The skinny Archive

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State football not winning yet but making strides

statehelmetOk, NC State didn’t win a football game in ACC play a year ago but there appears to be excitement around the program heading into the 2014 season.

Wolfpack 2nd year coach Dave Doeren said the fans have been “very encouraging” and supportive.

“They want what we want and we want to give ‘em what they want,” Doeren said at the ACC Football Kickoff event Monday in Greensboro. “They were very appreciative of our recruiting efforts. And they came to the spring game and saw our progress. Now we need to go out and play.”

He tempered the enthusiasm a bit by adding that it’s going to take time. “It just is,” he said. “We inherited a team that didn’t have a lot of depth but we’re making a lot of progress – in a lot of areas.”

While rival North Carolina has been taking a beating over academic issues, Doeren is prideful about his team’s academic success and took plenty of time to take about it.

“We had the highest team GPA (a 2.71 grade point average) in the spring that they’ve had in 15 years,” he said adding that it’s the first time in the history of the football program that it hasn’t had a player ineligible going into the summer.”

I didn’t know such stats were kept but that is impressive. “Academically we’ve made a lot of strides,” Doeren said. “We continue to push guys off the field to make those strides. It puts us in a position where we’re not losing players… For instance, we have eight players in post-graduate programs right now, which is great.”

In addition to hiring an additional person to help with academics, the coaches have become very involved on a day-to-day basis, he said. They make sure they are on time for class and generally hold them accountable for academic excellence.

“We get information daily from our academic center and we communicate that information to our athletes and their parents,” Doeren said. “We have a hands-on approach academically with our team. I talk about it a lot – I demand it from them. It’s transparent.”

Doeren said in addition to seeing how much weight they can lift and how many squats they can do, their GPAs are recorded on the wall. “They don’t want to have bad information on the wall. It’s important for them to look good which is part of why we do it,” he said.

Another change this season will be the Wolfpack uniformly, primarily the helmet. “We have a lot of tradition with our uniform and I don’t take that lightly one bit,” Doeren said. “It’s important to respect your tradition. I also know that in today’s world and in recruiting, kids like to have some bling, some flash but I didn’t want it to take away from our tradition.”

The helmet maintains the red, gray and black coloring but not really much white. In addition, a wolf’s eyes peer out the back of the helmet. “It definitely honors the wolf,” Doeren said. “I thought it was a good blend of tradition and flare. Our players loved it.”

New matching uniforms will be coming in soon. Will the wins follow? One thing at a time.

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FSU picked to win ACC title; Duke chosen 2nd in Coastal

accfootballDefending national champion Florida State is the consensus choice to repeat as Atlantic Division champion and defeat Miami in the 10th annual Dr Pepper Atlantic Coast Conference Football Championship Game, according to a poll of media members in attendance at the 2014 ACC Football Kickoff at Grandover Resort.

Reigning Heisman Trophy winner and Walter Camp National Player of the Year Jameis Winston, who led the Seminoles to an unbeaten season and their third national title as a redshirt freshman in 2013, was chosen to repeat as ACC Player of the Year.

Florida State was picked as the likely overall ACC winner on 104 of 112 ballots cast. The Seminoles were picked to finish atop the Atlantic Division by 109 voters and amassed 780 total points. Clemson received the remaining three-first-place votes and placed second with 660. ACC newcomer Louisville placed third at 564, followed by Syracuse (368), NC State (326), Boston College (301) and Wake Forest (136).

Miami’s 26 first-place votes placed third among Coastal Division teams, but the Hurricanes’ 614 total points led overall. Defending division champion Duke received 33 first-place votes and finished with 597 points, followed by Virginia Tech with 571 points and 23 first-place votes. North Carolina was just behind in fourth place with 570 points and 27 first-place votes, followed by Georgia Tech (322 with one first place vote), Pitt (319 with two first-place votes) and Virginia (142).

Winston is one of 15 returning starters for Florida State, which seeks its third straight ACC title. The Seminoles own 14 ACC football championships in 23 seasons as a conference member, tying Clemson for most league titles all-time.

This marks the third time in four years that the Seminoles have led the ACC media preseason voting. Florida State was also voted first in 2011 and 2012, and in each of its first 14 seasons after joining the ACC (1992 through 2005).

