Back in the good ol’ days, an overtime loss was occasionally even more crushing than a loss in regulation. However, for a team that’s desperate for points, tonight’s 2-1 overtime loss against the Flyers was a definitive step in the right direction.
The Hurricanes have gone seven games without scoring more than two goals in regulation. As of tonight’s game, despite remaining numerically in the top eight in the Eastern Conference, the Hurricanes have scored the sixth fewest goals in the league.
However, the whole being-unable-to-score-goals thing actually worked out for the team tonight, as one goal was all it needed to force overtime. Sergei Samsonov scored on the power play to tie the game up in the third and the Hurricanes walked away with a point after Philadelphia’s Jeff Carter scored in overtime.
Writing this blog so far this season, the UNC men's hoops team hasn't done me any favors. Every game, it's "crush" this or "annihilate" that. What has happened to the finesse, complexity and genuine compassion reflecting the dispositions of Indy readers?
There's never a "UNC tip-toes by equally-abled-but-unlucky competitor on its way to a neat win" or a "Gentlemanly Heels graciously allow court-sharers to play within six points."
Will you stop reading if the Tar Heels continue this boorish behavior?
Wednesday night was more of the same. In the main event of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge — the ACC now boasts a perfect 10-0 overall record in the challenge — the Tar Heels traveled to Detroit to spar with Michigan State in a game that was billed as a match-up of two top-15 teams.
And, of course, Carolina did something hostile to MSU in winning by a final count of 98-63. The Spartans were overmatched and by the end showed obvious embarrassment.
Everyone expected this to be a rough one. NHL.com was proclaiming all day that this was Paul Maurice and the ‘Canes’ first test, and if it was, they failed spectacularly – if predictably.
The Penguins looked appropriately confident and the Hurricanes looked energized but disjointed, and a bit lost without starting goaltender Cam Ward. Pittsburgh’s dynamic offense and power play took advantage of the ‘Canes to the tune of five goals on 22 shots, ruining Paul Maurice’s first stint behind the Carolina bench in five years and Justin William’s first insertion into the line-up since last March.
Williams underwent surgery on a torn Achilles tendon before training camp and was not expected back until January at the earliest. However, due to what the right winger could only describe to Tripp Tracy as “good healing genes,” he made it back a month earlier than expected. Williams played a respectable 13:50 with no points.
“The worst thing I could do out there is be passive or complacent and wait for things to happen,” Williams said of finding his old groove again. “The more I get in there and the more I initiate, the better I’ll be.”
With all the upheaval that has happened in the last few days, this was a “let’s tough it out and get outta here” kind of match-up, and the Hurricanes managed to do that without being embarrassed too badly. However, they lost another invaluable two points in the Southeast race and gave up their fourth of five, not to their mention fourth straight at home.
Rodney Rogers, a Durham native and former ACC Player of the Year who went on to win NBA's Sixth Man award, is paralyzed from the shoulders down, according to a report in today's News & Observer. Rogers, one of the strongest outside-shooting big men in the NBA, helped lead the New Jersey Nets to the 2003 NBA Finals, and played a key role in propelling the Boston Celtics to an awe-inspiring, and unexpected, playoffs run the year before. (That year, he shot 41 percent from behind the arc, and coming off the bench, averaged 11 points and 4 rebounds.) In three seasons at Wake Forest, he averaged 19 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 assists per game, earning the ACC Player of the Year honors his junior year, before going ninth in the NBA Draft to the Denver Nuggets. In 2000, he won the Sixth Man of the Year Award as a Phoenix Sun. Growing up in the McDougald Terrace public housing complex, he was a high school basketball and football star at Durham Hillside High School.
He was reportedly injured while riding an ATV in Vance County.
Barry Saunders' story reveals a man who--despite earning millions over a celebrated 12-year career in the pros--returned to Durham to work for the city's Public Works Department, because he wanted a demanding job. Saunders also spotlights Rogers' pro-bono community work: He co-founded the Durham Eagles youth football team, set up a computer lab at McDougald Terrace, and volunteered as a girls' basketball coach. He gave back to the Bull City, where, as a city-wide legend on the courts, he first earned his nickname: the Durham Bull.
The injury has felled, at least for the moment, a man who is more than a famous former athlete. Rogers is an ambassador for Durham. He worked with his own hands to repair his hometown's streets. He used his fame to polish its reputation. He provided computers for its poor children, and at the time of the accident he was a volunteer girls' basketball coach at Rogers-Herr Middle School.
Hello again, Paul Maurice.
