The skinny Archive

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Hello, goodbye Cole Anthony; leads Heels with 34 points

Cole Anthony, we hardly knew ye. If any North Carolina fans thought the highly regarded freshman might stay for two years, they don’t now after Anthony torched Notre Dame for 34 points, the most ever by a player in his Carolina debut, en route to a 76-65 Tar Heel win. The home opener wasn’t easy though as Carolina trailed the Irish with 13 minutes to play. That’s when Anthony took over the game with everyone in light blue’s approval. Anthony drilled a three from the top of the key to tie the score at 46-all and less than a minute […]

Cole Anthony, we hardly knew ye. If any North Carolina fans thought the highly regarded freshman might stay for two years, they don’t now after Anthony torched Notre Dame for 34 points, the most ever by a player in his Carolina debut, en route to a 76-65 Tar Heel win.

The home opener wasn’t easy though as Carolina trailed the Irish with 13 minutes to play. That’s when Anthony took over the game with everyone in light blue’s approval.

Anthony drilled a three from the top of the key to tie the score at 46-all and less than a minute later popped in a jumper off a screen to put the Tar Heels on top for good.

A 22-6 run over five minutes of play, highlighted by 11 Anthony points and a big three by Andrew Platek from the right wing, allowed the Heels to take control of the game. Platek also delivered a fast break alley-oop pass to freshman Armando Bacot, who dunked it for a 65-52 lead with just over eight minutes to go.

The largest lead of the game came at 73-57 with four minutes left after back-to-back threes by Anthony.

“Cole was pretty impressive in the second half,” UNC coach Roy Williams said nonetheless lamenting that he can’t be the only player to make a shot and get a rebound.

“We have to have other guys to step up,” he added.

Junior Garrison Brooks, the only returning starter, scored 10 points and added nine rebounds in 39 minutes of play but Coach Williams said he “didn’t have a great game.” He was the only other Tar Heel in double figures.

Anthony bested Rashad McCant’s 28 first-game points and is the first Tar Heel freshman to score at least 30 points and haul in at least 10 rebounds since Tyler Hansbrough had 40 points and 10 rebounds against Georgia Tech in 2006.

Anthony said it was “an honor” to be part of Tar Heel lore but he added that “it’s a long season and we have a lot more work to do.”

He was upset that he turned the ball over four times and that he didn’t defend as well as he could.

No Tar Heel defended much late in the first half when Notre Dame went on a 12-2 run over less than three minutes’ time to go up 28-23. While the Heels led by as many as nine in the first half, they trailed the Irish 31-30 at the break.

Prentiss Hubb led the Fighting Irish with 22 points.

It was the first time the Tar Heels started a season with a conference game since 1967. The 1-0 Tar Heels travel to UNC-Wilmington Friday night.

For more on the game, along with a box score, please click here.

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UNC basketball won’t look the same but results could be very similar

With eight new faces on the UNC basketball team for the 2019-2020 season, who knows what’s going to happen? Coach Roy Williams certainly re-loaded in the offseason with grad transfers and top recruits but will the players – new and old – gel into a cohesive team by March? That’s the mystery. The talent is there to win an ACC regular season title, an ACC tournament title and an NCAA tournament title but with so much youth and pieced-together parts, it would seem unlikely that the Heels can pull it off. Of course, when the Tar Heels lost seniors Luke […]

With eight new faces on the UNC basketball team for the 2019-2020 season, who knows what’s going to happen? Coach Roy Williams certainly re-loaded in the offseason with grad transfers and top recruits but will the players – new and old – gel into a cohesive team by March? That’s the mystery.

The talent is there to win an ACC regular season title, an ACC tournament title and an NCAA tournament title but with so much youth and pieced-together parts, it would seem unlikely that the Heels can pull it off.

Of course, when the Tar Heels lost seniors Luke Maye, Cam Johnson and Kenny Williams, and transfer Seventh Woods, along with early NBA defectors Coby White and Nassir Little (Little should have stayed), Carolina fans were bracing for a below-par season.