Winston led the preseason ACC Player of the Year balloting with 99 votes, followed by Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley with six. Duke wide receiver Jamison Crowder, Miami running back Duke Johnson and Virginia Tech quarterback Brenden Motley received one vote apiece.

Last season saw Winston, of Bessemer, Alabama, become the youngest player to win the Heisman Trophy (19 years, 342 days) and just the second freshman to receive the honor. A dazzling playmaker, he led the Seminoles to a 14-0 record and engineered the game-winning drive in a 34-31 win over Auburn in the 2013 VIZIO BCS National Championship Game.

Named the offensive MVP of the national title game, Winston also received the Davey O’Brien Award and the Manning Award as the nation’s best quarterback after setting national freshman records for passing yards (4,057) and touchdown passed (40) in 2013. His pass efficiency rating of 184.8 set an ACC record and led the nation.

ACC Championship Votes

1. Florida State – 104

2. Clemson – 2

3. Virginia Tech – 2

(4 voters made no selection)

Atlantic Division

(First place votes in parenthesis)

1. Florida State (109) – 780

2. Clemson (3) – 660

3. Louisville – 564

4. Syracuse – 368

5. NC State – 326

6. Boston College – 301

7. Wake Forest – 136

Coastal Division

(First place votes in parenthesis)

1. Miami (26) – 614

2. Duke (33) – 597

3. Virginia Tech (23) – 571

4. North Carolina (27) – 570

5. Georgia Tech (1) – 322

6. Pitt (2) -319

7. Virginia -142

ACC Player of the Year

1. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State – 99

2. Vic Beasley, DE, Clemson – 6

3. Duke Johnson, RB, Miami – 1

4. Jamison Crowder, WR, Duke – 1

5. Brenden Motley, QB, Virginia Tech -1

(4 voters made no selection)

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ACC official says replay, rule changes working well

Doug Rhoads.

Doug Rhoads.

Speaking at the ACC Football Kickoff media event in Greensboro, ACC Coordinator of Officials Doug Rhoads gave statistical backup that goes against conventional wisdom of the average fan.

For one, he says, replays don’t take very long, and two, officials are ultimately getting it right.

Only a little more than one in five replays resulted in an overturned call last season. The game was stopped 210 times in ACC games with the average wait time just a minute and four seconds. “That’s less than any commercial break,” he said.

Rule changes are always a big topic but in even years only changes are made that are considered safety measures. This year there will be an emphasis on hitting with force on or below the knee. There will be a 15-yard penalty but there won’t be any ejections as there were last year for launching head first into a player or hitting above the shoulders.

Last season, nationally, 92 players were initially ejected but 32 of those were reversed on replay. So, 60 players in more than 800 games isn’t excessive. Rhoads credits that to the players being taught differently by coaches and players adjusting.

Four years ago the league put an emphasis on excessive celebrations and as a result, Rhoads says that has almost totally been “coached out of the game.” There were only six players called with excessive celebration nationally last season.

But hitting above the shoulders is a lot harder to coach out of the game. As reported above, it turned out that a lot of those calls weren’t offenses after all – the players did not hit above the shoulders. In a game that moves as fast as football with bang-bang plays, I’m not sure how you coach that call out of football.

Certainly coaches can advise against launching into players, especially head first, and hitting players with a forceful upward thrust. But those hits are inches one way or another. One’s an exciting pop and the other is a 15 yard penalty and an ejection.

Last season, if one of those plays was overruled on replay, the player was re-admitted to the game but the 15-yard penalty stood. After an outcry from coaches, this season if the play is overruled, not only is the player re-admitted but the 15-yard penalty goes away. Makes sense.

One thing you’ll see different this year is another official in the offensive backfield. The ACC will add an 8th official called the center judge. Among other duties, he will spot the ball and be another set of eyes for the referee looking at the offensive line. This gives the ref more time to make sure the QB remains safe, for instance, rather than focusing on a holding on the other side of the line.

Not sure how much this will help and how much it will just make the field more crowded. There are already concerns about the officials getting in the way.

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ACC commissioner Swofford gives state of the conference address

John Swofford.

John Swofford.

Commissioner John Swofford looked ahead with excitement and anticipation on Sunday as he met with a record media contingent at the Atlantic Coast Conference’s 43rd annual Football Kickoff.

