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UNC’s Williams to speak and answer questions at Raleigh Sports Club

Roy Williams.

Roy Williams.

UNC basketball coach Roy Williams, embattled over academic violations involving some of his former players at North Carolina, will speak at the Raleigh Sports Club Wednesday, Nov. 19, and will be available to answer questions.

The club meets at Bradley Hall in Highland United Methodist Church at 1901 Ridge Road. Buffet lines open at 11:30 a.m. and the meeting is from noon until 1 p.m. Attendance fee for members is $15 while guest fee is $25.       

David Reynolds, a basketball player at Ravenscroft School, will be honored as the RSC’s Student Athlete of the Week.

The annual membership fee is $70, which helps to fund the club’s scholarship fund. Each week from late August to early April meetings include a Southern buffet, door prizes, pick sheets and introduction to a deserving Student Athlete as well as hearing from a prominent sports figure as our guest speaker.
Raleigh Sports Club Membership Form


Heels open season with a bland win

Brice Johnson.

Brice Johnson.

After all the non-basketball talk, UNC must at least be happy to talk about on-the-court problems now.

North Carolina jumped out to an 11-0 lead in the season opener and used balanced scoring in an overall uninspiring 76-60 over NC Central in Chapel Hill.

“It’s a ‘W,’” UNC coach Roy Williams said blandly. “Not the prettiest thing in the world but Coach (Levelle) Moton’s bunch did some good things.”

NCCU went to the zone and bottled up UNC guard Marcus Paige, who was chosen by ACC media as the preseason player of the year, with a box in one. Paige finished with just eight points on a 2 for 8 performance from the field.

The Tar Heels, who led by as many as 14 points in the first half, had their lead cut to nine at 28-19 at the half.

Carolina started hot in the second half, extending the lead to 36-20 on a pair of old-fashioned three-point plays by freshman starter Justin Jackson and Isiah Hicks, along with a baseline jumper by JP Tokoto.

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Fedora says Tar Heels anxious to get back on the field

Larry Fedora.

Larry Fedora.

The North Carolina football team had a bye week to think about the loss to big loss to Miami. It was big on the scoreboard and big because it ended any reasonable hopes of a title.

“I think that they’re anxious to get back out on the field and play, I really do,” UNC coach Larry Fedora said. “I think they were disappointed with what happened. We got all of that out of our system this past week and I think they’re anxious to get back out on the field and play football.”

He said the team had good practices during the open week and that everybody is fresh. “Everybody is as healthy as we’re going to get at this point and we’re just raring to go into this next game,” he said.

Fedora said it will be a tough homecoming game Saturday against Pitt (12:30, ACC Network).

“They are totally committed to running the football and being physical up front and hitting you with the play action pass when you commit everybody,” he said point out that Pitt has the leading rusher in the country in James Conner.

“He’s a big 6’2, 250 pound bruising guy that can go,” Fedora said. “They lead him with a 270 pound fullback. They are really big up front on the offensive line. Their quarterback is doing a nice job, I think he’s the second leading rusher on their team and you have the Boyd kid who makes all kinds of plays out at wide receiver for them. So we have our work cut out for us to get ready for this game, we haven’t looked on ahead I assure you.”

The Tar Heels finish the regular season at Duke and hosting NC State. “We’ve got to put all of our focus on Pitt,” Fedora said.


State celebrates Military Appreciation Day Saturday

ncsumilitarySaturday’s game against Wake Forest will be NC State’s annual Military Appreciation Day at Carter-Finley Stadium. Throughout the day, festivities will honor those who protect our freedom. Wolfpack fans have donated tickets to the contest, which have been distributed to military members and veterans through the National Guard, Fort Bragg, USO and other military bases and entities.

Here are some of the other events that will take place on Saturday:

Adopt-A-Serviceperson: Wolfpack Club members will be hosting troops at their pregame tailgates. The Athletics Department is providing complimentary game tickets for these special guests.

Back Home Box Collection: Items for boxes and letters will be collected at each gate and at the Wolfpack Club Tent in the Fan Zone. For a ‘wish list’ of items, click here.

Pregame Tailgate: Coca-Cola and NC State Athletics are hosting a pregame tailgate party for 400 military personnel, including the Wounded Warriors, ROTC Cadets/Midshipmen and Student Veterans

Wounded Warriors Walk of Champions: Escorted by the Patriot Guard motorcycles, fans are asked to join the band, cheerleaders and dance team at the Walk of Champions at 12:15 p.m. as the Wounded Warriors arrive to the stadium prior to the football team. NC State ROTC midshipmen and cadets will line the Walk of Champions for the Wounded Warriors.

