt by what occurred a year ago,” Cutcliffe said. “We should have a little bit of a chip on our shoulder. It’s ok to operate that way at times. But right now the most important expectations are ours and what we believe. We’ve raised expectations about ourselves…

“When we do as well as we should, and that starts with me, we’re going to have a good football team.”

Duke has seven returning starters on offense including receivers Johnathan Lloyd and T.J. Rahming Jr. But there are other receivers expected to make an impact including Chris Taylor (29 catches a year ago), Quay Chambers (15 catches), Aaron Young (11 catches), tight end Daniel Helm (21 catches) and tight end Davis Koppenhaver (17 catches). Add in redshirt freshman Scott Bracey, who Jones said has been impressive during informal workouts, and you have a lot of weapons.

“Advancing down the field passing is important to us this year,” Jones said. “Being an explosive offense with down-the-field passing is an emphasis of ours. We have the speed to do it. The protection is there. It’s more about timing than anything else.”

Cutcliffe said he believes his team will put more points on the board this year with Jones starting his second season under center. “He’s got the arm. He’s got all the tools,” he said. “He knows this is a very gifted group of fast receivers.”

He said sometimes last year Jones was just “chunking the ball” down the field. “There has to be a purpose in the deep ball,” Cutcliffe said echoing the “purpose” theme. “We played some effective offense last season but we didn’t have enough explosive plays. We emphasized that in the spring.”

Jones emphasized it during informal summer workouts as well, saying that he hopes the deep ball will open up the running game.

Cutcliffe said he likes his running backs, especially his returning starter at tailback. “I’m anxious to see Shaun Wilson,” he said. “I feel strongly about his approach and his talent. The biggest consistency we have to have is the mechanics of blocking.”

The running game is better right now than it was a year ago, Cutcliffe said. “We have a quarterback that can beat you running and a group of backs I’m excited about,” he said. “Our best chance to be a contender is to run the football at a high level.”

But Cutcliffe knows it all starts at the quarterback position and he’s impressed with what he’s seen from Jones. He said Jones has been “significantly different” this season and that even offensive linemen have come to him touting what Jones is doing in the offseason.

“In conversations we have football wise, it’s like talking to a different guy,” Cutcliffe said adding that Jones has what he calls “a functional understanding” of what to do on the field. “I probably shouldn’t reveal this – I had Peyton (Manning) have some conversations with him at camp and report back to me about what he thought and he was all thumbs up.”

After an underwhelming season a year ago, team expectations are all thumbs up as well but goals will have to wait until the players prove to Coach Cutliffe that they have a purpose.

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Doeren expecting, not predicting big things from his experienced and deep Wolfpack team

A lot of times when teams are loaded with talented experience, coaches like to downplay it but not N.C. State’s Dave Doeren. In his fifth year at the helm of the Wolfpack, he’s proud that his team is considered a contender due to experience and depth. When he was in his first and second years at State, he said players came because they saw an opportunity. “They saw a chance to play early,” Doeren said at the ACC Football Kickoff in Charlotte. “We told them they’d have to earn playing time but that the lines are short. We had good […]

A lot of times when teams are loaded with talented experience, coaches like to downplay it but not N.C. State’s Dave Doeren. In his fifth year at the helm of the Wolfpack, he’s proud that his team is considered a contender due to experience and depth.

When he was in his first and second years at State, he said players came because they saw an opportunity. “They saw a chance to play early,” Doeren said at the ACC Football Kickoff in Charlotte. “We told them they’d have to earn playing time but that the lines are short. We had good players (when I came) but we didn’t have any depth. They competed and played and now four years later they’re bigger, stronger, faster and more mature. They are battle tested.”

He said that he coaches in order to go through that journey with players and see what kind of man they become.

“I ‘unentitled’ them when I recruit them,” Doeren said. “I tell them the truth. If you want to come play for me at N.C. State, here’s how you’re going to be treated. I’m going to love you but I’m going to push you. I’m not going to baby you. You’re going to earn what you get and if you don’t, don’t be disgruntled about it. If you don’t want to be in that environment, then don’t come to N.C. State because we want kids that want to earn it.”

In four years under Doeren, the Wolfpack has yet to have a winning ACC record, despite three straight overall winning seasons. Expectations are high this year as the defense returns eight senior starters and the offense returns eight starters, including three seniors and five juniors.

“Like any job, it helps to have experience,” Doeren said. “Just like you, when you’re in your third year on the job, you’re better than the first year. At 22, Bradley Chubb is a lot tougher dude than he was at 18.”

Chubb, a senior defensive end, led the team with 22 tackles for losses and 10.5 sacks last season. He had an opportunity to go pro but decided to come back to better himself. “I thought another year with my teammates would bring out potential in me that nobody has seen,” Chubb said. “People saying take the money aren’t really in your corner. They’re going to ask for the money later in life.”

He said that he came to college to play the best players in the country and he’s doing that in the ACC. The Wolfpack’s bitter loss at Clemson, which turned out to be the nation’s best team last year, sticks in his craw.

At times, he avoided questions about it saying, “I can’t even remember last year” but other times he admitted that it’s always on the mind. “I try not to think about the close calls last year,” he said. “When you go through hard times with people – tough losses, hard work – standing strong through it all is a motivating factor and builds camaraderie… We’re just excited to get back on the field to show how good we can be.”

Coach Doeren said that obstacles and adversities have made the Wolfpack a more cohesive group. But he won’t predict victories.

“On any given day you can beat anybody,” he said. “I’m not going to sit here and predict because we were close in two games (last year). We’ve got to do it all over again and so do they.”

Doeren admitted that there is a gap between N.C. State and Clemson. “They have a tremendously larger budget than we do. They have different things they can showcase in recruiting than we do. They have a lot more personnel working than we do. So, there’s a gap. Do we have a good football team with great experience?, Yeah we do. So, we’ll see where it all goes on a Saturday,” he said.

Doeren looks to close out games that were losses last year, like the heartbreaker at Clemson. “You take moments like that and pin point how important that one play can be,” he said. “You carry that one play theme in everything you do.”

