Archive for March, 2011

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Former Wake coach says certain ACC teams need to be strong

Former Wake Forest head coach Dave Odom, speaking before the Raleigh Sports Club today, said that there are six teams that need to be strong most every year in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

He said in much the same way that it helps the NBA for the Celtics and Lakers to be strong, college basketball and the ACC needs North Carolina, Duke, NC State, Wake Forest, Virginia and Maryland to be good.

“The Atlantic Coast Conference in men’s basketball cannot be what it has always been unless those six teams – at least five of ‘em – are good,” Odom said. “The rest of ‘em, they can come and they can go.”

He said not all those six teams have been strong. when you look at the acc the past couple of years, that has not been true. have to get back to that. He said that those teams have to have solid coaching. He said that he believes Wake’s Jeff Bzdelik can get it done.

“He’s a fine person and an excellent coach,” Odam said. “He’s got to get some players and he has to get people back in the stands.”

He said the new coach at State will have to get more fans at the games. “You’ve got to buy those tickets at NC State,” he said. “You gotta be there come heck or high water. I can’t tell you how important that is to the coach, the institution, the Atlantic Coast Conference and even basketball at the national level.”

Odom compiled a career head coaching record of 406-278 record including a 240-132 mark at Wake Forest from 1989-2001. He won two ACC titles and led the Demon Deacons to eight NCAA Tournament appearances.

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UNC fans, regarding Stilman White, don’t over-expect

As Andy Griffith might say, “don’t over-expect” when it comes to the impact UNC basketball recruit Stilman White will have next year.

After Larry Drew II left the Carolina program, a scholarship opened and a need arose. As a result, UNC coach Roy Williams offered Wilmington Hoggard senior Stilman White a scholarship to back-up starting point guard Kendall Marshall.

Tuesday night, White called Williams to accept the offer.

White is only 6-foot, 170 pounds but word is that he is quick and pushes the ball up the floor quickly. The problem is, unlike Justin Knox who came to Carolina after playing for Alabama, White will be an inexperienced freshman. Knox filled in admirably for the departed Wear brothers, who bolted for UCLA. White will be expected to be able to do the same for the departed Drew II, who also bolted for UCLA.

Freshman guards who make an impact are fairly rare anyway but it would certainly be rare for a point guard who was choosing between BYU, Utah State and UNC-Wilmington to make an impact.

White will only play one year before taking a two-year Mormon mission. He’ll be back for the 2014-2015 season. He could eventually end up being a valuable member of the Tar Heels, and he may do an acceptable job next season, but don’t over-expect.

Here are his stats from last season:
20.5 points a game over 26 games played
Field goal percentage was 50.6
Three-point percentage was 35.9 (37 of 103)
Free throw percentage was 79.2 (145 of 183)
Three assists per game
2.6 turnovers per game
4.5 rebounds a game
20 blocked shots
54 steals

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Lessons from 2009 could affect current Heels

You couldn’t help but watch North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament and think, Wow, this team could be really good next year. And Roy Williams’ comment s after the Kentucky game about how UNC should remember that feeling remind you of the process the Tar Heels endured before the 2009 NCAA title.

There are really three paths for top collegiate teams. One is to stuff your roster with NBA talent and hope you make a lightning run through the tournament. That’s basically John Calipari’s approach – it doesn’t matter if Derrick Rose or John Wall turn pro because you’ll bring in another hired gun anyway.

The other way is the one you see more often in sports. Generally, contenders learn hard lessons along the road to titles, and determined players push further each year until finally winning a championship.

The Chicago Bulls, with Michael Jordan, were the perfect example of a team that stumbled in the playoffs in the early years before continuing to add pieces and improve. Once they broke through, they rolled to six NBA titles.

Carolina endured the same process with Tyler Hansbrough. The Tar Heels suffered a brutal loss to Georgetown in the 2007 regional finals but reached the Final Four in 2008. That Final Four appearance ended abruptly with a horrible performance against Kansas.