Coin Toss: Honored Military Members from each branch will be represented at the coin toss

During the Game:
- A veteran from the following eras will be recognized during the first quarter (WWII, Cold War, Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War and Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom)

- Military tug of war contest: The Army ROTC will take on last year’s champion the Air Force ROTC

Halftime Ceremony:
Will include a special military tribute by the NC State Marching Band, a full-field sized flag and the All-Veteran parachute team jumping into the stadium.

Military ‘shout-outs’ on the video board: If you have a photo of you serving and showing your pride for the Wolfpack, send your photos to athleticsmarketing@ncsu.edu to be displayed during the game.

Pushups: Each NC State ROTC branch and student veterans will be perform the in-game push-ups for the push-up board.

- News release


Duke, Virginia Tech football going in opposite directions

dukefootballhelmetDuke is battling for a second straight ACC Coastal Division Championship, while Virginia Tech is languishing at the bottom of the division.

That doesn’t mean the Blue Devils expect an easy game Saturday when the Hokies travel to Wallace Wade Stadium. The Duke players and coaches still remember nine years of frustration in dealing with Virginia Tech – a losing streak that was only snapped by a narrow 13-10 margin a year ago in Blacksburg, Va.

Plus, for all their problems in ACC play, the Hokies did travel to Ohio State earlier this season and hand the Buckeyes their only defeat of the season.

“Virginia Tech has been open and, I’m sure, has gotten a little healthier,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. “That’s an issue they’ve had to deal with all season as they’ve had a rash of critical injuries. It’s been tough on them. I expect to see a healthier team – a team that’s going to be highly motivated.”

Indeed, the Hokies need two wins in their final three games to become bowl eligible for the 22nd consecutive season.

Duke, which became bowl eligible for the third straight season by beating Virginia on Oct. 18, has its sights set on the division title. With three ACC games left to play, the Blue Devils are the only team in the division with just one loss.

In fact, it’s possible that Duke could clinch at least a tie for the division crown this Saturday, depending on the outcome of three games. First, Duke would have to beat Virginia Tech to get to 5-1 in ACC play. Then, Clemson would have to hand Georgia Tech its third ACC loss that afternoon in Atlanta. And, finally, unbeaten Florida State would need to hand Miami its third ACC loss that night in Miami, Fla.

But that’s not something the Blue Devils are focused on at the moment.

“It’s in the back of our minds,” senior Dezmond Johnson said when asked about the division race. “But it’s not something we think about. We can only win one game Saturday. That’s our focus right now.”

And the Duke veterans know enough to understand the issues Virginia Tech presents.

“It’s going to be a tough game,” quarterback Anthony Boone said, emphasizing the problems presented by legendary Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster.

“Bud Foster’s defense is a Bud Foster defense,” Boone said. “It’s pretty confusing. When it comes to coverages, they are not conventional. A lot of guys in different places. It’s kind of hard to track who’re safeties, who’re corners, who’re linebackers. He deals in confusion a little bit.

“He brings pressure. He puts those guys in good man-to-man coverage. They’re a great defense.”

Cutcliffe noted one other aspect of Virginia Tech’s team.

“This is a physical football team,” he said. “It’s been a physical war any time we play them. We have to step up to match them physically.”

A year ago, Virginia Tech limited Duke to a season low 198 total yards and forced four Blue Devil turnovers.


Virginia Tech is justly famous for their special teams excellence over the years – so much so that commentators have come up with a word to describe it: Beamerball.

But the fact is that over the last few years – especially this season – Duke has been the superior special teams team. In fact, the difference in last year’s game basically came down to the fact that Duke placekicker Ross Martin was 2-of-2 on field goals, connecting from 51 and 53 yards, while Virginia Tech placekicker Cody Journell missed 2-of-3 field goal tries.

So far this season, Martin has been perfect – 13-of-13 field goals and 38-of-38 extra points. He’s the only kicker in the ACC – and one of just three nationally – who hasn’t missed a kick this season.

And it’s not just Martin. DeVon Edwards leads the ACC in kickoff returns as Duke ranks second nationally in that category. Jamison Crowder just returned a punt for a touchdown to turn the Syracuse game around. Punter Will Monday currently has the seventh best career punting average in ACC history.

“We know we’re a unique team in that we’ve got a very experienced snapper and an outstanding one and an outstanding placekicker and an outstanding punter, an outstanding kickoff man and two REALLY outstanding return men with a lot of experience,” Cutcliffe said. “As we look at it, that’s probably one of the greatest strengths that this team has.