Despite the learning experiences and depth, N.C. State still must get by the likes of Clemson, Florida State and Louisville, which has the returning Heisman Trophy winner in QB Lamar Jackson.

“Nobody was better than the ACC last year on the field. We’ll see this year,” Doeren said.

Pack Notes: Coach Doeren said the players on his team that have the best football IQ are Shawn Boone (safety), Airius Moore (linebacker), Germaine Pratt (linebacker), Ryan Finley (QB) and Cole Cook (tight end).

The position battle he’s most excited to watch comes at receiver. Steph Louis and Kelvin Harmon are returning starters and may very well see the majority of action. But other receivers, whether in the slot or spread out, who will see action include Jakobi Meyers, Gavin Locklear and Maurice Trowell.

Also two “new” faces that Doeren said he’s excited to see added to the receiving corps are Jumichael Ramos and C.J. Riley. “Jumichael was a really good player his freshman year but he had a bad sophomore season and then, as a junior, he had some tough injuries. He was redshirted last season. It would be a great story for him to have a good year as a senior.”

He said Riley was the guy he was most excited to see going into last season but he tore his ACL in the summer and saw no action. He’s now a healthy redshirt freshman. “He’s 6-foot-5 and ran a 4.59. Just add him to the stable of guys,” he said.

The Wolfpack certainly has options.

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Swofford takes a victory lap after perhaps ACC’s best season ever

Despite off the field concerns hovering over some Atlantic Coast Conference schools, ACC Commissioner John Swofford took a victory lap of sorts in addressing the media at the ACC Football Kickoff event in Charlotte. And why not? ACC teams won the NCAA football and basketball championships. The Heisman Trophy winner and runner-up came from the ACC. And generally, the ACC did extremely well against non-conference foes in most all sports. In addition, the league’s graduation rate for the last school year was 89.3 percent, which is five points ahead of the national average and ahead of the other four major […]

Despite off the field concerns hovering over some Atlantic Coast Conference schools, ACC Commissioner John Swofford took a victory lap of sorts in addressing the media at the ACC Football Kickoff event in Charlotte.

And why not? ACC teams won the NCAA football and basketball championships. The Heisman Trophy winner and runner-up came from the ACC. And generally, the ACC did extremely well against non-conference foes in most all sports.

In addition, the league’s graduation rate for the last school year was 89.3 percent, which is five points ahead of the national average and ahead of the other four major conferences.

“It was certainly one of the league’s most successful years and quite possibly its most successful year,” Swofford said.

Specific to football, Swofford said ACC teams arguably played the toughest non-conference schedule in the country. Around 2010, Swofford said the league made a move “to step up to the plate” and play tougher schedules.

But he said you can’t live in the past in college athletics.

This coming season, ACC teams will play a combined 115 games against teams that went to bowl games in 2016.

“The conference is deeper than it’s ever been,” Swofford said. “There are more good teams and it’s tougher to win an ACC football title than it’s ever been.”

Swofford pointed out that Clemson’s two toughest games en route to the NCAA title game last season came at home against ACC foes N.C. State and Pitt. He said that certainly “tells you something about what the ACC is today.”

With plans in the works with ESPN for the ACC Network, set to start in two years, and with all the changes in league membership over recent years, Swofford said it’s time to “take a deep breath” rather than take on additional big goals.

“You need to make sure you’re not veering away from what your mission is and what your value system is,” he said. “You have to make sure you continue to be who you are and who you want to be.”

He did say the league needs to continue to develop a culture of trust with various partners, including the other major NCAA conferences.

He said he’d like to see new rivalries develop but that those things happen over time. That might be particularly important because the growth of the league has made it so that old rivals N.C. State and Duke, for instance, are only scheduled to play once every six seasons.

Swofford said there is no easy solution to that problem as the schools have to look at what’s best for the league as a whole and the majority of the schools have voted on the current alignment and scheduling.

While he said the league will continue to look at the issue, he doesn’t anticipate any changes in the near future.

He said the league has plenty of time to bond with each other and TV partners, and continue to work together to make things better as agreements keep them all together through the 2035-36 season.

If Notre Dame, an ACC member in every sport except football, ever decides to join a league in football, by contract, it has to be the ACC, at least through that 2035-36 season.

Upon questioning, Swofford only touched briefly on sensitive topics like the Louisville sex scandal, the UNC academic saga and the controversy surrounding HB2.

He said when there are controversies at a school, the other schools sit down and talk to the school about what happened and what they are doing to correct it. “Usually it’s a few people who make bad decisions, not a whole institution,” he said.

Swofford defended the ACC’s decision to return to North Carolina for the ACC championship game and events such as this week’s ACC Kickoff by saying that the repeal of HB2 “took us back to where the state was before HB2… It’s as simple as that.”

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Are all NC sports journalists far left on HB2 and its repeal?

hb2capitalsports
It’s just amazing that apparently not one sports journalist in North Carolina is openly taking a “conservative” or even “moderate” position on HB2. Until now.

Am I glad HB2 was repealed? Yes, because it has sucked the air out of the sports scene in North Carolina, because the topic is getting old and, frankly, because it shouldn’t be necessarily.

Yet, the sports media – whether talk radio hosts or print media – won’t take yes to repeal as an answer. Most are happy that sporting events will apparently come back to the state. But they aren’t happy because the repeal legislation doesn’t allow anybody to use any restroom they feel like using.

One sports journalist, who often falls on the leftist side of issues (should we even know if a sports journalist is left or right?), wrote, “The terrible, bitter taste of our state-sanctioned bigotry remains, even if it’s fainter than it was.”

One sports talk show host squarely blamed the GOP legislators for “knee-jerk” and “hate-filled” legislation. First, is that a sports talk show or a political show? When one caller wanted to talk about what he said, the host reminded the caller that it’s a sports show, not a political show. Oh, yeah?

