Reigning national player of the year Tyler Hansbrough will attempt to smash UNC-Chapel Hill's 30-year-old scoring record against Evansville Thursday night in Chapel Hill.
Hansbrough needs nine points to pass Phil Ford -- now an assistant for the Charlotte Bobcats -- who amassed 2,290 points at Carolina.
A ceremony is planned to honor the humble Hansbrough who seems the least likely to own UNC's all time scoring record, especially considering the likes of Jordan, Worthy, Stackhouse, Carter, Jamison and Ford who all starred in Chapel Hill.
"No one would have thought that some big kid from Poplar Bluff, Mo., who can barely chew gum and walk at the same time would be able to do it," former Tar Heel forward Sean May told the News & Observer. "But, that just shows his heart and his passion for the game -- just like Phil when he was playing."
Hansbrough is also chasing J.J. Redick's ACC scoring record of 2,769 points set in 2006. With 2,282 points, Hansbrough needs 487 points to tie the former Duke star.
The Tar Heels are scheduled for 21 more regular season games, and Hansbrough is averaging 22.8 points per game. If he maintains that average, Hansbrough will finish the regular season by scoring close to 479 points with the ACC tournament and a likely strong run in the NCAA tournament looming for the Heels.
All of this depends on if Hansbrough avoids injury -- a huge concern for the Heels considering his shin and ankle injuries -- and, more importantly, if my addition and subtraction skills are still in line from elementary school.
You might want to double check it yourself.
With Canadiens parading to the penalty box – they committed 11 infractions through two periods, compared to only one for by the home team – Carolina converted just often enough to win, lifting itself over Montreal 3-2. This nail-biter included three disputed goals, a penalty shot, and special teams galore.
“It was tough to get any kind of rhythm going with all of those power plays,” Associate head coach Ron Francis, stepping in for Paul Maurice, said during the postgame. “But the guys got it done.”
The Hurricanes received five power plays in the first period and managed only five shots on Jaroslav Halak, but two of those shots turned into Eric Staal goals. The red-hot center scored his eleventh and twelfth goals of the season, putting him first in team goal scoring. Staal, who couldn’t get anything going during most of the early season, now has four goals and six points in four games under new coach Paul Maurice.
Philly’s Scott Hartnell notched a hat trick to put Hurricanes fans watching from home on the ends of their seats, but the Flyers weren’t done; the Hurricanes’ young defense collapsed and allowed Scotty Upshall and Simon Gagne to tie it up and prompted the crowd to hit a new decibel, never before heard by human ears. The Hurricanes limped into overtime, confidence shattered, and made nothing of a 4-on-3 power play. Gagne scored the deciding shootout goal, and Rod Brind’Amour and Tuomo Ruutu – the only ‘Canes to have won a shootout for their team this year, against the Tampa Bay Lightning – managed weak shots on Antero Nittymaki, which were enthusiastically turned away. A three-point effort by Eric Staal went to waste and Michael Leighton quickly became the scapegoat of the game after his shootout save attempt on Gagne saw him lying on his back, well out of the crease, while the puck soared over him into an empty net.
Three games were played in the soccer Final Four, and three of the four teams were from the ACC. And only three goals were scored all weekend, one in each game.
Sunday afternoon in Frisco, Texas, the Tar Heels' impressive post-season run came to an end when Graham Zusi scooped up a second-half rebound at the edge of the penalty box and slammed the ball past goalkeeper Brooks Haggerty, just inside the left post.
Although there were a couple of impressive runs from the likes of Michael Callahan and Brian Shriver, for most of the game Carolina was unable to control possession, with poor linkings from rear to front; hence, the team struggled to mount a credible attack. The few strong shots that materialized were stopped by the Terrapins' phenomenal freshman goalkeeper Zac Macmath, who also blanked the Tar Heels last month in the ACC tournament.
It was the Tar Heels' third loss this season to Maryland, which finishes 23-3-0. The Tar Heels' final tally is 15-8-1.
The UNC men's soccer side knocked off No. 1-ranked Wake Forest, 1-0, Friday evening in Frisco, Texas. Brian Shriver scored in the fourth minute.
Wake, the defending national champion, entered the game with a sterling 21-1-1 record, while the Heels were seeded 13th in the tournament with only a 14-7-1 record.
Although on paper the UNC-Wake game looked to be a mismatch--and the result a shocking, stunning, thrilling upset--the result is a testament to the strength of ACC soccer. Three of the four teams in the Final Four are from the ACC, and Maryland did its part in the night's second match, beating St. John's. That means UNC will play the Terrapins for the national championship on Sunday, Dec. 14 at 1 p.m.
The game will be televised on ESPN2, although devotees of the international game who are tuning in to college soccer for the first time should be forewarned that there will be "television timeouts."
After a 35-point drubbing of Michigan State and a 15-point slaughtering of Notre Dame's potential Big East winner, Roy Williams has Carolina fans asking, "What if?"