“It may be one of the greatest strengths I’ve been around in 39 years of coaching. That unit is as good as I been around.”

The ACC stats show that Duke is superior – and often far superior – to Virginia Tech in almost every category involving the kicking game. But Cutcliffe doesn’t put a lot of stock in those numbers.

“I don’t pay attention to statistical rankings,” he said. “I look at Virginia Tech and I know the athletes they have in their return game and I know the athletes they have on their punt team. I’m looking at big, physical fast people and the way they fly down the field.”


The Duke program got some very good news earlier this week, when the NCAA granted Kelby Brown and Braxton Deaver each a sixth year of eligibility.

“When I told our squad, the applause was incredibly loud,” Cutcliffe said. “That’s the commentary. [If you ask me] what it means to have them come back, you should have heard the squad.”

Both Brown and Deaver were preseason all-star candidates when they were hurt and sidelined for the season during preseason practice. It was particularly tragic since both players were sidelined during the 2012 season with season-long injuries.

Brown came back to earn first team All-ACC honor at linebacker in 2013. He was a preseason candidate for both the Butkus and the Bednarik awards. Deaver was the third-team All-ACC tight end in 2013, when he caught 46 passes for 600 yards and four TDs. He was a preseason candidate for the Mackey Award and was listed as the nation’s fourth best tight end by one publication.

Their return should add a lot to the 2015 Blue Devils.

“I don’t know if it’s hit me yet because I’m dealing with this team,” Cutcliffe said. “Both of them have been outstanding players and outstanding leaders.”

He said the process for getting a sixth-year waiver is far from automatic. He said that at Ole Miss and Tennessee, he had several prospects who applied and were turned down.

“We went through the process with conversation with both of them to decide what they wanted to do,” the Duke coach said. “It was a joyous decision to even apply for it and an even more joyous occasion when the decision came in.”

Cutcliffe said that neither player would participate in spring practice.


Duke currently leads the ACC in pass defense efficiency.

The Blue Devils are giving up an average of 197.0 passing yards a game, which ranks sixth in the ACC. But Duke has allowed an ACC low five touchdown passes (the next best number in the ACC is nine) and are second in the league in opponents’ completion percentage (52.0 percent).

And Duke is doing it with a secondary that starts five second year players – three true sophomores, one redshirt sophomore and a redshirt junior transfer in his second year at Duke.

“We’ve got good people – everything starts with that,” Cutcliffe said. “We’ve got good coaches. Jim Knowles schematically does a great job of giving people a lot to deal with. They’re well-coached.

“I also think our linebackers come into that. We’ve done better job of hurrying people – we’d like to have more sacks.”

Sophomore cornerback Breon Borders came up with two pass interceptions last Saturday – one easy one on a bad throw and one ridiculously difficult one along the sideline.

“I kind of had to work for one,” Borders said. “The other one? Sometimes you just have to be in the right place at the right time.”

Borders has been in the right place a lot in his brief career at Duke. Through 23 games, he has six interceptions and 12 pass breakups. Two of his picks came against 2013 Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston in the ACC title game.

Cutcliffe expects to see more from his young corner.

“Breon has a knack – I’m surprised he doesn’t have more [interceptions] at this point,” he said. “He’s got great, great ball skills. He’s just touching the tip of what he can do.”


Virginia Tech has one of the best pass rushes in the ACC, recording 31 sacks in nine games – second only to Clemson.

On the other hand, Duke has allowed just four sacks this season – the lowest number in college football. The Blue Devils’ offensive line hasn’t allowed a sack since the Miami game in September.

A lot of the credit has to go to senior left tackle Tacoby Cofield, who protects Anthony Boone’s blind side. But the 310-poind veteran suggests that Duke’s low sack total is a product of many players performing at a high level.

“It’s not really just us as an offensive line,” Cofield said. “It’s the entire offense – the backs picking up blitzes; Boone knowing what’s coming and knowing the coverages; the receivers running the right routes.”

Still, Cofield understands the pivotal role he plays at left tackle.

“It’s a big responsibility,” he said. “I have a great relationship with Boone. We kind of laugh about it sometimes, but I told him, ‘If something’s going wrong, I’ll yell your name so be ready to run or get rid of the ball.’”

That hasn’t happened often this season.

“It’s great to know we’re protecting the quarterback so well,” Cofield said. “It’s something we’ve taken a lot of pride in.”

- Duke Sports Information news release


UNC teammates capture weekly swimming/diving awards

Jack Nyquist.

Jack Nyquist.