If someone is going to delve into the politics, and what they supposedly care about is making sure North Carolina doesn’t lose all-star games and NCAA tournament games, then they should allow discussion on the topic. And they should do enough homework to know that the Charlotte City Council started the issue by passing a ordinance that would impose on private businesses who could enter their various private facilities. If Charlotte wants to issue an ordinance regarding their own facilities to make a political point, go for it, but they – in a self-important way – were trying to push a new social construct on everyone.

The ordinance allowed transgender people to use either the men’s or women’s bathroom, depending on the gender with which they identify. Presumably, they could also go in the bathroom of the sex to which they are most attracted. It’s simply up to people to decide which bathroom they want to enter.

Not only was that an overreach as far as demands on private businesses, but it was an overreach on their authority. In the state of North Carolina, the General Assembly has the ultimate power over municipalities. And they wielded that power with HB2.

Over the last year, we have been hit with story after story – including from the sports media – about how events were being taken from North Carolina because of meanies in Raleigh, not Charlotte. We were told it was about the economics and how we couldn’t allow so many dollars to leave (or never come to) North Carolina. This repeal, as one Democrat leader said, simply takes us back to where we were before HB2 was enacted a year ago. Well, a year ago, the dollars were staying in North Carolina and there was no huge uproar about transgender people being disallowed to use restrooms.

This was a manufactured issue – a solution in search of a problem. There is a bigger problem in North Carolina with sex predators in bathrooms than there is with transgender people being thrown from restrooms. (The ironic thing is that many times if one is truly transgender, you and I won’t know when someone with female or male parts are using the restroom we’re in.)

The issue was couched as being anti-transgender when it was really more pro-safety. But the left, with willing accomplices in the media – including the sports media, played it as being against those who are transgender. If you are going to keep men out of women’s bathrooms, locker rooms and showers, there has to be some guideline – and that’s what HB2 tried to do but it was heavy handed and went too far on other aspects of the issue (more on that in a minute). But the part about people using the restrooms, lockers and showers corresponding to the sex on their birth certificate received majority support in North Carolina. A survey after the bill was signed showed that 46 percent of the NC public strongly agreed that transgender people should use the bathroom that matches the gender on their birth certificate and another 10 percent somewhat agreed with that for a 56 percent majority – compared to only 34 percent who strongly or somewhat disagreed.

Initially the main pushback on HB2 was that it also did not allow North Carolina citizens to bring discrimination claims to state courts. This went too far and many supporters understood that. Since the studies supported the bathroom part and did not approve of the discrimination claims part, supporters of HB2 naively thought by modifying the legislation to restore the right to sue in state courts, the backlash would end. The change overwhelmingly passed the House and the Senate, and then-Gov. McCrory signed it last summer.

But you wouldn’t know it from all the hateful things the sports talk show hosts and sports print journalists – and others of course – continued to say about the stupidity and various phobias of those who enacted the legislation and who supported the legislation. It’s amusing how tolerant and open-minded these guys are until it comes to certain issues and certain people.

After the March 30 repeal, a sports columnist wrote, “It’s not clear whether what happened Thursday was sufficient in the eyes of the NCAA for North Carolina to be included in the selection process again, but it shouldn’t be.” If this takes us back to before the Charlotte ordinance, as most agree it does, then how is it not enough? Were artists and sporting events relocating from North Carolina prior to HB2? Did he ever write about how North Carolina was discriminatory and shouldn’t have NCAA sporting events located here prior to the Charlotte ordinance and HB2?

One sports talk show host went on and on about how the legislators didn’t bother to call sports venues to see if they ever have problems or complaints about transgender people using the restrooms. He evidently didn’t see the irony that Charlotte enacted its ordinance without bothering to ask if there were a problem with transgender people being denied access to bathrooms.

With the Charlotte ordinance, anyone can say they are transgender and gain access to areas that women in particular feel is private. This political correctness would stifle people from alerting authorities that a man had entered a woman’s bathroom. I have accidently entered a woman’s room before – and I was sober. I apologized and quickly exited. But the looks on the faces were shock and horror. Did they have a phobia or bigotry, or did they have a genuine feeling of violation or fear for their safety?

Supporters of Charlotte’s ordinance believe those fears are overblown yet they believe there are evidently transgender people getting beaten up in bathrooms. There are a lot more sexual predators in North Carolina than there are transgender people getting assaulted in bathrooms.

Left-leaning studies say that as many as 37,000 transgender people live in North Carolina and that as many as 33 percent transition to the other sex – don’t just live as the other sex. That means a third of transgender persons have or could officially change their birth certificate and not be affected by HB2. That leaves fewer than 25,000 transgender persons in the state affected. The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation documents about 25,000 sex predators and not all offenders are included in the report because of different registration requirements and because some are pending.

We fear hurting someone’s feelings by not openly welcoming anyone that wants to enter any restroom at the expense of the safety of our children. The media tried to turn it around, saying that transgender people don’t assault people in bathrooms. Maybe that’s true but that’s not the point. The point is that men, in particular, do assault people in bathrooms and spy on people in locker rooms, and they would have easier access to those facilities.

The left argues that there are already laws on the books against assault in bathrooms and that would remain. True, but there are also laws on the books for beating up people for whatever reason and that will remain.

I’m not a Democrat or a Republican, and I don’t particularly like either party. I didn’t like HB2 but I didn’t like what Charlotte did either. I’m glad they are both gone and, unlike any other sports journalist I’ve heard or read, I’m glad there is a moratorium until 2020 on municipalities coming up with similar anti-discrimination ordinances. Give it a rest. Will there be a wave of discrimination now? No. This is about politics and those who want to be as important as those who fought for women’s rights and civil rights. But, again, to a lot of people, this is about men not being allowed in the women’s restroom, locker rooms and showers. We should also be understanding of their rights to privacy.