But Carolina’s key players all returned and UNC reaped a decisive national title in 2009.

UNC is going through the same process now. The Kentucky loss was difficult, but the Wildcats made shots with the game on the line and earned the win. Carolina will return intact next season if Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller and John Henson return, and two key recruits also arrive. There are never any guarantees of national titles – just ask Carolina’s 1994 team – but UNC clearly would enter the upcoming season as the favorite.

Turning pro tends to be an individual decision. Gerald Henderson left a Duke team that went on to win the NCAA title, even though you knew that with Henderson the Blue Devils were a title contender. Jerry Stackhouse and Rasheed Wallace abandoned UNC after one Final Four appearance.

One of the rites of spring in the Triangle is that players turn pro. All throughout the winter, the top ACC players profess loyalty to their team and say they want to stay in school and earn their degree. Then the season ends, the weather turns warm and they start thinking, Wow, I could be rich. So you learn over time to listen to what they say during the season and shrug.

But this Carolina team, and the players on it, appear different. And they also have a clear example of what staying in school can mean from their predecessors in 2009. Of all the gifts that Hansbrough gave UNC, perhaps the most was his zeal for enjoying the college experience. Barnes and Zeller and Henson may turn pro anyway, but that 2009 team set a clear example about the benefits of staying on track, and what that can mean for a career.

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Drew II enrolls at UCLA to play one season with Bruins

Larry Drew II, who left the UNC basketball program shortly after losing his starting position to Kendall Marshall, has enrolled at UCLA and will play for the Bruins for one season after sitting out next year.

“We are very excited about the addition of Larry Drew II to our program,” UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland said in a statement from the university. “He is an outstanding player and a really good kid. He is a great person and I think that he will be a great player for the Bruins in his final season of eligibility.”

Drew averaged 4.4 points, 2.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists over 21 games this season for the Tar Heels.

Earlier this month, Drew sang at his birthday party in California putting down the Tar Heels but now he’s being more diplomatic.

“It feels great to be back home,” Drew said in a statement today. “I had a great learning experience at North Carolina and they taught me a lot. I’m looking forward to getting a fresh start at UCLA and I’m happy to be a Bruin. Next year will give me time to focus on my academics and of course, train with the team.”

By the way, this is what is being reported that Drew sang at his party:
“Everything that I’m hearing is untrue. The media? They talking but they never confront you.
I mean the last three years I can’t undo, but now I’m making all the moves I want to.
Pick & rolls, I’m crossing [expletive]. Just felt like I got more game than my height showed.
They tried to tell me just to play my role, but who’s really trying to stick to a script that’s filled with typos?
Like a horror flick, they made me out to be a monster. [expletive] [expletive], I should have won an Oscar.
It ain’t over ’til the fat lady sing, right? I brought the whole opera.
It’s like Biggie, ‘who shot ya?’ But who who shot them? I’m so not them, but in the end I think that’s what really shocked them.
I refuse to be another robot, slim.”

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UNC baseball player takes national player of the week honors

NEWS RELEASE – Freshman Colin Moran was named a National Player of the Week by the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper on Monday for his effort in North Carolina’s 5-0 week. Moran finished the five game stretch with four home runs and 13 RBI for the Tar Heels.

Moran started the week with the best single-game performance of his career going 3-for-4 with a run scored a six RBI in the 14-2 win over UNC Wilmington. The freshman third baseman connected on a triple and a two-run home run in the rout.

The Rye, N.Y., native blasted another two-run home run in the 4-0 win over High Point on Wednesday before scoring and driving in a run in Friday’s 8-5 win over rival Duke.

Moran went deep again on Saturday when he drove in the game-winning run against Duke with a solo home run in the sixth inning. Moran finished Saturday’s game with a season-high three runs scored.

Moran capped off the weekend in style on Sunday when he connected on a game-tying three-run home run with one out in the bottom of the ninth against the Blue Devils. The home run capped off a day that saw Moran tally a pair of doubles, score two runs and drive in three more.

