Category Archives: Featured stories

UNC AD Cunningham to speak at Raleigh Sports Club Wednesday

Bubba Cunningham, the new athletic director at UNC, will speak at the Raleigh Sports Club luncheon meeting Wednesday.

He previously served as AD at Ball State University from 2002-05 and for the University of Tulsa from 2005 until accepting the position at Chapel Hill where he has recently made his first major hire in football coach Larry Fedora.

Samantha George, a Millbrook High School cross country runner, will be honored as the Student Athlete of the Week.

Buffet lines open at 11:30 a.m. The Forks Cafeteria will continue to cater a Southern Buffet. The meeting location will again be at Highland UMC at 1901 Ridge Road at the intersection of Lake Boone Trail, just inside the Beltline. Annual dues for the 2011-12 season will remain $60. Weekly attendance fee will remain $14 and applies whether the member plans to eat lunch or not. All guests fees will be $20 per guest. Pick sheets and door prizes will be held.

Miles Plumlee hauls in 22 rebounds as Duke drubs Maryland

There was no letdown for Duke following the emotional win over North Carolina as Miles Plumlee hauled in an amazing 22 rebounds in a 73-55 win over Maryland.

“We did a great job on the board and Miles [Plumlee] was fabulous,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “That’s the most rebounds any player has ever had that I have coached in 37 years in a ball game, and I told Miles, I have coached some pretty good players. He ends up diving for the ball, and I think for the first time in his life when he dove he threw the ball to his own team, so he was on a roll, literally and figuratively. To get 22 rebounds in a basketball game is phenomenal, just phenomenal.”

For his part, Plumlee said, “I know I have the potential to be a great asset to this team. I just have to be consistent and play strong every night, and that’s something I can do.

“Once I knew where I was, I was trying to get every single [rebound]. It wasn’t just me though. We stayed on that end of the floor for two minutes or something with the offensive boards, so the fact that everyone was rebounding with such intensity, it really sealed the game for us.

“We played with energy, we played hard, and when we do that, we’re going to play good on defense and on offense. It just showed up in the little things – we got loose balls, offensive boards, and just kind of put the game away.”

State’s Hill breaks collegiate record in the 3,000-meter run

NC State junior Ryan Hill broke the American collegiate record for the 3,000-meter run, smashing the previous record set by Oregon’s Galen Rupp.

Competing in the Flotrack Husky Classic in Seattle, the five-time All-American from Hickory, N.C., ran a time of 7:43.08 at Washington’s Dempsey Indoor Track, beating Northern Arizona’s Diego Estrada by more than 1 ½ seconds.

It’s the fastest indoor 3,000 meters ever run by an American collegiate runner, topping Rupp’s previous mark of 7:44.69. It’s the fourth fastest 3,000 meters ever run by a collegiate runner of any nationality, according to Track and Field News.

It also far exceeds Hill’s previous best in the event: last year at this same race, he broke the NC State and ACC record with a time of 7:50.38.

Heading into the final lap, Hill trailed Estrada by a few strides, as he had most of the race, and was losing distance. The two were running 62 seconds per 400 meters, so they knew the overall time would be close to Hill’s previous best mark. With about 600 meters to go, Hill increased his pace and pulled even with Estrada and the two runners matched strides for a few moments.

“I looked over and saw that he didn’t have a lot left, so I went off on a little kick and pulled away from him,” Hill said.

He wasn’t expecting what he saw on the electronic clock when he crossed the finish line.

“I was pretty shocked,” Hill said. “I went into the race hoping to get the NCAA automatic qualifying time (7:52.00). I did a double take when I saw 7:43 pop up on the clock.

“It was pretty hard to fathom.”

Head coach Rollie Geiger didn’t see his three-time cross country All-American and two-time track All-American break the record. He was with other runners in Boston at the Boston University Valentine Invitational. He knew, however, the magnitude of the accomplishment.

“This is huge for Ryan and huge for our program,” Geiger said. “This is a great accomplishment by a kid from here in North Carolina who has a great future ahead of him.”

– NC State release

Heels, Zeller “rebound” but still have Duke on their minds

The loss to Duke continued to be on the Tar Heels’ minds before, during and after their 70-52 victory over Virginia.

Tyler Zeller said he wanted to personally bounce back after his part in the Tar Heels’ late-game demise Wednesday night. He succeeded with a 25-point, nine-rebound effort.

Carolina held a 10-point lead against Duke with two and a half minutes to go. This time, Virginia cut a 15-foot deficit to 11 points with the same amount of time left.