A male friend of mine was chaperoning some school event recently. While he was using a urinal, a teen girl from the class who identifies as a boy but is clearly a female, came into the bathroom, stood there facing his way and waited for the stall. After a minute or two, she gave up the wait and exited the bathroom. My friend felt paralyzed in front of the urinal for longer than he would have been there and moving forward more than he would have. Should he have been comfortable? Does that make him a bad person? Does that make him a bigot? Does he have privacy rights? He didn’t make a stink, so to speak, about it but he is not happy about it either. People who identify as the opposite sex, need to be understanding and have some common sense as well.

The issue isn’t as cut-and-dried as the politically correct, leftist sports journalists make it out to be. This is something that is going to be decided by the Supreme Court, not the Charlotte City Council, the NCAA, the NBA or leftist sports journalists.

The public overwhelmingly wants this to be over and I think most are happy for things to go back to the way they were before HB2 and before the Charlotte ordinance. Maybe a lesson to be learned for sports journalists – myself included – is that people want sports as an escape from politics not as a weapon to make people adhere to their way of thinking.

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Jackson’s shot is back in Heels blowout win

Since he was named the ACC’s top player, UNC’s Justin Jackson had gone cold, hitting only a third of his shots and missing nearly all of his three pointers. In the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Jackson re-discovered his shooting touch, draining five threes as the Heels whipped Texas Southern 103-64. Jackson scored 19 of his team-high 21 in the first half when the Tar Heels were putting the game away early. Trailing 10-8, North Carolina went on a 16-0 run in fewer than four minutes to take control. During the stretch, Jackson hit his first three of the […]

Since he was named the ACC’s top player, UNC’s Justin Jackson had gone cold, hitting only a third of his shots and missing nearly all of his three pointers. In the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Jackson re-discovered his shooting touch, draining five threes as the Heels whipped Texas Southern 103-64.

Jackson scored 19 of his team-high 21 in the first half when the Tar Heels were putting the game away early.

Trailing 10-8, North Carolina went on a 16-0 run in fewer than four minutes to take control. During the stretch, Jackson hit his first three of the game.

“We got off to a good start,” UNC coach Roy Williams said. “That big run was good for us.”

But the biggest takeaway from the game? Seeing Jackson put the ball through the hoop, Coach Williams said. He said he had a conversation with Jackson about how he was putting too much pressure on himself.

Other than outrebounding the much shorter Texas Southern team 54-27, the other key for the Tar Heels was simply playing defense without fouling, Coach Williams said. Carolina went to the line 10 more times than the opponent.

Offensively, six Tar Heels scored in double figures. After Jackson’s 21 points, Isaiah Hicks scored 17 points in only 17 minutes. Kennedy Meeks added 13 while Tony Bradley chipped in 12. Both Nate Britt and Luke Maye, who led the Heels with nine rebounds, tallied 10 points.

A scary moment in the game came when UNC’s Joel Berry twisted an ankle and had to leave for the lockerroom. He returned later and played a couple of minutes before bowing out to the subs. It wasn’t a stellar game for Berry who hit only one of eight shots but the one he hit was a three at the first-half buzzer that gave UNC its largest lead of the first half at 52-27.

Carolina’s largest lead of the game came late when seldom-used sub Kanler Coker, a senior, tightroped the baseline for a reverse layup that sent the bench into a frenzy and gave the Heels a 101-61 lead.

The Tar Heels, now 28-7, play Arkansas in the second round of the tournament in Greenville, S.C.

For a box score and more commentary on the game, please click here.

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Heels fall apart without Berry in Duke win

If you’re a North Carolina fan, about the only good news after the Tar Heels blew a 13-point lead to fall to Duke 93-83 in the ACC Tournament is that Carolina is going into the NCAA Tournament angry. Carolina was wearing out the Blue Devils by getting the back down low, outscoring Duke 32-10 in the paint in the first half, getting out to a 46-33 lead before settling for a 49-42 halftime advantage. But, ahead 56-48 in the second half, UNC lost its point guard leader, Joel Berry, who went to the bench with fourth foul at the 15:04 […]

If you’re a North Carolina fan, about the only good news after the Tar Heels blew a 13-point lead to fall to Duke 93-83 in the ACC Tournament is that Carolina is going into the NCAA Tournament angry.

Carolina was wearing out the Blue Devils by getting the back down low, outscoring Duke 32-10 in the paint in the first half, getting out to a 46-33 lead before settling for a 49-42 halftime advantage.

But, ahead 56-48 in the second half, UNC lost its point guard leader, Joel Berry, who went to the bench with fourth foul at the 15:04 mark.

Over the next minute it appeared the Tar Heels might withstand the loss as they scored five straight to go up by 13 again at 61-48 but then Duke went on a huge run that pretty much lasted the rest of the game.

Duke, using the three-point shot, outscored the Tar Heels 29-9 the rest of the time that Berry sat on the bench. A four-point play started the run when Duke’s Luke Kennard hit one from the corner and was fouled by Nate Britt with jut under 13 minutes to play.

The Devils went on to hit three more threes during the run, including one from Frank Jackson who gave Duke’s their first lead of the game at 66-65 with 8:58 to play.

Duke’s pressure defense seemed to rattled the Heels without Berry in the game. Carolina managed to tie it at 70 with 6:29 left on an old-fashioned three-point play by Nate Britt. But after a Frank Jackson bank shot put the Devils ahead, Carolina never led again.

Berry didn’t get back into the game until Duke had built a seven-point lead with less than five minutes to go. Carolina never got close than five again as Berry couldn’t provide a lift after sitting for 10 minutes of game time.

Besides Duke having 10 threes, including five from Grayson Allen, compared to just four threes for Carolina, the biggest difference came at the free throw line. The Devils hit 33 of 36 free throws. That’s 19 more points that Duke got at line.

Jayson Tatum led the Duke attack with 24 points while Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks, Carolina big men, led Carolina with 29 points each.

Once the Tar Heels stopped feasting on Duke inside, they needed some outside shooting and they didn’t get it. Justin Jackson was just six of 22 from the field, including just three of 11 from the three-point line.

Carolina falls to 27-7 overall while Duke improves to 26-8 and advances to the ACC Tournament championship game.

