Category Archives: Featured stories

Wake woes continue as 0-16 ACC season possible

Wake Forest bottomed out in the ACC Tournament again last year and then in the NCAAs, prompting athletics director Ron Wellman to fire Dino Gaudio and hire Jeff Bzdelik. Given Wellman’s brilliant hiring record, it was easy to assume he saw much beyond the 36-58 record he had as the head coach of Colorado for three years.

Bzdelik did not inherit the ’74 Wolfpack by any means, but the disaster unfolding in Winston-Salem is beyond expectations. Wake fans who saw the team early shook their heads at the talent on the floor, and what has unfolded meets those concerns. The Deacons are now 0-5 in ACC play and 7-13 overall, and the only surprise from their 83-59 loss to Duke Saturday in Winston-Salem is they kept the game as close as they did.

All of this could point to a winless ACC mark for Wake, which has happened only five times in league history. Here are those previous five:

1987: Maryland 0-14, 9-17

1986: Wake Forest 0-14, 8-21

1981: Ga. Tech 0-14, 4-23

1955: Clemson 0-14, 2-21

1954: Clemson 0-14, 5-18

Note team has ever gone 0-16 in conference play, which Wake has a shot at this season.

The question has been raised as to whether Wake could be the worst team ever in the ACC, and the answer to that is a definitive no. Clemson’s lousy records in the league’s early years speak for themselves, and the ’55 squad allowed 73.7 points per game and allowed 93.3. The 1981 Tech team was truly terrible at a time when the league featured giants at UNC and Virginia. Tech scored 55.7 points and allowed 71.5 in an era in which teams often slowed the pace.

The view here is Wake Forest’s Wellman remains the best athletics director in the ACC, and his ability to turn around the football program and develop nonrevenue sports is remarkable. But Wellman rushed the decision to hire Gaudio after the death of Skip Prosser, and so far, the hiring of Bzdelik is off to an ominous start.

Yow: Wolfpack program will be reviewed

N.C. State’s loss to Duke Wednesday night highlighted the problems with the basketball program, which was why Thursday’s talk shows were full of discussions about the future of Wolfpack basketball.

Athletics director Debbie Yow, in her first year with the program, told The Fan’s Adam Gold and Joe Ovies that the program would be reviewed at the end of the season.  Yow said “our focus” is to give full support to the team as the season unfolds.

“After the end of the season, when all the games are played, there will be a review, of course,” she said.

Speculation about Lowe’s future is now reaching such proportions that it was a strong topic of conversation Thursday afternoon on Taylor Zarzour’s show, which is now based out of WFNZ in Charlotte. Charlotte is hardly a big N.C. State town, so the fact that this was a center of conversation says how widespread the unhappiness is with Wolfpack fans.

Yow, of course, is an experienced administrator who knows how to say the right thing. But the fact that she is openly saying there will be a review is telling. Do you think Duke athletics director Kevin White is going around saying Mike Krzyzewski “will be reviewed” after the season.

Of course not. As noted here earlier, Lowe could be driving this team toward a losing season, and that won’t wash with Wolfpack fans – or Yow.

Panthers passed on Aaron Rodgers in 2005

Is Aaron Rodgers on an amazing run for the Green Bay Packers or what? And would he have had an impact on the miserable Carolna Panthers?

Look back at the 2005 draft, and the Packers took Rodgers, out of California, with the 24th pick. Carolina took linebacker Thomas Davis with the 14th pick, and Davis has been a stud, but he’s not Aaron Rodgers.

By the way, the first pick in the draft that year was Alex Smith of Utah, to San Francisco. And one of the real busts of that draft was receiver Matt Jones of Arkansas, who had tremendous workouts but flopped with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

But Rodgers with Carolina? Wow, wouldn’t that make the Panthers a different franchise?

Roy Williams grumpy about UNC fans, team’s hustle

Roy Williams used the postgame news conference Tuesday to rip Carolina fans who asked questions about the team. And he used his radio show Monday to rip his players, who he feels doesn’t hustle as much as he would like.

Williams, no question, is a demanding coach with a strong sense of what he wants from his program. But there is little question the team didn’t perform well at Georgia Tech Sunday, and when you read the quotes from the radio program on, it’s jarring how sharp Williams is in his criticism.