In a Carolina huddle, one player said to remember what happened Wednesday night but Coach Williams said “no, let’s play for today.”

Reserve Stilman White, who spelled Kendall Marshall for eight minutes, said after the game that the Heels handled the end of game better this time and that the Tar Heels still believe that, despite the loss, it’s obvious they are a better team than Duke.

It’s natural that the team is still thinking about that game and maybe it helped them focus on doing the right things this time but the Heels have to put that Duke loss behind them.

For more on the Virginia game, please click here.

Sports media in the tank for Griffin but Redskins need a veteran now, a QB prospect later in the draft

Just as the news media was in the tank for a certain presidential candidate in the 2008 elections, the sports media is in the tank for quarterback Robert Griffin III.

To listen to these mainstream sports media types, Griffin is a sure thing to be a star while Peyton Manning would be another Donovan McNabb mistake for the Redskins and Matt Flynn would be another Kevin Kolb failure.

Griffin is the Heisman Trophy winner and exciting to watch. But guess how many Heisman Trophy quarterbacks are in the NFL Hall of Fame as a quarterback. One – Roger Staubach. Paul Horning won the Heisman as a QB but played halfback in the NFL.

Manning is a sure-fire, first ballot NFL Hall of Famer, a Super Bowl winner – and he’s much better than McNabb ever was. Yes, he’s coming off an injury, his best years are probably behind him and he’s 36 years old but, if he’s healthy, some team can win for two or three years with him. The Redskins haven’t won in a while. Do they really want to keep building for the future? They’ve been building for the future for years. Even if the Redskins were to get Manning, they could still pick a good QB prospect in the second round (or even late in the first round if they trade their first pick for a couple of other picks). Manning could start for a couple of years while grooming his backup. Who better to have as a mentor?

These sports reporters bad mouth Green Bay’s Flynn because he played so well in a meaningless game at the end of the season and because he plays for such a good team anyway. The guy threw for 480 yards and six touchdown passes in a professional football game. Griffin hasn’t done that.

Some are so excited because Griffin reminds them of Cam Newton, who was the flavor of the month with his offensive numbers with the Panthers as a rookie. Griffin is certainly athletic and he can run but how many running quarterbacks have won a Super Bowl or made the NFL Hall of Fame. Don’t say Fran Tarkenton. It took him 15 years to run as much as Griffin did in college and he was scrambling for his life, not running the ball from the snap of the ball. And remember, for all the excitement Newton brought to the Panthers, they won six games.

Maybe in two or three years Newton will lead the Panthers to the playoffs, don’t know. Not only are running QBs more likely to get injured, but do the Redskins really want to see an exciting QB for three or four years before they win. The NFL is a win now league today. And, don’t laugh, the Redskins aren’t that far off. They beat the Super Bowl champion Giants twice after all.

Griffin may end up being a Pro Bowl QB. He may stay healthy and lead a team to a Super Bowl. But no one is a sure thing coming out of college, especially quarterbacks. For sports media types to be casting aside Manning, Flynn and a host of other quarterbacks coming out of college because of Griffin’s Wow factor is kinda silly. Besides, many people (mostly those of us over 35) like the game of football as it has been for years – with the quarterback passing and running only when he has to. They certainly don’t want to see someone run the ball 15 times a game which is what Griffin did in college.

Griffin can pass, I’m not saying he can’t, but so can other quarterbacks in the draft including Ryan Tennehill, Nick Foles, Kirk Cousins, Brandon Weeden, Brock Osweiler, Ryan Lindley, Kellen Moore and even former NC State QB Russell Wilson. I’d take one of them with the second round pick.

I know I’m in the minority and I know I’m not swayed by Wow factors, but if I were the Redskins, I’d get Manning or Flynn before the draft and in the draft I’d pick up wide receiver Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State or cornerback Morris Claiborne of LSU. If they are both gone, I’d go with receiver Alshon Jeffery of South Carolina, offensive tackle Jonathan Martin of Stanford, offensive tackle Riley Reiff of Iowa or I’d trade down to get extra picks.

If they trade down for a later first-round pick, they might be able to get Tennehill but if not, again, they could get a QB with the second round pick at No. 39. Who knows? Tennehill could still be available. I suppose there is a small chance that Griffin would be available at No. 6 but it looks like Cleveland would take him at No. 4 and the Redskins would have to pay dearly to move up to get Griffin. Don’t fall for all the mainstream sports media hype. Get a veteran early and get a future signal caller later in the draft.

Rivers the hero, Zeller the goat as Devils outscore Heels 13-2 at the end

North Carolina led by 10 with 2:38 left but unraveled as Duke outscored the Heels 13-2 with three three-pointers including one at the buzzer by Austin Rivers as the Devils won 85-84 in Chapel Hill.

Duke’s strategy of shooting threes paid off as the Devils took 36 three-point shots hitting 14 of them. Rivers, demonstrative after each of his six threes, finished the game with 29 points to lead all scorers.

The Devils started out hot and led by seven at 32-25 following Duke’s seventh three pointer of the half, that one by Seth Curry.

But the Tar Heels scratched back, mainly behind the offense and defense to Tyler Zeller, to take a 43-40 lead at the half.

But it was Zeller, who had 23 points, who was the goat at the end of the game.

While the Heels started the second half with a 14-4 run to take a 57-44 lead, everything changed late.

“We fought like crazy just to stay in it and in the last three minutes we got hot,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said.

Unfortunately for Zeller, Duke’s opportunities came in great part at his expense. Zeller missed a couple of free throws over the last 44 seconds and then accidently tipped in a shot by Kelly that was way off.

Meanwhile Tyler Thornton hit a three, Curry hit a three and Ryan Kelly hit a baseline jumper following a Harrison Barnes charge, all in less than a minute, to cut Carolina’s lead to two at 82-80 with 1:07 left.

Zeller hit one of two free throws to make it 83-80 with 44 seconds left. Following a Duke timeout, Kelly put up that shot that Zeller accidently tipped in to make it 83-82.

Zeller was again fouled but missed the second of a two-shot opportunity to give the Heels only a two-point cushion at 84-82 against three-happy Duke.

Zeller had an opportunity to be a hero again on defense as he was matched up outside against Rivers with time dwindling down but the 7-footer didn’t get close enough to Rivers to have any effect on the winning shot at the buzzer.

“They got a little lucky on the ball I tipped in,” Zeller said. “But the two free throws I missed left the door open.”

For more on the game, please click here.

State, considered a bubble team, needs to beat Ga. Tech this time

Georgia Tech came to Raleigh and upset N.C. State. Now it’s the Wolfpack’s time to go to Atlanta, and State coach Mark Gottfried still thinks the Pack has their hands full.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for how they have played,” Gottfried said. “Even though their record may not be great, I think that they have done an excellent job. So we’ve got
our hands full.”

Question: Coach, the first time you played Georgia Tech, what are the things that stand out that perhaps you’d like to change for the coming game? Was there anything they did in particular that you’ll be more concentrated on this time?

Coach Gottfried: I think there were
two things. I think one they made a lot of shots.
We did not defend them well. They made some
open shots and they also made a lot of tough
shots.
Then on our end of the floor, I thought we
executed as poorly as we have in a long time. We
mishandled the ball. Dribbled it out of bounds, we
bobbled passes so the combination of those two
things spelled for a bad day for us.

Question: How do you think they progressed
since then and your team may be different from
the first time you played?

Coach Gottfried: I think we’re better
than we were then. But I think they are too. I’ve
watched them on tape. But I do think that we have
improved in a lot of areas, so hopefully we’ll play
better.

Question: How encouraging was it to play
Lorenzo Brown the other day going into this
game?

Coach Gottfried: Very encouraging.
He had a bounce in his step, which is what our
team needs. His energy was higher, and he
played much better. We’re like any team. When
your better players play well, you’re a much better
team, and he did that against Wake.

Question: You’re here, it’s the first week of
February and N.C. State is pretty much
regarded as a bubble team. Do you think about
that or look at anything in terms of what you
need to do to get in that NCAA field?

Coach Gottfried: Well, you always
do. Anybody that tells you they don’t, they’re lying.
You always do. But that cannot be our emphasis
every day. Our emphasis has to be on the next
opponent and how are we going to play well in this
one game.
But as a big picture, I think it’s natural, and
hopefully we can do well down the stretch.

Question: As a guy that was a commentator
last year, if you were standing on the outside
looking at N.C. State right now, what would you
say is their strongest thing and what would you
say you have to do to make the image better?

Coach Gottfried: Well, we played a
great schedule in the non-league, which was good.
Obviously you have to keep winning games. It’s
fun for the commentators to talk about who is going
to get in the tournament in the second week of
February. But the way to get in the tournament is
to win games. Everybody that’s in the tournament
every year, they’ve played their way in. They’ve
earned the right. So that’s what we have to do.