North Carolina sophomore Jack Nyquist and teammate Elissa Dawson helped the Tar Heels capture two ACC Swimming and Diving weekly awards, as each turned in solid performances against Louisville this past weekend. Also earning weekly honors were Florida State’s Connor Knight and Louisville’s Tanja Kylliainen after strong performances of their own.

Florida State’s Knight, who earned ACC Male Swimmer of the Week honors, continued to show off his dominance in the fly races while helping the Seminole relays to four season best times. In the 200 fly, Knight recorded an NCAA B-cut, turning in a season best time of 1:45.04. The senior’s time is the fifth best mark in the country this season and the second fastest in the ACC. In the second portion of the meet, Knight clocked a 47.23 in the 100 fly, marking the fastest swim in the NCAA this season in the event.

North Carolina’s Nyquist took home the ACC Male Diver of the Week after he swept the diving events in the Tar Heels dual meet against Louisville. The Alpharetta, Georgia, native edged out teammate Sean Burston in the 1-meter diving, prevailing by 1.43 points. In the 3-meter competition, Nyquist was dominant as he scored 423.82 points, a score nearly 59 points ahead of second-place Sean Piner of Louisville. His 3-meter score was the highest of the season and just shy of his collegiate career-best of 436.58 set against Texas as a freshman.

Louisville’s Kylliainen grabbed ACC Female Swimmer of the Week after a strong showing against the Tar Heels. The senior finished the meet with NCAA B-cut times in four different races. In the first event of day two, Kylliainen swam a 25.71 split as a member of the 200-medley relay team which edged their Tar Heel counterparts by 0.84 seconds. The Towson, Maryland, native won the 200 IM with an NCAA B-cut time of 1:58.48 and the 200-fly with another B-cut time of 1:56.37. Kylliainen also won the women’s 100 backstroke with an NCAA B-cut time of 54.29 and dominated the 400 IM with a B-cut time of 4:14.04.

North Carolina’s Dawson was named ACC Female Diver of the Week after winning both diving events to help lead the Tar Heels edge the Cardinals. Dawson won the 1-meter with a season-high score of 323.48, nearly 27 points ahead of second place. On the 3-meter board, Dawson set a new school record score of 384.08, breaking her own record score of 355.13 set earlier this year against Georgia. The freshman has won five of eight events to date in North Carolina’s four dual meets.


Carolina women’s soccer earns No. 2 national seed

uncsoccerHighlighted by four Top-4 national seeds, the Atlantic Coast Conference placed six teams in the 2014 NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Championship field announced Monday afternoon.

ACC Champion Florida State (18-1-1) was awarded a No. 1 national seed to mark the fourth straight year the Seminoles have earned a No. 1 seed (fifth overall). ACC regular season co-champion North Carolina (12-3-2) and the 2014 ACC Championship runner-up Virginia (18-2-0) were given No. 2 national seeds, and Notre Dame (12-5-2) was tabbed a No. 4 seed. All four national seeded teams will host first round games on either Nov. 14, 15 or 16.

Clemson (13-3-2) and Virginia Tech (14-5-0) join those four in the field of 64 to mark the 16th straight year that at least six ACC teams have been selected to the tournament field.

North Carolina will be seeking its 22nd NCAA Championship and 23rd national title overall. The Tar Heels are the only Division I program that has earned a spot in the NCAA Championship each of the 33 years since its inception in 1982 and owns a 118-9-3 record in the event.

Several other ACC teams will extend notable streaks with this year’s NCAA appearances. Notre Dame will play in its 22nd NCAA Tournament and is in search of its fourth title. Virginia is in the field for the 21st straight year and 27th overall. Florida State has been part of the tournament every year since 2000 (15 straight appearances), and has reached the College Cup seven times during that run, including each of the past three seasons. Fresh off its first College Cup berth last season, Virginia Tech is in the tournament for the seventh straight year (eighth overall), while Clemson is among the field of 64 for the first time since the 2007 season and 15th time overall.

First-round matches will be played at campus sites Nov. 14, 15 or 16. First-round matches include Florida State hosting Sun Belt Champion South Alabama (19-2-1), North Carolina hosting Summit League Champion South Dakota State (10-7-2), Virginia hosting Big South Champion High Point (12-4-4), Virginia Tech hosting A-10 Champion Dayton (12-8-2) and Notre Dame hosting Horizon League Champion Valparaiso (14-1-4). Clemson will travel to Columbia, S.C., for its first-round match against South Carolina (13-5-3). The Tigers defeated the Gamecocks earlier this season, 1-0, on Sept. 5.

Second round matches will be played Friday, Nov. 21, at campus sites, and third-round matches will be played Sunday, Nov. 23, at the same campus sites. Quarterfinal matches will be played Nov. 28 and 29, also on campus sites.