When a caller asked about defending shooters and said, “It’s painful watching those guys hit wide open 3-pointers,” Williams shot back, “You think it’s painful for you? What the [heck] do you think about our staff? We don’t enjoy that stuff, either.”

And in discussing the nature of today’s athletes, Williams made a long, and interesting, point.

“And you know the old stories about people shoveling snow so that they could play on an asphalt court? I did that. You’ve heard the story – I used to break into the gym so much and the policeman got so concerned that I was going to break my neck, he got the principal to give me the dadgum key. I get frustrated when I feel like my team doesn’t invest enough or cares about it enough or loses itself in the team,” he said, according to the transcript. “And in today’s culture, it’s hard. I’ve got half of the guys on my team that their mom and dad and their friends and everything think that they’re going to make $88 million. They could give a flip whether we win a game or not. They want their guy to get 37 shots and play 50 minutes in a 40-minute game. The culture is hard on kids nowadays, and I understand that, but it makes coaching harder…

“It’s something that I’ve told many teams – if you cared one-tenth about it as much as I do, [gosh] it would be a lot of fun.”

After the Clemson win, he was still miffed about those radio questions.

“My radio call in show last night stunk,” Williams told reporters. “Everybody’s talking about there being Carolina fans for nine million years and how bad we were. I don’t give a damn how long they’ve been Carolina fans. …

“So don’t call me next week saying how good we are. Keep your damn phone calls to yourself.”

Needless to say, we can’t wait for next week’s radio show. But all those comments continue a trend in which Williams is rarely wrong. Fans are wrong to question the program … players don’t show the hustle of the past.

This prompted Mark Armstrong of WTVD to make a smart comment on his Twitter account: “The meta-question re Roy’s annoyance is whether it drives him into early retirement. Wonder if he’s getting much joy out of his job.”

Interesting point.

N.C. State could be facing losing season

N.C. State’s basketball season could quickly spiral downward if Saturday’s 84-71 loss at Florida State was any indication. The Wolfpack was picked for fourth in the ACC this year in preseason, but that looks like a vast misjudgment by the media based on early results. It is now conceivable that State could have a losing season, and you can’t imagine that athletics director Debbie Yow would judge Sidney Lowe favorably in that situation.

The Pack was never in the game at Tallahassee as a season-long indifference toward defense continued. “That was probably the worst defense I’ve seen us play in a long time,” Lowe told The News & Observer. “It really hurt us.”

Florida State shot 69 percent from the floor in the second half. For the game, the Seminoles never trailed, outscored State 20-8 on points off turnovers and held the Wolfpack to 19 first-half points.

Even more amazing was that State did not score a single point on a fast break, while FSU scored 11.

The stretch ahead could be gruesome for the Wolfpack. Duke visits the 19th, followed by Miami, at Clemson, at UNC, Virginia Tech and at Duke. State has some young talent, but this season could get even uglier fast.

Duke-Carolina on primetime network TV? Whoopty do

As Dane Huffman mentioned below, CBS Sports announced today that the Saturday, March 5, 2011 Duke at North Carolina basketball game will be aired in primetime at 8 p.m. It will be the first primetime broadcast of the series on network television. Whoopty do.

Does it really matter much anymore? Primetime network ain’t exactly what it used to be. It’s not as if there are only three or four channels like years ago. Most people have satellite or cable with hundreds of entertainment choices. Plus, frankly, I’d rather watch an afternoon game and have Saturday evening free.

I haven’t even gotten used to the Sunday night ACC games on Fox Sports (that used to be a TV movie night or a night to get to bed early to start a new work week) and now this.

Most people I know are going to watch the Duke at Carolina game if they played it at 7 a.m. in a parking lot. Certainly they are figuring a lot of eyes will be in front of their TV sets and that a good game could set the tone for the NCAA tournament coverage set to begin a few days later.

“It is an honor for the Duke-North Carolina game to be placed on this stage — for us, the ACC and for college basketball,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a statement released by Duke. “Hopefully the game will live up to that level of expectation.”

The emotion should certainly be there but, while it will be played up even more because its on primetime network TV, the emotion shouldn’t be any higher because its on channel 5 rather than channel 31. Plus, some show you might have Tivoed on channel 5 while you watch the game on ESPN will be preempted.

Let’s just hope the game means something. Otherwise, a lot of people might just stick with “Cops” and “America’s Most Wanted.”