Lurking behind the Hurricanes in the standings are the ever-present but forever rebuilding Florida Panthers, currently only two points behind Carolina in 10th place. The Panthers have shown their dominance over Western Conference opponents, going 4-1 on a road swing in December, but continue to fall repeatedly, as the Hurricanes have done, to struggling teams such as the Islanders and Lightning. The Panthers always seem to be in this precarious position, where they are poised to strike but just can’t get their ducks in a row, and they have already been counted out. But perhaps this will be the year that their late surge isn’t too late to make a difference.
And now, back to the Hurricanes. 5-4-3 doesn’t sound stellar, but it’s par for the course given the coaching change and rocky schedule that included two matchups with Philadelphia, Montreal, and Boston. The Eastern Conference-leading Bruins defeated Carolina twice by scores of 4-2, at home and in Boston. Carolina looked competent against the Bruins, which is a success in and of itself this season, outshooting the Bruins twice and letting a late goal through that ultimately decided each game. However, the Hurricanes will likely be facing the Bruins if they win the battle for that magical 8-seed. (Ruh roh!)
After a relatively dormant month on the court, the post-Holiday Tar Heels were greeted by an exuberant crowd as they steamrolled Rutgers 97-75 on Sunday night. Nationally top-ranked UNC has won all 12 of its games by at least 15 points, a school record.
Power forward Tyler Hansbrough and point guard Ty Lawson continue to set the pace and arguably are the top two players at their respective positions in college basketball. Though he faces very stiff competition for national player of the year honors, Hansbrough clearly is playing at the All-American level (again). Against Rutgers he added 26 points and 10 rebounds — putting him at 1,000 for his career — while shooting 10-for-15 from the field.
Lawson, meanwhile, remains a paragon of efficiency. He hit 8-for-12 from the field for 19 points, and he added another six assists without a single turnover.
Not for the first time this season, an opposing head coach had high praise for Roy Williams' club:
"(UNC) is the best team that I've seen in my years of coaching," said Rutgers coach Fred Hill. "Our goal was to play at a certain tempo, but obviously they are great at making you play at their speed."
But while you can read about the power of this Carolina team just about anywhere, there are three emerging plotlines that need to be monitored closely in the coming weeks:
The News & Observer has a story out today that reviews UNC football coach Butch Davis' salary and attempts to assess whether the school is getting its money's worth. Perhaps unsurprisingly, in light of this Saturday's Meineke Car Care bowl game in Charlotte, and with the season-long increased attendance and revenue, they've decided that Davis' $2 million compensation package has been a worthwhile investment.
No argument here, at the moment. But the breakdown is interesting:
Davis' contract, renegotiated with a raise after one 4-8 season and signed by the university Board of Trustees this past January, calls for a base salary of $315,000, a retention clause worth $157,000, supplemental income from the Educational Foundation for $1.15 million, $30,000 in expenses and a bowl bonus of $26,249.
Davis' separate contracts for athletic apparel and television/radio obligations are worth an additional $400,000.
All told, it adds up to $2,078,249.
So, minus the athletic apparel and TV/radio deals, UNC pays Davis $1.6 million. Of that amount, two chunks of it are interesting.
Any idea why we can't find a salary for Coach Davis on these databases? Let us know, thanks. We'd do some heavy Googling for more answers, but we're wrapping Christmas presents and preparing to hit the road. Have a great holiday.
In a game that featured a little bit of everything including safeties, kickoff returns, interception returns and several big plays, Rutgers edged NC State 40-33 in a shootout that cooled off in the second half.
The teams combined to score 49 points in the first half alone, and NC State led 26-23 before Jamelle Eugene returned the opening kick of the second half for a touchdown, giving the Wolfpack a 10 point lead.
West Virginia's Pat White rallied the Mountaineers from a 10 point deficit with under three minutes to play, beating the Tar Heels 28-24.
T.J. Yates threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks with 2 minutes and 53 seconds remaining to give the Heels a 10 point lead. The play would have solidified the game, but Noel Devine returned the kickoff 102 yards for a score, narrowing the Carolina lead to only three points.
Vince Oghobaase announced he'll return for his senior season Monday, according to GoDuke.com.
Oghobaase, a native of Houston, Texas, had submitted his name for the NFL draft advisory board to review his draft prospects for the 2009 NFL draft.
"When we arrived here, we set some goals both academically and athletically, and we have some unfinished business on the field," Oghobaase said in a statement. "We want to continue to turn things around for the program, and we have a great foundation for success."
Oghobaase, a red-shirt junior this season, recorded 51 tackles and six sacks. He has finished the requirements for his sociology degree and study for a second degree.