For a box score, video highlights and more commentary on the game, please click here.

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Dueling All-ACC teams­: Kennedy Meeks has t­o like media’s picks ­better

The Atlantic Coast Confer­ence schools recently­ voted unanimously to­ no longer recognize ­the basketball media’s All-ACC basketball­ teams as the officia­l awards. Instead, th­e official All-ACC te­am is voted on by a g­roup made up of the c­oach of each team and­ three others – a mem­ber of the radio crew­ and two other media ­who cover the team. The Atlan­tic Coast Sports Medi­a Association members had determined the official ACC all-conference team since the league’s formation in 1953-54. ­ Even though the ACSMA is offi­cially recognized by ­the ACC as the repres­entative body of medi­a members who cover t­he […]

The Atlantic Coast Confer­ence schools recently­ voted unanimously to­ no longer recognize ­the basketball media’s All-ACC basketball­ teams as the officia­l awards. Instead, th­e official All-ACC te­am is voted on by a g­roup made up of the c­oach of each team and­ three others – a mem­ber of the radio crew­ and two other media ­who cover the team.

The Atlan­tic Coast Sports Medi­a Association members had determined the official ACC all-conference team since the league’s formation in 1953-54.
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Even though the ACSMA is offi­cially recognized by ­the ACC as the repres­entative body of medi­a members who cover t­he ACC, its All-ACC t­eams are no longer re­cognized – although U­NC’s Kennedy Meeks mu­st wish they still were­.
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Meeks was voted to th­e third team of the A­CSMA’s All-ACC squad ­but did not get any h­onors under the new f­ormat.
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Of course, perhaps th­e newer members of th­e ACC think that’s a ­good thing. The new s­election process was ­chosen as a way to co­mbat what some school­s think is a geograph­ical bias of media co­ncentrated in North C­arolina and Virginia.
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Well, perhaps those m­ost inundated in the ­ACC would make better­ judgements about All­-ACC teams. Media in ­New York are exposed ­more to pro sports an­d focus more on it th­an they do the ACC. T­hose in North Carolin­a and Virginia, and e­ven South Carolina, e­at and breathe ACC ba­sketball.
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I know of far-away me­dia outlets who somet­imes don’t send repor­ters to ACC sporting events in ­North Carolina, inste­ad relying on local m­edia or freelance rep­orters.
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Would someone who cov­ers Syracuse – and Sy­racuse only – really ­have a better feel fo­r the players in the ­ACC than even someone­ like me who has foll­owed the league my en­tire life – keeping u­p mostly with Duke, N­orth Carolina, NC Sta­te and Wake Forest?
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Ironically, both All-­ACC squads (first, se­cond and third teams)­ had seven players fr­om schools in the sta­tes of North Carolina­ and Virginia. So, I’­m not sure the geogra­phical bias came into­ play.
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The only difference i­n the seven players w­as that the writers and other media had UNC’s Kenned­y Meeks on the third ­team while the coache­s, et. al. team had Du­ke’s Jayson Tatum ins­tead.
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Of those two, I thoug­ht Meeks deserved the­ spot. Not only did h­is team win the ACC r­egular season crown a­nd not only is he the­ upper classman of th­e two, but – except f­or scoring average (M­eeks scored more poin­ts), Meeks was the st­atistical winner as w­ell.
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Meeks had the fifth m­ost double-doubles in­ the league with the ­four ahead of him all­ making All-ACC. Meek­s was fourth in the A­CC in rebounding (sec­ond in offensive rebo­unding and ninth in d­efensive rebounding) ­and was second in the­ league in field goal­ percentage. Tatum wa­sn’t in the top 10 in­ any category and was­ voted as only the fo­urth best freshman by­ the writers and the ­second best freshman ­by the new method of ­voters.
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Another anomaly in th­e now “official” voti­ng is Duke’s Luke Ken­nard had the most ­overall points but Ju­stin Jackson won ­the Player of the Yea­r honors. Jackson was­ also the ACSMA Playe­r of the Year and he ­had the same number o­f points as Kennard –­ which makes more sen­se. Also, in separate­ POY voting, Kennard ­was actually closer t­o Jackson in the writ­ers’ poll.
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Strangely, Zach LeDay­ was named the Sixth ­Man of the Year by th­e media and didn’t ge­t one vote in the off­icial voting. Seth Al­len, LeDay’s Virginia­ Tech teammate, won t­he honors in the offi­cial voting. Both usu­ally came off the ben­ch and both are good ­choices. But LeDay wa­s 14th in the league ­in scoring and 13th i­n rebounding while Al­len, though a good th­ree-point shooter, is­n’t listed anywhere n­ear the top in any ca­tegory. Perhaps this ­was just a definition­ of “Sixth man” thing­.
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I actually have few c­omplaints with the re­sults of the official­ All-ACC team. The fi­rst team is identical­ to the writers’ team­ – Jackson, Kennard, ­Collins, Colson and M­itchell.
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Of the 15 players on ­the first, second and­ third team All-ACC, ­my ballot had 13 of t­hem (albeit in a diff­erent order). The onl­y players I left off ­were Tatum and Davon ­Reed of Miami. I chos­e Jamel Artis of Pittsburgh instea­d. After all, Artis was sixth in the l­eague in scoring and ­ninth in the league i­n field goal percentage. Reed, thoug­h deserving, was 17th­ in the league in sco­ring and seventh in t­he league in three-po­int shooting percenta­ge.
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So, as far as the pub­lic is concerned, the­ difference in the tw­o All-ACC teams is mi­nimal. But the chance­ of politics coming i­nto play seems to be ­greater with the new ­method where you have­ coaches and home tea­m radio crews involve­d in the selection pr­ocess.
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How else could you ex­plain Jim Larrañaga o­f Miami getting two v­otes for coach of the­ year? He got no votes in the media polling.
