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Cremins, speaking locally, said he got his redemption nearly 30 years ago

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHe said he likes to visit the Triangle area in part because he always loves the enthusiasm the people in the area have for sports.

Retired Georgia Tech coach and South Carolina player Bobby Cremins was the keynote speaker recently during the celebration of the Raleigh Sports Club’s 50th year.

During those 50 years, the club has hosted some of the biggest names in sports including Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Jesse Owens, Joe Louis, Red Grange and local favorite Choo Choo Justice.

Few have more of a connection to basketball royalty in the Triangle than Cremins. In fact Cremins played under the legendary Frank McGuire at South Carolina. McGuire had coached North Carolina to the national championship in 1957.

Cremins blamed himself for the 1970 ACC championship double overtime loss to Norm Sloan’s NC State. Only the tourney winner went to the NCAA tournament at that time.

“I wish now that I had handled that loss better,” Cremins said. “I couldn’t accept the loss and I responded very poorly. I ran away because I didn’t want to deal with it. Thank God I eventually came back.”

His pro career didn’t last long. In fact, he was the last player cut by Bones McKinney, legendary Wake Forest coach, who was then the coach for the ABA’s Carolina Cougars.

At 27, he became the youngest Division I coach at Appalachian State. “I wanted to stay in the South but I didn’t realize that Boone was the South Pole,” he said.

When Sloan left State in 1980, Cremins tried to get that coaching job. When Bill Foster left Duke that same year, Cremins tried to get that coaching job. Future legendary coaches Jim Valvano and Mike Krzyzewski got those positions.

He said he argued to Duke AD Tom Butters that Krzyzewski would be a terrible choice to make because Army had a losing season.

Cremins applied for the Georgia Tech job the next year. The Jackets had joined the ACC and Cremins saw an opportunity to get back in the ACC to get redemption for the ACC championship loss to NC State.

Former UNC Athletics Director Homer Rice, then the AD at Georgia Tech, hired Cremins. “This time nobody wanted the job so I got it,” he said to the laughter of the audience of more than 240.

He got to coach in the Triangle three times a year against Krzyzewski, Valvano and UNC’s Dean Smith.

Cremins said it was such a shame that Smith’s health has declined. “He’s a great man and I miss talking to him and playing golf with him,” he said adding that Smith set the bar high in the ACC.

But he said that Coach K had broken through the bar set by Smith and, in his mind, ranks behind only former UCLA coach John Wooden as the greatest basketball coach of all time.

Valvano’s career, which included a national championship in ’83, of course was cut short by cancer. “Jim Valvano lived in the future. He saw things before they happened,” Cremins said adding that the V Foundation that Valvano started on his death bed has raised more than $100 million for cancer research.

Georgia Tech wasn’t mentioned in the same breath with State, Duke and Carolina. That is until 1985.

“The key obviously was recruiting.” Cremins said. “Getting players like Mark Price and John Salley, quality kids, and getting them to play together with chemistry was most important.”

In ‘85 Cremin’s Yellow Jackets won the ACC regular season title and then the ACC tournament title when they defeated North Carolina for the third time during the season in the finals.

Legend has it that, after winning the championship, when the team bus passed the old coliseum where South Carolina fell to NC State in the 1970 ACC tourney, Cremins asked the bus driver to stop. He got out with the trophy in hand, gave the coliseum “the bird” and yelled, “I finally got you, you son of a bitch.”

“Yes, we did get that ACC championship in 1985,” Cremins said in closing his remarks. “I got my redemption.”

The 300-plus member Raleigh Sports Club, which meets weekly on Wednesday at the Highland United Methodist Church, was originally established with 12 original members. The members get the opportunity to listen to some of the most influential college and professional sporting figures first hand while recognizing local athletic and academic achievement.


Sloppy end to the Hurricanes home schedule

canesReality smacked the Carolina Hurricanes square in the face on Thursday, as the team faced its first game after being mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. It also happened to be the team’s home finale.

The visiting Washington Capitals got the better of the two divisional foes with a 5-2 win.

“It wasn’t a good game overall,” Canes coach coach Kirk Muller said. “To me, it looked like two teams that pretty much, in the last few days, were mathematically out of the playoffs It looked like a sloppy game, and I don’t think it was a good hockey game by either team. But for our last game at home, we were hoping for more.”

Captain Eric Staal said the team’s effort wasn’t clearly not good enough. “We had breakdowns, and it ended up in our net. It just wasn’t good enough. There’s not much else to say. We need to be better.”

The Hurricanes have two away games left before the season ends. There are sure to be some big changes before next season.