"I was dissatisfied with receiving honorable mention All-ACC last year," Oghobaase said. "I am highly confident with another year of development I can earn first team all-conference, All-America and defensive player of the year honors."
Head coach David Cutcliffe said that he is thrilled to have Oghobaase return.
"I think he probably shocked some people when he chose to come to Duke four years ago, and I think this decision will probably shock some people," Cutcliffe said. "Choosing a college to attend isn't a four-year decision, it's a forty-year decision, and Vince wants to make sure that his total college experience is the best it could possibly be."
Tyler Hansbrough became UNC-Chapel Hill's scoring leader Thursday, scoring 20 points in typical Tyler fashion including his record-setting shot.
Hansbrough's patented spin move and awkward bull shot in the lane pushed him past Phil Ford in the record books. It was only fitting that he scored over two defenders -- a common theme in Hansbrough lore.
Now Hansbrough will face talk of passing J.J. Redick's ACC scoring record. If Thursday was any indication, this distraction could affect the team in a similar manner as a pesky Evansville team took advantage of UNC's lack of focus early in the game.
I don't think a pesky Duke or ACC tournament team would be so kind.
Last weekend, the RailHawks evaluated about 50 players in an open tryout and invited about 10 of them to training camp. Apparently, new coach Martin Rennie was so encouraged by the quality of the prospects that the team decided to schedule another tryout, for Feb. 14 and 15. The sign-up process appears to be unchanged:
The tryouts will take place from 10 AM to 1 PM with registration starting at 8:30 AM on February 14th. Coach Rennie and his staff will evaluate all the players thoroughly and determine which potential candidates will get invited to training camp. Space is limited to 50 players and those who are interested in participating should send in their registration early to ensure acceptance into the event. Cost to participate will be $125.
All players interested in participating should visit the Carolina RailHawks website at www.carolinarailhawks.com and click on the side bar buttons to fill out and print the application and waiver forms. Space is limited and only the first 50 athletes who sign up will be eligible to take part in the tryouts.
Didn't get invited after trying out last weekend? Perhaps all is not lost. "If the people who didn't get an invitation feel they were not at their best the first time around, they are definitely encouraged to come and try out again," team publicist Marco Rosa told us in an e-mail.
The first round of tryouts occurred in the midst of the NCAA soccer tournament, and overlapped slightly with the USL combine in Charleston, S.C. This might mean we'll see some new faces in round two. In the press release, Rennie said, “Holding a second tryout will give us a chance to see more talented athletes who were not able to come to WakeMed the first time around.”
And, according to Rosa, "I wouldn't be surprised if we saw [USL] combine kids, MLS combine kids and potentially college guys who were in school during first round."
Believe it or not, there were other contributions to the sports world tonight besides Tyler Hansbrough’s usurpation of the UNC all-time point holder title. Justin Williams scored his first of the year and Joe Corvo scored a beautiful goal-scorer’s goal in overtime to carry the Hurricanes over the Panthers in overtime. It was the resurgent Corvo’s second game-winner in as many games.
The ‘Canes have taken a lot of points from Florida over the years, spanning all the way back to 2002, but as a certain Emerald City resident once said, this is a horse of an entirely different color. Despite trading away the cornerstone of their offense, Olli Jokinen, in the offseason, the Panthers now sit three points behind the Hurricanes with a game in hand and are battling for Southeast supremacy.
CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM – With less than two minutes to play in the first half of Duke's 43-point rout at Cameron Indoor Stadium, UNC Asheville was within striking distance of the No. 6 team in the country. After Asheville's leading scorer, Reid Augst, hit a pair of free throws to make it 46-35, Duke turned the ball over, then committed a lazy foul. Yet on the ensuing inbounds pass, backup point guard Matt Dickey watched as the ball went through his hands and out of bounds. The Blue Devils responded with a soaring dunk, on their own inbounds pass, by Gerald Henderson. Two plays later, Henderson stole the ball, and passed it up the court to Kyle Singler, who dunked once again, making it 50-35. The Bulldogs never got closer.
The story of Wednesday night's game was Coach Mike Krzyzewski's decision to start a group of B-Teamers, led by now-backup point guard Greg Paulus: David McClure, Miles Plumlee, Martynas Pocius and Elliot Williams. The starting nods were mostly nominal, as Duke's "bench" scored 72 points, including 12 or more points from each of its traditional starters. After the game, Krzyzewski said the move was intended to boost his backup players'--and in particular, Greg Paulus'--confidence. Paulus played well, going 4-8 from three-point range, and finishing with 12 points and 3 assists. But, sophomore point guard Nolan Smith was the star of the night, mimicking Paulus' stat line and commanding a true presence on the court.