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Josh Pastner of Georg­ia Tech ran away with­ coach of the year ho­nors on the official ­All-ACC team but only­ eeked out the honors­ over UNC’s Roy Willi­ams in the media poll­. The latter seems to­ be a better reflecti­on of the season. Wil­liams, if not the coa­ch of the year by vir­tue of winning the ti­tle by a full two gam­es over anybody else ­in the best league in­ basketball, he shoul­d have at least been ­close.
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Perhaps the ACC will ­reconsider the offici­al balloting in the f­uture but, if not, ke­ep a look out for the­ ACSMA’s All-ACC team­s in the future. The ­media’s choices may a­ctually be more accur­ate and reflective of­ the ACC season.
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ACSMA news release­
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ACC Player of the Yea­r Justin Jackson lead­s the 2016-17 Atlanti­c Coast Sports Media ­Association (ACSMA) p­ost-season awards and­ all-conference team ­announced on Sunday.
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Jackson was named on ­20 of 49 ACSMA ballot­s to win the Player o­f the Year award and ­was a unanimous choic­e for the All-ACC fir­st team, along with D­uke sophomore Luke Ke­nnard. Wake Forest so­phomore finished seco­nd in the Player of t­he Year voting, with ­14 votes. He also mad­e the All-ACC first t­eam, along with Notre­ Dame junior Bonzie C­olson and Louisville ­sophomore Donovan Mit­chell.
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Georgia Tech’s Josh P­astner won Coach of t­he Year honors in his­ first season in the ­ACC, edging out North­ Carolina’s Roy Willi­ams, 15 votes to 14. ­Yellow Jackets junior­ Ben Lammers was vote­d Defensive Player of­ the Year, Virginia T­ech’s Zach LeDay was ­named Sixth Man of th­e Year and Collins wa­s voted Most Improved­ Player.
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Jackson, a junior fro­m Tomball, TX, finish­ed seventh in the ACC­ in scoring, averagin­g 18.3 points per gam­e. He was second in t­he conference with 2.­66 3-pointers per gam­e, in helping to lead­ the Tar Heels to the­ir 31st ACC regular s­eason championship.
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Kennard, a sophomore ­from Franklin, OH, le­d the ACC in scoring,­ averaging 20.1 point­s per game. He also f­inished in the top te­n in several other ca­tegories, including f­ield goal percentage ­(sixth), 3-point fiel­d goal percentage (se­cond), free throw per­centage (fourth).
Collins, a sophomore ­from Ft. Lauderdale, ­FL, led the conferenc­e in field goal perce­ntage (.623), finishe­d second in reboundin­g (9.8) and third in ­scoring (19.1 ppg). H­e was the main reason­ the Demon Deacons wo­n seven more ACC game­s this season than la­st.
Colson, a junior from­ New Bedford, MA, led­ the ACC in reboundin­g (10.4 rpg) and fini­shed 10th in scoring ­(17.0 ppg). He was al­so a top ten producer­ in field goal percen­tage (fourth – .523),­ free throw percentag­e (ninth – .807) and ­blocked shots (sixth ­– 1.42 pg).
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Mitchell, a sophomore­ from Greenwich, CT, ­led the league in ste­als (2.13) and finish­ed 12th in scoring (1­5.9 ppg).
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NC State freshman Den­nis Smith, Jr., the A­CC’s assists leader (­6.26, to go along wit­h 18.5 ppg) leads the­ second team. He’s jo­ined by Pittsburgh se­nior Michael Young (1­9.9 PPG, 6.8 rpg), Fl­orida State sophomore­ Dwayne Bacon (16.9 p­pg), North Carolina j­unior Joel Berry, II ­(15.1 ppg) and Clemso­n redshirt senior Jar­on Blossongame (17.3 ppg, 6.2 ppg).
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The third team consis­ts of Georgia Tech ju­nior Ben Lammers (14.­6 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 3.32 ­bpg), Virginia senior­ London Perrantes (3.­9 apg), Syracuse grad­uate transfer Andrew ­White, III (17.9 ppg)­, North Carolina seni­or Kennedy Meeks (9.1­ rpg) and Boston Coll­ege sophomore Jerome ­Robinson (8.7 ppg).
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Thirteen of the 15 AC­C schools are represe­nted by at least one ­player on the first, ­second and third team­s. Only regular seaso­n champion North Caro­lina has more than on­e player (three, one ­on each team).
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Lammers was the leadi­ng vote-getter for De­fensive Player of the­ Year as well as the ­All-Defensive Team. H­e’s joined on that te­am by Collins, Colson­, Mitchell and Virgin­ia junior Isaiah Wilk­ins.
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Smith is only the sec­ond NC State player t­o win the Freshman of­ the Year award and t­he first since Hawkey­e Whitney shared the ­award with Duke’s Mik­e Gminski in 1977. He­ received 41 of 49 po­ssible votes to easil­y outdistance Duke’s ­Jayson Tatum. He and ­Florida State’s Jonat­han Isaac are joined ­on the All-Freshman T­eam by Tatum, Georgia­ Tech’s Josh Okogie a­nd Miami’s Bruce Brow­n.
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ACC news release­
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Atlantic Coast Confer­ence Player of the Ye­ar Justin Jackson of ­North Carolina leads ­the official 2016-17 ­season award winners ­and All-ACC basketbal­l team announced by t­he league on Sunday.
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Jackson, a junior fro­m Tomball, Texas, was­ the choice of 24 mem­bers of the voting pa­nel (15 ACC head coac­hes, selected media) ­that cast ballots for­ this year’s postseas­on honors. Wake Fores­t’s John Collins plac­ed second with 15 vot­es.
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The voting panel sele­cted NC State’s Denni­s Smith Jr. as the AC­C Freshman of the Yea­r. ­Georgia Tech’s Josh P­astner was voted the ­ACC Coach of the Year­, while Virginia Tech­’s Seth Allen earned ­recognition as Sixth ­Man of the Year. Wake­ Forest’s Collins was­ voted the ACC’s Most­ Improved Player, and­ Georgia Tech junior ­Ben Lammers received ­the nod as the ACC De­fensive Player of the­ Year.
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Jackson and Collins a­re joined on the All-­ACC first team by Duk­e sophomore Luke Kenn­ard, Notre Dame junio­r Bonzie Colson and L­ouisville sophomore D­onovan Mitchell. Jack­son, Kennard and Cols­on are also among the­ 15 college players t­hat were named to the­ John R. Wooden Award­ national ballot on S­aturday.
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The 6-foot-8 Jackson ­is seventh among ACC ­scorers at 18.3 point­s per game, and his 8­5 field goals from 3-­point range rank seco­nd in the conference. ­Jackson also averaged­ 4.7 rebounds and 2.6­ assists per game whi­le helping lead the T­ar Heels to a 26-6 ov­erall record, the ACC­ regular-season title­ and the No. 1 seed f­or this week’s New Yo­rk Life ACC Tournamen­t at Brooklyn’s Barcl­ays Center.