For the week Moran hit .529 (9-17) with eight runs, 13 RBI, 25 total bases and slugged a remarkable 1.471. Moran also drew five walks, including two intentional free passes, and reached base at a .636 clip.

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Watch UNC coach Roy Williams get emotional as season ends

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Watch the last moments of the UNC-Kentucky game

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Tar Heels season over as they can’t overcome threes

North Carolina trailed by eight at the half and by 11 in the second half but rallied to tie it late in the game only to see Kentucky hit a pair of threes to send the Wildcats to the NCAA Final Four by a 76-69 score.

Kentucky lived by the three-pointer as the Wildcats hit 12 of them on 22 attempts. With the score tied at 67 following a pair of free throws by UNC’s Tyler Zeller, Kentucky’s Brandon Knight fired in a three from the right wing to make it 70-67 with 2:50 left.

A Zeller basket drew the Heels within one with 1:54 to go but that was as close as it would get. Kentucky’s DeAndre Liggins blocked a shot by a driving Kendall Marshall and on the other end threw in a three late in the shot clock to make it 73-69 with just 36 seconds left. Free throws by Knight, who led five Wildcats in double figures with 22 points, wrapped it up and ended Carolina’s season at 29-8.

“I couldn’t be prouder of my team,” UNC coach Roy Williams said. “I wouldn’t trade my kids for anybody.”

He could have used a few more of them however as the John Henson, Harrison Barnes and Leslie McDonald all got in foul trouble. Henson’s foul trouble particularly hurt as he picked up his third just 13 minutes into the game. He ende up playing on 23 minutes and had to be careful with his play in the second half, especially after he picked up his fourth foul just four minutes into the second half.

“(Foul trouble) definitely hurt us,” Zeller said during the post-game press conference. “We had to change what we’ve been doing the last couple of months but at the same time you can’t blame it on that.”

Still, Henson, who fouled out in the last minute, was able to take only four shots, haul in just one offensive rebound and block no shots as he had to play tentatively when he was in the game.

For more on the game, please click here.

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Heels click on all cylinders for the first time in a while; make Elite 8

The dominating first half of the Marquette game might be good for a North Carolina team that hasn’t had its engine running on all cylinders lately.

The Tar Heels had to rally from way behind to make it to the ACC tournament finals and then they were whipped by Duke in the finals. They didn’t scare anybody with their win over a less talented Long Island team. While the tough victory over a very good Washington team seemed important, the Heels haven’t really clicked liked they did against Marquette.

The Tar Heels led 40-15 at the half and settled for a 81-63 victory to reach the Elite 8. The Heels had a 33-point lead in the second half and it took defense generating offense to do it. Carolina came up with 11 steals, eight blocks and helped force 18 Marquette turnovers.

Carolina held Marquette to six of 30 shooting in the first half including zero of eight from beyond the three-point line.

The second half might also serve as a lesson as fouls mounted up and the Marquette zone slowed the Tar Heels. Of course that also serves as a lesson for the next opponent who should try to get Carolina big men in foul trouble and employ a clamp-down zone. If Harrison Barnes and Leslie McDonald can’t shoot over it, the season will be over for the Heels.

While the Tar Heels aren’t a favorite to win the NCAA, they have as good a chance as most anyone left. They have to continue to score on fastbreaks as a result of defense and they have to be able to shoot over the zone.

For more on the Marquette game itself, please click here.

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Irving is likely to turn pro

You don’t have to be a genius to figure out Kyrie Irving isn’t returning to Duke next season.

ACC players know these questions are coming, and have become smart about them. The standard line is, “I’m not thinking about the NBA now” during the season. Of course, most of the time they are.

But the truth usually comes out soon after the season. And that’s why Irving, Thursday night, told The News & Observer, “I’m not definitely guaranteeing I’m coming back. I’ll sit down with the coaching staff after the NCAA tournament and go from there.”

Go from there means turn pro. And that’s going to leave a huge hole for a Duke team that also loses Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler.