Duke Archive

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Undrafted: Duke’s Cofield signed by Redskins; ECU’s Carden by Bears

Takoby Cofield.

Takoby Cofield.

Now that the NFL draft is over, those who went undrafted are being made offers from teams as undrafted free agents. Several in North Carolina have already been signed including East Carolina quarterback Shane Carden (Bears) and Duke’s offensive tackle Takoby Cofield (Redskins).

Meanwhile, NC State was shut out of NFL Draft for the first time since 1996 but Wolfpacker Tyson Chandler, a 6-6 340-pound offensive tackle, signed with the Lions.

ECU’s Carden might be in a decent situation joining a team that went just 5-11 and whose fans booed the starting quarterback, veteraan Jay Cutler.

Carden has the best numbers of any East Carolina quarterback in history with nearly 12,000 passing yards, 86 touchdowns and more than 1000 completions.

Pirate teammate Lamar Ivey, a physical safety, was signed by the Seattle Seahawks.

As for the 6-4, 310-pound Cofield, a Tarboro native, Dane Brugler of CBS Sports said this before the draft, “Although guard Laken Tomlinson receives most of the attention on Duke’s offensive line, Cofield started 42 straight games at left tackle and has produced NFL worthy film of his own. He was a steady edge blocker for the Blue Devils, using adequate size, athleticism and constant hustle to get the job done. Cofield needs to introduce discipline to his play style to limit his lunges and improve his anchor to better sink in his stance to survive at the next level. Although he has wrinkles to iron out and his lack of range of physical tools aren’t ideal, Cofield shows promise and has enough talent to grow into a reserve swing tackle in the NFL – worth late round consideration.”

Cofield was a third-team All-ACC selection. His teammate quarterback Anthony Boone was signed by Detroit while Duke receiver Issac Blakeney was signed by the 49ers. Duke defensive end Jordan DeWalt-Ondigo, who was considered a possible draftee, signed with the Eagles.

The two UNC Tar Heel signed so far are cornerback Tim Scott, who was signed by the Cowboys, and tight end Jack Tabb, who was signed by the Saints. Scott impressed scouts with a 4.55 40-yard dash at UNC’s Pro Day prior to the draft but it wasn’t enough to get drafted.

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Skins get a character guy in Crowder who will make impact this year

Jamison Crowder.

Jamison Crowder.

Duke’s Jamison Crowder is planning on being a wide receiver in the NFL but he’ll make an immediate impact returning punts, and possibly kickoffs, for the Washington Redskins in 2015.

The Redskins chose the ACC’s all-time receiving leader with the sixth pick of the fourth round, 105th overall.

“I just want an opportunity to get in the league, and I wouldn’t want to play for no better team than the Redskins,” Crowder said during a teleconference with reporters. “I’m excited.”

Crowder, at just 5-foot-8 185-pounds, caught 283 passes for 3,641 yards and 23 touchdowns in his career.

“I feel like I’m one of the top receivers in this draft,” the Monroe native said. “I can go in and make an impact in the offense.”

But Redskins’ coach Jay Gruden sees Crowder as more of a force on special teams.

“We liked his big play ability,” Gruden said. “He can return punts, obviously. He’s going to be instant playmaker for us. That’s going to be a good one.”

The Redskins haven’t returned a punt for a touchdown since the 2008 season. Crowder, an All-America special teams player, returned four punts and one kickoff for touchdowns in college.

Gruden said the Redskins will look at Crowder as a kick returner as well.

“Special teams was something that I had great success with in college,” Crowder said. “I feel like that’s a way I can get on the field and be able to display my talents and abilities in the open field.”

Duke coach David Cutcliffe says the most important thing about Jamison is the type of person he is. “Jamison is another incredible example of a young man who has combined natural abilities with hard work to make his dreams come true,” he said. “Everyone sees his explosiveness and short space quickness, but it is his character that puts him in a very special category.”

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Syracuse wins as Duke comeback comes up short in lacrosse finals

Kevin Rice.

Kevin Rice.

Third-seeded Syracuse overcame a slow start and held on late to beat fourth-seeded Duke, 15-14, to claim the 2015 ACC Men’s Lacrosse Championship Sunday at PPL Park in Philadelphia.

With the Orange leading 15-12, Thomas Zenker and Myles Jones scored for Duke within 24 seconds to make it a one-goal game with 2:32 remaining. The Syracuse defense then kept the Blue Devils from scoring the late equalizer as the Orange won its first ACC title in its second year in the league.

Kevin Rice, Randy Staats, and Nicky Galasso led the way for Syracuse (11-2) with three goals apiece.

Rice was named the Most Valuable Player after tallying seven points on three goals and four assists on Sunday and two goals and two assists in the semifinals on Friday.

“Playing two games in three days against top six teams is sort of what you will see in the Final Four,” said Rice. “To know we can go in and win a game the first day, get our preparation in quickly and get our bodies back and win another game at the end of the weekend is good to know moving forward.”

The 29 goals scored equaled the championship game record, set in each of the last two years. It marked the sixth time in league history that the title game was decided one goal.

Jack Bruckner posted five goals and Myles Jones chipped in with a hat trick to lead the Duke (11-5) offense.

The Orange converted on 3-of-4 extra-man opportunities, while Duke did not score on four attempts, including two in the fourth quarter.

“I think we understood who they were,” said Syracuse head coach John Desko on his defense against Duke’s man-up offense. “I give Bobby Wardwell a lot of credit for the saves that he made today. I was surprised with the numbers, the amount of situations and all over play. He saved us today.”

After giving up a goal less than a minute into the game to Nicky Galasso, Duke strung together five straight to grab control in the first quarter.

Syracuse opened up the second quarter with its own 5-0 run to take the lead, 7-6. Orange goalkeeper Bobby Wardwell made four saves in the frame to help Syracuse get back into the game.

“We did a better job with our possessions,” said Desko on the turnaround after the early deficit. “Especially in the first quarter, we had a lot of turnovers on the offensive end of the field and gave them the ball back. Every time we got a faceoff with Ben (Williams), I think that gave us a little spurt in those situations too. I think we got on a little bit of a roll and figured out who they were defensively and what they were doing.”

Dylan Donahue and Randy Staats scored the final two goals of the first half to give Syracuse a 9-7 lead heading into halftime.

Duke’s Jack Bruckner scored less than a minute after halftime to pull the Blue Devils to within one goal, but Syracuse answered with tallies from Rice and Galasso to push the lead to three, 11-8.

The third and fourth quarters saw back-and-forth action, with the Orange unable to pull away and the Blue Devils unable to tie the game.

Duke fired four shots in the last two minutes after pulling to within one goal, but could not get the last score needed to send the game to overtime.

“Defensively, we haven’t been overly outstanding over the course of the year,” said Duke head coach John Danowski. “We are playing so many young people in so many new positions. For our guys, it’s not so much a matter of preparing for your opponent as much as it is trying to get better ourselves and working on what we do.”

The Blue Devils outshot Syracuse, 43-35, and both teams grabbed 34 ground balls. Wardwell (11-2) made eight saves for the Orange in the victory.

Led by Kyle Rowe, Duke was 21-of-32 on faceoffs.

With the victory at PPL Park and the 9-8 sudden victory overtime win in the women’s tournament, Syracuse becomes the third school in ACC history to sweep the men’s and women’s titles.


All-Tournament Team

Kevin Rice, Syracuse (MVP)
Bobby Wardwell, Syracuse
Brandon Mullins, Syracuse
Nicky Galasso, Syracuse
Randy Staats, Syracuse
Jack Bruckner, Duke
Case Matheis, Duke
Kyle Rowe, Duke
Myles Jones, Duke
Chad Tutton, North Carolina
Nick Ossello, Notre Dame

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Duke upsets ND to earn trip to lacrosse finals vs. Syracuse, winners over UNC

acclaxDuke upset Notre Dame while Syracuse upset North Carolina to set up a Duke-Syracuse ACC lacrosse final Sunday.

Fourth-seeded Duke jumped out to a big lead and withstood a late comeback attempt to defeat top-seeded and No. 1-ranked Notre Dame, 13-8, Friday night in the semifinals of the 2015 ACC Men’s Lacrosse Championship at PPL Park in Philadelphia.

Second-ranked North Carolina came from down by three in the second half to tie fourth-ranked (third-seeded) Syracuse 8-8 in the fourth quarter. But, while the Tar Heels had held the Orange scoreless for almost 25 minutes, Syracuse’s Kevin Rice wrapped around from behind the goal to score with 1:48 left to give the Orange a 9-8 victory.

A controversial offsides call on UNC’s Chad Tutton, who had scored two straight goals to tie it at 8, ended any chance the Tar Heels had to come behind in the last minute.

“I thought it was a great call myself,” Syracuse coach John Desko said with a wry smile. “I didn’t really see it.”

Case Matheis led the way for Duke with four goals on seven shots, with Justin Guterding adding three goals in a rematch of the 2014 NCAA National Championship game. With the win, the Blue Devils improved to 11-4 and avenged a 15-10 regular season loss to the Irish on April 4.

“It’s awesome,” said Matheis on reaching the championship game. “In my first two years we lost in the semis. Those games are turning points in that they were losses. This time we won and it’s another turning point in building our confidence and building our team dynamic.”

UNC-Syracuse box score

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UNC tennis edges Duke to advance to ACC semifinals

UMC sophomore Jack Murray after match-clinching victory. (UNC Sports Information photo)

UMC sophomore Jack Murray after match-clinching victory. (UNC Sports Information photo)

With a spot in the ACC semifinals at stake, the fourth-seeded North Carolina men’s tennis team edged fifth-seeded Duke 4-3 on Friday in a marathon at Cary Tennis Park that lasted longer than four hours. The Tar Heels dropped the doubles point but battled back to tie the match at 3-3, setting up sophomore Jack Murray for his match-clinching victory on court four in a winner-take-all third set.

Carolina improves to 21-9 with the win, while the Blue Devils fall to 22-6.

Doubles play got off to a promising start for the Tar Heels, with Murray and fellow sophomore Ronnie Schneider notching an 8-5 victory over Duke’s pair of Raphael Hemmeler and Daniel McCall. However, the Blue Devils would take control on courts two and three to secure the point. At the No. 2 spot, senior Esben Hess-Olesen and sophomore Brayden Schnur rallied from down 6-3 to force a tiebreaker, but the duo ultimately fell to Duke’s Josh Levine and Jason Tahir 8-7. With the doubles point up for grabs, Carolina’s 39th-ranked pair of junior Brett Clark and freshman Robert Kelly dropped a rare match at the hands of TJ Pura and Bruno Semenzato, 8-6. The loss snapped Clark and Kelly’s nine-match win streak that dated back to Feb. 20 at Texas.

Singles competition did not disappoint for the UNC fans that ventured out to Cary Tennis Park. The Tar Heels were able to tally four wins – including three in three sets – to steal a win from its archrival.

The Tar Heels will be back in action on Saturday at 10 a.m. against top-seeded Virginia in the semifinals. The Cavaliers are 2-0 versus UNC this season.

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Cutcliffe talks about Duke spring football

David Cutcliffe.

David Cutcliffe.

DAVID CUTCLIFFE: As Mike mentioned,
February 28th we had our spring game. We
started immediately after national Signing Day in
recruiting. So we were pleased. Obviously, the
big questions were replacing a big defensive front.
Four of our starters are gone. Lose two
outstanding longtime starters
on the offensive line.
And then replacing Anthony Boone and
Jamison Crowder and David Helton, very
productive players for us. David leading the ACC
in tackles the last two years. Anthony, the
winningest quarterback in Duke football history.
And Jamison Crowder, who has caught more
passes than anyone other than Conner Vernon in
ACC football history.
So that’s our focus. We like our team. We
like their work ethic. We just have to go see what
we can do on the field at this point. Our guys are
working hard in the off-season, which is a great
thing to see.
I’ll take your questions.

Q. I know that it’s kind of off the
football field, but the Penn relays this weekend,
you have a few guys, and I know you like your
fast guys to get faster, so DeVon Edwards,
Ryan Smith, just what you can say how
important it is to have some of these guys do
track and field before they go to football?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: It started early in my
career at the University of Tennessee when Stan
Huntsman was our track coach. We had a lot of
people — Willie Gault, Sam Graddy probably being
the most well-known that were extremely
successful in both sports, and they go hand in
hand, and I like our speed.
We have more guys that
can run, but also they love it, and one of the things I do is I make
sure they’re doing every other thing right before we
let them do it, and DeVon and Ryan continue to
earn that opportunity. And DeVon Edwards is
probably our fastest player on our squad, and I say
probably because it would be a good race.
But I’m happy for them, and I think it’s
great for Duke track and field. Those guys — last
year we had a full group run 400 meters, and they
almost set the school record the first time out. So
I’m happy for them. It should be fun.

Q. And then as far as the spring, just
what you were able to take away, maybe some
of the leaders that you saw step up for you
coming out of spring, some of those guys that
really have meant something to you as far as
leadership.
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: I think on the
defensive side, it was very evident, starting with
Jeremy Cash, the entire secondary. DeVon
Edwards, who we already talked about, Deondre
Singleton, Bryon Fields, Breon Borders. We
returned our entire secondary, and those guys
have great energy and tempo.
We’ll just flip quickly over to the offensive
side, Matt Skura, our fine center. Lucas Patrick,
the returning guard, that are both seniors that just
really do a tremendous job. Shaquille Powell is as
good a leader as I’ve been around, our starting
tailback. And Max McCaffery out at wide receiver.
So I thought our habits, our work habits all
spring were outstanding, really based — and Carlos
Wray, I should mention in our defensive front.
Those guys really did set a tempo along with the
returning of Kelby Brown and Braxton Deaver, who
are back, thank goodness, for sixth years. So you
really like this team’s temperament and work
habits.

Q. I wanted to ask you about the
defensive front. Since you’ve had a couple of
months now since spring practice ended, what
have you seen from your film review of spring
ball and the way that group got their work
done?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Well, I was really
pleased with our starters, really good spring. A.J.
Wolf solidified himself starting alongside Carlos
Wray, and he has just become more and more
powerful and has done a nice job of improving
himself. And he’s played a lot of football, but he’s
ready and showed that.
Kyler Brown had a great spring. He’s
comfortable at defensive end. Britton Grier is
coming into his own. Both of those guys played a
lot of football, but they
played like seniors.
And then I was pleased what we have with
our young people inside, Mike Ramsey, Quaven
Ferguson, Edgar Cerenord, Keilin Rayner. And
then on the outside, we moved Allen Jackson
outside, and I thought he had a really good spring.
Deion Williams finished strong. Marquies Price,
who is a midyear guy, got a ways to go, but he
could be as talented as anybody we’ve ever had.
So just a lot of positives about our
defensive front, and the more we study it, the more
we like what we’re seeing. And then I think,
obviously, we do believe we have some guys
coming in here this summer to join us that could
impact us. So I think that’s another great part of
what we’re looking at from a depth standpoint.

Q. One followup. You mentioned Kelby
and Braxton. I know they didn’t work out in
spring ball, but how are they coming along with
their injuries? Do you expect any drawbacks
for them come the start of practice?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: No. They’ll be full
speed. They’re close to that now. There’s no
benefit in rushing them out there. Their rehab is
going outstanding. Both of them feel good. Their
presence, their leadership presence was felt all
spring.
They did a great job of being out on the
field, basically coaching, encouraging, challenging.
It’s like having, instead of
9 assistant coaches this
spring, it was like having 11, seriously. So I
thought they impacted our spring practice in a big
way.

Q. Just curious the last couple years
with your guys’ recent success, how much
easier, how much more receptive, have you
seemed to notice a difference on the road in
recruiting and going out on the road? How
much difference is it for you guys?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: I can go back to
pinpoint all the way back to playing Texas A&M in
a great slot, national television slot on New Year’s
Eve, where so many people saw us. I think that
was a turning point in recruiting because people
view you differently, and they do view us
differently, thank goodness. So it’s helped without
question.
We’ve always had great name recognition.
I think people know that and believe that we do
things the right way, but kids want to win. When
you win, it certainly impacts everything about your
program. Also, the other part of it is, when you
win, you have a lot of continuity within your staff,
and I’m very pleased with our coaching staff. I
think we have as fine a coaching staff as there is in
the country.