Four Wake Co. student-athletes win scholarships

Raleigh Sports Club Scholarship recipients were Claire Fuscoe of Ravenscroft, Emily Hartman of Wake Forest High, Nick Grover of Heritage and Katarina Pibl, not pictured, of Grace Christian.

Raleigh Sports Club Scholarship recipients were Claire Fuscoe of Ravenscroft, Emily Hartman of Wake Forest High, Nick Grover of Heritage and Katarina Pibl, not pictured, of Grace Christian.

The Raleigh Sports Club has awarded four $2,000 scholarships to impressive Wake County student athletes Claire Fuscoe of Ravenscroft, Nick Glover of Heritage High, Emily Hartman of Wake Forest High and Katarina Pibl of Grace Christian.

Fuscoe, who was a key contributor to the Cross Country and Swimming teams at Ravenscroft, also excelled in the classroom, where she has 34 college credits, making her a sophomore in college when she enrolls at UNC-Chapel Hill in the fall.

Her coach, Leslie Payne, said Fuscoe is passionate, driven, self-disciplined and dedicated. Payne said everyday Fuscoe displays her contagious smile and enthusiasm for life. A well-rounded athlete and student, Fuscoe has also joyfully served developmentally challenged children in the community through Learning Together.

Perhaps her greatest athletic accomplishment came in the state cross-country championships where she earned All-State and helped the team to a one point victory for the title. In fact, she has been a key reason that her teams have won three state titles and one runner up title.

Her parents are John Fuscoe and Katherine Smith.

Grover, who ranks in the top three percent of his class, is coachable and great at decision making says his Heritage basketball coach Pat Kennedy.

For the past four years Grover, Kennedy said, has been the most hardworking and diligent student he has ever taught. “Nick thrives on self-discipline and has never missed a deadline,” Kennedy said. “He exudes confidence, yet, stays humble and hungry to learn more.”

Despite a rigorous academic schedule, Grover plays sports, is on the executive board of the Spirit Club, tutors other students, spearheads fundraising opportunities and is a school ambassador to welcome new students to the campus.

He has been accepted to five colleges but has not made his choice yet. His parents are Brian and Mary Grover.

Hartman, who maintains a 4.8 weighted GPA at Wake Forest High, is a conscientious, hard working, bright and fun-loving student who plays soccer for Coach Jeremiah Mattingly.

“She is always up for new challenges and thrives in all aspects of her life,” Mattingly said. “She is one of the most intelligent young ladies I have worked with. She is a true leader to the younger girls and often has a positive quote or activity to help with team bonding.”

Hartman is busy, hard-working and giving as she plays club soccer and high school soccer, volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House, with Special Olympics, takes part in other community and church activities, and she has a job.

She will attend UNC- Wilmington in the fall. Her parents are Rev. John Hartman and Laura Hartman.

Pibl, who could not attend the ceremony because she is participating in a mission trip to Costa Rica, is the valedictorian of her class yet she had time to excel in cross country, track and field, soccer and swimming at Grace Christian.

Her coaches say she has learned skills like dedication, sacrifice and perseverance that have helped her in the classroom and in relationships with others.

The captain of the soccer team, Pibl has endured the ceaseless and painful work necessary to come back from an ACL tear and then a meniscus tear. But her confidence was never shaken with these injuries and she has never considered giving up. Not only did Pibl not give up but she has worked her way back and has committed to play soccer for Emory University.

Her parents are Roman and Lisa Pibl.

Deran Coe, the Wake County Schools athletics director, praised each of the winners and said that athletes are actually more likely to succeed in the classroom. He noted that athletes in Wake County miss half as much school as non-athletes and that the drop out rate of athletes is just .6 percent compared 10.32 percent for non-athletes.


Campbell, former Apex coach, wins top local honor

Scott Campbell, left, accepts award from Greg Pierce, representing the Raleigh Sports Club.

Scott Campbell, left, accepts award from Greg Pierce, representing the Raleigh Sports Club.

Scott Campbell, a teacher and coach at Apex High School for 25 years, has been honored as the winner of the Raleigh Sport Club’s 2014 Distinguished Service Award.

The club, celebrating its 50th anniversary, presented the award this week in honor of Casper Holroyd, a long-time loyal member of the club who passed away in December. The winner of the award is not only someone who has achieved success as a coach but someone who has done it with integrity and extra time and effort that is appreciated by players and administrators.

Campbell, who recently retired as a coach, in accepting the award said, “It’s been very difficult getting (coaching) out of my blood.” This award conjures up many memories that won’t make it any easier.

Campbell coached varsity girls basketball for each of his 25 years while he coached football for 13 years and baseball for eight years. A lot of those players stayed in contact with Campbell throughout the years to share news of family joys and sorrows.