The 33rd annual NCAA Women’s College Cup will be played Dec. 5 and Dec. 7 at FAU Soccer Stadium in Boca Raton, Fla. The first national semifinal on Friday, Dec. 5 will be played and shown live on ESPNU at 5 p.m., and the second semifinal will begin at approximately 7:30 p.m. and air live on ESPNU. The national championship match will take place Sunday, Dec. 7 at 1 p.m., and will also broadcast live on ESPNU.


UNC field hockey hosts NCAA tourney games; Duke also makes field

uncfieldhockeySix ACC field hockey teams earned bids to the 2014 NCAA Field Hockey Championship, announced Sunday night by the NCAA Field Hockey committee. The league claimed five of the eight at-large spots in the tournament and two of the four host sites were awarded to ACC programs.

North Carolina earned the top overall seed and will host first and second round games. Syracuse was also selected as a host site and enters the field as the No. 4 seed. Wake Forest clinched the league’s automatic berth by winning the ACC Championship, while Boston College, Duke, and Louisville claimed at-large bids and will begin tournament play on the road.

The announcement marks the second-straight year that at least six ACC teams have earned a postseason bid, while at least half of the league has claimed a tournament spot for 20 straight years.

North Carolina (17-3), the top overall seed in the tournament for the third time in the past four years, will face the winner of the Richmond/ Liberty play-in game. The Tar Heels will be making their 31st appearance in the tournament in the last 32 years. Duke (12-6) will also open tournament play in Chapel Hill and will face Big Ten champion Northwestern in the first round. Both the Tar Heels and Blue Devils advanced to the national semifinals last season, with Duke finishing as the national runner-up.

Syracuse (15-5) earned a postseason bid for the seventh consecutive year and second straight as a host site. The Orange will take on Boston University in the first round. Boston College (13-6) will play Penn State in the opening round at Syracuse.

ACC champion Wake Forest (14-6) is in the field for the 14th time in the last 16 years and will face Albany in the first round in College Park, Maryland.

Louisville (15-5) is headed to Storrs, Connecticut, and will open tournament play against Stanford. The Cardinals are making their fourth tournament appearance in program history and first since 2008.

The six ACC tournament teams are ranked in the top 11 spots in the NFHCA Top 20, and have all been ranked during the entire season. The league combined to go 70-11 against nonconference competition, the best record of any conference, and was 19-4 against NCAA tournament teams during the regular season.

The first round on Saturday, Nov. 15, and the second round on Sunday, Nov. 16, will be held at campus sites. The semifinals and championship, hosted by the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland, will be played on Nov. 21 and 23.


Duke, UNC fall in men’s ACC soccer tournament

uncsoccer2Top-ranked Syracuse beat Duke 2-0 while Louisville upset North Carolina 1-0 in the ACC Men’s Soccer Championship Quarterfinal this afternoon in front of 2,533 fans at Syracuse Soccer Stadium.

The Orange scored a pair of first-half goals and locked down Duke’s offense in the second half to post a 2-0 win over the No. 7 seed Blue Devils.

Duke drops to 9-9-1 overall record, while Syracuse moves to 15-2-1 on the year.

“Credit to Syracuse today,” said head coach John Kerr. “We gave up that early goal and they were organized and strong in the back to keep us off the board. I’m proud of the way these guys played hard in these past four games and the senior leadership we’ve gotten in this final stretch of the season.”

No. 2 and third-seed North Carolina were knocked out of the tournament by the 19th-ranked and sixth-seeded Cardinal.

Louisville (9-6-3) got the only goal of the match in the 76th minute by Ivan Gutierrez off a feed from Ricardo Velazco.

UNC held a 9-6 shot advantage over the Cardinals.

The Blue Devils and the Tar Heels will await their fate for NCAA Tournament selections on Monday, Nov. 17.


Cavs beat Heels to advance to ACC women’s soccer title game

virginiasoccerThe No. 3 ranked Virginia Cavaliers, 18-1, advanced to Sunday’s ACC championship match with a 2-0 win over No. 2 ranked North Carolina, 12-2-1, in Friday night’s ACC women’s soccer semifinals in Greensboro. UVa will face top-seeded Florida State, who beat Notre Dame 3-1 in Friday’s other semifinal.

That’s a rematch of UVa’s only loss this season, a 1-0 FSU win in Tallahassee on September 28.

Makenzy Doniak and Morgan Reuther scored the Cavaliers’ two goals against Carolina in the first half. The Cavs outshot the Tar Heels 10-5.