Q. Obviously, Thomas Sirk got a head
start because he’s got game experience, but
have you seen anybody step forward in the
quarterback race this spring? Where does that
situation stand?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: Right now Thomas
Sirk is our number one. Parker Boehme is our
number two, and Parker had a great spring. I’ve
just gained more and more confidence in both of
them. I trust both of them in every aspect of who
they are, which is fun as the coach. They’re
talented. They throw it well.
They will be the pair, and then you throw
Nico Pierre is number three. As a threesome,
they’re the best running quarterbacks we’ve ever
had, but these guys can throw it. I thought
Thomas Sirk had a great spring throwing the
football. He’s a big guy, 6’5″, 220. He’s got touch.
He’s got great arm strength, and then he can
create as well as Parker.
So it’s just going to be an interesting
continuing battle, but it’s obviously one of the
things we like to do is play multiple quarterbacks.
You just mentioned it. I believe these guys are
going to allow us to do that.

Q. Just out of curiosity, how much
bump, or do you get one at all for what the
basketball team did last month?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: It’s awesome. Love
it. People think Duke, they think winning. It’s just
an all around positive impact for our university, and
Duke basketball has been for a long time.
We won the championship back in 2010
and we felt it. You’re in the public eye, and we
have already felt it again. So we are thrilled for
them, proud of them, but we certainly benefit from
it.

Q. Good afternoon. Obviously, you
lost a very talented receiver, as you said, you
lost a couple of receivers and a couple of
offensive linemen. How do those positions
look to you coming out of the spring?
DAVID CUTCLIFFE: We had veterans,
Cody Robinson and Tanner Stone, competing for
that right guard spot. Our left tackle spot, we have
a sophomore, Gabe Brandner, that ended up
number one.
I thought he had a great spring. I feel
good. I feel better about our depth. We have
some good young talent, and some of them have
now played some. So really not backed up in
many places where people haven’t played in the
offensive line, which I think is important.
I thought our receivers had an exceptional
spring. I thought Jeff Faris, our receiver coach, set
a great tempo. You lose Jamison. You lose Isaac
Blakeney, who were two of our starters. We got
Max McCaffery and Johnell, who we considered
starters, Johnell Barnes. And our young people
really got better. Ryan Smith really got better.
We got a receiving corps, and I think that our depth
is better, and we will be able to play more people.
Again, I thought from practice habits and overall
drill performance, which is a lot of what spring
practice is, our receivers led the way for our team.
So I was pleased with their work.

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Carolina third in Learfield Sports Cup; ACC well represented

tarheelslogoSeven Atlantic Coast Conference schools rank among the top 26 of the 2014-15 Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup Division I Standings following the completion of the fall and winter sports seasons.

The ACC is tied for the most among all conferences with four schools ranked among the top 12 and seven ranked among the top 30. The ACC’s 12 schools ranked among the top 65 also tie for the most of any conference. Nine ACC schools rank among the top 50, while 13 of the conference’s 15 schools earned sports among the top 84.

The Duke men’s NCAA basketball championship highlighted the winter season for the ACC, which also saw the Notre Dame women’s basketball team place second nationally. A total of 18 teams from ACC schools posted national top-10 finishes in the sports of basketball, fencing, swimming and diving, wrestling and ice hockey.

North Carolina holds third place in the overall scoring with 823.5 points and is joined in the top-10 by Notre Dame in ninth place with 601.5.

Florida State ranks 11th with 597.5 points, followed by Virginia in 12th place with 571.

NC State (22nd place with 466.5 points), Duke (25th place with 450.5) and Louisville (26th with 449.5) round out the ACC’s representation among the top 30.

Virginia Tech ranks 41st (392 points), Syracuse 48th (344.5), Miami 58th (248), Clemson 59th (244.5), Boston College 65th (217), Pitt 84th (145), Georgia Tech 105th (110) and Wake Forest 172nd (50).

Complete standings and the scoring structure can be found on NACDA’s website at www.directorscup.org.

The Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup was developed as a joint effort between the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and USA Today. Points are awarded based on each institution’s finish in up to 20 sports — 10 women’s and 10 men’s.

The first standings of the spring sports season will be released on Thursday, May 28.

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UNC, Duke square off in ACC men’s tennis tourney in Cary

Screenshot (77)CARY – The quarterfinal field for the 2015 ACC Women’s Tennis Championship in Cary, N.C. is set, as Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech and North Carolina advance for a chance to earn a berth in the semifinals.