“The combination of the league’s 15 member institutions is remarkable, and this conference has never been stronger and better positioned,” Swofford said.

A three-year period of growth culminated with Louisville’s official entry into the conference on July 1. The ACC Football Kickoff represents a friendly initiation of sorts, and Swofford expects the Cardinals to make a strong first and lasting impression as they begin full-scale league athletic competition.

“As I’ve said previously, Louisville brings to the ACC an institution and athletic program on a tremendous upward trajectory,” Swofford said. “It brings a dynamic city and a rabid, large and passionate fan base. Frankly speaking, I know of no other athletic program that has progressed as much as Louisville has in the last 15 years.”

Louisville will join an ACC that saw five teams win NCAA Championships during the 2013-14 academic year and placed at least one team among the top five in 14 of its sponsored sports. Nine ACC student-athletes claimed individual NCAA titles.

But Swofford made equal note of the conference’s collective academic accomplishments.

ACC football programs led all conferences for the eighth-straight year in the NCAA’s Academic Performance Rates (APR) and for the eighth time in nine years in the NCAA’s Graduation Success Rates (GSR). Overall, ACC member schools continue to lead the way among the Power 5 conferences in the latest US News and World Report Rankings of ‘Best Colleges,’ with over half of its membership among the Top 50 and five among the Top 30.

“Academically, I continue to be inspired by the student-athletes that attend our conference’s unique mix of public and private institutions,” Swofford said.

While applauding the successes of the past year and looking ahead to a promising ACC future, Swofford acknowledged that “there’s no overlooking the national discussions during this period of restructuring within college athletics.”

“I applaud the great efforts by Wake Forest President Nathan Hatch, who also serves as the chair of the NCAA Board of Directors in leading the membership throughout this process,” Swofford said. “The change that continues to be called for is key to ensuring that the model reflects the needs of the 21st century student-athlete, while also recognizing how special the collegiate model is to the educational system within our country.”

Swofford said the ACC, along with the Big Ten, Big XII, PAC-12 and SEC, will continue to prioritize the discussions surrounding the enhancement of the athletic scholarship, ensuring that student-athletes have every opportunity to earn a degree (even if they return to school following the completion of a professional career) and ensure that they have their health and safety needs met by the institutions they represent.

The issues of health and safety were addressed earlier Sunday, when the ACC announced an endorsement of the USA Football “Heads Up Program.” The partnership will entail league coaches participating in a public relations campaign to increase awareness at the youth football level.

The endorsement follows a meeting of ACC medical personnel last March to update and refine player safety policies. Consensus from those discussions was shared and discussed with the league’s football coaches at the ACC Spring Meetings.

“I think the work done by our membership this past year was terrific,” Swofford said. “There’s always an emphasis on prioritizing player safety, and this year allowed the ACC the opportunity to take a leadership role within the NCAA by taking an active role and officially endorsing the new guidelines just recently announced.”

Swofford said the ACC also put forward three requests to the NCAA rules committee asking for the ability to expand the use of technology in practices and games for player-safety data collection purposes. The NCAA approved a player monitoring system for ACC games this fall. The ACC’s two other requests – experimentation with a helmet camera during completion and the use of a coach-quarterback communication – will be discussed by the NCAA Football Rules Committee next February.

Many media on Sunday were focused on the upcoming football season. Swofford was more than happy to take part in that discussion, particularly with the ACC coming off a 2013 season that featured Florida State’s national championship, an NCAA-record 11 ACC teams in bowl games and 11 league teams with winning record.

Led by Florida State freshman quarterback Jameis Winston and Pitt senior defensive tackle Aaron Donald, the ACC became the first conference to see its players win the Heisman, Nagurski, Outland, Lombardi, Bednarik, Doak Walker, Lou Groza, Rimington and Davey O’Brien Awards in the same season.

The ACC’s 14 football programs seek similar success in 2014, but Swofford noted that it will be hard-earned.

“No ACC team will face fewer than six opponents that participated in bowl games last year, while 11 of the 14 ACC teams will play at least eight bowl teams from 2013, with both Miami and Virginia each facing 10 teams that were in postseason play a year ago,” he pointed out. “Our teams will also play 24 nonconference games against teams that participated in bowl games in 2013, which ties for most of any Power 5 Conference.”

As has been the case in recent years, there will be no shortage of fan access to those matchups.

“We are extremely pleased that every ACC controlled football game will be available to our fans nationwide,” Swofford said. “Our relationship with ESPN allows us to maximize our reach and bring ACC football and content to fans whenever they are across a multitude of devices. Whether traditional television or national digital and mobile platforms like ESPN3 and Watch ESPN, ACC content is truly available everywhere.

“In addition to ESPN, the ACC Network through Raycom continues to be broader than ever before, with a reach of over 90 million households and no geographic parameters on the distribution. The ACC Network is available in each of the top ten television markets within the US, and in 21 of the Top 25.”

Following this year’s regular season, the ACC Football Championship Game will return to Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium for the fifth consecutive year, and is set to remain at that venue through 2019. The ACC will be represented as one of the Power 5 conferences in the new College Football Playoff while continuing its long-time partnership with the Orange Bowl as part of the new postseason format.

The ACC’s other postseason partnerships include agreements with the Orlando’s New Year’s Day Bowl, Russell Athletic Bowl, Hyundai Sun Bowl, New Era Pinstripe Bowl, Belk Bowl, Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, TaxSlayer Bowl, Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman, Duck Commander Independence Bowl, the Detroit Lions Bowl, the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl and the Birmingham Bowl.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with the future line up of bowl games including many long-time partners and some new ones too,” Swofford said. “Overall, these outstanding partners provide more postseason opportunities, selection flexibility, improved financials, marquee matchups and attractive destinations for the ACC’s teams, fans and alums.”

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Hurricanes select Fleury, a defenseman, in NHL first round

Haydn Fleury.

Haydn Fleury.

Though the 2014 NHL Draft wasn’t as stacked as others with top-end defensive talent, there were two blue-liners that caught scouts’ attention, and one was taken first overall.

The other was Haydn Fleury, selected seventh overall by the Carolina Hurricanes.

“I really don’t have many words to say,” Fleury said in his first media scrum as a member of the Canes. “It’s an unreal experience, and I’m very excited to be in Carolina.”

As the team’s first selection of a defenseman in the first round since Ryan Murphy was picked 12th overall in 2011, the Canes are happy to have Fleury.

“He’s a big, mobile defenseman who has a lot of upside to his game because of the way he skates,” said Canes Executive Vice President and General Manager Ron Francis. “He can skate the puck out of traffic and move it out of trouble. In the U-18 tournament in Finland, he was quarterbacking the power play. There are a lot of parts of his game that we like.”

“We did have our eye on him,” said Tony MacDonald, the Canes head amateur scout. “He’s a guy with that kind of size, and he skates extremely well. He’s got a lot of poise with the puck, and he moves the puck.”

The 2013-14 season was Fleury’s second full season with the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League. As an alternate captain, he led his team in defensive scoring with 46 points (8g, 38a) in 70 games. That output was more than double the 19 points (4g, 15a) he recorded in 66 games as a WHL rookie, still be for third among team defensemen.

Additionally, the 6-foot-3, 203-pound defenseman finished at a team-high plus-15 on a Red Deer squad that had a minus-10 goal differential and failed to qualify for the postseason.

“Brent [Sutter] has treated me like a pro,” Fleury said. “He’s had high expectations for me and has given me a great opportunity in Red Deer.”

“The thing that we like about this guy is that his upside is significant,” MacDonald said. “His offensive game is still evolving. He’s still developing. He’s still getting better in that regard, and we expect that he’ll continue to get better. He’s a very coachable kid and eager to learn.”

Typically, the development process for a defenseman can be more extended than others. But Fleury, 17, will attend Prospects Development Camp in a month before going to Traverse City for the annual rookie prospects tournament and then training camp. A decision on his status for the 2014-15 season – whether he remains with the big club or returns to Red Deer – will be made then.

“You always want to be careful with young defensemen. They do take a little longer [to develop]. A lot of times you don’t know what you have until they are about 22 or 23, quite frankly,” Francis said. “Ultimately, you want to do what’s best for Haydn and our franchise in the long-term, not the short term.”

“It’s a steeper learning curve for the defensemen. At the NHL level, it’s tough for these guys to come in and make an impact right away. It takes them a little longer,” MacDonald said. “It’s a challenging position to play, and there are a lot of things to learn. But when a player has the signs and the tools … you can do a lot with that kind of player.”

Fleury is that kind of player with a varied and skilled toolbox. He compares his game to that of Jay Bouwmeester.

“He’s a solid, two-way defenseman who plays in all situations of the game,” Fleury said. “He plays big minutes, generates offense and is very strong defensively, as well.”

And Fleury’s self-described game?

“I consider myself a two-way defenseman who can play in all situations of the game,” he said. “I can play on the power play, I can play on the penalty kill and play against other teams’ top lines.”

After over a year’s worth of scouting work and long days and weeks of compiling lists, the Canes had Fleury, who projects as a rock-solid two-way NHL defenseman, pegged as their guy.

“We talked about trying to get a little bit bigger. He’s 6-foot-3 and 200-plus pounds, but he skates extremely well. It’s not like he’s a big, slow guy,” Francis said. “This guy is very mobile, and in today’s game, you need D that can skate it and move it out of trouble, and this kid can do that.

“At the end of the day, you’re just trying to get a comfort level that you think he’s a good kid, which he did. And we felt that he was a good player,” Francis said of the process. “We’re glad to have him.”

- Hurricanes news release, Michael Smith

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Nine ACC players, including four from the Triangle, selected in NBA draft

Led by Duke’s Jabari Parker, the second overall selection by the Milwaukee Bucks, the Atlantic Coast Conference had nine players chosen in the 2014 NBA draft, including five first-round selections. The ACC and the Pac-12 tied for the most players selected, while the Big Ten was third with seven players, followed by the SEC (6) and the Big 12 (5). For the third time in five years, seven ACC schools […]

Led by Duke’s Jabari Parker, the second overall selection by the Milwaukee Bucks, the Atlantic Coast Conference had nine players chosen in the 2014 NBA draft, including five first-round selections. The ACC and the Pac-12 tied for the most players selected, while the Big Ten was third with seven players, followed by the SEC (6) and the Big 12 (5).

For the third time in five years, seven ACC schools had at least one player drafted, with Duke and Syracuse leading the way with two selections apiece. Clemson, North Carolina, NC State, Pittsburgh and Virginia each had one player drafted.

The nine selections are the most by the ACC since 2010, when they also had nine players drafted.

With its five first-round selections, the ACC is the only conference to have had at least four first-round picks in each of the past six NBA drafts (2009-2014). The ACC also extended its streak of having at least one first-round selection to 26 consecutive years (1989-2014).

Over the past six years (2009-2014), the ACC leads all conferences with 32 first round drafts picks; the Pac-12 and the Big 12 are tied for second with 22 first round selections, followed by the Big East (21), SEC (20) and the Big Ten (14).

Over the past nine years (2006-2014), the ACC has accounted for 18 percent (52 of 294) of the college players selected in the first round.

With Milwaukee’s pick of Parker as the second overall selection, the ACC has had at least one lottery pick in six straight drafts. The ACC has had 12 lottery picks over the last six years.


1st Round

Jabari Parker, forward Duke

1st Round/2nd overall by Milwaukee Bucks

The first Duke player ever selected by Milwaukee, Parker is the sixth Blue Devil over the past four years to be selected in the first round, and 34th overall … the 2014 ACC Freshman of the Year is the eighth ACC player selected in the first round by the Bucks and the first since North Carolina’s John Henson in 2012 …the USBWA National Freshman of the Year and a unanimous first-team All-America selection, Parker became the 12th freshman in ACC history to lead his team in both scoring (19.1) and rebounding (8.7) … a first-team All-ACC selection, his 19.1 points per game were the fourth-highest by a freshman in league annals, while his 18 20-point games were second.

T.J. Warren, forward, NC State

1st Round/14th overall by the Phoenix Suns

The 2014 ACC Player of the Year, Warren is the 16th NC State player to be selected in the first round and the first since J.J. Hickson was picked 19th overall by Cleveland in 2008 … Phoenix has selected an ACC player in the first round in each of the past three years (Alex Len, Maryland, 2013; Kendall Marshall, North Carolina, 2012) and 12 times overall … Warren is the highest NC State player selected (14th overall) since Todd Fuller was the 11th overall pick by Golden State in 1996 … as a sophomore in 2014, Warren set an ACC single-season record with 31 games of 20 or more points en route to leading the ACC and finishing fourth nationally in scoring (24.9) … Warren became only the third player in conference history to lead the league in both scoring and field goal percentage (.525) in the same season.


Tyler Ennis, guard, Syracuse

1st Round/18th overall by the Phoenix Suns

Ennis is the fourth Syracuse player over the past three years to selected in the first round, and the 21st overall … Ennis is the second ACC player (T.J. Warren, NC State) selected by the Suns in the first round of the 2014 draft … the Suns have now drafted four ACC players in the first round over the past three years, and 13 times overall … the selections of Warren and Ennis mark the first time an NBA team has selected two ACC players in the first round since Minnesota drafted North Carolina’s Ty Lawson (18th) and Wayne Ellington (28th) in 2009 … a consensus first-team Freshman All-American after averaging 12.9 points and 5.5 assists per game … averaged 17.6 points over his last seven games … a five-time ACC Freshman of the Week selection, Ennis was the first freshman to lead the ACC in both assists (5.5) and steals (2.1).


Rodney Hood, forward, Duke

1st Round/23rd overall by the Utah Jazz

Hood is the seventh Blue Devil over the past four years to be selected in the first round, and 35th overall … the selection of Parker and Hood marks the third time in the past four years and seventh time overall that Duke has had at least two players selected in the first round … Hood is the first ACC player drafted in the first round by Utah since NC State’s Cedric Simmons (18th) in 2006 … a second-team All-ACC selection this past season as a sophomore after averaging 16.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game … led the ACC in 3-point field goal percentage (.420), was fourth in field goal percentage (.464) and ninth in free throw accuracy (.807).


P.J. Hairston, guard, North Carolina

1st Round/26th overall by the Miami Heat

Miami’s selection of Hairston marks the third-straight year that North Carolina has had a first-round selection … the Tar Heels have at least one player selected in seven of the last nine years and lead all ACC schools with 46 first round draft picks … Hairston is the 15th Tar Heel to play for head coach Roy Williams and be selected in the first round of the NBA Draft … only the second ACC player ever drafted by the Heat (Matt Geiger, Georgia Tech, 1992), Hairston did not play at North Carolina during the 2014 season … led the Tar Heels in scoring (14.6) and was third rebounding (4.3) as a sophomore in 2013 … averaged 21.8 points and 3.5 rebounds for the NBA D-League’s Texas Legends last season.

2nd Round


K.J. McDaniels, forward, Clemson

2nd Round/32nd overall by the Philadelphia 76ers

The 2014 ACC Defensive Player of the Year, McDaniels is the first Clemson player drafted since Trevor Booker (Minnesota) in 2010, and the 27th overall … McDaniels is the first Clemson player selected by the 76ers since Sharon Wright in 1994 … a first-team All-ACC selection in 2014 after leading the team in scoring (17.1), rebounding (7.1), blocks (100), steals (41) and 3-pointers (42) … only the second player to lead the ACC in all five of those categories since Wake Forest’s Josh Howard did so in 2003.

Joe Harris, guard, Virginia

2nd Round/33rd overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers

The seventh ACC player selected in the 2014 NBA Draft … Harris is Virginia’s second NBA draft pick in the past three years (Mike Scott, Atlanta, 2012) … a second-team All-ACC selection by the coaches after earning first-team honors in 2013 … started all 37 games for the Cavaliers in 2014 and was second on the team in scoring (12.0) and third in assists (2.3) … named the ACC Tournament MVP honors after scoring 47 points in three games and leading Virginia to their first ACC title since 1976.


Jerami Grant, forward, Syracuse

2nd Round/39th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers

The eighth ACC player selected in the 2014 NBA draft … Grant is the 10th Syracuse player to be drafted over the past eight years … the Orange have had at least two players drafted in three of the last five years … led Syracuse and was 12th in the ACC in rebounding (6.8) … averaged 12.1 points per game and shot .496 from the floor.


Lamar Patterson, guard, Pittsburgh

2nd Round/48th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks

With Patterson’s selection, Pittsburgh has now had players chosen in the NBA draft in back-to-back years for the first time since 1980-1981 … earned second-team All-ACC honors as a senior, leading the Panthers to 26-10 record and an NCAA Tournament berth … was the only player to finish in the top 5 in the ACC in both scoring (17.1) and assists (4.3) … was also eighth in field goal percentage (.441), fourth in 3-point field goal percentage (.388) and ninth in steals (1.4).

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Duke women capture another national golf title

dukewomenDuke is back on top of the NCAA women’s golfing world.

The Blue Devils came from behind to hold off top-ranked Southern Cal and win by two strokes at the Tulsa Country Club in Tulsa, Okla for the program’s sixth national championship Friday evening. Duke also won the program’s first national title in Tulsa in 1999.

Duke shot a six-under, 274 to beat the Trojans, who finished the day with a round of 10-under par, 270. The Blue Devils completed the competition with a four-day team score of 1,130 – good for ten over par.

Seniors Alejandra Cangrejo and Laetitia Beck led Duke on Friday with matching 2-under par efforts in their final competitive rounds as college golfers.

Sophomore Celine Boutier, the runner-up in the individual event, finished her final round at 1-under, as did Freshman Sandy Choi.

Yu Li, the ACC Rookie of the Year, registered a two-over-par 72 to end her impressive inaugural campaign.

Duke found itself tied for third after the first day of competition, five shots back of the Oklahoma Sooners, two back of UCLA and even with Southern Cal and Arizona State. After the second round, the Blue Devils found themselves in sole possession of second place, three shots back of Oklahoma.

On day three, Duke made its move, carding a two-under, 278 that gave the Devils a six-shot lead heading into the championship’s final round.

Duke also won the team national championship in 1999, 2002, 2005, 2006, and 2007.

- Duke Sports Information

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Duke’s Parker unleashes on Carolina for 30 points

Jabari Parker.

Jabari Parker.

With North Carolina’s James Michael McAdoo saddled with foul trouble, Duke’s freshman Jabari Parker unleashed on the Heels with a season-high 30 points to lead the Blue Devils to a 93-81 victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The loss dropped the Tar Heels to the fourth seed in the ACC Tournament while Duke moved to the third seed. Both teams, however, get first-round byes.

Duke also got 24 points from another underclassman, sophomore Rodney Hood, on the Blue Devils’ senior night.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski said it was the first time this year that both Parker and Hood have been “sensational” in the same game.

The Blue Devils, who led by 13 in the first half but by only three at the half, came out hot in the second half, hitting six threes and led 74-55, the largest lead of the game, with just 8:26 to go.

But the Tar Heels scratched back with Marcus Paige leading the way. Down 12 with 2:49 left, Paige double pumped a three from the top of the key and was fouled. He converted the four-point play to pull the Heels within eight.

Following a Duke turnover under pressure, Paige put up another three but when it bounced up, UNC’s Brice Johnson dunked it while it was still in the cylinder for an offensive interference. Had the three not gone down, Johnson was right there for a stick back so the lead could have been cut to six or five.

Instead, Duke hit free throw after free throw to come away with the 12-point victory. The Blue Devils outscored the Heels by 13 from the free throw line as they hit an amazing 27 of 31 including 12 in the last 2:18.

But both coaches agreed that rebounding was the biggest key. “Going into the game I thought rebounding was an area where we could have an advantage but they killed us,” UNC coach Roy Williams said, referring to the 32-18 rebounding edge for the Devils.

It was the lowest number of rebounds the Tar Heels have pulled down in a game this season. It didn’t help that McAdoo was limited by foul trouble and big-man Kennedy Meeks was sidelined most of the game with a stomach illness.

In addition to leading all scorers, Duke’s Parker led all rebounders with 11 boards. “Whatever ‘it’ is, Jabari had it,” Coach Williams said making reference to Coach K’s statement after the first game between the two teams that his team just didn’t have it. “He was possessed.”

Paige, who had three second-half three-pointers, led four Tar Heels in double figures with 24 points.

For more on the game, please click here.

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Tar Heels come out strong to pop rival Pack

uncstateNorth Carolina came out strong, running out to an 18-4 lead, and wound up winning by that same 14-point margin at 84-70 over rival N.C. State in Chapel Hill.