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Jackson has posted 16­ games this season of­ 20-or-more points an­d has led UNC in scor­ing in 13 of the last­ 19 games. He has con­nected on at least fi­ve 3-point shots in f­ive games this season­ and has 11 games wit­h at least four made ­3-pointers.
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Duke’s Kennard is the­ only unanimous selec­tion to this year’s A­ll-ACC first team and­ leads the conference­ in scoring at 20.1 p­oints per game. The F­ranklin, Ohio, sophom­ore ranks second amon­g ACC players in 3-po­int field goal percen­tage (.450), sixth in­ overall field goals ­percentage (.504) and­ fourth in free-throw­ percentage (.847). H­e has scored in doubl­e figures in 30 of Du­ke’s 31 game, eclipsi­ng the 20-point mark ­a team-high 16 times ­and registering three­ games of 30-or-more ­points.
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Wake Forest’s Collins­ leads the ACC in fie­ld goal percentage (.­623), ranks third amo­ng conference scorers­ with 19.1 points per­ game and is second i­n rebounding with 9.8­ per contest. After a­veraging 7.3 points a­nd 3.9 rebounds while­ starting one game as­ a freshman in 2015-1­6, Collins is a major­ reason the Demon Dea­cons (18-12) enter th­is year’s New York Li­fe ACC Tournament on ­a high note and with ­a strong case for NCA­A Tournament consider­ation. The West Palm ­Beach, Florida, sopho­more has been a model­ of consistency, scor­ing 20-or-more points­ in 12 consecutive ga­mes late in the seaso­n – tops in the ACC t­his year and the most­ at Wake Forest in mo­re than four decades.­ He has posted double­-doubles in 15 games.
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Notre Dame’s Colson l­eads all ACC players ­with 18 double-double­s this season, includ­ing 10 in conference ­play. The 6-foot-5 ju­nior from New Bedford­, Massachusetts, lead­s the league in rebou­nding at 10.4 per gam­e and is the 10th lea­ding scorer at 17.0 p­oints per game. In le­ading the Fighting Ir­ish to a 23-8 overall­ mark and a No. 3 ACC­ Tournament seed, Col­son has posted seven ­20-point, 10-rebound ­performances this yea­r. All seven of those­ performances have co­me against Power 5 co­nference teams, inclu­ding four ACC opponen­ts.
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Louisville’s Mitchell­ averages 15.9 points­ per game while leadi­ng the ACC in steals ­with 2.13 per outing,­ and the sophomore ha­s been at his best du­ring the stretch run ­of the regular season­. Over the last 18 ga­mes, Mitchell is aver­aging 19.2 points per­ game and has made 55­-of-132 3-point field­ goal attempts (.417)­. He has scored in do­uble figures 23 times­ this season. The Gre­enwich, Connecticut, ­native has scored at ­least 16 points in 10­ of his last 11 games­ and has nine 20-poin­t games this season.
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After being overwhelm­ingly chosen as the A­CC preseason Freshman­ of the Year by the l­eague’s media members­ last October, NC Sta­te’s Smith met expect­ations by ranking fif­th among ACC scorers ­with 18.5 points per ­game and leading the league in assists wit­h 6.3 per contest. Sm­ith has also register­ed 60 steals in 31 ga­mes (1.94 per game), ­second among ACC play­ers in that category.­ The Fayetteville, No­rth Carolina, native ­became the only playe­r in conference histo­ry to register two tr­iple-doubles in the s­ame season and has sc­ored at least 30 poin­ts in an ACC-best fou­r games.
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Smith is joined on th­e All-ACC second team­ by Florida State’s D­wayne Bacon (16.9 ppg­, 3.8 rpg), Georgia T­ech’s Lammers (14.6 p­pg, 9.2 rpg), North C­arolina’s Joel Berry ­II (15.1 ppg, 3.7 apg­) and Virginia’s Lond­on Perrantes (12.8 pp­g, 3.9 apg).
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Pitt’s Michael Young ­(19.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg), ­Clemson’s Jaron Bloss­omgame (17.3 ppg, 6.2­ rpg), Syracuse’s And­rew White III (17.9 p­pg, 4.6 rpg), Miami’s­ Davon Reed (15.3 ppg­, 4.8 rpg) and Duke’s­ Jayson Tatum (16.0 p­pg, 7.3 rpg) comprise­ the All-ACC third te­am.
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Georgia Tech’s Pastne­r, who won 167 games ­in his seven seasons ­at head coach at Memp­his, was chosen the A­CC Coach of the Year ­in his first year wit­h the Yellow Jackets.­ Georgia Tech began t­he season having lost­ its top four scorers­ from the last season­’s squad that tied fo­r 11th place in the A­CC and was tabbed for­ a next-to-last finis­h in the league’s pre­season media poll. In­stead, Pastner’s team­ will open play in th­e ACC Tournament on T­uesday following a 17­-win regular season t­hat includes victorie­s over nationally-ran­ked conference oppone­nts North Carolina, F­lorida State and Notr­e Dame.
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Virginia Tech’s Allen­ has come off the ben­ch in 24 of the 29 ga­mes in which he has a­ppeared, averaging 13­.1 points, 3.3 assist­s and 2.3 rebounds wh­ile playing close to ­29 minutes per contes­t. The redshirt senio­r from Woodbridge, Vi­rginia, has scored in­ double-figures 21 ti­mes and enters the Ne­w York Life ACC Tourn­ament with 20-or-more­ points in three of h­is last seven games. ­Allen played pivotal ­roles in both Virgini­a Tech’s one-point wi­ns over Clemson with ­a big steal and a 3-p­ointer in the final 1­:31 in a road win Jan­. 22 and the game-win­ning shot with 3.8 se­conds left at Blacksb­urg on Feb. 21.
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Georgia Tech’s Lammer­s leads the ACC and r­anks third nationally­ with 3.32 blocked sh­ots per game (103 in ­31 games). The 6-foot­-10 native of San Ant­onio, Texas, is third­ among ACC rebounders­, with over two-third­s of his 284 total re­bounds coming at the ­defensive end. Lammer­s has also been a rel­iable inside defender­ for the Yellow Jacke­ts, who have limited ­their opponents to a ­collective .398 shoot­ing percentage from t­he floor and 67 point­s per game.
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NC State’s Smith and ­Duke’s Tatum are join­ed on the All-ACC Fre­shman Team by Florida­ State’s Jonathan Isa­ac (12.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg­), Georgia Tech’s Jos­h Okogie (15.5 ppg, 5­.1 rpg) and Boston Co­llege’s Ky Bowman (14­.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg).
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Virginia’s Isaiah Wil­kins, Louisville’s Mi­tchell, Miami’s Reed,­ Florida State’s Xavi­er Rathan-Mayes and D­uke’s Matt Jones join­ Georgia Tech’s Lamme­rs on the 2016-17 All­-ACC Defensive Team.

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CapitalSportsNC.com wins national award for writing

Clifton Barnes, the owner of CapitalSportsNC.com, has won a national award for writing for a series of articles on the website. CapitalSportsNC.com has now won awards four years in a row. The series of articles revolves around former University of North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith won an Award of Excellence from the DC area-based Communications Concepts through its 2016 Awards for Publication Excellence competition. John De Lellis of Communications Concepts says competition was intense as there were more than 1,600 entries with seven winners in the Writing Series category. Barnes was the only winner in the category from North […]

Clifton Barnes, the owner of CapitalSportsNC.com, has won a national award for writing for a series of articles on the website.

CapitalSportsNC.com has now won awards four years in a row.

The series of articles revolves around former University of North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith won an Award of Excellence from the DC area-based Communications Concepts through its 2016 Awards for Publication Excellence competition.

John De Lellis of Communications Concepts says competition was intense as there were more than 1,600 entries with seven winners in the Writing Series category. Barnes was the only winner in the category from North Carolina or the South.

The columns, which appear on Barnes’ sports website CapitalSportsNC.com, address Smith’s life, death and funeral.

Judges appreciated the unique insight Barnes had from when he was a student journalist at UNC and his ability to lead readers through a range of emotions from tears to laughter.

In one column, Barnes told about how Smith was committed to the student body at UNC and how that extended to him as a writer for the student newspaper.

Barnes wrote, “Even though one would think I was a bother as a whipper-snapper budding journalist, Coach Smith took time to answer my questions when he wouldn’t talk to anyone else. He allowed me into practice when he would allow no other journalists. He even let me travel with the team to various games, including the national championship game.”

The winning entries can be accessed by going to http://CapitalSportsNC.com and scrolling down to a section on the left titled “Dean Smith.” Articles from media outlets and sports teams in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area are featured on the website along with videos, tweets and original sports commentary.

Barnes, who has won more than 70 journalism awards, served as director of communications for the N.C. Bar Association from 1987 to 2002 and, before that, was a newspaper writer and editor.

Today he is a freelance writer, editor and Web developer who owns several websites including cb3media.com. In 2016, he completed a book on the University of North Carolina’s Order of the Bell Tower. Barnes is also credited with the idea for the Town of Cary’s Hometown Spirit Award, given each year since 2009 to honor those who promote small town values.

Barnes, a native of Rocky Mount who has lived in Cary since 1996, is a UNC-Chapel Hill journalism and political science grad. Along with his wife Andrea, he raises their 10-year-old son Will Griffin.

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Suspected gang fight halts game in Rocky Mount

With Rocky Mount leading Wilson Hunt 28-14 in a big Homecoming conference game in Rocky Mount, the game was temporarily suspended after a suspected gang fight broke out in the stands. The Gryphons were dominating the game on the ground but Hunt had drawn closer late in the third quarter after a 50-yard TD pass when the fight erupted. Police chased perpetrators across the field during the fight. School administration members were called onto the field. After numerous arrests were made, play resumed with a 90-yard Rocky Mount kickoff return that was called back by a penalty. Then Hunt connected […]

With Rocky Mount leading Wilson Hunt 28-14 in a big Homecoming conference game in Rocky Mount, the game was temporarily suspended after a suspected gang fight broke out in the stands.

The Gryphons were dominating the game on the ground but Hunt had drawn closer late in the third quarter after a 50-yard TD pass when the fight erupted.

Police chased perpetrators across the field during the fight. School administration members were called onto the field.

After numerous arrests were made, play resumed with a 90-yard Rocky Mount kickoff return that was called back by a penalty.

Then Hunt connected on yet another 50-yard TD play to draw to within a score at 28-21 with 10 minutes left in the game.

Despite extra security being brought to the stadium and in the stands, a second fight broke out with about 6 minutes left in the game.

Members of Gang Enforcement were among the security called to the stadium, which was highly populated for the important game.

RM wrapped it up with a 75-yard run with five minutes left although Hunt scored late as the Gryphons won 35-28.

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Canes dealing with more injuries; will start Lack Tuesday

Capitals Hurricanes Hockey

After getting off to an 0-2-0 start, the Carolina Hurricanes are already in catch-up mode and dealing with injuries. …read more

Source:: WRAL