In fact, while Campbell won 460 games as a basketball coach and was voted conference coach of the year six times, the highlight of his career doesn’t have anything to do with that. Campbell said his highlight “was to walk a former player down the isle at her wedding in place of her deceased father. That meant more to me than any game or any championship.”

His basketball teams did win seven conference championships and his teams made four regional playoff appearances with one state championship appearance. Campbell also was selected as head coach of one all-star game and as an assistant coach for the North Carolina vs. South Carolina Classic.

Campbell was known as a coach that held himself and his players to a high standard, displaying sportsmanship on and off the playing surface. He held his players accountable for their actions, teaching the valuable life-long lessons of responsibility and respecting opponents and officials.

The cycle has continued as several of his former players have become coaches themselves.

“The fact that those former players keep in touch with ‘Coach’ speaks to the fact that he didn’t just teach basketball X’s and O’s,” said Greg Pierce, incoming president of the Raleigh Sports Club. “He taught so much more about what it takes to be a good person and how to make a positive impact on the people you meet in your life.”

Included in the more than 240 people in attendance were Kim Campbell, his wife, Terry Campbell, his brother, and Del Phillips, the athletic director of Apex High School.

Campbell received an award, a certificate, a gift for the whole family and a check for $1,000.


Bulls end first home stand at 5-3 after win over Knights

bullslogoBehind five runs in the game’s first four innings, and 16 strikeouts from the pitching staff, the Durham Bulls wrapped up their eight-game homestand at 5-3 with a 5-4 win over the Charlotte Knights Thursday afternoon at the DBAP.

The game started at 11 a.m. and was an education day as busloads of school children attended the game.

Durham got things going in the second inning, when the Bulls sent nine men to the plate. With runners on first and second and two outs, Knights’ shortstop Tyler Saladino made an errant throw to second on what would have been an inning-ending force out. Instead, the play extended the inning and allowed Jerry Sands to score the game’s first run. Robby Price then singled to score Mikie Mahtook, before Cole Figueroa was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to score the third run of the inning as the Bulls took a 3-0 lead.

Two frames later Durham struck again, as Rodriguez drove in Mike Fontenot as the two tallied back-to-back doubles. Ray Olmedo then doubled to left-center after a sacrifice bunt to drive in Rodriguez to give the home side a 5-0 advantage.

In the fifth Charlotte (4-4) got to Bulls starter Matt Andriese, striking for three runs on four hits, including a two-run homer from Hector Gimenez to cut the lead to two. Then in the seventh the Knights scratched another run across, but went quietly in the final two innings as the Bulls held on for the win.

Right-hander Matt Andriese (1-1) picked up his first International League victory with five innings of three-run ball, while tying a career-high with eight strikeouts. Right-hander Brad Boxberger picked up a six-out save, his first save of 2014, striking out five over two scoreless frames. Southpaw Erik Surkamp (0-1) suffered the loss for the visitors, allowing five runs (two earned) over four innings on seven hits.

The Bulls hit the road for the first time this season as they embark on a five-game road trip beginning Friday, when they take on the Gwinnett Braves at 7:05 p.m. at Coolray Field. LHP Mike Montgomery (1-0, 0.00) is scheduled to throw for Durham against Gwinnett LHP Daniel Rodriguez (1-0, 1.80).


Bulls rally from behind to take season opener in style

bullsbaseballThe Durham Bulls trailed 3-0 after one inning and Gwinnett extended the margin to 6-2 in the third. But then the fireworks started early as back-to-back Bulls homers tied the score in the fifth before Durham managed to push across a run in the seventh that proved to be the game winner.

The 7-6 comeback win over the Gwinnett Braves on Opening Day at the newly renovated DBAP Thursday starts the Bulls’ defense of the Governors’ Cup.

With a crowd of 9,483 watching, Durham (1-0) unveiled its upgraded field, stadium lights, and brand-new video boards, among other enhancements to the ballpark.

At the outset, it appeared that the ballpark might be the highlight of the night for Bulls fans. Gwinnett (0-1) jumped out to an early lead on a three-run first-inning home run by Ernesto Mejia off of Bulls starter Nathan Karns. Gwinnett extended it to 6-2 with three more in the third inning to offset a two-run homer by Durham’s Kevin Kiermaier in the second frame.

Merrill Kelly, a Bulls starter last year, came out of the bullpen in the third and took the life out of Braves’ bats. Kelly scattered two hits and fanned three in three innings, while the Bulls got the comeback started.

Bulls first baseman Jerry Sands doubled and scored in the fourth. In the fifth, Wilson Betemit cracked a two-run homer over the bleachers in right, and Sands made it back-to-back with a blast to right of his own, tying the score. Sands finished 3-for-3 in his Bulls debut, scoring three runs.