The Tar Heels, who missed a lot of shots around the rim, were still able to take a 17-point lead into the half at 40-23 in part due to the Wolfpack’s poor shooting.

Carolina played tough defense but not so tough as to account for the Pack’s 25 percent field goal rate in the opening half. While the Tar Heels were able to work the lead up to 22 in the second half, the Pack turned their shooting woes around – hitting 65 percent of their shots in the second half.

During a one-minute run starting with just over five minutes to play, the Pack scored nine straight to draw a 21-point deficit down to just 12. But it never got closer than 10 the rest of the way.

“We dug ourselves too big of a hole,” said State coach Mark Gottfried. “We got off to a really slow start. We missed foul shots. We got a couple of good looks and missed those.”

He said the Tar Heels then defended well the rest of the half and it kind of steamrolled.

For more on the game, please click here.

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UNC fights back, questions claims in CNN report

uncsystemlogo(NOTE: The University of North Carolina sent out the following release Thursday questioning claims of CNN with an analysis of its own.)

97% of UNC student-athletes meet CNN reading skills threshold:
8-year admissions analysis questions claims in network news story

Last week, CNN reported on reading skills of student-athletes at U.S. public universities including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The story used a CNN-defined threshold for student-athletes being “college-literate” based on results from SAT and ACT college entrance exam scores (400 on SAT Critical Reading or Writing; 16 on ACT). The network said it consulted with experts in different fields to develop the threshold.

CNN did not ask the University for SAT or ACT data, instead relying on observations provided by a UNC employee who did not represent the campus in its report.

An analysis conducted by the University’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions found that all 154 special-talent student-athletes – 100 percent – who enrolled in fall 2013 met CNN’s reading skills threshold. That first-year class included 35 student-athletes recruited for football and men’s and women’s basketball. (CNN did not examine 2013 information.)

The Office of Undergraduate Admissions used CNN’s definition to analyze UNC’s own SAT and ACT data for special-talent student-athletes enrolled as first-year students through policies and procedures established by the UNC Board of Trustees, faculty and the admissions office.

That analysis found:

Between 2004 and 2012, the same time period examined by CNN, UNC-Chapel Hill enrolled 1,377 first-year student-athletes through the special-talent policies and procedures. More than 97 percent (1,338) of those students met the CNN threshold. Thirty-nine students (2.83 percent) did not meet the threshold.

Twenty-three of the 39 students (59 percent) who did not meet the CNN threshold have graduated from the University or remain enrolled and in good academic standing. Another 11 students (28 percent) left the University academically eligible to return. The other five students left the University and would have to restore their academic eligibility in order to return.
In summary, 34 of the 39 students (87 percent) who did not meet the CNN threshold either graduated from the University, remain enrolled and in good academic standing, or left the University academically eligible to return.

Of the student-athletes who enrolled between 2004 and 2012 under the special-talent policies, 341 were recruited for football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball. More than 90 percent (307) of these students met the CNN threshold. Thirty-four of these student-athletes (9.97 percent) did not meet the threshold.

Of the 34 students recruited for football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball who did not meet the threshold, 20 students (59 percent) either have graduated from the University or remain enrolled and in good academic standing. Another 10 students (29 percent) left the University academically eligible to return. The other four students left the University and would have to restore their academic eligibility in order to return.

In summary, 30 of these 34 students (88 percent) either graduated from the University, remain enrolled and in good academic standing, or left the University academically eligible to return.

“We evaluate every student as carefully as we know how,” said Stephen Farmer, vice provost for enrollment and undergraduate admissions. “The primary criterion for admission for all students, including student-athletes, is the student’s capacity to succeed academically at the University. We only admit students who we believe have the capacity to succeed.”

In keeping with University Board of Trustees policy, and guidance from the Faculty Advisory Committee on Undergraduate Admissions, Farmer said the Office of Undergraduate Admissions evaluates every candidate individually, comprehensively and holistically. These evaluations rely on quantitative and qualitative data and information. The quantitative measures include results from standardized tests (SAT or ACT with Writing).

“We pay careful attention to test results,” Farmer said. “But we do not make final admissions decisions based on test scores alone – not for any student, and not for any student-athlete.”

- News release