Maurice, who coached the Hurricanes from 1995 (during the Hartford days) to 2003, from a half-filled Greensboro stadium to the Stanley Cup finals in 2002, is back for another run with the Carolina Hurricanes. Maurice, the winningest coach in the Hartford/Carolina franchise history, assumed Peter Laviolette’s job immediately after the three-year coach was fired this morning.
“This is a situation that we’ve looked at probably three times over the last year, for different reasons,” Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford said. “When you look at it that many times, there’s a reason.”
Press conference announced for 11:30 this morning at the RBC Center.
Check back later today for more from Kate Shefte.
A week ago, Kate speculated about the possibility of a coaching change in the near future.
12:08 PM UPDATE: The new coach is... the old coach, Paul Maurice, the 41-year-old who coached the squad to 268 wins between 1995 and 2003.
Okay, first of all…
Patrick Eaves fights? Did anyone know he could do that?
Now, onto more serious matters. Although they’re currently hanging onto the final playoff spot in the east by a thread and only three points behind the division-leading Washington Capitals, (and let’s face it, that’s because the division is weak again this year and the Capitals have been decimated by injuries) the Hurricanes have been wildly inconsistent this year, beating hot teams such as Ottawa (at the time) only to turn around and drop two to the Thrashers. Everyone has been getting on Eric Staal’s case for his shaky play early in the season, Cam Ward’s for his off-and-on goaltending, Joni Pitkanen for his undeserved hype…but with a team, sometimes it’s best to go from the top down.
No one can question what Rod Brind’Amour has done for the team, the fans, and the franchise during his tenure in Carolina. He is a fan favorite in Carolina and it has become almost taboo to speak ill of Brind’Amour, lest they be mocked, painted and strung up from the RBC Center rafters. Although Brind’Amour, 38, seemed to be bulletproof, from injury and scrutiny, even “Rod the Bod” himself can’t be pleased with his performance this season.
N.C. State's freshman quarterback Russell Wilson began the season by getting knocked out with a concussion. It's been all gravy ever since. Yesterday, he became the first freshman quarterback named to the ACC's all-conference team. Today, he was named rookie of the year.
Among his signal accomplishments: He passed for 1,769 yards and led the league in touchdown passes and passing efficiency. Most spectacularly, he threw only one interception all year, and none in the past eight games and 226 passes. Grayson Currin recently posted an appreciation.
And from Chapel Hill comes the news that the Tar Heels, who until three weekends ago still entertained Orange Bowl hopes, will instead play in Charlotte's Meineke Car Care Bowl on Dec. 27.
A friend wasn't using his ticket to last night's UNC v. UNC-Asheville game, so I took it and went. I don't want to repeat the excellent overall account from Harrington already on our blog, so a few notes from the Dean Dome:
1. It's amazing how easy the Heels made beating a team by 68 points look. (That margin was a Roy Williams-era record, by the way.) Carolina didn't appear to burn even half its game fuel -- and that was without Tyler Hansbrough and Marcus Ginyard. Partway through the rather somnolent first half, I glanced at the scoreboard. Carolina hadn’t been doing much, it seemed, and I thought it was probably an eight-point game or so. It turned out that the Heels were winning by 21 points already. The only excitement was Danny Green's run of second-half three-pointers, which was the easiest eighteen points in three minutes I've ever seen anyone score. He kept being open, he kept casually flicking up shots, and they kept going in. (The UNC-Asheville coach after the game: "We have to cover jump-shooters better." Good idea.)
Here's a prediction: at some point this year, Danny Green will rescue a Tarheel team in trouble.
2. Is Deon Thompson the second coming of (here's an oldie but goodie) Sam Perkins? Same loping stride, same long-armed shot, same blank-faced detachment. (Perkins, a.k.a. "Big Smooth," was at least once made to run up and down the steps of Carmichael Auditorium as punishment for failure to exert himself). I was amazed, scanning the box score later, to discover that Thompson finished with 17 points, nine rebounds and three blocks. He's the sort of player that's likely to infuriate the Heels' hustle-loving coach, Roy Williams.
North Carolina's basketball team didn't show much mercy to UNC-Asheville, sending the Bulldogs hobbling back to Roy Williams' hometown after a 116-48 shellacking on Sunday night in Chapel Hill.
Williams may have cultivated his love of Coca-Cola as a boy in Asheville, but the Bulldogs strictly were New Coke on this evening.
Even without superstar Tyler Hansbrough, who sat out for precautionary reasons while he continues to mend from shin and ankle injuries, the Tar Heels simply were too talented for their in-state counterparts. After perhaps two minutes of sloppy play, UNC began to force a frenetic pace and take away virtually anything the Bulldogs wanted to do on the offensive end.