In the seventh, Cole Figueroa walked, advanced to third on a wild pitch and Sands single, then scored when Kiermaier beat out a ground ball. Figueroa went 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles while batting out of the three spot in the lineup.

Brad Boxberger (1-0) earned the win in relief, capping 6 1/3 scoreless frames for the Durham pen. Mark Lamm (0-1) took the loss for the G-Braves, allowing a run in two innings of work. Kirby Yates, who notched 20 saves a season ago, picked up his first save of 2014 with a perfect ninth inning.

The Bulls and Braves meet again on Friday at 7:05 p.m. with a Friday Night Fireworks show presented by Duke Energy. LHP Enny Romero gets the ball for Durham against Gwinnett’s RHP Ervin Santana.


UNC women go cold, fail to make it to Final Four

Allisha Gray.

Allisha Gray.

North Carolina, playing Stanford in Stanford, got out to a 13-point lead in the first half behind hot shooting but went cold in the second half to fall 74-65 in an Elite 8 game.

The Tar Heels, who end 27-10, went six minutes without a point during one stretch of the second half when Stanford came from six down at the half to take the lead. Then, over the last two minutes of the game, Stanford wrapped it up with an 8-0 run.

Carolina got down by eight in the second half but managed to go ahead 63-62 on a three from the top of the key by Jessica Washington with just under four minutes to play. But the Tar Heels would score just once more.

The Tar Heels made 7 of 13 first-half 3s but went just 2 of 9 in the second half.

UNC’s Allisha Gray scored 19 points while Diamond DeShields was held to 13 points on 5 for 15 from the floor including just one of six from beyond the arc.

Stanford, 33-3, goes to the Final Four to face unbeaten Connecticut. Two ACC teams – Notre Dame and Maryland – face off in the other semi-final.


Tar Heel women make it to the Elite 8

tarheellogoNo. 12 upset No. 8 South Carolina 65-58 in the NCAA Sweet 16 on Sunday evening at Maples Pavilion.

North Carolina scored the first five points of the contest and looked to take control of the physical game. The Tar Heels made their move midway through the first half, going on a 9-2 run to build a 10-point lead at 20-10. The Gamecocks scored the next five points, making the score 20-15 with 6:42 on the clock, but did not find the basket for the next four minutes.

Latifah Coleman gave the Tar Heels their largest lead of the half at 27-15 with three minutes remaining, draining a 3 from straight away as the shot clock was expiring.

The Tar Heels led 29-21 at the half.

South Carolina scored on three straight possessions to draw the Gamecocks to within three at 35-32 with 14:45 to play. It was the closest since the Gamecocks had been since the 12-minute mark in the first half.

Diamond DeShields, who led the Heels with 19 points, asserted herself on the offensive end to put the Tar Heels back ahead 39-32. SC’s Tiffany Mitchell sank back-to-back 3s to help South Carolina draw to 43-42.

The Tar Heels seized the momentum back with back-to-back 3-pointers from Jessica Washington and DeShields putting the Tar Heels up 49-44 with 7:08 remaining.

The Gamecocks pulled to within two at 53-51 with five minutes left, but the Tar Heels had the answer, scoring six unanswered points to stretch the lead out to 59-51 with 2:40 on the clock ultimately settling for a seven-point victory.

The Tar Heels, 27-9, will play in Tuesday night’s regional final against Stanford (32-3), an 82-57 winner on its home court against Penn State in Sunday’s first game.


Hurricanes now an amazing 20-3-4 when scoring first

Jiri Tlusty.

Jiri Tlusty.

Jiri Tlusty scored twice for Carolina, including a goal midway through the first period, to lead the Hurricanes to a 3-0 victory at Florida.

The Hurricanes, who are now eight points out of the second of two Eastern Conference wild-card spots for the Stanley Cup Playoffs with 10 games remaining, are now 20-3-4 when scoring first.

Goalie Anton Khudobin made 35 saves for his third career shutout, first this season. Carolina completed a three-game season sweep of Florida, and Khudobin was in net for all three games.

Jeff Skinner had the other goal for the Canes.


DeShields leads Tar Heels into the Sweet Sixteen

Diamond DeShields.

Diamond DeShields.

Diamond DeShields almost singlehandedly put North Carolina into the Sweet 16 of NCAA Women’s Tournament by scoring 24 points and hauling in a season-high 12 rebounds to lead the Tar Heels over Michigan State 62-53 in Chapel Hill.

It was the first double-double for the freshman guard.

The Tar Heels, now 26-9, is the only Triangle team left in the tournament and will play in Sunday’s Stanford Regional semifinal.

In the first round, North Carolina had to rally from 18 down in the second half to beat UT Martin 60-58.