But when the Tar Heels landed a pair of highly-regarded transfers in scoring guard Christian Keeling and forward Justin Pierce, the pieces started to fall into place.
The addition of likely one-and-dones Cole Anthony, a magician who plays guard, and Armando Bacot, a big demolition man who plays forward, set the Carolina universe ablaze at the possibilities.

Only 6-foot-9 junior Garrison Brooks returns as a starter and significant scorer from last year’s team so the additions were imperative to compete with the Dukes and Louisvilles of the world. While he led the team in field goal percentage and scored in double figures 12 times, Brooks is primarily a defensive stopper.

Expectations of Anthony, Carolina’s new point guard, as a scorer are through the roof (or the ceiling). There is talk about potentially not just being the nation’s freshman of the year but the player of the year. That’s pretty high praise but also something that cannot be relied upon.

With leadership from Brooks and senior Brandon Robinson and progression from guard/swing man Leaky Black, this could be a special group.

There were chemistry issues back in the day when Jerry Stackhouse and Rasheed Wallace stepped into significant roles as freshman for a team that was laden with upper classmen who saw their minutes diminish. That shouldn’t happen with this team as only Brooks played significant minutes last year.

While chemistry will ultimately tell the tale for the Tar Heels, the difference may well be Leaky Black. The 6-8 sophomore showed so much promise last season even though he missed 13 games with a sprained ankle. He has the size, speed and tools to do just about anything on the court. He can score (including threes), rebound, dish the ball off, steal, play tough defense and do it all with panache. While some compare him to Theo Pinson, if he stays four years, I suspect he will be better because of his ability to score.

With five players 6-9 or taller, Coach Williams figures to see a lot of his scoring coming in the paint this season. Brooks and Bacot figure to be the primary beneficiaries of the emphasis while 6-11 Sterling Manley (if he can get healthy) and 6-10 Brandon Huffman getting in on the action as well.

In addition to Manley’s health woes, Robinson has been slowed with a preseason injury as have solid, if not spectacular, junior guard Andrew Platek, four-star freshman guard Anthony Harris and three-star freshman guard Jeremiah Francis. All could be contributors before the end of the season.

Per usual, Carolina has a tough non-conference schedule (Gonzaga, UCLA, Ohio State, Alabama and Iowa State or Michigan) and will no doubt lose two or threes games before the ACC schedule gets into full swing in January as the players settle into their roles.

Duke, even without Zion, is considered the top team in the ACC per the basketball writers. Last year’s national champion Virginia Cavaliers lose a lot of personnel and don’t figure to be a top three team. UNC, Duke and Louisville should be the top three teams.

This mysterious UNC team, full of unknowns, could very well be a contender come ACC Tournament and NCAA Tournament time. I’m predicting a 32-8 campaign with the Tar Heels falling in the ACC Tournament final and catching fire in the NCAA Tournament before bowing out, barely, in the national semi-finals.

While this will be a season like no other for Carolina, with all the changes in personnel, it should be another highly satisfying one for Tar Heel fans.

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USA collegiate team tops Cuba 5-1 in Hickory

HICKORY, N.C. – The USA Baseball Collegiate National Team began its 15-game schedule Tuesday with a 5-1 win over Cuba at LP Frans Stadium. Team USA opened a 1-0 lead in the 8th Annual USA vs. Cuba International Friendship Series, a five-game series played in five consecutive days around North Carolina. “Right now we’re in a good place,” said head coach Dan McDonnell (Louisville). “Pitching and defense can say a lot about your team. Back-to-back nights we’ve done a good job.” Team USA was efficient on the mound with Max Meyer (Minnesota) starting and going four scoreless innings before Chris […]

HICKORY, N.C. – The USA Baseball Collegiate National Team began its 15-game schedule Tuesday with a 5-1 win over Cuba at LP Frans Stadium. Team USA opened a 1-0 lead in the 8th Annual USA vs. Cuba International Friendship Series, a five-game series played in five consecutive days around North Carolina.

“Right now we’re in a good place,” said head coach Dan McDonnell (Louisville). “Pitching and defense can say a lot about your team. Back-to-back nights we’ve done a good job.”

Team USA was efficient on the mound with Max Meyer (Minnesota) starting and going four scoreless innings before Chris McMahon (Miami) worked the next five innings and allowed just one run for the save. Meyer allowed only two hits and struck out four, while McMahon allowed three hits and fanned three.

Tanner Allen (Mississippi State) led Team USA offensively with a 2-for-2 day and an RBI. Heston Kjerstad (Arkansas) drove in two and Austin Martin (Vanderbilt) and Luke Waddell (Georgia Tech) both had RBI singles.

The Collegiate National Team continues the 8th Annual USA vs. Cuba International Friendship Series at 7:05 p.m. on Wednesday at BB&T Ballpark in Charlotte.

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Newly selected USA Baseball collegiate national team faces Cuba

USA Baseball, whose facility is in Cary, unveiled the 26-man 2019 Collegiate National Team roster on Monday, highlighted by the return of Patrick Bailey (NC State), Max Meyer (Minnesota) and Spencer Torkelson (Arizona State) to Team USA for the second consecutive year. The Collegiate National Team will host a five-game international friendship series against Cuba before traveling to Taiwan and Japan next week. Six alumni of USA Baseball will return to the stars and stripes in 2019. Bailey is making his third appearance with Team USA after competing with the 2018 Collegiate National Team and winning a gold medal at […]

USA Baseball, whose facility is in Cary, unveiled the 26-man 2019 Collegiate National Team roster on Monday, highlighted by the return of Patrick Bailey (NC State), Max Meyer (Minnesota) and Spencer Torkelson (Arizona State) to Team USA for the second consecutive year. The Collegiate National Team will host a five-game international friendship series against Cuba before traveling to Taiwan and Japan next week.

Six alumni of USA Baseball will return to the stars and stripes in 2019. Bailey is making his third appearance with Team USA after competing with the 2018 Collegiate National Team and winning a gold medal at the COPABE Pan Am “AAA” Championships with the 2016 18U National Team. Logan Allen (FIU) was also a member of that gold medal-winning 2016 18U National Team, while Doug Nikhazy (Ole Miss) will don the red, white and blue again in 2019 after participating with the 15U National Team in 2014. Cole Wilcox (Georgia) won a World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-18 Baseball World Cup gold medal with the 2017 18U National Team.

Nikhazy also participated in the USA Baseball 14U National Team Development Program (NTDP) in 2013. The NTDP offers athletes an opportunity to connect with USA Baseball staff to better prepare for future national team experience.

Team USA will host the 8th Annual USA vs. Cuba International Friendship Series July 2-6. The five-game series will kick off at LP Frans Stadium in Hickory, North Carolina, followed by games at BB&T Ballpark in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Durham Bulls Athletic Park (DBAP) in Durham, North Carolina, and the National Training Complex. The series will then return to the DBAP for the finale on July 6.

The Collegiate National Team leaves for Taiwan on July 7. Team USA will travel to Taichung, Taiwan, for the 19th USA vs. Chinese Taipei International Friendship Series from July 9-12 and close out its summer schedule with the 43rd USA vs. Japan Collegiate All-Star Series, which will take place in various cities throughout Japan from July 16-21.

Louisville Head Coach Dan McDonnell was named the manager of the 2019 Collegiate National Team in July 2018. He will be joined on staff by assistant coaches Mark Kingston (South Carolina) and Tony Skole (The Citadel), pitching coach Greg Moore (Saint Mary’s) and bench coach Dave Turgeon (Pittsburgh Pirates).