The Heels (8-0) have a long way to go before being crowned any sort of champion. The only thing they have won so far other than the Maui Invitational is the most-hyped award.
The talk surrounding UNC should strike a specific memory for the Tar Heels.
Remember Illinois of 2004? Remember their beat down of Chris Paul and Wake Forest Dec. 1, 2004?
Yeah, they won by 18 points and made then number one Wake Forest -- a team that beat the Heels that season -- look like Forest Tech.
The entire season revolved around whether or not Illinois would go undefeated and whether or not anyone could upset them.
Then a magical Ohio State three pointer ended the talk of an undefeated season. Then Illinois nearly lost to Arizona in a Elite Eight game for the ages. Who doesn't remember Powell missing a three and following his own shot for a dunk?
Although the Tar Heels have shown the capability of having a spectacularly special season, there aren't and never will be any gimmies in college basketball.
So, what if Carolina goes undefeated in the regular season?
The surging Pack play Rutgers Monday, Dec. 29, in Birmingham, Ala. The school was allotted 10,000 tickets to sell and the N&O reported today that just under 3,000 have been sold.
No doubt it will become a tougher ticket as the date approaches, but why wait: The N.C. State athletic site has all the resources you need to plan your trip. And, if you can't go, they're suggesting that you purchase a ticket and donate it to the Big Brothers/ Big Sisters charity in Birmingham.
UNC fans, by the way, can purchase tickets here for the Tar Heels' Saturday, Dec. 27 showdown with the West Virginia Mountaineers in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte.
This time, it was the Capitals that suffered a heartbreaking, late-game letdown. With the score tied at one late in the third, Carolina’s marquee names came up huge and scored two goals in a span of two minutes and seven seconds, giving the Hurricanes their second win in eight games and their first during the second coming of Paul Maurice.
Eric Staal scored the game-winner, his first since Nov. 21 against Phoenix, and Ray Whitney added his second of the night with an insurance marker. The ‘Canes snapped an eight game losing streak and crawled within four points of the Southeast-leading Capitals.
What a difference one game makes. The Hurricanes, who couldn’t score first, score more than two, or climb back into the game late did all three tonight. Oh, and backup goaltender Michael Leighton stopped “Alexander the Great” on a penalty shot. No biggie.
“It’s not a guy you want to give a penalty shot to,” Leighton said sardonically, “but sometimes you’d rather almost take the penalty so you can set it up and get ready for it.”
Ray Whitney scored his eighth of the season 13:18 into the first, snapping a 12-game streak in which Carolina gave up the first goal.
Two weeks ago, on a neutral Madison Square Garden court, Duke bested Michigan by a convincing 15 points to win the Coaches v. Cancer tournament, and solidify their reputation as one of the country's top five teams.
Last night in Ann Arbor, however, was a different story. Michigan forward DeShawn Sims (who scored 10 points off the bench in the teams' previous meeting) overpowered Duke's inside defense, and came away with a career-high 28 points, en route to a 81-73 victory over the previously undefeated Blue Devils. Meanwhile, Kyle Singler, Duke's star forward, was three assists shy of a triple-double, but was uncharacteristically dismal from behind the three-point arc, going just 1-for-9. Despite solid offensive performances from the Duke starters, Saturday night's loss was a reminder of the team's defensive achilles heel--and what can happen when one shooter is off.
Also of note: Former starting point-guard Greg Paulus played just 10 minutes, and in that time, took, and missed, four three-pointers. It appears Coach K isn't afraid to keep Paulus on the bench, even in close games--and certainly not when he's missing shots.
Next up: UNC-Asheville at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Dec. 17. The Bulldogs have lost five in a row, but last night, forward Reid Augst dropped 29 points against Big South conference leaders Virginia Military--a stat that should be concerning for the Blue Devils. Nevertheless, we anticipate a strong return to form at home.
The Carolina Courage and the Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA) folded five years ago, but a new group is giving professional soccer a go, in an outfit called Women's Professional Soccer (WPS), which will begin play in 2009.
The proposed new local team would be based in Cary (and its 7,000-seat WakeMed Soccer Park) and it would seem to involve the participation of the ownership of the men's USL-1 side, the Carolina RailHawks. If this team materializes, it would begin play in 2010.
One takeaway from the story: In the three years that the Courage was in existence, its average attendance compared favorably with that of the RailHawks:
In three WUSA seasons before the league went out of business, the Courage averaged 5,255 fans per game in 2001 in Chapel Hill, 5,839 in 2002 after moving to what was then called SAS Stadium in Cary, and 5,737 in 2003.
In 2008, the Carolina RailHawks averaged 3,869 fans per game.
In other women's soccer news from WakeMed Soccer Park, the UNC women's team won the NCAA national championship for the 19th time, sending Notre Dame to its first defeat of the season, 2-1, behind two goals by Casey Nogueira--who also played for the Carolina RailHawks' women's side last summer. The Irish, it should be noted, scored its lone goal 16 seconds into the match.