Clemson moved on to the quarterfinals by upsetting No. 6 Louisville, 4-3. The Tigers grabbed the doubles point against the Cardinals and held on down the stretch for the victory. Hampton Drake sealed the match for Clemson in the final singles tout. The Tigers will face No. 3 Wake Forest Friday (April 24) at 9 a.m.

Duke breezed to a first round victory over No. 12 Miami, 4-0. The Blue Devils earned the doubles point on back-to-back 8-4 wins by the No. 1 and No. 2 duos, never looking back. Josh Levine earned the match clinching point at No. 5 singles. Duke will play No. 4 North Carolina Friday at 12 p.m.

Florida State edged No. 9 NC State, 4-2, in a marathon match lasting 4 hours and 18 minutes. The Seminoles advanced behind a doubles point and victories at the No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 singles positions. Florida State will face top-seeded Virginia Friday at 9 a.m.

Georgia Tech blanked No. 7 Notre Dame, 4-0, earning a spot in Friday’s quarterfinals. The Yellow Jackets took the doubles point and then received huge contributions from the bottom of its lineup with No. 4, No 5 and No. 6 singles players all getting victories. Georgia Tech will square off with No. 2 Virginia Tech at 9 a.m. Friday.

North Carolina cruised to a 4-0 victory over No. 13 Boston College, grabbing the doubles points and setting the tone. The Tar Heels would get dominant performances from their No. 2, No. 4 and No. 5 singles players, all victorious in straight sets. North Carolina will face No. 5 Duke tomorrow at 12 p.m.

– News release

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Sankey among five Tar Heels named to All-ACC lacrosse team

UNC Joey Sankey.

UNC Joey Sankey.

Eleven student-athletes on the Tewaaraton Award watch list highlight this year’s All-Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Lacrosse Team, as announced today by the conference office. The team was determined by a vote of the league’s five head coaches.

North Carolina and Syracuse each had five student-athletes named to the All-ACC Team. Notre Dame, which went undefeated in league play (4-0) and earned the ACC regular-season title, has four members on the squad. Duke has three, followed by Virginia with one.

Jake Bailey, Jimmy Bitter, Ryan Kilpatrick, Joey Sankey and Chad Tutton represent North Carolina, while Syracuse placed Dylan Donahue, Nicky Galasso, Brandon Mullins, Kevin Rice and Ben Williams on the All-ACC Team. Notre Dame’s selections are Conor Doyle, Matt Kavanagh, Matt Landis and Sergio Perkovic.

Deemer Class, Will Haus and Mylse Jones represent Duke, and Matt Barrett is Virginia’s selection on this year’s All-ACC Team.

North Carolina’s Sankey, a senior attackman from Warminster, Pennslyvania, earned his third straight All-ACC nod, while teammates Bitter and Tutton are repeat selections from a season ago. Also earing repeat honors are Duke’s Class and Jones, Notre Dame’s Kavanagh, and Syracuse’s Mullins and Rice. Orange teammate Nicky Galasso also earns All-ACC honors for the second time in his career as he was an All-ACC selection in 2011 as a freshman at North Carolina.

Syracuse’s Donahue leads the ACC with 3.45 goals per game and ranks fifth in the nation in that category. North Carolina’s Bitter (4.93), Syracuse’s Rice and Donahue (4.73) and Duke’s Jones (4.64) rank 1-4 among conference players in points per game, and rank seventh, eighth and 11th, respectively among all NCAA Division I players.

Williams, a sophomore from Mendota Heights, Minnesota, owns the league’s top faceoff percentage (.693), a mark that ranks second in NCAA Division I, while leading the nation in ground balls per game with 10.0.

Virginia’s Barrett has been solid in the net for the Cavaliers with a 10.92 goals against average over an ACC-high 741:27 in net, and has made 172 saves this season.

The 2015 ACC Men’s Lacrosse Championship gets underway with two semifinal games Friday at PPL Park right outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Top-seeded Notre Dame faces No. 4 Duke at 5:30 p.m., followed by No. 2 North Carolina vs. No. 3 Syracuse at 8 p.m. Virginia will play Penn in the ACC-Penn Classic on Saturday night at 7:30, followed by Sunday’s 1 p.m. title game between Friday evening’s winners.

ESPNU will broadcast the Friday evening semifinals and Sunday’s championship game, while ESPN3 will show the ACC-Penn Classic on Saturday. The semifinals and championship games will also be available on the WatchESPN app.

Individual awards, including Offensive Player, Defensive Player, Coach and Freshman of the Year, will be voted on by the league’s head coaches following the ACC Championship.

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Calling Bullsh*t on why Christian Laettner was hated

laettner3030ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary Sunday night addressed the issue of why people hate former Duke basketball player Christian Laettner. While touching on and sometimes dancing around some of the real reasons, for the most part, they tried to conclude that it was mainly because Duke won all the time and he was the face of Duke. I call bullsh*t on that.

Fans in the ACC, who saw him the most, didn’t hate him because Duke beat them. In fact, during his four years, North Carolina went 6-5 against Duke including a 22-point victory in an ACC Tournament final. Tar Heel fans were more likely to hate him because he lacked class – what they thought was in great contrast to their team. Simply put, he was an ass.

Christian Laettner.

Christian Laettner.

He treated people poorly – even his own fans – ignoring them, refusing autographs and generally coming across as if he were better than you and everyone. On the court, he talked trash and used foul language. He intentionally stomped on people and picked fights. He was beyond conceited, beyond arrogant.

These are all legitimate reasons to hate someone, or to put it softer, dislike someone.

Unfortunately, especially nationally, there is another disturbing reason Laettner is hated. He’s white and played basketball better than most black players. He wasn’t rich and entitled. He wasn’t white collar. He was just white.

Many white people, especially, think of basketball as a black man’s game. And they are jealous that they can’t play basketball that way. It’s racist in so many ways – from the attitude that black people are there to entertain on the basketball court to the fact that a white guy shouldn’t be able to play that way.

There is a white guilt issue. White = privilege. Black = struggle. As one high school coach says, “Suburban kids tend to play for the fun of it but inner city kids look at basketball as a matter of life and death.”

Think I’m all wet? How else can one explain that in a national bracket on the most hated players, in the final eight there was only one person – Mateen Cleaves – who has a black mother and a black father? In a sport where the vast majority of starters are black, only one black player made the final eight. Are only white players taunting opponents or pounding their chest after buckets? Or is it that our society likes that kind of out-of-control emotion? The Seattle Seahawks’ Richard Sherman certainly gets endorsements largely for his antics.

More than half of the nominees put up for the most hated player of the last 30 years are white. Of the Final Four, three of the players most hated played at Duke’s rival UNC – Eric Montross, Tyler Hansbrough and Rick Fox, whose mother is white. So all four of the most hated players of the last 30 years of college basketball were born to white mothers. How can that be explained?

Did Montross, Hansbrough and Fox treat fans poorly? No. Did they use foul language and pick fights on the court? No. Did they act arrogant? No. Did they get caught for smoking dope? No. Did they play for Duke? No. Perhaps they were hated for being goody two shoes, and whites are more likely to be perceived as goody two shoes. I don’t know. I suppose the argument can be made that Carolina traditionally wins, like Duke, but then why wouldn’t Scott Williams or J.R. Reid or Jerry Stackhouse or Rasheed Wallace be on the list instead?

It’s disturbing. Montross “won” his bracket by beating out such players as Allen Iverson, a guy who had alcohol and gambling problems and who went broke buying jewelry to match his wild array of tattoos. That’s not to mention his not paying child support for five kids, who he once illegally abducted from his wife. As a player, he skipped practices and threw his teammates and coaches under the bus. He was selfish and always hogged the ball.

He wasn’t good with fans. In fact, he was known for canceling appearances at the last second. After failing to attend one meet-and-greet, one fan put it this way: “It’s disappointing, but it’s not shocking, though. It’s kind of expected of him, it seems like.”

How can anyone explain hating Montross, a gentleman who takes time to speak with everyone and treats people with respect, more than Iverson? Is it what has become known as the “soft bigotry of low expectations” for blacks when it comes to how one presents himself and maybe the bigotry of high expectations for how blacks play basketball.

Laettner was a great basketball player, especially in college. If you’re going to hate Laettner, do so because he is, or at least was, a jerk.