State’s baseball coach to speak at Raleigh Sports Club Wednesday

Coach Elliott Avent, head coach of NC State baseball team since 1997, will be the speaker at Wednesday’s Raleigh Sports Club meeting. Avent has compiled the most wins of any head baseball coach in State history. He has led his teams to 11 NCAA regionals, coached 13 All-Americans and was the ACC and National Coach of the Year in 2003.

Baseball America has ranked State’s current 13 new players as the fourth best recruiting class in the country. Avent says, “Adding exceptional talent is a key to being able to compete in the ACC.”

Brian Okoye, a Knightdale basketball player, will be honored as the Student Athlete of the Week.

Buffet lines open at 11:30 a.m. The Forks Cafeteria will continue to cater a Southern Buffet. The meeting location will again be at Highland UMC at 1901 Ridge Road at the intersection of Lake Boone Trail, just inside the Beltline. Annual dues for the 2011-12 season will remain $60. Weekly attendance fee will remain $14 and applies whether the member plans to eat lunch or not. All guests fees will be $20 per guest. Pick sheets and door prizes will be held.

Nicks becomes 27th Tar Heel to win a Super Bowl ring; gets national ad

Former North Carolina standout Hakeem Nicks has become the 27th Tar Heel player to win a Super Bowl ring. Nicks posted a game-high 10 catches for 109 yards to help lead New York to a 21-17 victory over New England in Super Bowl XLVI.

He is the fifth Carolina player to earn a ring with the Giants. The only other NFL team to have as many Tar Heels with Super Bowl rings is the Washington Redskins. Giants with Super Bowl rings are Nicks, Madison Hedgecock (Super Bowl XLII), Russell Davis (SB XLII), Lawrence Taylor (SB XXV, SB XXI), Brian Johnston (SB XXI). The Redskins with Super Bowl rings are Jeff Hayes (SB XVII), Danny Burmeister (SB XXII), Tim Morrison (SB XXII), Dave Truitt (SB XXII) and Kelvin Bryant (SB XXII).

On the final scoring drive of the game, Nicks had a 14-yard reception to move the Giants to New England’s 18-yard line. Two plays later he caught a critical 4-yard pass and fought to get a frist down. New York scored the winning touchdown two running plays later.

“I feel good. I’m blessed to be in this situation, blessed to be a part of this team,” Nicks told NBC’s Dan Patrick after the game.

According to Elias Sport Bureau, Nicks had 28 receptions and 444 receiving yards this postseason, both the second-most in a single postseason.

Nicks celebrated last night’s win with a bowl of cereal and lowfat milk. The wide receiver joins the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Michael Strahan and John Elway as the star of his very own Milk Mustache ad in today’s USA Today – the 16th time a player from the winning team has won his own ad.

The ad copy reads, “Nice finish. Victory tastes sweet, but training for next year starts at breakfast the next morning. So, fuel up to play 60. And remember, it’s just not breakfast without milk.”

Nicks also participates in Fuel Up to Play 60 — a fun, interactive program that encourages kids to eat right and be active for at least 60 minutes every day.

To see the champ’s new Super Bowl Milk Mustache ad and behind-the-scenes photos from his shoot, visit www.Facebook.com/MilkMustache.

A native of Charlotte, Nicks set 14 school records during a prolific three-year career at UNC. He was named first-team All-ACC as a junior in 2008 after posting 68 catches for 1,222 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Devils shouldn’t have a problem with complacency, energy against Carolina

The Duke Blue Devils have already lost two games in the ACC, including a vexing loss to Miami at home yesterday, but that won’t put a damper of their first meeting of the year with North Carolina coming up in Chapel Hill Wednesday.

“A Duke team should play with energy for 40 minutes – or 45,” Krzyzewski said after the Miami loss. “Go outside and look at the banners. They’re quite a few of them up there. They were not won without energy, without hunger, with … complacency, with(out) people really wanting it.”

On the other hand, the Tar Heels have one loss in the conference and had a time with the Terrapins in Maryland Saturday. Both teams could be playing better but you can bet there won’t be any complacency or lack of energy for either team. If anyone, one or the other might be too keyed up and lose focus.

The Tar Heels, being at home, figure to be the slight favorite but after losing to Florida State and Miami at home, Duke pride could lift them to a victory in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels will have to play better than they have to hold off the Devils – and they have to hope that Harrison Barnes’ re-aggravated ankle will be OK by game time, set for 9 p.m.