Three of the 8th USA vs. Cuba International Friendship Series games will be streamed live on USABaseball.com (July 3, July 4, July 6) and the remaining domestic Collegiate National Team games will be broadcasted on USA Baseball’s Facebook channel. Stay tuned to USABaseball.com, and follow @USABaseballCNT on Twitter, for the latest information.

The 26-man roster is as follows. The roster will be cut to 24 for the series in Japan. Please note that all roster spots are subject to change.

2019 Collegiate National Team Roster
(Name; Position; Hometown; School)

Andrew Abbott; LHP; Halifax, Va.; Virginia
Logan Allen; LHP; Deltona, Fla.; FIU
Tanner Allen; IF/OF; Theodore, Ala.; Mississippi State
Patrick Bailey; C; Greensboro, N.C.; NC State
Tyler Brown; RHP; Ashland, Ohio; Vanderbilt
Alec Burleson; LHP/1B; Denver, N.C.; ECU
Burl Carraway; LHP; College Station, Texas; Dallas Baptist U.
Cade Cavalli; RHP; Bixby, Okla.; Oklahoma
Colton Cowser; OF; Cypress, Texas; Sam Houston State
Jeff Criswell, RHP, Portage, Mich.; Michigan
Reid Detmers; LHP; Chatham, Ill.; Louisville
Justin Foscue; IF/OF; Huntsville, Ala.; Mississippi State
Nick Frasso; RHP; Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.; Loyola Marymount
Heston Kjerstad; OF; Amarillo, Texas; Arkansas
Asa Lacy; LHP; Kerrville, Texas; Texas A&M
Nick Loftin; IF; Corpus Christi, Texas; Baylor
Austin Martin; UTL; Jacksonville, Fla.; Vanderbilt
Chris McMahon; RHP; West Chester, Penn.; Miami
Max Meyer; RHP/OF; Woodbury, Minn.; Minnesota
Garrett Mitchell; OF; Orange, Calif.; UCLA
Doug Nikhazy; LHP/OF; Windermere, Fla.; Ole Miss
Casey Opitz; C; Centennial, Colo.; Arkansas
Spencer Torkelson; IF; Petaluma, Calif.; Arizona State
Luke Waddell; INF; Loveland, Ohio; Georgia Tech
Cole Wilcox; RHP; Chickamauga, Ga.; Georgia
Alika Williams; IF; San Diego, Calif.; Arizona State

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Seniors lead Heels over young Zion-less Duke

North Carolina seniors Luke Maye and Cam Johnson led the Tar Heels to an 88-72 upset at No. 1 Duke, who played all but 36 seconds without super freshman Zion Williamson. (2/20) Without the injured Williamson clogging up the paint, Carolina went inside for points, especially after the Heels missed their first 12 three-point shots of the game. Maye and Johnson combined for 30 of Carolina’s 42 first half points with only three coming from beyond the arc. In fact, the Heels had a 34-18 edge in points in the paint en route to a 42-32 halftime lead. Just 36 […]

North Carolina seniors Luke Maye and Cam Johnson led the Tar Heels to an 88-72 upset at No. 1 Duke, who played all but 36 seconds without super freshman Zion Williamson. (2/20)

Without the injured Williamson clogging up the paint, Carolina went inside for points, especially after the Heels missed their first 12 three-point shots of the game.

Maye and Johnson combined for 30 of Carolina’s 42 first half points with only three coming from beyond the arc. In fact, the Heels had a 34-18 edge in points in the paint en route to a 42-32 halftime lead.

Just 36 seconds into the game, Williamson slipped while dribbling across the free throw line, with his foot splitting right through the shoe. The knee took the brunt of the twisting fall.

“Let’s be honest,” UNC coach Roy Williams said. “When the big fella goes out of the game it changes a lot for them. I hated that – it was a huge blow for them.”

Coach Mike Krzyzewski agreed, saying that they had prepared for the game based on having Williamson, who is expected to be picked first in the NBA draft, in the game.

“He and R.J. (Barrett) are the key guys,” Coach K said. “It’s tough trying to figure it out while playing an outstanding team.”

Carolina took even more control of the game in the first few minutes of the second half. A 17-5 run in the first four minutes had the Heels in command by 22 points at 59-37. Johnson scored eight during that run but was shaken up and out of the game for a couple of minutes after taking a hard fall on a fastbreak layup.

Duke stayed in it by hitting four of its next five shots, including two three-pointers and an old-fashioned three-point play by Cam Reddish to cut the deficit to 15.

Even with an effective pressure defense that rattled UNC freshman point guard Coby White, who turned the ball over six times, the Devils never got closer than 13 the rest of the way.

One key stretch, led by backup point guard Seventh Woods, kept the Devils at bay. Woods hit a drive-by layup, hit a free throw, went coast to coast for a layup and drew a charge. After UNC’s Brandon Robinson’s pass to Garrison Brooks for a bucket, the Heels were in command by 19 points at 76-57 with 6:35 left.

But it was Maye, who scored 30 points and hauled in 15 rebounds, and Johnson, who had 26 points, that received the most praise from both coaches who each independently called the veteran leaders “sensational.”

Maye was aggressive inside while Johnson hit mid-range jumpers and drove to the hoop to create buckets. The only other Tar Heel in double figures was Brooks, who scored 14 points and collected eight rebounds.

The lead moves the Tar Heels into a three-way tie with Duke and Virginia for first place in the ACC.

Carolina improves to 21-5 and 11-2 in the conference while Duke, led by freshman R.J. Barrett’s 33 points, falls to 23-3 overall and 11-2 in the ACC.

The Tar Heels host Florida State Saturday afternoon while Duke plays at Syracuse Saturday evening.

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

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Fun, fun, fun as Tar Heels team wins by 50

It was a team win, a team blowout. Fourteen North Carolina players scored, with six in double figures, as the Tar Heels wore out Tennessee Tech 108-58 in Chapel Hill. With the game in control after a 17-2 run that put the Heels up by 25 in the first half, the largest cheers came late in the game with the subs in. Freshman Leaky Blake drained a three from the left corner to get the Heels within a point of the century mark. And then Brandon Huffman slammed home a one-handed dunk to make it 101-54 to send the crowd […]

It was a team win, a team blowout. Fourteen North Carolina players scored, with six in double figures, as the Tar Heels wore out Tennessee Tech 108-58 in Chapel Hill.

With the game in control after a 17-2 run that put the Heels up by 25 in the first half, the largest cheers came late in the game with the subs in. Freshman Leaky Blake drained a three from the left corner to get the Heels within a point of the century mark. And then Brandon Huffman slammed home a one-handed dunk to make it 101-54 to send the crowd into a frenzy.

Local Bojangles stores offer a buy one, get one free biscuit on days after the Tar Heels score 100 points. For some unknown reason, that really fires up the fans. They also like to see rarely used players score. Walker Miller scored on a half hook and K.J. Smith, son of Tar Heel great Kenny Smith, went in for a fastbreak dunk to finish up the scoring.

The player of the game may have been a player who wasn’t one of the six in double figures. Seventh Woods scored just seven but he dished out eight assists and didn’t commit an turnover.

“We’ve got a lot of guys who can score,” Woods said. “If I get them the ball, I have a good chance at getting assists.”

It was the no turnovers that fired up UNC coach Roy Williams, who mentioned it early in his news conference.

But Coach Williams expected a big win. “We’re more blessed so we should win this kind of game,” he said of the game against 0-4 Golden Eagles. “But I’m pleased with the way we played.”

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

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Tar Heels click early to put away Stanford

North Carolina, already up by double figures early, hit 14 of its last 18 shots in the first half to build a 26-point halftime lead and went on to coast to a 90-72 win over Stanford at home. (11/12) The Tar Heels never trailed as they got off to a 7-0 early with Kenny Williams, Carolina’s senior sharpshooter who had not scored in the first two games, hitting a three-point shot. After Carolina freshman Nassir Little sank a 15-footer to put the Heels up 22-11 niway through the half, Stanford never got the deficit to single digits. Up 33-20, UNC […]

North Carolina, already up by double figures early, hit 14 of its last 18 shots in the first half to build a 26-point halftime lead and went on to coast to a 90-72 win over Stanford at home. (11/12)

The Tar Heels never trailed as they got off to a 7-0 early with Kenny Williams, Carolina’s senior sharpshooter who had not scored in the first two games, hitting a three-point shot.

After Carolina freshman Nassir Little sank a 15-footer to put the Heels up 22-11 niway through the half, Stanford never got the deficit to single digits.

Up 33-20, UNC went on a 19-6 run to close out the half in control 52-26. The run was highlighted by a high lob by Seventh Woods that was thrown in powerfully by Little and a nifty give-and-go where Cam Johnson scored on a pass from Williams.

The Heels shot a blistering 60 percent in the first half while holding a cold-shooting Cardinal to 35 percent. But in the second half, the shooting reversed as Carolina managed just 39 percent while Stanford shot 57 percent.

The second half, which saw Stanford outscore Carolina by eight points, left a bad taste in UNC coach Roy Williams mouth.

For more on that and for a box score, please click here.

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Big first inning helps push Tar Heels to the College World Series

CHAPEL HILL, NC – For the first time since 2013, North Carolina will go to Omaha to compete in the College World Series after defeating Stetson 7-5 in the Super Regionals.

The Tar Heels jumped on the Hatters with four runs on six hits in the first inning. Cody Roberts started the scoring with a bloop double to left that plated Kyle Datris. Then Brandon Riley pulled a double to right field to score Roberts. Zack Gahagan singled to left center to score Riley. Carolina increased the lead to 4-0 as Ashton McGee, a lefty, hit an opposite field double to drive in Ike Freeman, who had singled earlier.

Stetson’s Jonathan Meola recorded his first homerun of the season with a blast to right to draw the Hatters to 4-1 after two innings.

Carolina came right back with two runs during its next at bat. McGee singled in Jackson Hesterlee while Brandon Mortorano hit a sacrifice fly to score McGee later in the inning to make it 6-1.

Stetson starter Jack Perkins, who had an 11-2 record coming in, gave up nine hits and five runs in less than three innings.

The Hatters made a run in the bottom of the third as Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the Year Brooks Wilson singled off UNC first baseman Michael Busch’s glove to drive in two, making it 6-3. But Gahagan ended the rally with a nifty play on a ball hit up the middle where he threw out the runner at first base.

Tar Heels celebrate but they want more meat. (UNC Sports Information photo by Jeffrey Camarati.)

Tar Heels celebrate but they want more meat. (UNC Sports Information photo by Jeffrey Camarati.)

The Heels added a security run in the sixth, making it 7-3, when Roberts executed a suicide squeeze bunt to bring in a run.

Andrew MacNeil hit a line drive homer to right off UNC reliever Brett Daniels to draw the Hatters closer at 7-4.

With two out and one on in the ninth, the game seemed in control but after Mike Spooner singled in a run to make it 7-5, UNC coach Mike Fox went to the bullpen for closer Josh Hiatt, who pitched nearly three innings Friday.

Jacob Koos singled for Stetson to bring the winning run to the plate. Wilson ripped one to center field but Riley snagged the ball with his back on the wall to secure the victory.

Caden O’Brien, who relieved starter Gianluca Dalatri, picked up the win to move to 6-0. The Tar Heels improve to 43-18 and will begin play next weekend in the World Series against Minnesota or Oregon State. Stetson, which was trying to force a Game 3 in the Super Regional, ends its season at 48-13.

This will be the 11th time in program history, and the seventh under Coach Mike Fox, that the Tar Heels will be headed to the College World Series.

Box Score

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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.